Health Buzz: Child Abuse Tied to Recession

Diabetes prevention starts with your doctor; why diabetes may triple by 2050.

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Study: Child Abuse Increased During Recession

As the U.S. economy faltered, hospitals nationwide saw a spike in the number of abused kids with severe brain injuries, a new study suggests. Researchers analyzed the rate of abuse-induced head trauma among kids ages 5 and under between 2004 and 2009. During that five-year period, the number of cases rose from about 9 per 100,000 children in pre-recession years to 15 per 100,000 during the recession—a 65 percent increase, according to a study published today in Pediatrics. Though the research doesn't prove the increase was caused by tough economic times, past findings have linked violence with economic hardship. "Stress and poverty are risk factors for child abuse," Peter Sherman, a pediatrician and director of the residency program in social pediatrics at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, told HealthDay. "If people are stressed out, it's not a big stretch that they are at high risk for being abusive."

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  • Diabetes Prevention Starts With Your Doctor

    Today, electronic medical records–a novelty a decade ago–are used in most hospitals and many doctors' offices. The federal government touts their potential for improving the quality of medical care, from ensuring that all patients get recommended screening tests to improving care of chronic health problems such as diabetes. But electronic progress notes have an important downside that can and does harm patients, family physician Kenny Lin writes for U.S. News.

    In a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers examined doctors' documentation of dietary and exercise counseling in the electronic medical charts of more than 5,000 patients with diabetes. Patients were divided into three groups: those in whom no counseling was documented; those whose progress notes appeared to have been cut-and-pasted from the previous visit; and those whose notes were distinct from notes made in previous visits. Only patients with "distinct" counseling language successfully lost weight and improved their diabetes control, while patients with cut-and-pasted language did no better than patients who received no counseling. That led authors to question whether their doctors were documenting imaginary conversations.

    We know that lifestyle counseling is critical to preventing diabetes in millions of at-risk Americans. National data show that almost 30 percent of adults have prediabetes (blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but lower than the diabetic range), but only 1 in 3 of them reports getting any dietary or exercise advice from their doctors in the previous year. (No information is available on how often doctors claim that counseling occurred.) [Read more: Diabetes Prevention Starts With Your Doctor.]

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    • Why Diabetes May Triple by 2050

      The diabetes rate in the U.S. is poised to explode. As many as 1 in 3 adults will develop the chronic, life-threatening disease by 2050, a stark increase from the 1 in 10 presently affected, according to estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010. If current trends continue, the number of new cases could jump from 8 per every 1,000 people in 2008 to 15 per every 1,000 within the next 40 years.

      "It's alarming," says Ann Albright, director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation. "People have to remember that once you have diabetes, you can't give it back."

      The rising incidence of type 2 diabetes—much more prevalent than type 1—is fueling the trend, researchers say. Type 2 occurs when the body does not respond to or produce enough insulin, and though genetics play a role, excess weight and inactivity both increase the risk. Complications include heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and nerve damage.

      Here are three other factors that researchers believe will propel the numbers: