MEDICAL NEWS TIPS

November 24, 1994
Media Contact:: To pursue any of these stories, call the contact person listed
Phone: (410) 955-5384
E-mail: Gstephen@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu

MEDICAL NEWS TIPS

Listed below are story ideas from The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

"FALSE MEMORY" CONFERENCE EXPLORES BELIEFS ABOUT ABUSE

The scenario has become familiar to viewers of TV talk shows or readers of popular magazines. During psychotherapy, an individual is stunned to find that dark, long-buried memories push their way to the surface, leading to the revelation of painful scenes of childhood sexual abuse, torture at the hands of satanic cults, or even abduction by alien beings. Suddenly, years of vague psychosomatic ailments fall into a dreadful focus. Lawsuits are filed, families are split, friends and relatives are shocked.

But how much basis in fact or scientific theory do these tales of "recovered memories," often associated with the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder, really have?

Little or none, say the organizers of a December 9-11, 1994 conference co- sponsored by The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and the FMS (False Memory Syndrome) Foundation. Rather, they say, such "recovered memories" most often are beliefs produced in suggestible patients by the therapists who claim to discover and treat them.

Nearly 600 persons have already registered for the Baltimore conference, which has been advertised through national mailings to psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. The program's directors, Paul R. McHugh, M.D., Henry Phipps professor and director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins, and Pamela P. Freyd, Ph.D., executive director of the FMS Foundation in Philadelphia, will hold a media briefing at noon on Friday, December 9. Members of the media who are interested in attending the briefing or other parts of the conference should call 410-955-6680.

For media inquiries only, contact Gary Stephenson at 410-955-5384.

CATCHING BONE PROBLEM BEFORE IT BECOMES SERIOUS

It begins simply, typically as a dull pain in the bones. In a small number of cases, Paget's disease progresses to deformation of limbs, the hips, or the skull. Serious pain, loss of hearing, or loss of mobility can result.

The good news is Paget's (pah-jets) can be treated with several drugs, including a recently approved drug that will help patients who do not respond to previously available treatments.

"In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth 10 pounds of cure," says Michael Levine, M.D., a Hopkins professor of medicine. "It's much easier to control this disease before the symptoms become serious."

Physicians aren't sure of Paget's cause, but suspect a viral infection in the affected bones.

Paget's is the second most common bone disease after osteoporosis, but public awareness of it is low. Experts estimate that 100,000 people have been diagnosed with Paget's, but are concerned that the actual number of sufferers could be up to seven times that figure.

For media inquiries only, contact Michael Purdy at (410) 955-8725.

SPECIAL DIET MAY REDUCE DIALYSIS DEATHS

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions have found that a very-low-protein diet before kidney dialysis may reduce patient deaths by three-fourths during the first two years of dialysis.

Scientists believe the very restrictive diet may actually bring patients to dialysis in a better nutritional state. "That could be why they appear to be doing better for the first couple of years of dialysis," says Josef Coresh, M.D., Ph.D., a Hopkins epidemiologist and author of the small study, which followed 44 patients.

If a similar reduction in deaths occurs in a following controlled study, the diet may become an important tool for prolonging the lives of dialysis patients.

For media inquiries only, call Michael Purdy at (410) 955-8725

NATIONAL STUDY TO EVALUATE CHILDHOOD ASTHMA CARE

Pediatricians have treated mild to moderate childhood asthma for years with drugs used only after an asthma attack starts.

Now, though, some doctors are starting to say that even mild asthma attacks can, over time, stunt lung capacity. They think the best way to manage childhood asthma is with regular doses of anti-inflammatory drugs that prevent attacks altogether.

The first long-term national study designed to see which approach is better is beginning under the sponsorship of the National Institutes of Health. Scientists at Johns Hopkins will be among the participating researchers.

The Childhood Asthma Management Program is designed to determine what treatments will help asthmatic children be as healthy as they can be," says Franklin Adkinson, M.D., a Hopkins professor of medicine.

For media inquiries only, contact Michael Purdy at (410) 955-4725.

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions' news releases can be accessed on-line through CompuServe Jforum:scinews-mednews.


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