SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2010
More not always better with in vitro fertilization
Peter Gutierrez, Ph.D., of the VA's Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Denver VA Medical Center, talks about a study at a news conference in Denver on Wednesday that he will co-direct to study military suicides. Thomas Joiner at Florida State University will also co-direct the study. Researchers hope the new threeyear, $17 million study will help them reduce the rising number of suicides in the military by determining for the first time which prevention programs work and which don't.
Army study seeks best suicide prevention programs DENVER (AP) — Military medical researchers say their efforts to reverse the rising number of suicides among servicemembers are based on “good ideas,” but they don’t know which prevention programs work and which don’t. They launched a $17 million study Wednesday to find out. None of the current training programs is evidence-based, said Army Col. Carl Castro, director of the Military Operational Medicine Research Program at Fort Detrick, Md. “It’s good ideas — experts think that this is what we need to do — but we do not have any evidence that that training actually in fact prevents suicide,” he said. The new three-year project, funded by the Army,
will develop a network of researchers to study multiple aspects of suicide, look at the work of other studies and then compile a database so other researchers and people running suicide-prevention programs can see what is effective. More than 1,100 U.S. servicemen and women killed themselves between 2005 and 2009. In July, the Army announced a $50 million study of suicide and mental health involving about 500,000 service members and four other research institutions. That is separate from this initiative, which will be directed by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Denver and Florida State University. “We know we’re not going to solve the suicide problem in the military
with this three-year research consortium,” Castro said. “But what we hope to do at the end of this three years is to lay a very solid foundation on which other research can be built.” Denver VA researcher Peter Gutierrez said the database sets this project apart from others. It will include information from studies initiated by this project as well as studies done in other projects worldwide, he said, and it will be immediately available to policymakers. “That aspect of the consortium, I think, is really quite unique and something that we were very careful to design,” he said. The number of researchers and study subjects involved will depend on the topics chosen, Gutierrez said.
Study: Half of teens admit bullying in last year LOS ANGELES (AP) — Half of high school students say they’ve bullied someone in the past year, and nearly half say they’ve been the victim of bullying, according to a national study released Tuesday. The survey by the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute of Ethics asked more than 43,000 high school students whether they’d been physically abused, teased or taunted in a way that seriously upset them. Forty-three percent said yes, and 50 percent admitted to being the bully. The institute’s president, Michael Josephson, said the study shows more bullying goes on at later ages than previously thought, and remains extremely prevalent through high school. “Previous to this, the evidence was bullying really peaks in middle school,” Josephson told The Associated Press. He said the Internet has intensified the effect of taunting and intimidation because of its reach and its permanence. “It’s the difference between punching someone and stabbing him. The wounds are so much deeper,” Josephson said. Josephson added the survey’s results don’t surprise him because his group has
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“You have a combination that is a toxic cocktail,” MICHAEL JOSEPHSON president Josephson Institute of Ethics
conducted similar studies without publishing the results. But he said he still finds the numbers “alarming.” In the survey, 10 percent of teens admitted bringing a weapon to school at least once, and 16 percent admitted being drunk at school. Josephson said that means victims of bullying are in danger of striking back violently. “You have a combination that is a toxic cocktail,” Josephson said. The study reported responses from 43,321 high school students from around the country, and the margin of error was less than 1 percent. Rick Hesse, a professor of decision sciences at Pepperdine University, said the survey involved voluntary self-reporting and was
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therefore not a random, stratified sample of the U.S. population. But he said the large number of people surveyed and the lack of corrupting factors mean certain valid conclusions can be drawn from the results. The study’s release comes in a year of several high-profile suicides related to bullying, including that of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince of Massachusetts, who prosecutors say was relentlessly bullied by the six girls charged in her death. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education sent letters to schools, colleges and universities around the country warning them that failing to adequately address ethnic, sexual or gender-based harassment could put them in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — More tries aren’t necessarily better when it comes to in vitro fertilization. New research found that about 1 in 3 women had a baby the first time they tried a test tube embryo, and that improved to nearly 1 in 2 with a second try. However, undergoing a third cycle boosted success rates very little and leveled off with subsequent attempts. “Don’t quit if the first cycle isn’t successful. Your chances go up with the second cycle,” said lead researcher Barbara Luke of Michigan State University. But “if you haven’t gotten pregnant by the third, the chances are slim to continue.” In vitro fertilization involves mixing egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The resulting embryo is then transferred into the womb to grow into a baby. Earlier this month, British researcher Robert Edwards won the medicine Nobel Prize for pioneering the technique that has led to 4 million test tube babies. Infertility treatment is expensive. The average cost for an IVF cycle is about $12,400, according to the
American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Some insurance companies cover it. Desperate couples often try over and over to conceive, and there are no ethics standards on when doctors should stop helping them try. Fertility clinics report success rates based on the number of cycles attempted, but that doesn’t indicate how likely an individual woman is to get pregnant with each IVF cycle she undergoes. The new study is the first to examine that nationally. It looked at in vitro procedures around the country between 2004 and 2008. Researchers were able to match IVF procedures to individuals based on their date of birth, Social Security and other information. This is important because this gives doctors and couples a better sense of how likely an IVF treatment is going to result in a baby. Over the five-year period, some 300,000 women had more than half a million IVF cycles that resulted in 171,327 first-time deliveries. The live birth rate was 36 percent on the first IVF try, 48 percent with a second cycle and 53 percent with a third attempt.
Among those who tried seven or more times, the chance of success was 56 percent — hardly any better than the 53 percent after three tries. The findings show “diminishing returns” after three IVF cycles, said lead researcher Luke. “The results are not going to be much better.” That doesn’t necessarily mean women should give up, she said. There are other options including using donor eggs or a surrogate mother. The study, presented Wednesday at a reproductive medicine meeting in Denver, did not look at success rates based on age or other factors that may influence the outcome. Luke said future studies will examine those other issues. Advocates who help infertile couples say this will help them in their decisionmaking. After repeated futile treatments, couples can use the data to keep on trying or consider other options such as adoption, said Barbara Collura, executive director of the nonprofit Resolve: The National Infertility Association.
ATLANTA (AP) — Teens should get a booster dose of the vaccine for bacterial meningitis because a single shot doesn’t work as long as expected, a federal advisory panel said Wednesday. The vaccine was initially aimed at high school and college students because the disease is more dangerous for adolescents and can easily spread in crowded conditions, like dorm rooms. Three years ago, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said the vaccine should be offered to children ages 11 and 12. They believed the shot was effective for at least 10 years. But the panel was told Wednesday that studies show the vaccine works for less than five years. The committee debated adding a booster shot or simply push back the timing of the single dose to age 14 or 15. They decided that teens should get a booster dose at age 16. The vote for a second shot was 6 to 5, an unusually close vote for the panel. The panel majority concluded a booster after five years would be easier and less confusing to implement than changing the age for the first shot. The group provides vaccine advice to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services usually adopt the panel’s recommendations and sends the advice to doctors and the public. However, this recommendation may not be adopted quite so easily. A Food and Drug Administration official, Norman Baylor, said more studies about the safety and effectiveness of a second dose of the vaccine are needed. Some wondered if it was even necessary to make such a decision. Cases of bacterial
meningitis are at historic lows, and a survey of more than 200 colleges and universities — representing
more than 2 million students — in the last academic year found 11 cases of bacterial meningitis and three deaths.
CDC panel: Teens need another meningitis shot
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