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Posted - Apr. 28, 2004 at 8:40 a.m.



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Apr 28, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- ANTHRAX SYMPTOMS PERSIST ONE YEAR LATER

People infected with anthrax continued to report poor health, poor life adjustment and psychological distress one year after their exposure. In 2001, bioterrorist attacks involving the U.S. Postal Service infected 22 individuals with anthrax. Little is known about its long-term health effects. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found eight of the 15 survivors they examined a year later had still not returned to work. Anthrax inhalation survivors were in worse overall physical health than those who had come into physical contact with it, but medical records did not explain the health complaints, which included swelling and pain, chronic cough, fatigue and memory problems. Mental health problems included depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior and hostility. Terrorism survivors should be closely watched for medically unexplained health complaints, and psychiatric and medical systems should be better coordinated in such events, the authors concluded.

PRENATAL X-RAYS LINKED TO LOW BIRTH WEIGHT

Women who have dental X-rays during pregnancy are three times as likely to give birth to underweight babies, a study shows. University of Washington researchers said they have not found the cause of the association, but lead investigator Dr. Philippe Hujoel said he was surprised by the findings. Current guidelines allow only low-dose exposure for pregnant women and protect the uterus and fetus from exposure, but do not protect the mother's head and neck region, where hormonal signals may be disrupted, he said. Women should continue receiving X-rays for dental problems and should always inform a dentist about a pregnancy, since most dentists already are hesitant to take elective X-rays during pregnancy.

DISPARITY IN EPILEPSY SURGERY

African-Americans are less than half as likely as non-Hispanic whites to undergo surgery for temporal lobe epilepsy, according to a new study. The difference in surgery rates is independent of other demographic, socioeconomic and clinical variables, including availability of medical insurance, said lead author Dr. Jorge Burneo, of the Epilepsy Center at University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center. Surgery for medically intractable temporal lobe epilepsy "is no longer an intervention of last resort," said Burneo, and often is considered early because it may lead to freedom from seizures. When the condition is due to mesial temporal sclerosis -- among the most common causes of temporal lobe epilepsy -- the surgery has a success rate of 60 percent in randomized controlled trials. "Race appears to be an important factor related to such disparities, but the causes remain unclear, and they appear not to be related to a difference in access to care," Burneo said.

TELECONFERENCE TO ADDRESS BREAST CANCER

Duke and Stanford University researchers will help explain breast cancer treatments during a two-part teleconference May 12 and June 22. The goal is to help those affected by breast cancer understand the latest research on treatments and to recommend ways to improve quality of life. Part one of the free, national event, presented by the non-profit educational organization Living Beyond Breast Cancer, will cover how aromatase inhibitors work, who should consider treatment, and the timing and duration of treatment. Potential topics for discussion include recent clinical trials and their outcomes, the effectiveness of aromatase inhibitors versus tamoxifen in treating postmenopausal breast cancer, advanced breast cancer and aromatase inhibitors, and major side effects and how to manage them. Part two will focus on new breast cancer research presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting and how it could affect health and quality of life. Both programs begin with a brief speaker presentation, followed by a question and answer session with participants. To register, go to lbbc.org or call (610) 645-4567.

(Editors: For more information about ANTHRAX, contact Gail Hayes at (770) 488-4902. For X-RAY, Pam Sowers at (206) 685-4232 or sowerspl@u.washington.edu. For RACE, Kathy Stone at (651) 695-2763 or kstone@aan.com. For TELECONFERENCE, Janine Guglielmino or Alexa Blasdel at (610) 645-4567 or e-mail janine@lbbc.org)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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