Miscellaneous Health Topics

Some items of interest from the world of medicine:

1. Infant Homicide:

Infanticide (killing of a child in the first year of life) is the subject of a special article in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The timing of the deaths, potential risk factors and prevention are discussed.

In Europe, in the early 1800s, up to a third of live-born infants were killed or abandoned by their parents. In the U.S., between 1983 and 1991, 2776 cases of infanticides are identified by the authors. The problem has not disappeared.

Studies have shown that homicide during the first week of life is usually committed by the mother. After that age, the culprit is usually a male, often the father or stepfather of the victim. In children three years and older, the perpetrator is usually unrelated to the victim.

On Friday, Nov 20th, The Medicine Hat News reported that three people in Salt Lake City are accused of murdering a three year old child-one of the accused being the child’s mother from Alberta.

So, what are the risk factors? Usually, the mother is young, has been pregnant before, has low level of education and gets late prenatal care. The infant has low birth weight, usually is a male who arrives earlier than due date.

How can we prevent infanticide? The authors of the special article feel that “…the identification of risk factors and interventions must take place during pregnancy, at the time of delivery, and in the immediate postpartum period.”

Studies have shown that child abuse can be reduced by home visits from trained nurses during pregnancy and in the first two years of life of a first-born child of an unmarried mother with low socio-economic status.

2. Do Rich People Live Longer?:

A U.S. study, on the above subject, is discussed in an editorial in one of the recent issues of the Annals of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

The study confirms the long held belief that the rich do live longer than the poor. But, this has nothing to do with the life style of the affluent. In fact, in U.S., the authors of the study found that the major factor for high death rate amongst the poor is due to inadequate access to timely and high quality health care.

3. What women don’t know could kill them:

This is the title of an article in a recent issue of The Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Most of us know that heart and blood vessel diseases are number one killer. Women make up 40 percent of these deaths. But, a recent Heart and Stroke Foundation survey shows that only 17 percent of the Canadian women are aware of this.

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