In Brief

June 05, 2008

Higher education level might mean lower BMI

When it comes to a healthy body weight, education matters.

Highly educated men and women in the U.S. have a lower average body mass index than their less-educated counterparts, according to a new comparison of international data. Conversely, highly educated men and women in poor countries where malnutrition is prevalent tend to have a higher BMI than less-educated people.

In short, education appears to confer a healthy buffer against obesity, or malnutrition, depending on the country of origin.

"An implication of the figure is that as incomes grow, so do waistlines, until the population takes into account the costs of these expanding waistlines," says Duncan Thomas, a professor of economics at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and contributor to the analysis, which was presented in the Handbook of Development Economics and released in April. "At that point, it is typically women who are on the vanguard of controlling weight, with the better-educated among them leading the pack. Men appear to follow suit."

Los Angeles Times

SIDS

2 common bacteria tied to babies' deaths

Researchers have pinpointed two common bacteria that may contribute to sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, even when infants show no sign of tissue damage. Postmortem tests on more than 500 babies found high levels of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (E. coli) in babies who died for unexplained reasons, a team from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London reported recently in the journal Lancet.

One explanation could be that the bacteria release deadly toxins that damage the young heart, lungs or nervous system.

But bacterial growth may also aggravate or be a secondary effect of other known risk factors, such as overheating, parental smoking and lying a child on his stomach.

SIDS is a leading cause of death in babies younger than a year old, yet its root cause remains a mystery.

Reuters

Infections

Antibiotic-resistant superbug spreading

The number of people hospitalized with a dangerous intestinal superbug has been growing by more than 10,000 cases a year, according to a study.

The germ, resistant to some antibiotics, has become a menace in hospitals and nursing homes. The study, being published in this month's issue of a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publication, Emerging Infectious Diseases, found it played a role in nearly 300,000 hospitalizations in 2005, more than double the number in 2000.

The infection, Clostridium difficile, is found in the colon and can cause diarrhea and a more serious intestinal condition known as colitis. It is spread by spores in feces.

C-diff, as it is better known, has grown resistant to certain antibiotics that work against other colon bacteria. The result: When patients take those antibiotics, competing bacteria die off and C-diff explodes.

Associated Press

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