Health Highlights: March 7, 201303/07/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Arkansas Legislature Passes Strictest Abortion Law in U.S.
Opponents say they'll fight Arkansas lawmakers' move to impose a
near-ban on abortion from the 12th week of pregnancy onward, which
would be the most restrictive abortion law in the country.
The Republican-dominated House voted 56-33 on Wednesday to
override Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's veto. A day earlier, the
Senate voted to do the same, the
Unless a lawsuit or court action halts it, the 12-week ban would
take effect this summer. Women who have abortions after 12 weeks
would not be prosecuted, but doctors who perform abortions after 12
weeks could have their medical licenses revoked.
Less than a week ago, the state Legislature overrode a veto of a
separate bill banning most abortions in the 20th week of pregnancy.
That bill took effect immediately, the
Beebe said both measures will end up wasting taxpayers' money
with the state defending them in court, where they are likely to be
defeated. He noted that both bans are unconstitutional and
contradict the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that
legalized abortion until the point when a fetus can viably survive
outside the womb, generally considered to be at 22 to 24 weeks.
Opponents immediately announced their intention to fight the new
"I think today, for whatever reason, the Arkansas House turned its back on the women of Arkansas and said, we don't think you're capable of making your own decisions," Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, told the AP.
She said the group planned to file suit in federal court in the
next couple weeks.
The 12-week ban includes exemptions for rape, incest, the life
of the mother and deadly fetal disorders. The 20-week ban includes
all of the same exemptions, except for fetal disorders, the
New Infections Occurring 6 Months After Tainted Drug Outbreak
Some people who originally tested clear are becoming sick nearly
six months after the start of a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak
in the United States linked to contaminated steroid injections.
This raises concerns that the incubation period for illness may
be longer than believed,
The outbreak has killed 48 and sickened more than 700, according
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of
new patients has slowed dramatically, but two or three people each
week are still being diagnosed with infections from the
mold-tainted steroids, which were given to treat pain.
Some of the new patients previously had MRIs or lumbar punctures
that showed they were free of infection. These infections are not
as severe as meningitis, but experts say they are still cause for
This week, CDC officials issued a health alert urging health
professionals to keep alert for new infections, even in patients
who show only minor symptoms, or none at all.
"We are seeing some patients with very long incubation periods," said Dr. Tom Chiller, associate director for epidemiological science in the CDC's division of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases, NBC Newsreported. "We expect to see people getting infections months after their injections."
The tainted doses of the drug methylprednisolone were prepared
by the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., which
is now closed. Nearly 14,000 people in 23 states were exposed to
the contaminated drugs.
Remove Yellow Dyes from Kraft Mac & Cheese: Petition
Two women have started a petition to have yellow dye 5 and
yellow dye 6 taken out of Kraft's Mac & Cheese sold in the
The petroleum-based dyes add nothing to the product's flavor and
may be dangerous to children's health, according to Lisa Leake and
Vani Hari. They said the food colorings have been associated with
hyperactivity in children, allergies, migraine, and perhaps cancer,
The women discovered that Kraft uses natural beta carotene and
paprika to make almost the same color in the Mac & Cheese it
sells in the U.K. and want Kraft to sell that additive-free version
in the U.S.
Their petition on Change.org has 25,000 signatures so far and
the number is growing,
ABC Newsreported. The petition notes that the yellow dyes
have been banned in some countries, including Austria and Norway,
and are being phased out in the U.K.
In an email to
ABCNews.com, Kraft spokesperson Lynne Galia said: "We
carefully follow the laws and regulations in the countries where
our products are sold. So in the U.S., we only use colors that are
approved and deemed safe for food use by the Food and Drug
The company knows that some Americans "prefer foods without
certain ingredients" and provides at least 14 other Mac &
Cheese products that have natural food colors and no added colors,
Sex May be Good for Migraines: Study
Sex may help treat migraines and cluster headaches, according to
a new study.
German researchers looked at 800 patients with migraines and 200
patients with cluster headaches. About one-third of the patients
said they had sex during a migraine or cluster headache,
Sixty percent of migraine sufferers and one-third of those with
cluster headaches who had sex said they had some level of pain
relief, with most achieving moderate or complete relief, according
to the study published Feb. 19 in the journal
For one-third of the migraine patients, the pain got worse when
they had sex, the University of Munster researchers said. They also
found that some patients -- mostly men -- used sex as a way to
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