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Federal climate change study released

WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) — The National Research Council has issued what it calls its most comprehensive study of climate change, urging congressional action on the problem.

The council — the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering — said the three reports issued Wednesday are part of a congressionally requested suite of five studies known as “America’s Climate Choices.”

“These reports show the state of climate change science is strong,” said Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. “But the nation also needs the scientific community to expand upon its understanding of why climate change is happening, and focus also on when and where the most severe impacts will occur and what we can do to respond.”

One of the reports says climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems. The report calls for a new era of climate change science where an emphasis is placed on “fundamental, use-inspired” research, which not only improves understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change, but also is useful to decision makers acting to limit and adapt to climate change.

The council recommends a single federal entity or program be given the authority and resources to coordinate a national, multidisciplinary research effort aimed at improving both understanding and responses to climate change.

Fewer X-rays recommended for children

NEW ORLEANS, May 19 (UPI) — An 18-year-old U.S. researcher recommends fewer chest X-rays for children on home mechanical ventilation.

Wynton Kun, working with his mentor, Dr. Thomas Keens at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, analyzed the number and effect of chest X-rays in 28 children age 8 months to 16 years and found a child averaged five chest X-rays over a single hospitalization with pneumonia. However, two-thirds of those X-rays did not result in any change in therapy within 24 hours, and the majority of discharges were not contingent on X-ray findings.

“We should critically evaluate the economical and clinical outcomes of chest X-rays being taken on the population of children with pneumonia who are dependent on home mechanical ventilation,” Kun said in a statement.

The teen — who graduates from high school this month — presented the study findings at the annual international conference of the American Thoracic Society in New Orleans.

Kun said he put aside his video games for the summer and his mother, a registered nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, suggested working for Keens, who help Kun develop his own research project.

“Dr. Keens showed me a whole new world — he told me to go out every day and do something useful,” Kun said.

ESA: Gulf oil spill reaches Loop Current

PARIS, May 19 (UPI) — The European Space Agency says satellite images confirm the oil spill from last month’s Gulf of Mexico oil drilling disaster has entered the Loop Current.

The current is a powerful conveyor belt of water that flows around the gulf toward Florida.

“With these images from space, we have visible proof that at least oil from the surface of the water has reached the current,” said Bertrand Chapron at the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea. Chapron and colleague Fabrice Collard said they’ve combined surface roughness and current flow information with images from the ESA’s Envisat satellite to monitor the proximity of the oil to the current.

“Now that oil has entered the Loop Current, it is likely to reach Florida within six days,” Chapron said, warning that since the Loop Current is a very intense, deep ocean current, its turbulent waters will accelerate the mixing of the oil and water in the coming days.

“This might remove the oil film on the surface and prevent us from tracking it with satellites, but the pollution is likely to affect the coral reef marine ecosystem,” Collard said.

The ESA said the Loop Current joins the Gulf Stream — the Northern Hemisphere’s most important ocean-current system — sparking fears that oil could be carried up the U.S. East Coast.

Behavioral therapy helps Tourette syndrome

SAN ANTONIO, May 19 (UPI) — A U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded study shows behavioral therapy is effective in treating children with Tourette syndrome and related tic disorders.

The multisite study found a specialized form of behavioral therapy called CBIT — Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics — significantly reduced tic-related problems in children and adolescents with the chronic neurological disorder.

Tourette is characterized by motor and vocal tics, including facial grimacing, head jerking and grunting.

“The behavioral therapy employed in CBIT is built on the observation that tics are preceded by unwanted feelings or sensations,” said Dr. Alan Peterson, a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center who, with his graduate school mentor Nathan Azrin, created the therapy.

“These unwanted sensations are temporarily relieved by the performance of the tics” Peterson said. “In CBIT, children learn to recognize when a tic is about to occur and to engage in an alternative voluntary action until the unwanted sensation passes. In addition, parents were taught how to promote these management strategies in the children.”

Peterson said Tourette’s syndrome has been historically treated with anti-psychotic medications associated with side effects that often limit their usefulness in children.

The research that included UCLA, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Yale University, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Weill Cornell Medical College and the Tourette Syndrome Association is reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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