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Harvard Reviews of Health News


Harvard News ReviewsA team of Harvard physicians reviews health news headlines 24/7/365, and creates commentary and provides advice on how a consumer should react to the news. For urgent breaking health news, articles are written within 6-18 hours of the news story’s first appearance. If desired, they can be delivered immediately upon completion. Over 200 new articles are written annually.

Study: Bump Beats Shake for Germ Control

To reduce the spread of germs, at least in hospitals, a new article argues for bumping fists instead of shaking hands. Researchers worked in pairs. Both put on a pair of new, germ-free (sterile) gloves for each experiment. One person dipped a glove into a solution containing E. coli bacteria. The researchers bumped fists. Then they removed the gloves so the germs on the formerly sterile glove could be measured. Using different gloves, they tried the same experiment with two other greetings: handshaking and "high fives" (slapping palms together). Handshaking transferred 10 times as many germs as a fist bump and twice as many as a "high five." The Journal of the American Medical Association recently called for banning handshakes in hospitals. The new findings appear in the American Journal of Infection Control. HealthDay News wrote about them July 28.

RSV Drug Recommended for Fewer Babies

A large group of children's doctors says that only certain high-risk babies should receive a drug to prevent severe problems from a common virus. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that evidence now shows other children are unlikely to benefit. But the new advice has led to a strong protest by the drugmaker. The drug is palivizumab (Synagis). It is given as a monthly shot to help prevent severe problems from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Nearly all children become infected with RSV by age 2. For most, it's a mild illness. But RSV is also the most common cause of pneumonia in babies. The new AAP statement narrows the definition of which "high-risk" babies should get the drug. It says that research shows benefit for only a few groups.

Tylenol May Not Relieve New Back Pain

Though it's used widely for many kinds of pain, acetaminophen (Tylenol and generics) may not help new back pain, a study suggests. The study included 1,650 adults with new pain in the lower back. They were randomly divided into 3 groups. One group got usual doses of paracetamol for up to 4 weeks. That's the name for acetaminophen in Australia, where the study was done. A second group received identical placebo (fake) pills. A third group got some of each. On average, people in all groups felt better in just over 2 weeks. There were no differences among the groups in pain, sleep problems, disability or quality of life. The journal Lancet published the study. HealthDay News wrote about it July 23.

Harvard Reviews of Health News

To reduce the spread of germs, at least in hospitals, a new article argues for bumping fists instead of shaking hands. Researchers worked in pairs. Both put on a pair of new, germ-free (sterile) gloves for each experiment. One person dipped a glove into a sol...

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