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It’s Tough to Change the Minds of ‘Vaccine-Hesitant’ Parents, Study Finds | Health News

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — When parents have concerns about the safety of childhood vaccinations, it can be tough to change their minds, as a new study shows.

The study involved “vaccine-hesitant” parents — a group distinct from the staunch “anti-vaxxer” crowd. They have worries about one or more routine vaccines, and question whether the benefits for their child are worthwhile.

Even though those parents are not “adamantly” opposed to vaccinations, it can still be hard for pediatricians to allay their concerns, said Jason Glanz, lead researcher on the study.

So Glanz and his colleagues looked at whether giving parents more information — online material “tailored” to their specific concerns — might help.

It didn’t. Parents who received the information were no more likely to have their babies up to date on vaccinations than other parents were, the study found.

The news was not all bad. Overall, more than 90% of babies in the study were all caught up on vaccinations.

So it may have been difficult to improve upon those numbers, according to Glanz, who is based at Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Institute for Health Research in Aurora.

But, he said, it’s also possible the customized information reinforced some parents’ worries.

“It might have done more harm than good,” Glanz said.

That’s because among vaccine-hesitant parents, those who were directed to general information that was not tailored, had the highest vaccination rates — at 88%.

The findings were published online Oct. 12 in Pediatrics.

Childhood vaccination rates in the United States are generally high. But studies show that about 10% of parents either delay or refuse vaccinations for their kids — generally over safety worries.

Routine childhood vaccines have a long history of safe use, Glanz said, but some parents have questions. They may have heard that certain ingredients in vaccines are not safe, or worry that their baby is being given “too many” immunizations in a short time.

And during a busy pediatrician visit, Glanz said, it can be hard to address all those questions.

So his team tested a web-based tactic to augment routine checkups. They randomly assigned 824 pregnant women and new parents to one of three groups: One received standard vaccine information from their pediatrician; another was directed to the study website for additional, but general, information on immunizations; and the third received tailored information from the website.

That tailoring was done with the help of a survey that asked parents about their vaccine beliefs and concerns.

In the end, however, the targeted messaging flopped. It made no difference among parents overall: Across the three groups, between 91% and 93% of babies were up to date on vaccinations at 15 months of age.

And among the 98 parents who were deemed vaccine-hesitant, the tactic seemed to backfire: Only 67% of those babies were up to date compared to 88% of those whose parents received general vaccine information. The rate was 75% in the standard-care group.

Dr. Edgar Marcuse,

COVID Cases Climbing in 36 States | Health News

By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporters

(HealthDay)

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Coronavirus outbreaks in the Midwest and Western United States have driven the national case count to its highest level since August, fueling fears of what the coming winter will mean for the country.

COVID-19 cases are starting to climb in 36 states, including parts of the Northeast, which is starting to backslide after months of progress, The New York Times reported. More than 820 new deaths and more than 54,500 new cases were announced across the country on Tuesday, the newspaper said. Idaho and Wisconsin set single-day records for new cases.

About 50,000 new cases are being reported each day in the United States for the week ending Monday, the Times reported. That is still less than in late July, when the country was seeing more than 66,000 cases each day.

But the trajectory is worsening, and experts fear what could happen as cold weather drives people indoors, where the virus can spread more easily, the newspaper said. The latest spike in cases shows up just before the increased mingling of people that comes with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Sixteen states each added more new cases in the seven-day period ending Monday than they had in any other weeklong stretch of the pandemic. North Dakota and South Dakota are reporting more new cases per person than any state has previously, the Times reported.

“A lot of the places being hit are Midwest states that were spared in the beginning,” William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher, told the Washington Post. “That’s of particular concern because a lot of these smaller regions don’t have the ICU beds and capacity that the urban centers had.”

COVID-19 hospitalizations have already begun rising in almost a dozen states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, raising the probability that increasing death counts will soon follow, the Post reported.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that he hopes the numbers “jolt the American public into a realization that we really can’t let this happen, because it’s on a trajectory of getting worse and worse.” He called the rising numbers “the worst possible thing that could happen as we get into the cooler months.”

It is unclear what is driving the climbing case count, but it could be the long-feared winter effect already taking place, or the reopening of businesses and schools, or just people letting down their guard on social distancing efforts, the Post reported.

Second COVID vaccine trial paused

A second coronavirus vaccine trial was paused this week after an unexplained illness surfaced in one of the trial’s volunteers.

Johnson & Johnson, which only began a phase 3 trial of its vaccine last month, did not offer any more details on the illness and did not say whether the sick participant had received the vaccine or a placebo. The trial pause was first reported by the health news website STAT

Study: Health Systems, Govt Responses Linked to Virus Tolls | World News

BERLIN (AP) — Scientists say a comparison of 21 developed countries during the start of the coronavirus pandemic shows that those with early lockdowns and well-prepared national health systems avoided large numbers of additional deaths due to the outbreak.

In a study published Wednesday by the journal Nature Medicine, researchers used the number of weekly deaths in 19 European countries, New Zealand and Australia over the past decade to estimate how many people would have died from mid-February to May 2020 had the pandemic not happened.

The authors, led by Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London, then compared the predicted number of deaths to the actual reported figure during that period to determine how many likely occurred due to the pandemic. Such models of ‘excess mortality’ are commonly used by public health officials to better understand disease outbreaks and the effectiveness of counter-measures.

The study found there were about 206,000 excess deaths across the 21 countries during the period, a figure that conforms to independent estimates. In Spain, the number of deaths was 38% higher than would have been expected without the pandemic, while in England and Wales it was 37% higher.

Italy, Scotland and Belgium also had significant excess deaths, while in some countries there was no marked change or even — as in the case of Bulgaria — a decrease.

While the authors note that there are differences in the compositions of populations, such as age and the prevalence of pre-existing conditions that contribute to mortality rates, government efforts to suppress transmission of the virus and the ability of national health systems to cope with the pandemic also played a role.

Amitava Banerjee, a professor of clinical data science at University College London who wasn’t involved in the study, said it was well designed and had used standardized methods.

He noted that the comparison between death rates in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, where the age of the population and the rates of pre-existing conditions such as obesity are similar, supports the argument that other factors contributed to the differing mortality figures.

“Even if vaccines and better treatments for severe (COVID-19) infection are developed, the way to minimise excess deaths is to reduce the infection rate through population level measures,” said Banerjee.

These include lockdowns, protecting high risk groups,and establishing effective “test, trace and isolate” systems, he said.

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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World Bank Approves $12B to Finance Virus Vaccines, Care | Business News

The World Bank has approved $12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments, aiming to support the vaccination of up to 1 billion people.

The $12 billion “envelop” is part of a wider World Bank Group package of up to $160 billion to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank said in a statement late Tuesday.

The World Bank said its COVID-19 emergency response programs are already reaching 111 countries.

Citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, it said.

“We are extending and expanding our fast-track approach to address the COVID emergency so that developing countries have fair and equal access to vaccines,” said the bank’s president, David Malpass, said in the statement.

“Access to safe and effective vaccines and strengthened delivery systems is key to alter the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts move toward a resilient recovery,” he said.

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank is investing in vaccine manufacturers through a $4 billion Global Health Platform, the statement said.

Development and deployment of vaccines is crucial to helping stem outbreaks of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million people and sickened more than 38 million, while devastating economies and leaving many millions jobless.

The World Bank said it will draw on expertise and experience from its involvement in many large-scale immunization programs and other public health efforts.

The funding is meant to also help countries access tests and treatments and to support management of supply chains and other logistics for vaccinations in developing countries, the bank said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Positive Virus Tests, Hospitalizations Surge in Colorado | Colorado News

DENVER (AP) — Colorado is experiencing another surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, prompting Gov. Jared Polis to plead Tuesday with residents to wear masks, stay home as much as possible, and maintain social distancing practices.

As of Tuesday, Colorado’s three-day average positivity rate — the percentage of total tests coming in positive — was 5.4%, and the state recorded 1,000 newly confirmed cases both Saturday and Monday, the highest daily numbers recorded during the pandemic, Polis said.

About 290 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest total since May 31, The Denver Post reported.

During a briefing on the pandemic, Polis didn’t suggest he was contemplating renewed mandatory restrictions on business or other activities to stem the surge. But he insisted: “If this continues, our hospital capacity will be in jeopardy.”

The World Health Organization recommends trying to keep the positivity rate below 5% of all tests. Higher rates suggest authorities are missing large numbers of infections.

On Monday, the head of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment suggested daily coronavirus caseloads may have surpassed 4,000 in March and April. The numbers weren’t recorded because far fewer people were being tested, said Jill Hunsaker Ryan.

She said the state has experienced three surges: In March and April, after July 4, and after Labor Day, Sept. 7. State data suggest Denver and Adams counties are among those recording the highest numbers of newly confirmed cases.

More than 2,000 people have died and more than 80,000 people have been hospitalized for the disease since the pandemic began.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Amid COVID-19, Pro-Lifers Push to Avoid Abortive Fetal Cel…… | News & Reporting

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Canada’s Halloween Is Not Canceled, but a Hockey Stick Could Come in Handy | World News

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian children can go trick-or-treating on Halloween despite being in the middle of a second wave of COVID-19, the country’s top health officials say, as long as they practice physical distancing, wear masks and wash their hands.

In Canada as in the United States, Halloween brings armies of children dressed in spooky costumes out onto the streets in search of candy and maybe a fright or two.

For parents, this year’s Halloween is truly a scary prospect, however, as coronavirus case numbers climb. Canada recorded 975 new infections on Monday, and the prime minister warned last week that the country is at a “tipping point” in its battle against a second surge.

“We can have Halloween… It’s possible to give and receive candy safely,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, told a news conference on Tuesday.

“There are some really interesting ideas where people are handing out treats on the end of a hockey stick,” added Dr. Theresa Tam, chief medical officer. “Pre-packaging your treats so people are not rummaging in a bowl of candies is actually important.”

More tips, like equipping the kids with small bottles of hand sanitizer, will be posted on the Health Ministry’s website, she said.

Health experts agree it is important to have “some degree of normality” during the pandemic, Tam said, but added that staying outdoors, physical distancing and wearing masks that “could turn into part of your costume” are necessary.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Many Older Americans With Heart Failure Take 10 or More Meds | Health News

By Cara Roberts Murez
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Oct. 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — When older people hospitalized for heart failure are sent home, they are often given a whopping 10 medications to take for a variety of conditions. But is this “polypharmacy” practice necessary, or does it just place a bigger burden on already frail patients?

It’s not a question so much of the quantity of the medications, but whether the medications patients are taking are the right ones for them, said senior study author Dr. Parag Goyal, a geriatric cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City.

“It’s not just that we’re not starting the right medications, there may be situations where we’re not stopping the wrong medications as well,” Goyal said. “I think we need to look at the medication that older adults with heart failure take in a more holistic fashion.”

For the study, Goyal’s team examined the medical charts of 558 adults aged 65 and older who were hospitalized in the United States between 2003 and 2014.

When admitted, 84% of the patients were taking five or more medications and 42% were taking 10 or more. When discharged, those numbers had risen to 95% of patients prescribed five or more medications and 55% taking 10 or more. Most of the prescribed medicines were not for the patients’ heart failure or heart conditions, the researchers said.

A larger medication burden increases the risk of adverse drug reactions, which could lead to patients ending up in the hospital, Goyal explained. It can also require more work for the patient, which can have an impact on quality of life.

“It’s a big challenge,” Goyal said. “How exactly do you reconcile the fact that a lot of these medications are meant to prevent events and to help patients feel better with the concept that as the number of medications rise, you might be negatively affecting these parameters?”

The study found that about 90% of older adults with heart failure have at least three other medical conditions. More than 60% have at least five other conditions.

The findings were published online Oct. 13 in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

The researchers concluded that there is a need to develop strategies that can alleviate the negative effects of polypharmacy. Among the drugs that may be overused are proton-pump inhibitors, which reduce stomach acid. There are a host of medications patients may have been taking for years that could be reviewed, Goyal noted.

However, the study suggested that the benefits of medication may outweigh the risks of polypharmacy for people with certain conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes.

Some medications already are multipurpose, including one that treats diabetes and heart failure, said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, chief of the University of California, Los Angeles, division of cardiology.

“That doesn’t mean there are not some medications that are not necessary and could be either reduced or consolidated, but that for patients with heart failure that have a number of other comorbid

AHA News: Scenes of Childhood Hunger Left Lasting Impression | Health News

(HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Oct. 13, 2020 (American Heart Association News) — While growing up in the Philippines, Lady Dorothy Elli witnessed childhood hunger and poverty that left her with lasting impressions.

She has made it her mission to address the problem of food insecurity and the negative impact it can have on the academic and personal well-being of students of all ages.

“Health inequity plays a big role in this,” said Lady Dorothy, 19, now a sophomore at the University of Arizona. “If health equity is present in the world, you wake up not having to worry about having an empty stomach and then going to school.”

Food insecurity is defined in a 2020 report by the federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as a “disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources.” A 2019 study in the journal Pediatrics said that for children, “household food insecurity was related to significantly worse general health.”

A first-generation immigrant to the United States, Lady Dorothy said she felt fortunate to be able to eat two to three meals a day as a child. But she took to heart the stories her mother, Fatima Elli, recounted about her own childhood growing up in a household with 10 siblings in which there wasn’t always enough to eat.

In the Philippines, Lady Dorothy volunteered for the Red Cross and took an interest in helping to develop young leaders. She also would accompany her mother to outreach events like food donations in poor, rural areas.

The youngest of three daughters, Lady Dorothy is 10 years younger than her next oldest sibling.

“The age gap left her with me all the time,” her mother, Fatima, said. “She came with me whenever I went to outreach programs. That’s where she learned the idea of touching the lives of other people through providing basic necessities.”

The family arrived in the United States three years ago and settled in Tucson, Arizona, where she soon learned food insecurity also was a problem in the United States. At the time, a 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that about 8% of U.S. households with children, or about 3 million homes, were considered food insecure.

“I want to help bridge that gap and make sure that everyone is able to get access to nutritious and healthy food,” Lady Dorothy said.

A year ago, she started the Nutrition Talks program, speaking to school-age children at churches and middle schools in the Tucson area about the importance of a nutritious diet and lifestyle. She was inspired by a similar program at a library at which she interned that provided free lunch to children.

She bought healthy snacks and created a presentation “that the kids could understand, emphasizing exercises and activities that they could do to actually realize what healthy living means.”

For now, Nutrition Talks are canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, though Lady Dorothy is staying in touch with school districts as she

Want Better Rapport With Your Cat? Bat Your Eyes | Health News

By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Oct. 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — When it comes to bonding with your cat, the eyes have it.

Narrowing your eyes — the so-called “slow blink” — may make humans more attractive to their feline friends, British researchers suggest. It also may make kitty smile back.

“As someone who has both studied animal behavior and is a cat owner, it’s great to be able to show that cats and humans can communicate in this way. It’s something that many cat owners had already suspected, so it’s exciting to have found evidence for it,” said Karen McComb. She studies animal behavior at the University of Sussex School of Psychology in the United Kingdom.

McComb said the study is the first to investigate the role of slow blinking in communication between people and cats.

It’s easy: Just narrow your eyes as you would in a relaxed smile, then close your eyes for a couple of seconds. “You’ll find they respond in the same way themselves and you can start a sort of conversation,” she said in a university news release.

In one experiment, the researchers found that cats are more likely to slow blink after their owners have slow blinked at them, compared with when they don’t interact at all.

In a second experiment, cats were more likely to approach a researcher’s outstretched hand after the researcher had slow blinked than when he or she had a neutral expression.

According to study co-author Tasmin Humphrey, a doctoral student, “Understanding positive ways in which cats and humans interact can enhance public understanding of cats, improve feline welfare, and tell us more about the socio-cognitive abilities of this understudied species. Our findings could potentially be used to assess the welfare of cats in a variety of settings, including veterinary practices and shelters.”

But why do cats behave this way?

Humphrey offered a theory: “Cats may have learned that humans reward them for responding to slow blinking. It is also possible that slow blinking in cats began as a way to interrupt an unbroken stare, which is potentially threatening in social interaction.”

The findings were published online Oct. 7 in the journal Scientific Reports.

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