Roundup: U.S. Infant Mortality Rate Down 15%; Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatments Reviewed

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March 24, 2017

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Infant mortality rates have slid to new lows, meaning that fewer babies are dying in the United States, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The infant mortality rate has decreased by 15 percent in the past 10 years. The welcomed news is rare for the U.S., where the record has been worse than in other developed countries. From 2005 to 2014, the infant mortality rate dropped from 6.86 infant deaths per 1,000 live births to 5.82.

The overall drop was propelled by a decline of 29 percent in cases of “sudden infant death syndrome,” or SIDS as it is commonly known, and there were drops in infant mortality rates across most minority groups.

“Infant mortality is considered a basic measure of public health for countries around the world,” wrote Anne Driscoll and T.J. Mathews of the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the CDC.

From 2005–2007 to 2012–2014, infant mortality rates declined in a total of 33 states, including Florida which saw declining rates ranging from 12 percent to 16 percent. Declines were observed from 2005–2007 to 2012–2014 for all Hispanic subgroups, the CDC said. The largest declines occurred among infants of Cuban (19 percent) and Puerto Rican (17 percent) women.

Among racial groups cited by the CDC, Asian and Pacific Islander populations saw the biggest drop, 21 percent. All race and Hispanic subgroups saw reductions in infant mortality rates, except American Indians or Alaska Natives, two groups that did not experience “statistically significant” changes, the CDC said. The CDC report also shows prominent declines among African Americans and women of Cuban descent.

However, the CDC points out that “racial gaps” still exist. For example, infants born to non-Hispanic black women have a mortality rate more than double that of non-Hispanic white women, the CDC stated.

Here’s a breakdown of the leading causes of infant deaths: Congenital malformations, the primary cause of infant death, dropped 11 percent. Deaths from short gestation and low birth weight declined 8 percent, deaths due to maternal complications fell 7 percent, and cases of SIDS fell 29 percent. Deaths caused by unintentional injuries increased 11 percent, from 26.2 in 2005 to 29.2 in 2014.

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Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatments Reviewed

The results of two new studies focus on common side effects following treatments for early-stage prostate cancer and may make it easier for men to choose which option is best for them.

Both U.S. studies, which looked at side effects following either surgery, radiation therapy or no treatment other than monitoring by a doctor, were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They involved a total of almost 3,700 men, mostly in their 60s on average at the time of diagnosis. They filled out questionnaires periodically over two to three years. Researchers say that’s not long enough to compare recurrence or survival rates, but the study focused on men’s lingering symptoms.

In one study, poor sexual function was reported by more than 57 percent of surgery patients two years later, compared 34 percent of those who had radiation implants, 27 percent who had external radiation and 25 percent who chose observation (no treatment.)

In the other study, 4 percent of surgery patients said urinary incontinence was a significant problem, compared with 6 percent of men who chose observation and 5 percent of radiation patients.

Overall, those who had received surgery saw greater sexual problems and urinary incontinence. But there were no meaningful differences between the groups of men who had surgery, radiation or no treatment when it came to other problems, such as bowel complications or hormonal disruptions.

The studies also found that differences in quality of life tend to diminish with time for those with prostate cancer that hasn’t spread — the type that affects most men with the disease.

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‘100% Fruit Juice’ Linked to Some Weight Gain in Kids

Sugar can easily sneak into the diet, both for adults and children, even through 100% fruit juices.

Sugary drinks have been cited repeatedly in clinical studies as a factor in contributing to childhood obesity. But soft drinks are not the only culprits. Health experts are also concerned that “100% fruit juice” could also have a negative impact.

A new study suggests that drinking “100% fruit juice” is linked to a slight amount of weight gain in children 6 and younger who have one serving a day, says the report published Thursday in the medical journal Pediatrics. However, no weight gain was found for children 7 and older who have one serving a day.

The research was a review and analysis of eight previous observational studies about “100% fruit juice” consumption and weight gain among children, based on their body mass indexes, or BMI.

“I think caution is definitely in order and that when possible, parents should give whole fruits to kids, instead of fruit juice,” said Brandon Auerbach, M.D., lead author of the study and a primary care physician and instructor at the University of Washington’s Division of General Internal Medicine in Seattle. “Water or low-fat unsweetened milk are other good alternatives to 100% fruit juice.”

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