Health & WellnessS

Magic Wand

A baby's conception and birth can influence dream content in new moms

The conception and birth of a child are emotional events that influence the dreams of most new mothers. In a surprisingly high number of cases, this influence reflects negative aspects of maternal responsibility, depicting the new infant in dreamed situations of danger and provoking anxiety in the mother that often spills over into wakefulness. Furthermore, these kinds of dreams are also accompanied by complex behaviors by new moms such as motor activity, speaking and expressing emotion, according to a study published in the September 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Tore Nielsen, PhD, of the Sleep Research Centre at the Hфpital du Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal in Montréal, Québec, Canada, focused on 273 women, who were divided into three groups: postpartum, pregnant, and null gravida. The subjects completed questionnaires about pregnancy and birth factors, personality and sleep, and participated in interviews concerning the prevalence of recent infant dreams and nightmares, associated behaviors, anxiety, depression and other psychopathologic factors.


New Zealand smokers turning to antidepressants to quit

New Zealand's high rate of antidepressant prescriptions is being boosted by people using the drugs to help them quit smoking.

The trend became clear after the release last week of new smoking cessation guidelines. Health Ministry figures show antidepressant use has nearly doubled in the past decade, with almost two million prescriptions written for the drugs each year.


Report links power lines to cancer

Researchers from the University of Tasmania and Britain's Bristol University looked at a database of 850 patients in Tasmania diagnosed with lymphatic and bone marrow cancers between 1972 and 1980, and found that living for a prolonged period near high-voltage power lines may increase the risk of leukemia, lymphoma and related conditions later in life.

Those who lived within 328 yards of a power line up to age 5 were five times more likely to develop cancer, while those who lived that close to a power line at any point during their first 15 years were three times more likely to develop cancer as an adult, the newspaper said.


Can moonbeams heal? Tucson's moonbeam reflector

Conventional wisdom says that whenever there's a full moon, strange things happen.

A full moon over the Arizona desert.


US Report Alleges Human to Human Bird Flu Spead

A mathematical analysis has confirmed that H5N1 avian influenza spread from person to person in Indonesia in April, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

Evil Rays

Mind-Control Alert! UK Smokers to face graphic picture warnings

Gruesome images highlighting the harmful effects of smoking will be printed on all cigarette packets sold in the UK from next year, the government said today.

The graphic images, which include pictures of diseased lungs, must be printed on all tobacco products made in the UK by the end of 2009, under the new regulations.

After public consultation 15 images have been chosen to accompany text warnings about smoking related diseases, including lung cancer and heart disease.

Magic Wand

Ability to 'tell the difference' declines as infants age

A new article published in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that infants fine-tune their visual and auditory systems to stimuli during the first year of life, essentially "weeding out" unnecessary discriminatory abilities.

Lisa Scott, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and her colleagues examined several studies suggesting that infants begin to hone their perceptual discrimination to environmentally relevant distinctions by 9-12 months of age. At the same time, the discrimination of environmentally irrelevant, or less frequently encountered, distinctions declines.

In one study, for example, 6-month-old infants were able to differentiate two human a faces as easily as two monkey faces whereas 9-month-olds could only differentiate between two human faces. Importantly, if infants are familiarized with monkey faces from 6 to 9 months, they maintain the ability to tell the difference between two monkey faces.


Study finds some kids are being misdiagnosed with asthma

Columbus Children's Hospital study sheds light on vocal cord dysfunction and treatment

Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is the sudden, abnormal narrowing of the vocal cords during inhalation causing obstruction of the airflow, and is characterized by a noise that can mimic the sound of wheezing. A VCD attack can easily be mistaken for an asthma attack though it does not respond to asthma medications.

Treatment of VCD relies on correct identification of the disorder using breathing and relaxation techniques to help the vocal cords relax. During an acute VCD attack, spirometry (a device that measures airflows) can show patterns that are highly suggestive of VCD.

Doctors at Columbus Children's Hospital performed a clinical research study using spirometry in Children's Emergency Department to try to identify adolescents who had findings suggestive of VCD compared to an acute asthma attack. The year-long study (February 2005-February 2006) included patients 12-21-years-old who suffered from acute episodes of respiratory distress. The manuscript was published in the July issue of Pediatric Pulmonology.


Star Trek medical device uses ultrasound to seal punctured lungs

A stretcher races through the entrance of a busy hospital. The car-accident victim lies on top and grimaces in pain. While surface injuries looks gruesome, the real medical danger is invisible - internal organ damage caused by being crushed against the steering wheel.

This isn't a scene from Seattle Grace Hospital, the set of the popular television drama Grey's Anatomy, but from its real-life model, Harborview Medical Center. Engineers at the University of Washington are working with Harborview doctors to create new emergency treatments right out of Star Trek: a tricorder type device using high-intensity focused ultrasound rays. This summer, researchers published the first experiment using ultrasound to seal punctured lungs.

"No one has ever looked at treating lungs with ultrasound," said Shahram Vaezy, a UW associate professor of bioengineering. Physicists were skeptical it would work because a lung is essentially a collection of air sacs, and air blocks transmission of ultrasound. But the new experiments show that punctures on the lung's surface, where injuries usually occur, heal with ultrasound therapy.

"The results are really impressive," Vaezy said. He cautions that this is still in the early stages and the technique is not yet being tested on humans.


Food poisoning puts 48 children in hospital in south Russia

A total of 48 children have been hospitalized with acute intestinal infection in a district of South Russia's Stavropol Territory, following food poisoning in kindergartens, a local hospital said.

A total of 96 children have fallen ill in the Georgiyevsk District, of which 46 refused to be admitted to hospital, said Olga Yeremenko, a hospital doctor. None of the infection cases are critical, she said.

A preliminary probe carried out by Russia's consumer rights watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, revealed that the infection may have been spread by kefir, a fermented milk drink, supplied to the kindergartens, under the Slavyanovsky brand. A criminal investigation has been launched.