Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Health Notebook

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Health Notebook

Article excerpt

-- Hair analysis: Hair analysis is generally an unreliable method of diagnosing nutritional problems and exposure to environmental toxins, according to a study of six commercial laboratories.

A hair sample sent to all six labs produced widely varying and often opposite results. One lab called the patient a "fast metabolizer" and recommended that she abstain from vitamin A; another said the sample showed she was a "slow metabolizer" who should take vitamin A supplements.

"Health care choices based on these analyses may be ineffective or even detrimental to the patient's overall health," the researchers said in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

A study 15 years ago made a similar warning in the same journal.

The authors, from the California Department of Health Services, said the federal government should refrain from certifying hair analysis laboratories until standards for proficiency testing are developed.

-- Mental illness: One in 10 children suffers from mental illnesses severe enough to impair development, Surgeon General David Satcher said in urging changes to fix what he termed a crisis.

A report to be released today says too often children who wind up in jail had mental health problems that went unnoticed or untreated until too late. Fewer than one in five children get treatment for any mental health problems, the report adds.

Satcher's newest call adds to his report a year ago declaring mental disorders a major undertreated problem for adults and children. It comes amid a recent backlash against one prominent childhood problem, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Lawsuits charge ADHD is overdiagnosed to push the drug Ritalin to children who merely are rambunctious.

-- Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder receive more medical care than other youngsters for non-behavioral problems such as injuries, infections and asthma, Mayo Clinic researchers say. …

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