Health Highlights: Sept. 5, 2018

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

Large Rise Seen in Serious Birth Complications in U.S.

There has been a 45 percent increase in serious birth complications in U.S. hospitals in recent years, a new report says.

The rate rose from 101 per 10,000 delivery hospitalizations to 147 per 10,000 between 2006 and 2015, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

In 2015, rates of serious birth complications were highest among poor mothers, those older than 40, those who were uninsured or on Medicaid, and those who lived in large cities.

Rates of acute kidney failure, shock, mechanical ventilation use and sepsis at delivery all more than doubled during the 10-year period, the report said.

Some serious birth complications involved medical procedures.

For example, in 2015 blood transfusions were given in more than half of deliveries among mothers who were in shock, had an amniotic fluid embolism, were experiencing a sickle cell disease crisis or developed blood clots. One-third of women who went into shock while delivering had a hysterectomy.

There were significant racial and ethnic disparities among women who had severe complications during birth, according to the report, released Tuesday.

While there was an overall decrease in deaths, black women were three times more likely than white women to die as a result of delivering a baby in 2015 (11 versus 4 deaths per 100,000 delivery hospitalizations, respectively).

Compared with white women, severe delivery complications were 110 percent more likely among black women, 40 percent more likely among Hispanic women and 20 percent more likely among Asian/Pacific women.

“With these data in hand, state and federal agencies, patient safety experts and health systems can evaluate maternal morbidity trends in greater depth, a vital step before addressing the challenge,” AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna said in an agency news release.


Routine X-Rays, Blood Tests Not Needed for Children’s Concussions: CDC

Routine X-rays and blood tests should not be used to diagnose children’s concussions, new U.S. government guidelines say.

CT scans may be warranted if there are signs of more serious concussion, such as vomiting, unconsciousness and severe, worsening headaches, according to the guidelines released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Associated Press reported.

Parents should be reassured that in most cases, children’s concussion symptoms go away within one to three months, state the guidelines based on analysis of 25 years of scientific research.

The guidelines recommend that immediately after a concussion from any cause, children should refrain from physical and mental activity, including school and sports, and then gradually resume normal activities, the AP reported.

Parents should emphasize to their children the need to report any concussion symptoms right away, guidelines co-author and CDC brain injury specialist Matthew Breiding advised.

“Some children and teens think concussions aren’t serious or worry that if they report a concussion they will lose their position on the team or look weak. Remind them that it’s better to miss one game than the whole season,” he said.

The guidelines were published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

At least 1 million U.S. children suffer concussions each year, some estimates suggest, but the actual number is unknown because there is no national system to track them and many go untreated, the AP reported.


Plastic Trays in Airport Security Loaded with Respiratory Viruses

The highest levels of respiratory viruses at airports are on the plastic trays used at security checkpoints, a new study finds.

Researchers took samples from a variety of of surfaces at Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland during the winter of 2016 and found evidence of respiratory viruses on 10 percent of the surfaces.

The highest virus levels were found on plastic trays used at the hand luggage X-ray checkpoint, but viruses were also detected on shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children’s play areas and in the air.

No respiratory viruses were found on toilet surfaces, according to the study published Sept. 4 in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.

“This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread. People can help to minimize contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve at all times, but especially in public places. These simple precautions can help prevent pandemics and are most important in crowded areas like airports that have a high volume of people travelling to and from many different parts of the world,” said study author Jonathan Van Tam, a professor of health protection at the University of Nottingham, in the U.K.

“The presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has not been investigated previously. The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports. The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment,” study author Niina Ikonen, a virology expert at the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, said in a Nottingham news release.

Posted: September 2018

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