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Am Fam Physician. 1998;57(7):1475-1476

Wait—don't toss that umbilical cord just yet! It may still have some life-saving left to do. At Duke University Medical Center, a patient with acute lymphocytic leukemia needed a bone marrow transplant badly, but no match was available. Doctors decided to try placental blood, which had helped sick children but had not been tested in adult trials. After 10 days of irradiation and chemotherapy, the patient received the cord blood and has been on the road to recovery ever since.

Findings of the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 showed that 11 percent of white mothers stayed out of the work force for 10 years following the birth of their first child, compared with only 2 percent of black mothers. Another 13 percent of white mothers stayed in the labor force the entire 10 years, versus 35 percent of black mothers. The rest of the mothers alternated periods of work with homemaking, school or other nonwork activities, says American Demographics.

Seventy-one percent of households report having a snorer. Of adults age 18 and older, 45 percent admit they themselves snore, 35 percent have a snoring partner, 12 percent, a snoring child, and 9 percent, a snoring pet. About 28 percent say their loved one's snoring sounds like a buzz saw; 24 percent, a rumbling train; 19 percent, a whippoorwill and 10 percent, a jackhammer. A couple of the survey respondents said that their loved one's snoring sounds like a pig, according to the SNORP Snoring Survey.

Solo workouts at home might be easier to stick with than group exercise programs. According to University of Florida researchers, who conducted a 15-month diet and exercise study comparing home exercisers with group exercisers, the home exercisers were more likely to have stuck with their programs all the way to the end of the study period. The home exercisers lost an average of 25 lb, while the group exercisers lost only 15 lb. Researchers speculated that having trouble getting to the group exercise site is sometimes the main reason for quitting.

Great expectations: A survey reported in USA Today asked first-time moms if the delivery was all that they had envisioned. Thirty-six percent of the new moms said the delivery was more difficult than they had anticipated, 31 percent said it was less difficult and 20 percent said it was about what they had expected. Thirteen percent said they had not known what to expect.

Your mother told you to stay off the streets. Allergens in paved-road dust samples that were vacuumed from the streets of three communities in southern California triggered skin reactions in one out of four allergic study participants, according to a report in Internal Medicine News. None of the non-allergic participants reacted to either the road dust extracts or the control allergens.

3-D glasses are being used for more than just movie viewing these days. Heart surgeons are donning virtual reality spectacles to help them perform intricate procedures without having to open the patient's chest, reducing both recovery time and risk of infection. Tiny cameras and lights, which are inserted through small incisions into the surgery site, relay images to the glasses. The glasses receive images that are much clearer than those projected onto a screen, the usual method for these types of procedures, according to the University of Louisville News Service.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can possibly linger a decade or longer. In one study, 16 of 85 patients with Lyme disease still had some apparent effects of the disease 10 to 20 years after infection. Of 31 patients who originally had facial palsy, two continued to have neuroborreliosis and seven had mild residual facial-nerve deficits. They also suffered from sleep and memory problems and “pins and needles,” reports Physician's Weekly. Of 29 patients with Lyme arthritis, one had neuroborreliosis and six had pain or range-of-motion limitation in the knee, suggesting secondary osteoarthritis.

High blood pressure equals decreased sexual activity, according to a study conducted by Bassett Healthcare, reported in Time. Hypertension causes difficulty with vaginal lubrication and orgasm for women, regardless of whether they're taking medication to control their blood pressure. Men, on the other hand, may have side effects from blood pressure medications, causing difficulty in achieving erection and ejaculation.

Americans love their crunchy, salty snacks. Potato chips are bought in about 89 percent of U.S. households every year, with normal replenishing of supplies once every three weeks. Tortilla chips are purchased by 76 percent of households, with supplies replenished about once every 32 days, and 63 percent of households buy pretzels, purchasing more about once every 37 days, reports American Demographics.

Bicycle helmets may prevent serious head injuries in sledders. Fifty-six percent of the sledding injuries seen by physicians at Geisinger Medical Center over a three-year period involved head trauma. Of 27 sledders, 16 suffered major head and face injuries, three had skull fractures and two had facial bone fractures. None were wearing helmets at the time of injury, according to Physician's Weekly.

The direct-to-consumer advertising strategy employed by pharmaceutical companies—the one that has them placing their ads on TV—has apparently started to work. “Pushy patients” are not only demanding more prescriptions, they're demanding certain brands, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Spending on consumer ads was close to $1 billion in 1997, compared to about $596 million in 1996.

Is it possible that a dog could sense a seizure coming on in its owner? University of Florida researchers have set out to determine if this phenomenon, reported in the popular press and in dog-related publications, is real. If it is, patients suffering from seizures may be able to have the advantage of finding a safe environment and/or taking medication before the seizure begins.

Black women are making up a larger percentage of medical school graduates than ever before. In the Women Physicians' Health Study, which interviewed 4,500 female physicians from across the United States, a little over 7 percent of women in internal medicine were black. The group also made up 5 percent of female physicians in obstetrics and gynecology, 4.7 percent of women in pediatrics, 4.1 percent of women in family medicine and 3 percent of women in psychiatry, according to Family Practice News.

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Copyright © 1998 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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