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Health News

July 7, 2017           

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Flu vaccine patch promising

Atlanta, GA — An experimental flu vaccine patch with dissolving microneedles appears safe and effective, a preliminary study of 100 participating adults shows. 


The patch has 100 solid, water-soluble and painless microneedles that are just long enough to penetrate skin.  The microneedles, which release the vaccine, dissolve within a few minutes.


Users merely apply the patch for a few minutes, then remove and dispose it.


Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University say it could offer a pain-free, convenient alternative to flu and other shots.  Trial results appeared June 27 in The Lancet.


Most parents in NYU Langone study mid-dose kids’ meds

New York, NY — Most participating parents in a recent randomized trial by New York’s very own NYU Langone Medical Center made at least one large error in measuring liquid medications for their children—indicating that current labeling and instructions may be confusing for a lot of parents out there.


According to the study, 83.5 percent of nearly 500 parent participants dispensed too much or too little prescription medication.  Some 12 percent of such errors involved overdoses.


The NYU researchers say that the primary problem with home dosing is that measuring tools are not the exact size of prescribed amount, frequently forcing parents to do math and miscalculate.


“This study supports system-wide changes in the design of medication labels and provision of dosing tools that would help reduce medication errors in children,” said lead researcher H. Shonna Yin, M.D., M.S.


However, the study is limited in that it may not accurately reflect how parents actually dose at home.  Participants had been asked to demonstrate dosing abilities at three clinics nationwide.


Study probes smartphone-carpal tunnel link

Hong Kong, China — People who spend lots of time on their smartphones may be scrolling, tapping and swiping their way to carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful wrist and hand disorder, according to a small study at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.


The study of 500 students found a link between extended use of hand-held electronic devices and a greater likelihood for experiencing the telltale wrist and hand pain of the syndrome.


The study found that 54 percent of students using devices for five or more hours a day reported musculoskeletal pain and/or discomfort, compared with 12 percent among less intensive users.

But researchers did not prove that heavy usage actually causes carpal tunnel syndrome, and at least one expert says that very few people in the real world use devices that heavily.


Rapid bacteria test being developed

Boston, Massachusetts —Boston University researchers are currently developing a new bacterial infection test that drastically reduces diagnosis time from several hours to around 20 minutes.


Serious bacterial infections are commonly treated at hospitals with so-called broad-spectrum antibiotics, which kill a range of common bacteria. 


While mostly effective, broad-spectrum antibiotics also play a big part in the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 


With the prototype new test, doctors may eventually be able to quickly determine the exact bacteria causing an infection, freeing them from having to resort to broad-spectrum antibiotics.


American over-“D”-votion

Minneapolis, MN — Study after study has extolled the health virtues of vitamin D.  But now, a study indicates that a growing number of Americans are getting too much.


The University of Minnesota reviewed 1999-2014 public health survey data on nearly 40,000 Americans.  Researchers found that 0.2 percent of Americans were taking over 4,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D daily in 2007-2008.  That figure rose to 3.2 percent in 1999-2014.


The recommended daily amount is 600 IUs for adults 70 and younger.


One reason people may be taking so much extra vitamin D is concern about getting too little, according to researchers.  Vitamin D is crucial for good bone health and is one of the most advertised vitamins.


Scientists find rare genetic cause of constant colds

Scientists now say they know why one young child was constantly getting severe colds: a rare genetic mutation.


According to new research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a mutation in a gene called IFIH1 explained why the girl’s immune system was not detecting and destroying rhinoviruses, or common cold viruses—leading to repeated infections early in life.  The child’s immune system has since matured and now healthily fights off ordinary colds.


“By investigating this unique case, our researchers not only helped this child,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., “but also helped answer some important scientific questions about these ubiquitous infections that affect nearly everyone.”


Adults average two or three colds a winter, the CDC says.  The Global Burden of Disease Study estimates that rhinoviruses cause 18 billion upper respiratory infections worldwide a year.