Health Scan: Researchers look into what makes people accident prone

Who you are, what you do, where you live, the size of your family and other factors can help predict whether you'll be involved in a road accident.

accident 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
accident 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Who you are, what you do, where you live, how long you went to school, the size of your family and other factors can help predict whether you will be involved in a road accident. Three-quarters of Arabs injured in accidents are child pedestrians, and Arab men are more likely to be injured than women. In addition, the likelihood of a pensioner or unemployed person in the sector being hurt in a road accident is twice that of people in the workforce. This was discovered in a study by the civil and environmental engineering faculty of the Technion Institute. Doctoral student Waffa Elias, who headed the research, says an individual's daily routine and socio-economic status can predict his risk of involvement in accidents. Elias conducted interviews with 260 families and analyzed police records relating to the villages of Majad al Krum and Shfaram in the Galilee; she identified accidents according to where they occurred, where the driver and victim live, the age, education and income of those hurt, the purpose of the trip and family size. She found that Arab children who walk to school are rarely hurt in road accidents, but the risk rises significantly when they play near their home or their parents are accompanying them. Road accidents involving children after school are twice as common as among adults, the study found. Two-fifths of the victims are nine or younger. The educational level of parents whose children are hurt is lower than the general level in Majad al Krum. Only 3.5 percent of mothers and 10.7% of the fathers whose children were injured have some higher education, while 38% of fathers in the Arab village have at least one year of higher education. She found that women are much more likely to remain at home all or most of the day. Men, either walking or driving, are thus more likely to be involved in an accident, as are those with a lower socio-economic level. The author concludes that improving the transportation system, work opportunities and chances for higher education could reduce the road accident rate in the Arab sector. JOB'S AFFLICTION US researchers have discovered the genetic cause of a medical condition thought to be suffered by thar epitome of suffering, the prophet Job. The disease causes painful sores from the soles of the feet to the top of the head. "The genetic origins of this disease have been a mystery since it was first identified decades ago," wrote Dr. James Musser, co-director of the Methodist Hospital Research Institute and co-author of the findings, which were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. "These results may lead to new diagnostic tests and treatments to help patients afflicted with Job's Syndrome." Scientifically know as Hyper IgE Recurrent Infection Syndrome (HIES), this is a rare disorder of the immune system and connective tissue, characterized by boils, inflamed, irritated skin, bone abnormalities, teeth deformities and cyst-forming pneumonias. Since it was first described in 1966, fewer than 250 cases have been reported around the world. "Although this is a rare disease, the novel strategies we developed can be applied to many other genetic diseases of unknown cause," Musser said. The study, conducted at the US National Institutes of Health, identified mutations in a gene that modulates the immune system, the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), as the cause of this debilitating disease. The research team sequenced the STAT3 gene and employed molecular and bioinformatics tools to decipher the genetic defect. HADASSAH APPOINTMENTS Dr. Yuval Weiss, deputy director of the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem, has been appointed director of the hospital, instead of Dr. Yair Birnbaum. Birnbaum was named associate director-general of the Hadassah Medical Organization (under director-general Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef) and director of its medical services. Weiss, 50, is a graduate of Ben-Gurion University's Health Sciences Faculty who specialized at Hadassah in anesthesiology and also served as deputy chief medical officer of the Israel Defense Forces. Mor-Yosef said Wednesday that the appointments are part of Hadassah's preparation for massive development, including the construction of a 12-floor hospital tower. GUARDING THE SOLDIERS Gardasil, the expensive vaccine protecting against cervical cancer, recently came on the market, but it is not supplied to teenagers (not only girls but also boys who could infect sex partners) because of the cost. Now Kupat Holim Meuhedet has decided to provide the vaccine at a discount to women soldiers who were members of the fund before they joined the Israel Defense Forces. They can purchase it for NIS 550 for each of the three injections needed. Gardasil is given between the ages of nine and 26 over a period of six months. The cervical cancer causes 233,000 deaths among women around the world each year. The new vaccine protects against the two most common papilloma virus species responsible.