Medical trifecta: Research study results released

June 21, 2010 3:07:11 PM PDT
In today's medical news, what Scooby Doo has to do with your child's eating, a concern about the effects of some chemicals for pregnant women, and a warning about heat for people with diabetes.

This is all new information just released Monday.

As we move into the summer, temperatures will be high on many days. Some people are more susceptible to heat illness, among them, people with diabetes.

High humidity with temperatures in the 80s creates a potential hazardous situation for people with diabetes.

Researchers surveyed people with diabetes living in hot climates and found a need for heat awareness as many survey participants were unaware of how heat affects them.

People with diabetes have an impaired ability to sweat, which increase their likelihood of getting a heat-related illness. Also, the survey found that many patients had less control over their blood-sugar levels during the summer, which increases their risk of dehydration.

Insulin and other diabetes medications need to be protected from heat. Moreover, patients need to be aware of how heat affects their bodies, according to the researchers, who presented the results of a survey at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society in San Diego.

Past research shows people with diabetes have increased hospitalizations, Emergency Room visits and deaths due to heat illness.

In other health news, researchers have found that chemicals used to make items flame retardant may affect pregnant women.

A woman's thyroid hormones are crucial to the growth and brain development of her unborn child.

Researchers from University of California, Berkley found that pregnant women with the lowest thyroid hormone levels also had, in their blood, the highest level of chemicals known as PBDEs.

PBDEs are used as flame retardants. They're found in many everyday objects like rugs and plastics. They are so common that some studies suggest they can be detected in the blood of 97 percent of Americans.

The researchers say they could be having unintended effects on fetal development, but no study on specific effects has been done.

"In science, we always want people to have a confirmatory study, but with this study, there really wasn't any effect on the mother's health, so to go out of your way to avoid flame retardants?would be really hard. We wouldn't like people to alter their behavior," Dr. Eliza Ross of the Cleveland Clinic.

The study was published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environment Health Sciences.

Also in the news today, a study found that cartoon characters have a negative effect on how children eat.

The children in the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, tasted food with and without the brand of a cartoon character, like Scooby Doo or Shrek.

Not surprisingly, even though the food was identical, the kids thought the one with the cartoon character was tastier.

The same affect was not found when the cartoon character was on the label for health food, like carrots.

Study authors, who are leaders in the field of researching the food industry, said the findings suggest it's time to restrict the use of licensed characters to advertise junk food because cartoons figure makes kids think it's a more desirable.

Perhaps they should put Scooby Doo on spinach, broccoli and carrots. Researchers believe removing cartoon characters from junk food labels and adding them to healthy foods may help children to make better choices.