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Health Highlights: Dec. 13, 2010

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

President Obama to Sign Child Nutrition Bill

A bill to provide more children with free school lunches and dinners and makes those meals healthier is expected to be signed into law Monday by President Barack Obama.

Along with providing meals to more needy students, the $4.5 billion legislation will give federal officials the authority to dictate what kinds of foods are allowed to be sold in school lunch lines, vending machines and fundraisers during school hours, the Associated Press reported.

The measure boosts the federal reimbursement for free school lunches by 6 cents a meal and also provides funding for 20 million additional after-school meals to be served each year in every state.

President Obama, accompanied by wife Michelle, is scheduled to sign the bill at an elementary school in the District of Columbia, the AP reported.


New Congress Expected to Tighten Abortion Restrictions

The appointment of a strong opponent of abortion rights to an influential House subcommittee could lead to stricter limits on the procedure, according to supporters and opponents of abortion rights.

Last week, Representative Joe Pitts, R-Penn., was selected as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. The committee has jurisdiction over the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, private health insurance, Medicaid and much of Medicare, The New York Times reported.

Pitts is "one of the most anti-choice members" of the House, said Representative Lois Capps, D-Calif., who predicted the new Congress would be "extremely hostile to a woman's right to choose."

The National Right to Life Committee urged Republicans to select Pitts as subcommittee chairman, saying he had "made the protection of the sanctity of innocent human life the cornerstone of his service in the House," The Times reported.


Two Chromosomes Linked to Endometriosis Risk: Study

Scientists who identified two chromosomes associated with the risk of developing endometriosis say their finding could lead to improved diagnosis and treatments.

The team compared the genomes of 5,500 women with the condition to those of 10,000 healthy women and concluded that chromosome 1 and chromosome 7 play a major role in determining the risk of developing endometriosis, BBC News reported.

In women with endometriosis, tissue that acts like cells that line the uterus grow in other areas of the body. This results in pain, irregular bleeding and possible infertility.

"Our study is a breakthrough because it provides the first strong evidence that variations in DNA make some women more likely to develop endometriosis," said lead author Dr. Krina Zondervan, BBC News reported. "We now need to understand the effect of these variations on cells and molecules in the body."

The study appears in the journal Nature Genetics.


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Posted: December 2010