Pas­sive smok­ing an exam killer for chil­dren

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Com­piled by Dr Chris­tine White

SMOK­ING par­ents may not only af­fect their chil­dren’s health with sec­ond­hand smoke, they may also dam­age their aca­demic per­for­mance. Sur­pris­ing find­ings in the Jour­nalofA­do­les­cen­tHealth this week show that ex­po­sure to sec­ond­hand smoke at home de­creases the chances of pass­ing school ex­ams by 30 per cent. The study was based on in­for­ma­tion from 6380 preg­nant women and their chil­dren. Aca­demic per­for­mance was mea­sured on the Bri­tish Or­di­nary Level (O-Level) and Ad­vanced Level (A-Level) ex­ams, usu­ally taken at age 16 and 18, re­spec­tively. In­for­ma­tion was gath­ered on chil­dren’s ex­po­sure to smok­ing prior to birth and as teenagers, as well as their gen­der and so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus. Even af­ter ac­count­ing for th­ese other fac­tors, pas­sive smok­ing at home still in­creased the chances of fail­ing ex­ams. The find­ings should fur­ther en­cour­age par­ents to stop smok­ing around their chil­dren, or quit al­to­gether, say the au­thors. JA­do­lescHealth 2007;41:363-370 (Collins BN, et al) PREG­NANT women at risk of pre­ma­ture labour are usu­ally given a sin­gle in­jec­tion of cor­ti­cos­teroids to help the baby’s lungs to ma­ture. Some women are given mul­ti­ple in­jec­tions, but a new study in theNew Eng­landJour­nalofMedicine has found that giv­ing mul­ti­ple doses of cor­ti­cos­teroids in­creases the risk of cere­bral palsy in ba­bies. Women given an ini­tial dose of cor­ti­cos­teroids be­tween 23 and 31 weeks of preg­nancy were ran­domly as­signed to re­ceive ei­ther weekly in­jec­tions of the cor­ti­cos­teroid be­tametha­sone or placebo in­jec­tions. In to­tal, 556 chil­dren born to th­ese women were given phys­i­cal and brain func­tion tests at two to three years of age. Six chil­dren whose moth­ers re­ceived mul­ti­ple cor­ti­cos­teroid in­jec­tions had cere­bral palsy, com­pared to only one child in the placebo group. While the num­ber of af­fected chil­dren was small, the au­thors con­clude that the in­creased risk is con­cern­ing and war­rants fur­ther study. NEnglJMed 2007;357:1190-1198 (Wap­ner RJ, et al) ACUPUNCTURE may be more ef­fec­tive at re­liev­ing lower back pain than stan­dard treat­ments, ac­cord­ing to new re­search in the ArchivesofIn­ter­nalMedicine . The study in­volved 1162 pa­tients with an av­er­age age of 50, who had suf­fered from lower back pain for an av­er­age of eight years. Over six months, pa­tients un­der­went 10 half-hour ses­sions of Chi­nese ‘‘ verum’’ acupuncture (387 pa­tients), sham acupuncture (387 pa­tients) or con­ven­tional ther­apy (388 pa­tients). Dur­ing verum acupuncture, nee­dles were in­serted at fixed points to a depth of 5-40 mm, while sham acupuncture con­sisted of in­sert­ing nee­dles su­per­fi­cially (1-3 mm), avoid­ing all known acupuncture points. Con­ven­tional ther­apy was a com­bi­na­tion of med­i­ca­tion, phys­i­cal ther­apy and ex­er­cise. Af­ter six months, 47.6 per cent of the verum acupuncture group, 44.2 per cent of the sham acupuncture group and only 27.4 per cent of the con­ven­tional ther­apy group re­ported a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in pain lev­els. Any form of acupuncture may there­fore pro­vide ef­fec­tive re­lief from lower back pain, con­clude the au­thors. ArchIn­ternMed 2007;167:1892-1898 (Haake M, et al) CHIL­DREN at risk of de­vel­op­ing type 1 (ju­ve­nile) di­a­betes could ben­e­fit from in­creas­ing their di­etary in­take of omega-3 fatty acids, con­cludes a new study in the Jour­naloftheAmer­i­canMed­i­calAs­so­ci­a­tion . Type 1 di­a­betes is a dis­ease where the body’s own im­mune sys­tem at­tacks the cells in the pan­creas that make in­sulin — the hor­mone that con­trols blood sugar lev­els. A to­tal of 1770 chil­dren at in­creased risk for type 1 di­a­betes were in­volved in the study. Start­ing at around two years of age, yearly sur­veys were com­pleted by par­ents, de­scrib­ing their child’s in­take of foods con­tain­ing fatty acids. Over­all, 58 chil­dren de­vel­oped di­a­betes be­fore the age of six. High in­take of omega3 fatty acids — mainly from fish — was linked to a 55 per cent re­duced risk of di­a­betes, sug­gest­ing that omega-3 sup­ple­ments could be used to pre­vent the on­set of type 1 di­a­betes. JAMA 2007;298:1420-1428 (Nor­ris JM, et al) KID­NEY trans­plants can fail even when the donor and re­cip­i­ent seem to be per­fectly matched. Now sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered one ex­pla­na­tion that could lead to bet­ter screen­ing for kid­ney donors and more suc­cess­ful trans­plants. In theNew Eng­land Jour­nalofMedicine this week, they show that pro­teins called MICA anti­gens on the in­ner lin­ing of blood ves­sels can cause the re­cip­i­ent’s im­mune sys­tem to pro­duce an­ti­bod­ies and re­ject the trans­plant. Sci­en­tists tested blood sam­ples from 1910 pa­tients be­fore they re­ceived a kid­ney trans­plant. The higher the lev­els of an­ti­bod­ies against MICA, the faster the kid­ney trans­plant was re­jected. Cur­rently, only pro­teins on white blood cells — the cells of the im­mune sys­tem — are ex­am­ined and matched be­tween or­gan donors and re­cip­i­ents. Th­ese find­ings could lead to rou­tine test­ing of MICA an­ti­body lev­els in trans­plant pa­tients, and new treat­ments to pre­vent trans­plant re­jec­tion. NEnglJMed 2007;357:1293-1300 (Zou Y, et al) MUL­TI­PLE scle­ro­sis (MS) and ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis (UC)— a type of in­flam­ma­tory bowel dis­ease that causes colon ul­cers and di­ar­rhoea — may have com­mon causes, ac­cord­ing to new Aus­tralian re­search pub­lished in the In­ter­nalMedicineJour­nal . Led by Dr Christo­pher Pokorny from Liver­pool Hospi­tal and the Univer­sity of NSW in Syd­ney, the re­search team ex­am­ined med­i­cal records at Liver­pool Hospi­tal dated be­tween 1996 and 2006 and iden­ti­fied 496 pa­tients with MS and 414 pa­tients with UC. There were four pa­tients with both UC and MS, two of whom de­vel­oped UC af­ter they were di­ag­nosed with MS. Given that some treat­ments for UC can dam­age the pro­tec­tive cov­er­ing of brain cells — the same process that oc­curs in MS— the au­thors claim that com­mon un­der­ly­ing causes of the two dis­eases should be fur­ther in­ves­ti­gated. In­tMedJ 2007;37:721-724 (Pokorny CS, et al) Want to know more? Items are ref­er­enced where pos­si­ble. A ref­er­ence such as ‘‘ 2007;35:18-25’’ means the source ar­ti­cle was pub­lished on pages 18-25 in vol­ume num­ber 35 of the pub­li­ca­tion, in 2007. A doi num­ber or web­site ad­dress is used for re­search pub­lished on a jour­nal’s web­site.

Acupuncture: Works for lower back pain

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.