April 2007 News Tips

Note to media: To reach the media contacts for any of these health news tips, call the Office of News and Publications at 214-648-3404.

Every athletic game plan should include safety strategy

Now that spring is here, families are welcoming the season by participating in outdoor activities and enrolling children in sports.

Each year, many of those activities are interrupted by an injury and a visit to an emergency room.

Sports are the leading cause of injury in adolescents and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one half of sports injuries could be avoided with proper education and use of protective equipment.

Dr. Luis Palacios, associate professor of family medicine and an expert in sports medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, makes these recommendations for children playing or practicing any individual or team sports:
  • Always wear protective gear and make sure the equipment is the right size and fits well.
  • Stretch and perform warm-up exercises.
  • Do not “play through” or “shake off” an injury.
  • Have adult supervision.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or a sports drink before and during the activity.
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/orthopedics to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in orthopedics.

Media Contact: Connie Piloto

April is National Youth Sports Safety Month.

Know the signs of impending early miscarriage

One of the most common, but least known, causes of miscarriage in early pregnancy is known as blighted ovum, which occurs when the fertilized egg implants normally but doesn’t develop. If women are aware of the signs, they can consult their doctor about what to do.

“It can be confusing to a woman to feel pregnant, but to be told that she really isn’t,” says Dr. Lisa Halvorson, a reproductive endocrinologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “A pregnancy has two parts – placenta and embryo. The placenta, which is healthy in this case, produces the substances that normally indicate pregnancy even though no embryo is present.”

A blighted ovum may lead to normal signs of pregnancy, including a positive pregnancy test, nausea and breast swelling. However, there may also be vaginal spotting and cramps. In later weeks, an ultrasound will show that there is no gestational sac or embryo.

In most cases, a health care provider will recommend letting the situation resolve on its own, as the body will eject or reabsorb the uterine contents. However, women with an infection or heavy bleeding may need additional medical help.

In general, a blighted ovum doesn’t affect a woman’s future fertility.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/endocrinology to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in endocrinology.

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie

Fighting childhood obesity begins at home

You’ve heard the alarming statistic before: one-third of U.S. children and teens are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of developing health problems such as diabetes.

But what can the typical parent do to prevent childhood obesity?

Cindy Cunningham, a nutritionist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has a few tips that can help a child stay healthy.

First, help babies avoid weight issues from the start of their lives.

“Even people with a genetic tendency to be overweight can avoid excessive weight gain with good nutrition and exercise. Start with breastfeeding and introduce solid foods when the baby is developmentally ready — around four to six months of age,” says Ms. Cunningham. “Learn to recognize your child’s hunger signs and don’t use food as a pacifier.”

Other tips include:
  • Keep portions small and allow children to get a second helping if they’re still hungry.
  • Keep the healthy food and snack options, such as fruit, stocked in the kitchen.
  • Don’t give up on offering healthy foods, as it might take several tries before a child will accept.
  • Use low-calorie substitutes when cooking meals, such as low-fat cheese and nonfat milk.
  • Encourage children to get exercise through physical activity.
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/nutrition to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

Media Contact: Cliff Despres

Shingles vaccine could head off painful skin condition affecting seniors

A new shingles vaccine may help aging adults prevent the agonizing pain associated with the virus that plagues about 1 million Americans each year.

Shingles, which affects mostly older people, is a blistering skin rash that is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the vaccine for use in people 60 years of age and older.

“Although the vaccine was approved by the FDA for those over 60, it is not known if it is of benefit if you are over 80 and it’s still not known how long the vaccine is effective for,” says Dr. Craig Rubin, chairman of geriatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The new vaccine doesn’t treat active shingles. Instead, it boosts a patient’s immunity to prevent the reactivation of the chickenpox virus.

“If you have recently had shingles you should talk to your doctor to see if you need the vaccine,” Dr. Rubin says.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/geriatrics to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in geriatrics.

Media Contact: Connie Piloto


About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern Medical Center, one of the premier medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. Its nearly 1,500 full-time faculty members — including four active Nobel Prize winners, more than any other medical school in the world — are responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and are committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to nearly 92,000 hospitalized patients and oversee 1.7 million outpatient visits a year.


To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via email, subscribe at www.utsouthwestern.edu/receivenews