Public Health News Roundup: November 12
Overweight, Obese Women at Higher Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Being overweight increases the chance that a woman will develop rheumatoid arthritis, according to preliminary study findings presented at the American College of Rheumatology in Washington, D.C. Approximately 1.3 million people in the United States have the disease, which causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of joint function. The results come from two studies: the Nurses' Health Study for women ages 30-55 and the Nurses' Health Study II for women ages 25-42. Overweight women were at 19 percent higher risk in the first study and 78 percent in the second; obese women were at 18 percent higher risk in the first and 73 percent in the second. While the results support previous studies suggesting a connection between excessive weight and rheumatoid arthritis, researchers were careful to note the study did not prove cause and effect. Read more on obesity.
Low-income Earners Postpone Knee Surgeries, Are Happier with the Results
People who earn less than $35,000 are more inclined to postpone knee-replacement surgery until it’s absolutely needed, meaning they see much greater before/after differences than people with higher incomes and are happier with the results, according to a new study by researchers in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. David Lewallen, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, said the area required further study but these preliminary findings provided important information. "This is one small piece of a very large puzzle in understanding patient outcomes following a well-defined surgery that we know is very effective for most." Read more on access to health care.
Study: Flu During Pregnancy May Slightly Raise Risk of ‘Infantile Autism’
Women who have the flu while pregnant are at slightly higher risk of their children being diagnosed with “infantile autism,” according to preliminary research in a new Danish study. The overall risk of autism did not increase over children whose mothers did not have the flu, however. The slight increase could be because of how the fetus’ brain is affected by the mother’s immune response to the flu. Still, Hjordis Osk Atladottir, MD, from the University of Aarhus, said the overall risk of the disorder was no higher and the risk of infantile autism was still incredibly low. "Ninety-nine percent of women with influenza do not have a child with autism," she said to Reuters. "If it were me that was pregnant, I wouldn't do anything different from before, because our research is so early and exploratory." Read more on maternal and infant health.