Vaccines Not to Blame for Autism, Court Rules
Vaccines are not to blame for autism in three children, according to long-awaited rulings from a special federal court yesterday, Nancy Shute reports. The families had filed claims arguing that the measles-mumps-rubella shot, which contained the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, was responsible for their children's autism and other neurological problems.
The cases have been intensely watched in the hugely contentious battle over whether or not vaccines cause autism. Both sides hoped that a win in "vaccine court" would end the controversy, which was sparked by a 1998 paper in the British journal Lancet that linked developmental delays and MMR vaccinations. That paper is controversial; 10 of the 13 authors retracted it in 2004, but the lead author, Andrew Wakefield, has not. A report in this week's London Sunday Times says Wakefield altered clinical findings on 8 of 12 children in the study, a charge Wakefield denies. These latest rulings won't end the debate but will make it harder for families who seek compensation from a federal vaccine injury fund.
Should parents take a flexible approach to vaccination? Here are the pros and cons. Meanwhile, vaccine developer Paul Offitt says allergies to vaccines pose the biggest health risk. U.S. News also examined the larger issue of vaccine safety, offered advice on what parents can do to protect kids, and explained what parents should know about the latest vaccine news.
Consider a Valentine's Day Workout With Your Significant Other
Working out with your significant other (or even a platonic buddy) can reap benefits: It's often more fun to exercise with company, you motivate each other to actually get out the door, and your workout gets a shakeup. U.S. News's Katherine Hobson explains why she enjoyed working out with her boyfriend, even though she had assumed that the idea of couples exercising together was strictly for codependents. Hobson found that not only is it fun to work out with your significant other (or friend, for that matter), but there are some real athletic benefits: 1) You shake up your usual workout. 2) When you're trading off on the weight bench, you actually get the required rest in between sets. 3) It makes you work harder, since you get competitive in your supposed activity of expertise. 4) You try activities that you wouldn't ever do alone, and sometimes they even find their way into your individual repertoire.
Perhaps working out together might make a good Valentine's Day activity. If you decide to make a go of it, here are 10 tips for working out with your significant other. Besides being fun, trying novel activities together is good for your love life. Earlier, Hobson explained how to get the most from your workout.
Geography Affects Rates of Coronary Bypass Surgery and Angioplasty
An unexpected variable—geography—can affect which of two heart procedures patients are given to treat blocked blood vessels in the heart. It may seem odd, but where people live can greatly influence whether they receive coronary bypass surgery or instead undergo a procedure known as angioplasty, which often involves implanting a stent, Sarah Baldauf reports. Both procedures aim to increase blood flow to the heart, but they are not interchangeable. Coronary bypass surgery is far more invasive and carries greater risks than angioplasty, in which doctors thread a catheter tipped with a tiny balloon into a narrowed vessel and, in many cases, use a stent on the end of the catheter to prop open the vessel.
But angioplasty is not without risk. Relative to bypass surgery, it's more likely to require follow-up procedures. Patients who are considering either procedure should first understand all the risks and benefits of both; too many patients get only limited information about one procedure or the other. (For some people, there are other alternatives—including optimizing medication and lifestyle changes.)
Read U.S. News's story Heart Health: Coronary Bypass Surgery or Angioplasty? to help you decide which may be right for you. Also, here is a list of the top 10 cities where coronary bypass surgery outpaces angioplasty—and vice versa.
—January W. Payne
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