Saturday, January 9, 2010

10 Ways to Cut Clutter

...Countless families are bedeviled by household clutter; the most common clutter hot spots are children's bedrooms, home offices, attics, and garages, professional organizers say. What does it take to create a clutter-free space? Here are 10 key home organization strategies from three top organizers....

Secrets Of The Brain: Researchers Decipher Parts Of The Neuronal Code

The human brain works at a far higher level of complexity than previously thought. What has been given little attention up to now in the information processing of neuronal circuits has been the time factor. "Liquid computing" a new theory about how these complex networks of nerve cells actually work from computer scientists at Graz University of Technology has just passed its first test. An interdisciplinary co-operation with neuroscientists from the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Brain Research in Frankfurt managed to show that early processing stages in the brain pool information over a longer period. For the evaluation of the experiments, the researchers also had to crack the neuronal code. The scientists published the new findings of their research work, which is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF in Austria, in the current edition of "PLoS Biology", one of the most prestigious journals in this field.....

Growing Evidence Suggests Progesterone Should Be Considered A Treatment Option For Traumatic Brain Injuries

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, recommend that progesterone (PROG), a naturally occurring hormone found in both males and females that can protect damaged cells in the central and peripheral nervous systems, be considered a viable treatment option for traumatic brain injuries,...

What Is Tourette Syndrome? What Causes Tourette Syndrome?

Tourette syndrome, also known as Tourette's syndrome, GTS, Tourette's, TS, Tourette's disorder, or Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome, is an inherited tic disorder characterized by multiple motor (physical) tics and at least one vocal tic. Experts believe it is closely linked to damage or abnormalities to the basal ganglia of the brain.....

Dyslexia Defined: New Yale Study 'Uncouples' Reading And IQ Over Time

....The researchers found that in typical readers, IQ and reading not only track together, but also influence each other over time. But in children with dyslexia, IQ and reading are not linked over time and do not influence one another. This explains why a dyslexic can be both bright and not read well. ....

Radiation from cell phones may prevent Alzheimer's.

From AOA FirstLook:

The Los Angeles Times (1/6, Kaplan) "Booster Shots" blog reported that "radiation from" cell "phones protected mice from" Alzheimer's "disease, and might even reverse the symptoms," according to a study published Jan. 6 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Investigators "at the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Center arranged about 70 mouse cages in a circle around a central antenna that emitted electromagnetic waves typical of what would emanate from a phone pressed to a human head."

The researchers "exposed mice that were genetically engineered to have Alzheimer's disease to two one-hour sessions of high-frequency electromagnetic waves per day, for seven to nine months," HealthDay (1/6, Gardner) reported. They discovered that "healthy, younger mice exposed to the waves avoided developing Alzheimer's altogether, while older mice with Alzheimer's saw memory and other cognitive deficits improve." Interestingly, "normal mice also developed better memory capacity after" electromagnetic field "exposure."

According to the study authors, WebMD (1/6, Hendrick) reported, "exposing old mice with Alzheimer's disease to electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones reduced brain deposits of beta-amyloid." Saying that "the memory benefits in normal mice of cell phone exposure took months to show up" and "suggesting a similar effect in humans might take years," the researchers cautioned that "care should be taken in extrapolating...results to cell phone use and" electromagnetic wave "exposure in humans."

BBC News (1/7), the UK's Telegraph (1/7, Alleyne), the UK's Daily Mail (1/7, Derbyshire), the UK's Press Association (1/7), and AFP (1/7) also cover the story.

What Students Learn About Professionalism From Faculty Stories: An "Appreciative Inquiry" Approach

...Results showed that the narratives were rich and generally positive; they illustrated a broad range of the principles contained in many definitions of professionalism: humanism, accountability, altruism, and excellence. The students' reflections demonstrated awareness of the same major principles of professionalism that the faculty conveyed. The reflections served to spark new ideas about professionalism, reinforce the values of professionalism, deepen students' relationships with the faculty, and heighten students' commitment to behaving professionally....

Comments: I am thrilled that faculty narratives can be used to improve a student's commitment to behaving professionally....I hope my many stories....and I have a few, help my students as well! DM

Visual Outcome in 879 Children Treated for Strabismus: Insufficient Accommodation and Vision Deprivation, Deficient Emmetropisation and Anisometropia

...severe residual amblyopia in children remaining after treatment could be explained by additional vision deprivation. It can be reduced by starting spectacle correction of hypermetropia before the age of 18 months. Anisometropia seemed the result of deficient emmetropisation. ...

Comment: Now here's a thought. Perhaps the severe residual amblyopia remaining after treatment can be explained by the simple fact it was the WRONG treatment. Most scientists and clinicians will now give at least lip service to the fact that amblyopia is a developmental anomaly of the BINOCULAR vision system...but the majority do NO binocular treatment whatsoever. These docs believe that once the VA is "better" treatment is done. Perhaps not. Perhaps we need to do some binocular vision therapy as well so that whatever improvement we see with therapy sticks around for a while! DM

Autism Clusters Identified in California; Associated With Areas of Greater Parental Education

...Researchers at UC Davis have identified 10 locations in California where the incidence of autism is higher than surrounding areas in the same region. Most of the areas, or clusters, are in locations where parents have higher-than-average levels of educational attainment. Because children with more educated parents are more likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, one need look no further for a cause, the authors say. The other clusters are located close to major autism treatment centers.....

Music therapy can assist toddlers' communication rehabilitation process

...Music therapy can assist in the speech acquisition process in toddlers who have undergone cochlear implantation, as revealed in a new study by Dr. Dikla Kerem of the University of Haifa. The study was carried out in Israel as a doctoral thesis for Aalborg University in Denmark (supervised by Prof. Tony Wigram) and presented at a "Brain, Therapy and Crafts" conference at the University of Haifa....

High myopia as a risk factor for post-LASIK ectasia: A case report

...High myopia appears to be a predisposing factor in this patient. High myopia may need to be considered as an ectasia risk factor independent of amount of ablation or residual stromal bed thickness and in the absence of forme fruste keratoconus. The possibility remains that ectasia was due to an unidentified risk factor or an intrinsic corneal problem with this patient's right eye....

Nutrient Cocktail for Memory Is Controversial

...A cocktail of nutrients intended to build brain synapses improved memory in a clinical trial of patients with mild Alzheimer's disease, researchers said, but outside experts discounted the study, suggesting its results actually showed no benefit......The so-called "medical food" improved memory -- at least by one measurement -- in a randomized placebo-controlled trial of 225 patients, ...But it failed to show an improvement on another measure, regarded as the gold standard for testing Alzheimer's disease treatments,....

Childhood Abuse Linked to Migraine

...Patients who were maltreated as children -- physically, emotionally, or both -- have a higher prevalence of migraine, researchers say....They're also more likely to have more comorbid pain conditions than people without a history of maltreatment...

Friday, January 8, 2010


A Joint Organizational Policy Statement of the American Academy of Optometry and the
American Optometric Association



Barrel Card Optometric Therapy Technique

Care of the Patient with Accommodative and Vergence Dysfunction

An AOA Quick Reference Guide.Perfect for the primary eye care provider. Dm

VT: CI - School Related Vision Problems

AOA Secures New Federal Recognition and Funding for InfantSEE® Program

From AOANews:

President Barack Obama signed into law a measure that provides nearly $600,000 in new federal resources to help expand the scope and impact of InfantSEE® - the signature public health program of the American Optometric Association (AOA) and administered by Optometry's CharityTM - The AOA Foundation.

On Dec. 16, President Obama signed into law the FY 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2009, which was approved by the U.S. House and Senate and cleared the way for the White House earlier this month. The bill, which provides funding for the operations of many areas of the federal government, includes $590,000 in new direct appropriations for InfantSEE® and is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an integral part of infant wellness.

The first direct appropriation, sponsored by Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) totaled $500,000 and is aimed at supporting expansion and outreach of the program.

"Many parents of newborns do not know that the most dramatic development of a child's visual system occurs within the first year of life," said Sen. Byrd. "And it is through early detection and treatment of potential problems that parents can help ensure poor vision and eye health does not severely affect their child's ability to learn and place them at a disadvantage in education and in life."

The second direct appropriation totaling $90,000 was sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and will support program expansion through outreach in Iowa.

"InfantSEE® is doing much more than identifying and treating risk factors that may cause eye and vision problems later in the life," said Sen. Harkin. "They are taking prevention to a new level to ensure healthier, thriving children and lower health care costs down the road."

The InfantSEE® program previously received a direct appropriation sponsored by Sen. Byrd in the fall of 2008 and implemented in 2009. Data collected from the 2009 project display an overall prevalence rate of one in six infants exhibiting a cause for concern (in need of follow-up care or referral to an eye doctor). The data also identified two groups at greatest risk for abnormal vision status: premature and minority infants.

"The fact is that this is so much more than just another big win in Washington, D.C., for our patients and profession," said Randolph E. Brooks, O.D., AOA president. "The expanded funding for InfantSEE® that the AOA has secured provides a new level of recognition from the president and Congress for the leadership role of optometry in delivering needed eye health and care to a critical population."

InfantSEE® assessments are complementary to the routine well-care exams a baby receives from a pediatrician or family physician. Optometrists have the training to identify areas of risk that are critical to vision development and the skills to identify conditions that might not be detected in a routine pediatric wellness exam. In some cases, conditions may need to be monitored, immediately treated or referred to a pediatric eye specialist.

To learn more about InfantSEE®, visit

AOA Call for posters

The AOA is inviting participation in the Clinical and Scientific Poster Session at the 113th Annual AOA Congress & 40th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry's Meeting®.

The program creates a national forum for clinicians, students, and faculty to communicate interesting cases and unique research to their colleagues.

The poster preview session will be held Friday, June 18, 2010, and the interactive session offering continuing education credit will be Saturday, June 19, 2010, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Gaylord Palms Convention Center.

Poster abstracts must be submitted electronically and must be received by Feb. 5, 2010. For more details and an electronic submission form, log on to and click on the Call for Posters icon.

For more information, contact Stacy Diliberto at 314-983-4254 or at

Johnson honors grandson Fitzgerald

From the December 2009 AOANews:

Pioneering Chicago developmental vision practitioner Robert Johnson, O.D., presents the 2009 AOA Sports Vision Section (AOA-SVS) Eagle Award to his grandson and best-known patient, Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Named the Most Valuable Player at the National Football League's 2008 Pro Bowl, Fitzgerald credits developmental vision training that he received from his grandfather as a youth as a significant factor in his gridiron success (see AOA News, Feb. 23).

In recognition of his subsequent advocacy of sports vision training, the AOA-SVS named Fitzgerald its 2009 Eagle Award winner during the 39th Annual Meeting of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development in October.

On hand at the COVD meeting to accept the award for Fitzgerald was another of Dr. Johnson's grandchildren, National Optometric Association Vice President Stephanie Johnson-Brown, O.D., the executive director of the not-for-profit Plano Vision Center that was co-founded by her grandfather in 1959 to provide developmental vision care to underprivileged children and adults.

AOANews December 2009: Tx in-office Optometric Vision Therapy

Comment: The recent AOANews gave this info on how to treat Convergence Insufficiency with in office optometric vision therapy. DM

Office-Based Therapy for Convergence Insufficiency

The 2008 CITT study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology clearly supports the superiority of office-based vision therapy to home-based vision therapy alone for convergence insufficiency. As noted in the AOA's Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) on Care of the Patient with Accommodative and Vergence Dysfunction home-based vision therapy may be less effective than in-office therapy because no therapist is available to correct inappropriate procedures or to motivate the patient. The preferred clinical management therefore consists of in-office vision therapy supplemented with home therapy.

The AOA CPG on this subject presents three general phases of vision therapy:

Phase One

Normalizing accommodative and vergence amplitudes. Most clinicians use large targets in which convergence and divergence demand is slowly changed. The patient is encouraged to exert maximum effort to increase his or her vergence amplitudes, and accommodative facility exercises are performed concurrently.

Sample procedures include loose lens accommodative rock, monocular near-far Hart Charts, Brock String, and Vectograms.

Phase Two

Increasing the speed of response to accommodative and vergence stimuli. During this phase, it is beneficial to use targets that gradually become smaller and to use different stimuli to obtain generalization. After the amplitudes reach normal levels, the patient is encouraged to repeat the task enough times to make the response become automatic and effortless. Once monocular accommodative facility has improved, binocular accommodative facility procedures can be performed. Suppression controls may be needed with the binocular accommodative techniques. In general, the power of the binocular accommodative flippers is increased until the patient can successfully clear +/-2.50 D, and vergence ranges are increased until the patient meets performance criteria such as PFV break of >30^ with recovery no less than 15^, without compromising normal NFV ranges.

Sample procedures include detailed vectograms, computerized binocular stimuli, stereoscope, and aperture rule.

Phase Three

The third phase of vision therapy uses jump or step vergence stimuli. Instead of responding to incrementally increasing stimuli, the patient is required to make large-jump accommodative and vergence movements. Accommodation and vergence are integrated through techniques that stimulate accommodation while holding vergence stable and vice versa. This final phase of vision therapy is designed to automate both accommodative and vergence reflexes, and to enhance the flexibility between accommodation and vergence. The goal of vision therapy is to re-establish automated, effortless accommodative and vergence responses under any stimulus condition. Improvement of ranges alone is not sufficient. The patient should now be able to meet the criteria for passing the Convergence Insufficiency Symptom Survey (CISS) posted at

Sample procedures include loose prism jumps, eccentric circles and life savers. References: and For more information, visit

To obtain a laminated card for assessing symptoms, visit

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Look Me in the Eye!

...Last night, I went to a well-attended New Year's party. In the crowded kitchen, I spied an old friend and his college-age daughter. Their eyes met; they seemed to be sharing a private joke, and I drank in the deep feelings of love and joy that passed between them.

From Susan Barry, PHd's Psychology Today blog:

This incident reminded me of a conversation I had had a few months ago. "What is it like to look someone in the eye?" a student (I'll call her Liz) had asked me. Liz is wall-eyed. When she looks at you, one eye turns out, giving you the impression that she is looking to the side. I told her that making eye contact could be pretty intense. It could indicate love, disapproval, or a plea for help. Sometimes, you may catch the eye of a stranger, the two of you exchanging a brief glance of mutual understanding, a shared feeling. No matter what the message, looking someone in the eye is a powerful way to connect. My student has been deprived of this way of connecting all her life.

Liz however is full of energy and optimism. In the fall, she began optometric vision therapy with a developmental optometrist in order to learn to straighten her eyes. Since her two eyes have not routinely looked at the same thing, she has been stereoblind. With vision therapy however, she is experiencing her first 3D views - a hand, for example, thrusting out toward her in space....

Evidence lacking for special diets in autism

...More than 25 experts met in Boston in 2008 to write the consensus report after reviewing medical research. The Autism Society and other autism groups funded the effort but gave no input.

The report refutes the idea there's a digestive problem specific to autism called "leaky gut" or "autistic enterocolitis." The hypothesis was first mentioned in 1998 in a now-discredited study by Great Britain's Dr. Andrew Wakefield. His paper tied a particular type of autism and bowel disease to the measles vaccine....

Texas Study Confirms Lower Autism Rate in Hispanics

...Hispanic kids are less likely than their non-Hispanic white counterparts to be diagnosed with autism, and socioeconomic factors don't seem to explain the difference, according to a new study in Texas schoolchildren.

"These findings raise questions: Is autism under diagnosed among Hispanics? Are there protective factors associated with Hispanic ethnicity?" ... Autism could be under diagnosed among Hispanics, ...

For every 10 percent increase in Hispanic schoolchildren in a given district, the researchers found, the prevalence of autism decreased by 11 percent, while the prevalence of kids with intellectual disabilities or learning disabilities increased by 8 percent and 2 percent, respectively....

Vision of success

...Ava Rayborn has 20/20 vision, but something was hampering her ability to learn. At age 5, she was held back in kindergarten and diagnosed with dyslexia, but a school transfer and extensive tutoring uncovered a hidden diagnosis. Instead of the learning disability that hampered her brain's ability to translate written images into language, she was diagnosed with convergence insufficiency, a misalignment of the eyes when focusing on nearby objects.

As one of the 50 best careers of 2010, this should have strong growth over the next decade

...They're often referred to as "doctors of optometry," ... Optometrists are healthcare professionals who treat a wide variety of eye problems. They prescribe lenses for nearsighted and farsighted people, diagnose and treat visual problems such a scratched cornea or glaucoma, and refer patients for laser-eye surgery, among other duties. Many optometrists specialize in particular areas—eye care for infants and the elderly is in high demand, for example, and some optometrists work with athletes on sports-related visual problems....The bottom 10 percent of optometrists earned less than $46,900, while the top earners made more than $166,400. The annual median wage in 2008 was $96,320.....

Less Education, More Asthma Symptoms

..."Lower educational achievement was associated with worse asthma control, greater emergency health service use, and worse asthma self-efficacy. Patients with less than 12 years of education were 55 percent more likely to report an asthma-related emergency health service visit in the last year."...

Ginkgo Doesn't Stop Cognitive Decline

...This analysis of data from the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study follows the researchers' previous analysis that found that daily use of the supplement didn't reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's disease or dementia....

New study determines H1N1 is less contagious than other pandemics.

From AOA First Look:

The CBS Evening News (12/30, story 7, 0:25, Smith) briefly reported last night that a new study has concluded that the chances of being infected with the H1N1 virus by someone in your own home "are only about one in eight."

The AP (12/31, Marchione) points out that the study, conducted by scientists at the Imperial College London and from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has determined that the H1N1 virus is significantly less contagious than many of the viruses responsible for deadly outbreaks in the past. The research, published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, studied infection patterns in 216 people with swine flu from around the United States and determined that indications of the virus appeared in only 13 percent of their households. Lyn Finelli, surveillance chief for the CDC's flu division, says that children "were twice as susceptible to catching swine flu as adults were, and even more so if they were younger than four." CBC News (12/31) reports that Finelli also said the study produced the "surprising" conclusion that adults were just as likely to spread the virus as children.

BBC News (12/31) reports lead researcher Dr Simon Cauchemez said the findings may indicate that the early recommendation that employers allow extended absences to accommodate sick employees "may be unnecessary and could be detrimental to the economy."

Officials continue to recommend H1N1 vaccinations in hopes of avoiding third wave. American Medical News (12/31, Moyer) reports that federal health officials continue to urge physicians to vaccinate their patients against swine flu in hopes of preventing a third wave of the virus. "Although the virus is on the downswing now, I don't think any of us think it's going to go away," said Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS. Meanwhile, Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that next year's seasonal flu vaccine "could include the H1N1 strain, which could eliminate the need for two separate influenza immunizations."

Health officials say second wave is finished. The Minneapolis Star Tribune (12/31, Marcotty) reports that swine flu virus appears to be on the decline in Minnesota, as "state health officials said Wednesday that only one Minnesotan was hospitalized with H1N1 flu last week and that their 50 'sentinel' clinics around the state reported no patients with flu-like illness." Kris Ehresmann, head of immunizations for the Minnesota Department of Health, said it was "safe to say that the second wave is done," but said people should continue to brace for a resurgence of the virus.

Study shows steady myopic shift in patients with strabismus and proper alignment

...Study data showed that the mean spherical equivalent among all patients was 1.62 D. Mean spherical equivalent was 1.10 D in the orthophoria group, 3.22 D in the esodeviation group and 1.13 D in the exodeviation group....

Comments: Watch those post strabismic surgery patients closely....especially those with esotropia for the development of significant myopia. Could accommodation be playing a major role in the development of the myopia? DM

Multiple operations and poor adduction linked to development of exotropia

.....The patient cohort had a 21% incidence of consecutive exotropia. Patients who had undergone multiple operations had a greater risk of developing consecutive exotropia than those aligned with a single operation. The difference was statistically significant (P = .00036). Postoperative restriction of adduction and convergence correlated with a high risk of consecutive exotropia (P = .0437). ..

Comments: So tell me again why we are so quick to send out for strabismus surgery? DM

Nontraditional ophthalmic treatments court controversy, offer therapeutic options

2009-2010 Influenza Season

2009-2010 Influenza Season; influenza activity continued to decrease during wk 49 (December 6-12, 2009)

All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received


During week 49 (December 6-12, 2009), influenza activity continued to decrease in the U.S.

* 391 (6.9%) specimens tested by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories and reported to CDC/Influenza Division were positive for influenza.
* Over 99% of all subtyped influenza A viruses being reported to CDC were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses.
* The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold for the eleventh consecutive week.
* Nine influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported. Eight of these deaths were associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection and one was associated with an influenza A virus for which the subtype was undetermined.
* The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 2.6% which is above the national baseline of 2.3%. Five of the 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. Regions 3, 6, 7, 8 and 10 reported ILI below their region specific baselines.
* Eleven states reported geographically widespread influenza activity, 20 states reported regional influenza activity, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 11 states reported local influenza activity, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight states reported sporadic influenza activity, and Guam reported no influenza activity.

Lack of patient knowledge regarding hospital medications

...Inpatient medication errors represent an important patient safety issue. The magnitude of the problem is staggering, with 1 review finding almost 1 in every 5 medication doses in error, with 7% having potential for adverse drug events.[1] While mistakes made at the ordering stage are frequently intercepted by pharmacist or nursing review, administration errors are particularly difficult to prevent.[2] The patient, as the last link in the medication administration chain, represents the final individual capable of preventing an incorrect medication administration. It is perhaps surprising then that patients generally lack a formal role in detecting and preventing adverse medication administration events.[3]

There have been some ambitious attempts to improve patient education regarding hospital medications and involve selected patients in the medication administration process. Such initiatives may result in increased patient participation and satisfaction.[4-7] There is also potential that increased patient knowledge of their hospital medications could promote the goal of medication safety, as the actively involved patient may be able to catch medication errors in the hospital.

Knowledge of prescribed medications is a prerequisite to patient involvement in prevention of inpatient medication errors and yet there is little research on patient knowledge of their hospital medications. Furthermore, as the experience of hospitalization may be disorienting and disempowering for patients, it remains to be seen if patient attitudes toward participation in inpatient medication safety are favorable. To that end, we conducted a pilot study in which we assessed current patient awareness of their in-hospital medications and surveyed attitudes toward increased patient knowledge of hospital medications....

Comments: Read the whole article online by clicking the title. If patients do not know about the meds they are taking in a much do they know about the meds you give them in your office? DM

Increased Prevalence of Myopia in the United States Between 1971-1972 and 1999-2004

Comment: I uploaded info on this paper previously....but now you can read the whole article by clicking on the title above. Is this substantial increase in myopia do to genetics or environment or both? We don't know. Type in "myopia" in the search box above to see more articles on this topic. DM

When using similar methods for each period,the prevalence of myopia in the United States appears to be substantially higher in 1999-2004 than 30 years earlier.Identifying modifiable risk factors for myopia could lead to the development of cost-effective interventional strategies.

Psychotropic Medications Linked to Pregnancy Outcomes

Pregnant women who use benzodiazepines have an increased risk of preterm delivery

THURSDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- In pregnant women, the use of psychotropic medications, especially benzodiazepines, is associated with adverse perinatal outcomes, according to a study in the December issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Ronit Calderon-Margalit, M.D., of the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Seattle, and colleagues interviewed 2,793 pregnant women in Washington State and abstracted their medical files.

The researchers found that pregnant women who used benzodiazepines had a dramatically increased risk of preterm delivery (adjusted odds ratio, 6.79), as well as increased risks of low birth weight, low Apgar score, neonatal intensive care unit admission, and respiratory distress syndrome. They also found an association between initiation of selective serotonin receptor inhibitor (SSRI) use after the first trimester and preterm delivery.

"In view of the strong association between benzodiazepine and adverse outcomes of pregnancy and the suggested associations of venlafaxine and SSRI therapy, there is a pressing need to pursue this association with large well-conducted cohort studies to confirm our results," the authors write. "Findings from additional studies are needed to provide data for decision making about treatment during pregnancies and to promote knowledge about the possible mechanisms in which psychotropic drugs affect perinatal outcomes."

Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevalence Increases

About 1 percent of 8-year-olds in study sites identified as having an ASD in 2006

-- Improved documentation and identification of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) may have contributed to a rise in prevalence from 2002 to 2006, but an increased risk of developing an ASD should not be discounted, according to a surveillance summary published Dec. 18 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.