Health Highlights: Sept. 29, 2010

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

Appeals Court Temporarily Overturns Stem Cell Ban

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday temporarily overturned a lower-court judge's ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

The three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., said the Obama administration rules met the legal standard for a stay of the injunction, Dow Jones reported. The one-page order noted that stem-cell funding by the U.S. National Institutes of Health is a top priority of the Obama administration.

"We're heartened that the court will allow NIH and their grantees to continue moving forward while the appeal is resolved," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, Dow Jones reported.

Under President George W. Bush, embryonic stem cell research was allowed only on a small number of cell lines. But in a controversial move, President Barack Obama broadened those provisions last year.

Stem cells that originate in embryos can develop into any type of tissue, so they are widely valued in research and for their potential to treat a host of diseases and conditions, such as Parkinson's disease and spinal-cord injuries.

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Former President Carter Still Hospitalized

Former President Jimmy Carter remained in hospital Wednesday after becoming "air sick" Tuesday while flying to Cleveland as part of his book tour, according to published reports.

Carter spent the night in the hospital on the advice of his doctor.

"Carter is feeling normal this morning," Christina Karas, spokeswoman at MetroHealth Medical Center said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. "His doctors at MetroHealth Medical Center recommended additional observation during the day."

A volunteer worker at the Carter Center told ABC News Tuesday that the 85-year-old ex-president was not suffering from life-threatening injuries and had just fallen "air sick" on the flight to Cleveland, where he was scheduled to appear at a signing for his new book, "White House Diary."

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Are Bans on Texting While Driving Backfiring?

Laws banning texting while driving may actually drive up the number of car crashes, some experts contend.

"Texting bans haven't reduced crashes at all," said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is highlighting the dilemma at the annual meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) this week in Kansas City, Mo.

The institute's affiliate, the Highway Loss Data Institute, reviewed insurance claim data in four states -- California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington -- before and after texting bans took effect. Crash rates rose in three of the states after they adopted bans, USA Today reported.

The researchers believe the bans encourage clandestine texting, with drivers lowering their phones to avoid police detection. This means they take their eyes off the road for even longer periods, increasing their collision risk, the Highway Loss group said.

Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia prohibit texting while driving, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood believes these regulations can save lives. "We know that anti-distracted-driving laws can be enforced effectively," he said, USA Today reported.

Posted: September 2010


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