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Health Highlights: May 25, 2012

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

Children Swallowing Tiny Detergent Packets

Hundreds of American children have swallowed miniature laundry detergent packets after confusing them with candy.

Poison control centers say nearly 250 cases have been reported so far this year, with children suffering symptoms such as nausea and breathing problems, according to the Associated Press.

The tiny packets were introduced to the market earlier this year. Each colorfully-swirled packet contains a single-use amount of detergent that dissolves in water. Poison control centers began receiving calls from parents about the packets in March and April, soon after they became widespread on store shelves.

"We're not quite sure why it's happening," Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, a Dallas toxicologist and professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, told the AP. "But we've clearly had some kids who have become much more ill. We look at these pods as being clearly more dangerous than the standard detergent."

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U.S. Senate Passes Bill to Speed Drug Approvals

A bipartisan bill to prevent drug shortages and speed Food and Drug Administration approval of lifesaving medicines was passed Thursday by the U.S. Senate.

A similar bill could be approved by the House as early as next week. The legislation is supported by consumer groups, pharmaceutical companies and President Barack Obama, The New York Times reported.

The lone "no" vote in the 96 to 1 Senate vote was cast by Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont. He said the measure did "far too little" to make medicines more affordable.

The measures are necessary to keep pace with new treatments developed during a decade of rapid advances in biomedical research, The Times reported.

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'American Idol' Winner to Undergo Kidney Surgery

The "American Idol" 2012 winner will soon undergo kidney surgery to deal with chronic kidney stones.

Phillip Phillips, 21, won the singing contest Wednesday night and apparently had to contend with severe kidney stones throughout the show's season, ABC News reported.

In a call to the television show "Live! With Kelly" Thursday morning, The singer from Leesburg, Ga. said doctors tended to him during his time on "American Idol."

"I'll be having [surgery] here soon. I'm getting prepared for all that. I'm ready to feel better, feel like myself," he said in the phone call, ABC News reported.

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Posted: May 2012


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