Daily Archives: April 19, 2010

Good News for those with Migraine Headaches

Here’s a good news story for those of us who suffer with migraine headaches. According to two new studies, migraine sufferers may be able to get sufficient relief without turning to prescription drugs.

The studies, published in the latest issue of the journal Headache, conclude that naproxen (marketed over-the-counter [OTC] as Aleve) and acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) effectively decreased or eliminated pain and reduced migraine recurrence and migraine-associated symptoms to a degree defined as a “desirable outcome” of migraine therapy by the International Headache Society.

Here are more details from Reuters Health:

Migraine headache affects as many as 28 million Americans and costs the U.S. economy an estimated $24 billion every year.

About three-quarters of people who suffer from migraines report more than one migraine a month. The symptoms — pain, light and noise sensitivity, nausea — can last from 4 to 72 hours and often lead to missed days from school or work.

Researchers from Thailand analyzed four well-designed previous studies of naproxen at doses of 500 to 825 milligrams for treatment of acute moderate to severe migraines involving 2,168 patients.

Led by Chuthamanee Suthisisand of Mahidol University in Bangkok, the authors concluded that naproxen effectively reduced headache intensity, pain and symptoms within 2 hours of taking it – defined by the International Headache Society as a desirable outcome.

When compared to other drugs known as triptans, naproxen did as well as the prescription drug frovatriptan (marketed as Frova) but did not offer the same clinical benefits as almotriptan (marketed as Axert) and zolmitriptan (marketed as Zomig).

However, because of side effects, not all patients can take triptans, and naproxen offers those patients a non-prescription alternative, Suthisisand told Reuters Health by email.

Still, the authors found that naproxen “appears to be inferior” to aspirin in treating migraines. Suthisisand said the science suggests 1,000 milligrams of aspirin is the best of several treatments that include naproxen and acetaminophen for acute moderate to severe migraine episodes, as long as patients can tolerate potential gastrointestinal side effects.

Although the Thai team acknowledged that the quality of studies such as theirs depends on the quality of the original studies, they said they were confident the studies they reviewed were high-quality.

In the second study, researchers from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the makers of Tylenol, randomly assigned 378 migraine sufferers to either 1000 milligrams of Tylenol or a dummy pill.

In the 90-day trial, the researchers, led by Mary Jane Prior, found that the Tylenol group began to benefit within an hour of taking the medication. At 2 hours, 52 percent of the acetaminophen group reported that their pain was reduced to mild or no pain, compared to 32 percent of the dummy pill group.

The team also reported a benefit for severe pain sufferers, but they could not determine whether that was due to chance, given the small number of patients in the trial.

The study also found that acetaminophen offered “significantly larger” relief than placebo from nausea and noise sensitivity at 2 hours and nausea, light and noise sensitivity and functional impairment at 6 hours.

The study, the authors concluded, adds to earlier clinical evidence supporting acetaminophen’s use to treat migraine.

“When effective,” the authors wrote, “acetaminophen provides consumers with a non-prescriptive, lower cost alternative to costly prescription migraine drugs.”

Acetaminophen is not currently approved by the FDA as a migraine treatment except as part of an aspirin or aspirin and caffeine compound. McNeil Consumer Healthcare declined to say whether they were applying to the FDA for approval of acetaminophen for use in migraine.

Study Finds Unborn Babies Respond to Mother’s Mood

The more we learn about the unborn child, the more miraculous and amazing they seem to be. Now, a study out of Nagasaki, Japan, tells us that  unborn babies respond to their mother’s mood while she is watching a movie, becoming quiet and still if the film is sad and very lively if the film is happy. Here’s the story as told by LifeSiteNews.com:

Dr. Kazuyuki Shinohara and colleagues in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior of Nagasaki University in Japan showed 10 pregnant volunteers a cheery 5-minute clip from the Julie Andrews musical The Sound of Music. Another 14 watched a tear-jerking 5 minutes from the 1979 Franco Zeffirelli film The Champ, in which a boy cries at the death of his father.

Each clip was sandwiched between two “neutral” film clips so that the team could measure any changes in fetal movements against a baseline.

The women listened to the movies using headphones to guarantee that only the effect of the mothers’ emotions was being measured and that their unborn babies were not being influenced by the movie’s soundtrack.

“Fetuses can hear by the last trimester,” explained Dr. Shinohara.

The team counted the number of arm, leg and whole body movements via ultrasound and found that during the happy film clip the unborn babies moved their arms significantly more than when the pregnant women watched the neutral clips.

However, the unborn babies of the women watching the sad clip moved their arms significantly less than normal.

“These findings suggest that induced emotions in pregnant women primarily affect arm movements of their fetuses, and that positive and negative emotions have the opposite effects on fetus movement,” Dr. Shinohara wrote in his report.

Outlining the motive for his research Dr. Shinohara said that the association between maternal psychological well-being during pregnancy and fetal welfare has recently attracted increasing attention.

“Chronic stress exposure for pregnant women affects fetal development, resulting in preterm birth and low birth weight. In addition to stress, persistent negative maternal emotions during pregnancy such as anxiety, depression, and anger also exert an influence on fetal and later development of a child,” Shinohara explained.

Shinohara concluded that while it was unclear what makes the unborn child of a happy mother “wave,” he suggests that sadness releases more of the “fight or flight” hormone epinephrine (adrenalin), which redirects blood away from the uterus and prepares muscles for exertion.

The study, titled “Fetal response to induced maternal emotions” was published by The Journal of Physiological Sciences.

Premature baby ‘Tom Thumb’ born at 25 weeks weighing half a pound survives

German doctors have revealed photographs of the smallest premature baby boy to have survived against incredible odds after being born at 25 weeks weighing just over half a pound. To give you and idea of how incredible this is … when I was in my medical training in the 1970’s, we did not even try to resuscitate a 25 week old baby. We kept him or her warm and comfortable, but they died very quickly. Here’s the story:

The baby, who doctors dubbed “Tom Thumb” was less than the length of a sheet of A-4 paper and weighed a fraction over 9.7 ounces (275 grams) when he was born by Caesarean section 15 weeks prematurely at the University of Medicine at Göttingen in western Germany in June 2009.

For 24 hours a day, the child was in an incubator and hooked up to feeding tubes, breathing tubes, a heart monitor, a catheter and a plethora of electronic devices to monitor every vital sign as he faced risks of cerebral haemorrhage or organ failure.

In December, the baby was finally pronounced “stable” after achieving a weight of 8.2lbs – considered an average birth weight in Germany.

Now, nine months after his birth, doctors have allowed the unnamed boy’s parents to take him to the family home in Eighsfeld, central Germany, after ruling that he is strong enough to survive.

Officials from Göttingen hospital said that, having checked all available records of premature births worldwide, they were unable to find a viable birth of a boy at a lower weight. Three girls – including one born in the US at just 244 grams – had survived lower birth weights. The smallest boy previously recorded weighed 10.4 ounces.

Dr Stephan Seeliger, an expert on premature babies, said: “I spoke to the parents about the birth beforehand – whether we should go for it or not. In the end, I said: ‘Good thing we did it!'”

I would agree, Dr. Seeliger. Well done. Well done, indeed.