The CDC announced this month that a total of 88 cases of this disease have been reported this year – 58 in Louisiana, 22 in Mississippi, and 8 in Texas. Only 4 people have died. The virus has been found in mosquitoes and birds in 34 states, and mostly on the East coast.
What exactly is West Nile Virus? It first appeared in the U.S. in 1999. It is harmless in most cases – only 1 in 5 people will even have any symptoms, and only 1 in 150 cases will become serious. Symptoms mimic the flu. A more serious complication is encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The elderly and those with immune deficiencies are hardest hit by the disease.
It is contracted through mosquito bites. Therefore, the best prevention is to avoid mosquitoes. Here are some tips:
- Wear insect repellant.
- Stay indoors at dawn and dusk during mosquito season.
- Avoid stagnant water.
- Empty out all outdoor toys and pots that fill with rainwater.
Dr. Sears comments: Problematic west nile virus infection is extremely rare in healthy infants and adults. There is no reason for worry or panic over this situation, but is it prudent to follow mosquito prevention steps in states that have the virus. Go to www.cdc.gov for more info.
MOST “STRAWBERRY” BIRTH MARKS DON’T NEED LASER TREATMENT
Strawberry hemangiomas are red, raised birth marks that typically grow larger during the first year, then slowly disappear over the next few years. They occur in 10% of infants. Because of their appearance, many parents want them to be removed with a laser. A new study in the UK has reinforced the long-held belief that these marks resolve the same whether they are treated with a laser or left alone. Since lasers can leave some unwanted effects on the skin, treatment should be reserved for marks that are extremely large or intruding on normal body parts such as the eyes or nose.
Dr. Sears comments: I rarely recommend my patients get these marks removed, unless they are impinging on the eyes or other vital structures. They will eventually fade within a few years.
EATING BLUEBERRIES CAN HELP PREVENT AGE-RELATED DECREASED MENTAL FUNCTIONING
A U.S. team of researchers fed rats a human equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries per day and found that these rats showed less age-related brain damage than rats who were not fed the berries. It is felt that the anti-oxidants in blueberries were responsible for this effect.
Dr. Sears comments: the anti-aging effects of antioxidants have been known for a long time. This study further supports it. This is one reason why I recommend Juice Plus to my patients. Click here for more info.
EATING DHA DURING PREGNANCY CAN IMPROVE INFANT SLEEP HABITS
A Connecticut study showed that women who got enough DHA in their diet during pregnancy had infants with better sleeping habits.
Dr. Sears comments: It has been known for several years now that DHA is crucial for brain development. Since brain growth begins in utero, it is crucial for a pregnant women to consume enough DHA in their diet. Click here to read more about DHA and how to make sure you are getting enough during pregnancy.
EXERCISE HELPS PREVENT DIABETES
A new study showed that men who exercised more than 3 hours per week were half as likely to develop a “pre-diabetic” condition known as insulin-resistance (which often eventually leads to full diabetes) versus men who exercised one hour or less each week. A related study this month showed that 1/3 of American adults develop this pre-diabetic condition. Another study showed that people who exercise get 25% less colds each year.
Dr. Sears comments: Click here to read more about my L.E.A.N. program and the benefits of exercise.
U.S. KIDS DRINK FAR TOO MUCH SODA AND HIGH-CALORIE DRINKS
A recent survey showed that half of a child’s liquid intake consists of soda or other high-calorie juice and energy drinks.
Dr. Sears comments: It is well known that soda contributes to obesity as well as weakened bones. In fact, the Los Angeles County school district is taking this matter so seriously that next year they will ban all soda machines from school campuses. Artificial fruit juices and other high sugar drinks are also a big problem. It is important for parents to encourage their kids to drink water as much as possible.
BIRTH INDUCTION RATES DOUBLE OVER PAST DECADE
A recent study has shown that the percentage of deliveries that are induced has increased from 9% to 19% between 1988 and 1998.
Dr. Sears comments: This means that almost 1 in 5 women are not going into labor naturally. It is known that induction is indicated for certain medical reasons, but there are risks to induction, and it should NOT be done for convenience or scheduling reasons. Click here to browse through our pregnancy and birth section.
INFANTS EXPOSED TO PETS ARE LESS LIKELY TO DEVELOP ALLERGIES
A new study has shown that infants who are raised with at least 2 cats or dogs in the house are half as likely to be allergic to cats or dogs by age six, and are slightly less likely to be allergic to other common allergens.