Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Delayed First Visit to Dentist Can Affect Children's Lifelong Oral Health

/PRNewswire/ -- Most American children don't see their family dentist until they are well over 2 years old, far later than is recommended by both dental and medical professionals.

That's one of the key findings from a survey(1) of American children's oral health, conducted on behalf of Delta Dental Plans Association, the nation's leading dental benefits provider. Delta Dental commissioned the survey to gain greater knowledge about the state of children's oral health.

The survey of primary caregivers revealed that, for those children who had seen a dentist - and 34 percent had not - the average age at the initial visit was 2.6 years. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts.

Importance of Primary Teeth Not Recognized

Among children who have never visited the dentist or who have not seen a dentist in the last 12 months, the most mentioned reason (62 percent) was that "the child is too young" or "doesn't have enough teeth yet." Lack of insurance coverage was cited by 12 percent of the caregivers.

According to the AAPD, it is very important to keep primary teeth in place until they are lost naturally. "Baby" teeth:

-- Help children chew properly to maintain good nutrition.
-- Are involved in speech development.
-- Help save space for permanent teeth.
-- Promote a healthy smile that helps children feel good about the way
they look.

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that care for a child's gums should begin at birth. According to the Delta Dental survey, 35 percent of caregivers clean their baby's gums just a few times a week, or less.

Caregivers should gently wipe the baby's gums with a soft, wet cloth after each feeding. When primary teeth begin to appear, they should be cleaned with a soft, child-sized toothbrush and a pea-sized dab of children's toothpaste, twice a day.

"Many Americans don't understand how important their children's baby teeth are to lifelong oral health," said Jed J. Jacobson, DDS, MS, MPH, chief science officer and senior V.P. at Delta Dental. "There's a continuing need for more education to teach practices that will ensure lifelong oral health. And, since people overwhelmingly prefer the dentist and dental hygienist as their primary oral health information sources, dental benefits that encourage visits to the dentist are crucial."

1) Morpace Inc. conducted the 2009 Delta Dental Children's Oral Health Survey. Random 15-minute telephone interviews were conducted nationally with 914 primary caregivers of children from birth to age 11. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of error is +/-3.2 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some Bacteria Can Be Good For Your Stomach And Digestion

(StatePoint) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders. The condition, with symptoms including abdominal pain, constipation and/or diarrhea, affects up to one in five Americans and is second only to the common cold as a leading cause of workplace absenteeism in the U.S.

IBS costs the U.S. healthcare system up to an estimated $20 to 25 billion annually in direct and indirect costs. Beyond the physical effects, IBS sufferers can feel embarrassed by unpredictable symptoms and be forced to limit social activities.

Although IBS affects so many people, the causes of the condition are still unclear. There are many theories on what causes IBS -- including an altered immune response or an imbalance of bacteria in the gut.

Dr. Lin Chang, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Digestive Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress suggests the following for people who are experiencing recurring abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation:

* Talk to a Professional: A medical professional can review symptoms, make a diagnosis and help establish a plan of action. There are prescription and over-the-counter therapies that can help minimize the symptoms of IBS.

* Keep a Log: For some people, certain foods, stress, infection, and hormonal changes can trigger IBS symptoms. Keeping a diary of foods and activities is a good way to track potential triggers, identify ways to avoid these triggers, or be able to better manage potential symptoms.

* Do Research: There is a wealth of information on the Internet about IBS, other people's experiences and treatments. Stick to credible Web sites and well-known manufacturers when researching products. Bookstores and libraries can also be good resources.

* Consider Probiotics: One area of growing interest in managing IBS is probiotics, beneficial bacteria that aid digestion while strengthening the body's natural defenses and supporting a balance of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Not all probiotic strains are the same, and many probiotic products that tout health benefits are not clinically proven to be effective. Strain, packaging, and manufacturing can all impact the effectiveness of a probiotic.

One probiotic that has promising clinical data in IBS is Bifantis (Bifidobacterium infantis 35624). Bifantis is a unique, patented probiotic strain known to be isolated from a healthy human colon and has clinically demonstrated that, when taken regularly, it can help promote digestive health. Key clinical trials published in "Gastroenterology" and the "American Journal of Gastroenterology" found that Bifantis led to an improvement in the cardinal symptoms of IBS including abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. In addition, Bifantis was the only probiotic cited in a recent "New England Journal of Medicine" article to help with bloating and IBS.

"It's really important that people realize that they don't just have to live with IBS. This condition can be effectively and successfully managed," says Dr. Chang.

For guidelines on how to pick a clinically proven probiotic, please visit the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics Web site at: www.ISAPP.net. For more information on Bifantis and probiotics visit www.bifantis.com. For more information about IBS, visit www.iffgd.org.

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Must-have information about heart failure medications

(ARA) - Over the past several years advances in medications have made a big impact on the quality of life for heart failure patients. These medicines can help stabilize heart function, relieve symptoms and keep patients out of the hospital. But for prescriptions to be effective, patients must be proactive in understanding their medications and talk with their doctors about how the medicines affect their health.

Research demonstrates that many patients discontinue important life-saving medications within six months of the original prescription. The reasons for this can be many. For example, some patients may be tempted to stop taking their medicine when they start to feel better. However, it is important to continue taking the medicine, as its purpose is not only to make the patient feel better in the short run, but also to treat the underlying disease and improve health in the long run.

On the other hand, if a patient is taking medicine and feeling worse, or not feeling any better, it is important to discuss this with a doctor, as medicines may need to be changed or the dose adjusted to receive maximum benefits.

Most people with heart failure require several medicines for the best results. The list below describes the most common medicines available that may be prescribed for heart failure patients, courtesy of the Heart Failure Society of America. Patients should ask their health care provider for complete information on any medicines they are taking.

* ACE inhibitor pills – These medicines work by blocking the effects of harmful stress hormones. They also control high blood pressure and prevent heart attacks. In most people, they do not usually cause side effects but for some patients they can cause cough or, rarely, swelling of the lining of the mouth.

* Beta-blocker pills – This group of medicines improves heart function. They also control high blood pressure, prevent heart attacks and help regulate the heart rhythm. They work by blocking the effects of certain harmful stress hormones. Side effects include dizziness, fatigue, fluid buildup, difficulty with sexual function, depression and wheezing.

* Diuretics – Also called water pills, these work by helping the body get rid of extra fluid. Less fluid in the lungs makes breathing easier and means less swelling in other parts of the body. Patients taking a diuretic should have their potassium levels checked periodically. Diuretics can also cause people to lose too much fluid and become dehydrated.

* Digoxin pills – Taking digoxin can improve heart function by making the heart beat stronger and also may help to correct hormonal imbalance that makes heart failure worse. Patients with heart failure breathe more easily and feel better as a result. Excessive amounts of digoxin may cause nausea or vomiting, blurred or colored vision or abnormal heart rhythm, which may cause palpitations or blackouts. Digoxin should be used with care and close communication with a doctor’s office is required.

* Aldosterone antagonist pills – These work by blocking the effects of a stress hormone called aldosterone. One study shows that people with advanced heart failure who take aldosterone-blocking pills live longer and stay out of the hospital. They can increase potassium levels and can cause breast enlargement or tenderness, especially in men, and loss of sexual urges in women. Again, close communication with a doctor’s office is required if this medicine is used.

* ARB pills – These reduce the impact of certain harmful stress hormones. They have actions similar to those of ACE inhibitors and may be recommended for people who can not tolerate an ACE inhibitor. They can cause dizziness, decrease in blood pressure or problems with kidneys or potassium level.

* Combination isosorbide dinitrate and hydralazine pills – This is a combination of two different vasodilators. These drugs work by relaxing blood vessels, which eases the work of the heart. The combination may work particularly well in African-Americans with heart failure but others are also likely to benefit. This combination can cause headaches, especially right after patients start taking the pills. Other side effects include dizziness, nausea, vomiting and feeling lightheaded or even fainting if patients use drugs for erectile dysfunction, drink alcohol or do not drink enough fluids.

Patients need to be sure to tell every doctor and nurse they see that they have heart failure and what medicines they are taking, including over-the-counter medications, “nutriceuticals” or herbal remedies. Some of these can make heart failure worse or interfere with the prescribed medications from your health care provider. Heart failure patients should be particularly cautious about taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), calcium channel blockers and most antiarrhythmic medicines.

For more information on heart failure, visit the Heart Failure Society of America at www.AboutHF.org.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Adverse Drug Events: A Large Burden in Pediatric Care

/PRNewswire/ -- An 11-year national analysis at Children's Hospital Boston shows that side effects or accidental overdoses of medications are a common complication of outpatient care in children, generating more than half a million additional visits per year, particularly in children age 4 and younger. Findings are reported in the October issue of Pediatrics.

While many studies have documented adverse drug events, or ADEs, in adults, information in children has been limited, despite the fact that drugs are prescribed to children in almost 70 percent of outpatient visits (1). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 75 percent of drugs given to children have not undergone pediatric testing (2).

The researchers, led by Florence Bourgeois, MD, MPH, of Children's Division of Emergency Medicine, analyzed data from the National Center for Health Statistics on outpatient visits throughout the United States. Focusing on children up to age 18, they tallied an average of 585,922 visits per year for ADEs between 1995 and 2005. Most of these visits were to outpatient clinics, but 22 percent were to emergency rooms.

The authors suggest that clinicians need to be aware of potential adverse effects and provide appropriate anticipatory guidance to parents, especially when children are given a medication for the first time. "We found that there are as many as 13 outpatient visits for adverse drug events per 1,000 children, indicating that they are a common complication of pediatric care," says Bourgeois.

Children 4 years and younger made the most visits (43 percent), followed by children 15 to 18 years old (23 percent). The most frequent side effects were skin-related or gastrointestinal, present in 45 and 16.5 percent of children, respectively. Fifty-Two percent of the children had symptoms suggesting an allergic reaction.

Antimicrobials (such as penicillin) were the most frequently implicated drugs, accounting for 27.5 percent of visits overall, and as many as 40 percent of visits among children 0-4 years old. They were followed by neurologic/psychotropic medications (6.5 percent) and hormones (6 percent). The last two categories accounted for the most ADE visits among older children, likely reflecting the increase in medication therapy for emotional and behavioral disorders during the adolescent years, and prescriptions of contraceptives for teenage girls.

Recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Slone Survey indicate that as many as 56 percent of children have taken at least one medication during the preceding week, with 26 percent using two or more medications and more than 20 percent using a prescription drug.

"One approach to reducing adverse events is to ensure that clinicians have ready access to complete information on the adverse effects and comparative effectiveness of medications," says Bourgeois. "This information should derive from data on the real-world use of the drugs, not just from the package inserts."

To the authors' knowledge, this is the first study to comprehensively examine ADEs occurring in the outpatient setting. It was funded by an R01 Grant from the National Library of Medicine and a T32 Grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

References:

(1) Cherry DK, Woodwell DA, Rechtsteiner EA. National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2005 summary. Adv Data. Jun 29 2007(387):1-39.

(2) American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pregnant Women Need Flu Shots

/PRNewswire/ -- Pregnant women should be sure to get all their flu shots as soon as the vaccines become available this year to protect them against both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 (swine) flu, according to eight leading national maternal and infant health organizations.

The eight organizations - the March of Dimes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses, the Infectious Disease Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine - today partnered to issue a joint statement because the H1N1 virus has proven to be especially dangerous to pregnant women.

"The normal changes of pregnancy make pregnant women at increased risk of the harmful effects of flu infection," the groups say.

Some pregnant women may be reluctant to take these shots. But Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes, says, "We urge every pregnant woman to discuss influenza immunization with her health care provider because the risk of serious illness during pregnancy is substantial. It is important to note that the vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials."

In addition to getting immunized before the flu season for both the seasonal and the H1N1 viruses, the groups urge pregnant women to follow good hygiene habits, such as hand-washing and avoiding others who are sick, to prevent the virus from spreading. Pregnant women who develop flu-like symptoms should quickly contact their health care provider so that they can begin treatment immediately.

H1N1 flu is caused by a virus. In the spring of 2009, many people in Mexico became sick with H1N1 (swine) flu. It spread to several countries, including the United States. Now, the US is taking steps to deal with the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years.

Research published Sept. 11, 2009 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which surveyed pregnant women in two states, found that women who got a seasonal flu vaccine did so because their health care provider recommended it.

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The Tipping Point: CPSC Urges Parents to Inspect and Secure TVs, Furniture, and Appliances to Prevent Tip-Over Deaths and Injuries

For young children, the home is a playground, and while many parents childproof to ensure that their home is a safe place, some may not be aware that unsecured TVs, furniture and appliances are hidden hazards lurking in every room. Today, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging parents once again to take simple, low-cost steps to prevent deaths and injuries associated with furniture, TV, and appliance tip-overs.

CPSC staff estimates that in 2006, 16,300 children 5 years old and younger were treated in emergency rooms because of injuries associated with TV, furniture, and appliance tip-overs, and between 2000 and 2006, CPSC staff received reports (pdf) of 134 tip-over related deaths. Additionally, CPSC staff is aware of at least 30 media reports of tip-over deaths since January 2007 involving this same age group.

“Many parents are unaware of the deadly danger of this hidden hazard. I urge parents to include securing TVs, furniture, and appliances in their childproofing efforts,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “Taking a few moments now can prevent a tip-over tragedy later.”

“You may think your home is safe, but everyday things like a television can hurt your child. I was right there and it happened,” said Sylvia Santiago, of West Haven, Connecticut who lost her two-year old daughter in 2008.

Typically, injuries and deaths occur when children climb onto, fall against, or pull themselves up on television stands, shelves, bookcases, dressers, desks, chests, and appliances. In some cases, televisions placed on top of furniture tip over and cause a child to suffer traumatic and sometimes fatal injuries. “The most devastating injuries that we see resulting from furniture tipping on children are injuries to the brain and when a child is trapped under a heavy piece of furniture and suffocates,” said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, Director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Recent revisions to the voluntary safety standards for clothes storage units provide for the inclusion of warning labels and additional hardware to secure the furniture to the floor or wall. To help prevent tip-over hazards, CPSC offers the following safety tips:

* Furniture should be stable on its own. For added security, anchor chests or dressers, TV stands, bookcases and entertainment units to the floor or attach them to a wall.

* Place TVs on a sturdy, low-rise base. Avoid flimsy shelves.

* Push the TV as far back as possible.

* Place electrical cords out of a child’s reach, and teach kids not to play with them.

* Keep remote controls and other attractive items off the TV stand so kids won’t be tempted to grab for them and risk knocking the TV over.

* Make sure free-standing ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FDA: Philips Lifeline Issues Safety Alert for Lifeline Pendant Personal Help Buttons

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today cautioned users of personal emergency response buttons worn around the neck of a potential choking hazard associated with this product.

The FDA is aware of at least six reports between 1998 and 2009 of serious injury or death, including three deaths in the United States and one in Canada, from choking after the cord on the Philips Lifeline Personal Help Button became entangled on other objects worn around the neck.

There are more than 750,000 users of these devices in the United States and Canada. By pushing the “help” button on the device when in distress, users can call for emergency assistance to their home. According to Philips Lifeline, the device is used primarily by seniors living independently, who feel they are at risk for falls or other medical emergencies.

The Lifeline pendant button is intentionally designed to not break away when tugged, which prevents the button from accidentally falling off. However, because it does not break away, there is a risk of choking, including the possibility of serious injury or death. Risks are greater for those with mobility limitations or for those who use wheelchairs, walkers, beds with guard rails, or other objects that could entangle with a neck cord.

Philips Lifeline is currently sending letters to its 750,000 customers and has changed the labeling of this product to include a warning against the potential choking hazard.

The FDA recommends that users consult their health care providers to determine which style of emergency button, including those that are worn on the wrist, is most beneficial for them.

These widely used devices provide critical and immediate access to emergency care for those at risk of falls or who may be more likely to need outside assistance. While the number of adverse events reported is small compared to the number of people who use this device, the severity of these events is of concern. It remains important that users, along with their health care providers, assess the options provided by each style of button, and choose the option that best fits their condition.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Treating Red, Itchy "Allergy Eyes"

(NAPSI)-Taking a few simple steps can help relieve symptoms of allergies, whenever they strike.

An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America-and many will tell you that ragweed and mold strike allergy sufferers hard in the fall.

Fall allergies can wreak havoc on noses, throats and especially the eyes. In fact, according to a Harris Interactive Survey, people who suffer from allergies say that their most bothersome and most experienced symptom is itchy "allergy eyes."

Fortunately, there are ways to find relief. Renowned optometrist Dr. Elise Brisco says the key lies in a powerful antihistamine known as "Ketotifen Fumarate."

"It works by blocking allergy receptors on the eyes and by decreasing the release of histamine from cells in the eye," she explains. You can find it in Visine All Day Eye Itch Relief. Dr. Brisco says no other over-the-counter eye drop works faster and lasts longer to relieve itchy eyes.

"It works within minutes and lasts up to 12 hours," she says. "Prescription medications taken orally can take up to 90 minutes to start working, so eye drops are a great fast fix for itchy allergy eyes."

Dr. Brisco offers these additional tips:

• Vacuum and dust often to reduce allergens such as dust and pet dander.

• Keep windows shut to keep out ragweed and other outdoor allergens.

• Regularly clean or change the air filters in your heating and cooling system to keep indoor air fresh.

• Put allergy-proof covers on pillows, mattresses and comforters to ward off dust mites.

• After being outdoors, use a sterile saline eyewash to clean out your eyes, then use an over-the-counter eye drop.

• Do not hang laundry to dry outdoors because allergens might stick to the clothes.

• Glasses and sunglasses act as a barrier or shield to minimize allergens from sticking to your eyes.

• If you wear contact lenses, choose a daily disposable lens to minimize allergen accumulation.

Learn More

Visit www.visine.com for more information about eye allergies and ways to relieve the discomfort and annoyance they can cause.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Simple Solutions For Making Healthier Food Choices

(NAPSI)-Since the inception of the Nutrition Facts Panel, Americans have clocked many hours in grocery store aisles comparing the nutritional content of food items in an effort to identify the healthiest options. Yet a new survey from Guiding Stars, the world's first storewide nutrition navigation system, found that 67 percent of Americans are only somewhat confident, at best, they can select healthy foods from the Nutrition Facts Panel alone.

"While the Nutrition Facts Panel is essential to help shoppers identify the nutrients in packaged foods, many Americans seek additional ways to help them quickly and easily identify nutritious options," said Tracy Fox, M.P.H, R.D. and member of the Guiding Stars Scientific Advisory Panel.

Here are some time-saving tips and tools to help you make healthier food choices while on the go.

Tackling the supermarket. Knowing how to navigate your local grocery store to locate healthy foods more efficiently is an easy first step toward your nutrition goals. Start with the perimeter of the store to load up on fresh foods--like fruits and vegetables, fish, unprocessed meat, whole grain breads and fat-free or low-fat dairy--and consider minimizing the selection of those processed, high-sugar or high-sodium foods that tend to be found in the center aisles.

Nutrition labeling at a glance. Nutrition labels can be a useful tool to help determine healthy food items, so be sure to take advantage of them. Some supermarkets offer at-a-glance nutrition navigation systems, such as Guiding Stars, which analyze nutrient data obtained from the Nutrition Facts Panel found on food labels and the USDA's National Nutrient Database. Guiding Stars uses a good-better-best rating system that allows you to quickly identify and choose foods that offer the most nutrition for the calories.

Plan meals and make a shopping list. Planning healthy meals and creating a shopping list allows you to shop quickly and efficiently while helping to quell the temptation to purchase less healthy foods out of hunger or fatigue. A list also helps prevent overshopping, which can trigger overeating or wastefulness.

Be sure to take advantage of the nutrition navigation and education tools available to you, either in your local grocery store or online, to help you create a healthy eating plan that works for you and your family. For more information, visit www.guidingstars.com, where you'll find healthy-eating tips and tools, such as a meal planner and nutritious recipes, to help you develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Guiding Stars, the world's first storewide nutrition navigation system, helps shoppers create a healthy eating plan.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Five Common Myths About Bone Health

(StatePoint) When you were young, you may have wanted to be "bad to the bone." As you age, you need to make sure your bones don't go bad.

Unfortunately, there are many myths about osteoporosis, a condition in which bones weaken and can break from a minor fall or even from a simple action such as a sneeze. It's a major threat for approximately 44 million Americans, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), but most don't know they are at risk or how to prevent it.

"Bone health affects overall health," points out bone expert Dr. Warren Levy, CEO of Unigene Laboratories (UGNE), a biopharmaceutical company. "For example, a new study recently confirmed that older people who break a hip have nearly a 25 percent chance of dying in the next five years."

"The good news is there are steps that can be taken to protect your bones as you age. Get lots of calcium and vitamin D, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol or caffeine, and do regular weight-bearing exercises. Medications also make sense for many people," he adds.

Here are five common misperceptions about bone health:

* It's A Women's Problem: Both women and men lose bone density as they age. A man older than 50 is more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than to get prostate cancer, according to the NOF. And some researchers are predicting a 56 percent increase in incidence of male osteoporotic fractures.

* You'll Know It If You Have It: People can't feel their bones weakening. They may not know they have osteoporosis until a bone breaks from a minor fall or a simple action like a sneeze. Talk to your doctor to see if a simple bone density test is appropriate.

* Bone Medications Have No Side Effects: We've all seen osteoporosis drug ads targeting older women. Golden sunsets and women exercising or playing with grandkids can obscure the fact that some of these medications have been associated with potentially dangerous side effects like severe bone degeneration over time, muscle or joint pain, heart problems, cancer and kidney failure. The focus should be on selecting drugs that can help osteoporosis patients without creating these risks, and patients should educate themselves regarding the available options, stresses Levy.

* Exercise Can Hurt: Many are afraid exercise can harm their bones, especially as they age. Weight-bearing exercises are very effective at building bones even for those who have advanced osteoporosis. Such exercises include lifting weights, climbing stairs, aerobics, dancing, jogging and tennis. Check with your doctor to see which exercises are most appropriate for you.

* Family History Doesn't Matter: Genetics and heredity greatly influence a person's risk of developing osteoporosis. If either of your parents had osteoporosis or a history of broken bones, you're more at risk. If one had a spine that curved forward or noticeable height loss, osteoporosis might have been the cause.

"Maintaining healthy bones isn't just about preventing painful symptoms. It's important for maintaining a good quality of life as you age, so take good care of your bones," says Dr. Levy.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Running Outside? Nathan Performance Gear(TM) Offers Five Tips for Safer Running

/PRNewswire/ -- As cooler weather and shorter days begin to put an end to the last memories of summer for much of the U.S., Nathan Performance Gear(TM), a leader in hydration, reflective, and multi-sport gear and accessories, reminds runners to practice safe running when hitting the roads this fall.

"This time of year in particular serves as an opportune time to remind people, who may be getting themselves and their family back in a routine after the lazy days of summer, about several quick and easy to-dos that can help lead to safer running," says Megan Russell, vice president of marketing and sales for Penguin Brands, Inc., of which Nathan is a subsidiary.

While several components fall under the broad umbrella of "safe running," including routine physician appointments, running with a buddy, and others, Russell puts an emphasis on five key recommendations that are easy to do and can often get overlooked by even the most dedicated runner. These five tips include:

-- Wear reflective. Wearing reflective when out on the roads helps cars,
bikes, and other people detect, react, and maneuver in time to avoid a
potential disastrous situation more quickly than when not wearing
reflective. Nathan offers several vests and accessories that offer
360-degree visibility up to 1200 feet.
-- Carry identification. Every second counts in an emergency, and
carrying identification can help direct first responders to pertinent
information quickly and efficiently. Nathan introduced two belts this
year -- the Shadow Pak and the Reflective Belt -- that feature both an
incorporated I.D. card and I.D. stitching.
-- Bring a cell phone. A twisted ankle, an unfamiliar route, or a
longer-than-expected run can all benefit from having a cell phone
handy to alert the appropriate people. The Shadow Pak and the
Reflective Belt make running with a cell phone easy, with both
featuring limited-stretch mesh pockets that fit almost any-sized cell
phone, including the iPhone.
-- Stay properly hydrated -- before, during, and after. Fluids help
athletes perform better, recover better, and are good for overall
health, even when not exercising. Nathan makes it easy to stay
hydrated while running through its line of handheld water bottles,
including the 10 oz. Sprint and the 22 oz. QuickDraw Elite, and its
line of BPA-free Stainless Steel bottles, which come in two different
sizes, 500 mL and 700 mL, with a third size, 320 mL kids-sized
bottles, on the way in 2010.
-- Have someone know your route. Having a spouse, family member, or
friend ensures someone knows the expected route -- and approximate
beginning and end time -- of a run, and if that expected end time
passed hours ago.

To drive home these points even further this year, Nathan introduced the Run Safe Initiative, a partnership with its retailers that promotes the ideals of running safe to consumers.

"The only thing more important to us than an athlete's performance is their safety, and it's our hope that through the cooperation of our retailers, we can get the message out to athletes that it's important for their health and safety to run both smart and safe," says Russell. "We've already had great response from our retailers, and plan to continue rolling out the initiative throughout the year."

Nathan offers a full range of reflective products, from reflective compression garments to helmet and bike stickers to L.E.D. wrist bands. To explore the full line, and to learn more about the Run Safe Initiative, visit www.NathanSports.com.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Americans Urged To Get Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Early

/PRNewswire/ -- With increased influenza activity anticipated this fall, U.S. public health officials and other leading medical experts today urged Americans to be vigilant and get immunized early for protection against seasonal influenza - a threat to Americans' health each and every year.

Seasonal influenza vaccine is already available in many communities and Americans should begin to get vaccinated now. Seasonal vaccine supply is expected to top 110 million doses this year. Every year more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized from influenza complications and about 36,000 die from influenza-related causes.

"The single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu is to get vaccinated each year," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). "Vaccination is the cornerstone of our prevention efforts. I will be receiving my flu vaccination later this week."

Secretary Sebelius spoke at a news conference sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and held in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Physicians (ACP), AARP and National Influenza Vaccine Summit.

Experts said the best strategy for the upcoming influenza season is a concerted campaign to immunize Americans early against seasonal influenza, followed by immunization against the novel H1N1 virus when that vaccine becomes available later this fall.

"In all our concern about the novel H1N1 influenza, we must not let our guard down against seasonal influenza," said William Schaffner, MD, president-elect of NFID and chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "It is critically important that we take the threat of seasonal flu seriously, and vaccination is the best course of prevention."

Thomas Frieden, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emphasized some important things people should do when it comes to influenza. "To protect themselves and others against the flu, it's important to stay home when sick, cover coughs and sneezes, and wash hands often. Get the flu vaccines according to the recommendations of CDC and your doctor. Seasonal flu vaccine is available now. And if you or someone in your household has the flu and either have an underlying medical problem or are very sick, see a doctor or health care provider right away for treatment."

At the news conference, infectious disease specialists also urged people aged 65-plus and those younger than 65 with certain risk factors to make sure they get their pneumococcal vaccine. Any influenza infection can put people at increased risk for pneumococcal infection, which can cause severe illness, including bacterial pneumonia, bloodstream infection and meningitis. A one-time pneumococcal vaccination is necessary to protect most adults who are in the groups recommended for the pneumococcal vaccine.

Dr. Schaffner advised older persons and also anyone who smokes, has asthma or other chronic medical conditions to get the pneumococcal vaccine. "Since we expect increased influenza cases overall this fall, pneumococcal vaccination is that much more important," he said.

Americans Continue to Have Questions as Flu Season Begins

According to data released at the conference, the public continues to have questions about seasonal influenza. In a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults commissioned by NFID, 48 percent had specific questions about seasonal influenza and the vaccine. Respondents were asked to provide the one most important question they had about seasonal influenza; their questions covered a wide range of topics.

Of those who had questions, the most common related to how to keep from getting influenza (13 percent), the effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccines (12 percent), the seriousness of flu/how many people die from it (11 percent), how easily flu spreads (9 percent) and when the best time is to get vaccinated (8 percent). These questions were addressed in detail by the experts during the news conference.

Although vaccination remains the first line of defense against influenza, antiviral medications are available to help treat influenza. These medications are most effective when started within 48 hours of the first symptoms. Antivirals may also be used in certain situations to help prevent influenza in individuals exposed to the influenza virus. Currently, antivirals can effectively treat certain seasonal influenza strains and the novel H1N1 influenza.

Children and Pregnant Women among those Recommended for Both Seasonal and H1N1 Vaccination This Year

Children and pregnant women will need to be vaccinated with two different influenza vaccines this year - the one against seasonal influenza and the vaccine now being developed against novel H1N1 influenza. Every year, children 6 months through 18 years of age, regardless of medical conditions, and pregnant women are recommended for seasonal influenza vaccination.

"Health care professionals should be among the first in line for both vaccines," said Gregory A. Poland, MD, director, Mayo Vaccine Research Group, Mayo Clinic and chair, Adult Immunization Advisory Board, American College of Physicians. "They need to set a good example for their patients by getting vaccinated, which will keep them healthy and at work and, most importantly, will reduce the chances of them passing influenza to vulnerable patients in their care." Dr. Poland also commented on why protecting everyone against seasonal influenza is so important. "We do not know what toll seasonal influenza will take from year to year, but we do know that it will come, many people will get very sick and unfortunately, people will die."

Seasonal Vaccine Still Essential for Older Adults and Certain Younger Adults

Older Americans are fortunate to be less likely to get sick from the H1N1 influenza virus than younger people, perhaps due to exposure to a similar influenza virus earlier in their lives.

On the other hand, it is critical that all Americans aged 50 and older get their seasonal influenza vaccine, experts said. "Older adults are the ones most likely to suffer serious complications from seasonal influenza and they have the highest fatality rates," said Cora L. Christian, MD, MPH, a member of the AARP Board of Directors. "They're also more likely to be caring for young children and older loved ones who are vulnerable to influenza. Getting vaccinated is the best way to stay healthy and active while protecting those around you." Dr. Christian also reminded people 65-plus that pneumococcal vaccination is especially important for them. Both vaccines are free for anyone with Medicare Part B.

Seasonal vaccine is also recommended for adults of any age who don't want to get the flu or transmit it to those around them. It is also recommended for adults younger than 50 who are at higher risk of infection or complications, including those with underlying medical conditions and residents of long-term care facilities. Finally, the vaccine is recommended for household caregivers of young children, the elderly and anyone else at high risk of influenza complications.

Too Many Parents Unaware of Seasonal Influenza as Serious Threat

Many mothers do not consider it important to consistently vaccinate their children against seasonal influenza, according to recent research conducted by NFID. This is in spite of the fact that approximately 100 children die each year from seasonal influenza; about half of these deaths are in children who were previously healthy. The research also shows that many mothers mistakenly believe there are ways to avoid influenza that are just as effective as vaccination.

"School-age children have the highest infection rates for seasonal flu, while infants and toddlers have very high hospitalization rates comparable to those for the elderly," said David T. Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP, president of AAP. "Despite this, too few parents are getting their children immunized. This puts them at much greater risk for the flu, which can have serious consequences even in the healthiest children."

Although pediatric deaths from influenza are not nearly as common as deaths in the elderly, public health officials are concerned that a growing percentage of the children who die - as many as 42 percent in 2007-08--are co-infected with MRSA, a form of the staphylococcus bacteria that is resistant to methicillin and other antibiotics commonly used to treat staph infections.

Children are usually the first age group to get influenza each year, with outbreaks often beginning in schools and then moving on to the community at large. Influenza vaccination is particularly important to protect children and help prevent the spread of disease.

Patients and Health Care Professionals Need to Talk About Influenza

Research shows that the advice of a health care professional is one of the most important factors in a patient's decision to get vaccinated against influenza. Since many people will have to be vaccinated against more than one kind of virus this year, communication between patients and health care professionals will be essential.

"Seasonal influenza vaccination is a personal and public health priority, and both patients at high risk and in the general population should plan to get vaccinated," said AMA immediate past president Nancy Nielsen, MD.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Children With Asthma More Vulnerable to H1N1 Virus

/PRNewswire/ -- Nearly a dozen 7th graders with asthma were welcomed along with other classmates back to school today by a special guest who had a message for them about staying healthy - Kathleen Sebelius, 21st Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Secretary Sebelius met with students and their parents at Thurgood Marshall Elementary, one of 16 schools in Philadelphia that partners with the Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc. (MCAN) program partners to help students better manage their asthma. She talked about the importance of education and creating healthy habits to avoid missing school.

"Nothing is more important than keeping our children healthy, in school and ready to learn as we start the new school year," said Dr. Floyd Malveaux, Executive Director of MCAN and former Dean of the College of Medicine at Howard University. "We applaud Secretary Sebelius for recognizing that staying healthy can be a challenge for students with asthma - a factor that is even further complicated with the possibility of being exposed to the H1N1 virus, which can increase the severity of asthma symptoms, leading to possible hospitalizations."

During the meeting, Secretary Sebelius highlighted the work of the Philadelphia MCAN project as a model for inner-city childhood asthma management. Launched in 2005, the Philadelphia MCAN project has improved asthma outcomes for children and reduced school absenteeism by using a community-based approach that integrates families, community agencies, schools and health care providers to implement scientifically proven asthma interventions.

The Philadelphia program brings hope into communities that shoulder a disproportionate share of the childhood asthma burden. Screening conducted with the Philadelphia MCAN project in partnership with The School District of Philadelphia found that one out of four students in the West, Southwest, Olney, Logan and Germantown communities - target communities for the program - have been diagnosed with asthma or have been admitted to the hospital for wheezing, compared to one out of ten nationwide. The Philadelphia program provides children with asthma and their families access to three key services: Community Asthma Prevention Program (CAPP) classes that educate parents, other caretakers and children with asthma; CAPP home visits where community health workers help families eliminate or control allergens and irritants within the home; and Health Promotion Council (HPC) Link Line services that connect families to asthma care coordinators.

"The unique structure of our program allows us to bring multiple stakeholders to the table to create a successful team that can get children to care and services for better long-term and immediate asthma management," said Dr. Michael Rosenthal of Thomas Jefferson University and co-lead investigator of the Philadelphia MCAN program. "By collaborating with specific schools to identify children that have asthma, the Philadelphia MCAN project has armed school nurses with essential information to assist students who are at higher risk for complications with H1N1 and seasonal flu virus, allowing them to be better prepared to manage these children at school."

Nationally, MCAN, a non-profit organization funded by the Merck Company Foundation, provides funding to four other local programs that target low-income, urban populations with high rates of pediatric asthma in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Puerto Rico. The goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs and use the findings to develop model programs that can be replicated and tailored in communities across the country.

"The Philadelphia MCAN program has shown that we can help children manage their asthma and that means improved quality of life, significantly fewer trips to the ER or stays in the hospital, and best of all, more days in school," said Dr. Tyra Bryant-Stephens from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and co-lead investigator of the Philadelphia MCAN project. "Empowering caregivers and children with this knowledge has helped to greatly decrease the school days missed by children in Philadelphia, a segment of the nearly 13 million schools days missed each year by the millions of children nationwide that have been diagnosed with asthma."

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Let's Talk About Bladder Control For Women

(NAPSI)-If leaking urine has become a problem, you're not alone. Millions of women have bladder control problems, but many of them keep it a secret and do not seek a doctor's help.

What You Should Know

Though more common among older women, urine leakage can affect women of all ages. Being pregnant and having a baby, being overweight and having a urinary tract infection can all contribute to urine leakage. Coughing, sneezing or exercising can also cause urine leakage. The leaking can be mild or severe enough to have a serious effect on a woman's daily life.

What To Do

The good news is that doctors can treat urine leakage. Treatment choices include losing weight, performing pelvic exercises, taking medicines and having surgery. Talking with a doctor is the first step toward fixing the problem.

For More Information

Visit the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website at www.kidney.niddk.nih.gov for more information and free publications about bladder control.


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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Yoga Benefits Back-Pain Patients

/PRNewswire/ -- People with chronic low-back problems who do yoga also do better at overcoming pain and depression than people treated conventionally for back pain, a West Virginia University study funded by the National Institutes of Health shows.

The three-year, $400,000 study, published in the September issue of the journal Spine, showed lifted mood, less pain and improved function in the group that did yoga postures compared with a control group who received standard medical therapy.

"The yoga group had less pain, less functional disability and less depression compared with the control group," said Kimberly Williams, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine. "These were statistically significant and clinically important changes that were maintained six months after the intervention."

The 90 study subjects, who experienced mild to moderate functional disability, were randomly assigned to the yoga group or the group that received conventional medical therapy. Yoga participants took 90-minute classes twice a week for 24 weeks, doing postures targeted to relieve chronic low-back pain. Follow up continued for six months after the end of classes or therapy.

"Proponents of yoga have long described its benefits in reducing back pain," Williams said. "But not everybody was convinced. This is a much bigger, much more rigorous evaluation than had been done before."

The classes were taught by certified Iyengar yoga instructors. A popular form of yoga in the United States, Iyengar yoga emphasizes postures that encourage strength, flexibility and balance.

In the United States, low-back pain represents the largest category of medical reimbursements, with $34 billion in direct medical costs reported annually, Williams said.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Tips for Dealing With Fall Allergies from DampRid

(BUSINESS WIRE)--For America’s 60 million seasonal allergy sufferers, fall can be one of the most difficult times of year as ragweed begins to release its pollen into the air and mold and fungus spores increase due to the decay of leaves and other plants. Each ragweed plant produces one billion pollen grains per average season. This generally continues until the first frost, usually in October.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are considered the fifth leading chronic disease and are a major cause of work absenteeism, resulting in nearly four million missed or lost workdays each year.

Seasonal allergies can be further aggravated by poor air quality inside the home. Allergy sufferers can begin to take control of their condition by improving the quality of their home environment and create cleaner, fresher air. Moisture control is the key to preventing mold and mildew growth and the resulting allergens from forming. Removing excess moisture also protects against moisture damage to clothing, furniture and valuables and eliminates musty odors.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns that exposure to mold can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Particularly susceptible are pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Severe reactions can include asthma episodes, fever, shortness of breath, and mold infection in the lungs.

To minimize exposure to ragweed pollen and mold and fungus spores and to improve indoor air quality, DampRid recommends:

* Stay indoors as much as possible, especially in the early morning when pollen is released.
* Monitor pollen counts in your area by visiting the National Allergy Bureau at www.aaaai.org/nab.
* After spending time outside, take a shower to remove pollen from your hair and skin.
* Remove shoes and jackets immediately upon entering the house to minimize the spread of pollen.
* Keep windows at home and in the car shut.
* Use air conditioning as long as possible to clean the air.
* Wash sheets, blankets, and comforters weekly in hot water to reduce dust mites.
* Vacuum regularly, using a machine with a good filtration system.
* Eliminate cockroaches, as their waste produces allergens.
* Wash pets weekly to reduce dander.

To further manage indoor moisture and humidity, DampRid recommends:

* Install exhaust fans in bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room and any other space water vapor is created.
* Inspect doors, windows and the foundation for water seepage or excessive air infiltration.
* Replace worn caulk and seals.
* Place DampRid moisture absorbers in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry areas, and closets to create fresher, healthier indoor air.

DampRid offers a line of moisture absorber products that create fresher, healthier indoor air, prevent mold and mildew and the resulting allergens, and eliminate musty odors. For more ideas on how to use DampRid in the home, visit www.damprid.com.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Safety Slip: Don't Hold a Child in Your Lap on Playground Slides

/PRNewswire/ -- A new study published this week in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics found a relationship between young children going down a slide on the lap of an adult and tibia fractures. The study, conducted at Winthrop University Hospital, reviewed children with tibia fractures over an eleven month period and found 13.8% of the tibia fractures were sustained while sliding down a slide on an adult's lap.

"The correlation between a young child sliding down a slide while in an adult's lap has not previously been related to fractures of the tibia," stated study author John T. Gaffney, DO, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in pediatrics in New York. "Many parents think it is actually safer to hold their toddler while going down a playground slide, but this study may prove otherwise," he added.

Typically, injuries sustained in Dr. Gaffney's study happened:
-- when a young child was in an adult's lap while sliding and placed
their leg in a position where it became fixed, while both the adult
and child continued moving down the slide;
-- or in other cases, the child's leg became twisted, creating a torque
that led to a fracture in the lower extremity.


All tibia fractures associated with playing on a slide were sustained while going down the slide on the lap of an adult or older sibling. The age range of patients who sustained a tibia fracture while going down a slide was 14 months to 32 months.

Joan Mescall's son Gavin was part of Dr. Gaffney's study. Gavin was 14 months at the time of his tibia fracture, just one year ago. "You think you are doing the right thing, and then you realize you contributed to this accident," said Mescall. "Once a week I see a parent doing this at the park and I try to warn them," she added.

"Parents of the patient's in this study, just like Joan, were dismayed and frustrated at the lack of public awareness that such a common practice could cause, not prevent, an injury," said Gaffney. "Although going down the slide with a child on your lap may seem like an enjoyable moment for both, it can be putting them in danger," he stated.

"As a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon I want to prevent injuries, not just treat them, and if we can prevent just one toddler from sustaining a leg fracture, we are doing our job," added Gaffney.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

New Call Center Helps Ovarian Cancer Patients Cope With Challenges of Diagnosis

/PRNewswire/ -- Women with ovarian cancer can now find immediate assistance to better cope with their diagnosis by calling 877-OV-HOPE-1 (877-684-6731), a new, free telephone counseling and referral service launched today by a unique partnership: L'Oreal Paris and its charitable partner, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), and CancerCare, a national non-profit which provides free counseling and education services to individuals and families affected by cancer.

"Any cancer diagnosis is a frightening and stressful experience that can be difficult to cope with," noted Rosalie Canosa, director of program services for CancerCare. "When the diagnosis is ovarian cancer, too many women have no place to turn for help with the emotional and practical impact of their situation."

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer among U.S. women. This year, approximately 22,000 women will be diagnosed, and nearly 15,000 will lose their lives to the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. While five-year survival rates exceed 90 percent in early-stage diagnoses, there is no effective early-stage test for the disease, which often is not diagnosed until it reaches an advanced stage, when it is far more difficult to treat successfully.

"Now, with the L'Oreal Paris OCRF Hope Line, women facing ovarian cancer can have their questions answered and find the resources they require to ensure they receive the best care possible," said Canosa.

"We at L'Oreal Paris are deeply committed to providing tangible hope for women battling ovarian cancer," said Karen T. Fondu, president of the L'Oreal Paris Division of L'Oreal USA, Inc. "With the L'Oreal Paris OCRF Hope Line, we hope to continue to work to improve the five-year survival rate for women and provide support along the way."

"OCRF and our dedicated corporate partner, L'Oreal Paris, have been working together for over 12 years to empower women, and to give them hope when they face a diagnosis of ovarian cancer," said Elizabeth Howard, CEO of OCRF. "By joining forces with CancerCare and creating the call center, we are all better able to help women across the United States."

L'Oreal Paris and OCRF generously funded the Hope Line, which is staffed by CancerCare's professional oncology social workers. The Hope Line operates Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

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Brain Imaging Shows Playing Tetris Leads to Both Brain Efficiency and Thicker Cortex

/PRNewswire/ -- Researchers at the Mind Research Network today announced the findings of a scientific study that used brain imaging and Tetris to investigate whether practice makes the brain efficient because it increases gray matter. Over a three-month period, adolescent girls practiced Tetris, a computer game requiring a combination of cognitive skills. The girls who practiced showed greater brain efficiency, consistent with earlier studies. Compared to controls, the girls that practiced also had a thicker cortex, but not in the same brain areas where efficiency occurred.

"One of the most surprising findings of brain research in the last five years was that juggling practice increased gray matter in the motor areas of the brain," said Dr. Rex Jung, a co-investigator on the Tetris study and a clinical neuropsychologist. "We did our Tetris study to see if mental practice increased cortical thickness, a sign of more gray matter. If it did, it could be an explanation for why previous studies have shown that mental practice increases brain efficiency. More gray matter in an area could mean that the area would not need to work as hard during Tetris play."

"We showed that practice on a challenging visuospatial task has an impact on the structure of the cortex, which is in keeping with a growing body of scientific evidence showing that the brain can change with stimulation and is in striking contrast with the pervasive and only-recently outmoded belief that our brain's structure is fixed," said Dr. Sherif Karama, a co-investigator at the Montreal Neurological Institute.

This study, published in the open-access journal BMC Research Notes, is one of the first to investigate the effects of practice in the brain using two imaging techniques. The girls completed both structural and functional MRI scans before and after the three-month practice period, as did girls in the control group who did not play Tetris. A structural MRI was used to assess cortical thickness, and a functional MRI was used to assess efficient activity.

"We were excited to see cortical thickness differences between the girls that practiced Tetris and those that did not," said Dr. Richard Haier, a co-investigator in the study and lead author of a 1992(1) study that found practicing Tetris led to greater brain efficiency. "But, it was surprising that these changes were not where we saw more efficiency. How a thicker cortex and increased brain efficiency are related remains a mystery."

The areas of the brain that showed relatively thicker cortex were the Brodmann Area (BA) 6 in the left frontal lobe and BA 22 and BA 38 in the left temporal lobe. Scientists believe BA 6 plays a role in the planning of complex, coordinated movements. BA 22 and BA 38 are believed to be the part of the brain active in multisensory integration -- or our brain's coordination of visual, tactile, auditory, and internal physiological information.

Functional MRI (fMRI) showed greater efficiency after practice mostly in the right frontal and parietal lobes including BAs 32, 6, 8, 9, 46 and BA 40. These areas are associated with critical thinking, reasoning, and language and processing.

According to the researchers, Tetris was a useful tool for brain research. "Tetris, for the brain, is quite complex," said Haier. "It requires many cognitive processes like attention, hand/eye co-ordination, memory and visual spatial problem solving all working together very quickly. It's not surprising that we see changes throughout the brain."

A number of previous scientific studies also have used Tetris.(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)

The researchers chose to use adolescents in this study because it is more likely to see changes in developing brains. Girls were chosen because boys tend to have considerably more computer game experience and, therefore, may not show detectable brain change after game practice. All 26 girls in the study had limited computer game experience.

"We hope to continue this work with larger, more diverse samples to investigate whether the brain changes we measured revert back when subjects stop playing Tetris," said Dr. Jung. "Similarly, we are interested if the skills learned in Tetris, and the associated brain changes, transfer to other cognitive areas such as working memory, processing speed, or spatial reasoning."

About this study:

The study, "MRI assessment of cortical thickness and functional activity changes in adolescent girls following three months of practice on a visual-spatial task," will be published by Biomedical Central (BMC) Research Notes on Tuesday, September 1. BMC Research Notes is a peer-reviewed, open access online journal. Before being published, the study was reviewed by two experts in the research field, and all original research articles published by BMC are made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication. Authors publishing with BMC retain the copyright to their work, licensing it under the Creative Commons Attribution License. This license allows articles to be freely downloaded from the BMC website, and also allows articles to be re-used and re-distributed without restriction, as long as the original work is correctly cited. You can read the study in its entirety here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcresnotes/

This study was funded by Blue Planet Software, Inc., the sole agent for the Tetris Company, where Dr. Richard Haier is currently a consultant.


NOTES:

(1) Richard J. Haier, et al., "Regional glucose metabolic changes after learning a complex visuospatial/motor task: a positron emission tomographic study," Brain Research, (1992), 134-143

(2) Lynn Okagaki, et al., "Effects of Video Game Playing on Measures of Spatial Performance: Gender Effects in Late Adolescence," Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 15 (1994), 33-58

(3) Robert Stickgold, et al., "Replaying the Game: Hypnagogic Images in Normals and Amnesics," Science, 209 no. 5490 (2000), 350-353

(4) Paul Franks, et al., "Cardiovascular Response of Trained Preadolescent Boys to Mental Challenge," Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2003), 1429-1435

(5) Paul P. Maglio, et al., "Evidence for the role of self-priming in epistemic action: Expertise and the effective use of memory," Acta Psychologica, 127 (2008), 72-88

(6) Emily A. Holmes, et al., "Can Playing the Computer Game 'Tetris' Reduce the Build-Up of Flashbacks for Trauma? A Proposal from Cognitive Science," PLoS ONE, 4(1): e4153. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004153 (2009)

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