Girls with anorexia tend not to achieve their potential height in adulthood
Additionally, height impairment is a marker for other complications of anorexia nervosa
Early diagnosis and treatment could prevent this from happening
Girls with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa may have stunted growth, new research suggests.
People with anorexia nervosa believe they weigh too much, even if they’re underweight. They may lose a dangerous amount of weight by dieting, exercising excessively, or binge-eating and purging.
“Our findings emphasise the importance of early and intensive intervention aiming at normalisation of body weight, which may result in improved growth and allow patients to reach their full height potential,” said researcher Dr Dalit Modan-Moses of Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel.
Height impairment a marker
For the report, the researchers studied 255 girls around age 15 who were hospitalised for anorexia nervosa.
The investigators measured the patients’ height at the time of hospitalisation and again at adulthood. The women’s adult height was much shorter than expected compared with the genetic potential gauged by their parents’ height, the study authors said.
“We suggest that the height impairment is a marker for other complications of anorexia nervosa affecting the person’s overall health in several aspects: bone health, cognitive [mental] function, and problems with pregnancy and childbirth later in life. Early diagnosis and treatment could prevent, or at least reduce, the risk of these complications,” Modan-Moses said in a news release from the Endocrine Society.
“This study may have implications for the management of malnutrition in adolescents with other chronic diseases in order to achieve optimal adult height and bone health,” Modan-Moses added.
The report was published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
There is some evidence that antibacterial drugs interact with hormonal contraceptives
This means that women on the Pill should be careful when taking antibiotics
Researchers recommend that pharmacy inserts of both kinds of drugs should warn patients of the risk
Doctors have long suspected it, but a comprehensive new study provides more evidence that antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.
That means women who are using both types of drugs at once should take extra precautions to avoid an unintended pregnancy, the study’s British authors say.
The study couldn’t prove cause and effect. However, it “suggests there is an interaction of antibacterial drugs with hormonal contraceptives, which can potentially impair the effectiveness of the contraceptives,” concluded a team led by Dr Robin Ferner of the Institute of Clinical Sciences at the University of Birmingham.
The findings didn’t surprise one American ob-gyn.
“We have known for a long time that certain antibiotics will affect the metabolism of the oral contraceptive hormones,” said Dr Mitchell Kramer, who directs obstetrics and gynaecology at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York.
“Therefore, we advise of patients on birth control pills to use additional contraception, such as condoms or spermicidal suppositories/foam, during the duration of taking the antibiotic just as a precaution,” he said.
According to the UK research team, prior studies on interactions between antibiotics and birth control pills had yielded mixed findings.
Seeking clarity, Ferner and his team tracked reports of suspected unwanted drug side effects (called Yellow Cards) that had been reported by health care providers and the public to the UK’s drug and medical devices regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Specifically, they compared the number of unintended pregnancies reported in almost 75 000 Yellow Cards for antibiotics in general, about 33 000 for enzyme-inducing drugs, and more than 65 500 other types of drugs.
There were 46 instances of unintended pregnancies in the Yellow Card reports for antibiotics (a rate of 62 per 100 000), 39 in the enzyme-inducing drug reports (119 per 100 000), and six in reports of other drugs.
Compared with the other types of drugs, unintended pregnancies were seven times more common in Yellow Card reports of antibiotics and 13 times more common in reports of enzyme-inducing drugs, which included some antibiotics.
Congenital birth defects were also reported seven times more often in enzyme-inducing drug Yellow Card reports, according to the study, published on 18 August in the journal BMJ Evidence Based Medicine.
Calculating absolute risks from the data wasn’t possible, and the risk will vary from woman to woman, according to her physiological make-up and circumstances, the researchers stressed.
They agreed that if a woman is taking hormonal contraceptives and an antibiotic, she is “advised to take extra contraceptive precautions when a short course of an antibacterial drugs is added”.
Dr Jennifer Wu is an ob-gyn at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Reading over the study, she said it was well-designed, with “large numbers and good tracking of patients”.
Based on the findings, Wu believes that “doctors and patients need to have careful discussions about new prescriptions and whether they could interfere with birth control pills.
“Pharmacy inserts of antibiotics and the enzyme-inducing drugs should also warn patients as another precaution,” she said.
In the USA, there is an issue of vaccine hesitance when it comes to children
When kids get the flu shot, there is, however, a general reduction in flu hospitalisations
An expert described children as ‘magnifying influenza’
When elementary school students get their annual flu shot, everyone benefits, a new study shows.
An increased vaccination rate among grade-schoolers in California was associated with a decrease in flu hospitalisations for people in every other age bracket, researchers report.
The results come as no surprise to public health experts, given children’s well-earned reputation as a major vector for the spread of viral diseases.
“It basically correlates with everything we know about public health, about vaccination, and about children and children’s impact on spreading viral illness throughout a community,” said Dr Eric Cioe-Pena, director of global health for Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York.
However, the study does highlight the continuing need to convince reluctant parents of the importance of getting their kids an annual flu shot, Cioe-Pena added.
“We have an issue of vaccine hesitance in [the United States] when it comes to children,” said Cioe-Pena. “To me, if you don’t get to the root cause of the hesitance, it probably won’t have much of an impact.”
For this study, researchers led by Jade Benjamin-Chung, from the University of California, Berkeley, tracked a city-wide school flu vaccine program in Oakland, California, and compared its success to rates of flu-associated hospitalisations.
After four years, the programme had improved vaccination coverage by 11% among children attending more than 95 preschools and elementary schools in Oakland, the researchers reported.
The increased vaccination rate was associated with 37 fewer flu-related hospitalisations per 100 000 people among all other people in the community – children aged four and younger as well as people aged 13 and older.
Fewer school absences
There were also 160 fewer influenza hospitalisations per 100 000 among people aged 65 and older, the results showed.
The elementary school children also benefited; researchers observed a decrease in illness-related school absences during the flu season.
The findings were published online on 18 August in the journal PLOS Medicine.
“We know that children magnify influenza,” said Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore. “Trying to increase children’s vaccination rates can be expected to have a cascading impact on the flu season. Making it easy for children to get vaccinated is one way to improve our ability to deal with influenza.”
Children tend to benefit more from the flu vaccine, because their immune systems are fresher and more responsive, Adalja added.
“In younger people, the vaccine induces more antibodies than in individuals 70 years or older,” Adalja explained. “Older people’s immune systems do not respond to the vaccine as well as a younger individual does. That’s why we use high-dose vaccines with the elderly population.”
Given these results, it might make sense to promote flu shots for children as much as they are promoted for the elderly and health care workers, said Dr Waleed Javaid, director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York City.
“When we can enhance our protection of any aspect of society where we have congregational settings and people are going to mingle with each other – like [the] military or hospitals or schools – that protects society in general,” Javaid said.
“Our goal in the United States is to vaccinate everybody above the age of six months with influenza vaccine. That should still be the goal,” Adalja said. “If you’re trying to prioritise within that group, then children should be a major priority group to be vaccinated because they do drive it, but I do think you also have to vaccinate the vulnerable – the elderly and people with other medical conditions. They have to be a priority group as well.”
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can have a big impact on the lives of sufferers
Pregnant women may experience nausea and vomiting all day long
The term ‘morning sickness’ is, therefore, incorrect and can cause confusion
As many expectant mothers can unhappily attest, the nausea and vomiting known as “morning sickness” can occur at any time of the day.
In a new study, British researchers analysed diaries kept by 256 women from the day they learned they were expecting until the 60th day of their pregnancy.
While vomiting was most common between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., nausea was likely all day long. And many women reported vomiting even into the evening.
The most common hour for nausea and vomiting was 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., when 82% experienced nausea and 29% experienced vomiting.
Significant negative impact
About 94% of the women had one symptom or the other during the study, and 58% experienced both, according to findings published recently in the British Journal of General Practice.
By comparing symptoms across the first seven weeks of pregnancy, the researchers found that the chances of nausea and vomiting rose.
The likelihood of nausea was highest in weeks five through seven, and vomiting in week seven. The study only examined the first seven weeks.
“If a pregnant woman experiences sickness in the afternoon she may feel that this is unusual and wrong, or if she experiences no vomiting but feels nauseous all day she might think she is not covered by the term ‘morning sickness’,” said study author Roger Gadsby. He’s an associate clinical professor at the University of Warwick Medical School in Coventry, UK.
Gadsby also noted that those women who have severe symptoms feel the term trivialises the condition.
“Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) can have a significant negative impact on the lives of sufferers,” he pointed out in a university news release.
“It can cause feelings of depression, of being unable to look after the family, and of loss of time from paid work. Very severe NVP, called hyperemesis gravidarm, is the commonest cause of admission to hospital in the first trimester of pregnancy,” Gadsby said.
When sperm is observed under a microscope, 2D lenses create the wrong impression about the way they move
The tail doesn’t move from side to side, but only wiggles on one side
Sperm actually roll as they swim, allowing their one-sided stroke to propel them forwards
If you ever had a sex-ed class in school, you have probably seen a visual of sperm swimming with a wagging tail. Now, high-tech tools have shattered that view of how sperm move.
More than 300 years ago, a Dutch scientist used an early microscope to observe human sperm in motion. He saw that they appeared to swim using a tail that moved from one side to the other.
But scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek only had access to a 2D microscope.
And sperms’ rapid spinning causes an illusion when seen from above with a 2D microscope, according to a study published on 31 July in the journal Science Advances. That illusion makes it appear that the tail moves from side to side, as Leeuwenhoek described.
Similar to an otter
Now, an international team has deployed a high-speed camera, high-tech microscope and mathematics to show that the sperm tail only wiggles on one side.
A one-sided stroke would typically cause something to swim in circles, but the researchers explained that a sperm’s ability to move forward is similar to an otter.
“Human sperm figured out if they roll as they swim, much like playful otters corkscrewing through water, their one-sided stroke would average itself out, and they would swim forwards,” said researcher Hermes Gadelha. He’s a senior lecturer in the department of engineering mathematics at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
To this day, when sperm is looked at under a microscope in clinics or laboratories, 2D lenses are typically used, promoting the illusion first seen by van Leeuwenhoek centuries ago.
The study authors hope that their findings will improve understanding of the mysteries of human fertility and reproduction.
“With over half of infertility caused by male factors, understanding the human sperm tail is fundamental to developing future diagnostic tools to identify unhealthy sperm,” Gadelha said in a university news release.
For the new study, UC Davis engineering graduate students teamed up with virologists at Mount Sinai to investigate whether tiny, non-respiratory particles, or aerosolised fomites, could carry the influenza virus between guinea pigs.
The team used an automated particle sizer to count airborne particles and found that uninfected guinea pigs gave off spikes of up to 1 000 particles per second as they moved around the cage. Particles given off by the animals’ breathing, however, were at a constant, much lower rate.
The influenza virus was then painted on the fur of immune guinea pigs. Findings indicated that they could transmit the virus through the air to other guinea pigs. This means that airborne viruses may not have to come directly from the respiratory tract to be infectious.
The researchers also tested whether microscopic fibres from an inanimate object could carry infectious viruses. To do this, they treated paper facial tissues with influenza virus and let them dry out. Following this, they crumpled the tissues in front of the automated particle sizer.
The tissues were found to release up to 900 particles per second in a size range that could be inhaled, the study results show. More than this, the particles released from the virus-contaminated paper tissues were able to infect cells.
‘Dust transmission opens up new areas of investigation’
“It’s really shocking to most virologists and epidemiologists that airborne dust, rather than expiratory droplets, can carry influenza virus capable of infecting animals,” said Professor William Ristenpart of the UC Davis Department of Chemical Engineering, who was involved in the study.
“The implicit assumption is always that airborne transmission occurs because of respiratory droplets emitted by coughing, sneezing or talking.
“Transmission via dust opens up whole new areas of investigation and has profound implications for how we interpret laboratory experiments, as well as epidemiological investigations of outbreaks.”
Many people who normally work in offices have spent the last five months working from home
While working at home, extra care should be taken to avoid ergonomic injuries
It’s also important to alter your position and change it throughout the day
If you’re working from a home office these days, it’s important to have an environment that won’t injure you, an expert says.
It’s good to have a break about every 30 minutes to protect your back, shoulders and arms, said Kermit Davis, an expert in office ergonomics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
“The body doesn’t like static postures continually,” he said. “You don’t want to do all sitting or all standing all the time. You want to alter your position and change it up throughout the day.”
Davis said that while you can work at home, you can’t take home all the comforts of your office.
“You can use your laptop from home, but it is designed to be a short-term option,” he said. “It should be used for a few hours while travelling. It is not meant to be used for eight or nine hours each day.”
An evaluation of home workstations of university employees who began working at home during the coronavirus pandemic was revealing. Many chairs were the wrong height: 41% were too low; 2% were too high. Although 53% of workers’ chairs had armrests, 32% didn’t use them and 18% were improperly adjusted.
Not using armrests can put stress on forearms and strain in the upper back. The evaluation also found that 69% were not using the chairback for support and 73% did not use lower-back support.
Computer monitors were often positioned too low or off to the side. Three-quarters of monitors were laptops, which were too low relative to a worker’s eye height, the study found.
Fifty-two percent of external monitors were also too low; 4% were too high. Also, 31% of monitors were not centred, causing neck or back twisting.
The following tips might be helpful for homebound office workers:
Put a pillow on your seat to raise it.
Put a pillow or rolled-up towel behind your back for lumbar support.
If armrests are too low, wrap them.
Bring the chair closer to the desk or table.
Use a lap desk or pillow under the laptop to raise the monitor.
Use an external keyboard and mouse, and raise the monitor using a stack of books or a box.
For a standing workstation, the top of the monitor should be at eye level. The keyboard height should keep the forearms parallel to the ground.
If you don’t have a proper work area, rotate between a sitting and a standing workstation.
Davis fears discomfort will increase after more than five months of working at home.
“It’s not just ergonomics changing but also other factors: isolation, teamwork changes and work-life balance is distorted, and changes in the stress level that people have,” he said.
The report was published online recently in the journal Ergonomics in Design.
There is increasing concern about antibiotic resistance in meningitis infections
In the US, a five-month-old baby with meningitis recently proved to be resistant to standard antibiotic treatment
Researchers say this calls for closer partnerships between infectious disease doctors and microbiology labs
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria affected the treatment of meningitis at a major children’s hospital in Washington, D.C.
This single case at Children’s National Hospital raises concerns about drug resistance in the common bacterium that caused the infection, and researchers say it could change lab and clinical procedures around the world.
Normally, when doctors first suspect meningitis in children, they usually give the broad-spectrum antibiotic ceftriaxone, which acts against a wider range of disease-causing bacteria. When the meningitis organism is identified through lab tests, penicillin or ampicillin are used, the researchers explained.
People who have had close contact with the patients are also given ciprofloxacin as a precaution.
In this case, a five-month-old baby was taken to the emergency room after six days of fever and congestion. The infant’s particular meningitis contained an enzyme that makes the germ resistant to penicillin and ampicillin, and also to ciprofloxacin.
The hospital sent samples of the resistant bacteria to several health agencies, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to compare with other samples.
“These bacteria wouldn’t have been susceptible to the common antibiotics that we would normally use for this infection, so it’s entirely possible that the infections caused by these bacteria could have been treated inappropriately if doctors used the standard protocol,” co-author Dr Gillian Taormina said in a hospital news release. She is a fellow in paediatric infectious diseases.
Taormina said the baby’s condition improved after seven days on ceftriaxone. Relatives and other contacts were treated with the antibiotic rifampin.
Although this case had a good outcome, it underscores increasing concern about antibiotic resistance in other meningitis infections.
Taormina and co-author Joseph Campos said the growing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria calls for close partnerships between infectious disease doctors and microbiology labs. Campos is director of the hospital’s Infectious Diseases Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory.
Whole grain products are generally healthier than those made with refined grains
Labels can, however, be confusing when it comes to finding out how much whole grain products contain
Words like ‘enriched flour’ and ‘wheat flour’ do not describe whole grains
People who want to eat healthy by choosing whole grain foods aren’t helped by product labels that can confuse and mislead consumers, a new study shows.
Almost half were unable to identify the healthier whole-grain option when asked to rely on food package labels, researchers discovered.
A similar proportion of participants were unable to accurately state the whole grain content of different products, according to the study.
Mostly refined grains
Terms like “multigrain”, “contains whole grains”, “honey wheat” and “12-grain” can be used to hawk breads, cereals and crackers as healthier options even if the product mostly contains refined flour, explained lead researcher Parke Wilde, a professor at Tufts University’s School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston.
“If they say it contains whole grains, it really does have to contain some whole grains. They would get into trouble if they made a claim that was outright false,” Wilde said. “But it’s totally permitted to say it contains whole grains even if it’s mostly refined grains.
“For terms like multigrain or seven-grain or 12-grain, or the colouring, there are no rules at all,” Wilde continued. “There are no rules against using any of those terms on a refined grain product, or colouring the product brown, which consumers associate with whole grains.”
Current US dietary guidelines recommend that whole grains make up at least half of a person’s overall grain intake. Studies have shown that whole grains can protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Refined grains have been ground into flour or meal, with the healthy outer layers of grain stripped away. Whole wheat products contain the entire grain, which boosts the fibre content and adds higher levels of nutrients.
Wilde and his colleagues used two different methods to test consumer savvy when it comes to picking whole grain products.
In one experiment, they asked people to choose between two hypothetical products – one product that contained a lot of whole grains but made no claims on the front of the package, and another that had lower overall whole grains but bore packaging selling itself as “made with whole grains” or “multigrain” or “wheat”.
Both products bore an ingredient list and a Nutrition Facts panel that clearly showed that the less flashy product contained more whole grains, but between 29% and 47% of participants still chose the less-healthy option that marketed itself as a whole grain powerhouse, researchers found.
“The question distinguished people who rely on the whole grain claim on the front of the package, compared to people who look on the ingredients list,” Wilde said. “If you looked at the ingredients list, you would have been able to see which product really contained whole grains.”
The second experiment asked participants to look at four actual grain products and guess whether each contained all whole grain, mostly whole grain, or little to none.
Between 43% and 51% of people overstated the whole grain content of the products, based on what the packaging told them, researchers found.
The findings were published on 10 August in the Public Health Nutrition journal.
The study provides strong evidence that could support any attempt by the government to regulate misleading whole grain labels, Wilde said.
“I would say when it comes to deceptive labels, ‘whole grain’ claims are among the worst,” said co-researcher Jennifer Pomeranz, an assistant professor of public health policy and management at the NYU School of Global Public Health.
“Even people with advanced degrees cannot figure out how much whole grain is in these products,” she said in a Tufts news release.
Be on the alert for some words
In the meantime, people will need to do a bit more reading in the supermarket if they want to choose products that truly have more whole grains, Wilde said.
“Read the ingredients list, and know which things are indicators of whole grains,” Wilde said. Look for words like “whole grain” or “whole wheat”, and be on the alert for words like “enriched flour” and “wheat flour” that do not describe whole grains.
“You need to know they list it in decreasing order of weight. If a whole-grain product lists whole grain as its first ingredient, that’s a stronger indication of whole-grain content,” Wilde continued. “That’s something that consumers can do already, but you can see that it would be easier if the label had something like a percentage of whole grain content on the front.”
The Nutrition Facts label can also help people sort out the healthier option between whole grain products, said Dr Maria Pena, who directs endocrine services at Mount Sinai Doctors Forest Hills in New York City.
“Really, the trick is learning how to read a nutrition label. If you don’t know how to read a nutrition label, that’s where you run into trouble,” said Pena, who wasn’t part of the study. “You really have to focus on the amount of carbs the bread has and the amount of fibre. That’s really what helps you determine which bread is better than the other one.
“If a slice of bread has 30 or more carbs, I consider it to be not a healthy choice,” Pena said.
A certain strain of gonorrhoea may be successfully treated with an out-of-use drug
A single dose of ciprofloxacin, given by mouth, may cure the strain called wild-type gyrA serine
This drug can be given as a pill, instead of a painful injection
Researchers say a new test can tell which patients with gonorrhoea will benefit from treatment with the antibiotic ciprofloxacin.
The low-cost drug has been out of use amid concern that the bacterium that causes gonorrhoea was becoming resistant to it.
In this study, 106 patients identified as having a gonorrhoea strain called wild-type gyrA serine were cured with a single dose of ciprofloxacin. A test to screen for that strain has been available for three years, but this is the first time it has been systematically studied in humans, researchers said.
Easier and safer to treat
“Gonorrhoea is one of the most common drug-resistant infections worldwide and is becoming harder to treat. Current treatment methods require an antibiotic injection, which is expensive and painful,” said lead author Dr Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“This new test could make it easier and safer to treat gonorrhoea with different antibiotics, including one pill given by mouth. Using a pill instead of a shot would also make it easier and faster to treat sex partners of patients with gonorrhoea,” he added in a UCLA news release.
The DNA test that researchers developed identifies a genetic mutation that makes the gonorrhoea bacterium resistant to ciprofloxacin. Ciprofloxacin works against infections without that mutation.
In 2007, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped recommending ciprofloxacin after the gonorrhoea bacterium developed resistance to it.
Small number of participants
But 70% to 80% of gonorrhoea infections in the United States still can be treated with ciprofloxacin, the researchers said. Scientists have been trying to reduce the need to use the injectable antibiotic, ceftriaxone. Gonorrhoea’s resistance to ceftriaxone is less than 1%.
However, the researchers noted the study was limited by the small number of participants, and that several people who had the wild-type strain of gonorrhoea also had other strain types.
The findings were published on 7 August in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.