Report Gives U.S. Low Marks on Premature Birth Rates
The March of Dimes—a nonprofit focusing on pregnancy and the health of babies—gave the United States a D grade in its first annual Premature Birth Report Card. The report involves comparing preterm birth rates to the country's Healthy People 2010 objective to decrease the national preterm birth rate from 12.7 percent of all live births (where it stood in 2005, the latest year for which data are available) to 7.6 percent. Vermont earned the highest grade, with a B. Eight states received a C, 23 earned a D, and 18 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were given an F. "It is unacceptable that our nation is failing so many preterm babies," said Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes, in a prepared statement. "We are determined to find and implement solutions to prevent preterm birth, based on research, best clinical practices, and improved education for moms."
Preventing Inflammation Without a Statin
There has been a lot of hoopla this week over research showing that the cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes in those with normal cholesterol but high levels of inflammation—measured by a marker called C-reactive protein, or CRP. The Jupiter study, which involved nearly 18,000 people and appears in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found that people who took the statin Crestor for two to five years cut their risk of having a heart attack or stroke by 50 percent during that period. They also had lower rates of bypass surgery and angioplasty, Deborah Kotz reports.
Kotz lists six ways to reduce inflammation, without a statin or a heart test. Earlier this week, U.S. News's Bernadine Healy, M.D., provided her take on the new research in her new Heart to Heart blog. Yesterday, she blogged that CRP testing may lead to overuse of statins like Crestor.
Why Loneliness Is Bad for Your Health
When all is said and done, the best guarantee of a long and healthy life may be the connections you have with other people. John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago and coauthor of a new book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection (W. W. Norton, $25.95), talked with U.S. News's Nancy Shute about how relationships affect physical health.
—January W. Payne