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Your health, influenced by social standing

Photo: JD Hancock/CC 2.0/

Of the five factors that go into building good health, experts agree three are social. Whereas two factors – health choices (like sleep and safe sex) and genetics – come up frequently in discussions around improving health care, three additional factors often fall by the wayside.

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In The News: Maternal Mental Illness

More than 500,000 women in the United States encounter postpartum depression every year. According to a new article co-authored by Katy Kozhimannil, Ph.D., School of Public Health, depression symptoms can start during pregnancy — negatively impacting both the mother and baby.

“…maternal illness adversely affects infant brain development and subsequent social and emotional health as a result of inadequate prenatal care, poor birth outcomes, and impaired parenting practices,” Kozhimannil and co-author Helen Kim wrote last week in Science Magazine.

Some states across the country have started screening and treatment for depression, but according to Kozhimannil and Kim, that’s not enough.

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E. coli in our lakes: What does it really mean?

Image courtesy Death to the Stock Photo

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the personal blog of University of Minnesota associate professor of biosciences Timothy Johnson, Ph.D.
Johnson’s research at the U of M College of Veterinary Medicine includes investigations into antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens, microbial communities in the animal gastrointestinal tract, and multidrug resistance of E. coli and Salmonella in both humans and animals.

If you follow the local news, or have children that love swimming, you have probably noticed an increasing number of beaches in Minnesota closed recently due to high E. coli levels. Just in Minneapolis, Lake Hiawatha Beach and Lake Calhoun’s Thomas and 32nd Street beaches were recently closed in response to high E. coli counts in the water. The simple phrase “E. coli” strikes fear into the hearts of anyone who has ever experienced gastrointestinal distress. However, it is important to understand what E. coli actually is and what “high E. coli levels” actually means to our lakes.

What is E. coliE. coli stands for Escherichia coli. This is the formal name for a species of bacteria in honor of the German-Austrian physician Theodor Escherich, who first identified the bacteria associated with digestion in infants. Here are the important take-home messages about E. coli:

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In The News: Innovative U of M clinical trial offers hope for rare skin disease

Children with epidermolysis bullosa (EB) face large life challenges from the get-go. The genetic disorder leaves skin extremely fragile and with visible rashes and painful blisters. According to an NBC News report, approximately 25,000 to 50,000 Americans, mostly children, live with EB and people who don’t receive treatment often die by the age of 30.

But a clinical trial led by Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D., professor and pediatric blood and marrow transplant physician at the University of Minnesota Medical School, may help improve the quality of life for those diagnosed with EB.

“This is one of the most difficult to treat disorders and a very painful disorder,” Tolar said in the NBC News report. “Before we started, there was absolutely nothing that would change the outcome of these children.”

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In the News: Getting your baby to sleep through the night

One of the trickiest parts of parenthood, especially new parents, is getting your baby to sleep through the night. Not only is it important for your little one to get the sleep they need, it’s important for parents to get enough rest so you can continue to care for your new addition.

University of Minnesota neurologist, sleep expert, and father of three, Michael Howell, M.D., combined personal experience and years of research to develop a five step process to keep babies sleeping throughout the night.

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Ebola, although deadly, not a likely threat to the US

Photo courtesy Flickr user European Commission DG ECHO

The first documented Ebola outbreak was recorded over 40 years ago in central Africa. Until now, outbreaks have been contained rather quickly, and although medicine has advanced, the deadliest recorded outbreak of Ebola is happening in West Africa right now.

Having originated in fruit bats, the Ebola virus is found primarily in Africa. And while the origin of the virus may be thousands of miles away from Minnesota, visitors to the region including a Minnesota man set to visit family next month have perished after infection. Furthermore, the families of Liberians in Minnesota have taken action to protect their loved ones abroad by fundraising to battle the deadly virus.

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