Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

(Flickr Creative Commons User Mindy.Kotaska)

Monsanto's latest lawsuit is no small potatoes - in fact, it's sugar beets.

(Flickr Creative Commons user whiskeyandtears)

A new study has found that over-the-counter children's medications aren't labeled the way they should be.
The research led by the New York University School of Medicine examined two-hundred top-selling liquid medications for children, to see whether they included a dosing device, like a cup, spoon, or syringe.
If they did, the researchers compared the measurement markings on the device to the dosing instructions on the product's label.
Lead author Dr. Shonna Yin says about a quarter of the products had no dosing device at all.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The 12-story building between Powell Symphony Hall and the Third Baptist Church in midtown seemed like an odd place to house the city's main clinic for treating sexually transmitted diseases. Yet, for a long time, some city residents wishing to get help, counseling or advice for an STD had few options besides visiting the public clinic on the second floor of the building at 634 North Grand.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Milton and Leona Scott, both in their late 50s, normally don't spend time at the Four Seasons Hotel adjacent to Lumiere Place Casino in downtown St. Louis. But they were among 250 people who gathered in the hotel's elegant ballroom one Saturday morning last April to learn more about coping with and combating diabetes.

Hosting a free diabetes education program at a 5-diamond hotel may seem unusual, but it's just one of the ways the St. Louis Diabetes Coalition is taking its message out of doctors' offices and to the public. The group also is taking diabetes education to many community-gathering spots, such as churches and coffee shops.

chart showing diabetes mortality
St. Louis Beacon archive 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The genealogy bug first bit Anita Jenkins in the 1970s when she saw the television series "Roots." She takes pride in having traced her family's history at least as far back as antebellum days, and she hopes to turn to DNA to move even further back in time.

In the process of her search, however, she also turned up a family history of diabetes. She mentions this as she stands next to pictures of relatives that line the mantel above the living room fireplace in the family's two-story brick home on the north side. On this day the house is quiet, save for the hum of an air conditioner, on a bright summer afternoon. But she's in a gloomy mood as she introduces the faces in the photographs and talks about how diabetes has affected many of those lives.

graphic of childhood lead poisoning in the st. louis area
Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon | 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A St. Louis University scholar thinks it's time for cities to refine the way they address lead hazards.

The attack on lead poisoning often begins with the discovery that a child has an elevated level of lead, usually exceeding 10 micrograms for each deciliter of blood. The next step involves a little detective work to find the source of the lead. It usually turns out to be peeling lead-tainted paint and lead dust in an older home. This approach, some say, amounts to making kids the equivalent of canaries in coal mines.

graphic about monthly WIC food supplements
Alex Sciuto | St. Louis Beacon 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Nothing speaks louder to a mother than a silent child.

When Larry Chavis was about 2, he'd sit in the middle of the floor in a room full of teddy bears, toy cars and trucks, but he didn't seem interested in playing with them. His perplexed mother, Achaia Robinson, sensed something wasn't quite right with her son; she was confused by his dazed look and his tendency to keep to himself.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The lobby of the Winston Churchill Apartments at Cabanne and Belt avenues undoubtedly reminds some visitors of the elegance of a bygone era. It's a massive room with green and beige walls, a fireplace, eight comfortable sofas and lots of chairs, all on a shiny, marbled floor. The soft colors and quiet setting recall the time when the building and surrounding neighborhood were home to upper-middle class St. Louisans.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: There have been times when Tracy Blue's mood was a perfect match for her last name. She was often irritable and occasionally depressed as she coped with Type 2 diabetes and the burden of carrying as much as 254 pounds on her 5'4" frame.

During the past year, however, her health has improved and her weight has dropped, thanks in part to an exercise and counseling program tailored to African Americans like herself. Called BODDY, the program operates out of the Monsanto YMCA in north St. Louis and is run by Washington University's Health and Nutrition Center.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: With plenty of trails for walking and jogging, biking and rollerblading, Forest Park stands out as one of the nation's largest urban green spaces for recreation. It's also safe and well-maintained, factors that explain why people find it an inviting, carefree place for putting their hearts and limbs through robust exercise.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Using his fingers to rake away ankle-high weeds on a plot next to his house, George Banks finally looks up with a smile after spotting something that a visitor doesn't immediately see.

"There," he says as he slowly straightens his stout body. "Watermelon vines. Got some collards coming up, too."

Whenever his arthritis, heart disease and diabetes cooperated last spring and summer, Banks, 63, spent time tending his garden in Old North St. Louis.

Alex Sciuto | St. Louis Beacon 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In 1875, amid steamboats churning the muddy waterway, a tugboat came up the river from New Orleans and docked in St. Louis with an unexpected problem on board. In addition to a load of sugar from Havana, the boat carried a sick passenger. He was taken to City Hospital where the worst fears of doctors there were confirmed: yellow fever.

Alex Sciuto | St. Louis Beacon 2010

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Larry Chavis, George Banks, Tracy Blue and Carolyn Dickerson are from different neighborhoods in north St. Louis, but all four have at least one thing in common. They have health problems that are largely preventable and far more prevalent among African Americans than the rest of the city's population.

Coping with lead poisoning has turned Larry into an unusually quiet 4-year-old. His mother hopes treatment will help him ward off any long-term consequences.

Dr. Leonor Feliciano, who came to the United States to complete her medical training and succeeded in teaching thousands about Philippine culture, pride and contributions, died Saturday of breast cancer at her home in Creve Coeur. She was 66.

She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. Three days before her death she had written, "I have lived my life out loud and with happiness."

Her daughter, Sonjie Solomon, confirmed that assessment.

Mass will be celebrated for Dr. Feliciano at St. Monica Catholic Church on Friday morning.

Curran | Flickr

Ventilation systems failed to remove nicotine from smoke-filled air in restaurants and bars in the area, according to a study released Wednesday by Washington University researchers.

University representatives used the results of the study on Wednesday to argue that ventilation systems are ineffective at removing nicotine, putting customers and workers at risk for health problems that include cancer and cardiovascular disease. And they cited the research as the first objective study in St. Louis lending support to comprehensive smoking ban legislation.

Federal stimulus dollars continue to provide additional financial underpinning for St. Louis' system of health care for the needy. Grace Hill Neighborhood Health Centers is a recent beneficiary of stimulus money, and it has used those funds to replace and upgrade two of its facilities.

Most of us will be fortunate to visit the local emergency room only on a handful of occasions during our lives. I had occasion to visit emergency rooms in two countries in a seven-month period: one visit to a St. Louis ER while home visiting my parents; the second to an ER in Ireland, where my husband and I live with our two young sons.

Bedbug
Wikipedia

This summer, when Linda Morgan began waking up with strange bug bites on her arm, she didn’t know quite what to make of them.

“I still have the scars,” said the 51-year-old Granite City resident. “They were incredibly itchy, 10 times worse than mosquito bites.”

Steve Chapman is worried about your eggs. He's a featured columnist for the Chicago Tribune -- a sort of Windy City epigone of Bill McClellan -- who devoted his Aug. 29 oped piece to the recent recall of salmonella-infected eggs.

To the extent that this recall was national in scope and the offending bacterium makes its victims violently ill; posing a real -- albeit remote -- risk of death, you might think that he would advocate on behalf of greater public scrutiny of the food industry. You would be wrong.

Emily Isaacs loves playing soccer so much that it hurts.

Why do some people have a high tolerance for pain, while others experience the slightest touch as painful? Why do some injured soldiers perform heroic feats and claim that they felt no pain at the time?

Nobody quite knows, but new findings by Meinhart Zenk and Toni Kutchan at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center offer some tantalizing possibilities.

St. Louis is making great strides in its attack on childhood lead poisoning, according to statistics released Friday by the city's Health Department.

The report said the level of lead poisoning in children reached an all-time low of 3.2 percent in 2009. That represents an 80 percent drop in the number of children with elevated lead levels since 2001. At that time, the rate was 16.2 percent, health officials said.

Trevor Trout seems to be glancing at his school picture - taken when he weighed considerably more than today.
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon

After making their trip to the Farmers' Market in Ferguson to buy fresh fruits and vegetables each week, Teresa Trout and her son, Trevor, used to drop in at a doughnut shop and feast on cupcakes and other sugary food on the way home.

Those sweet treats finally caught up with Trevor, a bright, 10-year-old fifth grader whose weight climbed to 154 pounds a little over four months ago. Today, however, he has dropped to 127 pounds, a slimmer version of the chubby-faced boy in a photo atop the family piano.

Peter Raven
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Once every three months, Peter Raven pays a visit to his dermatologist. Summers spent at 10,000 feet, hiking northern California's Sierra Nevada Mountains and roaming the sand dunes and vacant lots of San Francisco take their toll. "That did a real number on my skin. Of course, nobody thought a thing about the sun in the 1950s," Raven said, describing a boyhood spent outdoors, rearing butterflies, collecting insects and gathering plants.  

A federal judge's ruling striking down the Obama administration's policy on embryonic stem cell research could result in an immediate halt for now in this kind of medical work in Missouri and nationally, according to some local and national proponents of the research.

That view was reinforced late yesterday by news that the National Institutes of Health has imposed a nationwide freeze on grants in the pipeline. That decision could affect research underway at both Washington University and the University of Missouri at Columbia.

For many of the home visits, Jamry uses a team of nurses, shown here in his office during a weekly meeting to go over cases.
Hodiah Nemes | Beacon intern

For 15 years, Dr. William Gee operated a solo medical practice in St. Louis. "It was going quite well," Gee says. But Gee was busy, a little too busy. He felt "pressure to see more and more patients with less and less time" and experienced mounting overhead costs.

"I got tired of that," Gee said.

A new early intervention program, financed with $88 million in federal health-reform money, has the potential of breaking the poverty cycle that afflicts generation after generation of at-risk families. The idea is to give a needy kid a healthy start in life through a home-visit  program that addresses child protection, health, early education and social service issues through age 8.

Jesse Drapekin smiles in front of his final Power Point presentation.
Jo Seltzer | Beacon file photo

Lots of young people are into social networking these days. But another kind of networking has been going on for two decades in laboratories across the St. Louis area.

Each summer dozens of students participate in STARS (Students and Teachers as Research Scientists), a program sponsored by the University of Missouri-St. Louis. This year, more than 60 students spent their summer doing original research in top labs of academia and industry.

"These kids are the scientists and engineers of tomorrow," said Michael Anch of the Saint Louis University department of psychology.

Dr. Frank R. Burton, whose research on chronic pancreatitis helped dispel the widely held assumption that sometimes led patients to be incorrectly labeled as problem drinkers, died of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (lung disease) at Saint Louis University Hospital on Monday (Aug. 2, 2010). He was 58.

Dr. Burton, a professor of internal medicine, suffered a heart attack in June while vacationing, but was recovering well when it was discovered that he had advanced lung disease. The illnesses were determined to be unrelated.

As she held and examined leafy green vegetables at the new Save-A-Lot grocery store in Pagedale the other day, Coreen Davis didn't need to be reminded that she hasn't been able to walk into a new supermarket in that part of St. Louis County for 40 years.

Pagedale but for surrounding communities."

He added that it wasn't easy to make the store a reality. The process involved tax increment financing, the buyout of about 10 properties, and developing the project "in a way that the provider of the grocery store in this case can pay rent that makes economic sense."

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