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Health Highlights: Sept. 7, 2010

Health Highlights: Sept. 7, 2010


Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Brass Instruments May Be Linked to Lung Condition

People who play brass musical instruments such as the saxophone may be at increased risk for an allergic lung condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), according to researchers.

HP may develop when these musicians unknowingly inhale mold and bacteria from their instruments. Shortness of breath and coughing are symptoms of HP, which can develop into a more dangerous fibrosis, ABC News reported.

The American and European researchers looked at cases involving a trombone player and two saxophone players who developed HP. Their findings appear in the journal Chest.

"This isn't shocking, nor do I think it's very common," Martin Blaser, chairman of medicine at New York University and a specialist in infectious diseases, told ABC News. "My guess is these are isolated events and somebody got unlucky."


FDA Issues Warning Letters Over Green Tea Beverages

The makers of Canada Dry ginger ale and Lipton tea have been issued warning letters for making unproven nutritional claims about their green tea beverages, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

One letter was issued to Dr. Pepper Snapple Group about its labeling of Canada Dry Sparkling Tea Ginger ale, while the other was sent to Unilever Inc. over labeling and Web site information about its Lipton Green Tea, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA told Dr. Pepper Snapple Group that the ingredients in Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale "are not nutrients with recognized antioxidant activity" and the product does not meet federal requirements to carry the claim that the it is "enhanced with 200 mg of antioxidants from green tea and vitamin C."

In the warning letter to Unilever, the FDA said antioxidant labeling claims on Lipton Green Tea do no follow federal guidelines. The agency also challenged information on the company's Web site, the AP reported.

The companies were given 15 days to respond to the warning letters and explain what action they will take to correct the issues.


Low Blood Pressure Drug Will Stay On Market: FDA

A drug to treat low blood pressure will be allowed to remain on the U.S. market while more data about its effectiveness is collected, says the Food and Drug Administration.

In August, the agency warned it would order Shire PLC to halt U.S. sales of ProAmatine (midodrine) because the drug had not been proven effective. The FDA approved the drug in 1996 based on promising early results but also ordered a follow-up study to prove the long-term benefits of the drug, the Associated Press reported

Because that study was never conducted, the FDA last month proposed taking ProAmatine off the market and giving Ireland-based Shire the opportunity to schedule a hearing to discuss the issue.

However, the FDA has decided to allow the drug to remain on the market "while the necessary data is collected and the legal issues get sorted out," agency spokeswoman Sandy Walsh said in an emailed statement, the AP reported.

Last year, about 100,000 people in the U.S. received prescriptions for ProAmatine or generic versions of the drug, according to the FDA.


Expert Urges Vigilance Against Flu Outbreaks

Even though the recent swine flu pandemic was less deadly than predicted, health authorities around the world must remain alert and prepared to deal with the next global outbreak, says a leading virus expert.

"We may think we can relax and influenza is no longer a problem. I want to assure you that that is not the case," Robert Webster, chairman of the virology and molecular biology department at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, the Associated Press reported.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an influenza conference in Hong Kong, Webster said that the next pandemic could be triggered by a bird flu virus such as H5N1, which has killed 300 people in recent years.

"H5N1 can kill 61 percent of humans infected, but it doesn't know how to spread from human to human. But don't trust it to because it could acquire that capacity. So we must stay vigilant," Webster said, the AP reported.

In other news from the meeting, a World Health Organization official says that the speed and volume of vaccine production will have to be increased during the next global flu pandemic, the AP reported.

Widepread vaccine use was a major reason why the swine flu pandemic death toll was only 18,600 instead of the millions that experts predicted might die. The 350 million doses of vaccine offered protection in up to 95 percent of people who received it, WHO official David Wood said at a news conference.

He noted that while the vaccine was effective, it became available too late for some countries.

Wood said the WHO is looking at ways to produce vaccines more quickly and added that technological advances will speed up the process, the AP reported.


Fathers Also Affected By Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression can afflict fathers as well as mothers and rates of the disorder among men have been rising since the early 1990s, says a new study.

Researchers analyzed the medical records of nearly 87,000 U.K. couples who had a baby between 1993 and 2007. They found that the rate of postpartum depression for mothers was nearly 14 cases per 100 person-years in the first year after a baby was born, dropping to about 6 per 100 person-years in the second year and continuing to decline slightly over the next decade, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Among fathers, the rate in the first year after a child's birth was 3.56 cases per 100 person-years. The rate than varied between 1.95 and 2.72 cases per 100 person-years until the children reached their teens.

The researchers also found that rates of postpartum depression among men increased during the study period, from 1.61 cases per 100 person-years in 1993 to 2.87 cases per 100 person-years in 2007, the Times reported.

Overall, 39 percent of mothers and 21 percent of fathers experienced postpartum depression during their child's first year.

The study was published online in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.


Salmonella Fears Prompt Hartz Dog Treat Recall

Hartz Mountain Corp. has recalled nearly 75,000 bags of Naturals Real Beef Treats for Dogs that may be contaminated with salmonella, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The recall was announced after FDA tests detected the presence of salmonella organisms in one or more 8-ounce bags of the treats, CNN reported. The recalled bags of treats have the lot code BZ0969101E.

So far, Hartz has not received any reports of animals or people becoming sick as a result of contact with the treats. The company said it is investigating the source of the potential salmonella contamination.

Consumers who bought the treats should immediately throw them away, Hartz advised. People with questions about the recall can contact Hartz at 1-800-275-1414, CNN reported.

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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