Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of
WHO Swine Flu Panel Included Members With Drug Industry Ties
Of the 15 people on an expert panel that advised the World
Health Organization about the swine flu pandemic, five members had
received support from the pharmaceutical industry, including for
flu vaccine research, the WHO disclosed Wednesday.
Previously, some critics expressed concern that the panel might
be tainted by drug industry influence that would affect decisions
about massive orders of swine flu vaccines,
Agence France-Presse reported.
But the WHO repeatedly denied those accusations.
The newly-released list of panel members is posted on the WHO's
Web site. It reveals that members came from Africa, Asia, Europe,
and Latin and North America. Most were scientific researchers and
epidemiologists. There were also public health officials from
Thailand and Chile, two specialists on international air travel and
health, and a Senegalese diplomat,
Few Non-Urgent Patients in ERs: Study
Two-thirds of emergency room visits in 2007 occurred during
non-business hours and the percentage of non-urgent emergency
patients was less than eight percent, says a report released
Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The findings challenge the idea that emergency rooms are crowded
with non-urgent patients, says the American College of Emergency
"The percentage of non-urgent patients dropped to only 7.9 percent in 2007 [from 12.1 percent in 2006]," ACEP President Dr. Angela Gardner, said in a college news release. "The report also makes the excellent point that non-urgent does not imply unnecessary. As we have said repeatedly, our patients are in the ER because thats where they need to be."
In 2007, there were about 222 visits to U.S. emergency
departments every minute. The number of visits increased by 23
percent between 1997 and 2007. Preliminary data for 2008 suggest
emergency visits will reach a record high of more than 123
The highest rate of emergency room visits was among babies under
12 months old (88.5 visits per 100 infants), followed by adults age
75 and older (62 visits per 100 people).
Computer Test May Detect Autism in Adults: Study
A computer test that can detect small but crucial signs of
autism in adults may make it easier to diagnosis the condition, say
They used MRI to scan the brains of 20 adults with autism
spectrum disorder (ASD) and 20 non-autistic adults. The MRI images
were then reconstructed into 3D and entered into a computer that
searched for minute but significant differences in the
BBC News reported.
The test was 90 percent accurate in identifying the people with
autism. The findings appear in the
Journal of Neuroscience.
The research may lead to a widely available scan for autism,
said study leader Dr. Christine Ecker of King's College London,
BBC News reported.
"It could help to alleviate the need for the (current) emotional, time consuming and expensive diagnostic process which ASD patients and families currently have to endure," she said.
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