Monthly Archives: February 2010

What are the odds?

Advocate Christ Medical Center in suburban Chicago has been busy delivering babies recently.

Between Jan. 18 and Feb. 8, the Oaklawn facility delivered four sets of triplets, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

Doctors there said it’s the first time they have delivered so many triplets in such a short period of time, though the number of multiple births at the hospital has increased in recent years because of fertility treatments. Each of the four moms underwent fertility treatments before their babies were born.

About 90 percent of triplets are premature with most delivered at 32 weeks, according to the March of Dimes, the nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. Almost all triplets also have a low birth weight

Swine flu reaching Africa

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, it is “premature” to declare that the swine flu epidemic has peaked, a panel of experts convened by the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The panel had been widely expected to say that the outbreak of pandemic H1N1 influenza had passed its peak and was now tailing off. The experts cautioned, however, that the virus had only recently reached Africa and that another wave of illness is expected in the Southern Hemisphere in the next few months as fall and winter approach.

In other swine flu news, the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee on Monday recommended that swine flu be incorporated as one of the three viruses in next year’s seasonal flu vaccine.
The move was widely expected because swine flu is the predominant virus now circulating in the United States and most of the world.

Don’t try this at home

Swimmer Michael Phelps, who won five gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, has a unique diet — 12,000 calories a day, according to the New York Post.

The following is his typical menu. He eats it all, not just some of it.

Breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise. Two cups of coffee. One five-egg omelet. One bowl of grits. Three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar. Three chocolate-chip pancakes.

Lunch: One pound of enriched pasta. Two large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo on white bread. Energy drinks packing 1,000 calories.

Dinner: One pound of pasta. An entire pizza. More energy drinks.

Mark Klion, a sports medicine doctor and orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York said Phelps has to eat enough to replenish the calories he burns in his five-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week exercise regimen.

“If he doesn’t (eat that much),” Klion said, his “body won’t recover, the muscles will not recover, there will not be adequate energy stored for him to compete in his next event.”

But are all those eggs and ham and cheese good for him?

“I think for him, because of his caloric demands, he can probably eat whatever he wants to,” Klion said. “If you’ve got to eat that much, it better be enjoyable.”

And the bed bugs stay free

Becky Andrews had quite an ordeal last fall after checking into a Super 8 hotel in Bonner Springs, Kan., according to an Associated Press report.

The retired chemistry teacher from Colorado said she had a “sensation of things crawling on me, but I never saw anything.”

After a couple hours of an “itchy” feeling, she eventually captured a live bug in a plastic cup and took it to the front desk to complain. She complained to the state after the hotel didn’t appear to take her seriously.

A Kansas Department of Agriculture inspector visited the hotel on Nov. 3 and confirmed that Room 406 was infested with bed bugs. The hotel was ordered to fix the problem, and a follow-up inspection was scheduled for Dec. 3, but the follow-up never occurred because the state suspended its lodging inspection program due to budget cuts.

In Kansas today, no government agency is working to ensure that hotel rooms are free of bed bugs, showers are free of mildew, evacuation routes are conspicuously posted, and drinking glasses are properly prepackaged.

Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommends medical marijuana

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted 6-0 to recommend to state lawmakers that marijuana be reclassified as a Schedule II drug and that a state task force be established to study how a medical marijuana law could be implemented there.

Marijuana is currently classified on the federal level as a Schedule I drug, with others like heroin and LSD. Schedule II drugs have accepted medical uses for treatment.

The recommendation came after the board held four hearings in 2009 that involved input from doctors, patients, researchers and advocates.

The Iowa House and Senate are each considering bills that would protect from arrest chronically ill patients who use marijuana to alleviate their conditions.

A Des Moines Register poll found that 64 percent of Iowans support patients’ use of medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.

Counting sheep not Z answer

The reason people count sheep to fall asleep is uncertain, although some think it may come from a tallying system devised by shepherds in ancient Britain, according to a story in the New York Times. The monotony of counting sheep is meant to lull one to sleep.

The question is, does it help you get your Z’s?

Scientists at Oxford University did a study of insomniacs and monitored them as they tried different sleep techniques on various nights.

They found that subjects took slightly longer to fall asleep on nights they were told to count sheep, or were given no instructions at all. But when they were told to imagine a relaxing scene, such as a beach, they fell asleep an average of 20 minutes sooner than on other nights.

Counting sheep, the scientists said, may be too boring to do for very long.

Junk commericials lead to junk food, obesity

It’s long been held that sitting in front of the television for extended periods, and not getting exercise, may lead to childhood obesity.  But now,  new research suggests it’s the TV commercials kids watch that lead to the problem, according to a story in the New York Times.

In a study of more than 2,000 children, researchers from UCLA compared the time the kids spent viewing television and video. They asked caregivers to track children’s media use during one weekday and one weekend day during 1997, then again in 2002.

The findings showed that the amount of television a child watched wasn’t a predictor of obesity risk. Instead, risk for being overweight increased the more television commercials a child was exposed to. There was no association with television viewing and obesity for those who watched videos or commercial-free programming.

Fred Zimmerman, the study’s lead author and chairman of UCLA’s Department of Health Services, said television commercials for sweetened cereals, junk food and fast food chains probably had an bad  influence over a child’s food preferences.

The more television commercials a child is exposed to, the more likely he or she will be to try those foods and want to continue eating them, which then increases risk for weight gain.