Daily Rounds: Pesticide-IQ Link; Calcium Questions; Hated Medicare Board; What's Your Bug Type?

Pesticide exposure in womb linked to low IQ -
Children exposed to high pesticide levels in the womb have lower average IQs than other kids, according to three independent studies released today in Environmental Health Perspectives. Pregnant women are urged to wash fresh fruits and vegetables well.The studies involved more than 400 children, followed from before birth through ages 6 to 9, from both urban and rural areas. The Berkeley study found that the most heavily exposed children scored an average of 7 points lower on IQ tests compared with children with the lowest pesticide exposures, lead author Brenda Eskenazi says. On IQ tests, the average score is around 100. Even a difference of 2 or 3 points — the size of the IQ loss caused by lead, which is known to cause brain damage — can have an enormous impact, says pediatrician Aaron Bernstein of Children’s Hospital Boston. ( Supplements may raise heart attack risk -
Calcium supplements appear to slightly raise the risk of heart attack, a new analysis suggests. But the data, from postmenopausal women who took supplements over seven years, are far from conclusive. So don’t throw out the multivitamins just yet – or those calcium supplements that many women take for bone health. Not all doctors are convinced that this study, led by the University of Auckland, is the last word on calcium supplements. Or that it changes the debate at all. (Los Angeles Times)

Linda Bergthold: Why Does (Almost) Everyone Hate the IPAB?
Actually, almost everyone hates the idea of the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Everyone, that is, except more than 200 economists and health care researchers, the former head of OMB, Peter Orszag, and of course the president of the United States, who made the IPAB a central part of his deficit reduction proposal last week. In fact, he recommended strengthening not repealing it. The reason for the president's strong support is the conclusion reached by many economists that the type of decisions that need to be made about Medicare spending require independence and expertise. (Huffington Post)

Gut Bacteria Divide People Into 3 Types, Scientists Report -
In the early 1900s, scientists discovered that each person belonged to one of four blood types. Now they have discovered a new way to classify humanity: by bacteria. Each human being is host to thousands of different species of microbes. Yet a group of scientists now report just three distinct ecosystems in the guts of people they have studied. “It’s an important advance,” said Rob Knight, a biologist at the University of Colorado, who was not involved in the research. “It’s the first indication that human gut ecosystems may fall into distinct types.” (

Three-Quarters Of U.S. Prescriptions Are Now For Generic Medicines : Shots - Health Blog : NPR
The brand-name pharmaceutical industry has a drug problem. All 10 of the most prescribed medicines in the U.S. last year were generics, led by the defending champion generic equivalents of Vicodin (hydrocodone plus acetaminophen). There were 131 million prescriptions dispensed for the painkiller last year, up 3 million from 2009, according to data released Tuesday by the IMS Institute for Health Informatics. The persistence of Vicodin-like medicines at the top of the chart is one reason why the White House is pushing new approaches to reducing the abuse and misuse of prescription painkillers. (

Embattled Harvard professor barred from teaching - The Boston Globe
Marc Hauser, the prominent Harvard psychology professor who was found by university investigators to have committed scientific misconduct, will not teach there next year, after a decisive faculty vote and a decision by the dean.


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