Jason Hairston suspected he had the degenerative brain disorder CTE. An autopsy confirmed his theory. In other public health news: gene-editing human embryos, diabetes, heart disease, independent seniors, drug recalls, and social media.
The New York Times: Was C.T.E. Stealing His Mind? A Gunshot Provided The Answer
The blast from upstairs shattered the quiet of a small-town weeknight. It was all so sudden. Or had it been coming for years? Jason Hairston had just been downstairs with his young son and daughter, who could not understand why their father was acting so strange. His wife, on the phone from across the country, was desperately trying to get her husband to say something, anything. (Branch, 1/31)
Stat: U.S. Scientist Played Instrumental Role In ‘CRISPR Babies’ Project
An American scientist at Rice University was far more involved in the widely condemned “CRISPR babies” experiment than has previously been disclosed. Most notably, STAT has learned that Rice biophysicist Michael Deem was named as the senior author on a paper about the work that was submitted to Nature in late November. Deem’s prominent authorship indicates that a respected American researcher played an instrumental role in the controversial project, which sparked a worldwide furor. His involvement could have encouraged volunteers to join the experiment and lent credibility to He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who led the work. (Qui, 1/31)
The New York Times: Rotavirus Vaccine May Protect Against Type 1 Diabetes
The vaccine that prevents rotavirus, which can cause severe gastric problems in children, may have another benefit: lowering the risk for Type 1 diabetes in toddlers. Rotavirus can leave children badly dehydrated and is sometimes fatal. Fortunately, there are two vaccines for the disease, easily administered by putting drops in the child’s mouth at ages 2 months, 4 months and (for one version of the vaccine) 6 months. Both vaccines are more than 90 percent effective. (Bakalar, 1/30)
The New York Times: Searching For The Genetic Underpinnings Of Morning Persons And Night Owls
Early to bed and early to rise is a maxim that’s easy to follow for some people, and devilishly hard for others. Now, in a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications, researchers curious about the genetic underpinnings of chronotype — whether you are a morning person, a night owl or somewhere in between — looked at about 700,000 people’s genomes. They identified 351 variations that may be connected to when people go to bed. While these variants are just the beginning of exploring the differences in chronotypes, the study goes on to suggest tantalizing links between chronotype and mental health. (Greenwood, 1/30)
The Associated Press: Nearly Half Of US Adults Have Heart Or Blood Vessel Disease
A new report estimates that nearly half of all U.S. adults have some form of heart or blood vessel disease, a medical milestone that’s mostly due to recent guidelines that expanded how many people have high blood pressure. The American Heart Association says that more than 121 million adults had cardiovascular disease in 2016. Taking out those with only high blood pressure leaves 24 million, or 9 percent of adults, who have other forms of disease such as heart failure or clogged arteries. (1/31)
Kaiser Health News: Frail Seniors Find Ways To Live Independently
Pauline Jeffery had let things slide since her husband died. Her bedroom was a mess. Her bathroom was disorganized. She often tripped over rugs in her living and dining room. “I was depressed and doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself,” said the 85-year-old Denver resident. But Jeffery’s inertia faded when she joined a program for frail low-income seniors: Community Aging in Place — Advancing Better Living for Elders (CAPABLE). (Graham, 1/31)
Marketplace: Wanted: Elder Transportation Solutions
As the U.S. population ages, transportation challenges for seniors, their caregivers and communities are growing. Every day about 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, according to the AARP. And among those aged 65 and older, one in five don’t drive, either for health or economic reasons. (Hartman, 1/30)
The New York Times: He Swallowed A Toothpick. It Could Have Killed Him.
A young man nearly lost his life to a toothpick he didn’t even know he had swallowed, according to a harrowing report published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. The three-inch wood pick, from a sandwich, traveled through most of his digestive tract without doing any harm. But then it poked through the intestinal wall and pierced an artery, creating a conduit for bacteria to invade his bloodstream and damaging the artery enough to cause serious bleeding. (Grady, 1/30)
Miami Herald: More Ibuprofen Baby Drops Sold At Walmart And CVS Recalled
Three more lots of pain and fever baby drops sold at CVS and Walmart have been recalled for having elevated ibuprofen concentration. Tri Pharma, the manufacturer, added these three lots to the three lots it recalled in November of ibuprofen baby drops sold at CVS, Walmart and Family Dollar. The drops are for kids from 6 months to 23 months. (Neal, 1/30)
The New York Times: This Is Your Brain Off Facebook
The world’s most common digital habit is not easy to break, even in a fit of moral outrage over the privacy risks and political divisions Facebook has created, or amid concerns about how the habit might affect emotional health. Although four in 10 Facebook users say they have taken long breaks from it, the digital platform keeps growing. A recent study found that the average user would have to be paid $1,000 to $2,000 to be pried away for a year. (Carey, 1/30)
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