Health Highlights: Aug. 23, 201008/23/10
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of
Judge Calls Halt to Obama Policy to Expand Stem Cell
The Obama administration's policy expanding stem cell research
was put on hold Monday when a federal judge ruled that the policy
was illegal, the
New York Times reported.
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth wrote that the policy,
created by an executive order in 2009, makes a meaningless
distinction between the destruction of embryos and the funding of
research using stem cells created through the destruction of
While many in the scientific community were confused as to what
the ruling meant for researchers currently working with stem cells,
the judge was not, the
The temporary injunction returns federal policy to the "status
quo," Lamberth wrote in his ruling.
According to the
Times, Lamberth added that blocking the new guidelines would be in the public interest because they allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, which involves the destruction of embryos.
Stem cell research has the potential to produce breakthroughs in
treating life-threatening diseases that have resisted traditional
Doctors Puzzled Over Muscle Damage to Oregon Football
A case involving 19 Oregon high school football players who
suffered muscle damage after a preseason camp is "very weird,"
according to one of the doctors trying to find answers.
Dr. Craig Winkler said that all 19 of the McMinnville High
School players had elevated levels of the enzyme creatine kinase
(CK), which is released by muscles when they're injured,
ABC News and the
Associated Press reported.
If not properly treated, high CK levels can lead to kidney
failure. High CK levels can be caused by vigorous exercise or the
use of certain medications or food supplements.
"To have an epidemic like this is very weird," said Winkler, of Willamette Valley Medical Center in McMinnville.
In addition, three of the players also were diagnosed with
possible cases of "compartment syndrome," a rare soft-tissue
condition that caused soreness and extreme swelling in their
triceps. They had to undergo surgery to relieve the pressure,
Five of the players were treated in the emergency room and sent
home while 11 were hospitalized. As of Sunday, 10 were still in
hospital but were in good condition and were expected to be
released Monday, according to a hospital official.
White House to Revise New Medical Privacy Rules
New medical privacy rules have been withdrawn by the Obama
administration and will be rewritten in response to criticism that
the regulations don't adequately protect patients' rights.
The new rules were submitted in May for approval by the White
House Office of Management and Budget. They specified when doctors,
hospitals and insurers must tell patients about the improper use or
disclosure of information in their medical records,
The New York Times reported.
But consumer groups and many members of Congress said the rules
failed to provide sufficient protection for patients. The
Department of Health and Human Services withdrew them and hopes to
issue final rules this fall.
In the last 18 months, more than five million people in the
United States have been affected by breaches of medical
information, according to the watchdog group Privacy Rights
The Times reported.
These breaches occurred in a number of ways, including the loss
of paper records, the posting of data on Web sites, and the theft
of laptop computers.
Drugs Protect Monkeys Against Ebola, Marburg Viruses
New research suggests it eventually may be possible to protect
people against bioterrorist attacks that use the deadly Ebola and
Marburg viruses, say U.S. scientists.
They found that injecting synthetic nucleotides called
morpholino oligomers into monkeys blocked replication of the Ebola
and Marburg viruses. The monkeys become very sick but most of them
Los Angeles Times reported.
These are the first anti-Ebola and Marburg virus drugs approved
by the Food and Drug Administration for clinical trial testing. The
trials will be limited to monkeys before any tests are conducted in
While the results are encouraging, the scientists still have a
long way to go before they have a product that can be used with
confidence in humans, said Alan L. Schmaljohn, a virologist at the
University of Maryland School of Medicine, who wasn't involved in
the research, the
He noted that the drugs were given to the monkeys within an hour
after infection with the Ebola or Marburg viruses. The drugs could
be much less effective if given later or against a more virulent
strain of the viruses.
Mental Woes Still Trouble Kids Displaced By Katrina: Study
Children displaced by Hurricane Katrina are nearly five time
more likely than other children to have severe emotional problems,
but fewer than half of youngsters believed to need psychological
help receive it, finds a new study.
Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, killing about
1,600 people and causing an estimated $80 billion in property
"A significant number of children are still living under dangerous and traumatic conditions of persistent displacement," said study co-author Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness, USA Today reported.
He and his colleagues found that emotional and behavioral
problems afflict nearly 60 percent (20,000) of children whose
families had to move into trailer parks, hotels or other types of
They also found that more than one-third of children in middle
school or high school were one or more years older than their
classmates, which suggests that transient living conditions have
caused many children to fall behind academically,
USA Today reported.
The study appears in the journal
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.
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