Out of Sync With the Vaccination Schedule
More than 1 in 4 toddlers may not be in compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended vaccination schedule either because of missed shots or vaccines being given at the wrong time, ABC News reports. Such lapses put these children at risk for preventable diseases. The CDC looked at the vaccination histories for more than 17,500 2-year-olds in 2005 and found that compliance with the federal government's recommended immunization schedule was about 72 percent.
Want to know if your child is properly vaccinated? Take a look at the CDC's recommended immunization schedule for children from birth to age 18. And the U.S. News On Parenting blog offers advice on immunizing your child against the flu.
Fosamax Raises the Risk of Irregular Heartbeat
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that taking alendronate (Fosamax)—one of the most popular drugs to treat osteoporosis—nearly doubles a woman's risk of developing a dangerous irregular heartbeat, Deborah Kotz reports. About 7 percent of those who used the drug developed atrial fibrillation, which can cause potentially deadly strokes, compared with 4 percent of those who never took it. The finding suddenly makes it look more perilous to counter bone loss. And since many conditions and medications can cause bone loss, plenty of women are left in a dilemma.
A second study in the same journal found that those who took the diabetes drugs rosiglitazone (Avandia) or pioglitazone (Actos) had double or even triple the odds of experiencing a hip, wrist, or other nonspinal fracture compared with those who didn't take either drug. A look at both studies suggests that diabetics who take either Actos or Avandia can't simply take Fosamax to counter the bone-loss side effect. In fact, diabetics who took the bone-building drug in the first study had an even greater risk of atrial fibrillation than nondiabetic users.
Guidelines for how to treat early bone loss—called osteopenia—were released earlier this year. Those concerned about this can also build stronger bones by optimizing calcium and vitamin D intake and doing exercises to prevent falls.
Gene Therapy Used to Partially Restore Eyesight
In what's being called a "phenomenal breakthrough," scientists have used gene therapy to partially restore sight in young adults with a rare type of blindness called Leber's congenital amaurosis, according to the Associated Press. Four of six people who received the therapy had some vision restored, according to the study, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine. Gene therapy involves replacing defective genes with normal versions. If the technique is successful on a larger scale, it could help those with other inherited types of blindness, too.
U.S. News also provides advice on what you need to know about eye testing to prevent vision loss.
Diabetes During Pregnancy on a Worrisome Rise
Having poorly controlled diabetes while pregnant can cause all sorts of harm, from stillbirths and miscarriages to birth defects, Lindsay Lyon reports. So experts are concerned that the number of women who already have diabetes by the time they conceive is rising rapidly: Between 1999 and 2005, the group doubled in size, growing significantly across all age, racial, and ethnic groups examined by Kaiser Permanente Southern California researchers, who report their findings in May's Diabetes Care. Different from gestational diabetes, a temporary type that some women develop well into pregnancy, prepregnancy diabetes can pose more of a threat to a developing fetus.
The way for diabetic women to reduce their risks is to get their blood sugar levels in check before becoming pregnant and then keep those levels close to normal throughout. Although there's no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes—characterized by the body's inability to produce insulin, which converts blood sugar into energy needed for survival—type 2 diabetes can be warded off or controlled through a healthful diet, weight loss, and exercise. All are especially important as a defense for women who have had gestational diabetes during past pregnancies.
Experts previously noted a rise in cases of gestational diabetes, which can be a threat to both mom and baby, Michelle Andrews reported in November. And a study in mice suggested that a protein in the pancreas may eventually help researchers determine how diabetes develops during pregnancy.
—January W. Payne