Gut bacteria we pick up as kids stick with us for decades
We all have trillions of microbes inside our guts, which outnumber our own cells by a factor of 10. Dr. Jeff Gordon and his team reported in the journal Science that this microscopic community is extraordinarily stable. In healthy people, once these microbes are established in the gut early in life, presumably due to contact from close family members, most strains are unwavering in their presence, staying in the gut for decades or longer. Although the team only studied healthy adults, their results have big implications for our understanding of disease. Many studies have shown that conditions such as obesity and autoimmune disorders are associated with dramatic changes in the gut microbiota. According to Gordon, “if we don’t know what the normal variations are in healthy people, we can’t tell how an individual with disease deviates.” Other outlets: LA Times, The Scientist, NBC News
Low-fat? Low-carbs? Answering best diet question
In a two-year study to find which popular diet type (high-carb, high-fat, low-fat, or high-protein) was most effective, all of the diets produced positive results. The key, the researchers concluded, is calories. Calorie restriction can be accomplished without feeling deprived, according to Dr. Luigi Fontana, but he stresses that calorie restriction with optimum nutrition is the key. “A lot of people think of calorie restriction like eating half a hamburger, half a pack of French fries — that you can obtain by reducing in half your portions,” Fontana said. “That’s calorie restriction with malnutrition.”
US News & World Report
Brain differences seen in depressed preschoolers
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: Times of India, PsychCentral, BioSpace, ScienceDaily, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Related WUSM news release
Laughing gas gets a safety check
Contrary to previous concerns, nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas – does not increase a patient’s risk of heart attack, according to a WUSM study published in Anesthesiology. Researchers studied 500 patients who were at risk of heart attack during and after non-cardiac surgeries. All the patients received nitrous oxide as an anesthetic during their operations. Some also were given intravenous vitamin B12 and folic acid, which are suppressed by nitrous oxide and may contribute to heart attack risk. According to Dr. Peter Nagele, “The B vitamin treatment didn’t make any difference on cardiac events or troponin, an indicator of heart damage. It just shows that you don’t need to give patients B vitamins or worry about the genetic variant.” Related WUSM news release
Girl, 10, in pain, recovering slowly after lung transplant
Sarah Murnaghan, a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl whose plight spurred changes in the nation’s organ allocation system for children, has been awakened from a medically induced coma after her June 12 double-lung transplant operation, but is still heavily sedated and intubated. Recovery from lung transplant is a highly variable process, said Dr. Stuart Sweet. “If there is early graft dysfunction or other early infectious or rejection complications, extubation can be delayed for days to weeks,” he said.
Report: C-sections leveling off in U.S. and more of them are done closer to the due date
The nation’s high level of C-sections has stopped rising and more operations are taking place closer to the mother’s due date, according to a new government report. Dr. George Macones calls the shift to later C-section great news and adds, “The important thing is babies born before 39 weeks have more complications than babies born at 39 weeks and beyond.” Other outlets:Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News WAOK Radio (Atlanta)
Fewer children being injured on ATVs: Study
The number of U.S. children injured while riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) has fallen since 2004. Researchers said it’s not clear if that trend is due to fewer kids riding ATVs in the first place – possibly because of financial reasons – or to better safety practices, such as helmet use. Dr. Robert Winfield says the lack of uniform training standards and safety measures can leave young people at risk. “We’re sending kids who aren’t eligible to drive in a car into a vehicle where they’re less protected and often times without any safety training,” he said. Other outlets: Fox News, Yahoo! Health
Cell whisperer: Lasers unlock secrets of the blood
A team of investigators at Ryerson University in Toronto used high-frequency sound waves to create new, detailed images of red blood cells. The next step, says Dr. Lihong Wang, is to think about getting information from places where blood vessels are relatively accessible, like the arm. “This will inspire some new work, and we may start looking at photoacoustic information for the purpose of quantifying the shape of a single blood cell,” Wang says. Other outlets: Yahoo! News
Confusion increases risk of preventable errors
Retention of guidewires used to place central venous catheters is a preventable complication but nevertheless still happens, U.S. researchers say. Dr. Andrea Vannucci and colleagues reported their experience involving four patients with retained guidewires, and analyzed risk factors for these rare, preventable medical errors.
Barnes-Jewish Hospital debuts digital annual report
The new, interactive digital format of 2012 Report to the Community for Barnes-Jewish Hospital is a first for the hospital, and is easy to access and share on Internet-ready devices. The report focuses on how the hospital keeps in touch with the pulse of the St. Louis community. Other outlets: Belleville News-Democrat, Kansas City Star, Newsday
Epigenetics: Reversible tags
Researchers have found that the sources of many leukemias can be traced back to mutations in the enzymes that add or remove chemical tags in DNA or associated proteins. “A couple of years ago, if I had said that to somebody they would have laughed me out of the room,” said Dr. Tim Ley. “There just was no clear notion that epigenetic modification would be so critically important for the pathogenesis of the disease.” Related Nature article
A call for open access to autism diagnostic tools
Little is known about how autism varies from culture to culture because only very few epidemiological studies of autism have been carried out in low- and middle-income countries. Researchers now are trying to create open-source, freely available methods for autism screening and diagnosis. “We have an obligation to think as a field about how to make our methods available to all corners of the earth,” said Dr. John Constantino.
Work on your balance now to avoid falls when you’re older
Falls are the top cause of injury and death among people age 65 and older, and new studies reveal that younger people can decrease their chances of falling in old age by working on their balance now. The good news is that regular physical activity seems to help maintain balance. Dr. Robert Barrack said that strength training helps muscles react better when your balance is thrown off, and it also stabilizes joints and helps maintain bone density.
10 ways to reset your sleep cycle
WebMD provides a list of 10 ways to reset a bad sleep cycle, including dietary monitoring and controlling lighting throughout the day. Dr. Yo-El Ju says too much light at night pushes your sleep time back, and she advises against using electronic devices about an hour before sleep. “Our eyes are most sensitive to the bluish light that electronic screens emit,” Ju says.
Gosia Borchardt climbs Mount Everest
Gosia Borchardt, a nurse anesthetist at WUSM and BJH, shares her experience climbing Mount Everest, just two years after undergoing thoracic outlet syndrome surgery by Dr. Robert Thompson.
Opinion: Unethical ethics monitoring
Dr. David C. Beebe chides iParadigms LLC, the company that sells iThenticate, a service to identify plagiarism in scientific publications. Beebe accuses iParadigms of misreporting survey results in order to indicate that plagiarism is a larger concern in scientific publications than it actually is, thereby promoting its own anti-plagiarism product.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
More girls should be getting HPV vaccine
Dr. L. Stewart Massad writes in an op-ed that a vaccine against human papillomaviruses (HPV) is driving down the risk of cervical cancer in the U.S., even though the public could do a much better job of embracing the vaccine. Other outlets: KTVI-TV Fox 2, St. Louis Beacon
National Institute on Aging / National Institute of Health
Falls may be sign of future Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline
A study at WUSM found that cognitively normal older adults with evidence of early brain changes typical of Alzheimer’s disease fell more often than did their peers without these brain changes. The results suggest that declines in mobility may precede the symptoms of cognitive decline found in Alzheimer’s disease.
KTVI-TV Fox 2
Fireworks are a beloved Fourth of July tradition, but celebrations can go from fun to frightening in a matter of seconds when injuries are involved. Dr. Gil Grand visited the FOX 2 morning show to talk about fireworks-related injuries and to encourage people to celebrate the holiday safely. Related BJH news release
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Breast reconstruction: It’s a personal decision
Almost 300,000 women receive new breast cancer diagnoses each year. These women face a lot of decisions, and oncologists and surgeons offer different perspectives about treatment and breast reconstruction. Siteman Cancer Center oncologist Dr. Matthew Ellis opposes leaping into any treatment or reconstruction without consulting a full team of physicians. Siteman Cancer Center breast cancer surgeon Dr. Julie Margenthaler and plastic surgeon Dr. Marisa Tenenbaum often work together to begin reconstruction at the same time as mastectomy. Other outlets: The Californian
Medication plus talk therapy for anxiety in seniors
A study of older adults has found that combining antidepressant medication with a type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy appears to be very effective as a treatment for anxiety. “Our theory is that generalized anxiety disorder has two components,” explained Dr. Eric Lenze. “One is a generally high stress level that might be managed with antidepressant medication, but the other is excessive worry. Some people are pathological worriers, and we thought that might be helped by cognitive behavioral therapy.” Other outlets: KMOX radio Related WUSM news release
MR maps tumor angiogenesis with targeted nanoparticles
In a study published in Radiology, Dr. Anne H. Schmieder and colleagues found that a technique using 3D MR and avb3-receptor targeted nanoparticles can provide an index of new vessel development over time. This technique for imaging new blood vessel growth to tumors could push research forward and potentially improve patient management and outcomes of antiangiogenic therapy.
On June 5, Dr. David Van Essen spoke on Capitol Hill about brain mapping research and how the proposed decade-long BRAIN Initiative could impact the neuroscience field. The briefing was part of a series designed to educate members of Congress and their staffs about topical issues in neuroscience. The scientists were there to discuss current research, as well as what they hoped to do if Congress approves a major initiative in brain research proposed by President Barack Obama. Other outlets: AAAS
Medscape (free login required)
High-tech treatments widely used in low-risk prostate cancer
The use of advanced treatment technologies has increased among prostate cancer patients who are unlikely to benefit, according to a new University of Michigan study. Dr. Bruce Roth agrees with others that the perception of cancer can drive treatment, but notes that the study was conducted before new recommendations on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening were issued.
One heroic woman tackles teen pregnancy and poverty — others need to wake up
Memphis juvenile court judge Claudia Haltom launched A-Step-Ahead Foundation, which seeks to reduce barriers so that every teen or woman who wants a top-tier contraceptive in Shelby County can get one. Haltom’s efforts were based on research at WUSM, which showed that with the information available and cost barriers gone, three-fourths of the study participants chose long-acting IUDs or implants, and the teen pregnancy and abortion rates plummeted. Related WUSM news release
Clinical next-generation sequencing to guide cancer treatment decisions
Treatment decisions in oncology are increasingly informed by the results of molecular genetic testing. In the past year, clinical laboratories have begun determining the tumor mutational status of multiple genes simultaneously using next-generation sequencing platforms. One such laboratory, Genomics and Pathology Services (GPS) at WUSM, has been performing clinical sequencing of more than two dozen oncogenes, tumor suppressors and other cancer-related genes since March 2012.
Healthy Black Men
Dr. Darrell Hudson writes about how the apprehension and stress of being black can affect health. Hudson says that some black men cringe or feel internal outraged when white people are startled as they enter elevators or shoot disapproving looks at them in public spaces. But hardly ever is a word spoken aloud; behind closed doors, black men across America lament the confluence of subtle humiliation and judgment they have experienced and continue to experience because of race.
Local cancer survivor joins Pedal the Cause
SIUE French professor Geert Pallemans was treated for lymphoma at Siteman Cancer Center in 2010. Now in remission, Pallemans and his wife have become active in Pedal the Cause and are encouraging others to ride and donate as a way of fighting back against cancer.
Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC)
DNA makes big decisions for cells
Postdoctoral fellow Michael White studies DNA, the basic building blocks of life. Genes are always making decisions about when to come on, which basically means when to produce the right amount of protein to do their job. “This decision is based on each gene’s regulatory DNA, which basically tells it what to do,” White said. “But when genes make bad decisions you get disease like cancer or diabetes. How is it our DNA can encode information to tell genes when to turn on or off? The answer is still not clear.”
Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE)
One-two punch vs. Parkinson’s: Meds and a machine
Dr. Howard Gendelman, an Omaha scientist, will start a clinical trial this summer involving the novel use of a drug that he hopes will halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease. The disease is of particular interest in Midwestern states, which tend to have high prevalence of the disease. Dr. Allison Wright-Willis has found that Midwestern and Northeastern states have fairly high incidences of the disease. She is assembling a state-by-state report involving Medicare beneficiaries with Parkinson’s but said through a spokesman only that Nebraska is in the top third of states.
Be a good kid and eat your GMO vegetables
Although the public opinion of genetically modified food is low, Dr. Michael White writes about the positive aspects, specifically citing a more nutritious and longer-lasting purple tomato.
Child Mind Institute
Social media, violent imagery and technology’s effects on at-risk kids
Dr. John Constantino describes how young people who are preoccupied with violence or have distorted opinions of themselves or others can be negatively impacted by the access to information and communication the digital age provides.
10 tips for new moms – what I wish I’d known…
Dr. Sarah Lenhardt lists ten helpful tips for new mothers, including accepting the help of others, being proud of your body and letting a few chores fall to the wayside.
Jaundice: Know the signs
Jaundice is often the first medical diagnosis of a person’s life. In fact, “all babies develop jaundice to some degree after birth — it’s a matter of severity,” said Dr. Jay Epstein. Other than a change in skin coloration, if a baby does not wake to feed or feeds for shorter periods, a parent should alert a pediatrician.
KTVI-TV Fox 2
Security cameras installed in Central West End
The Central West End’s Neighborhood Security Initiative is expanding its current system of 16 cameras to about 90. This expansion, which will cost about $750,000, is being paid for by WUSM. Other outlets: KPLR-TV, KMOV Radio
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Moldy juice box opens conversation about healthy drink options
June 27, 2013
Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann explains a recent Emergency Department case at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where a parent discovered mold growing inside her child’s juice box. Moldy or fermented juice is not particularly dangerous to drink, said Berchelmann, a pediatrician. But she took the opportunity to advise parents against giving juice to kids because of its high sugar content and low nutritional value, favoring instead healthier alternatives like milk or water. Other outlets: KTVI-TV, Aberdeen News (South Dakota)
KTVI-TV Fox 2
Kids and guns – Doctor reacts to critical BB gun injury
June 27, 2013
An 8-year-old boy was critically injured by his 13-year-old brother while they played with a BB gun outside their home. Shocked at the damage caused by what he’d previously considered a ‘safe’ gun, the child’s father wants to share his story as a warning to other families. In addition, Dr. Charles Eldridge explained the frequency with which young children suffer gun shot wounds either from an intentional shooter or by accident.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Balancing the use of smart phones for kids
June 27, 2013
Shera Kafka, a parent educator at SLCH, wrote a column about the advantages and disadvantages of kids using smart phones and other technology. As an advantage, touchscreen devices are interactive with young children, which one study shows to be a superior way of learning to watching videos, and more akin to live presentation. One disadvantage is that children under 2 do not benefit greatly from manipulating smartphones/tablets, and as a recent study on “baby videos” suggests, it could actually delay language development.
Seven-year-old boy celebrates progress after SDR
June 24, 2013
Seven-year-old Archie, from Ashington, UK, loves riding his bike and his favorite school subject is gym. This is a dramatic change from just one year ago, when he struggled to walk due to cerebal palsy. He traveled to SLCH to for selective dorsal rhizotomy from Dr. T. S. Park. The surgery severs spinal rootlets that cause spasticity in kids with CP, allowing them more freedom of movement. Other outlets: Helesburgh Advertiser, Isle of Wight County Press, Lancaster Guardian.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Best workplaces in St. Louis
June 22, 2013
SLCH was named among the best places to work in the St. Louis area in a Post-Dispatch survey. In the report, SLCH was highlighted for providing access to training and education opportunities necessary for career advancement.
St. Louis physician elected to national seat on March of Dimes
June 21, 2013
Dr. F. Sessions Cole was elected to the board of trustees for the March of Dimes. Dr. Cole is recognized by the organization as one of the nation’s strongest advocates for preventing premature birth.
School of Medicine