Health Highlights: April 14, 2008

Rowe led the Institute of Medicine committee that wrote the report. The Institute of Medicine is an arm of the National Academy of Sciences. The committee recommended that: all health care workers be trained in basic geriatric care; the minimum number of hours of training for direct-care workers be increased from 75 to at least 120; and that geriatric specialists, doctors, nurse and care workers get better pay.


Parents Often Misinformed About Drugs Prescribed for Children

Less than one-third of prescription medicines used to treat children have been formally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in youngsters, but many parents believe all such drugs are FDA-approved, says a survey released Monday by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Among the findings:

  • 83 percent of parents believed the last medication prescribed for their child was FDA-approved.
  • 94 percent of parents feel a child's doctor is responsible for disclosing whether a medication is not FDA-approved for use in children.
  • 77 percent want their child's doctor to prescribe only medicines that are FDA-approved for use in children.
  • Women are more likely than men to want their child's doctor to prescribe only medicines with pediatric labeling.
  • Parents with less education are more likely to want only FDA-approved medicine for their children.

"FDA labeling is very important to parents, but that's a problem when only one-third of medicines have FDA approval for use in children," Dr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the National Poll on Children's Health, said in a prepared statement. "The solution to that is to either get more medicines that are FDA-approved by increasing clinical studies, or working to help physicians and parents negotiate the situation when physicians want to use medicines that are safe and effective, but may not have FDA approval."

The national online survey included 2,131 adults, ages 18 and older.


Sludge Spread on Yards of Low-Income Families

In a U.S. government-funded study, researchers spread sludge made from treated industrial and human waste on the yards of nine low-income black families in Baltimore to test whether the sludge would protect children from lead poisoning, the Associated Press reported.

The families were told the sludge was safe and never informed about any possibly dangerous elements. In exchange for allowing the sludge to be spread in yards, the families received food coupons and new lawns, according to documents obtained by the AP.

The researchers said the sludge (leftover solid wastes from treatment plants) reduced the children's risk of lead-related brain or nerve damage. The phosphate and iron in sludge can bind to lead and other hazardous metals in soil. This means that, if a child eats contaminated soil, the harmful metals will pass safely through the body. The study was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment in 2005.

However, many experts are skeptical about this claim. While the sludge can bind to lead in soil, "it's not at all clear that the sludge binding the lead will be preserved in the acidity of the stomach" when it's eaten, said soil chemist Murray McBride, director of the Cornell Waste Management Institute.

He questioned why the families weren't told about possibly harmful ingredients in the sludge and why low-income people were chosen for the research.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...