Health

Photo courtesy flickr.com/bwjones

The Texas Medical Board has approved guidelines for the use of adult stem cells.

The new rules say that the procedure must be part of a clinical trial and have the approval of the Food and Drug Administration or an institutional review board. Leigh Hopper, a spokesperson for the Texas Medical Board says these institutions will make sure the use of adult stem cells is safe, ethical and that patients give informed consent.

Hopper says board members felt that since patients already have access to adult stem cells, the procedure needs to be regulated.

“Since this is occurring right now, the majority of the board felt that it was important to put some sort of framework in place to protect patients,” said Hopper.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/perspective

The University of Texas at Austin has kicked the smoking habit.

The UT System Board of Regents approved the policy this week. So while there are no signs up yet – and ashtrays can still readily be found around the 40-acres – smoking is no longer allowed. UT-Austin Human Resource Services director Adrienne Howarth-Moore says those no-smoking signs will be up soon.

"We have already received an order of our tobacco free campus signs,” Howarth-Moore says. “And so we are developing a plan for implementing those exterior signs, so that they will be prominently displayed for not just our campus community but for the variety of visitors and the general public that come to our campus on a daily basis."

Photo courtesy Liz Davenport via Flickr

The rate of teen pregnancies in Texas fell by 15 percent from 2007 to 2010.

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the number of 15 to 19 year-old girls having babies in Texas dropped from nearly 62 in every 1,000 to about 52 per 1,000.

54,281 Texas teens gave birth in 2007. That number went down by 6,530 to 47,751 in 2010.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/mommamia

A resolution on the Austin City Council agenda this Thursday has the city buzzing.  

Item 19 seeks to protect Austin bees, by essentially codifying a long-standing but informal practice of relocating wild colonies instead of exterminating them.

Joe Staudt, program supervisor for Health and Human Services’ Environmental Health Services department, said that every spring bees start thriving in Austin. People end up calling pest removal companies and have them eradicate the bee hives – which could prove detrimental in the long run.

The resolution before council is “just putting into writing essentially what we’ve been doing for years,” Staudt tells KUT. When someone calls the city to report a feral hive or bee swarm, they’ll be advised that it’s preferable to relocate the bees instead of destroying them, and then they’ll be provided a list of companies that can help.

Photo courtesy of the Darrell K Royal Fund for Alzheimer’s Research

A Texas initiative to fight Alzheimer’s disease was announced today, featuring some familiar faces.

The Darrell K Royal Fund for Alzheimer’s Research was unveiled today at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Alzheimer's Disease at the Texas Capitol. On hand was former Longhorns coach Royal and his wife Edith Royal, flanked by Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and actor Matthew McConaughey.

The idea behind the Royal Fund is to kickstart Alzheimer’s research in the state. A press release characterizes the fund as “a vehicle that funds collaborative research in Texas, and promotes sharing of discoveries and treatment strategies nationwide.”

Image by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Susan G. Komen for the Cure's decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood — which has performed breast cancer screenings and mammograms with Komen grants for the last five years — is hitting home for clinics in Dallas, Austin and Waco.

Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region reports that its six-year partnership with Dallas-based Komen has performed 720 clinical breast exams and risk assessments for poor women under the age of 40. Over the last three years, the North Texas Planned Parenthood chapter in Dallas has used Komen dollars to provide about 580 mammograms to poor women. And in Waco, Planned Parenthood of Central Texas has relied heavily on Komen funds to screen, diagnose and treat women across 10 counties. In 2010, the federal Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program, in conjunction with Komen funding, provided 609 Central Texas women with mammograms, 292 with diagnostic services and 329 with cervical cancer screenings. Twenty-four Medicaid-eligible women with breast or cervical cancer received treatment.

Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune

The Dallas-based breast cancer prevention group Susan G. Komen for the Cure has halted its financial support of Planned Parenthood, yet another blow to the family planning organization that provides abortions in some of its clinics. 

Planned Parenthood alleges that Komen — which was founded in 1982 by Nancy Goodman Brinker, a former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary under George W. Bush, to honor her deceased sister — succumbed to rising political pressure.

"Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count," Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement posted on the organization's website.  

Photo by Kelsey Sheridan

A University of Texas study found that 90 percent of bag lunches brought to school by preschool students were kept at temperatures that could result in food-borne illnesses.

The researchers took the temperatures of 700 preschoolers lunch's at nine different Texas child care centers. Forty-five percent of the lunches had at least one ice pack and 39 percent had none.

Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection

A new state law passed by the 2011 Legislature requires any college student under 30 who attends classes on a Texas campus must be vaccinated against meningitis. Previously only students who lived on campus needed one.

Photo by Foshydog http://www.flickr.com/photos/foshydog/

Texas is the 12th most obese state in the U.S., according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011. The report is from the non-profit research group Trust for America’s Health.

Texas has been slowly creeping up the list for the past two years, ranking 14th in 2009, and 13th in 2010. The obesity rate in Texas for adults is 30 percent.  Fifteen years ago that number was 16 percent. 

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