When Becky Haraway was five months pregnant with her daughter Haley, she and her husband, Neal Haraway, learned very quickly that after Haley was born, raising her would not be an easy feat.
Born with spina bifida - a birth defect that occurs when vertebrae of the spine do not form properly around part of a baby's spinal cord - Haley was later diagnosed with Arnold Chiari malformation, in which brain tissue extends into the spinal cord.
Although Haley's condition left them confused and overwhelmed at first, Becky and Neal Haraway's faith never wavered.
"We started our research on her condition. We wanted to be educated and prepared to be able to help our child live the most normal life she could with her diagnosis, not knowing there would be way more medical challenges than just a disability ahead," Becky Haraway said.
The birth defect, which affects about 1,500 babies each year, affects each person differently, said Dr. Michael Gayle, chief of Pediatric Critical Care at Wolfson Children's Hospital and co-medical director of the hospital's Pediatric Transport Program, Kids Kare, at Jacksonville.
By DR. DAVID LIPSCHITZ
More than half of the American population takes at least one nutritional supplement daily. The hope is that life will be prolonged, disease prevented, vim and vigor improved, and a better sex life achieved. Many physicians, nutritionists and other "anti-aging" experts maintain that the right concoction of these essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients will improve and prevent many physical and other problems that impair our quality of life.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force has just presented its evaluation of multivitamin, vitamin or mineral supplements on the promotion of health and the prevention of disease. Its report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, indicates that there is insufficient information either for or against the use of vitamins or minerals to prolong life or prevent cancer or heart disease.
The report did note that beta carotene and vitamin E can do more harm than good. Beta carotene can increase the risk of lung cancer in susceptible individuals, and there is no evidence that vitamin E can prevent any disease. Not mentioned in this report is evidence that vitamin A, E and C in very large doses can increase cancer risk, Alzheimer's and even shorten life expectancy.
Iron is another mineral that, when taken in excess, can cause more harm than good. In the last 50 years, the amount of iron in the body has gradually increased.
Antibiotics caution urged for children
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guiding principles for doctors treating kids with troublesome ear infections, sinus infections and sore throats - ailments likely to provoke antibiotic treatment:
* Determine the likelihood of a bacterial infection. If the source of the ailment is viral, antibiotics won't work.
* Weigh benefits versus risks. Antibiotics can reduce symptoms and prevent complications of an infection, but they can also carry side effects and speed antibiotic resistance.
* Implement accurate prescribing strategies. Choose the appropriate antibiotic at the appropriate dosage for the shortest duration required. Antibiotics aren't fully effective if not taken for the entire time they're prescribed.
By MARILYNN MARCHIONE
BOSTON -- Doctors are reporting an epidemic -- of twins. Nearly half of all babies born with advanced fertility help are multiple births, new federal numbers show.
In the five years since the "Octomom" case, big multiple births have gone way down but the twin rate has barely budged. Twins aren't always twice as nice; they have much higher risks of prematurity and serious health problems.
Now fertility experts are pushing a new goal: One. A growing number of couples are attempting pregnancy with just a single embryo, helped by new ways to pick the ones most likely to succeed. New guidelines urge doctors to stress this approach.
Abigail and Ken Ernst of Oldwick, N.J., did this to conceive Lucy, a daughter born in September. Using one embryo at a time "just seemed the most normal, the most natural way" to conceive and avoid a high-risk twin pregnancy, the new mom said.
By DR. DAVID LIPSCHITZ
For people who have had a heart attack or are known to have narrowed coronary arteries that cause shortness of breath or chest pain, lowering cholesterol by prescribing a statin significantly decreases the risk of another heart attack by 54 percent, stroke by 48 percent and the overall risk of death by 20 percent.
Treating someone with a statin who has heart disease is called secondary prevention. But whether statin treatment lowers the risk of heart disease in someone who has no history of it is a more difficult question.
In this instance, lowering cholesterol by prescribing a statin is referred to as primary prevention, or in other words, preventing a problem before it occurs.
Recently, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology issued new guidelines for the use of statins to prevent heart attacks and strokes. If universally accepted, the number of adults on these medications would increase from the current 36 million to 72 million in the near future.
The hustle and bustle of the holidays may have residents reeling with anticipation, but for some the season can present emotional challenges.
Hospice recognizes this and does what it can to help make this time of year easier for patients and their families.
"The holidays are a very stressful time for many, especially those facing life-limiting illnesses and their caregivers. Each year, the Auxiliary of Hospice of the Golden Isles donates food to fill boxes to be taken to the homes of our patients and families. These boxes contain a turkey, canned goods, potatoes, pies, etc. - enough to make a full holiday meal," Broderick said.
Hospice inspires help from others in the community as well.
"Several churches donate their time to come to our facility during the holidays to help decorate and to sing carols for our patients and their families...(and) volunteers decorate and fill stockings for our in-patient and residential patients," Broderick said. "We have beautiful poinsettias donated to our facility that we deliver to families in the field close to Christmas after we have enjoyed them for a bit. This is very uplifting for everyone.