Health News of Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Lack of Sleep Disrupting Knowledge Growth

Late nights and lax bedtime routines can blunt young children’s minds, research suggests. The findings on sleep patterns and brain power come from a UK study of more than 11,000 seven-year-olds.

Youngsters who had no regular bedtime or who went to bed later than 21:00 had lower scores for reading and maths.

Lack of sleep may disrupt natural body rhythms and impair how well the brain learns new information say the study authors. They gathered data on the children at the ages of three, five and then seven to find out how well they were doing with their learning and whether this might be related to their sleeping habits. Erratic bedtimes were most common at the age of three, when around one in five of the children went to bed at varying times.

By the age of seven, more than half the children had a regular bedtime of between 19:30 and 20:30. Overall, children who had never had regular bedtimes tended to fare worse than their peers in terms of test scores for reading, maths and spatial awareness.

The impact was more obvious throughout early childhood in girls than in boys and appeared to be cumulative. The researchers, led by Prof Amanda Sacker from University College London, said it was possible that inconsistent bedtimes were a reflection of chaotic family settings and it was this, rather than disrupted sleep, that had an impact on cognitive performance in children.

“We tried to take these things into account,” said Prof Sacker. The children with late and erratic bedtimes came from more socially disadvantaged backgrounds and were less likely to be read to each night and, generally, watched more TV – often on a set in their own bedroom.

After controlling for such factors, the link between poorer mental performance and lax bedtimes remained. The findings are published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Source: BBC News

Glaucoma screening Failed, Not enough Evidence to prove: Panel

There is not enough evidence to say whether screening adults without vision problems for glaucoma has any clear benefit, according to a government-backed panel.

Between 2 and 4 million people in the U.S. have the degenerative eye condition, which occurs when there is damage to the optic nerve fibers that run between the eye and the brain.

In its new recommendations, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) says there are not enough data showing tests for glaucoma are accurate and that treating early glaucoma ultimately prevents vision loss and improves quality of life.

“At this point, probably the most critical gap in the evidence is an approach to screening that actually works,” said Dr. Virginia Moyer, chair of the Task Force from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

She said a full-on eye exam that could adequately detect early signs of glaucoma takes a long time and is “way too complicated for a primary care appointment.”

In looking over past studies, the USPSTF found some evidence that treating early glaucoma can reduce the chance people will develop tiny defects in the visual field, which are usually unnoticeable.

One 2007 review showed a 38 percent lower chance of those defects with treatments such as medicated eye drops, compared to sham treatment with a placebo or nothing.

However, there is “inadequate evidence” that treatment for people without symptoms can prevent more serious vision loss and blindness, the panel wrote Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“It’s clear that the treatment can improve the disease,” Moyer told Reuters Health. “It’s not crystal clear that the treatment of disease before it’s noticeable improves the outcome.”

What’s more, most glaucoma tests available in primary care offices aren’t very accurate, according to the USPSTF, and can’t discern when vision problems are likely to get worse. That could lead some people who never would have developed advanced glaucoma to be diagnosed and treated unnecessarily.

Dr. Angelo Tanna, a glaucoma researcher from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said screening can still be useful when performed by an ophthalmologist.

“I agree, we don’t have strong scientific evidence that proves that screening for glaucoma helps,” Tanna, who wasn’t involved in creating the new guidelines, told Reuters Health.

“But there’s very compelling common sense knowledge that screening for glaucoma is a benefit,” he added. “There’s no question that identifying and treating glaucoma reduces the risk of progressive vision loss.”

He pointed to recommendations from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which call for regular eye exams for adults with frequency varying by age. For example, the group says people younger than 40 should have a comprehensive exam every five to ten years, and those aged 65 and older should be evaluated every one to two years. Source: Reuters

Urine odour test for bladder cancer

UK scientists have made a device that can “smell” bladder cancer in urine samples.

It uses a sensor to detect gaseous chemicals that are given off if cancer cells are present.

Early trials show the tests gives accurate results more than nine times in 10, its inventors told PLoS One journal.

But experts say more studies are needed to perfect the test before it can become widely available.

Each year around 10,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Doctors have been searching for ways to spot this cancer at an earlier stage when it is more treatable.

And many have been interested in odours in urine, since past work suggests dogs can be trained to recognise the scent of cancer.

Prof Chris Probert, from Liverpool University, and Prof Norman Ratcliffe, of the University of the West of England, say their new device can read cancer smells.

“It reads the gases that chemicals in the urine can give off when the sample is heated,” said Prof Ratcliffe.

To test their device, they used 98 samples of urine – 24 from men known to have bladder cancer and 74 from men with bladder-related problems but no cancer.

Prof Probert said the results were very encouraging but added: “We now need to look at larger samples of patients to test the device further before it can be used in hospitals.”

Dr Sarah Hazell, senior science communication officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “It would be great to be able to detect the ‘smell’ of cancer in a robust and practical way but, promising though this work is, we’re not there yet.

“This latest method is still at an early stage of development, and needs to be tried out on a much larger set of samples, including samples from both women and men.

“The researchers say that the test would be around 96% accurate in practice and their findings are only based on a relatively small number of samples, taken only from men. But it is another promising step towards detecting bladder cancer from urine samples, something that would ultimately provide a less invasive means of diagnosing the disease.” Source: BBC News

Prenatal smoking lead to hearing loss in adolescents

Parents can add hearing loss to the list of bad things tobacco smoke can do to children.

Previously, prenatal smoking has been linked to negative consequences in children of all ages, including premature birth, low weight or underdevelopment and asthma. Now, a connection also has been made between smoking while pregnant and hearing loss in adolescents, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology.

“Cigarette smoking is probably the worst man-made epidemic,” says Michael Weitzman, study author and a professor at the New York University School of Medicine.

In a group of 964 kids ranging in age from 12 to 15 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2005-2006, about 16% of parents confirmed prenatal smoke exposure. In most cases, kids with exposure were roughly three times more likely to have mild hearing loss. Kids without exposure also were found to hear better by three decibels in comparison with those who were exposed.

“Most of the mothers in this particular sample quit (smoking) in the first trimester,” says Anil Lalwani, study contributor and professor and vice chairman for research at Columbia University. “Even brief encounters (with tobacco smoke) have negative effects.”

The study was unable to determine how exactly the damage is caused while the child is in the womb or what the exact long-term effects may be. But it did report hearing loss could lead to another list of problems for youngsters, including cognitive and behavioral issues affecting academic and social skills, or even other problems down the road such as a lower IQ and dropping out of school.

“Data suggested, whether it’s primary or secondary exposure, (prenatal smoking) has detrimental consequences to the auditory system and that damage, though sometimes mild, can have lots of negative effects for the child,” Lalwani says.

Weitzman also pointed out that other factors such as loud concerts or blaring headphones may have an influence in the amount of hearing loss in adolescents. But researchers accounted for those differences in the comparisons, and their study still showed an association between prenatal smoking and hearing loss, he says.

Though hearing loss may be moderate, Weitzman says the study is a “brand new discovery of another detrimental effect (of smoking)” and could “raise the possibilities” for advancements in health care and tobacco related research in the future.

Weitzman adds that while some question why specialists continue to study the effects of tobacco smoking, more research could benefit society by encouraging preventive care, screening and future treatments. Otherwise, hearing problems in younger generations are more likely to be left untreated, increasing the likelihood that those people will become deaf at an earlier age.

“Children are the only thing we leave for the future,” he says. “Parents’ only purpose in life is to keep the species going.” Source: BBC News

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3 Responses to Health News of Tuesday, July 09, 2013

  1. Jeanelle the Retard says:

    Since this new study indicates having this procedure is much more hygienic, thus healthy:
    GuruHank, that is curious that you would cite a blog for your “evidence”.
    GuruHank, that is curious that you would cite a blog for your “evidence”.

  2. MAK & CHEESE says:

    Remember when those whackos tried to tell us that the amount of fluoride in the drinking water was really bad, about six years ago? Remember Dr. Marcus vs. EPA? What’s all this about our tap water actually having been so dangerous as to cause tooth problems all this time?

  3. Mc L says:

    Will there be a plot to get Officer James Crowley drunk and arrested on drunk driving charges? Will the media be there to photograph and video the three drunks making fools of themselves after getting tipsy?
    Will it break out into a beer brawl? Won’t this be exciting news to get Americans diverted from the Health Care news?

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