Support Services for Autistic Youth Diminish into Adulthood

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- New research has revealed that almost 40 percent of young adults who have autism spectrum disorders (ASD) get no medical or mental health services as they transition into adulthood.

The study, published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, showed differences along racial and socioeconomic lines as well.  African-American and poor youth (in families with household income less than $25,000) were less likely to receive services than white or middle-class youth.

"Young people with an ASD and their families are pushed off a cliff when students leave high school, where special education provides many needed services," said study author and assistant professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis, Paul Shattuck.  He added that loss of these supportive services usually means reduced opportunities for autistic adults to be "productively engaged" in their communities.

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Study Finds Heart Failure Treatment More Effective For Women 

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- A new study says that a therapy to prevent heart failure is twice as effective in women as it is in men. When women were treated with a device that serves as both a pacemaker and a defibrillator, they had a 70-percent reduction in heart failure, compared to just half that rate in men, the study found.

This research builds off of a similar study done in 2009 that showed patients fared better with a combination device, rather than just with a defibrillator alone. Researchers say this data is significant because it is the first study that shows a treatment that is clearly more effective in women than in men.

The reason the combination device proved to be so effective, the study said, is because it not only regulates the heart's pace, but can monitor if there is a slowdown in the heartbeat, and send an electrical pulse to make it pick up the pace. The research centers around what is known as resynchronization therapy, a process that forces both sides of the heart to beat in unison. Women generally suffer more from this problem, researchers said, which explained why their bodies responded better to the device.

Included in the research were 453 female participants and 1,367 male subjects.

The study, entitled "Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Is More Effective in Women Than in Men:
The Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial With Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Trial," was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drug Abusers Have Trouble Interpreting Facial Expressions

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(GRANADA, Spain) -- Spanish scientists report that individuals who abuse drugs may have difficulty identifying the emotions of others from facial expressions, according  to Consumer Affairs

In the study, conducted at the University of Grenada, researchers found that 70 percent of drug abusers displayed some type of psychological deterioration.

Researchers looked at the relationship between drug abuse and the interpretation of basic emotions such as happiness, surprise, anger, fear and sadness.  Their analysis showed that drug abusers experienced difficulty identifying anger, disgust, fear and sadness by facial expression.  Additionally, individuals who regularly abuse alcohol, cannabis or cocaine saw trouble with cognitive fluency and decision-making. 

The University of Granada's study is the first to investigate the widespread presence of psychological deterioration in drug abusers enrolled in therapeutic communities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two Percent of Newborns Screened for Congenital Heart Defects

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CROMWELL, Conn.) -- A new study suggests that a majority of newborns are not screened for congenital heart defects (CHDs), the number one killer of infants and newborns.

According to a survey released Monday by Little Hearts Inc., just 1.8 percent of newborns are screened for the defects. The study also found that 58.7 percent of babies eventually diagnosed with a CHD were not screened for the defects at birth.

"Some hospitals in some states have adopted CHD screening for newborns, but we need to see screening implemented nationwide," said Lenore Cameron, president and executive director of Little Hearts. "We've seen too many babies die as a result of a CHD --babies whose lives might have been saved if only they were diagnosed sooner, which is possible with a simple pulse-oximetry test that can produce results within minutes."
Little Hearts announced the results of their survey just as CHD Awareness Week kicked off Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Allergy Sufferers Less Likely to Develop Deadly Brain Tumor

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Suffering from allergies may make you less susceptible to a far more serious condition, reports HealthDay News.

New research suggests that those who suffer from allergies are less likely to develop a malignant gliomas brain tumor -- the same type that killed Sen. Edward Kennedy -- because the immune system in people who suffer from allergies is on high alert.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, found that those with the tumors were more likely to not have allergies and the more allergies an individual had, the less likely they were to have gliomas.

Gliomas brain tumors are a the most common adult brain tumor, making up more than half of all malignant tumors diagnosed each year in the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Calif. Ground Beef Recalled Over Concerns of E. Coli Contamination

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Around 3,170 pounds of ground beef products produced by a California company were recalled Monday due to concerns about E. coli contamination.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced that a batch of beef produced at American Food Services, out of Pico Rivera, Calif., may be contaminated. The FSIS was made aware of the possible contamination after another federally regulated establishment contacted them after receiving what they believed was suspect product from the company.
Recalled products range from 10-20 pound cases of ground beef patties to 60-pound cases of lean taco grind ground beef. The potentially-contaminated products were produced Jan. 31 and distributed to restaurants in southern California.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Starting Solid Foods Too Early My Lead to Obesity in Children

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- A new study by Children’s Hospital Boston suggests childhood obesity can be triggered by when kids start solid foods. 

Study authors followed 847 infants from before birth until three years of age and surveyed the mothers about how they fed their children, particularly when they started feeding the infants solid foods. 

For the 67 percent of breastfed infants, there was no association between the timing of solid food introduction and obesity at three years of age.  For the 32 percent of formula-fed infants, however, those who were introduced to solid foods before four months of age were six times more likely to be obese at three years of age. 

The authors suggest that better adherence to the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines regarding the timing of solid food introduction may reduce the risk of childhood obesity. The AAP recommends that parents wait until infants are between four and six months of age before they introduce solid foods into their diet.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mystery Meat: The Norm in Fast Food

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- How much meat is in your Taco Bell taco filling?  How much is in your McDonald's Quarter Pounder or your Burger King Whopper?  And is this meat really meat, or something else?

These questions took center stage in January when a California woman sued Taco Bell, claiming its taco filling is only 35 percent ground beef.  The rest, she alleges in her class action suit, consists of edible padding: binders, extenders, preservatives, additives and other non-meat ingredients.

Taco Bell says not only is its filling 88 percent ground beef, but that this beef is no different from what you'd buy at your local supermarket for use at home.  The company has fought back with a counterattack ad campaign.

Kantha Shelke, chief science officer of Corvus Blue LLC, a Chicago food science and nutrition research firm, says it's frankly impossible for a consumer to know how much meat is in a food item at Taco Bell, McDonald's, Burger King or any other fast food restaurant.  That's because such disclosure is not required.  Even when an item is touted as being "all-beef," it may be only 70 percent meat and not run afoul of regulations.

Non-meat ingredients in meat items include ones that add flavor or promote consistency, and binders.

"American consumers think they're being cheated out of their money when they hear that term," says Shelke.  "But logically speaking, binders are a very natural thing.  They prevent water from coming out during cooking.  When you make meatloaf at home, you use breadcrumbs for the same reason -- to hold the moisture."

As for the meat itself, some of it can be, well, not exactly what you think of when you think of meat.

Bill Marler, a plaintiffs' attorney specializing in food safety lawsuits, says that it's common for up to 10 percent to 12 percent of that juicy burger you're about to pop into your mouth to be "ammoniated beef product" -- scraps and trimmings left over from slaughter that used to be relegated for use in pet food.

They no longer are, thanks to a treatment process that uses ammonium hydroxide to protect meat made from scraps against bacterial contamination, thus rendering it fit -- at least according to regulators -- for human consumption.

The product is produced by Beef Products Inc. of South Dakota, whose website says that if you're eating a hamburger in a "quick-service restaurant" (the food industry's preferred term for fast food), "...chances are you'll be eating product produced by BPI."

Rich Jochum, a corporate administrator for BPI, says that the process "minutely adjusts" the level of ammonium hydroxide occurring naturally in meat, and that it enjoys USDA approval.  Further, ammonium hydroxide has received GRAS ("Generally Regarded As Safe") recognition by the FDA.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Government Releases Health Care Fraudsters Most Wanted List

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Health care fraud has cost American taxpayers millions of dollars in recent years, and now the Office of the Inspector General has announced a top-ten list of people most wanted for exploiting the system for their personal gain.

While the OIG says health care fraudsters have cost taxpayers $124 million in total, there are a few notable fugitives who account for a large part of the missing money.

Three brothers working out of Miami allegedly ripped off Medicare for $110 million. One woman took Medi-Cal, the Medicaid program in the state of California, for $17.1 million, authorities say. The OIG says another man billed Medicare for $1.1 million.

Overall OIG says it is tracking about 170 fugitives, but that two of the top ten most wanted have been taken into custody. The organization stressed that it needs all the help it can get from the public, and offers both a phone number and online form to report a fugitive.

The most wanted list is available online at

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: School Lunches Linked to Obesity

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A study has found that childhood obesity can be linked to the consumption of school lunches.

The study found that children who regularly consume school lunches had a 29 percent higher chance of becoming obese, as compared to their classmates who brought lunches from home, according to a report by The New York Times.

The study was conducted in southeast Michigan, and involved over a thousand sixth grade students from area schools. According to the story by the Times, of the 142 obese students who took part in the study, almost half consumed school lunches on a regular basis, while only one-third of the 787 children who were not obese regularly consumed school lunches.

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