Industry Analysts See Overall Food Prices Rise

   Woodland Hills, Calif.  (Business Wire) - 8/31/2013 - Analysts with Great American Group, Inc. report that pricing for meats and dairy products remains higher than average. The trend reflects the continued market response to the 2012 drought, in which pricing for corn used in animal feeds was at a historic high.
   “Increases in meat and dairy products were due to the lingering effects of the drought,” said Ken Bloore, chief operating officer of Great American Group’s Advisory and Valuation Services division. “As a result of higher costs for animal feed, many farmers were forced to sell off their stocks at the height of the drought, thereby lowering the current supply of meat in the marketplace.”
   According to Great American Group’s newest Food Monitor, margins have been increasing for meat and processed foods as many companies have been able to fully pass along price increases to customers. While seafood prices have recently been down, due primarily to excess supply in the market, companies were able to preserve margins by selling off lower-priced inventory at a markup to customers. The drought conditions that plagued U.S. crops last year appear to have abated, and farmers report favorable growing conditions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) expects a record corn harvest of 13.95 billion bushels this year, an increase of 29 percent from 2012. Lower prices for animal feed would enable farmers to restore their herds to normal levels.
   “A return to normal feed prices would result in ample supplies of animal-based products such as meat and dairy,” explained Bloore. “As a result, food prices could be expected to experience only minimal inflation next year.”
    For more information about industry trends in food, download Great American Group’s latest Food Monitor available on the company’s website at http://www.greatamerican.com/news_media/downloads/Food_monitor_August_2013.pdf.

Genetic overlap seen between mental disorders

   (NIH) - 8/23/2013 - The largest genome-wide study of its kind has determined how much five major mental illnesses are traceable to the same common inherited genetic variations. Researchers funded in part by the National Institutes of Health found that the overlap was highest between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; moderate for bipolar disorder and depression and for ADHD and depression; and low between schizophrenia and autism. Overall, common genetic variation accounted for 17-28 percent of risk for the illnesses.
   “Since our study only looked at common gene variants, the total genetic overlap between the disorders is likely higher,” Naomi Wray said. Wray is with the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and co-led the multi-site study by the Cross Disorders Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), which is supported by the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
   “Shared variants with smaller effects, rare variants, mutations, duplications, deletions, and gene-environment interactions also contribute to these illnesses,” Wray said.
   Wray, Kenneth Kendler of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Jordan Smoller, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and other members of the PGC group reported on their findings on August 11 in the journal Nature Genetics.
   “Such evidence quantifying shared genetic risk factors among traditional psychiatric diagnoses will help us move toward classification that will be more faithful to nature,” Bruce Cuthbert said. Cuthbert is director of the NIMH Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development and coordinator of the Institute’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project, which is developing a mental disorders classification system for research based more on underlying causes.
   Earlier this year, PGC researchers — more than 300 scientists at 80 research centers in 20 countries — reported the first evidence of overlap between all five disorders. People with the disorders were more likely to have suspect variation at the same four chromosomal sites. But the extent of the overlap remained unclear. In the new study, they used the same genome-wide information and the largest data sets currently available to estimate the risk for the illnesses attributable to any of hundreds of thousands of sites of common variability in the genetic code across chromosomes. They looked for similarities in such genetic variation among several thousand people with each illness and compared them to controls — calculating the extent to which pairs of disorders are linked to the same genetic variants.
   The overlap in heritability attributable to common genetic variation was about 15 percent between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, about 10 percent between bipolar disorder and depression, about 9 percent between schizophrenia and depression, and about 3 percent between schizophrenia and autism.
   The new found molecular genetic evidence linking schizophrenia and depression, if replicated, could have important implications for diagnostics and research, say the researchers. They expected to see more overlap between ADHD and autism, but the modest schizophrenia-autism connection is consistent with other emerging evidence.
   The study results also attach numbers to molecular evidence documenting the importance of heritability traceable to common genetic variation in causing these five major mental illnesses. Yet this still leaves much of the likely inherited genetic contribution to the disorders unexplained — not to mention non-inherited genetic factors. For example, common genetic variation accounted for 23 percent of schizophrenia, but evidence from twin and family studies estimate its total heritability at 81 percent. Similarly, the gaps are 25 percent vs. 75 percent for bipolar disorder, 28 percent vs. 75 percent for ADHD, 14 percent vs. 80 percent for autism, and 21 percent vs. 37 percent for depression.
   Among other types of genetic inheritance known to affect risk and not detected in this study are contributions from rare variants not associated with common sites of genetic variation. However, the researchers say that their results show clearly that more illness-linked common variants with small effects will be discovered with the greater statistical power that comes with larger sample sizes.
   “It is encouraging that the estimates of genetic contributions to mental disorders trace those from more traditional family and twin studies. The study points to a future of active gene discovery for mental disorders," NIMH Genomics Research Branch Chief Thomas Lehner said.
   Source: National Institutes of Health

Health Data Exchange Growing, New Study Finds

  (NIH) - 8/10/2013 - New research, published on August 5 in Health Affairs, from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), shows that health information exchange (HIE) between hospitals and other providers jumped 41 percent between 2008 and 2012.
   The research – authored by National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Farzad Mostashari, M.D., and ONC researchers – indicates that six in 10 hospitals actively exchanged electronic health information with providers and hospitals outside their organization in 2012.
   The research suggests that electronic health records (EHRs) and health information organizations (HIOs) are complementary tools used to enable health information exchange. Stage 2 Meaningful Use, which requires eligible hospitals to exchange with outside organizations using different EHR systems and share summary of care records during transitions of care, can help accelerate hospital use of HIE as a means to enhance care quality and safety.
   “We know that the exchange of health information is integral to the ongoing efforts to transform the nation’s health care system and we will continue to see that grow as more hospitals and other providers adopt and use health IT to improve patient health and care,” said Dr. Mostashari. “Our new research is crystal clear: health information exchange is happening and it is growing. But we still have a long road ahead toward universal interoperability.”
   Highlights of the new study show:
   Fifty eight percent of hospitals exchanged data with providers outside their organization in 2012 and hospitals’ exchanges with other hospitals outside their organization more than doubled during the study period.
   Hospitals with basic EHR systems and participating in HIOs had the highest rates of hospital exchange activity in 2012, regardless of the organizational affiliation of the provider exchanging data or the type of clinical information exchanged.
   The proportion of hospitals that adopted at least a basic EHR and participated in an HIO grew more than five-fold from 2008 to 2012.
   Between 2008 and 2012, there were significant increases in the percent of hospitals exchanging radiology reports, laboratory results, clinical care summaries, and medication lists with hospitals and providers outside of their organization.
   Eighty four percent of hospitals that adopted an EHR and participated in a regional HIO exchanged information with providers outside their organization.
   One area that the research found needs more attention is that of care summaries and medication lists. The research found that only about one-third of hospitals exchanged clinical care summaries or medication lists with outside providers.
   To see state-level estimates for several of the measures included in the new study, visit ONC’s Health IT Adoption and Use dashboard at http://dashboard.healthit.gov/. The abstract of the Health Affairs study can be found athttp://content.healthaffairs.org/content/32/8/1346.abstract .
   Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services release.

The Arms Debate

Not All American's Have the Right to Bear Arms

Photo by Steve Rensberry (c) 2018