Mammograms for those under age 50 show no increase in saving lives, recommended to be made optional for women in their 40’s, light drinking ok for pregnant woman one study finds as it increased devolvement for a group of children studied at age 5 against mothers who did not drink, early puberty in girls not linked to environment, hormones in food or obesity said one expert on Good Morning America. All headlines broadcast to the mainstream media in the last 5 years from the world of medicine, but is the news given to the public something that can truly be relied upon by this nations citizens in a time when eat this not that has become a constant shift in what persons are told is healthy, not just a popular book title. Every time you turn on the TV there seems to be a new warning about drugs the FDA is pulling from the market, after approving them to begin with, another lawsuit being complied on behalf of people, families of individuals who took such and such drug resulting in organ failure, chronic disease, disfigurement, amputation even death. Things people are told to take, told to do one day within 6 months or a year are obsolete, inaccurate and sometimes dangerous.

Take for instance the opening situation above; suddenly insurance companies had a reason not to cover mammograms for women less than 50 years of age; women paying out of pocket for said exams had reason to put it off for a whole decade. Screening clinics potentially had to reevaluate criteria concerning people eligible for free mammograms, and even though, as a result of the confusion and outcry by individuals, advocacy groups, including other medical professionals, the information was quickly clarified, the study was nearly discredited in the wave of all those opinions. A year later a different study confirmed the more traditional findings that mammograms done on persons in the disputed age group did indeed catch abnormalities, tumors and yes, save lives; however, in the wake of rising cost insurance companies looking for a way not to cover mammograms, has that study to fall back on. Likewise drinking while pregnant is seen as something done by the selfish, irresponsible or completely ignorant. Despite the 15 % of women who reportedly admitted to some drinking during pregnancy, to suggest that exposing a baby in utero to any alcohol whatsoever could possibly lead to better development is borderline unethical of study conductors. Aside from an inability to clearly define light, moderate or acceptable drinking for pregnant women, there are repeated cases undeniably shoving the devastating effects of alcohol on a developing fetus.

Such was the tragic story of one family featured on Good Morning America talking about their harrowing journey with their adopted daughter who started showing signs of psychological and behavioral problems at an early age. Later she was diagnosed bipolar; much of her complex mental and behavioral issues however were traced to brain damage induced by fetal alcohol syndrome. Unfortunately the truth about the mother’s medical history was hidden with help from the biological mother’s brother or bother in law, to get the baby placed for adoption. In addition to staggering quantities of alcohol, she did a host of drugs; sadly it was not the plethora of substances taken while carrying the child but the alcohol’s direct effect on her forming brain. Sadder still, was the family’s agonizing choice to give up their daughter to a treatment family after pathological lies to school officials could have caused social services to remove the other 3 biological children from the home. Further, in a time where mommy co-ops are getting together for adult play dates where they bring their kids, everyone has a glass of wine, when more and more moms are having a mini happy hour then going to pick up the kids from school, drop them off at soccer practice, driving while intoxicated with their kids in the car, it couldn’t be more poorly timed, couldn’t be sending more of the wrong message, almost condoning alcohol consumption at the worst of times.

Early puberty is a growing medical trend especially for girls and while there has always been speculation about lifestyle and environmental causes, many parents were originally told that wasn’t the case. A physician expert featured on Good Morning America no more than 2 years ago stated there was no evidence to support such claims comparing the incidents to a disorder or a chronic disease that with medication afflicted girls go back to being girls. Today, in 2010, doctor OZ did a show segment containing a panel of both concerned mothers and experts discussing the possibility that environmental factors could be triggering early puberty, saying that excess estrogen, created by increased fat in obese young people can cause early onset puberty. Tips were given such as limiting meat, usually laced with hormones, consumption, buying organic, limiting sugar intake, eating many fruits and vegetables; Dr. Oz seeming rather outraged no one had done a complete study on this yet.

Other medical do’s that have become don’ts include recent long term studies on vitamins said to protect against heart disease, some cancers and a host of aliments; after a 5 year study it was determined there was no decreased risk, supplements or no. In fact taking too much of certain vitamins can lead to other health problems. 10 year ADHD study has now implicated pesticide exposure via fruits and vegetables in a once thought fictitious disorder. So parents it seems now have to choose which disorder do they want their kid to be most likely to get ADHD or early puberty? Numbers indicating high blood pressure have been lowered as have the numbers indicating diabetes and pre diabetes, not to mention body mass index numbers classifying the obese. Common health knowledge such as how many classes of water you should drink have also fluctuated in the last 5 years. SIDS (sudden infant death Syndrome) thought to be prevented by having babies sleep on their back or side, has now been linked to everything from brain defects effecting regulation of body chemicals, natural triggers and responses to, inner ear abnormalities, even lower hearing scores. Prior to the cutting edge findings, SIDS educators amended their information saying the best way for a baby to sleep is on its side after young babies, prone to spitting up, aspirated vomit while on their backs during sleep.

Across the board medicine, like everything else, is always changing, keeping up with common health knowledge is good, yet is it any wonder we have scores of “unhealthy” confused Americans thinking they are doing all the things good for their health? Doctors too fall into this confusion as patients come in demanding the latest pill they saw on TV for a host of ailments from heartburn to cholesterol to those hyper vigilant about heart attack stroke or blood clots. Another shocking conundrum for doctors, satisfying the cross cultural needs of immigrants and their families; that’s how the idea of a ritual nick got started as an alternative to the barbaric Clitoridectomies and other female genital mutilations pediatricians were being asked to perform. They are caught between what the patient wants and their Hippocratic oath; couple that with the cold, hard fact many will take their children back to their home country to have it done, and doctors are left with an impossible decision.

End of life issues fall under a similar quandary doctors caught between escalating healthcare cost, avoiding wrongful death liability and the sheer social awkwardness of having such a discussion with patients and their families. One doctor willing to speak about the complexities was featured on 60 Minutes stating much of exorbitant healthcare costs are accumulated in the last days of life procedures done on patients too incoherent to speak for themselves, occupying beds in ICU with no real hope of recovery, procedures done on patients in last ditch efforts to preserve life when there really is no hope such as implanting a pacemaker into a patient with a myriad of other problems sure to end his life before the condition requiring said pacemaker. This doctor proposed rules and guidelines; not performing stopgap type surgeries on individuals clearly dying, leaning less toward experimental treatments for people with cancer or other end stage, rare diseases. Instead the doctor suggests being painfully honest with patients and their families about the situation, when to have that critical conversation about how they want to spend their last days, as an overwhelming percentage do not want to die in a hospital but at home while a strikingly low percentage actually do, making sure patients are both aware of things like a DNR (do not resuscitate order) or power of attorney, living wills, all the ways patients can make their wishes known before love ones are forced to make those decisions on their own

So how do we protect the American public from conflicting studies, possibly unreliable information; how do American’s seek out sound common health knowledge? Before studies impacting commonly known health risks/benefits (like the alcohol and pregnant women study) are broadcast on national news there should be at least 2 studies from 2 different, reliable places. Individuals should have conversations with their physicians regarding the things they see on the news before trying to incorporate them into daily life; those lacking a physician should make use of search engines and medical sites to get all of the medical article, related reading material, the size of the study and any medical opinions given by professionals having viewed it. If it sounds off the wall or dangerous it probably is; when in doubt, it’s best to continue with traditional maxims on healthy living eating right, exercise, avoiding stress. Despite the doctor candidly speaking on 60 Minutes’ assertions that no one was talking about “ pulling the plug on grandma,” if there are going to be rules and guidelines, they must be carefully worded, strictly followed and the best thing you can do is have the dreaded conversation with family members you might be responsible for in the future. And you, the older one must communicate your wishes to your family. Again, when in doubt, a watchful eye is best amongst all the information.