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Health notes: Flu clinic, inflammation, device to reduce stillbirths

Flu clinic set Saturday

The VNA & Hospice of Cooley Dickinson and Greenfield Savings Bank are hosting a flu clinic for people 19 and older Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Greenfield Savings Bank, 325A King St., Northampton.

Please bring Medicare or private insurance cards to the clinic. Cost of vaccine is $30 but no one will be denied care due to inability to pay or for lack of health insurance.

Study stresses danger of inflammatory diet

The evidence for the health benefits of anti-inflammatory foods keeps building, with a recent University of South Carolina study showing a strong link between inflammatory foods and gastrointestinal-tract cancers.

The study, funded by the university’s Center for Colon Cancer Research and presented as a poster at a recent American Institute of Cancer Research meeting, took a fresh look at existing dietary data from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study from 1987-2003.

Using an inflammatory diet index developed by James Hebert, director of the South Carolina Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Program and a distinguished professor at the University of South Carolina, researchers determined that participants with an anti-inflammatory diet were 400 percent less likely to die from gastrointestinal cancers.

Susan Steck, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor at the university, cautioned that the sample size for GI deaths in the study is small. The 400 percent number shouldn’t be the takeaway as much as the growing evidence that diet can play a major role in diseases such as esophageal, stomach and colorectal cancer. And an inflammatory diet can contribute to higher rates of those cancers.

Foods high in saturated or trans fats, sugar and gluten are especially inflammatory on the digestive tract. Alcohol, white bread and milk (but not low-fat milk) also are inflammatory.

Fruits and vegetables and many non-processed foods are anti-inflammatory, and so are many spices such as turmeric, ginger, oregano and garlic.

— THE STATE (Columbia, S.C.)

New device aims to reduce stillbirths

An experimental device that helps deliver babies during troubled labors was invented by an auto mechanic in South America.

It’s being developed as part of an effort to reduce stillbirths around the world.

The instrument is named the Odon Device in honor of its inventor, car mechanic Jorge Odon of Argentina, who got the idea when friends re-created a YouTube video showing how to extract a cork from a wine bottle. It is to be tested in Argentina and South Africa before wider distribution.

Birth is still a perilous event in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, 2.6 million babies were stillborn globally in 2009, a number that has declined little since 1995, when there were 3 million stillbirths. Moreover, about 260,000 women died in childbirth last year.

The device being developed by Becton, Dickinson and Co. of Franklin Lakes, N.J., essentially consists of a polyethylene bag and a tube. The bag is inserted into the birth canal and inflated slightly to create a balloon that holds onto the baby’s head. That makes it easier to deliver the newborn, without the potential dangers that arise when a less-skilled practitioner uses forceps or vacuum suction. It’s also an alternative to cesarean sections, which are not readily available in poor countries.

Odon got the idea in 2005 after seeing a plastic bag inserted into a wine bottle and inflated to get a cork out through the bottle’s narrow neck.


Exercise during pregnancy boost babies’ brain power

Attention pregnant women: If you want to help your child get into Harvard, lace up those sneakers and exercise.

Hardly a week goes by without science delivering new evidence that exercise boosts the brain. Studies have linked exercise to brain health in senior citizens, middle-aged adults and kids. A trio of researchers from the University of Montreal figured the same might hold true for babies in utero as well.

They recruited women who were in their first trimester of pregnancy and randomly assigned them to an “active” or “sedentary” group. Women in the active group were advised to get at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise at least three times a week during their second and third trimesters, while women in the sedentary group pretty much took it easy.

After the babies were born, researchers tested their brains to see if they could spot any differences. Sure enough, the babies whose mothers had exercised had more mature brains than the babies whose mothers were sedentary, according to study results presented Monday at the Neuroscience 2013 meeting in San Diego.


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