Doctors should speak up about kids' weight
Even if they fear causing offense, pediatricians should speak up and tell parents of preschoolers when their kids are overweight or are gaining weight too fast. A University of South Florida-Johns Hopkins University study says parents would pay attention. The study is the first to look at parents' perception of ideal body weight in preschoolers. Among the findings: Not hearing from the pediatrician that their child was overweight left parents with the impression that weight was not a problem. Researchers found some parents of overweight or obese kids thought their own child's weight was healthy or even less than that of a healthy-weight preschooler. USF pediatrician Raquel Hernandez, lead researcher, says pediatricians may not bring up weight because they don't want to offend parents. But toddlers with a high body mass index are at serious risk of becoming obese adults and are not likely to outgrow the excess weight without intervention. The study appears in this month's Clinical Pediatrics.
FDA: Latest 'female Viagra' falls short
A pink pill designed to boost sex drive in women — the latest attempt by the drug industry to find a female equivalent to the blockbuster drug Viagra — fell short in two studies, federal health regulators said Wednesday. The Food and Drug Administration is considering Boehringer Ingelheim's drug flibanserin for premenopausal women who report a lack of sexual desire. The FDA said two Boehringer studies failed to show significant increase in sexual desire, but did increase side effects like depression, fainting and dizziness. Women taking the drug reported slightly more sexually satisfying experiences, but the FDA said that the study was looking for "overall increase in sexual desire regardless of whether a sexual event occurred or not." Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a New York urologist, says arousal in women is so complicated that it may be unrealistic to expect a pill to completely address sexual problems.
Shingles vaccine too costly for some
Up to a third of all adults who had chicken pox as children eventually develop shingles and/or its painful complication, postherpetic neuralgia. That means about a million Americans a year suffering severe rashes and pain that can be agonizing. So researchers have been puzzled that so few people — fewer than 10 percent — have been getting the shingles vaccine, recommended for people over 60. A report in the Annals of Internal Medicine found doctors think the vaccine is safe and effective, but many aren't recommending it strongly because of cost: $160 to $195, 10 times more than other commonly prescribed adult vaccines. Coverage varies among insurance carriers and Medicare, which treats it as a prescription drug. So patients must pay out of pocket, then seek reimbursement, putting it out of reach for many. "Shingles vaccination has become a disparity issue," said Dr. Laura P. Hurley, lead author and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. "It's great that this vaccine was developed . . . but just making these vaccines doesn't mean that they will have a public health impact."
Times staff, wires