FDA Panel Rules on Asthma Medications
The risk of taking the asthma medications Serevent and Foradil—which belong to a class of drugs called long-acting beta agonists (LABAs)—generally outweighs the benefits when the drugs are taken alone, according to a Food and Drug Administration panel. But two other drugs in the same class, Advair and Symbicort (which combine a LABA and an inhaled steroid), are considered safer, the panel ruled. Taking a LABA alone, without an inhaled steroid, seems to increase the risk of death and serious asthma attacks in some patients, Reuters reports. Studies show that many patients taking Serevent and Foradil don't add an inhaled steroid, leading the panel to conclude that the drugs' labels should be changed to warn about this risk. The FDA will now consider the panel's recommendation. Serevent and Advair are made by GlaxoSmithKline, Foradil is made by Novartis, and Symbicort is made by AstraZeneca.
Deciding Whether to Get the Flu Shot
More than half of U.S. adults have no intention of getting a flu shot, according to a Rand survey of 4,000 people. Public-health experts are up in arms, saying that it's a poor grade on our nation's health report card. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't recommend flu vaccines for all healthy adults—only those over age 50 or others who are at risk of complications from influenza because they have a compromised immune system, for instance, or diabetes, or a respiratory condition like asthma. That means that all adults should consider getting vaccinated against the flu, but unless they're at particular risk, they shouldn't worry if they don't, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reports.
Vaccines are generally supersafe, as long as you take certain precautions. Kotz offers a parent's guide to managing vaccinations. In September, Nancy Shute offered advice on how to decide whether to vaccinate your child against the flu.
Protecting Your Teen From Sports Injury
Teen sports promote teamwork, can jump-start a lifelong exercise habit, and help prevent obesity, Katherine Hobson reports. But teen athletes can also get hurt, which means they—and their parents and coaches—should be vigilant about prevention. Sports injuries fall into two categories. Acute injuries, like a sprained ankle or torn ACL in the knee, occur suddenly, after a missed step or a midfield collision. Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive motion that damages the body over time. Increasingly, doctors see teens with overuse injuries that used to plague mostly collegiate or pro athletes—such as a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow (common in baseball pitchers, it can be fixed with so-called Tommy John reconstruction surgery).
It might be possible to use a gene test to predict the sport your child will be best at—even before he or she is out of diapers. For older athletes especially, it's important to know when it's time to bench yourself.
—January W. Payne