Saturday, April 23, 2011

Child with CP and Family Facing Deportation Because of Child's Burden on Medical/Educational System - One Victory, for now...

MONTREAL - A family from France who were told they could not remain in Canada because their 8-year-old handicapped daughter would be an “excessive burden” on social services has won a reprieve after the intervention of Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil.

David Barlagne’s family will be allowed to stay in Montreal, after an agreement between the federal and provincial immigration departments, Weil’s spokesperson Renaud Dugas said Wednesday.

“We had discussions with (Ottawa) and found a solution that will allow the family to stay,” Dugas said.

The family were facing expulsion from Canada in July after Canadian immigration officials rejected Barlagne’s application for permanent residency status, saying his daughter, Rachel, was deemed “medically inadmissible” because she has cerebral palsy.

Her “excessive burden” on social services would have amounted to $5,259 a year in special educational costs.

Read more:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Having Both Autism and Epilepsy Linked to Raised Death Rates

Having Both Autism and Epilepsy Linked to Raised Death Rates

Study found nearly 40% of brain tissue donors with autism also had epilepsy

FRIDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- People with both autism and epilepsy have a much higher death rate than those with autism alone, a new study finds.

Researchers examined brain tissue donated to the Autism Speaks Autism Tissue Program, and found that 39 percent of the donors with autism also had epilepsy, which is significantly higher than the estimated rate of epilepsy among the general autism population.

The study authors also examined data from the California State Department of Developmental Services, and found that people with both autism and epilepsy have an 800 percent higher death rate than those with autism alone.

Mortality in Individuals With Autism, With and Without Epilepsy

Previous studies show higher mortality rates among individuals with autism than the general population. Comorbidity with epilepsy is an assumed, often ill-defined factor in the increased mortality rates of individuals with autism. Data from the Autism Tissue Program, a tissue donation program established to support biomedical research on autism, show that approximately one-third of its brain donors with autism also had epilepsy. Analysis of new data from the California State Department of Developmental Services is consistent with past reports showing that there is a higher than expected rate of mortality in individuals with autism and epilepsy than autism alone. Accurate, complete and accessible records on cause of death are necessary not just for brain research, but also for understanding risk factors that contribute to early death in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Various national health care and state developmental disability agency initiatives to reduce risk of mortality are described.

Jane Pickett, PhD
  1. Autism Tissue Program; Autism Speaks, Director, Brain Resources and Data, San Diego, California

Levetiracetam for Treatment of Neonatal Seizures


Neonatal seizures are often refractory to treatment with initial antiseizure medications. Consequently, clinicians turn to alternatives such as levetiracetam, despite the lack of published data regarding its safety, tolerability, or efficacy in the neonatal population. We report a retrospectively identified cohort of 23 neonates with electroencephalographically confirmed seizures who received levetiracetam. Levetiracetam was considered effective if administration was associated with a greater than 50% seizure reduction within 24 hours. Levetiracetam was initiated at a mean conceptional age of 41 weeks. The mean initial dose was 16 ± 6 mg/kg and the mean maximum dose was 45 ± 19 mg/kg/day. No respiratory or cardiovascular adverse effects were reported or detected. Levetiracetam was associated with a greater than 50% seizure reduction in 35% (8 of 23), including seizure termination in 7. Further study is warranted to determine optimal levetiracetam dosing in neonates and to compare efficacy with other antiseizure medications.

Journal of Child Neurology

Predictors of Outcome in Term Infants With Neonatal Seizures Subsequent to Intrapartum Asphyxia

Neonates with distress, EEG, and neurology evaluations in infants...from the Journal of Child Neurology

The objective of this study was to define potential clinical prognostic factors for term infants with neonatal seizures subsequent to intrapartum asphyxia. The authors completed a retrospective analysis of 62 term infants with clinical neonatal seizures subsequent to intrapartum asphyxia. Logistic regression analysis was applied to determine the independent prognostic indicators of an adverse outcome. A total of 23 (37%) infants had a normal outcome, 34 (55%) survived with 1 or more neurodevelopmental impairments (23 cerebral palsy, 28 global developmental delay, 15 epilepsy, with 18 combination of two, and 9 all three), and 5 (8%) died. Six variables were associated with an adverse outcome, but only the presence of meconium aspiration, a low (≤ 3) 1-minute Apgar score, seizure type other than focal clonic, and moderately severely abnormal electroencephalography (EEG) background findings were independently associated with an adverse outcome. Signs of acute distress are predictors of adverse outcome, alongside seizure semiology and moderate to severe EEG background abnormalities.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Announcement from the Food & Drug Administration: Topamax (topiramate): Recall

Announcement from the Food & Drug Administration:
Topamax (topiramate):
Recall - Musty Odor

ISSUE: Ortho-McNeil Neurologics Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is recalling two lots of Topamax (topiramate) 100mg Tablets. The recall stems from four consumer reports of an uncharacteristic odor thought to be caused by trace amounts of TBA (2,4,6 tribromoanisole). While not considered to be toxic, TBA can generate an offensive odor and a small number of patients have reported temporary gastrointestinal symptoms. There have been no reported serious adverse events caused by the presence of TBA in Topamax.

BACKGROUND: Topamax is indicated as initial monotherapy in patients 10 years of age and older with partial onset or primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures; as adjunctive therapy for adults and pediatric patients ages 2 − 16 years with partial onset seizures, or primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures, and in patients 2 years of age and older with seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome; and for adults for the prophylaxis of migraine headache.

RECOMMENDATION: Patients taking Topamax 100mg Tablets who experience an uncharacteristic odor associated with their medication should return the tablets to their pharmacist, and contact their healthcare professional if they have questions.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

Read the MedWatch safety alert, including a link to the Press Release, at:

Autism Now Series: A Viewer's Guide

Series starts tonight....

Autism Now Series: A Viewer's Guide


The PBS NewsHour is launching a special series of reports, both on-air and online, about a puzzling disorder that touches many lives across the U.S.: Autism Now will take a unique -- and uniquely personal -- look at how the condition impacts families, schools and communities....

First episode here.....

"Frankly, I have a personal motive in telling it, because it's about my grandson Nick, who is 6 and lives in Cambridge, Mass." - Robert McNeil

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Congenital muscular torticollis: current concepts and review of treatment.

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2006 Feb;18(1):26-9.

Congenital muscular torticollis: current concepts and review of treatment.

Do TT.

Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The purpose of this review is to better understand the spectrum of disease in torticollis, which is the third most common pediatric orthopaedic diagnosis in childhood. Besides the benign muscular tightness of the sternocleidomastoid muscle leading to the classic head position, the differential diagnosis of the wry neck include sequelae to inflammatory, ocular, neurologic or orthopedic diseases. Patients present with a stiff and tilted neck, and therefore require a thorough and systematic work-up, including a complete physical and neurologic examination and cervical spine radiographs.

RECENT FINDINGS: Recent findings show that magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and neck is no longer considered cost-effective, or necessary, in congenital muscular torticollis. Observation and physical therapy, with or without bracing, is usually an effective treatment in most cases, especially if instituted within the first year of life. Botox has recently been shown to be an effective intermediate method of treatment for more resistant cases of congenital muscular torticollis. In those presenting after the age of 1 year, there is an increased rate of sternocleidomastoid muscle lengthening. The lengthening may improve the range of motion, but not necessarily the plagiocephaly, facial asymmetry, or cranial molding.

SUMMARY: It is important to differentiate muscular from nonmuscular torticollis. Congenital muscular torticollis is benign; missing a case of nonmuscular torticollis could be potentially life threatening.

Home stretching vs. Physical Therapy for Infantile Torticollis? Which is more effective?

PM R. 2010 Dec;2(12):1073-9.

Stretching treatment for infants with congenital muscular torticollis: physiotherapist or parents? A randomized pilot study.

Ohman A, Nilsson S, Beckung E.

Department of Physiotherapy, The Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, Sahlgrenska University Hospital/Östra, SE-416 85 Gothenburg, Sweden.


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the time needed to achieve a good result in the range of motion (ROM) in the neck for infants with congenital muscular torticollis (CMT).

DESIGN: Comparison of stretching treatments performed by physical therapists and parents.

PARTICIPANTS: Twenty infants (10 female and 10 male) with CMT.

METHOD: The infants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups. Stretching treatment was continued until a good ROM was obtained in both rotation (≥ 90°) and lateral flexion (no side difference). The main outcome measurement was treatment time. The infants were evaluated for ROM in rotation and lateral flexion, muscle function in the lateral flexor muscles of the neck, plagiocephaly, and head tilt.

RESULTS: The time needed to achieve a good result according to the ROM in the neck was significantly shorter (P < .001) in the physical therapist group than in the parent group. Symmetrical head posture was achieved sooner (P = .03) in the physical therapist group.

CONCLUSION: Infants with CMT gained good ROM and symmetric head posture approximately 2 months sooner when treated by an experienced physical therapist; however, interpretation of the results of this small study should be guarded. Further studies are needed to confirm these results.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

efforts to prevent concussions in high school athletes

Friday, April 08, 2011

Zach in the Buff: Niagara Falls

Blind Fish Sleep Less, Forage More

Fish that live in complete darkness and have lost their sight stay awake more than do sighted fish, probably because they need to spend more time feeding. Karen Hopkin reports.

Creatures that live in the dark may lose their sight over evolutionary time. They may even lose their eyes entirely. Now it appears that they also lose sleep. Because a new study shows that cave-dwelling fish spend more time awake than their counterparts at the sunny surface. The finding is in the journal Current Biology.

Researchers studied three populations of Mexican tetra in the lab. Fish that live in creeks or rivers have two eyes and see just fine. But those that have adapted to living in caves lack eyes. What they do have is insomnia. The scientists observed that the tetras that normally spend time in the light do sleep soundly at night, resting on the bottom of their tanks. The cave fish, on the other hand, remain on high alert, patrolling their habitats even after hours.

The researchers are working to identify the genes responsible for this fishy restlessness. Not that they’ll reveal how you can get by on minimal shut-eye. Because the cave fish may not need less sleep—they may need to stay awake to forage more in an environment where food can be scarce and appear unpredictably. And even a blind fish can see: you snooze, you lose.

Read the article here.

Are You Among the "Sleepless Elite" - Or Just Sleep Deprived?

For many Americans, sleeplessness is a matter of pride. Many is the hard-charging corporate climber who claims to thrive on four or five hours a night, while the rest of us weaklings wallow in our beauty sleep.

But according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, most people who believe they're naturally "short sleepers" aren't really. They're merely sleep-deprived — regularly getting less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night — and possibly putting themselves at higher risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and other health problems. That said, the elusive corps of sleepless elite does indeed exist, the Journal's Melinda Beck reports: they make up a scant 1% to 3% of the population. There isn't much data on these short sleepers, in part because they're hard to find; they don't typically seek treatment, since they don't think of their sleep habits as unusual or disordered.

What the few researchers studying the phenomenon have figured out to date is that naturally short sleepers routinely get six hours or less a night and function well, without being tired. They tend to be upbeat, optimistic and outgoing. They are high-energy multitaskers. Sometimes short sleeping begins in childhood and runs in families: Beck reports on the work of Dr. Ying-Hui Fu at the University of California, San Francisco, who discovered a gene variation, hDEC2, in a mother-daughter pair of short sleepers in 2009. When that genetic tweak was replicated in mice, they slept less too.

Read more at the link.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

From the "My Surreal Life" blog, written by Sharisa Joy Kochmeister


"A mystery - a dilemma - a puzzle - an enigma - a conundrum - a curse - a gift - a "disease" in need of a "cure" - CURE HAM, TREAT PEOPLE! I do NOT have a DISEASE - I have DIS-abilities as well as ABILITIES that cause UNEASE - generally to others! Please feel free to discuss, challenge, comment, prognosticate, pontificate, define, etc. Sharisa Joy Kochmeister, President of AUTCOM, but first and FOREMOST and ALWAYS a HUMAN BEING with HUMAN NEEDS, EMOTIONS, DESIRES and FRUSTRATIONS!"

Read the rest of the blog here.

Millions Watch Twin Baby Boys Babble: Are They Truly Talking?

By Bonnie Rochman Thursday, April 7, 2

One of my favorite children's books, Before You Were Born, recounts the legend of the angel Lailah, whom rabbinic lore has accompanying babies in utero, sharing the history of their souls. When they're born, Lailah touches them gently above their lip, leaving an indentation and causing them to instantly forget all the wisdom she's imparted. Ostensibly the ability to speak goes out the window as well, leaving a babe to slowly piece together the nuances of language over many years. Apparently, the twin brothers who've become YouTube darlings didn't get the memo.

Millions of people have watched the baby boys, clothed only in diapers and socks, appear to have a full-fledged conversation in their kitchen relying on just one syllable repeated over and over. “Da” becomes a question, an exclamation, a statement. There is cadence and inflection and intuitive understanding of the need to take turns, with one listening while the other babbles. With the accompanying hand gestures — and even the occasional kung-fu-like kick — it feels hard to deny these guys are having a real convo in their own private language.

Babies should be babbling by 10 months and using identifiable words by 14 months, on their road to slapping full sentences together. The twins in the video are using what's known as “reduplicated babbling,” in which they repeat a sound, according to Hope Dickinson, coordinator of Speech-Language Pathology Services at Children's Hospital Boston at Waltham, who spoke with Thrive, the pediatric health blog of Children's Hospital Boston.

Read more at the link.

Reconsidering the Nature of Autism

By Todd Drezner.
Director, 'Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic'

"Autism ... steals the soul from a child; then, if allowed, relentlessly sucks life's marrow out of the family members, one by one." So wrote Dr. Jerry Kartzinel in the introduction to Jenny McCarthy's bestselling "Louder Than Words." No wonder, then, that the concept of neurodiversity-- the idea that we should understand and accept autistic people as a group that thinks differently from the majority -- has proven to be so controversial.

After all, if autism is really the soul-stealing, marrow-sucking beast that Dr. Kartzinel describes, then certainly it should be cured. Neurodiversity is often dismissed as nothing more than a luxury available only to "high-functioning" autistic people, with nothing to offer to those more severely affected by autism.

I came up against this point of view many times as I made "Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic," my documentary about autism, and I've wrestled with it myself.

Even though my son struggles with communication and social interaction and suffers from multiple anxieties, most people who meet him would probably describe him as high-functioning. There's a decent chance that he can grow up to hold a job and live on his own. Neurodiversity makes sense for him, but why should I -- or anyone else -- assume that it makes sense for "lower-functioning" autistic people?

Read the rest of the article here.

Concussions in girls more likely yet overlooked

Lenny Bernstein | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The volleyball thudded off the back of Hannah Zarnich’s head, producing an instant, searing headache. It was a hard shot, in part because Zarnich was in her usual position along the front row, her back to the server, and hadn’t seen it coming.

She shook it off and kept playing. After the February game, the freshman at suburban Chantilly (Va.) High School took two Tylenol and finished the tournament, though she felt lousy and didn’t play well.

But that night the scary stuff started. Over the next four weeks, Zarnich at times couldn’t do her geometry homework because the symbols made no sense to her. She was nauseated. She was constantly tired but had trouble falling asleep at night. She couldn’t understand the crawling words on her family’s TV screen.

And she would become irritable at odd moments (yes, even more unpredictably than an average teenager).

Unless you’ve been hiding the sports pages for the past few years, you know where this is headed. Zarnich had a concussion – one whose symptoms are still with her in milder form more than a month later – though the slim 15-year-old has never strapped on a football helmet or swung a lacrosse stick.

Read the rest of the article here.

New Study on Tourette's and the Brain: Greater, Not Lesser, Motor Control

Tourette's Syndrome is a neurological disordered characterized by "repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics," according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While these movements might suggest that those with the disorder have less cognitive control over their movements, a new study published in Cell Biology suggests the opposite.

The Cell Biology study has found that those with Tourette's perform "behavioral tests of cognitive motor control more accurately and quickly than their typically developing peers do." Stephen Jackson of The University of Nottingham and his colleagues based their study on earlier research which found that not only do children with Tourette's syndrome show "enhanced cognitive control over their motor outputs," but that "the degree of their enhancement is inversely related to tic severity." That is, it seems that a person could be trained -- could even train her or himself -- to have better control over motor and vocal tics.

Read the rest of the article here.

Ask a Cop: Get enough sleep to stay safe on the streets

By Officer Al Perez
Posted: 04/06/2011 05:22:55 PM PDT

Are you getting enough sleep? Many of us are not.

Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us live a fast-paced life trying to squeeze as much activity in a day as we can. It could be long working hours, coupled with a busy family life.

Since many of us refuse or can not slow down, our bedtime keeps getting pushed back, making it impossible to get adequate sleep. The very lack of adequate sleep will most likely result in drowsiness and fatigue throughout the day, and the worst time to become sleepy is when you are behind the wheel.

Drowsiness and driving is a dangerous combination. Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving but don't realize that drowsy drivers can be just as fatal. Like alcohol, sleepiness and fatigue slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases your risk of being involved in a traffic collision.

Some studies have shown that more than 10 percent of drivers admit having fallen asleep at the wheel, while more than 20 percent say they have momentarily dozed while driving.

Read more at the link.

5 habits to help you get enough sleep

By Rachel Naud From Sniffle Solutions

Getting enough sleep can do more than lift our spirits. Research shows that skimping on shut-eye can wear down our immune systems, making us more susceptible to colds and even raising our risk for obesity and heart disease. And 2 in 3 women say they have trouble snoozing, reports a survey from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). That's because we may be our own worst enemies: Many of our daily habits -- from when we shower to what we snack on -- can sabotage our slumber.

Clean Your Room
Mom was right: Not only does making your bed keep your bedroom tidy, but it can also help you rest easy. According to recent research from the NSF, people who made their bed daily were 19 percent more likely to get a good night's sleep. A messy atmosphere can be distracting, causing you to toss and turn, explains Dr. Gila Hertz, director of the Huntington Medical Group Sleep Disorders Center in Huntington Station, N.Y. To create your own sanctuary, straighten your bedroom each morning and invest in comfortable linens.

Lay off the Caffeine
That grande latte can come back to haunt you -- even if you drank it in the afternoon. People metabolize caffeine at difference rates and, for some, the compound can linger in their systems for up to eight hours, says Dr. Judith Leech, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Canadian Sleep Society. "The brain needs to be completely relaxed to drift into sleep, so any stimulating substances can interfere with the process," says Hertz. He advises steering clear of caffeine at least five hours before bedtime. For a buzz-free afternoon pick-me-up, brew a mug of herbal tea and lemon.

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Socioeconomics Playing Reduced Role in Autism Diagnoses

ScienceDaily (Apr. 6, 2011) — While there is an increasing equality in terms of the likelihood that children from communities and families across the socioeconomic spectrum will be diagnosed with autism, a new study finds that such factors still influence the chance of an autism diagnosis, though to a much lesser extent than they did at the height of rising prevalence.

"As knowledge has spread about autism, information is now more evenly distributed across different kinds of communities," said Peter S. Bearman, the Cole Professor of the Social Sciences at Columbia University and the Director of the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Center for the Social Sciences, who coauthored the study, which appears in the April issue of the American Sociological Review. "It is also easier to find someone who can diagnose autism, so we no longer see these huge differences in rates of diagnosis. However, it appears that poor kids living in poor neighborhoods still are not being diagnosed."

The study examines birth and diagnostic records for all children born in California between 1992 and 2000 in conjunction with individual and community-level data such as parental wealth, parental education, and neighborhood property value. All children were followed from the time of birth until June 2006 to allow ample time for diagnosis. As the disorder became increasingly well-known, the average age of autism diagnosis fell from 5.9 among those children born in 1992 to 3.8 for those born in 2000.

Read the rest of the article here.

Botox boost for cerebral palsy

CHILDREN with cerebral palsy are undergoing botox treatment in Geelong as part of a program to relax their muscles and aid movement.

Drysdale youngster Rylan McFadyen, 5, has enjoyed amazing results since starting the treatment. Rylan, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of two, is one of 25 children in the region enjoying the benefits of the program, which started at the McKellar Centre in February.

Rylan has had two injections of botulinum toxin, commonly known as botox, in his legs to correct a problem with his feet that makes it difficult for him to walk.

Combined with regular treatment, fibreglass supports and exercises to stimulate movement, the injections have made a huge difference to Rylan's life by helping to lengthen the muscles in his legs and reducing pain at night.

"After the botox, he walks a lot better and it keeps his feet flatter when he's walking," Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service regional co-ordinator Therese Clark said.

Read the rest of the article here.

Banging the drums to help beat Tourette’s

By: Simon Fuller
Posted: 04/6/2011 3:58 AM

According to his mom, there were days when Ethan Ginter would come home from school without a civil word in his mouth. He would head straight into the basement and bang on his drum kit for half an hour before he could get on with his day. Eventually, thanks to a suggestion from a psychologist, Ethan, who is now 12, was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome — a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary tics and vocal outbursts. "There aren’t that many people that know about it, yet around one in 100 people are now diagnosed with it," said Ethan’s mom, Patti.

Ethan also suffers from ADHD, which is treated with medication. She advises parents to look for early warning signs of Tourette syndrome. "We knew something was not quite right, but we couldn’t explain it," she said. "Ethan lacked concentration and he was the busiest kid ever. He would snort involuntarily and we spent a long time telling him to get a Kleenex and blow his nose," Patti laughed.

Once Ethan was diagnosed, Patti joined a support group before the pair started visiting the Tourette Syndrome Service clinic, which is part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Program at St. Boniface General Hospital. Patti says it’s been a lifesaver.

Read the rest of the article here.

Secondhand smoke linked to kids' mental symptoms

Children and teens exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop symptoms of mental health problems including major depressive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and others, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Plenty of studies have linked secondhand smoke to respiratory problems, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, middle-ear infections and other physical health problems, but the link between secondhand smoke and mental health has not been examined as closely.

The new study is believed to be the first that looks at how secondhand smoke exposure - as measured by the presence of a nicotine metabolite in the blood - is associated with mental health in a nationally representative sample of American kids and teens.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, the University of Miami and Legacy, a nonprofit organization that fights tobacco use, used data on 2,901 youths who were between the ages of 8 and 15 when they were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2004.

Read more at the link.

Texas House bill creating rules for school football helmets advances

By Anna M. Tinsley

AUSTIN -- In Texas, where high school football is king, some lawmakers say it's time for Texans to use their heads when it comes to protecting students' heads.

Texas House members gave early approval Tuesday to a measure that will retire public school football helmets after they're 16 years old and make sure that helmets 10 years or older are reconditioned every two years. "This is to prevent severe and long-term effects of concussions," said state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, who carried a football helmet with him during the bill discussion. "There's a lot of danger out there. This is basic minimum standards, like putting your seat belt on."

The measure still needs final approval from the House, which could come as soon as today. It would require school districts to keep records on how old helmets are and when they are repaired. Supporters say as many as 67,000 high school students suffer concussions from playing football each year.

Some heal quickly, while others take months to recover, Lucio said. "The biggest problem isn't the first concussion but the second one," he said. Many helmets used by Texas high schoolers are several years old because new ones can cost as much as $300 or more.

Read more at the link.

Food and migraine: a personal connection

Posted April 05, 2011, 7:03 pm
Christine Junge, Editor, Harvard Health Publications

At a Harvard Medical School talk on migraine and food, a nutritionist from Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center delivered a message that people in the audience probably didn’t want to hear: “There are no specific dietary recommendations for migraine sufferers,” said Sandra Allonen. But she did have some advice to offer—and she emphasized that the connection between food and migraine is a very individual one.

Several foods have been associated with triggering migraine. None of them has been scientifically proven to cause migraines, explained Allonen, but many people report a link between eating these foods and getting a migraine. Possible migraine triggers include:

•Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)
•Caffeine (Caffeine can help stop a migraine when it starts, but if you don’t drink the same amount every day, caffeine withdrawal can trigger a migraine.)
•Cultured dairy products, such as yogurt
•Broad beans, such as fava beans
•Nuts and nut butters
•Nitrates and nitrites, which are found in processed meats such as bacon and cold cuts
•Sulfites, which are found in wine
•Tyramine, which is found in aged cheeses and meats, and fermented beverages
•Yellow Dye Number 6, which is used in Doritos, Mountain Dew, and Peeps

Read the rest of the article here.

Study links migraines to weight gain

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A new US study has given further support to the theory that the painful, debilitating experience of a migraine is linked to obesity in young women. Writing in US medical journal Headache, University of Washington researchers said girls who suffer from migraines as teenagers were more likely to be overweight later in life.

Four out of 10 women with childhood migraines that participated in the study gained at least 10kg since turning 18, compared to three of 10 women who never reported having a migraine. Dr Michelle A Williams and her Seattle research team studied data from 3733 women who were being analysed for a separate study.

The pain of a migraine, which is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, makes women eat differently or alters their physical activity, Dr Williams told Reuters. While the findings do suggest weight and migraines are strongly linked, Dr Williams said further research was needed to draw stronger conclusions.

Read the rest of the article here.

Managing debilitating migraines

Monday, April 04, 2011
Jamie Roth

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There are many ways to help treat and manage your debilitating migraine headaches.

"When I get a full-blown migraine, I can end up on the floor of my bathroom vomiting and eventually pass out," said Susan Liebman, a migraine sufferer. When Susan Liebman describes her debilitating migraines, you understand why she and her doctor will try almost anything to prevent them.

"What I try to do is look at it from a multi-disciplinary approach, look at from a medication and non-medication approach," said Dr. Brian Grosberg of the Montefiore Medical Center. That means everything from your lifestyle on down.

As the director of Montefiore's headache program, Dr. Grosberg helps craft the appropriate migraine management for patients. Susan Liebman has recently found benefit in Botox injections around her head, and there are also herbal remedies.

Natural remedies work best if you use them before the onset of the migraine. "All of these things are meant to reduce the frequency and the severity of the migraine," said Artie Gitomer, of Willner Chemists. At Willner Chemists, a 100-year-old pharmacy in Midtown, owner and pharmacist Artie Gitomer, says supplements like magnesium, vitamin B2, and riboflavin, can help cut the incidence of migraines.

"So, for example if you're getting five migraines a month, five to ten, instead you get one to two, that's the kind of thing you look for," Gitomer said. There's no cure for migraines, so Gitomer, Liebman, and Dr. Grosberg say the best you can do is manage and prevent.

Read the rest of the article here.

FDA Panel Says Food Dyes Don't Cause Hyperactivity

by April Fulton The age-old battle pitting a potential public health concern against what can be clearly proven by science played out in Silver Spring, Maryland this week, with science winning this round. As predicted, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel said today that the current scientific data is just not solid enough to show that artificial food dyes cause hyperactivity in most children. But they did call for more research, particularly on Blue #1.

"It's not like there's nothing, but there's not enough," said committee member A. Wesley Burks, a Duke University immunologist. At the meeting in a generic hotel ballroom, complete with complementary candies on every table that were filled with food dyes, natch, a group of 14 food experts from a variety of fields debated food dyes and kids' behavior. Several people on the panel thought the studies showed a clear link and complained that more studies would take years.

Read the rest of the article here.

Persons With Sleep Apnea Have Twice the Risk of Suffering a Stroke

ScienceDaily (Apr. 5, 2011) — According to research presented at the School of Medicine and the University of Navarra Hospital by Dr. Roberto Muñoz, a physician of the Neurology Service of the Hospital Complex of Navarra, those persons with serious cases of sleep apnea have 2.5 times more the possibility of suffering an ischemic stroke.

This was confirmed in an study undertaken for his doctoral dissertation among 394 subjects aged 70 or more. "After studying the quality of their sleep, we tracked the volunteers over the course of six years. After which, 20 of the study subjects had suffered a stroke," explained this native Pamplonan. Furthermore, he confirmed that in addition to the fact that sleep apnea affects above all persons of middle and advanced age -- it is estimated that 5% of all adults suffer from it -- this prevalence may significantly increase with age. In addition, the new Ph.D. in Medicine noted that apnea "can appear in childhood, although with different causes and characteristics."

Among the predisposing factors for suffering this disorder, the expert emphasized obesity: "Therefore, one of the measures for avoiding the problem is losing weight. In fact, there are patients who have been able to make their sleep apnea disappear simply by reducing their weight."

Read the rest of the article here.

Babies With Flat Heads On The Rise: Is "Back to Sleep" To Blame?

By Bonnie Rochman Tuesday, April 5, 2011 Nearly 20 years ago, the chief activity in a baby's life — sleeping — got a radical makeover. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched its “Back to Sleep” campaign in 1992, urging parents and caregivers to put sleepy infants on their backs rather than on their stomachs, as had been the norm. Researchers had learned that back-sleeping cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS; the rate of SIDS has been halved since the campaign's inception.

But back-sleeping appeared to simultaneously increase the likelihood that babies might wind up with a flat head, a condition known as plagiocephaly, which means “oblique head” in Greek. Instead of a sweet, round orb, an infant might find himself — as mine did — with a lopsided noggin.

Read more at the link.

Health Tip: Getting My Child to Go to Sleep

(HealthDay News) -- Your growing child needs a good night's rest, and a consistent bedtime routine can make putting your youngster to bed a little less challenging.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these suggestions:

•Make the time before bed "quiet time," with a bath, book or soft music.
•Have your child go to bed at the same time each night.
•Let your child choose a favorite blanket or stuffed animal to take to bed. Just make sure there are no choking or strangulation hazards.
•Take care of your child's preferences before bedtime, such as leaving the door slightly ajar, having a night light or having a drink of water.
•Your child should sleep in his own room, not yours.
•Don't make a habit of going back into your child's room each time the child cries or calls for you.
•Be patient if the child wakes at night or has trouble falling asleep.

Read the rest of the article here.

A Comedic TV Talent Turns the Tables on Oprah

Meet Zach Anner, a 26-year-old filmmaker from Austin, Tex., who just won his own television show on Oprah Winfrey’s new network. He’s handsome, smart and funny — oh, and he gets around in a wheelchair.

Mr. Anner has cerebral palsy, “the sexiest of the palsies,” as he puts it in his audition video. That line, along with a spoof of a failed TV show about yoga, has won him legions of online fans. (“This isn’t yoga,” he tells the camera as he writhes on the floor. “I’m just putting on pants.”)

In an online contest for a spot on “Your Own Show” on OWN, the video received more than nine million votes — and not because of Mr. Anner’s disability, according to Lee Metzger, the show’s executive producer. “You do see the chair, and he has some erratic movements, ” Mr. Metzger said. “But once you start to talk to him, you see that his chair and his body are not what he’s all about. He’s a bright guy with a lot of great ideas, and he’s funny.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Gene that can influence a person's risk for developing epilepsy identified

Washington, Apr 5: Scientists at Vanderbilt University have discovered a new gene that can influence a person's risk for developing epilepsy. The findings could improve molecular diagnostic tools and point to novel therapeutic targets for epilepsy.

The gene, KCNV2, codes for a unique type of potassium channel, a protein that participates in the electrical activity of nerve cells. Disturbed electrical activity in the brain - and resulting seizures - are hallmarks of epilepsy, a group of disorders that affects about 1 percent of the world's population.

A number of genetic mutations that cause inherited epilepsies have been identified. But the clinical severity of inherited epilepsies varies widely - from mild childhood seizures that resolve with age to severe lifelong seizures - even in individuals who have the same single-gene mutation, said Jennifer Kearney, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Genetic Medicine. The range of clinical severity "tells us that there are other factors that contribute," she said. "We think that susceptibility and resistance genes that are inherited in addition to the primary mutation are probably a major factor."

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

ACC: Restless Legs May Be Bad for Heart

By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today Published: April 05, 2011 Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner NEW ORLEANS -- Restless legs syndrome characterized by frequent leg movements during sleep appeared to be linked to structural heart problems, researchers found in a preliminary study. Patients with more than 35 bursts of leg movement per hour while sleeping carried a 1.85-fold elevated risk of severe left ventricular hypertrophy (P=0.002), Arshad A. Jahangir, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., and colleagues reported at the American College of Cardiology meeting. The association was strong, but whether it is causal or treatable remains unclear, Jahangir cautioned in presentation of the retrospective results at a press conference here. "We don't know whether restless leg syndrome -- what we are calling frequent leg movement disorder -- is a risk factor for hypertrophy," he told MedPage Today. "If it is, there are very effective treatments for this frequent leg movement disorder but whether there is an effect on consequences in terms of hypertrophy we don't know." Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Being Bilingual May Boost Your Brain Power

In an interconnected world, speaking more than one language is becoming increasingly common. Approximately one-fifth of Americans speak a non-English language at home, and globally, as many as two-thirds of children are brought up bilingual. Research suggests that the growing numbers of bilingual speakers may have an advantage that goes beyond communication: It turns out that being bilingual is also good for your brain. Judy and Paul Szentkiralyi both grew up bilingual in the U.S., speaking Hungarian with their families and English with their peers. When they first started dating, they spoke English with each other. But they knew they wanted to raise their children speaking both languages, so when things turned serious they did something unusual — they decided to switch to Hungarian. Today, Hungarian is the primary language the Szentkiralyis use at home. Their two daughters — Hannah, 14, and Julia, 8 — speak both languages fluently, and without any accent. But they both heard only Hungarian from mom and dad until the age of 3 or 4, when they started school. Read the rest of the article here.

Who Will Care For Dana?

In many ways, Dana Eisman, 20, of Potomac, Md., is like any other young adult. She rocks out to Train, adores Glee, and eats pizza every week. And this June, like many of her peers, she’ll leave school and join the real world. But for Dana—and her parents, Beth, who works in a doctor’s office, and Rob, a business owner—that prospect is terrifying. “I want to celebrate,” Beth says, “but what I feel is a knife in my heart.” That’s because Dana is autistic. She can’t hold a conversation, make eye contact, verbalize her thoughts, cross the street alone, or control herself when she’s upset. Starting when she was 4—thanks to a federal law that guarantees disabled children an appropriate education—she has spent her weekdays at Ivymount, a private school for special-needs students that she loves and that has been paid for by the state and county. But because Dana turns 21 this week, that support will dry up when the school year ends, leaving her parents to agonize about the quality of life their daughter is facing. Read the rest of the article here.

Robert MacNeil returns to PBS NEWSHOUR to report on Autism Today

6-part series airs during Autism Awareness Month April 18 - 26, 2011 March 29, 2011 ARLINGTON, VA (March 29, 2011) – Autism - it's a developmental disorder that has become increasingly prevalent, affecting 1 out of 110 American children. Despite years of study, little is known about its cause and access to treatment varies. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of American families hungry for answers struggle to care for the unique needs of children with the disorder. Among them, Robert MacNeil, co-founder of the PBS NEWSHOUR and grandfather of Nick, a 6-year old boy with autism. "I've been a reporter on and off for 50 years, but I've never brought my family into a story … until Nick," MacNeil said, "because he moves me deeply." MacNeil and producer Caren Zucker tell the story of Autism Today in a 6-part broadcast series beginning Monday, April 18, 2011 and a robust online component where viewers can join the conversation. Ms. Zucker has produced many stories on autism and is the mother of a 16-year old son with autism. Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Children who suffer certain types of migraine headaches may have a common congenital heart defect.

According to U.S. News & World Report, researchers at the Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City may have found a link between migraines and a heart defect in the wall between the heart's two upper chambers. Known as patent foramen ovale (PFO), the defect is common -- affecting about one in four people in the United States. It can, is some cases, allow unfiltered blood to bypass the lungs and circulate through the body.

The magazine reports researchers studied 109 children aged 6 to 18 who were diagnosed with migraines between 2008 and 2009. They found that 50 percent of the children who had migraines with aura had a PFO. A migraine with aura means the headache came with additional symptoms, mostly commonly visual distortions. The percentage of young migraine sufferers with a PFO is nearly double that of the general population, according to the magazine.

Dr. Rachel McCandless of the Primary Children's Medical Center tells U.S. News & World Report that only a fourth of the children with migraines without aura had a PFO. This is good news, she adds. If further research confirms a link, the use of a catheter device to close a PFO may help treat migraines with aura, she and her colleagues note.

Read the rest of the article here.

Risk of death is high in older adults with sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness

Longitudinal study suggests that sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness combine to cause an elevation in mortality risk

DARIEN, IL – A study in the April 1 issue of the journal SLEEP suggests that the risk of death is more than two times higher in older adults who have sleep apnea and report struggling with excessive daytime sleepiness. Results of adjusted proportional hazards modeling show that older adults with moderate to severe sleep apnea who reported struggling with excessive daytime sleepiness at baseline were more than twice as likely to die (hazard ratio = 2.28) as subjects who had neither problem. The risk of death was insignificant in older adults with only excessive daytime sleepiness (HR = 1.11) or sleep apnea (HR = 0.74). Participants had a mean age of 78 years at baseline, and about 55 percent (n = 160) died during an average follow-up period of 14 years. "Excessive daytime sleepiness, when associated with sleep apnea, can significantly increase the risk of death in older adults," said principal investigator and lead author Dr. Nalaka S. Gooneratne, assistant professor of medicine in the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia, Pa. "We did not find that being sleepy in and of itself was a risk. Instead, the risk of increased mortality only seemed to occur when sleep apnea was also present."

Read the rest of the article here.