Health Highlights: April 26, 2011

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

Meningitis Vaccine OK'd for Use in Toddlers

U.S. approval for the bacterial meningitis vaccine Menactra has been expanded to include children ages 9 to 23 months.

The Food and Drug Administration decision was announced Monday by Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi-Aventis, the Associated Press reported.

This is the first U.S. approval for a bacterial meningitis vaccine for children ages 9 to 23 months, according to the company. Menactra was already approved for patients ages 2 to 55 years old.

Bacterial meningitis is rare in the U.S. but those who get can die within days and survivors can suffer paralysis, hearing loss and mental disabilities, the AP reported. The virus spreads through sneezing, coughing and kissing.

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Electronic Cigarettes to be Regulated as Tobacco Products: FDA

Electronic cigarettes marketed for non-therapeutic use will be regulated as tobacco products rather than drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The proposal is outline in a letter posted on the agency's website, Bloomberg News reported.

In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the FDA can only regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product if they aren't marketed for therapeutic use. The ruling gave the FDA the power to oversee sales of the controversial products.

E-cigarettes include a battery, heating element and a cartridge that contains a liquid suspension with nicotine obtained from tobacco plants. When a person uses an e-cigarette, the liquid is heated and a vapor is emitted, Bloomberg reported.

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New Drug Appears Effective Against Hepatitis C: FDA

A new hepatitis C drug called boceprevir appears to cure more patients in less time than current drugs but there are questions about how the drug should be used with older medicines for maximum benefit, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration review.

The agency posted the review on its website in advance of a public meeting next week to consider whether the drug should receive FDA approval, the Associated Press reported.

Two studies submitted by Merck & Co. found that patients had undetectable levels of hepatitis C six months after they completed treatment with boceprevir, the FDA said.

Hepatitis C infects about 3.2 million people in the U.S., according to the AP.

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Utah Health Officials Trying to Contain Measles Outbreak

A single unvaccinated person with measles may have infected hundreds of people at two community events in Utah earlier this month, health officials say.

So far, nine measles cases in the state have been linked to exposure to the unvaccinated person who contracted the disease in Poland, according to the Salt Lake Valley health department, the Associated Press reported.

As many as 1,000 people were exposed to the infected person at the two community events, according to epidemiologists.

State health officials are asking people who attended either event to contact the Utah Poison Control Center to determine if they've been properly vaccinated against the measles, the AP reported.

In addition, people who attended the first event are being asked to stay home until April 29 and those who attended the second event are being asked to stay home until May 1.

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Some Adults Fake or Exaggerate ADHD Symptoms: Study

Nearly one-quarter (22 percent) of American adults who seek treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be exaggerating or faking their symptoms, according to a new study.

The analysis of the medical records of 268 patients found that some of those who exaggerated their symptoms did have ADHD but wanted to ensure they were diagnosed with the condition, msnbc.com reported.

Others who faked their symptoms didn't have ADHD but were having difficulty dealing with their workloads and lives, said the study published in the journal The Clinical Neuropsychologist.

"A lot of people think they have it because they are struggling, but it's not because of ADHD. Often times, it's simply depression, anxiety or lack of sleep," said lead author and clinical neuropsychologist Paul Marshall, msnbc.com reported.

Other patients fake ADHD symptoms to get stimulant medications, he added.

Posted: April 2011


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