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Today’s top news highlights: COVID-19 could worsen gambling problems, food allergies less common than thought


Here are the stories our MDedge editors across specialties think you need to know about today:

Could COVID-19 worsen gambling problems?

Take isolation, add excess available time and anxiety about illness or finances and you get the potential to increase problem gambling behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic. A call to action, recently published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, says it’s essential to gather data and supply guidance on this issue. “People are likely to be experiencing stress at levels they haven’t experienced previously,” said coauthor Marc N. Potenza, MD, PhD, of Yale University, New Haven, Conn. While multiple factors can contribute to addictive behaviors, “with respect to the pandemic, one concern is that so-called negative reinforcement motivations – engaging in an addictive behavior to escape from depressed or negative mood states – may be a driving motivation for a significant number of people during this time,” he said. Read more.

Food allergies in children are less frequent than expected

Food allergies appear to be less common than previously reported among 6- to 10-year-olds in Europe, according to a recent study. Prevalance ranged from a low of 1.4% to a high of 3.8%, both of which are “considerably lower” than the 16% rate based on parental reports of symptoms such as rash, itching, or diarrhea, Linus Grabenhenrich, MD, MPH, and colleagues reported in Allergy. The most commonly reported allergies were to peanuts and hazelnuts, with a prevalence of just over 5% for both. Previous research on pediatric food allergy prevalence has largely consisted of single-center studies with heterogeneous designs, the researchers noted. Read more.

The grocery store hug

William G. Wilkoff, MD, grew up in a family that didn’t embrace hugging, but as a small-town pediatrician he warmed up to the concept so much that he would frequently hug a passing acquaintance at the grocery store. That’s something he misses in the current environment and that he doesn’t expect will return. “[N]early every week I encounter one or two people with whom I have a long and sometimes emotionally charged relationship,” Dr. Wilkoff wrote in a column on MDedge. “Nurses with whom I sweated over difficult delivery room resuscitations. Parents for whom their anxiety was getting in the way of their ability to parent. Parents and caregivers of complex multiply disabled children who are now adults. Peers who have lost a spouse or a child. I’m sure you have your own list of people who send off that we-need-to-hug spark.” Read more.

Identifying structural lesions of axial spondyloarthritis

What constitutes a structural lesion of the sacroiliac joints on MRI that’s indicative of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) has long been a matter of conjecture, but the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis International Society (ASAS) MRI Working Group has developed new definitions that show a high degree of specificity in identifying such lesions in the disease. “Previous studies have described structural lesions in different ways, precluding meaningful comparisons between studies,” Walter P. Maksymowych, MD, said at the annual European Congress of Rheumatology, held online this year due to COVID-19. “The ASAS MRI group has generated updated consensus lesion definitions that describe each of the MRI lesions in the sacroiliac joint. These definitions have been validated by seven expert readers from the ASAS MRI group on MRI images from the ASAS classification cohort.” Read more.

Making the world’s skin crawl

Clinicians should be aware of the skin manifestations of COVID-19, especially when triaging patients. In a commentary published on MDedge, Kathleen M. Coerdt and Amor Khachemoune, MD, describe the dermatologic implications of COVID-19, including the clinical manifestations of the disease, risk reduction techniques for patients and providers, personal protective equipment-associated adverse reactions, and the financial impact on dermatologists. Read more.

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