Wednesday, July 29, 2015

OK, preggos--here goes your excuse

As a lifelong fat person (with a couple of short-lived thin periods), I could not wait to eat for two when I got pregnant.

Now, those killjoy scientists at the Imperial College of London say that pregnancy hormones may make your intestines swell so you can get more nutrition out of a normal amount of food.

Eating for two is unnecessary, they say. "Our internal organs are not a fixed size," one commented somewhat disturbingly.

Wait--these experiments were done in fruit flies. Mice, rat, and cow guts get larger during pregnancy, the scientists noted hopefully.

Keep at it, docs. But for now, the most convincing remark I ever heard about why one does not need to chow down unduly is that the baby is only the size of a peanut and then maybe a pear and then on up. How much does it need to eat? Even full fledged toddlers only eat a few spoonfuls a meal.

Still, I remember scarfing quite a few stuffed grapeleaves. Remember it fondly.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Homing in on how drugs actually work in the body

For many drugs, the substance is swallowed or injected and spreads out and affects many body organs and processes. This can lead to so-called side effects.

Now researchers at Columbia have developed a computer algorithm that lets scientists "see" how the drug is producing the effects--the wanted and unwanted ones. This is published in Cell.

Mapping the genome  has allowed doctors to search the entire set of proteins that govern a drug's activity.

Their new approach is called DeMAND (Detecting Mechanisms of Action by Network Dysregulation).

First they create a computional model of the network of protein interactions in a diseased cell. Experiments are then performed to track gene expressions when exposed to the drug. Then DeMAND combines data from the model with that from the experiments to identify the proteins most affected.

It also can identify molecules affected in addition to the target molecules.

Still a work in progress, DeMAND has already found a drug that affects ovarian cancer could, because of the proteins involved, be used to treat bowel inflammation or rheumatoid arthritis, too.

Pretty neat. March on!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Moms can get bad baby advice

I want my pacifier--and I want it now.
One thing almost everyone has an opinion on--how to raise kids. The most bossy--those with no kids. But I digress.

Tara Haelle, HealthDay, says new mothers get conflicting advice. Well, no kidding.

Often this advice goes against that of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Babies do not come with manuals--or in some cases, there are too many manuals (books). Parents are more likely, studies show, to follow advice from medical professionals--but not always.

Researchers in a recent Pediatrics study, looked at 1,000 mothers with tots between two and six months old. They asked what advice the moms got on vaccines, breast feeding, pacifiers, and infant sleep position and location.

Mothers got most of their advice from doctors--but those doctors did not follow AAP advice.

Fifteen percent of the advice from doctors on breast feeding and pacifiers did not match AAP recommendations. Twenty-six percent on sleep positions contradicted AAP recommendations. And nearly 29% got contradctory advice on where babies should sleep.

Mothers also got advice from family members between 30% and 60% of the time. More than a fifth of the family advice on breast feeding did not match AAP recommendations.

More than a quarter of mothers who got vaccine advice from the media received information not suported by the AAP.

While getting most info from doctors was good--don't be afraid to discuss and question, the researchers said.

I remember the nurse in the hospital handing our daughter to her dad, who joked, "They bounce if they hit the floor, right?" She looked horrified!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Yipes--the kid is bumpy!

Hives are common--I have had them. All of a sudden you get a soft pillowy itchy rash or bump. Then another...

This can go away in minutes or hours. But with children, they may not want to wait.

The causes can be almost anything your largest organ--the skin--decides it does not like--dust, animals, medication, viruses, exercise, stress, cold temps. insect bites, pollen, sun.

To care for your child at home--consider using an oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl. Check doses carefully.

Apply a cool washcloth.

Keep the child's fingernails short and distract the kid from scratching.

If they are really suffering, try a lukewarm oatmeal bath for 10 mins or so. You can get colloidal oatmeal at the drugstore.

Keep the child in loose-fitting cotton clothes.

In summer, turn up the air.

If you know what caused the hives, avoid it. (Duh.)

Also obvious--if the child has trouble breathing or vomits, go to the ER.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Medicare testing a hospice combined with treatment program

Many people and families want hospice care for patients in the end stages of life--but at present, getting hospice means you are given six months or less to live and agree to stop curative treatments in favor of comfort (palliative) measures.

Over the next four years, Medicare will allow some 150,000 patients to receive hospice but still see doctors and get medical treatments.

Research shows better quality of life and maybe a longer lifespan from combining the two approaches.

Many doctors would prefer this--but were constrained from treatments because Medicare would not pay.

"It's hard to say you don't want more chemo," one doctor added.

So many hospices wanted to be in this trial, they randomly selected half to start in 2016, the other half in 2017.

They will compare these against hospices that did not apply.

Some people worry that unscrupulous hospices may sign up patients that don't need hospice and have nothing to lose because they can still get traditional care.

Well, boo to them! I say it's worth a try. I don't get into it, but our experience with hospice in my mother's case was less than positive. I do know others who swear by it, though.