TV Relieves Kids' Pain Better Than Mom's Reassurance

TV RELIEVES KIDS' PAIN A small Italian study of 69 children ages 7 to 12 found that watching television helped them cope with the pain of a blood test better than distraction from their moms did. The children who had no distractions while having their blood sample drawn exhibited the most pain, as rated by themselves and their mothers; the children whose mothers distracted them and tried to soothe them during the test showed intermediate levels of pain. But those allowed to watch cartoons during the test showed the least amount of pain. Also of note: The mothers rated the children's pain as greater than the kids themselves did. These results were published this week in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

MRI FOR PREEMIES Abnormal findings on an MRI scan soon after birth may predict neurological and development problems for premature babies down the line, say researchers from Washington University in St. Louis. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a study of nearly170 babies born at 30 weeks or less -- rather than at 40 weeks, the length of a normal pregnancy -- finds that those with an abnormal finding on an MRI were more likely to have severe cognitive delays, motor delays, cerebral palsy, and hearing and visual problems at age 2.

MRSA MENANCE GROWING Results of a study on 11 emergency rooms in the United States show that the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA are now the main cause of skin and tissue infections. MRSA infections used to be rare outside of the hospital, but in recent years, MRSA bacteria have been causing problems in the community at large. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, finds that about 75 percent of patients who came into the emergency room with a skin or tissue infection tested positive for MRSA. Often patients thought they had been bitten by a spider. Authors say that given the high prevalence MRSA infections, doctors should assume that an infection they are treating could be MRSA and take safety precautions to avoid spread of the bacteria. They should also, if possible, culture the bacteria to see if it is MRSA and then treat with antibiotics that are known to kill MRSA bacteria.

NEW GENE MAY SHOW HOW HUMAN BRAINS EVOLVED An international team of scientists have discovered a gene that has undergone rapid evolution in humans and is active during critical stages of brain development. The gene, called HAR1F, has undergone evolution about 70 times faster than the rest of the human genome. The exact function of the gene is currently unknown, the authors write in the journal Nature, but preliminary research suggests it may have a role in expanding the part of the brain we use for high-level thinking, language and other human attributes.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.