Health Highlights: March 3, 2010

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Moms With Part-Time Jobs Have Healthier Children: Study

Children of women who work part-time tend to be healthier than those with moms who work full-time or don't have jobs, say Australian researchers who looked at the lifestyle and weight of about 2,500 young children.

"The main finding that we have is that the children of mothers who worked part-time were healthier in their weight, and that was related to watching less television, snacking less and being more physically active," Jan Nicholson, of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, told Agence France Presse. "And that was compared to children whose mothers were in full-time employment and also those whose mothers were at home full time."

Children of mothers with part-time jobs watched about an hour less television per week than other children, the researchers found.

Nicholson said mothers with part-time jobs may be better able to balance work and family demands, AFP reported.

The study appears in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine.

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New U.N. Program Seeks to Protect Women From HIV

Even though HIV/AIDS is the top cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age worldwide, HIV services don't respond to the specific needs of girls and women, says the United Nations program on HIV/AIDS.

A new five-year action plan to address gender issues that put women at risk was announced by UNAIDS at the start of a 10-day conference in New York City, BBC News reported.

In sub-Saharan Africa, women account for 60 percent of people living with HIV. In Southern Africa, young women are about three times more likely to be infected with HIV than young men.

UNAIDS says a major issue is that up to 70 percent of women worldwide have been forced to have unprotected sex, BBC News reported.

The new program aims to improve understanding of how women are affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and will seek to ensure that the issue of violence against women is included in HIV prevention programs.

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Cohabitation Increases Risk of Marriage Failure: Study

Living together before going to the altar increases the risk that the marriage will fail, says a U.S. study.

Their analysis of data from the National Survey of Family Growth in 2002 found that a marriage was 6 percent less likely to last 10 years if a couple lived together before they tied the knot, The New York Times reported.

The study by researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics also found that the proportion of women in their late 30s who had ever cohabited had doubled in 15 years, to 61 percent.

Among the other findings:

  • Half of couples who cohabit marry within three years.
  • If both partners are college graduates, it's more likely that they'll marry and that their marriage will last at least 10 years.
  • Couples who marry after age 26 or have a baby eight months or more they get married are also more likely to stay married for more than 10 years.
  • About 62 percent of women ages 25 to 44 were married and 8 percent were cohabiting. Among men, figures were 59 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
  • Overall, one in five marriages will fail within five years. One in three will last less than 10 years.

"Cohabitation is increasingly becoming the first co-residential union formed among young adults," wrote the study authors, The Times reported.. "As a result of the growing prevalence of cohabitation, the number of children born to unmarried cohabiting parents has also increased."

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More U.S. Teens Using Alcohol and Marijuana

After a decade-long decline, more American teens were using alcohol and marijuana in 2009, according to an annual survey released Tuesday by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

The study found that the number of teens in grades 9 through 12 who said they drank alcohol in the past month rose 11 percent last year. In total, 39 percent (about 6.5 million) of teens said they'd drank alcohol in 2009, up from 35 percent (about 5.8 million) of teens in 2008, the Associated Press reported.

Last year, 25 percent of teens said they'd smoking marijuana in the last month, compared with 19 percent in 2008.

Use of the party drug Ecstasy within the last month also increased, from four percent in 2008 to six percent last year, the study said.

"I'm a little worried that we may be seeing the leading edge of a trend here," said Sean Clarkin, director of strategy at The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the AP reported. "Historically, you do see the increase in recreational drugs before you see increases in some of the harder drugs."

Posted: March 2010


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