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Health Watch: December 12th

A look at the stories affecting your health.
New research suggests that contact sport athletes could damage their brain, even without receiving a concussion. Researchers found that blows to the head during a single season of football or ice hockey may affect the brain's white matter, damaging memory or the ability to think. The study compared contact and non-contact sports like track and crew and found that contact players performed much worse on memory and learning tests at the end of the season.

About half of all psychiatrists now reject private and federal insurance, requiring payments in cash. That is according to a new study in Jama Psychiatry. The change means unless the mentally ill have deep pockets, they could have a hard time getting help. Experts say with fewer practicing psychiatrists and increasing need for their services, this could lead to a perfect storm of untreated mental health issues. 

The prices to fix the federal health care website has gone up by $47 million. That is in addition to the $319 million already spent. The agency helping to fix the site confirmed the hike, but did not say why it happened. They call it the "amount obligated" to the government to pay. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the government has a total obligation of $677 million.

The age old belief that music helps make kids smarter may just be a myth. Harvard researchers reviewed prior studies and conducted their own tests with students focused on musical training versus the visual arts. They found there is "no effect" of music training on the cognitive abilities of young children. 

New York City will now require children under the age of five who go to preschool or daycare to receive flu shots. The flu vaccine will be added to seven other vaccines children are already required to get. Children will have to be vaccinated by December 31st. 
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