- Psychiatrists Debate Classifying Grief as Treatable Disorder
- No Whooping Cough Deaths in California Last Year
- Cancer Vaccine Trial Begins
- Less Salt, More Grains, Veggies in School Lunches: USDA
- Studies Show Link Between Brown Fat and Cold and Exercise
- Insulated Lunch Boxes and Thermal Food Carriers Recalled
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Psychiatrists Debate Classifying Grief as Treatable Disorder
Grieving could become a treatable psychiatric disorder if proposed changes to the American Psychiatric Association's standard diagnostic manual get adopted.
Work on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, has launched a debate about the definition of depression. The current wording excludes bereavement, which some psychiatrists say hurts people who need help coping with their loss.
The DSM, last revised in 1996, is the major resource for psychiatric professionals and a source of many insurance decisions, affecting millions of people.
"There is the potential for considerable false-positive diagnosis and unnecessary treatment of grief-stricken persons," said New York researchers on one side of the debate, according to the New York Times.
Dr. Alan Hilfer, chief of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center, New York City, agreed. In a statement, he said that "Grieving is a healthy process. Sometimes we need to treat those who have suffered a loss with sleep aids or other medications, but to make this process a medical condition that would enable large scale prescribing of drugs would be a travesty," he said.
However, another expert supports the new terminology. "Depression can and does occur in the wake of bereavement, it can be severe and debilitating, and calling it by any other name is doing a disservice to people who may require more careful attention," Dr. Sidney Zisook, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, told the newspaper.
Currently, to qualify for a diagnosis of depression, five of nine symptoms are needed for at least two weeks. These include loss of concentration, sleeping too much or too little, feelings of worthlessness and recurrent thoughts of suicide.
Other proposed changes to the manual have also stirred controversy. Experts last week argued against a proposal to tighten the autism definition, noting that the change would bar many currently diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder from receiving important services.
No Whooping Cough Deaths in California Last Year
For the first time in two decades, there were no whooping cough (pertussis) deaths in California last year, officials announced Tuesday.
Ten babies in the state died of whooping cough in 2010. The last year in which there were no whooping cough deaths in the state was 1991, msnbc.com reported.
The number of whooping cough cases in California also fell by two-thirds, from a high of 9,000 in 2010 to less than 3,000 in 2011.
The decrease in cases and deaths is due to wider availability of vaccines, quicker diagnosis, greater awareness of the disease, and a new law requiring booster shots for middle- and high-school students, said Dr. Gil Chavez, the California Department of Public Health epidemiologist and deputy director for infectious diseases, msnbc.com reported.
Cancer Vaccine Trial Begins
An early-stage clinical trial of an experimental cancer vaccine is being conducted at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.
Reseachers say the vaccine is designed to harness the power of the immune system to kill cancer cells. The vaccine will be made at Roswell in a specially designed production unit that's been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Associated Press reported.
To create the vaccine, immune system cells called dendritic cells are taken from the patient's body, bonded with a protein, and then re-injected into the patient. Patients also receive a compound found to prolong the vaccine's effectiveness.
The phase 1 study will include about 18 to 20 patients with different types of cancers, the AP reported.