UW News

August 16, 1997

Health Source: Medical News from the University of Washington

LISTENING TO MINORITY YOUTH SPEAK ABOUT SMOKING may help researchers understand the factors influencing teens’ smoking behavior. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine are conducting focus group interviews with local Asian Pacific Islander American youth in Seattle to hear their opinions, thoughts and comments on smoking. “Smoking is one of the most preventable health problems facing America’s youth, but there’s a lot we don’t know about it,” said Dr. Clarence Spigner, project director and UW associate professor of health services. Findings from this study may help direct future intervention and research projects.
HOMOCYSTEINE MAY INCREASE HEART ATTACK RISK in young women, according to results of a study performed at the University of Washington. Researchers studying women under 45 who had suffered a heart attack and women without coronary disease found those with higher than normal levels of the protein homocysteine were twice as likely to have a heart attack. Women with high homocysteine levels also had lower than normal levels of the vitamin folate. Dr. Stephen M. Schwartz, associate professor of epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine, said future studies should be conducted to determine if folate (folic acid) supplements can help in preventing cardiovascular disease.

ACQUIRING HERPES LATE IN PREGNANCY can pose special dangers to the newborn, including a high risk of severe brain damage or death from neonatal herpes, report researchers at the University of Washington. “Contracting the herpes virus during pregnancy — especially in the last trimester — is worse than having herpes going into pregnancy,” cautioned Dr. Zane Brown, UW professor of obstetrics and gynecology. The danger to a newborn exists whether the mother has HSV-1 (oral herpes, the type that produces cold sores) or HSV-2 (genital herpes). Brown and fellow UW researchers are calling for regular blood testing for herpes at the first prenatal visit.

BRINGING ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH TO CLASSROOMS of middle and high school students is the goal of a course offered by the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine. Working with environmental health researchers, teachers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska have participated in hands-on workshops and labs and created classroom projects. David Eaton, UW professor of environmental health, explained that topics covered during the course include environmental literacy, hazardous waste management and occupational safety.

GAINING EXPERIENCE IN INTERNATIONAL HEALTH CARE is possible for students at the University of Washington School of Nursing through an international exchange program that has sent students to every continent except Antarctica. “The program enables students to immerse themselves in cultures very different from their own and pursue their interests in cross-cultural health care,” said Dr. Sue T. Hegyvary, dean of the School of Nursing. A new exchange program with National Taiwan University will further enhance students’ understanding of health care in Asia.