Every week, reporter Jessica Marcy selects interesting reads from around the Web.
The New York Times Magazine: A Drug That Wakes The Near Dead
The heart attacks never came. Four days later, Chris woke up. It was not the awakening of Hollywood movies in which the patient comes to, just as he was, speaking full sentences and completely mobile. Three years later, Chris still cannot talk. Although he breathes on his own, his lungs battle a steady barrage of infections; a feeding tube provides all his sustenance, and his muscles have contracted into short, twisted knots. He can move only the slightest bit. … Still, Wayne and Judy say that his cognition is improving. … Convinced that the son they know and love is still "in there," Chris's parents have spent the past three years searching for a way to bring him back out. So far, their best hope has come from an unlikely source: Ambien. A growing body of case reports suggests that the popular sleep aid can have a profound -; and paradoxical -; effect on patients like Chris. Rather than put them to sleep, both Ambien and its generic twin, zolpidem, appear to awaken at least some of them. The early reports were so pronounced that until recently, doctors had a hard time believing them. Only now, more than a decade after the initial discovery, are they taking a closer look (Jeneen Interlandi, 12/1).
The Weekly Standard: Romneycare And Abortion
Mitt Romney erased any doubt that he's playing to win the Iowa caucuses when he rolled out his first campaign ads in the Hawkeye State last week. A glossy paper mailer pitched Romney to socially conservative Iowans as "the strongest Republican to beat Barack Obama and protect our values." Romney's "pro-life," "pro-marriage," and "pro-family" credentials were the three bullet points. "Mitt Romney lives his values," read the "pro-family" text, as reported by the Des Moines Register. … Romney doesn't need to win Iowa's social conservative activists, but he does need to allay the concerns of enough social conservatives to win the state-;and the nomination. Vander Plaats says that one big stumbling block for Romney is the Massachusetts health care law's coverage of elective abortions. … Taxpayer funding of abortion is highly unpopular among the general electorate and outright toxic with Republicans. Voters opposed public funding of abortion by 72 percent to 23 percent in a 2009 Quinnipiac poll. Republicans opposed it by an eye-popping 91 percent to 5 percent. … The question for socially conservative Republicans isn't whether Romney's perfect-;it's compared to what (John McCormack, 12/12).
Huffington Post: Low Birthweight May Take A Toll On Cognitive Abilities Later In Life
At just 2 pounds, 15 ounces, Deb Discenza's daughter was what doctors and researchers consider a very low-birthweight baby. Discenza, who is co-founder of PreemieWorld and author of "The Preemie Parent's Survival Guide to the NICU," said she received ample information and that doctors gave her daughter plenty of care. But one area that they virtually ignored was the potential impact her daughter's small size at birth might have on her cognitive abilities down the road. … But eight years later, that may finally change. A new, Finland-based study published in the journal Neurology on Monday suggests that very low-birthweight babies -- those under 3.3 pounds -- scored lower than normal birthweight babies when researchers considered their general intelligence, attention, visual memory and executive functioning as adults. The latest report joins prior studies that have suggested that severely preterm babies do worse on neurocognitive tests. To look at the potential impact of birthweight on the brain, the authors of the new study compared approximately 100 adults with very low birthweight and approximately 100 who had not had very low birthweight (Catherine Pearson, 12/5).
American Medical News: How Technology Can Connect Doctors And Caregivers
With more than 29% of the U.S. population acting as a caregiver to someone else, chances are that physicians eventually will be faced, as Dr. Manaker is, with questions about how they can work with caregivers to ensure the health of the person receiving care. The majority of caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care, in addition to holding down a full-time job. To help make things more efficient, many are turning to technology that not only will supplement the care they are providing in person, but also will help them stay organized and connected with the care recipient's physicians or fellow caregivers. The more physicians can help get the needed technology to caregivers, experts say, the easier those caregivers' lives will be. Likewise, the more engaged the caregiver is, the better the outcomes for patients. … A study published in January by the National Alliance for Caregiving and UnitedHealthcare found that caregivers think technology can help save time (77%), manage the logistics of caregiving more easily (76%), increase feelings of effectiveness as a caregiver (74%), reduce stress (74%) and make a care recipient feel safer (75%) (Pamela Lewis Dolan, 12/5).
Huffington Post: Trisomy 18: What Is The Disease Affecting Rick Santorum's Daughter?
Few politicians have wed their political and family lives quite like GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Frequently hitting the campaign trail with his wife and children by his side, the father-of-seven has spoken publicly and intimately about tragedies his family has faced over the years, including a stillborn baby that became the focus of a 2005 Washington Post article. Now the Santorum family is faced with another tragedy: the life-threatening illness of their 3-year-old daughter Bella, who suffers from Trisomy 18. The genetic disorder is in the same category of the disease affecting Sarah Palin's son Trig, who was born with Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome. Like Trig Palin, Bella Santorum has become a central figure in her parent's presidential campaign, inspiring both praise for Santorum and criticism from those who believe he may be using her condition to further his agenda of fighting healthcare reform legislation (Jocelyn Richard, 12/5).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.