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Heavy Drinking, Poor Eating

A recent study finds that heavy drinkers make poor food choices. They eat less fruit and get more calories from alcoholic beverages and foods that have a lot of bad fats and sugar than moderate- or non-drinkers.

Researchers looked at information from 15,000 people across the country taking part in a U.S. government survey about health and nutrition. Researchers were able to identify specific parts of the diet that suffer with heavy drinking. For instance, men who drink a lot of alcohol are likely to consume less milk and whole grain foods. The study identifies these associations, but doesn't explain the causes for them.

Researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, The National Cancer Institute, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted the study.

Baby's Heart Defects Linked to Mom's Obesity

A woman who is obese has a greater chance of having a baby born with a heart defect. Researchers say on average, obesity increases the chances of having an infant with a heart defect by 15%. The risk goes up the more obese the mother is.

Congenital heart defects are problems with the structure of the heart that are present when a baby is born. Problems can range from mild to life threatening.
Researchers say the findings suggest that obese women can reduce the risk if they lose weight before getting pregnant.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development funded the study.

Scientists Discover First Genes for Stuttering

Scientists have unlocked the mystery of what causes stuttering in some people. For the first time, they've found mutations in genes that cause this speech problem in some study participants in Pakistan, England, and the United States. Other mutations in two of these genes are tied to two serious metabolic disorders. Researchers say the findings may open up whole new ways of treating stuttering.

Stuttering affects more than three million Americans. People who stutter repeat or prolong words or syllables. Their eyes may blink rapidly, and their lips may tremble. Common treatments include reducing anxiety, regulating breathing, and learning to speak more slowly.

The gene mutations linked to stuttering were discovered by a team led by researchers within the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Sleep Apnea Tied to Risk for Stroke

A landmark study finds that sleep apnea increases the risk of stroke, especially for men. People with sleep apnea experience breathing pauses, or shallow breathing, during sleep. More than 12 million Americans are believed to have the condition, but many may not know it.

Researchers say sleep apnea more than doubles the risk of stroke for men. The risk appears in men with mild to severe cases. For women, the risk appears only in severe cases. Researchers say men may be affected more because they tend to develop sleep apnea at younger ages.

This was the largest study to date to link sleep apnea with stroke. Untreated sleep apnea has also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, death from any cause, and excessive daytime sleepiness. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the work.

Spring / Summer 2010 Issue: Volume 5 Number 2 Page 28