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Consumer Reports Health News

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 General News J E 4
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YONKERS, N.Y., Oct. 20 Welcome to Consumer Reports Health News for health and medical journalists. Consumer Reports and ConsumerReportsHealth.org cover issues pertaining to the efficacy and safety of prescription and non-prescription drugs (including natural medicines), mental health, diet and nutrition, food safety, and fitness. CR tests health and fitness products, rates the effectiveness and affordability of prescription drugs, and evaluates the claims made by drug companies and the health care industry -- all without commercial agendas or advertiser influence.

MANAGING A DIAGNOSIS OF ADHD

It's difficult for a parent to know whether a child's daydreaming or overexcitement is normal behavior or a warning sign of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The survey team at Consumer Reports Health recently polled 934 parents who shared one thing in common: their child had been diagnosed with ADHD. CRH's unique survey provides a parents-eye view of the symptoms they noticed, the diagnostic process they went through, and the advice they'd give other parents. Only 35 percent of parents had a clear plan of action from their doctors for managing the condition and more than half of the parents said they lacked a clearer understanding of their child's strengths and weaknesses. One in five parents reported consulting three professionals. Many of the healthcare providers did not seem to follow well-established guidelines for diagnosing ADHD. For example, input from the teacher and other school personnel was not always obtained.

An estimated 7 percent of children ages 3 to 17 are affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, estimates also suggest less than half of children who meet the criteria actually receive a diagnosis of ADHD. Consumer Reports Health advises parents to get a clear care plan and follow-up arrangement for their child. CRH's new online report, available for free at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org, identifies key milestones in the process and helps parents understand:

IS IT REALLY STREP THROAT?

Although most sore throats stem from viral infections, three-quarters of people who mention the complaint to their doctor each year are still prescribed antibiotics, which work only against bacterial infections, such as strep. Why? Sometimes doctors are too rushed to identify the true cause of the problem, and sometimes patients insist on a prescription. Yet inappropriate use of antibiotics is both useless and dangerous, since it can breed drug resistance. Consumer Reports Health advises contacting a doctor if you have a very sore threat that makes swallowing painful, and if you have fever, enlarged lymph nodes on the sides of the neck, or nausea. Such symptoms could indicate strep throat. Diagnosis of strep should be confirmed by a doctor using a swab to take a sample. A confirmed case of strep requires antibiotics to shorten the contagious period from about 14 days to 24 hours. Consumer Reports Health recommends a 10-day course of generic penicillin, or, for people allergic to that drug, erythromycin.

SNACKAHOLICS, REJOICE!

Snackaholics don't have to give up their favorite treats to maintain a healthy weight. Satisfying, lower-fat versions of foods like chips, cheese and even ice cream are readily available at grocery stores. Consumer Reports found 12 lower-fat options from traditionally high-fat categories that are tasty enough to try. Food staffers taste-tested dozens of snacks and the best-tasting products made the list. These include: Kashi TLC Original 7 Grain crackers, Cracker Barrel cheese, Pringles Original 100 Calorie Packs Potato Crisps and Quaker Chewy Low Fat Chocolate Chunk granola bars.

Consumers Union 2009. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports on Health(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.

-- The symptoms and time frame that may suggest ADHD. -- Who to see for evaluation and what to expect at the doctor's office. -- What to watch for to make sure your child is diagnosed properly. -- Other disorders that may occur in children with ADHD. -- Insights about what to expect from parents who've been there.

SOURCE Consumers Union
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