Media Spotlight

Nearly 1 in 4 Antibiotic Prescriptions Are Inappropriate

Nearly a quarter of antibiotics prescribed in 2016 were inappropriate for treating patients’ associated health conditions, with about one in seven participants receiving at least one unnecessary prescription that year, according to a new study published in The BMJ that was co-authored by Jeffrey Linder, ’97 MD, MPH, chief of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics in the Department of Medicine. “Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing to outpatients promotes the development of antibiotic resistance, which is one of the greatest threats to public health worldwide,” the report says. Despite three decades’ worth of efforts to curtail over-prescribing of antibiotics, the study authors note that their results “show the widespread nature of inappropriate outpatient antibiotic prescribing at the level of both prescription
fill and population.”

U.S. News & World Report, HealthDay, Associated Press

Stem Cell Transplant May Help Some With Aggressive MS

A stem cell transplant may help some people with multiple sclerosis (MS) when standard drugs fail, a new clinical study reported in the JAMA. The study led by Richard Burt, MD, chief of Immunotherapy and Autoimmune Diseases in the Department of Medicine, followed 110 patients with aggressive cases of MS whose symptoms had flared up at least twice in the past year despite taking standard medication. Investigators randomly assigned the patients to either keep trying other medications or have a stem cell transplant — using cells taken from their own blood. Over an average of three years, MS progressed in 34 of 55 patients on medication, compared with only three of 55 patients given a stem cell transplant.

HealthDay, U.S. News & World Report, CNN

Why Do South Asians Have Such High Rates of Heart Disease?

A team of scientists have followed more than 900 South Asians in Chicago and the Bay Area. Their ongoing study, Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA), has found that South Asians tend to develop high blood pressure, high triglycerides, abnormal cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes at lower body weights than other groups. South Asian men are also prone to high levels of coronary artery calcium, a marker of atherosclerosis that can be an early harbinger of future heart attacks and strokes. Namratha Kandula, MD, MPH, associate professor of Preventive Medicine and of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, and MASALA investigator at Northwestern, said she hopes to study the children of MASALA participants next because they tend to influence their parents’ health and lifestyle habits, and the investigators want to understand whether or not health risks in second-generation South Asians are similar.

The New York Times

Depression During and After Pregnancy Can Be Prevented, National Panel Says. Here’s How.

As many as one in seven women experience depression during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth. Now, for the first time, a national panel of health experts says there is a way to prevent it. Women receiving one of two forms of counseling — cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy — were 39 percent less likely than those who didn’t to develop perinatal depression. One program highlighted in the report (which was published in JAMA), “Mothers and Babies,” includes cognitive behavioral therapy in eight to 17 group sessions, often delivered in clinics or community health centers, primarily during pregnancy with at least two sessions postpartum. “It’s really meant to break down this idea that talking about your thoughts and behaviors is scary,” said Shiv Darius Tandon, PhD, co-director of the Center for Community Health at the Institute of Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), associate professor of Medical Social Sciences, and principal investigator of several “Mothers and Babies” studies.

The New York Times