Thursday, November 08, 2007
Too much TV time has negative effects

By Anthony Policastro, M.D

Over the years, there have been many studies done on the effects of television. The most recent issue of Pediatrics from the American Academy of Pediatrics has three such studies. The first of them addressed sleep patterns and memory skills. The findings looked at both television and computer games. The conclusions were that both television and computer game exposure affect children's sleep. It appears that while sleep still occurs, it is not a normal sleep pattern. In addition verbal memory performance is affected. This means that children with too much exposure to TV or computers have impaired memory skills when tested. The second study looked at the effect of television on later attention skills. Previous studies had shown that too much television can lead to attention deficit type symptoms. This study broke it down more. There were three significant findings. The first was that viewing educational television before age 3 was not associated with attention problems. Viewing non-educational television was associated with later attention problems. After age 3, there did not seem to be any attention problems later in life. People may wonder why we see so many more children with attention problems now than we did in the past. It very possibly has to do with television viewing at an early age. The third study looked at television violence. We have known for many years that viewing violence makes children see violent behavior as acceptable. The new study looks at behavior later in life. The interesting finding in this study is that boys were different than girls. Boys who watched violence on television in the pre-school period were more likely to have later aggressive and antisocial behavior. We have long known that television viewing in children is associated with obesity. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it means they spend less time exercising. The second is that children tend to eat snacks when they watch television. The results of all these studies suggest the following things to do: Children should not watch television before age 3 unless it is educational television. Children should limit television and computer/videogame time to less than 2 hours per day. Children should not eat while watching television. Pre-school boys should not view violence on television. The V-chip can help in this role. As with most things, we have to be careful about overdoing them. It would appear that television needs to be in that category as well.

Delaware receives high marks
The medical technology industry is well-known for its major contribution of its products to the health of the nation. According to the Lewin Group, a prominent health research firm, the medical technology industry is a strong, vibrant and growing part of the U.S. economy, and plays a critical role in improving the quality of life and health of patients everywhere. In a newly released report at the October, AdvaMed 2007 - The Med Tech Conference in Washington, D.C., the state of Delaware was ranked second in the country for having the highest concentration of medical technology jobs relative to total employment - almost three times the national average. The report indicated that, in Delaware, the medical technology profession had more than $1 billion in sales, and the industry employs more than 3,000 workers. The Health Sciences Cluster has an economic impact on the state of $3.1 billion. "MTI fits well into Delaware's R & D footprint and provides above average wages for our workforce," said Delaware Economic development Office director Judy McKinney-Cherry. A copy of the full report can be found at

Osteoporosis and stroke screenings
Residents living in and around the Seaford, community can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or a serious bone fracture. Life Line Screening will be at Nanticoke Senior Center on Dec. 4. The site is located at 310 Virginia Ave. in Seaford. Appointments will begin at 8 a.m. A stroke, also known as a "brain attack," is ranked as the third leading killer in the world, and the leading cause of nursing home admissions. Stoke often occurs without warning. The good news is that painless screening can help identify problems that can lead to stroke before it is too late. Screenings are fast, painless and low cost. They test for blocked carotid arteries, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and hardening of the arteries in the legs. Bone density screening is also offered to assess the risk of osteoporosis. These screenings are important because of the silent and often debilitating nature of the conditions. The majority of strokes are caused by plaque build up in the carotid arteries.

The abdominal aorta is the largest artery in the body, and a weakness in the walls of the artery can cause a ballooning called an aneurysm, which can rupture. A ruptured aneurysm is generally fatal. Peripheral arterial disease or PAD is also known as a "hardening of the arteries." Sufferers have a 4-6 fold increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Risk is evaluated through a measurement called the "Ankle-Brachial Index," which is obtained by reading the systolic pressure in the ankle and arm. All four screenings take less than an hour to complete. The cost for a Wellness Package of all four screenings including free osteoporosis screening is $129. For more information regarding the screenings or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1287 or visit us at Pre-registration is required.

DPH declares vaccine shortage
Delaware Division of Public Health Director Jaime H. Rivera, MD has declared that the state is experiencing a shortage in certain mercury-free vaccines. Dr. Rivera signed three declarations pursuant to House Bill 108, which the Delaware General Assembly passed in 2005 and amended in June 2007. The amended law stipulates that a shortage cannot be declared until all other sources for additional mercury-free vaccines are exhausted. The declarations allow health providers to administer vaccines containing mercury to pregnant women and children younger than 8 years. The declarations, which are applicable for 12 months, may be re-issued or amended upon Dr. Rivera's determination. The declarations cover three vaccines:
  • Mercury-free flu vaccine for the 2007-2008 season that is administered to pregnant women and children 3 to 8 years with contraindications to the regular flu shot. Supplies are adequate for other individuals.
  • Mercury-free diphtheria /tetanus vaccine (DT), used to protect children 7 years and younger who cannot receive the whooping cough vaccine for diphtheria and tetanus. The sole manufacturer of this vaccine does not produce a mercury-free brand.
  • Japanese encephalitis vaccine, recommended for those who plan to reside for a month or longer in areas where Japanese encephalitis infection is common. The sole manufacturer of this vaccine does not produce a mercury-free brand.
  • For more information, contact DPH's Immunization Program at 800-282-8672 or 302-741-2950.

    Depression support group in Laurel
    The Mental health Association in Delaware will be sponsoring a Depression Support Group in Laurel on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. In November, the meetings are the second and fifth Thursdays due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. The purpose of the Laurel Depression Support Group is to share experiences related to living and coping with depression. The group is confidential and offered at no charge. The MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register in advance by calling 1-800-287-6423.
  • Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment.
  • To maintain the privacy of our members, MHA does not publish support group locations; locations are provided with registration.

    Stroke support group
    Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.

    Lofland Park supports Alzheimer's Association
    LifeCare at Lofland Park held its third annual mini-walk on Saturday, Sept. 15 to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter. This year's efforts raised over $3,500, which went towards the Memory Walk held in Rehoboth on Sept. 29. The money stays locally to support programs that benefit individuals in this area that have been affected by Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. For more information about Alzheimer's resources, contact the Georgetown branch office of the Alzheimer's Association at 854-9788.