HealthWise at 5 From 10.18 - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/18/02

HealthWise at 5 From 10.18

  • Hepatitis Drug

There's a new treatment option for people with the most common and hardest to treat strain of Hepatitis C. "Pegasys", a once-a-week version of the drug Interferon-A was just approved by the FDA. A study of more than a thousand people with hepatitis showed that when combined with an anti-viral medication, Pegasys works better than the standard therapy, and causes fewer side effects. Type-1 hepatitis C often doesn't respond to treatment. Of the six different strains of the disease, approximately 70% of Hepatitis patients in North America are infected with Type 1.

Pegasys is expected to be available in pharmacies in about two weeks. The drug is manufactured by Roche Pharmaceuticals. Hepatitis C is a life-threatening viral infection of the liver transmitted primarily through infected blood and blood products. Approximately 2.7 million Americans and 170 million people worldwide are chronically infected with HCV.

HCV is often described as "silent" because people may be infected for 10 to 30 years and not exhibit symptoms, yet still be carrying the virus. While many patients with HCV will not develop complications from their liver disease, chronic Hepatitis C is still a leading cause of cirrhosis and Liver Cancer and is the leading cause for liver transplants in this country.

  • Snoring Stroke

How much you snore could predict your chances of suffering a Stroke. A new Italian study involved 400 patients. Half were Stroke survivors. Researchers found snoring to be much more common among the Stroke patients than the healthy study participants. 40% of the Stroke patients were habitual, heavy snorers compared to only 29% of the healthy patients. What's more, only a few of the Snoring Stroke survivors had sleep apnea, a condition in which patients stop breathing several times a night and oxygen flow to the brain can be reduced. The study was conducted by researchers at Perugia University in Italy. It was presented at a meeting of the Italian Association of Sleep Medicine.

  • Drinking During Pregnancy and Long-Term Child Development

Researchers are discovering that drinking during pregnancy may have long term effects on a child's development. In one of the first studies to follow children exposed to alcohol in the womb through adolescence, researchers found at age 14, the children of drinking moms weighed up to 16 pounds less, on average than children who were not exposed to alcohol. They were also shorter and had smaller heads. The size difference was greater, the more mother drank during pregnancy, but researchers at the University of Pittsburgh add that there was a difference even among children whose mothers averaged less than a drink a day. Suggesting that even small amounts of alcohol can affect development.

Researchers say that most women in the study stopped or cut down on drinking as their pregnancy progressed. But note that first trimester is a crucial time and not all women make big changes or get prenatal care during those first few months.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and is published in the October Journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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