An article published Online First and in a future edition of The Lancet reports that the organisms causing bacterial infections in African children with sickle-cell anaemia are the same as those in developed countries. Vaccination against these bacterial infections could considerably improve survival in these children. Vaccines are already available in developed nations. The article is the work of Dr Thomas N Williams, KEMRI/Wellcome Trust Programme, Kilifi, Kenya, and colleagues across Africa and the UK. Before the diagnosis can be made, more than 90 percent of children with sickle-cell anaemia die in sub-Saharan Africa. The prognosis of patients born with sickle-cell anaemia in developed countries has significantly improved with the introduction of penicillin prophylaxis and immunisation with conjugate vaccines directed against S pneumonia and H influenzae type b.
A policy paper that identifies and analyzes the key drivers of health care costs has been released by the American College of Physicians (ACP). Controlling Health Care Costs While Promoting the Best Possible Health Outcomes provides nearly four dozen recommendations to achieve better quality care to more people. ACP is particularly concerned that the high cost of health care in the United States is not correlated with high quality and efficiency in the delivery of services or improved health outcomes. Public policymakers in the United States, like those in most other countries, have struggled to find ways to restrain rapidly rising health care costs while providing opportunities for all persons to live better and healthier lives.
Security personnel need to be able to find explosive materials and persons who have been in contact with them. To aid such searches, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with support from the Department of Homeland Security, has developed a new certified reference material, Standard Reference Material (SRM) 2905, Trace Particulate Explosives. Compatible with field and laboratory assay methods, the SRM will be helpful in calibrating, testing and developing standard best operating procedures for trace-explosives detectors. Most air travelers have probably had some experience with prototype walkthrough portal or tabletop-type trace explosive detectors.
Growing evidence shows that exposure to lead in the environment is associated with cardiovascular disease, including increased risk of hypertension. However, those studies have looked at lead concentrations in blood, not bone lead, a better indicator of cumulative lead exposure over time. In a new study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that bone lead was associated with a higher risk of death from all causes, particularly from cardiovascular disease. It is the first study to analyze the association between bone lead and mortality. The study appears online on September 8, 2009, on the website of the journal Circulation and will appear in a later print edition.
Traffic noise raises blood pressure. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health have found that people exposed to high levels of noise from nearby roads are more likely to report suffering from hypertension. Theo Bodin worked with a team or researchers from Lund University Hospital, Sweden, to investigate the association between living close to noisy roads and having raised blood pressure. He said, "Road traffic is the most important source of community noise. Non-auditory physical health effects that are biologically plausible in relation to noise exposure include changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of stress hormones.
A doctor who developed Guillain-BarrĂ syndrome will consider having the swine flu jab when she returns to work this autumn, despite claims that the vaccine is linked to an increased risk of the disease. Laura Claire Price, a specialist in respiratory and intensive care medicine, examines the reasons why the vaccine might cause the syndrome, reviews the current evidence, and concludes that she will consider having the jab when it becomes available. "In view of the potential risks of flu infection as a healthcare professional, the lack of relapse of the syndrome in a sizeable number of people who have had the flu vaccine, and the lack of a persistent causal association, my current view is to consider having the jab when it becomes available, " she writes.