Public Health News Roundup: October 12
CDC: 14 Dead, 170 Sick in Meningitis Outbreak
Fourteen people have now died in a meningitis outbreak tied to apparently tainted steroid injections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are 170 total cases so far. The methylprednisolone acetate was manufactured at the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass. and given to as many as 13,000 people in 23 states. The outbreak has led many to question current compounding practices. "This incident raises serious concerns about the scope of the practice of pharmacy compounding in the United States and the current patchwork of federal and state laws," read a statement from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.). Read more on infectious diseases.
Study: Concussion Diagnosis Inconsistent in College Athletics
Physicians who diagnose concussions in college athletes use inconsistent criteria that could hinder proper patient care, according to a new study in the Journal of Neurosurgery. Refined, universal standards would improve patient outcomes, according to researchers who analyzed 48 diagnosed concussions in 450 college athletes at Brown University, Dartmouth College and Virginia Tech. "The term 'concussion' means different things to different people, and it's not yet clear that the signs and symptoms we now use to make a diagnosis will ultimately prove to be the most important pieces of this complicated puzzle," said Ann-Christine Duhaime, MD, director of the pediatric brain trauma lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Some patients who receive a diagnosis of concussion go on to have very few problems, and some who are not diagnosed because they have no immediate symptoms may have sustained a lot of force to the head with potentially serious consequences," she explained. Read more on access to health care.
Researchers to Evaluate Umbilical Stem Cells’ Effect on Children with Autism
Scientists at the Sutter Neuroscience Institute, in Sacramento, Calif. will inject 30 children with autism with stem cells from their own umbilical cord blood to research whether the treatment can improve behavior and language skills. Michael Chez, MD, director of pediatric neurology at the institute, said researchers hope to find scientific support for anecdotal evidence. The 13-month study will involve children ages 2 to 7. One in 88 children are affected by autism, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more on pediatrics.