Health Beat

There is a long-held belief among both parents and researchers that autism is linked to higher levels of mercury, but a recent study in California is setting out to debunk this idea. The report, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, is part of a continuing study and involves 452 participants – 249 of which are children with autism or autism spectrum disorders. The study’s principal investigator Irva Hertz-Picciotto has found that autistic children more often than not have lower levels of mercury than non-autistic children, but he’s hesitant to say whether mercury does or doesn’t play a role, saying once fish-intake levels were adjusted for both groups, there was no significant difference.

Lakeview Regional Medical Center has added Dr. Stephen Owen Harkness M.D., FACS, to its roster of physicians. The board-certified general surgeon opened his practice, Lakeshore Surgical Specialists, on the Lakeview Campus, and has more than 30 years of experience as a general surgeon. Harkness received his medical degree from Tulane School of Medicine, and completed his residency at Charity Hospital and Tulane Medical Center. He worked in the New Orleans area until Hurricane Katrina, and now, after finishing a three-year contract in Florida, has returned to his New Orleans roots.

LSUHSC Program Chair Dr. Daniel Nuss – also the professor and chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology – recently organized the 20th Annual Meeting of the North American Skull Base Society (NASBS). The conference drew near 700 members and their families to the city, where participants learned about the newest technologies available for life-threatening cranio-facial problems and procedures. Nuss says the meeting draws some of the best surgeons in the world. 

U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher, recently spoke at a health symposium at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, where he delivered a keynote address covering the disparities within the current health care system. The address, entitled “Health Care Reform: Implications of Change,” followed remarks from LSUHSC Chancellor Larry Hollier M.D.; Associate Dean for Health Quality and Paitient Safety Dr. Dwayne Thomas; Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs Dr. Frank Opelka; and Xavier University College of Pharmacy Director Leonard Jack Ph.D. While serving his tenor as surgeon general, Satcher also held the position of Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, making him only the second person in history to hold both positions.

– Lilith Dorko

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