Vial of Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. (Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images
The California Department of Public Health says that California has 32 confirmed cases of measles so far this year. At this time last year, only three cases had been reported.
The cases are reported in both Northern and Southern California. Measles was declared to be eliminated in 2000 in the United States and CDPH says that many cases are linked to travel to parts of the world where measles is circulating. Of the cases reported so far this year, seven people had traveled to the Philippines where a large outbreak of measles is ongoing, two had been to India and one had traveled to Vietnam.
Health officials recommend that anyone planning travel outside of North or South America and has not been vaccinated to make sure they get the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine before they go. Continue reading
Women ages 19 to 25 have higher rates of ADHD medication use than girls ages 12 to 18. (Getty Images)
By Nancy Shute, NPR
Use of ADHD drugs continues to rise in the United States, but the group whose use is increasing the most may come as a surprise: young women.
An analysis of prescriptions filled from 2008 to 2012 through Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit management company, found that use of ADHD medications rose 35.5 percent overall. The company’s database includes 15 million people with private insurance.
Children and young adults on ADHD medications by gender. (Express Scripts)
The medications, largely stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, are still most commonly prescribed to boys ages 12 to 18. In 2012 7.8 percent of boys ages 4 to 18 were taking an ADHD medication — that’s more than twice the rate of girls (3.5 percent). But in young adulthood, ages 19 to 25, men’s use plummets, while young women’s rate increases. From ages 26 to 64, use of ADHD medications by women exceeds that of men.
To find out more about what’s going on, we talked with Dr. David Muzina, a psychiatrist who is the vice president and national practice leader for neuroscience at Express Scripts. This is an edited version of our conversation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have reported increases in use of ADHD medications in children, but this increase in adults seems huge. What’s happening there? Continue reading
Estrogen replacement patches. (Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
Postmenopausal women have heard just about everything when it comes to hormone therapy. In the 1990s, doctors routinely recommended it, believing that it helped women avoid heart attacks, thinning bones and other problems of aging. Then along came the Women’s Health Initiative study, which first found hormone therapy (HT) created more risks than benefits – then found that over time some of those risks subsided, at least somewhat.
“It’s a very provocative finding, without a doubt.”
But one main criticism of the Women’s Health Initiative study was that women were recruited to start on hormone therapy long after they had gone through menopause. The women were ages 65 or older.
Today, many doctors believe that HT started at the time of menopause — or soon after — can help women with hot flashes, vaginal dryness and other symptoms.
Study shows that plenty of parents can’t put the phone down even when eating with their kids. (Getty Images)
By Brittany Patterson
We know Americans’ use of mobile gadgets has reached near ubiquitous status in our daily lives. Research shows our continued use has health effects on our skeletons, is changing they way we communicate, and even making walking less safe.
“My concern is that it’s becoming such an obsessive habit that we’re missing interaction with our kids.”
But a new study published Monday in Pediatrics quantifies for the first time yet another side effect of our technological obsession: Many of us are engrossed with our devices even when eating with our children.
Researchers anonymously watched 55 caregivers eating with one or more young children in fast food restaurants across different Boston neighborhoods and took copious notes. (They couldn’t call the caregivers “parents” because they were watching surreptitiously.) Researchers watched how often and for how long caregivers used devices during the meal — and if the children tried to get the caregiver’s attention. Their notes were independently analyzed and coded to identify common themes.
Dr. Jenny Radesky led the team of researchers, from Boston Medical Center. Continue reading
Many over-the-counter products contain acetaminophen. One dose is usually not a problem, but it’s easy to lose track of how much your child is taking. An overdose can cause liver failure or death. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
By Scott Hensley, NPR
Concerns about drug risks have led 28 state attorneys general to ask the Food and Drug Administration to reverse its approval of Zohydro, a long-acting narcotic painkiller, before the medicine is even put on the market.
People often underestimate the risks of individual drugs and combinations of drugs for young children.
The risks for addiction and overdose from the potent opioid outweigh the benefits of pain relief, critics say. Some point to the risk for children, in particular. A single capsule of Zohydro could kill a kid, the medicine’s instructions warn.
Other opioid painkillers, such as Vicodin and Percocet, are already fixtures in America’s medicine cabinets. And as the prescriptions for drugs like these have surged, so have the reports of overdoses and deaths — for children and adults.
But opioids are just one kind of risky medicine. Doctors have a disturbingly long list of drugs that can lead to the death of a child after just one or two doses. Continue reading
Many processed foods, including bottled tomato sauce, have added sugars, which would be required under the proposed label. (Danny Nicholson/Flickr)
By Allison Aubrey, NPR
Ready for a reality check about how many calories you’re eating or drinking?
The proposed new nutrition facts panel may help.
“I’ve been hoping for years that the FDA would list added sugars,” — Marion Nestle, NYU Nutrition Professor
The Obama administration Thursday released its proposed tweaks to the iconic black and white panel that we’re all accustomed to seeing on food packages.
The most visible change is that calorie counts are bigger and bolder — to give them greater emphasis.
In addition, serving sizes start to reflect the way most of us really eat. Take, for example, ice cream. The current serving size is a half-cup. But who eats that little?
Under the proposed new label, the serving size would become 1 cup. So, when you scoop a bowl of mint chocolate chip, the calorie count that you see on the label will probably be much closer to what you’re actually eating.
A recent Death Cafe, held at San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project. (Jeremy Raff/KQED)
By Jeremy Raff
In a dimly lit room decorated with several Buddhas and a large red-and-white Zen illustration, twenty-nine people sat in a circle. Some were eating chocolate bundt cake. It was an unusual setting to be discussing the topic at hand: death and dying. These death cafes have sprung up around the world to address the taboo subject head-on. Organizers hope that increased awareness of death will help people make the most of their lives.
Roy Remer, the group’s facilitator, hushed the room and passed around pieces of cardstock covered in Post-its. Each person wrote intimate words on them — family members’ names, roles they play (mother, mentor), significant relationships and important objects. The Post-its became a boiled-down map of what each person holds dearest. Then, Remer walked the circle, visiting each person with inevitable gravity. He then ripped away Post-its from each one.
Some reflexively clutched their children’s names. But most averted their eyes, looking stunned. It wasn’t easy for Remer either. “It felt violent,” he said. The exercise simulated loss and started the conversation about death and dying. Continue reading
By Brittany Patterson
Toss those vitamin bottles and instead opt for a well-balanced diet if you’re looking to prevent heart disease or cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released new recommendations Monday regarding both multivitamins and certain supplements — and their potential to help prevent heart disease and cancer. The task force “concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms” of the use of multivitamins, vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements to prevent heart disease or cancer.
The task force is, however, recommending against use of beta-carotene and vitamin E supplements. Continue reading
Preparing an injection of the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination. (Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images)
First the flu, then whooping cough and now measles. State health officials announced Friday morning that the state has 15 confirmed cases, compared with just two at this time last year.
Of the 15 cases, three are in people who traveled to the Philippines, where a large outbreak is occurring, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Two more cases are in recently returned travelers from India, where measles is endemic. Nearly half of the cases — seven — are in people who were “intentionally not vaccinated,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist with the CDPH.
Measles is one of the most contagious viral illnesses.
“Today I am asking unvaccinated Californians who are traveling outside the Americas to get vaccinated before you go,” Chavez said.
The measles vaccine is highly effective. It is administered in two doses, as part of the measles-mumps-rubella shot, or MMR. The first dose is given to toddlers at 12-15 months, and the second is recommended before children start kindergarten. CDC guidelines also clearly state that infants who are being taken for travel internationally can receive the first dose as young as 6 months. Two doses provide about 98 percent protection against measles, said Kathleen Harriman, with the CDPH. If you have had the measles, you are also protected. Continue reading
Studies show the HPV vaccine is highly protective, but as many as two-thirds of 11 and 12-year-old girls don’t get it. (Art Writ/Flickr)
By Patti Neighmond, NPR
You would think that a vaccine that could prevent cancer would be an easy sell, but that’s hasn’t proven to be true so far with the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
“This is a vaccine that protects against cancer; what could be better than that?”
Just 33 percent of girls and less than 7 percent of boys in the U.S. have gotten all three recommended doses of the vaccine to protect against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical and other cancers. Compare that to the tiny African nation of Rwanda, where more than 90 percent of sixth-grade girls were vaccinated in 2011, or Australia, where 73 percent of 12- and 13-year-old girls have gotten all three vaccines.
“This is a vaccine that protects against cancer; what could be better than that?” asks Shannon Stokley, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She and other public health officials are trying to figure out the best ways to persuade American teenagers and preteens to get the HPV vaccine. Continue reading