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Alcohol-related visits to ERs are on the rise

emergency roomAmericans are making more visits to hospital emergency rooms with alcohol-related causes, a new study released by the National Institutes of Health found.

“In just nine years, the number of people transported to the [emergency room] annually for medical emergencies caused or exacerbated by alcohol increased from about 3 million to 5 million,” said George F. Koob, Ph.D., Director of NIH’s National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “These findings are indicative of the detrimental effects that acute and chronic alcohol misuse have on public health, and the significant burden they place on our healthcare system.”

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NIH researchers say 2016 Zika virus outbreak makes US more prepared

Nearly two years after the Zika virus outbreak in the United States, the experience of the virus leaves the United States more prepared for future outbreaks NIH researchers say.

“The road map has already been written for us … hopefully the experience with Zika will allow us to respond in a much more efficient and effective way,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the institute charged with researching the virus.

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NIH study shows air pollution increases pregnancy risks

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A new study released by the National Institutes of Health reveals that effects from air pollution could increase the risk of early pregnancy loss.

"We've studied air pollution and reproductive health for several years, it's an area of research for myself and my team," said Pauline Mendola, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and a researcher at NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Mendola explained that after she and her colleagues published a paper earlier this year that revealed that exposure to ground-level ozone was associated with stillbirth, they were curious to see whether the same pollutants could be correlated with miscarriage as well. The study concluded that couples exposed to air pollution were more likely to experience a loss in early-stage pregnancies.

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NIH launches project to crowdsource pregnancy health information

The National Institutes of Health has launched a project to improve the understanding of pregnancy through crowdsourcing information gathered through surveys.

Known as PregSource, the project presents data collected through surveys as an informational resource for doctors, researchers, and women experiencing pregnancy.

“PregSource benefits everyone – the participants, their healthcare providers, and the research community," said Dr. Diana W. Bianchi, director of NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which leads the project. “The project also will generate much-needed data to help researchers address long-held questions about maternal and fetal health.”

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State website offers ability to compare local hospital costs

Wear The CostConsumers can compare hospitals’ prices for four common procedures at a new website, wearthecost.org, started Oct. 19 by the Maryland Health Care Commission.

The site, named for “Wear the Cost” T-shirts urging consumers to check on health cost comparisons, has “all-in costs” for knee and hip replacements, baby deliveries, and hysterectomies. MHCC executive director Ben Steffen told the Sentinel that the site will add costs on many other medical procedures, some hospital-based and some not, over the next several years.

“There is price variation between hospitals in Maryland,” Steffen said. “We think consumers should be aware of that.”

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NIH discovers drainage system in brain

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have confirmed the existence of a drainage system in the human brain.

“We literally watched people’s brains drain fluid into these vessels,” said Dr. Daniel S. Reich a researcher at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the senior author of the study. “We hope that our results provide new insights to a variety of neurological disorders.”

Reich explained that his research team discovered the brain had vessels that are part of the body’s lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is designed to drain waste and fight infections by distributing white blood cells to various parts of the body.

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NIH study shows HIV prevention drug safe for teen males

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have concluded that an HIV prevention drug commonly used by adults appears to be safe for adolescent males aged 15 to 17.

The study examined the safety and effectiveness of Truvada, a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis drug designed to preventively reduce the risk of an HIV infection.

"This is the first study on the safety and implementation of PrEP among adolescent men who have sex with men," said Dr. Bill Kapogiannis, one of the authors of the study and a researcher at NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "It demonstrates that adolescents who are at risk for HIV and are thus likely to benefit from PrEP can be successful at participating in biomedical HIV prevention research," he added.

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