Grace Gore, former Miss Tennessee America, is fitted for musician's earplugs at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center. Ron Eavey, MD, director of the center, looks on. Photos courtesy of Vanderbilt University.
MTV Survey Cranks Up the Volume on Loud Music's Impact on Hearing
Children and adults at risk of permanent hearing loss due to repeated exposure to loud music would turn down the sound or use ear protection if told to do so by a healthcare professional, a new Vanderbilt study performed in conjunction with MTV.com shows. Conducted by Vanderbilt's Roland Eavey, MD, the study was released in July in the Journal of Pediatrics. Eavey conducted the research in 2007 while working at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard University, and it follows up his groundbreaking 2002 MTV survey.
"Hearing loss is so prevalent that it has become the norm," said Eavey, director of the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology. Nearly half of the 2,500 MTV.com respondents experienced symptoms such as tinnitus or hearing loss after loud music exposure, and hearing loss was considered a problem by 32 percent of the respondents.
Eavey's study found the media as the most informative source about prevention of potential hearing loss and the healthcare community as the least likely source, even though respondents said they would change behavior if a healthcare professional alerted them to the problem.
Eavey suggested alerting patients that "hearing loss from excessive sound volume is preventable ... and once it happens, the loss is permanent and cannot be reversed. Even hearing aids might not help that type of hearing loss and the ringing of the ears that can occur." Seventy-five percent of respondents owned an MP3 player, and nearly half said they use their player at 75 percent to 100 percent of its maximum volume. If external sounds such as subway noise or street traffic compete with the music, then the volume is turned up even higher, according to 89 percent of persons surveyed.
Studies Find New Genetic Risk Zone for Autism
A multi-center team, including investigators in Vanderbilt's Center for Human Genetics Research, has identified the first common genetic variation associated with autism. The findings, reported in Nature and in the Annals of Human Genetics, point to a particular spot in the genome that may increase a person's risk for the neurodevelopmental disorder and suggest the involvement of molecules that form connections between brain cells.
Evidence from twin and sibling studies has demonstrated that autism has a strong genetic component, but despite many attempts to find genetic risk factors, "there is no consensus on the underlying genetic architecture of the disorder," said Jonathan Haines, PhD, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Human Genetics Research and a co-author of both studies.
Haines and a collaborator conducted a genome-wide association study to search for common genetic variation that increases autism susceptibility. Common genetic variants are spots in the genome where a variable letter of the DNA code - called an SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) - is present in at least 5 percent of the population. Researchers identified 96 SNPs as being strongly associated with autism risk. The findings point to a molecular pathway that may play a role in the development of the disorder, Haines noted.
Vanderbilt Evaluates New Fragile X Medication
Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is taking part in clinical trials of a new medication for use in Fragile X syndrome and autism spectrum disorders. Fragile X is the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability and is the most common known genetic autism cause.
The purpose of these clinical trials is to evaluate Arbaclofen to find out if it's helpful for moodiness, irritability, tantrums, aggression or other symptoms. These trials will also assess whether the medication is safe and tolerated. "These studies are exciting because they translate laboratory findings into the clinic," said Jeremy Veenstra-Vander Weele, MD, assistant professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics.
Individuals or families can learn more about this study, sponsored by Seaside Therapeutics, at www.clinicaltrials.gov or by calling (615) 936-3288.
TB Vaccine Gets Its Groove Back
A team of Vanderbilt investigators has cracked one of clinical medicine's enduring mysteries – what happened to the tuberculosis vaccine. The once-effective vaccine no longer prevents the bacterial lung infection that kills more than 1.7 million people worldwide each year. Their solution, reported in the journal PLoS ONE, could lead to an improved TB vaccine and also may offer a novel platform for vaccines against other pathogens.
"Our findings represent nearly a 180 degree reversal from the dogma of the last 60 years – that the TB vaccine stopped working because it became over attenuated and was too 'wimpy' to be effective," said Douglas Kernodle, MD, associate professor of medicine. Instead, Kernodle and colleagues found that the TB vaccine has acquired some traits that make it less effective in evoking a sustained immune response. When they take away these traits, the TB vaccine induces stronger immune responses in mice.
Six Children's Hospital Specialties Ranked Among Nation's Best
The Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt has been ranked among the top 25 in the nation in six pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report.
Children's Hospital was ranked sixth best in the United States in urology in the annual listing of America's Best Children's Hospitals. The hospital also was ranked No. 13 in neonatology; No. 21 in digestive disorders; No. 22 in orthopedics; No. 23 in heart and heart surgery; and No. 25 in cancer.
The rankings weighed reputation, outcome and care-related measures such as nursing care, advanced technology, credentialing and other factors. The hospitals were judged based on a combination of opinions from pediatric specialists about the hospitals they would recommend for the sickest children and data gathered in a 65-page survey. A detailed description of