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Climate change linked to kidney stones

Extreme heat or cold weather can lead to a higher risk for kidney stones, according to a study that, its authors wrote, suggests that climate change might be contributing to the condition.

Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia looked at medical records of more than 64,000 adults and children who developed kidney stones between 2005 and 2011 in five large cities, along with temperature data.

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More cases of kidney stones were found in the 20 days after average daily temperatures reached above 50 degrees Fahrenheit in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Dallas. The largest spike occurred within three days of the hottest days recorded. No link between warm weather and kidney stones was found in Los Angeles, however.

After low outdoor temperatures, the risk of kidney stones rose for people living in Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Hot weather can cause dehydration and the formation of calcium and other minerals in the urine, which leads to the development of kidney stones, the researchers wrote. Cold weather may lead people to stay indoors, eat more, and exercise less, which can contribute to stones.

BOTTOM LINE: Extreme heat or cold weather can increase the risk for kidney stones.

CAUTIONS: The study cannot prove that high or low temperatures cause kidney stones.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Environmental Health Perspectives, July 10

Home visits cut risk of premature death for mothers, children

Visits by nurses to homes of low-income women before and after they gave birth lowered the risk of preventable death among first-time mothers and their children, according to a long-term study that has followed the families for two decades.

Researchers at the University of Colorado and the University of Rochester in New York tracked more than 1,000 young first-time mothers in Tennessee, a majority of whom were single teens, African-American, unemployed, and lacking a high school diploma when the study began. One group was randomly assigned to receive only standard pre- and postnatal care. Another group received, in addition to standard care, an average of 64 in-home visits by registered nurses during their pregnancies and for two years after giving birth. Over the next 20 years, the researchers conducted 11 in-depth interviews with the mothers.

Children who did not receive in-home visits had a 1.6 percent mortality rate from preventable causes such as sudden infant death syndrome or unintentional injuries during the two decades. There were no preventable deaths among the children who received nursing visits. Mothers who did not receive visits were eight times more likely to die from any cause than those who received visits.

BOTTOM LINE: Visits by nurses to homes of at-risk mothers may lower the risk of premature death among first-time mothers and their children.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on interviews with mothers, whose answers were not verified by medical records. The study was conducted in Tennessee so the findings may not apply more broadly.

WHERE TO FIND IT: JAMA Pediatrics, July 7

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