STAT Medical News: Frat and Sorority Members More Likely to Get Drunk, Injured

UNDER FRATERNITY INFLUENCE? According to a study of more than 10,600 students at North Carolina universities, members or pledges of college fraternities and sororities are twice as likely as non-Greek students to get drunk weekly, and are more likely to be injured or injure someone else. The student survey finds that 90 percent of Greek members reported drinking alcohol within the past 30 days, compared to 65 percent of other students. Sixty percent of Greek members reported getting drunk weekly compared to 32 percent of non-Greeks. Greeks who got drunk weekly were also twice as likely to experience at least one injury and more than twice as likely to cause injury to someone else. Researchers from Wake Forest presented these findings at the annual Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in San Francisco.

POLICE PURSUITS Police pursuits accounted for a very small portion (less than 1 percent) of fatal crashes reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration between 1992 and 2004, according to new findings presented at the annual Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in San Francisco. However, of the 7,430 fatalities related to police pursuits, 27 percent -- or almost 2,000 deaths -- involved bystanders. Alcohol was involved in 62 percent of the fatalities. Of the very small percentage of police officers killed in these pursuits (81 in total, or 1 percent of all deaths), 25 percent of officers were intoxicated at the time of their deaths.

CAFFEINE FOR PREEMIES Treating premature babies with caffeine appears to reduce the risk of short-term lung problems, finds a randomized controlled study of 2006 infants published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Canadian researchers show that treatment with caffeine helps keep the babies breathing regularly, thus reducing the risk of lung disease. However, these babies were studied for a few weeks, and doctors need more long-term results to ensure safety before widely adapting caffeine treatment for premature infants. To watch more on this, click here.

NEW BACTERIA BUSTER Researchers working for the pharmaceutical company Merck believe they may have found a potent new weapon in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The new drug, platensimycin, is detailed in the journal Nature. Animal and laboratory studies show that the drug is effective at killing methicillin-resistant S. aureus, also known as MRSA bacteria, which have caused infections in the U.S. at epidemic levels. The new antibiotic is also effective against bacteria that are resistant to the drug Vancomycin and does not appear to cause any toxic side effects. For more on this, click here

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

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