Study: Brain Waves Detect Babies' Potential Risk of Autism

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Although autism is one of the fastest growing diagnoses among toddlers, there are no medical tests to screen for the disorder -- all that's used by specialists in a simple checklist for behavioral signs and symptoms.

But a new study adds to mounting evidence that measuring brain activity during infancy could help determine whether a baby might be at higher risk of developing autism.

Researchers used electroencephalography, or an EEG, to measure the brain waves of nearly 80 babies from the time they were six months old until they reached age two.  Researchers found those who were already known to be at higher risk for autism -- those who had an older sibling on the spectrum -- showed a different brain wave pattern than those with no known risk for the disorder.

Current tests to diagnose autism look at a child's change in behavior, which often becomes apparent when a child reaches around two years old.  Many experts say the earlier they can diagnose and start behavioral therapies, the easier it will be to manage the disorder.

According to the study, at as early as nine months old, many of the infants that were already shown to be at greater risk for autism showed abnormal activity in the front left side of the brain, which is involved in language and social development.

"Just as you can observe certain behaviors after a certain point that indicate a child has autism, this process is really bringing it back a little," said William Bosl, research scientist at Children's Hospital in Boston, instructor of pediatrics at Harvard medical school, and author of the study.

He said that the different brain wave pattern seen in the children with great risk factors "seems to be highly correlated with behaviors that will develop later."

Previous research has studied magnetic resonance imaging, or MRIs, and even magnetoencephalography, or MEGs, to see if changes in brain waves could potentially detect whether a child has autism.

But while initial results seemed promising, follow-up research could not reproduce consistent results.  And, as with EEGs, the findings are still too preliminary to convince some experts that the procedure will become a way to detect autism in children younger than two years old.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Calls for Radiologists to Read More Mammograms

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Radiologists in the U.S. are required by the Food and Drug Administration to interpret 960 mammograms in a two-year time span, but a new study published Tuesday in Radiology suggests that may not be enough.

The study, conducted at the Group Health Research Institute, evaluated the screening performance of 120 radiologists who interpreted almost 800,000 mammograms between 2002 and 2006.  It found that radiologists who interpreted a high volume of mammograms turned out to be better “readers.”

More specifically, radiologists who read 1,500 mammograms or more per year had lower false-positive rates, meaning they sent fewer women for unnecessary follow up tests for non-cancerous abnormalities.

In light of this discovery, the study's authors concluded that "U.S. volume requirements could be increased to 1,000 or 1,5000 screening mammograms per year… which would optimize sensitivity and false positive rates."

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Early Appendectomy for Children Better than Waiting

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- An early appendectomy is better than postponing surgery for children with a perforated appendix, a new study says.

Children with a perforated appendix commonly undergo one of two surgical procedures -- early appendectomy (removal of the appendix within 24 hours of hospitalization) or interval appendectomy (surgery six to eight weeks after initial diagnosis).

Medical experts assumed that putting off surgery for several weeks would reduce the likelihood of infection, but new research suggests that the early appendectomy is linked to fewer surgical site infections, intra-abdominal abscess and unexpected readmission to the hospital.

Early appendectomy also appeared to improve recovery time, according to study authors.

"We found that those treated with early appendectomy return to normal activities an average of five days earlier.  Because a child's time away from normal activities limits parents' abilities to work, we believe it is an important outcome fro a patient and family perspective," Dr. Martin L. Blakely, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, and colleagues stated in a release.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


No Link Between Cell Phones, Brain Tumors, Researchers Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MANCHESTER, England) -- Adding to the ongoing controversy about whether radio-frequency exposure from mobile phones increases risk for brain cancer, researchers at the University of Manchester say mobile phones do not increase risk for the disease.

Researchers in the study analyzed data from newly diagnosed cases of brain cancer between 1998 and 2007 when cell phone use was initially climbing.  Their analysis showed no significant change in the occurrence of brain cancer diagnosis in men or women.

The study, released in an advance online publication of the upcoming print issue of Bioelectromagnetics, revealed that while cancers of the brain's temporal lobe did increase slightly, cancers of the brain's parietal lobe, cerebrum and cerebellum in English men also fell slightly.

Lead researcher Frank de Vocht concluded that the possibility that there are people who are susceptible to radio-frequency exposure from cell phones -- or the possibility that there may be rare brain cancers associated with cell phone use -- should not be excluded.  But he added that the study does not indicate a "pressing need to implement public health measures to reduce radio-frequency exposure from mobile phones."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Melanoma Survival Affects Men and Women Differently

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ROTTERDAM, South Holland) -- Researchers say the experience of surviving melanoma may be more significant to the emotional lives of women than men.

Melanoma is the most deadly of all skin cancers, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.  But if caught early enough, before it has spread to the lymph nodes and other tissues and organs, the disease can be cured. 

Authors of a study published in the February issue of the Archives of Dermatology say that 80 percent of melanoma patients see a "relatively good" prognosis.  The catch, however, is that melanoma survivors also face the lifetime risk of disease recurrence.

Dr. Cynthia Holterhues and her colleagues at the department of dermatology at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands found that female melanoma survivors exhibited more serious reactions to the diagnosis and survival experience than men.  Compared to men, female survivors of the skin disease were more likely to suffer from worse physical and mental health.

On the other hand, the study authors also found that male survivors of melanoma were less likely than their female counterparts to go on to take cautions to protect themselves and their families from harmful UV radiation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Former Chicago Bear Requested Brain Testing Before Suicide

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson, who committed suicide last Thursday, will have his brain matter tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine.

Duerson, 50, was found dead in his Miami home from a gunshot wound to the chest. The former Super Bowl champion had sent text messages to his family requesting that his brain be tested for the disease after his death.

The degenerative brain disease has been linked to repeated head trauma, and it has become more common among football players, some as young as 18 years old.

"Essentially, your brain actually starts falling apart because you've been hit in the head and 10 to 20 years later start getting symptoms, memory problems, emotional problems and eventually it leads to dementia," said Chris Nowinski, co-director of the center.

CTE begins when a protein that's a normal part of the cell becomes toxic and starts slowing down the cell's ability to function.

"It's like a sludge," said Nowinski. "This toxic protein starts a process in the brain, spreads cell to cell. Eventually when you lose enough brain cells these symptoms start to appear."

The disease has also been associated with cognitive problems and, in some cases, depression and loss of impulse control.

Also known as punch drunk syndrome, the disease has been most associated with boxers. However, in recent years it has shown up in professional and college football players, as well as in one pro hockey player.

"Football players are at very high risk because they take, studies show, about a thousand hits to the head," said Nowinki. "One thousand hits is something we've never really done before with athletes, and we're learning it might be too many."

The NFL has attempted to crack down on head injuries in recent years. In 2009, the league created rules for when players could return to the field after suffering blows to the head. Players showing any of several symptoms, even if they remain conscious, must be benched for the rest of that day. They also cannot return to practice or play until cleared by the team physician and an independent neurological consultant.

Later, in August 2010, posters were distributed in locker rooms to warn players that head injuries could have lifelong consequences.

The New York Times reported that Duerson was the first player to request that his brain be examined after his death for CTE, but that as an active member of the players union, he was likely all too aware of the disease. It's been reported that he believed he had the disease in the months before he died.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gastric Bypass More Effective than Lap Band in First Year

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A new study published in the Archives of Surgery suggests that gastric bypass surgery is more effective than the lap band in helping morbidly obese people lose weight.

Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco studied 200 patients, 100 of whom chose to undergo gastric bypass and 100 who opted for a lap band. The study found that after a year, those who had a gastric bypass lost an average of 64 percent of their excess weight, compared to 36 percent for those with a lap band.

Gastric bypass was also more effective in the resolution of diabetes, at 76 percent, compared to the lap band, at 50 percent.

However, experts have cautioned about the validity of the results, given that it can take up to three years to see the full effect of lap band surgery.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Five Upper-Body Exercises That Should Be on Every Woman's List

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sculpted shoulders and arms are must-have accessories for short sleeve and tank top season. Jessica Smith, the certified personal trainer who stars in the best-selling exercise DVDs 10 Pounds Down and 10 Minute Solution points to other reasons women should be working out their upper bodies. "Everyday tasks like picking up a baby are easier when your upper body is strong," Smith said. "You also help balance out the lower half of your physique and improve your posture."

Here are her picks for best upper body moves for women:

Bow and Arrow: It effectively targets all of the muscles of the upper and middle back as well as the shoulder and arm muscles.

X Raise: Smith says this is one of the best shoulder and upper back shaping exercises of all. Your core muscles work extra hard to keep the rest of the body still as you move your arms so it's also a great middle whittler.

Push Up: According to Smith, this is one of the best overall body toners around, but it's especially good at targeting the chest, shoulders, arms, and core. Placing your feet in a wide position helps keep your body stable so it's easier to press yourself upward -- even if you've never been able to do a full push up before.

Dip: This one makes that "speed bag," a back-of-the-arm sag disappear because it targets the triceps, shoulders, and chest muscles. It's another upper body move that carries the bonus of being a fantastic core tightener.

Biceps Curl: It's the perfect move for toning up the front of the arms. By holding your body in a wide-legged position and your arms at your sides, you will feel the work through the center and front of the arm.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


95-Year-Old Woman Sets Running Record

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A 95-year-old New York woman set a world record last week when she ran at a track meet in northern Manhattan.

Ida Keeling, coming in at 83 pounds and standing 4 feet, 6 inches tall, ran 60 meters in 29.86 seconds at the meet, becoming the first woman her age to ever accomplish that feat.

The 95-year-old, who takes only one prescription drug and recalls names and dates with the speed of someone half her age, said she feels years younger than her true age.

"Like a puppy," Keeling declared.  "I feel younger now than when I was in my 30s and 40s!"

Over her long life, Keeling has endured the kind of heartbreak and hardship that could grind anyone down.  Her mother passed away when she was a child, and her husband died suddenly of a heart attack when he was just 42.  She lost two sons, Charles and Donald, to drug-related killings in 1979 and 1981.

But in running, Keeling found a refuge.

Her daughter, Shelley Keeling, who is a lawyer and real estate investor and coaches track and field at a nearby high school, convinced her to go on a "mini-run" when her mother was 67.  Two years later, Ida Keeling ran a 5K race, and she's been running ever since.

"It felt good, and I felt uplifted.  I said, 'Well, gee, this is for me,"' Kelling said.

When asked about the secrets to her good health, Keeling said she eats a light breakfast for dinner and a dinner -- say hamburger, or liver, or fish -- for breakfast.

Keeling said she is not sure how much longer she will run, although she said she hopes to "make it to 108," which would give her four more years than her father's mother, who lived until the age of 104.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


YouTube Vids on Cutting: Harmful or Helpful?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ONTARIO, Canada) -- YouTube provides easy access to videos of almost anything, but what is the impact on viewers, especially younger viewers, when "anything" includes hundreds of photos, video clips and montages of self-harming behaviors such as cutting and self-mutilation?

In a study that analyzed the videos, Canadian researchers found that the 100 most popular videos portraying self-harm on YouTube have been viewed more than 2 million times and selected as "favorite" more than 12,000 times, triggering concern over what kind of impact the sharing and viewing of these videos may be having on those at risk for self-injurious behavior.

"We found that very few videos actually encourage self-injury," says the lead author on the study, Stephen Lewis of the University of Guelph in Ontario. "Most were neutral or hopeful for overcoming this issue.”

Concerned for the potential risks, YouTube contacted researchers and has since removed the videos they considered inappropriate content, Lewis says.

Self-injury behavior, which, in the videos, most often took the form of self-cutting, is known as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) because while it involves the deliberate destruction of one's own body tissue, it is not necessarily driven by a desire for suicide. Often, self-harmers report that cutting is a form of coping with emotional pain and that the act of inflicting pain on themselves provides powerful momentary relief from mental distress, says Kim Gratz, director of personality disorders research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Though it's hard to gauge the prevalence of this behavior, Gratz says that studies find that between 17 and 40 percent of college students admit to committing self harm and between 15 and 30 percent of high school students do.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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