HEALTH

CDC releases guides for health professionals, parents on FASDs

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday announced the availability of several new products that can guide in the identification, prevention and management of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders — disorders resulting from women drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

The products include a curriculum development guide for use with medical and allied health students and practitioners, and two reports from the National Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect, with recommendations on promoting and improving effective prevention strategies to reduce alcohol use and alcohol-exposed pregnancies, and on improving and expanding efforts regarding early identification, diagnostic services and quality research on interventions for individuals with FASDs and their families.

The products include the Competency-Based Curriculum Development Guide Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders for Medical and Allied Health Education and Practice, a guide designed to improve prevention, identification and management of FASDs, and can be used to develop educational programs and materials in a range of formats based on the needs of learners. Based on seven core competencies, it is intended for use with medical and allied health students and practitioners.

Also listed is the Reducing Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancies: A Report of the National Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect. This report reviews current evidence on prevention strategies to reduce alcohol use and alcohol-exposed pregnancies, provides recommendations on promoting and improving these strategies and offers future research directions in the field of FASD prevention. It also serves as a guide for those in the research and practice fields interested in selecting and implementing effective, scientifically-tested interventions for women at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

And A Call to Action: Advancing Essential Services and Research on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders – A Report of the National Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect highlights 10 recommendations to improve and expand efforts regarding early identification, diagnostic services and quality research on interventions for individuals with FASDs and their families. The intent of this report is to guide federal, state and local agencies, researchers and clinicians, family support groups, and other partners on actions needed to advance essential services for individuals with FASDs and their families and to promote continued intervention research efforts.

The CDC also listed five things mothers should know about drinking during pregnancy:

  • Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born with birth defects and have disabilities. These conditions, called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASDs, are among the top preventable birth defects and developmental disabilities. FASDs can cause problems in how a person grows, learns, looks and acts. FASDs can also cause birth defects of the heart, brain, and other major organs. These problems last a lifetime;
  • There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe to drink while pregnant. All drinks with alcohol can hurt an unborn baby. A 12-ounce can of beer has as much alcohol as a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1-ounce shot of liquor;
  • There is no safe time to drink during pregnancy. Alcohol can harm a baby at any time during pregnancy. It can cause problems in the early weeks of pregnancy, before a woman even knows she is pregnant;
  • Too many women continue to drink during pregnancy. About 1 in 12 pregnant women in the United States reports alcohol use. And about 1 in 30 pregnant women in the United States reports binge drinking (having five or more drinks at one time);
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100% preventable — if a woman does not drink alcohol while she is pregnant.

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Researchers discover protein can inhibit colorectal cancer cells

BY Michael Johnsen

MILWAUKEE, Wis. Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center researchers in Milwaukee have learned that a protein, CXCL12, that normally controls intestinal cell movement, has the potential to halt colorectal cancer from spreading.

These studies represent a potential mechanism by which CXL12 may slow cancer spreading. Controlling this process could lead to new biological therapies for colorectal cancers.

“Colorectal cancer ranks third in cancer-related deaths in the United States in 2008,” stated principal investigator Michael Dwinell, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. “Finding therapies to prevent its spread to secondary organs would increase patient prognosis considerably.”

The abstract was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Denver, April 21.

Normal intestinal cells stick to underlying proteins, which provide survival signals to maintain cell health. If they become unstuck, the floating cells undergo a programmed cell death. In cancer, cells have acquired genetic changes that allow them to survive during loss of attachment. Previously, the researchers found that colorectal cancer cells lacked CXCL12 expression. In these studies, they re-introduced CXCL12 expression in colorectal cancer cells which prevented their ability to adhere to underlying proteins.

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Study: UTIs more frequent in women with increased sexual activity, alcohol consumption

BY Michael Johnsen

LINTHICUM, Md. Increased sexual activity and alcohol consumption were associated with an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections, according to new research presented at the 104th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association on Sunday.

From July 2001 through April 2005, researchers studied 181 women with their first UTI who presented to the student health care facility at the University of Florida. The control group consisted of 80 women attending the clinic without a UTI. A clinic nurse administered a survey that addressed lifestyle habits and dietary intake. Results showed that frequency and urgency were the most common symptom, and that UTIs were most commonly found in women who had increased sexual activity and recent alcohol consumption. The use of sanitary napkins during menstruation also increased the risk for a first-time UTI.

Co-existing chlamydia, gonorrhea and yeast infections did not contribute significantly to urinary symptoms.

“If you are experiencing urinary frequency and urgency, you should seek medical attention,” stated Anthony Smith, an AUA spokesman. “A woman experiencing her first UTI might not recognize these symptoms immediately. But, medical attention is necessary because UTIs can lead to kidney infection and even sepsis. So, it is important for women who notice these symptoms to seek medical attention.”

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