Home >> Health >> Health Capsules

Health Capsules

Seeing actors drink alcohol in movies increases the likelihood of teens drinking themselves, a recent study revealed.

Seeing actors drink alcohol in movies increases the likelihood of teens drinking themselves, a recent study revealed.

Mimicking movies

Teens who often see people drinking alcohol in movies are more likely to drink themselves, a recent study found.

An analysis of data on more than 5,000 young people about 15 years old revealed that those who most often witnessed alcohol consumption in films were 1.2 times more likely to try it themselves, 1.7 times more likely to binge drink, 2.4 times more likely to drink weekly and two times more likely to have alcohol-related problems than those who least often witnessed drinking in movies.

The study, “Alcohol Use in Films and Adolescent Alcohol Use,” was published in the May issue of Pediatrics.


Delayed diagnoses

Early identification of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with better outcomes, but too often, health care providers downplay parental concerns about young children’s development, resulting in delayed autism diagnoses.

That was the finding of Oregon researchers who looked at the experiences of families of children with ASD.

“We know that early identification of ASD is beneficial to children and their families,” researcher Dr. Katharine Zuckerman, of Oregon Health & Science University, said. “Unfortunately, many families experience long delays between when they first have concern and when their child gets diagnosed with ASD.”

For their study, researchers compared health care provider responses to parents of more than 1,400 children with ASD with provider responses to parents of nearly 2,100 children with intellectual disabilities/developmental delays (ID/DD).

In most cases, parents first expressed concern about ASD when their children were about 2 years old and about ID/DD when children were closer to age 3.

Study results showed that compared to kids whose parents suspected ID/DD:

• Children whose parents suspected ASD were nearly 15 percent less likely to be referred for developmental testing or consultation with a specialist.

• Children with ASD were more likely to have a health care provider reassure their parents that the child would “grow out of it.”

Further, researchers learned that parents whose children’s doctors were least proactive about their ASD concerns waited much longer to pursue a clear diagnosis than parents who spoke with more proactive doctors. Overall, children with ASD were not properly diagnosed until about the age of 5 – nearly three years after their parents first brought their concerns to a health care provider.

Research has shown that parental concern is a good predictor of developmental problems in children, yet for some reason, many doctors seem reluctant to take a proactive approach when parents express their concern about ASD.

“This study implies that the behavior of health care providers is likely a very important factor in delayed autism identification,” Zuckerman said.

The study utilized data from the 2011 Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services, a nationally-representative, parent-reported survey. The findings were published in The Journal of Pediatrics.


Adolescent appetite control

Eating a high-protein afternoon snack is an effective way to reduce unhealthy evening snacking among teens, according to a study from the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU).

Researchers assessed the effects of afternoon snacking on a group of normal weight and overweight boys and girls aged 13-19. Specifically, they looked at how snacking affected participants’ appetites, drive to eat and food choices later in the day and their cognitive performance and mood.

“Our research showed that eating high-protein snacks in the afternoon helps teens improve the quality of their diets as well as control appetite,” said Heather Leidy, assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU. “Standard meals tend to go the wayside for kids this age – particularly from mid-afternoon to late evening – and many of the convenient ‘grab-and-go’ snacks are high in fat and sugar. When kids eat high protein snacks in the afternoon, they are less likely to eat unhealthy snacks later in the day, which is particularly important for kids who want to prevent unhealthy weight gain.”

The high-protein snacks also improved certain aspects of mood and cognitive function, Leidy said.

Researchers noted that while the high-protein snack used in the study – soy-protein pudding – is not available to the public, similar protein sources should result in similar benefits.

“Health professionals increasingly are recommending that people eat more high-protein, plant-based foods like soy, which are high quality and tend to be inexpensive and environmentally friendly,” Leidy said. “Our study demonstrated that the positive effects on appetite and satiety can be extended to consuming soy-protein products.”


Sensing spoiled meat

Chemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have devised a gadget that can let consumers know whether or not a piece of meat is safe to eat.

There are other devices that can detect spoilage in meat, but the new sensor invented at MIT is different in that it is portable and easily operated. In fact, it could be used in “smart packaging,” offering more reliable information than current product expiration dates, researchers said.

The sensor works by detecting gases emitted by rotting meat.

Researchers have filed a patent on the technology and hope to license it for commercial production.


Clamping the umbilical cord

Delaying the clamping of a baby boy’s umbilical cord at birth might contribute to better fine-motor and social skills in early childhood, according to an article published by JAMA Pediatrics.

According to the article, waiting two to three minutes after delivery to clamp the umbilical cord has been associated with improved iron levels in infants when they reach 4-6 months of age.

Recently, researchers seeking to determine if there were any long-term effects of delayed clamping assessed about 260 4-year-olds using IQ tests and looking at development and behaviors.

Upon comparison of 141 children who received delayed cord clamping to 122 children whose umbilical cords were clamped no more than 10 seconds after birth, they found no differences in IQ scores and no differences between the groups for girls in any of the assessments. However, boys in the delayed cord clamping group demonstrated higher average scores in a number of tasks measuring fine-motor function and personal-social domains.

“Delaying CC [cord clamping] for three minutes after delivery resulted in similar overall neurodevelopment and behavior among 4-year-old children compared with early CC. However, we did find higher scores for parent-reported prosocial behavior as well as personal-social and fine-motor development at 4 years, particularly in boys,” the authors wrote.

Study authors concluded that their study indicates there are positive “and in no instance harmful” effects from delayed clamping of the umbilical cord.


Plastic surgery and people’s perceptions

The way a woman is perceived by others might improve after she undergoes facial plastic surgery, a small study suggested.

Dr. Michael J. Reilly, of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, had people look at photos of 30 white females who had a facial plastic surgery such as a face-lift, eyelid surgery or eyebrow lift, neck lift and/or chin implant.

Some of the photos were taken prior to surgery and the remainder taken post-operatively. The same patient’s pre- and post-operative photos were not shown to anyone.

Those looking at the photos were asked to score them on aggressiveness, extroversion, likeability, trustworthiness, risk seeking, social skills and femininity. When all procedures were evaluated together, post-surgical scores were significantly better for likeability, social skills, attractiveness and femininity. Improvements in scores for other traits were insignificant.

The study was published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.


People who are allergic to milk should be cautious about eating dark chocolate, according to the FDA.

People who are allergic to milk should be cautious about eating dark chocolate, according to the FDA.

May contain milk

People who are allergic to milk should be aware that even if it is not listed as an ingredient on a chocolate bar, the candy still may contain milk and could cause an allergic reaction.

After receiving reports that people experienced harmful reactions after eating dark chocolate, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tested nearly 100 dark chocolate bars from different parts of the country for the presence of milk.

In a consumer update issued last month, FDA officials said:

“Unfortunately, you can’t always tell if dark chocolate contains milk by reading the ingredients list. FDA researchers found that of 94 dark chocolate bars tested, only six listed milk as an ingredient. When testing the remaining 88 bars that did not list milk as an ingredient, FDA found that 51 of them actually did contain milk. In fact, the FDA study found milk in 61 percent of all bars tested.”

One reason for the finding, officials said, is that most dark chocolate is produced on the same equipment used to produce milk chocolate, and traces of milk sometimes inadvertently wind up in dark chocolate.

The FDA noted also that advisory messages on dark chocolate products about the possible presence of milk should be taken seriously, and consumers should read the word “may” as “likely.” That is because upon testing dark chocolate products labeled “may contain traces of milk,” “may contain dairy” and similar messages, the agency found milk was present in 75 percent of the products. Some dark chocolates even contained milk levels as high as those found in products that declared the presence of milk.

In fact, FDA officials said, consumers should not assume that dark chocolate contains no milk if the label does not mention it at all.

Finally, the FDA advised that consumers who are sensitive or allergic to milk should consider dark chocolate to be a high-risk food and:

• Start by checking the ingredients list to see if a product contains milk.

• Read all label statements on dark chocolate products and avoid those with an advisory statement for milk, even if product labels contain statements such as “dairy-free” or “vegan.”

• View with caution even those products with dairy-free claims or without any mention of milk, unless the manufacturer is a trusted source and/or uses dedicated equipment for making milk-free chocolate products.


On the calendar

“Diabetes? Yes, You Can Exercise” is from 2-4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24 at Middendorf-Kredell Library, 2750 Hwy. K in O’Fallon. Participants learn how incorporating activity and exercise into their daily routines can help manage diabetes. The class is suitable for individuals who have diabetes as well as those who provide care for someone with diabetes. Admission is free. Registration is required. Call 344-2273.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this: