A bi-weekly review of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine media appearances.
IN THE NEWS August 6, 2013
As leaders in medicine, we are frequently featured in the media both locally and nationally. Here are highlights from the past two weeks:

Convenience steers parents to pediatric retail clinics, study finds
Convenience is the main reason that parents with a regular pediatrician will take their children to health clinics in large chain drug stores or other retail locations, a new study finds. “Many parents with established relationships with a pediatrician use RCs (retail clinics) for themselves and for their children, with some repeatedly choosing the RC instead of an office visit. These parents believe RCs provide better access to timely care at hours convenient to the family’s schedule,” wrote Dr. Jane Garbutt. Other outlets: U.S. News & World Report, Time, CBS News, Bloomberg,Drugs.com

U.S. News and World Report (HealthDay)
Obesity doesn’t reduce chance of getting pregnant with donor eggs
In women who use donor eggs to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF), those who are obese are just as likely to become pregnant as normal-weight women, according to a new analysis by investigators at WUSM and the University of California-Los Angeles. “Our study suggests that obesity does not significantly affect whether a woman will become pregnant with donor eggs,” said Dr. Emily Jungheim. “This supports the argument that doctors shouldn’t discourage obese women from pursuing treatment if they need donor eggs to conceive.” Other outlets: Health, Headlines and Global News, Medical XPress,Related WUSM news release

C-sections take longer for obese women
Cesarean sections take longer, on average, when new mothers are obese and could cause problems with the delivery according to a recent study. “If a baby is in trouble and needs to be delivered quickly, a slower cesarean can potentially lead to complications,” lead author Dr. Shayna Conner said. Other outlets: Yahoo!, Chicago Tribune, Global Post

ABC News
7 simple ways to boost your heart health
Simple steps like heading to bed early and waking up to a healthy breakfast can help keep your heart healthy. A new WUSM study found that atrial fibrillation patients who did yoga in addition to taking medication reported half the number of heart quivers compared with patients who only took meds.

New York Times
Virginia Johnson, part of husband-wife team that transformed study of sex, dies at age 88
Former WUSM researcher Virginia Johnson died at the age of 88 on Wednesday, July 24.  While at Washington University in 1957, Johnson met research partner and future husband William Masters. The two developed the first tools for measuring sexual arousal in people and wrote the first book on the topic, Human Sexual Response, in 1964.  Their landmark study found that orgasms were felt similarly by both sexes and identified four stages of sexual response. Other outlets: Fox News, NPR, CBS News, BBC, USA Today, ABC News, UPI, CNN, Reuters,Associated Press, Los Angeles TimesMSN News, Hollywood Reporter, Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia), Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), KMOX radio, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Public Radio, KSDK-TV, St. Louis Beacon, Riverfront Times

The Atlantic
‘There is no pressure for a girl to be a girl’
An upcoming study from Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, to be released in October, finds that college women today are more likely than men to exceed the weekly drink limits suggested by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dr. Richard Grucza co-authored a 2009 study that found while levels of binge drinking generally have declined since 1979, college students, particularly college women, were the exception. Of all the different demographics that Grucza studied (groups age, gender, ethnicity, and student status), women in college showed the steepest increase in binge drinking. “To me, the reason for this trend is obvious. Since the 1950s, men and women have been dwelling more and more in the same spaces,” Grucza said. “It is natural for their social habits to converge.”

Red wine supplement may block benefits of exercise in older men
New research from the University of Copenhagen adds to the growing body of evidence questioning the health benefits of resveratrol supplements in people.  The research found that resveratrol, a natural antioxidant found in red grapes and products derived from them, such as red wine, could reduce the health benefits of exercise in older men. Although previous studies suggested that resveratrol may improve the benefits of exercise on heart health and help protect against diabetes, these findings were reported in animals, not people. A separate 2012 study conducted by researchers at WUSM and published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that resveratrol supplementation does not have metabolic benefits in relatively healthy, middle-aged women. Other outlets: Winnipeg Free Press

South China Morning Post
Cycling’s self-appointed watchdogs seek doping clues from a distance
A small cabal of physiologists, sports doctors and cycling enthusiasts have formed a loose alliance on the Internet to weed out doping in cycling by using basic physics to estimate riders’ power and compare current Tour de France performances with those of riders past. But the watchdogs’ methodology does not seem to allow for the possibility of remarkable athletes who break the mold without cheating, said critics, including Andrew R. Coggan, a WUSM exercise physiologist.  ”There is no sound physiological reason” why performances that once seemed superhuman might not now be possible, Coggan said.  As the cycling world expands beyond Europe, he said there are likely to be more record-breaking riders. “The odds of finding a Secretariat cyclist would seem to be higher than ever.”

Nature World News
‘Genetic hitchhikers’ documented in yeast evolution
In a twist on “survival of the fittest,” researchers have discovered that evolution is driven not by a single beneficial mutation but rather by a group of mutations, including ones called “genetic hitchhikers” that simply are along for the ride. The study was co-authored by Erica Sodergren and George Weinstock, among others. Other outlets: Science Blog, Medical News Today

Your child’s juice box may be filled with slimy mold
A pin-prick-sized puncture on a juice box that is too small to allow liquid to escape but is large enough to allow air to get in, could induce mold to grow inside the juice box. According to Dr. Kathleen M. Berchelmann, “Moldy, fermented juice is usually not very dangerous to drink. An upset stomach and a totally grossed out mom are the most common complications.”

Maclean’s Magazine (Canada)
Why do we itch?
As recently as a few years ago, “most people were studying pain and didn’t really take the itch sensation seriously,” says Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen, director of the WUSM Center for the Study of Itch, which opened in 2011. In 2007, Chen and his team identified the first known itch-specific receptor. Since then, “there has been tremendous momentum,” he says. “This field has become very hot.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ticks in Missouri carry newly discovered virus
Federal health investigators confirmed that ticks in Missouri carry a new virus, dubbed the Heartland virus, which has infected two farmers from St. Joseph. It’s not surprising that the Heartland virus was discovered here because Missouri leads the nation in tick-related diseases, including ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, said Dr. Ericka Hayes. Other outlets: Joplin Globe (Joplin, MO)

Women praise Kate’s decision to show post-birth baby bump
Kate Middleton’s decision not to hide her post-pregnancy body in a flowing gown or try to squeeze it into Spanx-like shapewear is getting kudos from women around the world. It takes about six weeks for the uterus to shrink back down to its pre-pregnancy size, said Dr. George Macones.

Yahoo! Health
99,000 Americans die of healthcare-acquired infections every year
New statistics released by the Alliance for Aging Research show that 1.7 million Americans develop hospital-acquired infections (HAI) each year, and 99,000 die of HAIs annually. One of the biggest factors contributing to the crisis is the lack of new antibiotics to combat these infections. Seventy percent of HAIs are resistant to at least one antimicrobial drug according to the Alliance. “There is a shortage of new antibiotics in the pipeline,” said Dr. Victoria Fraser. “New policies and appropriations need to occur to foster new drug development and research on how to prevent and reduce resistance.” Other outlets: MedPage Today

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Senior focus: How fear, worry can create anxiety disorder
Dr. Eric Lenze explains how anxiety disorders affect the senior population. “Most anxiety disorders peak at a young age. One exception is that we tend to experience more worry as we age. As a result, about 7 percent of older adults have generalized anxiety disorder,” Lenze writes. “The most common kind of therapy to treat anxiety disorders is called cognitive behavioral therapy. In this treatment, clients learn how to restructure their thoughts about anxiety and reduce anxiety through relaxation,” he writes.  Related WUSM news release

Matt Holliday bringing awareness to cancer
Matt Holliday and his mom, Kathy, say they were shocked when Kathy was diagnosed with colon cancer last year during the playoffs. Kathy had put off getting a colonoscopy for 7 years because she felt healthy. Her physician, Dr. Steven Hunt, explains the importance of colon cancer screening to reduce one’s risk.  Kathy’s treatment was a success, and she and Matt are sharing Kathy’s story to raise awareness about the importance of screening.

St. Louis Magazine (cover story)
Outwitting Cancer
August 2013
A profile of Siteman’s Dr. Matthew Powell highlights how and when he became interested in medicine (a fascination with his knee surgery following a football injury in high school), and why he chose gyn/onc as a specialty.  He also said he supports Angelina Jolie’s decision to share publicly her BRCA mutation status and decision to have a double preventative mastectomy. He adds that in the next five years, he’d like to see better care for women who don’t have access to the specialists at cancer centers, more data about the support genes alongside BRCA1 andBRCA2 that can increase breast cancer risk, and more knowledge about cancer prevention.

Preventing bug bites
Dr. Kirstin Lee explains the best way to prevent bugs from biting children and the best way to treat bug bites.  She says DEET (30% max) should be applied once per day to children, and parents should never apply repellant to babies less than 2 months old.  She adds that picaridin is effective against mosquitos and ticks.  To treat bites, Dr. Lee recommends 1% hydrocortisone ointments, ice or a cold compress, or oral antihistamines.

Diabetes test strip recall
The FDA recently recalled 62 million glucose test strips used to measure blood sugar because the strips can show abnormally high readings. Dr. Abby Hollander said this could lead to serious health issues since patients won’t realize their reading is low and “won’t do anything to raise their blood sugar, which could lead to passing out or having a seizure.”

St. Louis Magazine
The Razor’s Edge
Dr. Sanjay Maniar’s barbershop health clinics are helping low-income St. Louisans take charge of their health. “Barnes-Jewish did a community health-needs assessment, and the heart-disease mortality rate in [the ZIP code] 63113 was almost double the rate in Clayton,” he said. “Life expectancy dropped from age 82 to 65. And there was an almost fivefold increase in preventable hospitalizations.”  The clinics, originally started as part of the nonprofit Better Family Life, continue even though the project lost funding, thanks to Dr. Maniar and other volunteers donating their time.

Choking hazards
Choking is a leading cause of injury in children. Dr. Doug Carlson said the biggest non-fatal choking risks for kids include hard candy, other candy and food.

The Stanley Cup makes a stop in St. Louis
St. Charles native and Chicago Blackhawk Brandon Bollig is the first local hockey player to play on a team that won the Stanley Cup. Per NHL tradition, he had custody of the cup for 24 hours, during which he visited with children at SLCH, where kids got to pose with the cup and take pictures.  Other outlets: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, KMOX

Transitioning to middle school
Dr. Kelly Ross suggests that parents whose kids are transitioning to middle school embrace the four ‘f’s:  address fears, emphasize the fun, familiarize the kids with the building before school starts, and encourage kids to be friendly on the first day, even if they’re nervous.

WMFY-TV (Greensboro, NC)
Juice boxes can create environment for mold
In a rebroadcast of a recent KSDK-TV story, Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann talks about a recent Emergency Department case at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where a parent discovered mold growing inside her child’s juice box. According to Dr. Berchelmann, mold can occasionally grow when the inside of the pouch is exposed to small amounts of air. While the mold doesn’t present significant health risks, if exposed for too long, the juice could eventually ferment. Dr. Berchelman’s advice is to avoid juice boxes altogether, in favor of healthier alternatives like milk or water.

Medpage Today
Study finds Avandia not tied to fatal cardiac events
The controversial diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia) was not associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events and mortality in diabetic patients who had established coronary artery disease (CAD), reported Dr. Richard Bach in Circulation. The findings are an update from data Bach reported at the 2010 American Diabetes Association meeting and also show that the drug appears to significantly lower the composite risk of death, myocardial Infarction (MI) and stroke. Neither the former nor the current analysis “show a significant association of rosiglitazone use with death or MI in this potentially highly vulnerable population of patients with type 2 diabetes and established CAD where long-term cardiovascular outcomes were prospectively collected and carefully adjudicated,” Bach said.

Study suggests treatment of ear deformity could improve children’s school performance
A study by WUSM researchers has found that children with hearing loss in one ear due to the absence or incomplete formation of an external ear canal, a condition called aural atresia, can struggle in school and socially.  Dr. Judith Lieu, says hearing loss in one ear is often ignored because one working ear is thought to be enough for a child to learn and develop properly. “We don’t want to have the assumption that [children] will do just fine in school and do just fine in terms of speech and language just because one ear hears normally,” she said.  Lieu adds that these children might be perceived as “trouble students” as a result of their hearing problems.  “It can be quite noisy in a classroom when kids are… talking…and if they are unable to hear well, they may be unable to pick out the teacher’s voice calling them back to attention…so they may just proceed on and be perceived as not paying attention or not listening and having some behavioral issues,” she said.

KMOX radio
Critical drug shortage
Christine Pavlak, director of pharmacy at SLCH, talks about a national shortage of IV medications commonly used in neonatal intensive care units.  While the supply is a challenge, Pavlak said the hospital is able to provide appropriate therapy. “We look at how we’re using those products, we look at if we can use alternative products, and in some cases a patient may be able to take a vitamin by mouth,” she said.

Christina Stephens’ Lego leg video inspires others
WUSM occupational therapist Christina Stephens, a recent amputee, teaches new wheelchair users to safely propel themselves during her work day.  When she’s off the clock, Stephens shares her experiences as an amputee on her YouTube channel, Amputee OT .  While talking to colleagues one day, someone suggested she try to make a prosthetic out of Legos.  She did, and although she couldn’t walk on the leg, the video went viral with more than 1 million views.  Stephens is currently working on Lego leg 2.0, which she hopes will be functional.

Kickstarting a cure
Dr. Jimmy Lin began the Rare Genomics Institute (RGI) two years ago in his ongoing effort to diagnose all 7,000 rare diseases. The idea is rather simple: a parent or guardian uploads a photo to a dedicated online platform and creates a profile for a very sick child, detailing the child’s mysterious and devastating symptoms. The parents then will use RGI’s online fundraising platform to raise $7,500—from family, friends, and often strangers—to cover the cost of a medical evaluation, blood test, and DNA analysis for each of them and their sick child. “The biggest thing we talk about with our team is, ‘If this was our child who was sick, what extent would we go to to help them?’” Lin says of RGI’s efforts. “If this was our kid that was sick, this is exactly what we’d do.” Other outlets: Narratively

WJHG-TV (Panama City, FL)
Panama City Beach family pursues rare genome sequencing for son
Seven-year-old Balazs Darvai began suffering seizures at 9 months.  His complex condition includes developmental delays and autistic-like behaviors, but it’s not autism. The family has decided to have Balazs’ genome sequenced by Dr. Jimmy Lin, the founder of the Rare Genomics Institute. “We are at this sort of golden age where we are going to start finding out what a lot of these genetic disease sequences are and finding out for the first time the causes of these diseases,” Lin said. “We will start out with maybe 30,000 or more differences in Balazs’ genome and then take away parts that are present in other people in the population. Hopefully we are going to come down to a very small number of candidate genes that are potentially able to explain what is wrong,” he added.

Bend Bulletin (Bend, OR)
A drug that provides a workout?
Two newly published studies investigate the enticing possibility that we might one day be able to gain the benefits of exercise by downing a pill. One of those studies by scientists at WUSM, punches holes in that hope.  The researchers tried to replicate earlier work showing that large doses of resveratrol, the chemical found abundantly in grape skins and red wine, increase the creation of new mitochondria in isolated muscle cells, mimicking aerobic exercise. Unfortunately, at these exaggerated doses, the substance has a “toxic effect,” said Dr. John O. Holloszy. It “poisons two of the steps” involved in developing healthy mitochondrial function.

Barton Chronicle (Barton, VT)
Lowell wind: Neighbors sick and tired of turbine noise
The installation of 21 towers of the Lowell wind project along Lowell Mountain has made life difficult for nearby residents who say they have to put up with the noisy turbines and obstructed views. Even worse are the physical ailments that are plaguing local Shirley Nelson, who identified with the sleep disturbances and frequent headaches described in a research paper by Dr. Alec Salt, entitled “Wind Turbines can be Hazardous to Human Health.”

FOX News
Showtime’s ‘Masters of Sex’ takes explicit look at sexuality
A new Showtime drama, “Masters of Sex”, turns the lens on the pioneering couple who started the public conversation about sexuality. The show, which premieres Sept. 29, explores the early relationship of groundbreaking sex researchers Virginia Johnson and William Masters, who met at WUSM in the 1950s. Other outlets: Reuters, Businessweek, Boston Herald, International Business Times

Science Codex
Social amoebae travel with a posse
A collaboration of scientists at WUSM and Harvard University has taken a closer look at one lineage, or clone, of a social amoeba billed as the world’s smallest farmer, called Dictyostelium discoideum. This farmer carries not one but two strains of bacteria. One strain is the “seed corn” for a crop of edible bacteria, and the other strain is a weapon that produces defensive chemicals. Other outlets: ScienceDaily, Microbe WorldRelated WUSM news release

Medscape (Preregistration required)
Making cancer survivorship last: How docs can help
Lifestyle has a major influence on the health of cancer survivors.  Siteman Cancer Center developed a brochure, Cancer Survivors’ 8ight Ways to Stay Healthy After Cancer. Among the recommendations: don’t smoke; exercise regularly; and avoid weight gain. Dr. Kathleen Wolin describes how these recommendations were developed as a foundation for an evidence-based health-promotion program for cancer survivors.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Group pushes for rethinking cancer to fight overdiagnosis
A nationwide push for more cancer screenings in recent decades has led to more disease being found and treated. That has saved lives. It also has alarmed some patients and put them through unnecessary treatment. But the true picture of cancer is more complex. Not all cancers grow fast or cause health problems. So the term “cancer” should be reserved “for describing lesions with a reasonable likelihood of lethal progression if left untreated,” according to a recently published recommendations in JAMA. Siteman’s Dr. Matthew Ellis said more funding and study is needed to understand how seemingly low-risk tumors act over the long term. “This issue won’t go away simply by renaming something,” Ellis said.

Mehlville-Oakville Patch
PRIDE honors St. Louis construction leadership
At its sixth annual awards luncheon July 25, 2013, PRIDE Labor-Management saluted WUSM’s Steve Sobo, director of design and construction, awarding him with the Joe Rinke Owner Award.

St. Louis Kids Magazine
Coming soon: Back-to-school bugs
Every year, SLCH has babies with whooping cough in the ICU.  In most cases, they pick it up from an infected older sibling, parent, close relative or childcare worker. “Adults who get whooping cough can feel pretty terrible, but they are not going to die,” said Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann. Babies, on the other hand, may have life-threatening pauses in breathing. To prevent the disease from spreading among family and community members, Dr. Berchelmann recommends re-vaccinations at age 12 and into adulthood, especially among parents, grandparents and any child-care workers.

Times of India
Depressed preschoolers have different brains
New research at WUSM has found that brain scans of preschoolers show the earliest evidence of depression in young children. When children viewed pictures of various facial expressions, the part of the brain that regulates emotions, called the amygdala, is notably more active in preschoolers diagnosed with depression than in those of their healthy peers. “We can’t say these children were born with this, but more that these kids who have developed depression do show some brain differences as seen in older depressed groups,” said lead author Dr. Michael Gaffrey. “The findings really hammer home that these kids are suffering from a very real disorder that requires treatment.” Other outlets: OnlyMyHealth Related WUSM News release

Royal treatment to babies born at BJH
Barnes-Jewish Hospital prepared a special treat for new “mums” to celebrate the arrival of the new Prince of Cambridge. Nurses dressed all new arrivals in a commemorative onesie, and the London Tea Room in St. Louis added to the royal treatment by delivering tea and sweets to all the proud new parents. Other outlets: KPLR-TV and 15 other outlets

Study seeks to redefine cancer; local expert weary
As researchers discuss the way cancer is labeled and treated, Dr. Graham Colditz, cancer prevention specialist at Siteman Cancer Center, says that changing the definition of cancer may not make a big impact on clinical practice. Colditz says more focus should be placed on preventing cancer by making healthy choices.

St. Louis American
Farmer means business with diversity
Katrina Farmer is the new vice president of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity for Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. “What impressed me about both hospitals is what’s already in place as far as the groundwork and the commitment that I could see upon having conversations with leaders,” said Farmer.

Healthcare Design
Infection prevention to protect vulnerable patient populations
Loie Ruhl, infection prevention specialist at Barnes-Jewish, talks about keeping patients safe from infection during facility construction and maintenance projects. Recent renovations to the bone marrow transplant unit at BJH meant that Ruhl’s team had to be extra vigilant in protecting immunocompromised patients from environmental hazards and infections.

St. Louis American
Health profile: Joel D. Jackson
Joel Jackson, BJH program manager, Center for Diversity & Cultural Competence writes about his ‘Journey to Success’ in a St. Louis American feature article.

Eye “debris” and vision loss
Scientists from WUSM and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital found that the ability to recycle ‘eye debris’ not only gets rid of cellular debris in the eye but also reuses light-sensitive proteins. Disruptions in that process may be key to the development of age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over 50. Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Magazine
A Q&A with St. Louis Children’s Hospital answer line nurse Paula Losito
SLCH answer line nurse Paula Losito has fielded questions from area parents for more than 17 years.  Her most common questions come from parents who “want to know how concerned they should be with their child’s symptoms and if they should take their child to the hospital,” Losito said.  Once school begins, “we start seeing a lot more cough and cold questions because kids are sharing their germs.”

St. Louis Post Dispatch
Parents ‘Talk Back’ column to highlight SLCH/WUSM physician
Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann joins parenting columnist Aisha Sultan for a weekly live chat to discuss parenting topics ranging from discipline, to nutrition, health and safety among other topics.  The weekly chats are slated for Wednesdays at noon.

Lancaster Guardian (UK)
Surgery helps twins take their first steps
Katie and Emma Sutcliffe, 16 year-old twins with spastic diplegic Cerebral Palsy, are taking their first tentative steps following surgery by Dr. T.S. Park.  Park is internationally known for pioneering the selective dorsal rhizotomy procedure, which cuts the spinal nerve rootlets that cause spasticity in kids with CP. Other outlets: Get Hampshire (UK), The Chronicle live (UK) (no link)

Contact us with your story ideas

Jessica Church

Washington University
School of Medicine
Media Relations



Twitter Facebook