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Health Highlights: June 13, 2011

Health Highlights: June 13, 2011


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

Countries Pledge Billions for Child Vaccinations Worldwide

More than four million lives will be saved over the next four years after a promise by a number of nations to donate $4.3 billion to help vaccinate children against preventable diseases such as pneumonia, according to the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization.

Donations were pledged by the U.K. ($1.3 billion), Norway ($677 million), the United States ($450 million), Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia, France, Germany and Italy. Another $1 billion was promised by Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates, BBC News reported.

GAVI had been seeking a total of $3.7 billion.

Even though there is a vaccine against pneumonia, the disease kills two million children under age 5 each year worldwide. It's estimated that pneumonia and diarrhea kill 3 times more children under age 5 than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined. But many countries can't afford the vaccines to prevent pneumonia and diarrhea, BBC News reported.


Study Questions Routine Autism Screening

A number of autism experts are challenging a new study that says there is not enough evidence to support routine autism screening in children.

Canadian researchers reviewed existing studies and concluded that it's not clear if screening for autism is the right approach, CNN reported.

"Good screening tools and efficacious treatment [for autism] is lacking," they wrote in the journal Pediatrics. The study authors added that "none of the autism screening tests currently available has been shown to be able to fulfill the properties of accuracy."

The study's conclusions left many autism experts puzzled and concerned.

"By screening for autism at an early age, children are able to begin intervention as soon as possible," Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for the Autism Speaks advocacy group, told CNN. "Studies have shown that early intervention results in significant increases in cognitive and language abilities, and adaptive behavior, and gives children the best chance for a positive outcome."

Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for autism at regular checkups at ages 18 and 24 months.


Photos of Gabrielle Giffords Released

Photographs of Representative Gabrielle Giffords posted Sunday on her Facebook page include one of her smiling broadly and another with her mother at her side.

The photos were taken May 17 in the courtyard of the TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation hospital in Houston, The New York Times reported. They are the first clear public images of the congresswoman since she was shot in the head during an assassination attempt in January.

Giffords' hair is much shorter than before and is dark instead of golden. Damage caused by the shooting is evident on the left side of her head.

The photos were released in order to prevent Giffords from being hounded by photographers when she leaves the rehabilitation hospital later this month, according to her spokesman C.J. Karamargin, The Times reported.


Girl Survives Rabies Despite Delayed Treatment

Hospital officials say an 8-year-old California girl is just the third person in the United States known to have survived rabies without receiving vaccinations immediately after being infected.

It's believed that Precious Reynolds of Willow Creek got rabies in April from a feral cat she encountered near her school, the Associated Press reported. She was diagnosed with rabies in May after she was seen by a doctor for serious flu-like symptoms.

After rabies was confirmed, the girl was treated by pediatricians at the University of California Davis Children's Hospital in coordination with state and federal health officials, according to a statement released by the hospital.

Precious received antiviral medications while she was in a drug-induced coma. After two weeks of treatment in intensive care, she was transferred to the general pediatric unit, where she remained Sunday, the AP reported.

"From the very beginning, Precious had a very rapid, robust immune response to her infection, which is a significant contributor to why she survived," Dr. Jean Wiedeman, leader of the pediatric team, said in the hospital statement.


Apples Top Pesticides 'Dirty Dozen' List

Pesticide residue was found on 98 percent of apple samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a yearly survey, but most of the residue levels were within amounts considered safe.

Pesticide residue was also found on more than 90 percent of samples of six other types of produce tested by the USDA: oranges, spinach, strawberries, grapes, cilantro and potatoes, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Before the produce samples were tested, they were washed under cold water for 10 seconds in order to replicate how produce is typically handled by consumers at home.

The findings are outlined in the "Dirty Dozen" list, to be released Monday by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocacy organization, the Wall Street Journal reported.

People shouldn't stop eating these fruits and vegetables because their health benefits outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure, according to the group. But consumers might consider organic produce.

The Environmental Working Group also published the "Clean 15" list, which includes crops which offer consumers the least exposure to pesticides. Onions, sweet corn, pineapples and avocadoes top the list.


Springsteen Saxophonist Clarence Clemons Suffers Stroke

Saxophonist Clarence Clemons, best known for his work with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, has suffered a stroke but there is no information about his condition.

The news was confirmed Sunday night by a person who has worked with Clemons in the past but spoke on condition of anonymity because the person did not have authorization to speak on the matter, the Associated Press reported.

The 69-year-old Clemons has had a number of health issues over the last few years, including double knee surgery.

However, his health seemed to be improving and last month he performed with Lady Gaga on the season finale of "American Idol," the AP reported.

Copyright © 2011 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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