Your Health

  • Good News
    GO HMO Though health-maintenance organizations have been bashed for years, a study out last week finds they do a pretty good job of diagnosing and treating breast cancer in the elderly. On average, HMOs are more likely than traditional fee-for-service practices to detect the disease early. And they are just as likely as traditional centers to do a breast-conserving lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy.

    PREGNANT PAUSE Want another child? There may be an optimal time to try. Researchers reported last week that women are most likely to produce a healthy, full-term infant if they conceive 18 to 23 months after the birth of their previous child. That works out to about 2 1/2 years between kids. Conceiving after, say, six months increases by 40% the risk of low birth weight or premature delivery. After 10 years, the risk jumps even higher.

    Bad News
    HONEYMOON OVER? Urinary-tract infections--dubbed honeymooner's cystitis--are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Research published last week shows that 18% of the infections today--double the percentage in 1992--may be resistant to Bactrim and Septa, the most widely prescribed medications. Other drugs that are penicillin-based no longer work on 1 out of 3 infections. What tends to bring on the infection? Frequent sex and the use of a diaphragm and spermicides.

    THERE IS A SEASON Danish researchers report a curious new clue to the origin of schizophrenia: kids born during late winter or in urban areas appear to be at a greater risk. What's the link? Viral infections in mothers--more likely in colder months and in densely populated areas--may have an impact on the developing fetal brain.