03 July 2006

Fourth of July Week Health News

Hearing Restoration May Be Possible

Hearing loss, like brain damage, is usually permanent because the hairs that detect sounds in your ears, like those of all mammals, don't regenerate. But, experiments in mice have found a way to shut down the gene that causes that result, allowing the cells behind hearing loss to regenerate like other parts of your body. The same research also provides insight into the causes of age related deafness, which is nearly universal in the very old.

Another Blow To Long Shifts For Medical Residents

Medical residents, i.e. new doctors just out of medical school training in hospitals, typically have multiday continuous shifts. Regulation of the length of the shift (now limited to 30 hours in most cases), under pressure from governmental authorities after doctors failed to self-regulate this problem, has improved patient care materially and led to new standards of care within the profession. A new study now shows that allowing residents to hand off their pagers and nap makes them more alert. Alas the medical establishment is hoping that this may be used to extend on duty times to more than 30 hours again.

Common Blood Pressure Drug Causes Birth Defects

"Babies exposed in the first trimester of their mother's pregnancy to blood pressure drugs called ACE inhibitors are at an increased risk of birth defects . . . . 7.1 percent of the children exposed to ACE inhibitors had congenital defects—mainly of the heart and central nervous system—compared with only 1.7 percent of the babies exposed to other blood pressure drugs and 2.6 percent of those not exposed.", reports Science News (subscription required; original source here).

This may make the drug part of a class of drugs inappropriate for all women of child bearing age who don't take extraordinary measures to prevent pregnancy, as many women are unaware of a pregnancy for a significant part of the first trimester.

Lavender oil and tea tree oil bad for boys.

"Lavender oil and tea tree oil contain compounds that act like female sex hormones . . . . Denver-area pediatric endocrinologist Clifford Bloch [says] Young boys should avoid the oils.", which are found in many common personal care products. One sympotom is abnormal breast enlargement. Source (subscription may be required).

Alzheimer's Test Developed

Historically, the only definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease has been post-mortem. Now, a spinal tap test has been developed to detect it.

No comments: