Today's Healthcare News

Today's Healthcare News

The symptoms of autism such as delayed speech and repetitive rocking are neither cognitively relevant for the age, or physically possible very early in life, this is how autism is very difficult to detect until about 2 or 3 years of age. Investigators happen to be getting better at detecting the signs of autism, even in babies. Autistic babies are often less interested in human interaction than inanimate objects.

Using blinking as a sign of attention, researchers at Yale University observe when children stop blinking, while they are being shown videos. Those that focus on a kiss rather than an opening and closing door are less likely to be autistic. Similarly, a researcher at Vanderbilt University studied how babies seek help to open a sealed cookie jar. One may look at an adult and babble searching for assistance, while others may never make eye contact and place the adults hand on the jar. Researchers believe that the latter is the behavior that raises the red flag.

Intervention begins the earlier the diagnosis of autism so one can see why these types of tests may be of great service.

A recent survey of the use of antidepressants in the U.S. was released by the Archives of General Psychiatry. The statistics were quite the eye opener. According to the survey the percentage of the population using antidepressants has gone up 4%, from the period of 1996 to 2005. This population surge from 6% of the population to 10% is the equivalent of more than 27 million people.

These numbers solidify antidepressants as the most widely prescribed class of medication in the U.S. Antidepressants are now being used to treat a myriad of diverse conditions aside from depression and anxiety symptoms alone. Some examples of these conditions treated are sleeplessness and pain. According to the article source, (Times’ A to Z health guide) the “direct-to-consumer advertising is certainly helping fuel this trend, as is the greater openness with which people are discussing psychological problems“.

Some interesting cross cultural statistics reported are that there is a lower rate of antidepressant use in African Americans as opposed to whites. This finding raises the question of the existence of the cultural preference for traditional counseling among African Americans. The source shares 2 interesting statistics a s well. There has been a increase in the use of antipsychotic medications in those taking these antidepressants and, a bold issue of concern for me, 80% of people taking antidepressants that are receiving their prescription from a type of MD who is not a psychiatrist.

Which is better- low fat or low carb diets?

A recent article posed the question as to which is better; low-carb or low-fat dieting. It seems as though both are deemed effective diet styles. According to a study out of the University of Pennsylvania low-carb diets offer results faster, but low fat diets seem to keep the weight off longer.

Dr. Marion Vetter was quoted ” Although participants in the low-carbohydrate group lost more weight at 12 months, they regained more weight during the next 24 months.” After a period of about three years , low fat dieters weighed an average of about 10 lbs. less while the low- carb dieters weighed about 5lbs. less, than when they first started the diet.

TIME magazines’ supplement: A to Z health guide tells of a study in which 49 patients underwent a treatment which is described as being similar to a forehead lift. More than half of the 49 patients reported that their migraines were completely gone, and 83% claimed that their frequency of migraines had gone down by at least half following this procedure. It is believed that an irritation of the area of the head called trigeminal nerve branch (If my memory serves me correctly….cranial nerve V!), is the suspect cause of migraines.

This surgical procedure, is described in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Some of the muscles around these nerves are removed, relieving the painful irritation and also reducing forehead wrinkles. In the design of the study, a control group of an additional 26 patients were randomly assigned to receive a “sham surgery” that has no effect on these sites where migraines are triggered. This incorporation into the design of the research, challenges the ever-so-prevalent placebo effect often associated with pain treatments.

One year later, 4% of the control group, or 1 of the 26 patients, versus the 57% in the intervention group, made the claim that the migraines ceased. Lending a large amount of validity, those numbers in the research are quite compelling. This sort of breakthrough could be a potential goldmine for plastic surgeons, considering that the article states “nearly 30 million Americans get migraines, and spend billions of dollars in treatment for them each year.

Supposedly our bodies know the difference between glucose, fructose, and sucrose.

Researchers at the University of California-Davis conducted a detailed analyses of how we process glucose; a product of the catabolic actions on starches like carbohydrates, and fructose- sugars that are found naturally in fruits. These researchers found that fructose can put you at a greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Those who consume excess fructose produce more fat in their livers and have a diminished sensitivity to insulin. Most of the sugars found in processed foods; like the ones we so often see in the grocery store; is in fact sucrose which is a disaccharide of glucose and fructose.

So these researchers claim that the best solution may be to consume less sweetened beverages. What they see as how many of us get our biggest dose of sucrose.

Researchers have located a gene on the 16th chromosome associated with obesity. So if one is overweight, it is not necessarily wrong to point the finger of blame at ones genetic makeup. If you have two copies of this gene you may be at a staggering 67% greater likelihood than those who do not have 2 copies to be obese. But exercise is the answer! A study of 704 Amish men and women showed that the ones who were physically active despite having being at a greater risk for obesity having the 2 copies of the gene stayed within a normal weight range despite their genetic programming.

It was disclosed that the thinner group was actually getting 3 to 4 hours of “moderate” exercise” a day. This is not manageable to most people. The scientists still stressed “any exercise helps some–even if it takes a lot to help a lot”.

Blood pressure check

Research now suggests that hypertension can now be linked to cognitive problems. Some examples of theses problems are poor information processing and a fading memory. The journal Neurology, published a report in which researchers analyzed data from more than 19,000 patients aged 45 and up. These researchers found a 7% increase in the likelihood of cognitive problems with every 10 point increase in their measured diastolic blood pressure. The studies authors suggest that, this relationship may be due to a changes in brain vessels. This thickening of arterial walls and diminished elasticity decreasing blood circulation; known as arteriosclerosis, would make it ” impossible for the brain to function as it should”.

The investigators admit that these results do not necessarily imply causation. The two problems, of diminished cognition and elevated diastolic pressures could coincide for a variety of other reasons of which are not known. They go on to say that it is even a possibility that memory and information processing problems may actually be driving the high blood pressure by affecting diet and weight.