Health

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Of all the medical diagnoses a physician can make, the diagnosis of ALS--amyotrophic lateral sclerosis--is one of the most devastating. Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, medical researchers are hard at work seeking a cure or at least a way to ease the symptoms of this neurological disease.

The University of Michigan is in the forefront of this research. Researchers are asking the question, can stem cell injections delivered directly into the spine lessen the effects of ALS?

Researchers at the U of M hospital have recently wrapped up phase 1 of a critical trial exploring just how these stem cell injections work in patients with the deadly disease, and they have gotten the go-ahead to proceed with phase 2.

The head researcher of this ALS project, Dr. Eva Feldman joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

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A new report says dog bites are a big problem in Michigan.

The American Veterinary Medical Association ranked Michigan sixth in the nation for dog bites.

According to the association, insurance companies paid out $4.6 million in claims for dog bites in Michigan in 2012.

Bonnie Beaver is a former AVMA president. She says they’re not sure exactly how big the problem is.

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A groceries-for-guns exchange is set for Saturday in Detroit. People who turn in an unloaded gun will get a $50 grocery gift card.

Gerald Acker is a partner in the Southfield law firm Goodman Acker, which is sponsoring the event. He says they want to do something about gun violence.

Those who want to opt out of DTE Energy’s smart meter program now face a fee.

According to MLive, the Michigan Public Service Commission “ruled that DTE can charge customers an initial fee of $67.20 and a monthly fee of $9.80 to opt out of the smart meters.”

Melissa Anders reports that:

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Too many babies are dying in Michigan. 

That’s not speculation – that’s based on some disturbing statistics. And even now, in 2013, those statistics say that a baby’s chance of living past his or her first birthday can largely depend on the color of the baby’s skin. 

In Michigan, the infant mortality rate has been persistently higher than the national average.

More specifically, a baby born to a black mother is almost three times more likely to die before its first birthday than a baby born to a white mother. 

Michigan Radio's Dustin Dwyer reported in August about Michigan's infant mortality disparity for State of Opportunity:

Using a three-year moving average for Michigan’s mortality rate for African-American babies, we would be behind every advanced nation, tucked between countries like Malaysia and Syria. 

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37,000 low-income Michiganders and small-business customers may be eligible for health coverage through a new health insurance cooperative, the Lansing State Journal reports.

With $72 million in federal funding, Consumers Mutual Insurance of Michigan is an alternative health care option for families and businesses looking for coverage after provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect January 2014.

Centers for Disease Control

You know the old joke, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this?" and the doctor says, "Well, don't do that?"

That's not the case when it comes to arthritis and physical activity.

About two million Michiganders suffer from arthritis. According to state health officials, a sedentary lifestyle can make arthritis worse -- and make you more vulnerable to depression.

"People with arthritis pain do worry about whether those activities will exacerbate pain, and that can be a demotivator for them certainly in getting started," says Annemarie Hodges, who's a public health consultant in the arthritis program at the Michigan Department of Community Health.

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  When parents send their daughters off to college, they do so with their fingers tightly crossed that they will remain safe and sound.

As young women living on their own, a myriad of situations present themselves that could put women in dangerous situations, like walking home late at night and college parties.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease  Control (CDC) support parents' worries.

One in five women report having been raped at some point in their life - the figure is one in 71 for men.

So, what can be done to stop this?

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The Mount Clemens Community School District is closed Tuesday due to reports of two methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections. According to the Detroit Free Press, a teacher and teacher aide were diagnosed with MRSA on Monday. 

School is expected to re-open on Wednesday after custodians disinfect buildings and buses today at the 1600-student district, today said Superintendent Deborah Wahlstrom.

Kelly Klump / Michigan State University

Let's say you're a rat and someone gives you the option of eating vanilla frosting instead of boring old rat food.
 
If you're a female rat, you're probably going to eat that frosting -- six times likely more than males.

It's no secret that eating disorders are more prevalent among women than men, but new research from Michigan State University finds that might be caused by biology -- not just emotions or social pressure.

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The state House Education Committee this week heard testimony from parents whose children died in school after suffering cardiac arrest.

Among those parents was Randy Gillary. His 15-year-old daughter, Kimberly, collapsed during a high school water polo game in 2000. 

Gillary says although CPR was begun immediately, it was too late. Kimberly was removed from life support two days later.

"We basically lost her on the pool deck," Gillary says.

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If you're between 35 and 64-years-old, you're considered middle aged. You're probably working, have children, and possibly elderly parents that you help care for, as well. This is also the time when many chronic health conditions appear.

Toss in some tough economic times lately, and it adds up to a lot of stress.

That may be why Michigan has seen a bigger spike in middle-aged suicides than almost any other state.

Last-wish ID cards?

May 2, 2013
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A Michigan lawmaker says a person's end-of-life wishes should be accessible during an emergency.

You may have what's called a "living will" that determines what kind of care -- if any -- you want if you have, say, a heart attack. But if you don't have that document with you, emergency responders are going to try to bring you back to life.

Peter Payette/Interlochen Public Radio

A new initiative in Kalamazoo county is in the works to provide a residential space for adults with autism, known as Aacorn Farm.

Aacorn stands for Autism Agricultural Community Option for Residential Need, and the organization is led by a group of parents who have children with autism. A residential community like this isn't the first of its kind, but it is for adults with autism.

The residential space aims to assist some of the nearly 50,000 Michigan residents who have been diagnosed with autism in Michigan, 16,000 of which are children.

City of Warren

Updated at 2:54 pm

The 40 evacuated court employees have left the police station, where they congregated after the powder was discovered.

Court proceedings are canceled for the afternoon.

The HAZMAT team says the court is safe and secure, though it'll take another 4 to 6 weeks of testing to figure out exactly what kind of powder the envelope contained. 

Meanwhile, four of the employees exposed to the mystery powder are being quarantined and examined in the hospital. They're not exhibiting any symptoms or illness, says Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green. 

He says either the city police or the FBI will take the investigation from here.

1:13 p.m.

The city of Warren evacuated the 37th District Court this morning because of a suspicious letter containing white powder.

According to Christina Hall from the Detroit Free Press, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said no one was hurt or sickened.

About 40 employees were at the neighboring police station awaiting the all-clear from the fire department to return to the court, 8300 Common Road.

Fouts said a letter was mailed from Chrysler to a third party and was delivered to the court by mistake. The clerk re-mailed the letter to the third party. On Friday, the letter came back to the court as undeliverable, Fouts said.

He said the clerk opened the letter this morning and the powder came out. Police, fire and Hazmat were called.

“The intended target was not the district court,” Fouts said, adding that he did not know to whom the letter was addressed or the type of letter it is.

Fouts said the substance did not appear to be a potentially dangerous one and that he anticipates the court will reopen today.

- Chris Zollars, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Air pollution is a serious problem in Michigan. It's already linked to health risks like asthma and autism, but now there's evidence it may also be behind the rise in heart attacks.

Sara Adar is one of the researchers at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health releasing this new study. She says, "Every increase in air pollution, it increases the likelihood that your arteries are gonna thicken. We see the same for risks of heart attack and strokes."

Adar says no air is completely clean, but that the Clean Air Act has led to fewer fatalities due to air pollution.

"So when we breathe these particles into our lungs, our bodies respond to those. And it triggers an inflammation response, because you know, it's not enjoying those particles in our lungs."

These new findings suggest even if you eat healthy food and get regular exercise, you still have a slightly greater risk of early heart attack if you live near lots of pollution.

University of Michigan Health System

Around this time of year, we all try to do some spring cleaning.

Well, it turns out that your brain does some of that too.

Jun-Lin Guan, Ph.D, is a researcher at the University of Michigan and is the senior author of a new article that explained the importance of an important protein that helps our brains clean and maintain stem cells that reside deep in the brain. 

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When you are a parent, you’re making choices for your kids day-in and day-out.

Life can throws plenty of curve balls to a family, whether health, financial, or emotional. So how do families weather life’s challenges and make the right choices?

Michigan writer Robert Omilian tackles those key questions in his book, No Fear, No Doubt, No Regret: Investing In Life’s Challenges Like A Warrior.

The book was published by Ferne Press of Northville.

It recently won the 2013 Pinnacle Award for Parenting Books.

His insights were hard-won as he walked alongside his son Alan, who was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. The disease unfortunately, claimed his life in July of 2010.

You can listen to the full interview above.

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Men who live on one side of Rawsonville Rd. have a life expectancy that's six years longer than men on the other side.

In fact, the life expectancy for males in Washtenaw County is the equivalent of Switzerland, while in Wayne County it's the equivalent of Syria. 

Ron French is a contributing writer for Bridge Magazine, and recently published a story about the health disparities between Wayne and Washtenaw counties, and spoke with us about what he found.

Drugsonline.com

University of Michigan researchers say more than forty percent of parents are making a serious mistake when they try to treat their toddlers for a cough or cold.

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be used in children under age of four. The drugs have not been proven effective for young children and may cause serious side effects.

But a new poll by U of M researchers says more than 40% of parents are using the medicine to treat their toddlers.

wikipedia.com

The state is encouraging Michigan health plans to provide genetic counseling and testing for some types of breast cancer. 

Breast and ovarian cancer can run in families. Sometimes it's caused by an underlying genetic change passed from parent to child.

Jenna McLosky, who's the cancer genomics education coordinator for the Michigan Department of Community Health, says women who have a family history of breast cancer should consider tests for a change in the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes.

Maria Morell / University of Michigan

Right to Life of Michigan is criticizing a University of Michigan research project that will use fetal stem cells.

U of M announced this week it will lead a clinical trial looking at a potential treatment for ALS -- known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The nerve disease often kills people within three to four years after diagnosis.

Ed Rivet of Right To Life of Michigan says the stem cells U of M will inject into ALS patients come from an aborted fetus. The group is opposed to that and to embryonic stem cell research.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is set to lead a national trial in the use of stem cell injections to study their effects on the symptoms of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

U-M will collaborate with Emory University in the Phase II clinical trial, pending approval by  the Institutional Review Board, which could take about a month. The FDA has approved the trial.

It's estimated between 30,000 to 50,000 people in the United States have ALS.

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On an average day in Michigan, two babies die. That alarming statistic comes from the Michigan Department of Community Health, which says only 14 other states have worse infant mortality rates.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is with the Kids Count project at the Michigan League for Public Policy. She says expanding Medicaid coverage under the federal Affordable Care act could make a big difference in reducing this sad statistic.

"If we care about what's happening to kids in this state, we need to make this investment at the very beginning of life to make sure that more kids are born healthy."

"The Affordable Care Act would insure that more mothers to be would have ongoing access to care which is important in order to have a healthy pregnancy."

Lawmakers in Lansing are debating whether to expand Michigan's Medicaid rolls. There is some opposition to the idea. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pick up the tab for the expansion through 2016.

e-how.com

Michigan workers are losing their health-care coverage at a greater rate than any other state.

In 2000, about 78 percent of Michigan workers got insurance through their employer.

By 2011, that fell to about 63 percent.

Lynn Blewett is a University of Minnesota professor who took part in the national study funded by the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Felix de Cossio / White House

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A Grand Rapids hospital has broken ground on a $54 million expansion and renovation project and the establishment of a cancer program named after former first lady Betty Ford.

The Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital announced plans Tuesday to double space for patients. The project also includes renovating three buildings and adding about 300 jobs in nursing, therapy and other specialties.

Ford's daughter Susan Ford Bales announced the creation of The Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program in honor of her mother and grandmother, Hortense Neahr Bloomer. Both women were active supporters of the hospital and Betty Ford brought such previously taboo subjects as breast cancer into the public arena by candidly discussing her battle with it.

Mary Free Bed is a nonprofit hospital providing rehabilitation for children and adults.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A federal judge has ruled that Blue Cross must pay hundreds of Michigan families who were denied coverage for behavioral therapy for children with autism.

Blue Cross contends the therapy is experimental, but doctors disagree.

The ruling may cost Blue Cross about five million dollars.

Farm Rich

Two people from Michigan are among those sickened in a nationwide E. coli outbreak.

The E. coli outbreak has sickened 24 people in 15 states, including the two in Michigan.

The contamination has been traced to Farm Rich frozen food products including mini pizza slices, mini quesadillas with cheese and chicken, philly cheese steaks

with cheese, and mozzarella bites. The recalled products were sold at Kroger, Spartan Stores and other chain supermarkets.

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Babies spit up -- a lot. It often happens when they eat too quickly  or too much. It's normal, but it sure can scare parents.

A University of Michigan study says doctors should be careful about using labels to describe babies with upset stomachs.

Dr. Beth Tarini, an assistant professor of pediatrics at U-M, says when doctors use terms like gastroesophageal reflux disease -- or GERD -- the only thing most parents hear is "disease."

"It can transform the way the parent views the child's health. It can take a parent who has a healthy child, and have that parent start to believe that that child is actually sick," Tarini says."Parents come into the office, understandably distressed that their baby is spitting up."

Tarini says sometimes physicians, in trying to help the parents, will reach for anything they can do to help, which can lead to the overuse of antacids, like Zantac.

ST. IGNACE, Mich. (AP) - The Mackinac Bridge will be lit blue at sundown Tuesday and continue to be illuminated at night for the entire month as part of an autism awareness campaign.

The Mackinac Bridge Authority is working with several corporations and organizations for "Light It Blue Michigan." All costs are paid by private donations.

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