Health Highlights: Dec. 23, 201012/23/10
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Congress Passes 9/11 Responder Aid Package
An aid package for World Trade Center rescue and cleanup workers
is smaller than originally proposed but is being called a
"Christmas miracle" by some.
The measure was passed by Congress after a last-minute
compromise and was sent Wednesday to President Barack Obama, who is
eager to sign it, the
Associated Press reported.
The package provides $2.7 billion to reopen a victim's
compensation fund and $1.5 billion to treat illnesses among Ground
Zero rescue and cleanup workers and to monitor their health.
The bill was believed dead a few days ago when Republican
senators blocked it from being put to a vote. But political
pressure and a downsizing of the bill led to Congressional
The effort to save the bill was led by Democratic Sens. Charles
Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both of New York. "The Christmas
miracle we've been looking for has arrived," they said in a joint
Even though the aid package is smaller than originally proposed,
a lawyer for Sept. 11 responders said his clients were
"This is the recognition, compensation and health care they so richly deserved," Andrew Carboy told the AP.
Pregnancy Linked to Upped Risk of Mental Health Woes in Female
U.S. female veterans who become pregnant may be at increased
risk for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to researchers at
Yale University School of Medicine.
They studied 43,078 female veterans who served in Iraq or
Afghanistan and were treated at Veterans Administration facilities
over five years. Mental health disorders were diagnosed in 32
percent of those who were pregnant, compared with 21 percent who
were not pregnant, the
Los Angeles Times reported.
Pregnant vets had two times higher rates of PTSD, depression and
anxiety. They were also more likely to be diagnosed with
schizophrenia and alcohol or drug abuse/dependence.
The study was published in the
Journal of Women's Health.
EPA Taking Action on Carcinogen in Tap Water
The U.S. Environmental Agency is taking action to deal with the
issue of the likely cancer-causing chemical chromium 6 in tap
water, the agency's chief said Wednesday.
Lisa Jackson said the EPA plans to work with local and state
officials to determine the extent of the problem, and will offer
technical help to cities with the chemical in their tap water,
USA Today reported.
A study released earlier this week by the Environmental Working
Group said chromium 6 (also known as hexavalent chromium) was found
in the tap water of 31 of 35 cities tested. The chemical has been
linked to leukemia and cancer in animals, as well as liver and
Jackson also said she met with 10 U.S. senators Tuesday to
update them on the agency's review of chromium 6. The EPA has been
weighing whether to set a specific limit for the chemical,
USA Today reported.
Study Warns About Alternative Therapies and Children
In rare cases, it could be deadly to give children alternative
treatments instead of conventional medicines, says a new study.
Researchers analyzed reports filed from 2001 to 2003 by
Australian pediatricians about side effects caused by alternative
medicines such as herbal treatments, vitamin supplements or
naturopathic pills, the
Associated Press reported.
During that time, there were 39 reported cases of side effects,
including four deaths, the researchers found. Nearly 65 percent of
the cases involved infants to children aged 16. In 44 percent of
the cases, pediatricians believed patient harm was the result of
not using conventional medicines.
The study was published online Thursday in the journal
Archives of Disease in Childhood.
"We have known for a long time that alternative medicines can put patients at risk," Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine at Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England, told the AP. He was not involved in the study.
"Perhaps the most serious harm occurs when effective therapies are replaced by ineffective alternative therapies," he noted. "In that situation, even an intrinsically harmless medicine, like a homeopathic medicine, can be life-threatening."
Drugmaker Recalls Millions of Diabetes Testing Strips
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that Abbott
Laboratories is recalling as many as 359 million diabetes testing
strips because they may give falsely low blood sugar results.
The testing strips are used to help diabetics check their blood
sugar levels. But the FDA said the falsely low blood glucose
results can lead patients to try to raise their blood sugar levels
when it isn't necessary, or to fail to treat elevated blood glucose
due to a falsely low reading. Both scenarios pose health risks.
The FDA said the problems are caused by a defect that limits the
amount of blood absorbed by each strip.
Abbott is recalling 359 lots marketed under these brand names:
Precision Xceed Pro, Precision Xtra, Medisense Optium, Optium,
OptiumEZ and ReliOn Ultima.
The test strips, which were manufactured between January and May
2010, are sold both in retail and online settings directly to
consumers, but are also used in health-care facilities, the FDA
Abbott said it will replace the test strips for free.
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