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The safety net in jeopardy and what alcohol may mean for SIDS: In health news today

In a new study, a maternal alcohol problem was implicated in one in six cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
In a new study, a maternal alcohol problem was implicated in one in six cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Ryan Clare/Flickr Creative Commons

In today's health news:

Up to 4 million residents of California will remain uninsured even after provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect next January, writes the Los Angeles Times, leaving the burden of their care to the safety net – public hospitals, county health centers and community clinics. But now funding issues may be putting the stability of the safety net in jeopardy, say local health officials.

Trouble with access to health providers is nothing new for low-income patients, but a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine highlights one more facet of that problem: Low-income patients often don't have the resources available to communicate with their doctors electronically. A survey revealed that only 17 percent reported corresponding with their providers via email as part of their care, even though 78 percent expressed interest in doing so.

The number of women in the U.S. between ages 25 and 39 who were diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer rose 3.6 percent a year between 2000 and 2009, reports USA Today. Metastatic breast cancer has already spread to other organs by the time it's found, and the researchers didn't say whether there were any indications as to what was causing the "big increase" in their study.

Obesity may be linked to a higher risk of a specific type of colorectal cancer, says a new study appearing in Cancer Research, and physical activity may be linked to a decreased risk of that same type of cancer. Researchers looked for a biomarker associated with cancer and obesity called CTNNB1; researchers said if doctors were able to reliably use this biomarker to identify people who are prone to developing this form of cancer, they could conceivably prescribe physical activity as a preventive measure.

Mothers who are diagnosed with an alcohol problem during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth put their children at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suggests a new study – one that's three times higher than that of babies whose mothers don't have an alcohol problem. HealthDay says researchers found that a maternal drinking problem was implicated in one in six SIDS deaths.

Research from the U.K. shows that some children have trouble feeling comfortable participating in sports and physical education – and research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council says schools ought to help with that. The study's authors suggest that schools could use visual methods to help youngsters learn about, for example, exercise's effects on the body.

And finally: A lack of sleep can mean gaining weight, says a new study – because being tired can mean eating larger portions of high-calorie foods. HealthDay says the study only highlighted an association, and didn't solidify a cause-and-effect relationship between a lack of sleep and increased appetite.

Photo by Ryan Clare via Flickr Creative Commons.