Health Highlights: Aug. 15, 2007

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

Baby Bibs From China May Contain Lead: Report

Some vinyl baby bibs imported from China and sold at Toys "R" Us stores appear to contain lead, according to laboratory tests cited Wednesday by The New York Times.

The bibs include drawings of baseball bats, soccer balls, and "Winnie the Poo" characters. They cost less than $5 each and are sold under brand names such as "Especially for Baby" and "Koala Baby," the newspaper said.

Tests paid for by the California-based Center for Environmental Health found lead levels in these bibs sold in the state up to three times the amount allowed in paint, the Times said. And the newspaper's separate tests on bibs bought in Maryland conducted by an independent laboratory found similar lead levels.

A Toys "R" Us spokeswoman said the company's own tests conducted as recently as May found that the bibs met lead safety standards, the Times reported. "Our uncompromising commitment to safety has been, and continues to be, our highest priority," spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh said in a statement.

Unidentified officials from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said the department's tests showed that lead levels in the bibs were low enough that if a child chewed on the product, it would not expose the child to "an unhealthy dose," the newspaper reported. But the agency advised parents to discard vinyl bibs if they are ripped or deteriorated in some other way.

CPSC officials "have not pushed for a recall of lead-contaminated bibs," the Times said.

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FDA Warns Alzheimer's Drug Maker on Promotional Claims

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned Swiss drugmaker Novartis about misleading claims included in a promotion directed at doctors for the company's Alzheimer's drug, Exelon.

"The professional file card makes unsubstantiated superiority claims for Exelon, overstates the efficacy of Exelon, includes misleading risk presentations, and recommends or suggests a combination use of Exelon that has not been approved by the FDA," the agency said in a warning letter to the company, published on the FDA's Web site.

The file card promoted the drug's use with another Alzheimer's medication, Namenda, which the FDA said constituted an unapproved use as a combination therapy for Alzheimer's.

The agency urged Novartis to immediately stop publication and distribution of the information.

The company said it would review the letter and respond by Aug. 22, according to published reports.

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Circular Saws Recalled for Safety Trigger Problems

Some 811,000 Skil-brand circular saws are being recalled by maker Robert Bosch Tool Corp. because the tool may stay on after the user releases the safety trigger, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday.

The product's switch also can be turned on without the use of the safety lock-out, causing the saw to start unexpectedly, the agency said.

The company has five reports of the saw staying on after the safety trigger was released, although it has no reports of injury.

circular saw recall

The recall involves model numbers 5650, 5700, 5750 and 5755. The saws were sold across the United States from January 2002 through December 2006 for $70 to $80. The model number and date code are printed on the nameplate on the front of the saw. The following date codes are affected:

  • 28101 - 29231
  • 38101 - 39231
  • 48101 - 49231
  • 58101 - 59231
  • 68101 - 69231

Consumers should immediately stop using the saw and contact the company for information about obtaining a free repair. The toll-free phone number is: 866-761-5572.

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Children May Inherit Craving for Junk Food

Children born to pregnant women who eat junk food may develop the same cravings, a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition concludes.

Offspring born to pregnant rats fed crackers, potato chips, and sweets ate more unhealthy foods than offspring born to mothers who ate a more healthy diet of "rat chow," U.K. researchers at the Royal Veterinary College found.

The junk food diet fed to some rats was continued past birth as mother rats breastfed their offspring, according to a BBC Online report on the study. The sweet-eating rats tended to eat more overall, the researchers found.

The scientists suggested that "pleasure chemicals" generated by the mothers who ate junk foods may have affected the developing brains of fetal rats.

"Future mothers should be aware that pregnancy and lactation are not the time to over-indulge on fatty and sugary treats on the assumption that they are 'eating for two,'" said Professor Neil Stickland, the study's lead author.

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Re-use of Contact Lens Solution Common: Survey

More than 44 percent of contact lens wearers polled said they always or occasionally re-used contact lens solution, a practice that can increase the risk of infection, a new survey finds.

Just 46 percent of respondents said they cleaned their lens case as recommended after each use, and 49 percent said they wore their contacts longer than recommended, according to the poll conducted by the non-profit Contact Lens Council.

"Consumers still bend the rules when it comes to caring for their lenses," the Landover, Md.-based group said in a statement. "Contact lenses are FDA regulated medical devices that require proper care."

The survey, conducted in May, involved 500 men and women ages 18-65.

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Some Fluorescent Lighting May Harm Embryos

Certain types of fluorescent lighting commonly used at fertility clinics may be harmful to human embryos, scientists from Hawaii and Japan have concluded from new research.

Cool-white fluorescent lights caused the most damage among mice embryos studied, the Associated Press reported, citing the work of Dr. Ryuzo Yanagimachi, a retired University of Hawaii researcher and expert in reproductive biology.

Cool-white fluorescents, which give off a bluish-white tint and are commonly used in offices, were compared with warm-white lights, which are yellow-white in color. Exposure to the latter -- more frequently used in homes -- resulted in "far more" successful births, Yanagimachi said.

"People do not pay much attention to light as a negative environmental factor," said Yanagimachi, who added that light can stress an animal or human embryo, causing it to produce toxic radical oxygen in response.

The research appears in the Aug. 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Study co-authors were from the Prefectural University of Hiroshima in Japan.

Posted: August 2007


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