Jan. 7 - 11, 2013

National Coverage

How much alcohol is safe for expectant mothers?
...Nobody questions the notion that heavy drinking during pregnancy is harmful. It can cause facial abnormalities, central nervous system problems and stunted growth. But evidence regarding the effects of light or occasional drinking is mixed. ...Because of such findings and all the other uncertainties, policy makers are unlikely to ever give the green light to occasional drinking during pregnancy. “We will never, ever, ever know how much is safe for every individual,” says biologist Kathleen K. Sulik of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Needed: More Attention to Boys’ Development (Blog)
The New York Times
...Compared with the physical development of girls, these modest increases in testicular volume are not really noticeable to parents, or even to the boys themselves, said Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, adjunct professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina. But a 2012 study of 4,131 boys by Dr. Herman-Giddens and her colleagues found that subtle testicular enlargement, which signals the onset of puberty, is happening earlier than seen in previous studies.

Why No One Really Knows If Moderate Drinking Is Safe for Pregnant Women (Blog)
The New York Times
Is moderate drinking (less than one drink a day) safe during pregnancy? ...Best summed up in a quote from one of her sources, the  biologist Kathleen K. Sulik of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We will never, ever, ever know how much is safe for every individual.”

Breast Pumps Now Covered By Insurance, But Does It Help?
The Huffington Post
..."What this [provision] says is that breastfeeding is a real part of the health care continuum," said Alison Stuebe, an OB-GYN and assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina. "It is not gratuitous, and it's something that all women should have access to and support for. I think that is a huge step forward."

Binge Drinking Common Among U.S. Women, Girls: CDC
HealthDay News
...One expert said the report confirms earlier research. "This report reiterates what has been known to be a problem for some time -- girls and women binge drink at significant levels," said Dr. J.C. Garbutt, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "We know that the risk for many medical, behavioral and social problems rises as the level of consumption rises," he added.

New Therapy for Peanut Allergy Shows Promise
Voice of America
...Wesley Burks, chairman of the department of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, led the study.  He says 20 peanut-sensitive adolescents at two centers were given liquid containing miniscule amounts of peanut powder which they held under their tongue for two minutes before swallowing, while 20 received a placebo, or inactive, liquid.

Study finds increase in unused transplant livers
Reuters (Wire Service)
The number of donor livers thrown away in the U.S. has increased since 2004 due - in part - to a population growing older and heavier, according to a new study that also points to changes in medical practice that may make some donor livers less viable. "The rationale for looking at this question in the first place is that the number of liver transplants done in the U.S. has gone down," said the study's lead author Dr. Eric Orman, a fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

State and Local Coverage

Paul Milligan: And the cost?
News & Observer
Regarding the Dec. 30 article “UNC hospitals switch to restaurant-delivery model”: Let’s see a follow-up answering the questions you seemingly didn’t ask: How much do those two chocolate chip cookies cost on the patient’s bill? What about the tea and chocolate-dipped fresh strawberries? The red-wine-marinated London Broil? A cheeseburger combo? Fried chicken?

UNC Cranio-Facial Center to receive national award
WRAL-TV (CBS/Raleigh)
The care necessary for children born with cleft lip or palate is often extensive, requiring several surgeries and years of post-surgical care and support. Between 1 in 500 to 700 children born in the United States have a cleft lip or palate, making it the most common facial or cranial abnormality present in infants. The Cranio-Facial Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hospital recently received a national award for its work with these and other patients. 

Risk genes for Alzheimer’s, mental illness linked to brain changes at birth
The Chapel Hill Herald
Some brain changes that are found in adults with common gene variants linked to disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and autism can also be seen in the brain scans of newborns. “These results suggest that prenatal brain development may be a very important influence on psychiatric risk later in life,” said Rebecca C. Knickmeyer, Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychiatry in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The study was published online by the journal Cerebral Cortex on Thursday.

UNC Health Care and Wake County Sign Lease for WakeBrook Campus
Raleigh Public Record
After some delay, Wake County Commissioners have approved a lease with UNC Health Care to take over operations at WakeBrook Recovery Center. The county is working with other counties in the area to create a regional mental health organization as required by a state law that took effect last year.

UNC scientists: Using virus to deliver genetic material slows kids' illness
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
...This form of gene therapy was created at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the viral vehicle and genetic cargo used in the study were developed there at the medical school’s Gene Therapy Center. Center director R. Jude Samulski was a senior author of the study, which began in 2001 and tracked 13 children who received the treatment.

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