Health Highlights: May 26, 201105/26/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Groups Sue FDA to Ban Certain Antibiotics in Animal Feed
A number of environmental and health-advocacy organizations have
launched a lawsuit to try and force the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration to ban the use of two types of antibiotics in
livestock feed, the
Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The groups charge that the widespread use of penicillin and
tetracycline antibiotics in animal feed is contributing to
bacterial resistance to antibiotics that people use to fight
dangerous infections. They say the government has failed to stop
"Approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States today are used in livestock," the groups said in the suit, the Journal reported. "Most of these drugs are not used to treat
disease. Instead, they are given to healthy animals in their feed
or water, both to promote faster growth and to prevent
According to the newspaper, the FDA said that livestock raised
in the United States consumed almost 29 million pounds of
antibiotics, with about 74 percent given through the animal's
Groups involved in the suit include the Natural Resources
Defense Council, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food
Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen, and Union of Concerned
Scientists. They filed the suit Wednesday with the U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of New York.
Doug Wolf, president of the National Pork Producers Council,
called the suit "spurious," the
FDA spokeswoman Siobhan Delancey said the agency does not
comment on pending litigation.
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
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