Friday, June 15, 2018

Study finds a correlation between food allergies and autism spectrum disorder

Researchers looked at almost 200,000 US children ages 9 to 17 years of age. 
The researchers found, “children with food, respiratory, and skin allergies were significantly more likely to have autism spectrum disorder than children without these allergies.”
This is a correlational finding. It means that the two observations occurred, in this case, allergies and autism spectrum disorder, together at a significantly higher level than by chance. It does not necessarily mean that one causes the other.

Read the study in JAMA Network Open

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

4 of 10 Doctors Feel “Burned Out”

“When I grow up I want to be a doctor,” is a common statement heard from children. Our society respects doctors and often pays them well, but on the other side of the equation—the work of a doctor is often long and hard.

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The survey says:
Alicia Ault reports on Medscape Psychiatry, that:

42 percent of doctors say they are burned out with their job
15 percent feel depressed 

Over 15,000 physicians from 29 medical specialties answered the survey.

Medical specialties that are not happy at work:
  • Critical care physicians (48%)
  • Neurologists (48%)
  • Family medicine doctors (47%)
  • Oncologists (39%)
  • Orthopedic physicians (34%) 
  • Ophthalmologists (33%)
  • Pathologists (32%)
  • Dermatologists (32%)
Plastic surgeons reported the lowest level of burn out at 23 percent.
Female physicians report more burn out than their male colleagues.

The survey takers reported that too much bureaucracy and paperwork was the main factor contributing to burnout (56%).

Friday, January 12, 2018

James Randi Educational Foundation - 2017 Award

James Randi Educational Foundation announced today their award for 2017.

The honor was given to Susan Gerbic and her team of "guerilla skeptics" for their work "to enlist and train a team of editors who continually improve Wikipedia as a public resource for rationality and scientific thought."

For more information about the James Randi Educational Foundation see: JREF - Home

Learn more about Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia.

Congratulations Susan and all the Guerrilla Skeptics.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Should you call an ambulance or drive a gunshot victim to the hospital?

Let’s start off with a theoretical problem: 

You come out of a restaurant just as a man you do not know gets shot right in front of you. The gunman runs off and the gunshot victim and you lock eyes.
The victim is bleeding from the center of his body, you find yourself taking your shirt off, putting it to the man’s abdomen, and applying pressure. You can’t believe what is happening, as you yell, “Call a doctor! Call a doctor!”
Your thoughts are racing. “What if he bleeds out before the ambulance arrives?”
You think to yourself, “My car is right there, should I drive him to the hospital? It’s not far, but I’m not an ambulance driver. I have no idea what to do! I have no emergency medical training.” 

Should you transport a gunshot victim, or should you wait on emergency medical services?
Before you read on, take a minute to play the thought game. You desperately want to save this person’s life, what should you do? Wait for help, or get your patient to the ER?

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A study in JAMA Surgery found…
Do whatever gets the patient to the Emergency Room the fastest. For most injuries, the prehospital support of an ambulance was often best. But when it came to gunshot or knife wounds, the evidence showed that time was the most important factor. The faster the victim got to the hospital the better. 
The senior researcher, Elliott Haut, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says:
Typically, protocols for prehospital interventions are established at a regional or statewide level, which allows first responders to determine what, if any, medical procedures should be performed prior to and during transport to the hospital, Haut says. But research studies have rarely, if ever, evaluated or compared all of the effects of system-driven pre-hospitalization policies, leaving ideal prehospital care strategies undefined, he adds.

Friday, November 24, 2017

I’m too bored to do this for another second!

I am often asked by patients, “How can I get myself to do stuff I don’t want to do?”
To this, I give the simple answer, “Switch up the stuff you’re doing, so that you aren’t totally bored.”
I am not a big believer in willpower. At best, people can only bully their way through a task for so long. Willpower may work for short bursts, mainly when you are newly motivated, but it doesn’t work in the long run.
In the real world, we often have to do stuff that needs to be done, but we get no direct reward for doing it. We like the idea of getting the boring project done, but we really don’t want to do it.
The project could be laundry, exercise, or a big report—we want it done, but we really don’t want to do it.
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Break it up into small chunks
The old question is: How do you eat an elephant? The answer: One bite at a time.
For example, if I am working on a large writing project I take regular breaks, usually every hour and fifteen minutes. Then, for the next 15 minutes, I do something else that needs to be done, such as move laundry from the washer or clean the bathroom. Yep, it’s true. I don’t want to do the laundry or clean the bathroom, but I do want it done.
After 15 minutes, I go back to my writing project. (I have a load in the dryer as we speak.)
By changing activities, I have found that I can get more done and stay motivated to complete tasks.

Research from the University of Toronto backs up my actions
University of Toronto (U of T) News reports, “…according to new University of Toronto research, there may be no noticeable dip in our motivation and ability to do something as long as we switch up tasks throughout the day.”

Dan Randles, is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Michael Inzlicht, a professor of psychology at U of T Scarborough. He says, “While people get tired doing one specific task over a period of time, we found no evidence that they had less motivation or ability to complete tasks throughout the day.”

Friday, October 6, 2017

Wiggle Balls recalled by Toys "R" Us: choking hazard to infants

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported today, October 5, 2017, a recall involving Bruin Infant Wiggle Ball toys also called a giggle ball. They were sold exclusively at Babies “R” Us or Toys “R” Us.

"The firm has received six reports of rubber knobs breaking off, including four reports of pieces of the product found in children's mouths." the report said.

From the news release:

This recall involves Bruin Infant Wiggle Ball toys also called a giggle ball. The blue ball has textured bumps for gripping and has orange, green and yellow rubber knobs around the ball. The ball wiggles, vibrates and plays three different musical tunes. It has an on/off switch and requires 3 AA batteries to operate. The recalled wiggle balls have model number 5F6342E and Toys “R” Us printed on the product.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled balls, take them away from babies and return them to Babies “R” Us or Toys “R” Us for a full refund.
The firm has received six reports of rubber knobs breaking off, including four reports of pieces of the product found in children's mouths.
Sold Exclusively At:
Babies “R” Us and Toys “R” Us stores nationwide from June 2016 through January 2017 for about $13.
Toys “R” Us Inc., of Wayne, N.J.
Toys “R” Us Inc., of Wayne, N.J.

Toys “R” Us at 800-869-7787 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or online at and click on Product Recalls for more information.
Manufactured In: 
About 29,700 (about 3,000 were sold in Canada)