Many Bird Populations

In Decline, Data Show

Almost 30 percent of bird populations in North America are facing a "significant decline," the National Audubon Society said yesterday in its first "The State of the Birds" report.

The group studied data from 1966 to 2003 for 654 bird species.

Most dire was the finding that 70 percent of the species in grasslands -- such as the eastern meadowlark, bobolink, short-eared owl and greater prairie chicken -- are doing poorly.

In shrublands, 36 percent of species are not doing well, including the northern bobwhite, painted bunting and Florida scrub jay. In forests, a quarter of bird species are declining; in urban areas, 23 percent; in wetlands, 13 percent.

The group described the losses as abnormal and said they could be seen as ecological indicators of problems that people are or will soon be facing. The group called for more protections for habitats and increased conservation efforts.

Most ER Patients Have Insurance, Study Finds

A study on emergency rooms disputes the common wisdom that the poor and uninsured are filling them up. More than 80 percent of patients seen in emergency rooms have health insurance and a usual source of health care, such as a primary care physician, it found.

"Contrary to popular perception, individuals who do not have a usual source of care are actually less likely to have visited an emergency department," said study leader Ellen Weber, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco.

Weber and colleagues looked at interviews of nearly 50,000 adults visiting emergency departments in 2000 and 2001.

They found that people without a regular doctor or clinic were 25 percent less likely to have had an emergency visit than those with a private doctor.

Their study, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine and presented at a meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians, found that 83 percent of emergency department visits were made by people who had a doctor, clinic or were members of a health maintenance organization.

Eighty-five percent had medical insurance, and 79 percent had incomes above the poverty level.

Hormone Patch Boosts

Sex Life in Menopause

Menopausal women had more sex and were happier about it when using an experimental hormone patch, doctors reported yesterday.

Women on the testosterone patch had sex about four times more than they usually did in two months compared with only one additional session for women using a placebo patch, a study found.

Those who used real patches reported more arousal, pleasure and orgasms and had better self-images.

"We found an increase in activity, an increase in desire and a decrease in distress," said Robin Kroll, a Seattle gynecologist who reported results yesterday at a meeting of infertility specialists. The research was sponsored by Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, which is developing the patch with Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc.

It was the first big test of the patch in women who went through menopause naturally and reported low sex drive. The companies have asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve its use for women who became menopausal because of surgery.

-- From News Services