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Health Highlights: April 28, 2011

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

Blushing Makes People More Likely to Forgive Mistakes: Study

If you blush after you make a mistake or social gaffe, people are more likely to be more forgiving, a new study suggests.

It included 196 college students who played an online game with a virtual opponent who cooperated in the first round and shared the winnings, but later defected and earned a larger prize than the participants, reported.

After each round, the participants were shown photos of their virtual female opponent with one of four expressions: neutral, neutral with a blush, embarrassment, and embarrassment with a blush.

The participants judged the opponent less harshly when she blushed and believed she was less likely to defect again. Blushing even prompted some participants to give the opponent more prize money and a higher honesty rating, reported.

"After you do something wrong, people like you more when you blush," said lead author Corine Dijk, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

The study was published in the April issue of the journal Emotion.


Giffords Flies to Florida for Husband's Shuttle Launch

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords traveled by plane from Houston to Florida Wednesday to watch her husband's space shuttle launch Friday.

The trip represents another important milestone in Giffords' long recovery from the bullet wound to the head she suffered in an assassination attempt nearly four months ago, the Associated Press reported.

Gifford's husband Mark Kelly is commander of the space shuttle Endeavour, which is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral at 3:47 p.m. Friday. President Barack Obama will also attend the launch.

Kelly said his wife's attendance at the launch is "something she's been looking forward to for a long time," the AP reported. "She's been working really hard to make sure that her doctors would permit her to come. She's more than medically ready to be here, and she's excited about making this trip."


One-Fourth of U.S. Children Live in Single-Parent Families: Report

The United States has a higher percentage of children being raised by a single parent than other developed nations, according to a report released Wednesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The OECD looked at 27 industrialized countries and found that 25.8 percent of children in the U.S. are being raised by a single parent, compared to an average of 14.9 percent in the other nations, the Associated Press reported.

After the U.S., the next highest rates were in Ireland (24.3 percent) and New Zealand (23.7 percent). The lowest percentages were in Greece, Spain, Italy and Luxembourg.

The study also found that single parents in the U.S. are more likely to have jobs than those in other countries (35.8 percent vs. an average of 21.3 percent), but also have higher rates of poverty, the AP reported.


Chronic Illnesses Are World's Leading Cause of Death: WHO

Chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death worldwide, accounting for more than 36 million deaths in 2008, says a World Health Organization report.

It said that 80 percent of the deaths occurred in low and middle income countries and that chronic illnesses pose a greater threat than infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, BBC News reported.

Policies that promote healthier diets and restrict or ban smoking could prevent many of these deaths, according to the WHO.

"The rise of noncommunicable diseases presents an enormous challenge," said WHO Director General Margaret Chan, BBC News reported. "For some countries, it is no exaggeration to describe the situation as an impending disaster; a disaster for health, for society, and most of all for national economies."

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Posted: April 2011