Health Highlights: May 25, 201105/25/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Most ER Visits for Sports-Related Concussions Involve Kids
More than 80 percent of all emergency room visits for
sports-related concussions involve children under the age of 18, a
new U.S. government study shows.
In a report released Wednesday, the Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that almost 40,000 youths wound
up in the ER and were diagnosed with the condition in 2008
Those between the ages of 14 and 18 accounted for the lion's
share of these head injuries, at 58 percent, while 17 percent were
between the ages of 11 and 13 and another 7 percent were aged 6 to
10. The AHRQ researchers also found that 21 percent lost
consciousness briefly, while another 12 percent blacked out for a
longer period of time.
The good news was that 52 percent of these patients did not lose
consciousness, and 95 percent did not have to be admitted to the
hospital. Boys represented almost 80 percent of the injuries.
These young patients often wound up receiving care for other
injuries, for everything from pulled muscles and sprains to skull
Study Links Spinal Fusion Product to Male Sterility
A study from a Stanford University surgeon released Wednesday
suggests that a widely used growth protein used in spinal fusion
procedures may heighten men's risk of sterility,
The New York Times reported.
The product in question is Infuse, a bioengineered bone growth
protein from Medtronic that has been used in spinal anterior lumbar
fusion procedures since 2002, the
Times explained. While the Infuse label does list
sterility-linked complications as a possible side effect, studies
sponsored by Medtronic have attributed the complications to the
surgery, not Infuse.
But Dr. Eugene J. Carragee, a Stanford surgeon, reported in the
online edition of
The Spine Journal Wednesday that men who received Infuse
developed temporary or permanent sterility much more often than men
who received a bone graft, an alternative treatment used to fuse
vertebrae. That study was based on 240 men he treated several years
"It is important that men who are considering having children have the opportunity to weigh the risks of the various available procedures," Carragee told the Times.
Over 80,000 people undergo anterior lumbar fusion procedures
each year, the newspaper said, and about half of these procedures
use Infuse. According to Carragee's study, five of 69 men who
received Infuse developed a complication linked to sterility,
compared to one of 174 men who got a bone graft.
The two authors of the prior, Medtronic-funded trials defended
their findings, saying the number of men in their clinical trials
who had developed sterility did not reach statistical significance.
Surgeons Dr. J. Kenneth Burkus and Dr. Thomas A. Zdeblick also
noted that Carragee's study was retrospective in nature. Zdeblick
Times that such studies "are notorious for being
USDA Says Pork Can Cook Safely at Lower Temp
Experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and
Inspection Service have tweaked longstanding guidelines and now say
that pork can be safely cooked at the same temperature that's safe
for beef, veal and lamb: 145 degrees.
Cooked pork should also be put aside and allowed to rest for 3
minutes after removal from the grill and before serving, giving
high temperatures a little more time to kill pathogens, the USDA
"With a single temperature for all whole cuts of meat and uniform 3-minute stand time, we feel it will be much easier for consumers to remember and result in safer food preparation," USDA Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen said in a news release, the AP reported.
Ceci Snyder, vice president of marketing for the National Pork
Board, based in Des Moines, Iowa, said pork producers first
proposed the change back in 2008, citing improvements in feed and
housing that had cut the risk for pathogens in pigs.
Snyder told the
AP that it's important that consumers use a digital
thermometer placed in the thickest section of the meat to make
certain it is being properly cooked, however.
The drop in the USDA safe cooking temperature guideline does not
extend to ground meats or poultry products, which should still be
cooked at 160 and 165 degrees, respectively, the
U.S. Abortion Numbers Fall, Except Among Poor Women
The number of American women having an abortion fell by 8
percent between 2000 and 2008, but among women in the lowest income
bracket it rose by almost 18 percent, a new study finds.
Experts attribute the seemingly contradictory findings to the
nation's struggling economy.
"In the middle of a recession, it's possible women have reduced access to contraception and have more unintended pregnancies," study author Rachel Jones, senior research associate at New York City's Guttmacher Institute, told ABC News on Tuesday. "It's also possible that women
confronted with unplanned pregnancies when they are out of work
decide to have abortions, even though they might have carried it to
term in more stable times."
The study, published in the June issue of
Obstetrics & Gynecology, was based on patient surveys. The Guttmacher team used the data to estimate the rate of abortion across the spectrum of race, ethnicity and income.
ABC News, one 2006 study published in
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health found that
about half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended and about half of
those are terminated by abortion.
Destruction of Last Smallpox Stocks Delayed for 3 Years
Global health officials on Tuesday decided to defer setting any
deadline for the destruction of the last reserves of smallpox for
at least three years, the
Wall Street Journal reported.
Experts at the World Health Assembly, the decision-making arm of
the United Nation's World Health Organization (WHO), made the
decision after two days of heated debate on the subject. Smallpox
was eradicated over three decades ago, and a WHO panel in the early
1990s advocated destroying samples of the deadly virus kept in labs
in the United States and Russia.
However, those two countries, along with more than two dozen
others, have lobbied to keep the samples for at least another five
years. They argue that bioterrorists could use unknown stocks to
spread the scourge, or re-create the virus via synthesis, the
"This was a good outcome," Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Health Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and head of the U.S. delegation at the World Health Assembly, told the WSJ. "It didn't go as far as we would have liked, but the result is the research program central to the reason for maintaining the virus continues and we'll be three years closer to having the countermeasures we're aiming for."
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