Health Highlights: Aug. 28, 2014
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Many Parents Uncomfortable About Kids Playing Football: Poll
Nearly half of American parents are uncomfortable about their children playing contact sports such as football and hockey amid growing concerns about the long-term effects of concussions.
A new poll found that 44 percent of parents weren't comfortable with their children playing football, the same percentage was uncomfortable with their children playing ice hockey, and 45 percent had doubts about wrestling, the Associated Press reported.
However, only five percent of the 1,044 adults who took part in the AP-GfK poll said they discouraged their youngsters from participating over the last two years.
Most of the parents said they were comfortable with their children taking part in other types of sports such as baseball and softball, soccer, swimming, track and field, and basketball, the AP reported.
Training for coaches in youth and high school programs has been increased, and helmet makers are offering new products designed to reduce the force of impact, but it's not clear whether these new helmets will be effective.
And despite concerns about concussions, the number of high school students playing football has declined only slighty. Nearly 1.1 million students played 11-man football in the 2012-13 school year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. That's down by about 10,000 from the year before and down more than 20,000 since 2008-09, the AP reported.
In related news, a group of American soccer parents and players filed a lawsuit against FIFA and several U.S.-based soccer organizations seeking new safety rules, such as limiting headers for players 17 and younger.
The lawsuit -- which was filed in federal court in San Francisco and does not seek monetary damages -- alleges that nearly 50,000 high school soccer players suffered concussions in 2010, the AP reported.
Along with new safety rules, the lawsuit wants FIFA to permit temporary medical substitutions of players that aren't included in the maximum three player replacements allowed in most FIFA-sponsored games, the AP reported.
"We believe it is imperative we force these organizations to put a stop to hazardous practices that put players at unnecessary risk," said Steve Berman, a Seattle-based lawyer representing the soccer parents and players.
He helped negotiate a recent proposed legal settlement in a case involving the NCAA, which agreed to toughen return-to-play rules for players who suffer head blows. The NCAA also promised to create a $70 million fund to pay for thousands of current and former athletes to be tested for brain trauma, the AP reported.
Nigeria Keeps Schools Closed Until October as Part of Ebola Control Measures
Nigeria has ordered all schools to stay closed until mid-October as part of efforts to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
The new school year was scheduled to start Monday, but the education minister told schools to remain closed to give time for staff to be trained on how to deal with suspected Ebola cases, BBC News reported.
"All state ministries of education are to immediately organize and ensure that at least two staff in each school, both private and public, are trained by appropriate health workers," Education Minister Ibrahim Shekarau said.
An Ebola outbreak in West Africa has sickened more than 2,600 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and about 1,400 of them have died. The virus spread to Nigeria in July when an infected man flew to that country from Liberia, BBC News reported.
Blood Pressure Controlled Best by Patient: Study
Patients with hypertension who monitored their own blood pressure at home, and adjusted their medications accordingly, had better blood pressure readings after a year than those who were under the care of their doctor, a new study shows.
Although the patients who cared for themselves weren't completely on their own, they did not have to consult their doctor every time they increased the dosage on their blood pressure drugs if it fell within the doctor's general treatment plan, the Associated Press reported.
Why this was so wasn't clear, but the researchers suggested that these patients might have been more vigilant in their own care than their doctor would have been, the AP reported. The findings were published Aug. 27 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Study author Richard McManus, a professor at the University of Oxford in England, said doctors may sometimes exercise what is called "clinical inertia," or a tendency to not increase medication dosages even when blood pressure readings are high, the AP reported.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost one in three Americans have high blood pressure but only about half of them have it under control.
In the study, 450 adults in England who had heart problems, stroke, diabetes or kidney disease were followed for a year, the wire service reported. Their average age was 70.
Average blood pressure measurements that were taken initially were about 143/80. That dropped to about 128/74 among the self-care patients and 138/76 in the group that received a doctor's care, the AP reported.
If those levels stayed steady, the researchers estimated that those in the self-care group might eventually see a 30 percent reduction in stroke risk, compared with those in the standard care group, according to the AP.
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