Health Buzz: Colonoscopy’s Blind Spot and Other Health News

Pediatricians' failure to ask about mental health; dealing with food allergies

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Colonoscopy May Miss Cancers on Right Side of Colon

Colonoscopies are good at spotting early indications of disease on the colon's left side, but the procedure is not as effective at identifying problems on the colon's right side, according to a new study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine . Researchers examined Ontario's provincial health records of 10,000-plus patients with colorectal cancer, ranging in age from 52 to 90, HealthDay reports. The patients were diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1996 and 2001 and had died by 2003. Slightly more than 700 of these patients had undergone a colonoscopy; researchers compared this group with some 5,000 healthy people who'd had colonoscopies. They found that colonoscopies were tied to lower death rates for cancers located on the left side of the colon, but a similar effect wasn't seen with right-sided cancers. The findings were consistent regardless of gender or age.

Would you rather be knocked out with anesthesia for your colonoscopy? Also, learn about the controversy over how well hospitals meet standards for colon cancer treatment. There are also new options on the horizon for colon cancer screening.

Pediatricians Don't Routinely Ask About Mental Health

Don't count on your child's doctor to ask whether you're worried about mental-health issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or bad behavior. Fifty-six percent of parents say their pediatrician or family-practice doctor never asks about mental-health concerns, according to a new survey out of C. S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan. An additional 22 percent say they get asked sometimes, with 22 percent more saying their doc is always on the ball, Nancy Shute reports. This is no small issue, seeing as 1 in 10 children suffers a serious emotional or mental disorder, according to the surgeon general. Twenty percent of the 2,245 parents polled said that one or more of their children had been diagnosed with a mental-health problem, the most common being ADHD, a behavior problem, or depression.

Many families pay a high price for mental-health care. But there is help on the way: The new federal mental-health parity law, which goes into effect in 2010, should expand insurance coverage for many families. For now, parents can help teens cope.

Is It Possible to Prevent Food Allergy?

A seemingly harmless snack leads to hives and itching and swelling of the throat, even trouble breathing—a terrifying experience that threatens a growing number of kids (and their moms and dads). For reasons not totally understood, food allergies—to peanuts, and eggs, and fish, for example—are on the rise, and affected children are two to four times as likely as unaffected kids to have related conditions such as asthma or other allergies. About 3 million children under 18 had food allergies in 2007, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—18 percent more than in 1997. All told, about 6.8 million children suffered from some sort of allergy in 2006.

Still, while food allergies can be daunting, there are smart ways parents can manage their children's allergies. And a treatment that involves gradually increasing a person's exposure to foods they're sensitive to may offer some relief.

—January W. Payne

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