April 11 - 15

Girls hit puberty earlier than ever, and doctors aren't sure why
USA Today
...Girls are being catapulted into adolescence long before their brains are ready for the change — a phenomenon that poses serious risks to their health, says Marcia Herman-Giddens, an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. ...Researchers don't completely understand why the age of puberty is falling, Herman-Giddens says. Most agree that several forces are at work, from obesity to hormone-like environmental chemicals. There's no evidence that boys are maturing any earlier, says Paul Kaplowitz, author of Early Puberty in Girls.

Rodent of the Week: A message from mice to teens about binge drinking
The Los Angeles Times
The brain changes caused by alcohol use may be subtle, but they carry important consequences over time, said the lead author of the study, Fulton Crews, director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina

What not to wear, dermatology edition
The Los Angeles Times
...The biggest controversy appears to involve whether skin specialists should wear their iconic white coats into the exam room or leave them in their offices. A survey reported this week in Archives of Dermatology found that 54% of adult patients want their dermatologist to wear the coats; however, only 26% of parents who brought their children to a pediatric dermatologist think the white coat is helpful in that setting. ...The survey administrators, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, note that children in particular "may feel intimidated by a white coat,' which is why many pediatricians choose not to wear them.
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Health Buzz: Catherine Zeta-Jones Treated for Form of Bipolar Disorder
U.S. News & World Report
Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones recently sought treatments for bipolar II disorder, a condition characterized by prolonged "low" periods, her rep confirmed Wednesday. Zeta-Jones, who checked into a mental health facility in Connecticut, has supported her husband Michael Douglas through his battle with throat cancer over the past year—and experts say such stress can trigger the condition. ... Bradley Gaynes, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, notes that a positive result doesn't mean you have a psychiatric illness. But it does mean you're "having some distressing psychiatric symptoms" and might benefit from expert attention.

Researchers work to treat autism
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
To parents, learning that a child has been diagnosed with autism can be overwhelming. Children with the disorder can seem trapped in a world of their own, without friends or even a conception of friendship. Many prefer to play alone. Some lose the ability to speak more than a few words. But researchers at UNC are making progress in developing new techniques to detect and treat the disorder, said Geraldine Dawson, a professor of psychiatry at UNC and chief science officer for Autism Speaks, a research and advocacy organization.

Med Air on schedule to move to RDU this summer
The Chapel Hill Herald
The UNC Medical Air Operation is on schedule to move from Horace Williams Airport to a new hangar at RDU International Airport sometime in July or August. The move won't impact general aviation operations at Horace Williams immediately. The airport will remain open until the Carolina North research campus project, stalled due to the current economic doldrums, gets under way.

High-fat diets and diabetes are linked
Times of India
... Now, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine found that saturated fatty acids but not the unsaturated type can activate immune cells to produce an inflammatory protein, called interleukin-1beta. "The cellular path that mediates fatty acid metabolism is also the one that causes interleukin-1beta production," said senior study co-author Jenny Y. Ting, William Kenan Rand Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Blue Cross ad campaign looks at health care costs
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
...Even as the federal health overhaul reshapes the industry, Blue Cross will need to provide solutions to costs, such as offering more coverage that promotes healthful behavior and steering patients to the highest-quality and lowest-cost doctors, McDonnell said. Those efforts will require Blue Cross to get cooperation from various groups, including providers and consumers. The insurer is working on some good concepts for controlling costs, including a new type of medical clinic for its members that's being developed with the UNC Health Care System, Linker said.

Pardee Hospital to explore affiliation with UNC Health Care
Asheville Citizen-Times
The Henderson County-owned hospital is not for sale, but talks could end with UNC managing the 222-bed facility, said Bill Lapsley, chairman of the Pardee Hospital board of directors.
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UNC Health Care sees growth
The Daily Tar Heel
UNC Health Care will likely have to look off campus or renovate current spaces when considering growth of its facilities. In the last two to three months, patient beds have been occupied at 90 percent to 100 percent — the symptom of an aging and growing Triangle population — and UNC Health Care is among many area providers trying to figure out how to best serve patients.

A revealing cut: [Not] caring for people without insurance at UNC Hospitals
The Progressive Pulse
Simply put, every year taxpayers fund UNC Hospitals, NC’s main public hospital, with about $44 million to help offset some of the care for thousands of uninsured patients UNC cares for every year.  Why?  Because UNC, despite any faults and missteps, is the main “tertiary” public hospital in the state.  Get burned and need specialized care?  UNC is the only place to go and they will care for you with or without coverage.

3 from UNC, 1 from Duke get Cancer Society grants

The Herald-Sun (Durham)
The American Cancer Society has awarded four grants totaling $2,634,000 to researchers at UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University. The grants, which take effect July 1, are among 132 national research and training grants totaling $51,473,000 in the second of two grants cycles for 2011. With the support of the American Cancer Society, researchers are focusing on new discoveries to help eliminate cancer as a major health problem.

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