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Am Fam Physician. 2007;76(7):933-934


According to a survey conducted by Learndirect, an adult learning organization based in the United Kingdom, 10 percent of parents have difficulty understanding the bedtime stories they read to their children. The survey included 1,000 parents, each of whom had one or more children between the ages of five and 10 years. Twenty-three percent of the parents said they invent words to get to the end of a sentence or skip passages they can't read. The poll also found that 20 percent of parents had difficulty helping their children with homework from English class. However, 73 percent said they preferred reading to their children over watching television or playing with them outside. (Guardian Unlimited, July 24, 2007)


Could mummies unearthed in South Korea provide clues to the evolution of the hepatitis B virus (HBV)? Researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem intend to study the body of a child with HBV infection who was mummified 500 years ago. They hope to analyze the genome of the 500-year-old virus to determine if any significant evolutionary changes have occurred over time, and to provide answers that may help public health officials combat HBV. In South Korea, the need to understand HBV is significant, because 12 percent of the population are carriers compared with an average of 5 percent in the rest of the world. (The ebrew University of Jerusalem news release, July 25, 2007)


Are you a healthy role model? Study results from Health Services Research suggest that people who improve their own health behavior (e.g., quit smoking, eat healthier, exercise) are more likely to influence their spouse to do the same. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, researchers surveyed 12,652 people from 7,702 households about many aspects of their lives, including health behaviors and use of preventive services. The researchers found that when one spouse modified his or her behavior, the other spouse was likely to adjust his or her own behavior accordingly. The association was strongest among spouses who stopped smoking and drinking, but it was weaker among spouses who began vigorous exercise programs or had a cholesterol test. Researchers also found that husbands whose wives received an annual influenza shot had a 60 percent likelihood of getting the shot themselves, compared with a 21 percent likelihood among husbands whose wives did not get the shot. (Health Serv Res, published online July 5, 2007)


According to a study published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery, women who undergo breast augmentation are at an increased risk of suicide or death from alcohol or drug dependence and abuse. The researchers studied 3,527 Swedish women who had breast augmentation surgery. Over a mean of 18.7 years of follow-up, researchers found that women who had breast augmentation were three times more likely to die from suicide and alcohol or drug abuse compared with the age-matched female population. However, the increased risk of suicide was not apparent until 10 years after the procedure. The researchers note that the excess deaths from suicide and drug or alcohol abuse or dependence are likely related to underlying psychiatric morbidity in these patients. Therefore, they recommend that women considering breast augmentation be screened for psychiatric disorders before surgery and that their mental health be monitored after surgery. (Ann Plast Surg, August 2007)


Would getting paid to lose weight help your patients keep the pounds off? The mayor of Varallo, Italy, has announced a town-wide group diet in which overweight residents will be paid to shed their excess pounds. Men who lose 9 lbs (4 kg) and women who lose 7 lbs (3 kg) in one month will be paid the equivalent of $70. Those who maintain the weight loss for five months will earn an additional $280. According to the European Union, about 35 percent of Italians are overweight or obese, possibly because much of the country's healthy Mediterranean diet has been replaced by processed foods high in sugar, salt, and fat. (Reuters, August 13, 2007)

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Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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