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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: March, 2010

POSTED: Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 11:03 AM

Millions of Americans take cholesterol lowering drugs known as statins. But a new study by Italian researchers suggests that at least one of those drugs – simvastatin, sold under the brand name Zocor by Merck & Co. and now available as a generic – lower the body’s ability to fight infections.

The researchers studied the impact of simvastatin on human cells and in mice. They said that the drug reduces the ability of immune cells called macrophages to destroy certain bacteria and then increases the body’s production of cytokines, molecules that cause inflammation.

"Statins are key drugs in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease," said Cosima T. Baldari, Ph.D., a scientist from the University of Siena in Italy, who is  the study’s senior author. "Our understanding of how these drugs affect the immune system should help maximize the benefits of these excellent drugs."

POSTED: Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 9:00 AM
As the snow falls Thursday, Ronnie Murphy sells umbrellas for a bargain price of $3 near the Market Street subway on 15th Street. (Sarah Schu / Staff Photographer)

Ok, my 6-month-old daughter won’t be watching any so-called “educational” DVDs when she gets a bit older.

Researchers from the University of California – Riverside followed 96 one- to two-year-old children over six weeks to see if those exposed to educational DVDs had learned anything. The children were divided into two groups with half given a DVD to watch at home over six weeks. All the children returned every two weeks for vocabulary testing.

The researchers wrote: The purpose of the study was to explore whether children between the ages of 12 and 25 months learned words from Baby Wordsworth, a commercially available DVD from the Walt Disney Company's Baby Einstein DVD series (The Baby Einstein Company, Glendale, California). The 35-minute DVD highlights 30 English labels for common objects and rooms in the house and combines short puppet skits with live footage of children and parents playing and interacting around the house.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 7:12 AM
As the snow falls Thursday, Ronnie Murphy sells umbrellas for a bargain price of $3 near the Market Street subway on 15th Street. (Sarah Schu / Staff Photographer)

Researchers from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania studied whether instructions delivered via cell phone would improve the quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

The researchers randomly assigned 160 participants into four groups – two made up of individuals trained in CPR and two of untrained people. Prerecorded CPR instructions were provided to one group of those trained in CPR and to one  untrained group.

All the participants attempted CPR on a mannequin for three minutes. The researchers concluded that those who had cell phone instructions performed CPR better than those who did not have that assistance. They also found that there was no difference in the quality of the procedure between those who had been trained and those who were untrained – as long as they had the cell phone instructions.

POSTED: Monday, March 1, 2010, 8:12 AM

The tragic deaths of Gina Gentile, 16, and Vanessa Dorwart, 15, who were struck by an Amtrak Acela train in Norwood at 10:28 a.m. Thursday, grew – if possible – worse Saturday when police said the teens had committed suicide. As a father of two young daughters, I can only imagine the pain the families are feeling. There is nothing good about this horrible situation.

Friends of the girls said they had been upset about the death of Gentile’s boyfriend in a January bicycle accident, reported my colleagues Mari A. Schaefer, Nancy Phillips, and Tom Infield. Their parents, however, had seen no signs they were contemplating taking their own lives.

Perhaps the girls' deaths can raise awareness of the problem of teen suicide and convince parents to educate themselves about signals that could help prevent similar tragedies. I searched for credible information on suicide warning signs in teenagers.

POSTED: Monday, March 1, 2010, 6:30 AM

As the parent of two young children – one who is three-and-a-half and another who just turned six months – I am hypersensitive to anything that might impact their health.

For example, my oldest daughter didn’t eat meat until she was two. We spent more money and time to ensure we bought organic food, milk and juices for her. We are following the same approach with our youngest who has recently started on solid (I’m not really sure why they call it solid since it seems pretty gooey to me) food. So whenever either girl has needed vaccines we asked questions and thoroughly discussed possible health issues with our pediatrician.

Still, an analysis of a survey of parents’ views about vaccines in the medical journal Pediatrics is stunning and cause for concern to parents. Both my children are in daycare and potentially exposed to other kids whose parents refuse vaccines. In fact, it is likely at least a few of the kids in each of my daughters’ classrooms are not fully vaccinated, putting all the children in the room at increased risk of illness.

About this blog

Check Up covers major health events in our region and offers everything from personal health advice to an expert look at health reform. Read about some of our bloggers here.

For Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section

Michael Cohen id the president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Horsham.

Daniel Hoffman is the president of Pharmaceutical Business Research Associates (PBRA) in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, a healthcare research and consulting company specializing in key account positioning and messaging.

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