Health Buzz: Depression Hikes Heart Failure Risk and Other Health News

Teaching social skills to autistic teens; how a new stem cell discovery could treat infertility.

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Depression and Heart Failure

A new study suggests that depression may hurt the heart. It found that people with heart disease caused by blockage of coronary arteries face an increased risk of heart failure if they become depressed, according to HealthDay. And it was a risk that didn't seem to be curtailed by antidepressants. The finding wasn't surprising, said the report, since research has previously indicated that depression may up the risk of heart failure in people without heart disease. Recently, U.S. News wrote about a new recommendation from health experts that all primary-care doctors screen their teenage patients for depression, a risk factor for suicide. Other reports have covered how depression affects the immune system and how it can manifest in the elderly.

Teaching Autistic Teens Social Skills

Teenage social life can be frustrating in the best of circumstances, and it's even harder for teenagers with autism, who report feeling lonelier and having poorer-quality friendships than their typically developing classmates. Problems with social interactions and communications are a hallmark of autism. But social skills can be learned, according to researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles who have created a new class that lets autistic teenagers practice key skills. U.S. News's Nancy Shute details the program, which isn't yet available outside UCLA. While social skills classes are common for young children with autism, there is little other help available for autistic teenagers and young adults, Shute reports.

Earlier this month, Shute told the story of Joe Steffy, a 23-year-old with autism and Down syndrome who runs a popcorn business with the help of his family and employees. She also wrote about how advocacy groups want more real-world skills training for teenagers with autism.

Stem Cells for Infertility

Women are born with a lifetime supply of eggs in their ovaries that drastically diminishes throughout their childhood and the reproductive years, right? Maybe not. Yesterday's news suggesting that female ovaries may indeed be able to churn out new eggs could provide hope for those women who find they don't have enough healthy eggs left when they're ready to have a baby, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reports. Chinese researchers extracted stem cells from the ovaries of mice and demonstrated that the cells gave rise to new eggs and that healthy baby mice could be produced from those eggs. The stem cells came from adult mice and weren't embryonic stem cells.

As exciting as the study is, its results are a far cry from demonstrating that such a technique can work in women. If it does, though, it could solve a lot of fertility problems, Kotz explains. Previously, U.S. News wrote about how to budget for infertility.

Lindsay Lyon

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