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Health Capsules: Unsafe on the mound

The majority of parents/caregivers of youth baseball pitchers are unaware of safe pitching practices.

The majority of parents/caregivers of youth baseball pitchers are unaware of safe pitching practices.

Unsafe on the mound

More than half of parents and caregivers of youth baseball pitchers are striking out when it comes to understanding safe pitching practices, according to a study recently presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ (AAOS) annual meeting.

Researchers who surveyed parents/caregivers of youth baseball players found that:

• More than half (53 percent) said they were unaware of the existence of safe pitching guidelines.

• The majority (54 percent) said they did not monitor their children’s pitch count.

• Nearly half (49 percent) of youth pitchers threw in more than one league at a time, and 25 percent pitched in a league more than nine months of the year.

• Sixty-four percent of those surveyed recalled their child having upper extremity pain from pitching, and 34 percent of pitchers experienced pain severe enough to require evaluation by a medical professional.

The USA Baseball and Medical Safety Advisory, Little League Baseball, and the American Sports Medicine Institute provided recommendations for the content of the survey.

“Despite implementation and easy accessibility of safe pitching guidelines, a large portion of caregivers surveyed were unaware (of) and/or noncompliant with these established recommendations,” said Dr. Andrew Waligora, University of Florida orthopedic surgeon and lead author of the study. “Given the results of this study, further measures need to be taken to improve both education and compliance. Injury prevention should be a multi-disciplinary approach that includes informing coaches, parents and youth pitchers about safe pitching practices.”

According to the AAOS, 2-8 percent of youth pitchers will experience an overuse injury, most commonly manifested as tears or damage to the elbow, which can cause pain, lost play time and – if not properly treated – arthritis, deformity and disability.


Less fast food

The percentage of kids eating fast food has declined in recent years, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 2003-2010.

Researchers who looked at the numbers found the percentage of children eating fast food on a given day in 2003-2004 was about 40 percent but in 2009-2010 was closer to 32 percent.

Comparing behaviors for the same years, the researchers learned that children’s calorie intake from fast food establishments specializing in burgers, pizza and chicken decreased while their intake of foods from Mexican and sandwich fast food restaurants remained constant.

No segment of the fast food market saw a significant increase in calories consumed by kids during the eight-year study period.

Details of the study were published online in JAMA Pediatrics.


Exploding head syndrome

Most people probably never have heard of exploding head syndrome, but those who have experienced it will not likely forget it. Now, one researcher is saying the condition is much more common than previously realized.

Exploding head syndrome is a psychological phenomenon during which a person is awakened by sudden loud noises that are not actually present. Sometimes, it manifests as the feeling of an explosion in the head.

Doubtful of clinical reports that the condition was limited to people in their 50s, researcher Brian Sharpless at Washington State University studied exploding head syndrome among college students and found that nearly one in five of them (18 percent) had experienced it.

The disorder usually occurs when falling asleep. Instead of the brain shutting down properly, auditory neurons are thought to fire all at once, Sharpless said.

“That’s why you get these crazy-loud noises that you can’t explain, and they’re not actual noises in your environment,” he said. “(Some people) may think they’re going crazy, and they don’t know that a good chunk of the population has had the exact same thing.”

While there is no definitive treatment for the disorder, people who have it may find relief simply from knowing they are not alone.

“There’s the possibility that just being able to recognize it and not be afraid can make it better,” Sharpless said.


An apple a day

It turns out an apple a day may not keep the doctor away after all.

A study comparing apple consumption among about 8,400 people found no statistical difference in reported doctor visits between those who at a daily apple (9 percent of respondents) and those who did not.

The study did reveal, however, that the daily apple-eaters were slightly less likely to require a prescription medication, compared to the non-eaters.

The study was published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.


Just a sip

Kids whose parents permit them to have an occasional taste of wine or other alcohol may be more likely to start drinking by the time they are in high school, according to research reported in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

More than 500 students were surveyed over a three-year period, and at the beginning of sixth grade, nearly 30 percent of them reported they had sipped alcohol, which in most cases, parents provided at a special occasion.

Surveyed again at the start of ninth grade, 26 percent of children reported having had a full alcoholic beverage, compared to fewer than 6 percent of their peers who had not previously tasted alcohol. Nine percent of the “early sippers” reported either having been drunk or having engaged in binge drinking, compared to fewer than 2 percent of those who had not tried alcohol by sixth grade.

Lead researcher Kristina Jackson, of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University, said allowing a child a little taste of alcohol might be sending a “mixed message.” The study findings highlight the importance of giving kids “clear, consistent messages” about drinking and making sure they cannot access alcohol in the home on their own, she said.


Female obesity and cancer

Obese women have about a 40 percent greater risk of getting a weight-related cancer than healthy-weight women, Cancer Research UK announced last month.

Cancer Research UK statisticians’ calculations showed that obese women – those with a body mass index of 30 or greater – have about a one in four lifetime chance of developing a cancer related to being overweight. Diseases for which they are at increased risk include cancers of bowel, breast (post-menopausal), gallbladder, womb, kidney, pancreas and esophagus.

According to Cancer Research UK, there are various ways in which obesity can raise the odds of a woman getting cancer. One possibility involves fat cell production of estrogen, which is believed to fuel the development of cancer.


On the calendar

“Questions about Cancer Treatment?” is from noon-1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29 at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters. The fee is $5 and includes lunch. To register, visit bjcstcharlescounty.org, or call 928-9355.

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