Health Highlights: May 25, 2008

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Poll: Returning Wounded Iraq Soldiers Getting Substandard Care From VA

A considerable majority of Americans believes that Veteran's Administration hospitals and other military health facilities are not giving wounded Iraq war veterans the quality of care they deserve.

The latest poll from the Harvard Opinion Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Harris Interactive® polling organization finds that 62 percent of Americans believe medical care for returning wounded U.S. soldiers from Iraq isn't adequate. In the same poll, 65 percent said that mental health care for returning vets was substandard, according to a HSPH news release.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Poll: Returning Wounded Iraq Soldiers Getting Substandard Care From VA
    • Caressing Very Premature Babies May Help With Pain of Medical Procedures
    • New York City Man Dies After Taking Aphrodisiac Made from Toad Venom
    • Truckers, Bus Drivers Can't Take Anti-Smoking Drug Chantix
    • Everlasting Jelly Candles Pose Fire, Burn Hazards
    • Health Canada Warns About Male Sexual Performance Aid

The poll found that this opinion ran across the spectrum of American society. Those who had a family member serving in Iraq were just as likely as respondents with no family ties to the Iraq war to believe VA hospital care was substandard.

Yet, the poll also found that 60 percent of the respondents believed that medical treatment for wounded Iraq war veterans in military and VA hospitals is better (10 percent) or the same (50 percent) as the type of care they would receive in what the pollsters called "other major U.S. hospitals."

The poll is part of a continuing series by Harris Interactive and the Harvard School of Public Health: Debating Health: Election 2008.

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Caressing Very Premature Babies May Help With Pain of Medical Procedures

It's never too early for parents to hold, touch and caress their offspring, even if the baby is born very prematurely.

According to BBC News, researchers from McGill University in Montreal found that parents who cuddle with babies born as early as 28 weeks help lessen the stress of painful medical procedures the infants will have to endure. The normal term of pregnancy before delivering a baby is between 37 and 42 weeks, according to the U.S. government's National Institutes of Health.

In fact, reports the BBC, the McGill scientists believed the skin-to-skin contact between parents and baby is so important that it might aid in the recovery process from the medical procedures.

The researchers used a common test for newborns --- the heel pin prick to obtain blood to check blood sugar levels -- as a test for stressful reaction.

This test is almost always painful for newborns, BBC News reports. The result: For premature babies who were cuddled after having a heel pin prick, pain scores after 90 seconds were much lower than for the babies not held and caressed by an adult.

Lead researcher Celeste Johnson said she found that cuddling seemed to assist in the baby's recovery from a painful experience. "The pain response in very preterm neonates appears to be reduced by skin-to-skin maternal contact," she told the BBC.

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New York City Man Dies After Taking Aphrodisiac Made from Toad Venom

An illegal aphrodisiac sold on the street under a variety of names has killed a 35-year-old New York City man, prompting health officials to issue an alert.

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