A bi-weekly review of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine media appearances.
IN THE NEWS April 9, 2014
As leaders in medicine, we are frequently featured in the media both locally and nationally. Here are highlights from the past two weeks:

NBC Today Show
Hockey star T.J. Oshie opens up on baby’s struggles
T.J. Oshie’s daughter was born in March with gastroschisis, a birth defect in which the intestines stick out of the body. Dr. Brad Warner performed surgery on baby Lyla to correct the condition. She spent several weeks recovering in the SLCH NICU.  “Lyla has been like a St. Louis Blues hockey player,” said Warner.  “She’s done beautifully, just like her dad.”

NBC News (Reuters)
Scientists unveil first wiring diagram of mouse’s brain
Scientists recently published the mouse connectome, a map showing the sinuous connections that neurons make through the mouse brain as they form functional circuits.  Neuroscientist Dr. David Van Essen, who wasn’t involved in the research but is co-leader of the human connectome, said the new research “provides the most detailed analysis of brain circuitry currently available for any mammalian brain. It is truly a landmark study.”
Other outlets: Washington Post, Japan Times, Singapore Today,
The Scientist

Wall Street Journal
(Subscription required to see story)
Sales soar for pricey hepatitis drug Sovaldi
A recently approved treatment for hepatitis C costing $1,000 a day has spurred pushback among some insurance companies and public officials. They say the price is too high for a drug with such a broad potential market.  Express Scripts is asking doctors whether some hepatitis C patients can wait until rival drugs reach the market. Dr. Mauricio Lisker-Melman, director of the WUSM hepatology program, said he is trying to distinguish between patients who need treatment right away because of progressing infections, and patients who could wait nine months or longer for the new regimens in development.  However, Lisker-Melman said “the patients we tried to treat we were able to treat.”

Consumer Reports
Dangers of too many CT scans
In the United States, use of CT scans has grown more than three-fold since 1993 to an estimated 85 million scans this year alone. Over the past several years, researchers have grown increasingly worried about radiation from the scans. Dr. James R. Duncan said before ordering a CT scan, physicians should ask themselves, “How will the results of this CT scan change what I do? If it doesn’t change anything, then they are basically saying they are doing this to satisfy a curiosity.”

Psychology Today
Stressors and Suicidal Behavior
Psychiatry professor Eugene Rubin’s “Demystifying Psychiatry” column in Psychology Today explained that a recent study from researchers at Columbia University found the most powerful predictor of suicidal behavior was the concurrent presence of a major depressive episode.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Three grievous losses for St. Charles couple, all blamed on genetics
The tragic loss of three newborns from one family – all with the same mysterious genetic disease – is the basis of research at WUSM that could one day better detect, or even prevent, the same heartbreak for another family. “The availability of being able to screen all of the genes in human genome with a reasonably cost-effective technology is, I think going to be transformational to us,” said Cole.

A gold gadget that would let you stop heart attacks with a smartphone
Dr. Igor Efimov is co-developer of a new cardiac intervention that uses MRI and CT machines to scan a patient’s heart. With 3-D printing, he makes a model from that data and uses the print to fashion a metallic mesh sleeve that can be implanted in the patient’s chest. The implant is designed to detect heart arrhythmias and deliver corrective electric shocks to stop heart attacks. 
Related WUSTL news release

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Healthy Kids: Do ADHD medications make kids obese?
New research suggests that children who take stimulant medication to control their ADHD had higher BMIs than children without ADHD. The
stimulants appear to accelerate BMI growth rates in later childhood, generally after discontinuation of the medication. Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann, who was not involved in the research, suggested that parents not take children off prescribed medications without a thorough discussion with the child’s physician, and that they also consider non-pharmaceutical, behavioral therapies for ADHD. Other outlets: KTVI-TV Fox 2

Science Daily
New clue to autism found inside brain cells
The problems people with autism have with memory formation, higher-level thinking and social interactions may be partially attributable to the activity of receptors inside brain cells, WUSM researchers have learned. “Our results suggest that to have the greatest therapeutic benefit, we may need to make sure we’re blocking all of this type of receptor, both inside and on the surface of the cell,” said senior investigator Dr. Karen O’Malley.

KTVI Fox 2
Wash. U. researcher talks about new autism report
Epidemiologist Rob Fitzgerald joined Kim Hudson to explain the findings of a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found one in 68 U.S. children has autism.  He stressed that early intervention is key to improving the lives of children with autism.

QMG teams up with Washington University for cancer trials
Quincy Medical Group recently announced a partnership with WUSM and the Siteman Cancer Center to conduct cancer clinical trials in the Quincy area. 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Sexting teens can face lifelong consequences
At least 20 states have created laws to address sexting among juveniles. Some have made it a misdemeanor rather than a felony, to prevent a teenager from having to register as a sex offender for sexting. Pediatrician Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann said the conversations about risky sexual activity have to go beyond pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. “As parents, we want our children to know and understand how healthy adult intimacy works. There’s a temptation with sexting to leave out the intimacy,” she said.

Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners
Top 10 occupational therapy programs
U.S. News & World Report ranked the top occupational therapy programs in the country. WUSM’s Program in Occupational Therapy ranked No. 3.

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
Washington University develops new treatment for sickle cell disease
A new treatment for sickle cell disease developed at WUSM is showing great promise. The procedure involves an umbilical cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor with low doses of chemotherapy which produces fewer side effects than the standard high-dose chemotherapy regimen.

Kansas City Star
Marijuana raid in Bates County illustrates the evolution of an issue
Evidence shows that marijuana can lower the pain caused by glaucoma and help with other medical issues, but not everyone in the medical community agrees.  WUSM physicians Ravikumar Chockalingam and Dragan Svrakic recently wrote that “the dangers of medical marijuana far exceed any therapeutic usefulness.”

WJXT-TV   (Jacksonville, Florida)
Girls growing up faster
New research shows girls are hitting puberty younger than ever before. “The bulk of evidence shows, at least in part, it is due to girls gaining weight earlier,” said Dr. Abby Hollander.

St. Louis Public Radio
A new hypothesis for asthma in blacks: Are medications part of the problem?
Medical researchers have been trying for years to figure out why asthma is much more prevalent among African-Americans than whites.  The easy answers include numerous environmental factors, such as allergens associated with pollution, cockroaches, dust mites and mold. A new, National Institutes of Health study, led in St. Louis by Dr. Leonard Bacharier, is looking at why some asthma treatments are ineffective among blacks, and whether genes influence how some blacks respond to the therapies.

WFRV-TV (Green Bay WI)
Heartware saving kids waiting for transplants
A new device used in adults with heart failure has been approved for use in some children. The left-ventricle assist device takes the place of the heart pumping blood to the body, and serves as a bridge to transplant for children awaiting a new heart. Because it’s small and implantable, a child with the device can be discharged from the hospital and resume normal activity while waiting for a new heart.

Allergy season is here
Dr. H. James Wedner said that mold counts this year will be higher than previous years due to the large amount of snow that fell this winter in St. Louis. Other outlets: KTVI-TV Fox 2, KMOX-AM Radio (no link)

KTVI-TV Fox 2 News
New tick-born virus infecting Missourians
Eight people near St. Joseph, Mo., have come down with a new virus that researchers believe is transmitted by the Lone Star tick. Currently, there is no cure, and doctors are treating the symptoms. “A tick has to be attached to you several hours, if not days, before it can make you sick,” said Dr. Ericka Hayes. “So if you have been outside and you come in and you check yourself promptly for ticks and remove them, you can prevent yourself from getting sick.”

MSN Fox Sports
Hahn still smiling; thanks fans for support after SuperCross crash
While racing in last weekend’s American Motorcyclist Association SuperCross event in St. Louis, Wil Hahn suffered a crash, which knocked him unconscious. He was taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken right arm, and neck and shoulder contusions.

Cigarette smoking may lead to excess fat, calorie consumption in women with obesity, study finds
Cigarette smoking may blunt fat and sweetness perceptions among obese women smokers, leading to higher consumption of fat and sugar for more intense flavor, according to a new study published in the Obesity journal.  Our research shows that obese women who smoke “crave fatty food more often than non-smokers, and cravings for cigarettes and cravings for carbs and high-fat foods go hand-in-hand,” said lead researcher Dr. Marta Yanina Pepino.  Other outlets: Science World Report, Red Orbit
Related WUSM news release

MedPage Today
OncoBriefs: Chemoprevention, genetic tests, and more

More than half of all breast cancers could be avoided by healthy behaviors and chemoprevention, a review of published literature suggests. Premenopausal women can reduce their risk by limiting or abstaining from alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, following a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and grains, and avoiding combined hormone replacement therapy.  If there is a genetic predisposition, surgery to remove ovaries or chemoprevention with tamoxifen can also reduce risk. “Even if we fall well short of 50 percent of cases prevented, we could still prevent thousands of cases of breast cancer each year,” said co-authors Drs. Graham Colditz and Kari Bohlke. Other outlets: KMOX Radio

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
Protect your kids from too much sun exposure
A panel of MomDocs – Drs. Kathleen Berchelmann, Kirstin Lee and Kelly Ross – shared their advice on protecting children from sun exposure during summer activities.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
What is the lesson learned from the breast screening study?
In an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Drs. Barbara Monsees and Catherine Appleton refute a recent Canadian study suggesting that screening mammography does not reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer. The doctors advised women to continue receiving regular mammograms, due to a large body of strong evidence indicating that screening mammography does reduce deaths from breast cancer.

KMOX Radio
WashU study finds tobacco advertising aimed at students
A recent WUSM study found underage kids are getting some pro-tobacco messages directed at them via the Internet and social media. More than one in 10 children under 18 reported receiving tobacco coupons or promotions on their Facebook or MySpace pages or in text messages on their mobile phones. But it’s unclear whether the tobacco-related messages were meant for those kids or had been sought by Internet “friends” of those children and then passed along through social media.
Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Sen. McCaskill, stand for public health (Opinion)
In an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, fourth-year medical student Christopher Chen wrote a column about Dr. Vivek Murthy’s nomination for surgeon general being delayed due to opposition from the National Rifle Association.

How dangerous are testosterone drugs?
Dr. Gerald Andriole discussed the pros and cons of testosterone drug therapy. “Young men who don’t have any cardiovascular risk and have low testosterone and they’re suffering because of it, I think it’s reasonable for them to receive a replacement,” Andriole said.

Psychiatry Online
Depression Should Be Listed as Heart Disease Risk, Says AHA Panel
A recent 12-person panel, organized by the American Heart Association, recommended that depression be included as a risk factor—along with diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking—for coronary heart disease. “Many studies have found that depression predicts increased mortality [for patients with heart disease],” said Dr. Robert Carney, a panel member

St. Louis Public Radio
When children are exposed to gun violence, it becomes a public health issue, say St. Louis doctors
Gun violence involving teens in St. Louis, especially teens of color, is among the highest in the country. Dr. David Jaffe said that to properly address and curb gun violence it must be classified as a public health crisis, thus opening up greater opportunities for research and tracking.

KFSN-TV (Fresno, CA)
1-2-3 stages of Alzheimer’s

Recently, investigators found a way to “stage” Alzheimer’s Disease during a period they call “pre-clinical Alzheimer’s.” The data suggests that “the pathology starts anywhere from 10 to 20 years before any sign of clinical symptoms,” said neurology researcher Dr. Anne Fagan.

HealthLeaders Media
Medicare rules make offsite organ recovery costly
Using organ procurement organizations for organ recovery reduces costs and is safer for patients and medical staff. But complex Medicare reimbursement rules deter some transplant hospitals from allowing organs from brain-dead donors to be recovered off site. According to Gene Ridolfi, director of the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, losses can be in the millions of dollars depending on how many donors are cared for at any given hospital. Barnes-Jewish is taking the loss, Ridolfi said, because “we think it’s a better model for multiple reasons.”

St. Louis Business Journal
St. Louis Children’s Hospital clinic undergoes $1.4M revision
The SLCH hematology/oncology clinic will undergo a $1.4 million renovation, which will add chemotherapy infusion, and exam rooms to the current clinic. The project is slated to be completed by mid-July 2014.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus
Guiseley family thrilled as son accepted for surgery in USA
Two-year-old Wes Knight will travel to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for spinal surgery with Dr. T.S.Park to improve his ability to walk and move. Wes experiences spasticity caused by cerebral palsy.

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Judy Martin

Washington University
School of Medicine
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Laura High

Barnes-Jewish Hospital



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