home
RSS
May 24th, 2010
06:05 PM ET

African Americans lack access to marrow transplants

By Trisha Henry and Jennifer Bixler
CNN Medical News

Every year, more than 10,000 Americans are found to have cancers of the blood, such as leukemia or lymphoma. For many of them, bone marrow transplants are the only thing that can save their lives. However, a new study suggests not everyone has the same access to marrow transplants.

Caucasians are 40 percent more likely to undergo bone marrow transplants than African Americans in the United States, says study author Dr. J. Douglas Rizzo of the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "I don't think we know why.” His study appears in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society . Rizzo says more research needs to be done to understand why minorities don't always have the same access to care as whites.

The study found there are a combination of things that may influence whether someone chooses to get a bone marrow transplant. It could be a patient's cultural beliefs, financial resources, lack of insurance, or the inability to find a match, since minorities are much less represented among the potential donor pool. "There is a lot of ethnic mixing within in the us," says Rizzo.

The other issue is lack of minority bone marrow donors. Be the Match, the national donor registry, has special outreach programs for minorities. More than 8 million people are on the registry in the United States and 13 million worldwide, according to Tiffany Friesen, Southeast program director. "Right now, the chances of Caucasians finding a match using the registry is in the 90th percentile,” Friesen says, “but if you are a minority, your chances can be as low as 50 percent."

An anonymous bone marrow donor saved Gigi Pasley's life when she was 4. Her mother, Jessica Pasley, urges everyone she meets to get on the National Bone Marrow Registry. "It is imperative, people just don't know how important it is," says Pasley from her office in Nashville, Tennessee. Gigi is now 12 and cancer free. "I just look at Gigi and know she wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her donor."

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


May 24th, 2010
12:38 PM ET

Libido booster for women to get FDA consideration

By John Bonifield
CNN Medical Producer

When men show up at the pharmacy to pick up prescription drugs for sex problems, they have several options. Viagra. Cialis. Levitra. That hasn’t been the case for women with similar problems. But a Food and Drug Administration panel next month will debate approving a pill that could bring on the demise of this double standard. The drug, called flibanserin, has been developed to boost women’s libido.

“The most common sexual problem for women is low desire,” says Sheryl Kingsberg, a clinical psychologist with University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. “These women are really distressed by it.”

The German drug company Boehringer Ingelheim developed flibanserin as an antidepressant. The drug didn’t work as a treatment for depression, but it did produce a surprising libido-enhancing side effect in some women.

“There are millions of women who have a sexual life that is problematic for them,” says Michael Sand, the company’s director of clinical research on flibanserin.

According Sand, women taking flibanserin experience an increase in sexual desire and satisfying sexual activity and a decrease in emotional distress.

If the FDA approves flibanserin, Kingsberg says, the drug will be a game changer.

“If nothing else, it's going to open the door to women knowing that they're entitled to good quality sexual health. That it's not just for men anymore,” says Kingsberg, who has been a paid consultant for the company and for other developers of libido-enhancing drugs.

Boehringer Ingelheim plans to discuss its findings on flibanserin with the FDA on June 18.

Next week on CNN, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen will explore female libido and what’s available now to help restore a lagging sex drive.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


May 24th, 2010
08:54 AM ET

Most kids under 4 should learn to swim, pediatricians say

By Sabriya Rice
CNN Medical Producer

Parents should consider swimming lessons for most children between ages 1 and 4, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges  in new guidelines on drowning prevention and water safety. The guidance is a change from previous recommendations.

“In light of new research that has revealed that swim instruction for children 1 to 4 years of age may decrease drowning, it is reasonable for the AAP to relax its policy regarding the age at which children should start learning water-survival skills,” the authors say in the report.

Previously, the AAP discouraged swimming lessons for this age group, noting a lack of evidence on whether these children were developmentally ready. The new guidelines, however, do not extend to all children under 4. The AAP still does not recommend swimming lessons before age 1, and says children with motor or cognitive disabilities may not be not be ready for swimming lessons until a later age.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19, according to the AAP report. New data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions finds children between the ages of 1 and 2 represent 47 percent of submersion injuries and 53 percent of fatalities for children younger than 15. In light of those statistics, the CPSC launched Poolsafety.gov as as an educational resource for parents, providing pool safety videos and links to resources on drowning prevention.

“Children need to learn to swim,” say the authors of the Pediatrics report. But they also warn parents not to equate swimming lessons with “drown proofing.” They recommend a multilayered safety approach because, as they note, even children with advanced swimming skills can still drown. Beside swimming lessons, here are three additional things parents can do:

Fence in your pool: Many parents do not consider putting fencing around large inflatable pools,the AAP says,  and because these pools are considered to be portable, they fall outside of many state regulations. The AAP recommends parents install a four-sided fence that is at least 4 feet high if you have any kind of pool in your back yard. The American Red Cross also offers a home pool maintenance class online to help you ensure your pool is set up properly. The two-hour class costs $19.95 and you receive a manual to keep at your home.

Learn CPR: According to the NIH, “all parents and those who take care of children should learn infant and child CPR if they haven't already.” But note that CPR recommendations vary by age group. You can find a CPR training class near you through the American Heart Association, and the National Institutes of Health has guidelines for performing CPR on children between the ages of 1 and 8.

Purchase the proper gear: The AAP warns against using inflatable swimming aids because they can easily lose air and they “are not designed to keep swimmers safe.” On the academy's  website, parents can view a list of the types of personal flotation devices approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

Advertisement
Advertisement