Health Buzz: HIV's Origin and Other Health News

Healthy kids' cereals, the rise of scarless surgery, and the effect of race on pregnancy.

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New Study Puts Origin of HIV Decades Earlier Than Previously Thought

A new study suggests that HIV has been spreading for about 100 years, with an estimated origin dating between 1884 and 1924, according to the Associated Press. A previous estimate put the virus's origin decades later at 1930. The new genetic analysis, published in the journal Nature, suggests that the virus's circulation may have been boosted by the development of cities in Africa at that time, which put many people in denser settlements and encouraged prostitution, the AP reports. HIV is a descendant of a chimpanzee virus that moved to humans in Africa. People were most likely infected at first during the butchering of chimps. U.S. public health officials first officially recognized HIV/AIDS in 1981.

U.S. News recently described the epidemic of HIV among black women and told how one young woman battles the virus. Earlier this year, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended HIV testing for most adult women.

What You Need to Know About Your Kids' Breakfast Cereal

A bowl of cereal can be less healthful than a doughnut, according to a new ranking of kids' breakfast cereals published by Consumer Reports. Eleven cereals ranked by the group had more sugar than a glazed Dunkin' Donut. The culprits include Kellogg's Honey Smacks (nee Sugar Smacks) and Post Golden Crisp, both of which get almost 60 percent of their calories from sugar.

U.S. News's Nancy Shute lists nine great breakfast cereals for kids of all ages. Previously, Katherine Hobson explained the science of breakfast.

No-Scar Surgery Undergoes Testing

"Natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery," or NOTES for short, is a new surgical approach being performed at a handful of medical centers. It involves snaking flexible instruments through the body's natural openings and making internal incisions—through the stomach wall, say—to get to and remove diseased organs. The University of California San Diego Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Ore., are among the centers already doing NOTES surgery; more are expected to begin trials—and start recruiting patients—by next year.

In May, U.S. News's Avery Comarow described how to save money on surgery by going abroad.

What Some Interracial Couples Face in Pregnancy

In medicine, your ethnic background can play a crucial role in determining certain health risks, Deborah Kotz reports. A new study suggests that Asian women married to white men had a 30 percent higher rate of cesarean sections compared with Asian or white couples and white women married to Asian men. The researchers gave a plausible reason why: Previous studies have shown that the average Asian woman's pelvis is smaller than the average white woman's and thus less able to accommodate babies of a certain size. "We're certainly not concluding that these women always need C-sections," says study coauthor Yasser El-Sayed, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Stanford University Medical Center. But he would be less likely to allow a prolonged labor to continue for hours in such women because a vaginal delivery would be very unlikely.

In March, Kotz explored whether doctors are performing too many C-sections.

—January W. Payne