Health Highlights: Feb.5, 2013

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

Recovering Pakistani Girl Vows to Continue Push for Girls' Education

In a video statement released Monday, 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai said she will continue her campaign for girls' education despite threats against her.

She was shot in the head last October by a Taliban attacker. After initial treatment in Pakistan she was transported to Britain to receive specialized medical care. The Taliban said Malala was targeted because she promoted girls education and "Western thinking," the Associated Press reported.

In the video, Malala said she is "getting better, day by day." She spoke clearly but the left side of her face appeared rigid.

"I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated. For that reason, we have organized the Malala Fund," she said in the video, which was released by a public relations firm, the AP reported.

"Today you can see that I am alive. I can speak, I can see you, I can see everyone," Malala said in the video. "It's just because of the prayers of people. Because all people -- men, women, children -- all of them have prayed for me. And because of all these prayers God has given me this new life. A second life."

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TB Vaccine Doesn't Protect Infants: Study

An experimental tuberculosis vaccine that has shown promise in adults does not protect babies against the deadly infectious disease, a new study says.

The MVA85A vaccine was given to infants in South Africa, who were then followed for up to three years. The researchers said there was no proof that the vaccine prevented TB in the infants, the Associated Press reported.

The vaccine did not cause any serious side effects, according to the study published online in the journal The Lancet.

The results are "pretty disappointing," Dr. Jennifer Cohn, a medical coordinator at Doctors Without Borders, who was not part of the study, told the AP. "Infants are at really high risk of TB but this doesn't seem to offer them any protection."

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New Study May Improve Understanding of Panic Attacks

A moment of fear experienced by a woman who previously could not feel afraid may help scientists learn more about panic attacks, according to researchers.

A rare illness had damaged the woman's amygdala, a part of the brain that processes fear. As a result, no external threats -- such as spiders, snakes, horror movies or risk of violence -- scared the woman, The New York Times reported.

However, she suffered a panic attack during an experiment in which she inhaled carbon dioxide through a mask in amounts that weren't harmful but created a brief feeling of suffocation, according to the study in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Two other women -- identical twins with amygdala damage similar to the first woman's -- also felt intense fear when they took part in the same experiment.

The findings support the theory that while the amygdala is central to fear generated by external threats, there is a different brain path that triggers fear in response to internal bodily experiences such as a heart attack, Antonio Demasio, of the University of Southern California, told The Times.

"I think it's a very interesting and important result," said Damasio, who was not involved in this study but has worked with the first woman in the study.

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Posted: February 2013


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