Health Highlights: Feb. 1, 201102/01/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Seeking Health Information Among Leading Uses of Internet
About 80 percent of American Internet users search for health
information, making it the third most common activity among people
who go online, according to a report released Tuesday.
Sending and receiving e-mails and using search engines are the
only online activities more common than seeking health information,
said the study by the Pew Internet Project, the
Washington Post reported.
Diseases, treatments and doctors are the types of health-related
searches most common among Internet users, who often do it on
behalf of a child or other dependent.
"Health care information is there where they need it," said Susannah Fox, associate director of the Pew Internet Project, the Post reported.
But the study did find that race and class are factors. Fewer
than half of adults in the following groups use the Internet to
find health-care information: blacks, Hispanics, people 65 and
older, disabled adults, and people in households with an annual
income of less than $30,000.
FDA Rejects New Diet Pill
A new prescription diet pill called Contrave has failed to win
U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, drug developer Orexigen
Therapeutics announced Tuesday.
The FDA told the San Diego company it must conduct a long-term
study to prove that the drug does not increase the risk of heart
The New York Times reported.
This is the latest in a series of setbacks for companies trying
to get prescription diet pills onto the U.S. market.
Last year, the FDA rejected lorcaserin from Arena
Pharmaceuticals and Qnexa from Vivus. It also forced Abbott
Laboratories' Meridia off the market, the
Swine Flu Vaccine Linked to Narcolepsy: Finnish Study
Swine flu shots appear to increase the risk of the sleeping
disorder narcolepsy in children and teens, says Finnish health
officials. Narcolepsy is a rare condition that causes people to
suddenly fall asleep.
A preliminary study found that patients ages 4 to 19 who
received the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine were more likely to
experience narcolepsy than youngsters in the same age group who
didn't receive the vaccine, the
Associated Press reported.
The "most likely explanation is that the increase in narcolepsy
is by joint effect of the vaccine and some other factor," said the
National Narcolepsy Task Force. The study was published Tuesday by
Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare.
The European Medicines Agency said last summer that it was
investigating a possible connection between the swine flu vaccine
and narcolepsy, the
Researchers Track How Flu Spreads Among Children
Flu spreads predominately from girls to girls and from boys to
boys, according to a new study that examined how H1N1 swine flu
spread among 370 children, ages 6 to 18, in a rural Pennsylvania
The researchers found that children are about three times more
likely to pass the flu to children of the same gender, likely
because girls tend to mix with girls and boys tend to mix with
Los Angeles Times reported.
Rates of flu transmission were five times higher between
classmates than among children in the same grade but in different
classes. The highest infection rate was among children ages 6 to
10, followed by those age 5 and younger.
The study was published Monday in the journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Tracking how flu spreads "could help us better understand
whether and when it would be appropriate to close a school, or
whether it might be better to close individual classes or grades,"
lead author Dr. Simon Cauchemez, a researcher at Imperial College
London in the U.K., said in a news release, the
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