ADHD – Only for the Younger Kids in the Class?

Two new interesting U.S. studies point to one of the ways that children are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – age as compared to peers.  It appears that children who are younger than their classmates tend to get the diagnosis more often than do their older peers.

The first study, by researchers at North Carolina State University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Minnesota, compared children who were born just before the kindergarten eligibility date and those born just after the eligibility date.  They found a 25% higher rate of ADHD diagnosis in those who were younger in the class.  They used three separate data sources and looked at tens of thousands of children aged seven to 17.

When a doctor evaluates whether a child may have ADHD, one of the frequent questions that is asked is if the behavior seems to be exhibited in their child more often than in others.

The other study looked at 12,000 children by a Michigan State University economist Todd Elder.  It found that the youngest child in the class is 60% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than is the oldest child in the class.

Experimental Alzheimer’s Drug Testing Ended

Eli Lilly, the giant pharmaceutical company, has decided to halt the development of its latest experimental drug which was a hopeful candidate for treating Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of helping sufferers of this illness, which causes severe memory loss and dementia in mostly older people, the drug was actually thought to be worsening the condition upon administration.

The medication, semagacestat was showed in preliminary results from large studies that cognition and the performance of daily tasks was hindered markedly due to the drug. There was also data from the studies that showed an association of use of the drug with an increased risk of skin cancer.

Although the loss of this drug from the future in the  fight against Alzheimer’s is a disappointment, Eli Lilly reassured those concerned that this decision in no way alters the continuing development and testing of solanzumab, another drug with hopeful possibilities for a future treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Hold the Beer, Please

A new study published Monday in the Archives of Dermatology points to an interesting link between psoriasis and beer.  The study indicates that women who drink beer on a regular basis may be more likely to develop psoriasis.  Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease that causes scaly lesions, redness and inflammation of the skin.  The study found that just five regular brews a week can increase a woman’s risk of psoriasis 2.3 times when compared with non-drinkers.

Interestingly, the researchers did not find a link between psoriasis and any other types of alcohol including light beers, wines or spirits.  People with psoriasis tend to be more sensitive to gluten than do those without the disease, and researchers believe that the gluten in regular beer, which comes from the barley used to ferment the beer, could be the culprit.

UT Warns About Funds for Physicians

Leaders of the University of Texas’ six health science centers put out a serious warning this week.  They are concerned that federal health overhaul plans could dry up the funds that the stat’s medical centers use and need to produce doctors.

At the moment, the Legislature provides state funds to cover about 25% of the cost for educating a physician. The rest of the money has come from hospital patients’ insurance payments and from additional federal funds for treating low-income patients.  Under the new federal legislation, these hospital payments will be drastically cut under Medicaid and Medicare, starting in 2014.

Certainly, the six schools are working hard to try to save money, but these cuts will be felt by the state and by potential physicians as well.

England Tells Toddlers “Drink Your Milk!”

England is now enmeshed in a debate on whether their ‘Nursery Milk Program’ is “outdated, ineffective, and too expensive” as Ann Milton, the Health Minister asserts. The program supplies 189ml of milk for free to children in childcare until they reach their fifth birthday. Begun in wartime England in the 1940s, the idea was to give young children a little bit extra by way of nutrition when food was rationed and in short supply.

Today, however, according to Ms. Milton, food is cheap and readily available, and there is ‘no evidence’ that the costly free milk program contributes in any way to the health of young children in England. Ann Milton believes it would be better to give families a voucher for the value of the milk supplied by the day care centers so that families can purchase milk as well as other sources of nutrition, such as vegetable, fruit, cheese and meat on their own.

The government decided, however, to go against the advice of the Health Minister, and to stick with the milk program. The government explained that milk is a special food which can easily give children a real ‘nutrition boost’ due to its ‘nutrient dense’ quality. Milk is an amazing source of lots of great nutrients, like protein, zinc, vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), and B12. Milk also aids in the absorption of iodine, niacin, and vitamin B6.

Milk is also a rich source of calcium which is crucial for growing children. Lots of calcium in the diet assures the development of strong bones. In just 189ml of milk which the milk program provides the children receive half of the daily recommended amount of calcium for children aged four to six. Although there are other sources for calcium and vitamins, such as leafy green vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds, it is much easier to get children to drink a cup or two of milk than to have them “finish your vegetables!”

According to the government, which is retaining the milk program, “milk is the ultimate fast food.” It is a quick and nutritious snack which would be a pity to take away from nutritionally vulnerable young children.

Keep Track of Your Waist Size

New research suggests that not only your weight, but your waist size, plays an important role in determining how long you live.  Researchers found, after looking at the data from 100,000 men and women, that those with the largest waistlines have about twice the risk of dying.

They even found that big-waisted people with healthy body mass indexes had a higher risk of dying.  Every 4 inch increase in waist size was associated with a 25% greater risk of death, says Eric Jacobs, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society.

The study found that the ideal waist size is less than 35 inches for men and 30 inches for women.

Jacobs explains that the take-home message from this study is: “It’s important to watch your waist, not just your weight and to start eating better and exercising more if you see your waist size starting to increase.”