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Health Headlines - November 15

Posted Nov 14 2009 10:01pm
Web site says how human milk saves infants

A Web site by the University of California, San Diego Medical Center offers information on how to provide human milk to premature and underweight infants.

Dr. Jae Kim, medical director of the Supporting Premature Infant Nutrition Program at UC San Diego Medical Center, said infants born prematurely sometimes develop the infection necrotizing enercolitis, the most common life-threatening gastrointestinal emergency in newborns.

Necrotizing enercolitis causes intense inflammation and acute intestinal necrosis or death, compromising 1 percent to 5 percent of all neonatal intensive care unit admissions and affecting 10 percent of infants born at less than 3 pounds.

"One of the goals of this Web site is to help fellow hospitals adapt our model of human milk nutrition in their own neonatal intensive care units," Kim said in a statement.

"Since the implementation of our feeding protocols, we have seen rates of human milk feeding go up by 15 percent. We'd love to see this become a nationwide trend."

Before the program started, the rate of necrotizing enercolitis at UC San Diego Medical Center was 5.8 percent; last year it was less than 1 percent, Kim said.

The Web site is at:


Drug company warns of contamination

Tiny pieces of steel, non-latex rubber and fiber-like material have been found in some medications made by Genzyme Corp., U.S. regulators say.

Genzyme reported the particle contamination in less than1 percent of the affected drugs, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

The medications are used to treat rare, serious and life-threatening genetic diseases, the Cambridge, Mass., biotech company said.

Intravenous administration of the contaminated drugs could cause damage to blood vessels and severe allergic reactions.

The contaminated products are marketed by Genzyme under the names Cerezyme, Fabrayzme, Myozyme, Aldurazyme and Thyrogen.


Doctors gauge patients' religious views

U.S. sociologists find religion plays a greater role in medical decisions involving seriously ill children, especially when difficult decisions must be made.

Researchers Elaine Howard Ecklund of Rice University in Houston, Wendy Cadge of Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and Nicholas Short of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston interviewed 30 doctors at top-tier U.S. medical centers and found pediatricians and pediatric oncologists had differing views on religion and spirituality.

"Pediatric oncologists are more likely than the pediatricians interviewed to see the religion or spirituality of patients as relevant to their professional jurisdictions," the authors said in a statement. However, "the majority of the physicians interviewed see religion and spirituality as most relevant in difficult medical decision-making situations, in particular those made about end-of-life care."

The researchers concluded the physicians surveyed saw religion and spirituality as both a barrier and a bridge to medical care. It was a barrier when it impeded their work or care of children -- especially care of children who are Jehovah's Witnesses, Orthodox Jews or members of religious traditions that have existed in some tension with biomedicine, the researchers said.

The study is published in Social Problems.


Classroom no haven from bullying in school

Many assume bullying in school occurs mostly in unsupervised locations like lunchrooms, but a lot of it occurs in classrooms, U.S. researchers found.

Lead researchers H. Wesley Perkins at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., and colleagues used anonymous online surveys conducted with more than 10,000 middle-school students.

Their research found that within the most recent month, 43 percent had been physically bullied; 51 percent teased in an unfriendly way; 50 percent called hurtful names; 31 percent excluded from a group to hurt their feelings; 28 percent had belongings taken or broken; 39 percent had an unkind rumor spread about them; and 21 percent were threatened to be hurt.

One out of four students had skipped recess, not gone to the bathroom, lunch or a class, pretended to be sick, went home or avoided a hallway to get away from a bully, the researchers said.

Fifty percent to 57 percent of bullying occurred in the classroom, lunchroom and hallways.

"These findings show that it is erroneous to think of the classroom as a safe haven from bullying and to think that more remote or less monitored areas of school are necessarily the greatest risk for students," Perkins said in a statement.

The findings were presented at the American Public Health Association's 137th annual meeting & exposition in Philadelphia.


Anti-psychotics overused for dementia

Anti-psychotic drugs contribute to the deaths of hundreds of dementia patients each year, a British study found.

Researchers found about 180,000 people with dementia are prescribed anti-psychotic medications every year in Britain, the BBC said. This includes people in hospitals, nursing homes and their own homes.

The drugs, developed to help schizophrenics, are used to control aggressive behavior.

Sube Banerjee of King's College London, who headed the review, said only about 36,000 patients benefit from the drugs. He recommended they be given for no more than three months at a time.

In at least 1,800 cases, the drugs contribute to deaths, Banerjee said.

The government has said steps will be taken to reduce the number of prescriptions given for the drugs. They include giving patients other forms of treatment like counseling, more training for healthcare workers, information sessions for family members and stricter controls on prescriptions.

A new national dementia director will be named to monitor how the drugs are used.
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