Week of June 21 - 25, 2010

Healthy Living From 2 to 12
...Parents often misclassify their child's weight status. Between the ages of 3 and 8, children naturally tend to slim out, says Dr. Eliana Perrin, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; some parents mistakenly think they need to be fattened up. At the same time, parents often overlook obesity in older kids. A routine BMI measurement, followed by a consultation with the child's doctor, can raise awareness and help parents provide effective nutritional and exercise strategies for their children immediately.

Art program helps those coping with mental illness
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
"Brushes with Life: Art, Artists, and Mental Illness," the award-winning creative arts program supporting recovery for people living with severe mental illness, is hosting a public reception to celebrate the opening of its 16th art exhibition from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on the third floor of the UNC Neurosciences Hospital. ..."We're excited to celebrate and recognize the talent of our patient artists," says John Gilmore, the Thad and Alice Eure Distinguished Professor in the UNC Department of Psychiatry and director of the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health. "We know that medical treatment is vital for a person's recovery from mental illness, but we also know that involvement in activities like the creative arts supports that process as well."

Itch Alternatives
Wall Street Journal
Some doctors discourage kitchen-cupboard remedies, but others say many can be safe complements to traditional medical treatment. Here's the take of three physicians: Tim Berger, vice chairman of the dermatology department at the University of California at San Francisco; Maya Jerath, an allergist with the allergy and immunology clinic at the UNC Health Care System, in Chapel Hill, N.C., and Alan Dattner, a New York holistic dermatologist.

Haiti burn victim shares his story of recovery
WRAL-TV (CBS/Raleigh)
A survivor of the January earthquake that devastated Haiti visited a Raleigh church Sunday to talk about his recovery from severe burns. Eric Louis, a construction worker, was next to a gas station that exploded when the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit on Jan. 12. A third of his body had second- and third-degree burns, particularly his head, hands, back and toes. Louis arrived at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill two weeks after the earthquake. He underwent six major surgeries, including four skin grafts.

Gut bacteria could be key indicator of colon cancer risk (Blog)
The human body contains more bacteria than it does cells. These bacterial communities can have a positive effect on our health, by training our immune systems and helping to metabolize the foods we eat. But they can also set us up to develop digestive disorders, skin diseases, and obesity. Now a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine suggests that a shift in the balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria that populate our gut could be a harbinger of colon cancer.

Project to build health database
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
A research team headed by UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State scientists wants to speed up sharing of the medical data routinely collected by doctors, veterinarians and other health providers across the state. Doing so could even stop a terror attack, the researchers say. ...The project could detect a bioterror attack - such as a poisoned water or food supply - early enough to minimize casualties. It would also have more routine applications. Vets could use it to better estimate the start of tick season, and doctors could use it to predict heart attacks by looking at a broad array of common symptoms, said Charles Cairns, chairman of UNC's department of emergency medicine, who is leading the project with NCSU's Hoit.
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Babies of people with schizophrenia have abnormal brain structures
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
In what could be a clue about the origins of schizophrenia, researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill have identified abnormalities in the brains of babies born to schizophrenic patients. Children of people with schizophrenia are at significantly higher risk of developing the severe mental illness, so brain abnormalities early in life may be an indication of problems later. The scientists said they plan to track the youngsters as the grow to see if the different brain structures correlate to disease development.

Lineberger Center adds two executives
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has appointed two new associate directors to lead and develop strategic priorities as the center expands clinical programs in the new N.C. Cancer Hospital and research initiatives among its 300 faculty members. Lisa Carey has been named associate director for clinical science, and Ned Sharpless has been named associate director for translational research for the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Schizophrenia risk explored
The Chapel Hill Herald
...In a paper published recently online by the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers at UNC and Columbia University provide the first evidence that brain abnormalities associated with schizophrenia risk are detectable in babies only a few weeks old. "It allows us to start thinking about how we can identify kids at risk for schizophrenia very early and whether there are things that we can do very early on to lessen the risk," said lead study author John H. Gilmore, professor of psychiatry and director of the UNC Schizophrenia Research Center.

UNC Part Of Bioterrorism Initiative
WCHL 1360-AM (Chapel Hill)
Healthcare will soon see revolutionary developments with the beginning of a new national model to indicate possible public health threats. The North Carolina Bio-Preparedness Collaborative will alert health officials within hours of symptom outbreaks that might indicate threats such as a bioterrorist attack or food-borne illness.  Professor and Chair of the UNC Department of Emergency Medicine Dr. Charles Cairns is the Principal Investigator for the project.  

Patricia Gregory-Lynch, Professor of medicine
The Washington Post
Patricia C. Gregory-Lynch, 45, an assistant professor in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine since 2005, died June 13 at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, N.C., of a cerebral edema, or swelling in the brain. She had lived in Chapel Hill since 2005.

Heat cramps are the first sign of heat injury
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
It's not just uncomfortable out there. It could be fatal. As the temperature soared over the last few days the risk of heat stroke increased. ...At UNC Hospitals, emergency room physicians had seen only one patient who came in for a heat-related illness Thursday, said spokesman Tom Hughes. But the overall number of ER patients had increased over the last few days, which might be attributable to the weather, Hughes said.

Personalized Medicine & the Law
"The State of Things" WUNC-FM
Ten years ago President Bill Clinton shook the hands of two scientists whose teams had mapped the human genome and, quite possibly, fashioned the key that would unlock the secret of life. Certainly the field of genetics has changed, as have the laws governing patents and profits from medical tests and research. But how have those changes affected the practice of medicine? One result is a push toward the systematic use of personalized information about individual patients to optimize their care and treatment. Host Frank Stasio discusses personalized medicine and the law with James P. Evans MD, Ph.D, the Bryson Professor of Genetics and Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Myasthenia gravis often misdiagnosed, misunderstood
WRAL-TV (CBS/Raleigh)
A drooping eyelid could be more than just a sign of aging. Physicians said it could indicate someone has myasthenia gravis. The symptoms of the autoimmune disease can be vague, so many doctors misdiagnose it and some patients might go without proper treatment for a long time. Dr. James Howard, a neurologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said symptoms of myasthenia gravis include chronic muscle fatigue, weakness, blurred vision or double vision, slurred speech and difficulty chewing or swallowing. The only visible symptom, however, is a droopy eyelid.

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