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Health Highlights: Feb. 7, 2013

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

Fewer Girls Undergoing Female Genital Mutilation: Report

Fewer girls in Africa and the Middle East are undergoing female genital mutilation, according to new data released by the United Nations.

In 29 countries in those regions, 36 percent of girls ages 15 to 19 had been subjected to the procedure, compared with about 53 percent of women ages 45 to 49, BBC News reported.

Female genital mutilation typically involves removing the clitoris. It can lead to bleeding, infections and childbirth problems. Last year, 1,775 communities in Africa publicly declared their commitment to end the practice.

The new figures show that it is possible to end female genital mutilation, Anthony Lake, UNICEF's executive director, said in a statement, BBC News reported. He said that female genital mutilation is "deeply wrong" and that "we can and must end it to help millions of girls and women lead healthier lives."

The data was released on the international day calling for an end to female genital mutilation.


Fewer May Get Insurance Under Health Care Reform: Report

Only about 27 million more Americans will have health insurance by 2017, instead of the 32 million to 34 million originally projected by the Obama administration when it implemented the health care reform law, according to a Congressional Budget Office report.

It said that the smaller number of newly-insured people within four years is mostly due to the deal Congress made last month to prevent the country from going over the fiscal cliff, NBC News reported.

The CBO said the deal takes away some of the tax breaks employers get for providing health care coverage to employees. This means that about eight million people who would have been insured by their employers will likely lose their coverage.

Some of those people will likely purchase health insurance on the new insurance exchanges that are scheduled to be available by October, while others will become newly eligible for Medicaid, NBC News reported.

About 18 percent of Americans under age 65 don't have health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. One of the main goals of the Affordable Care Act was to greatly increase the number of people with health insurance.


Pubic Hair Grooming Injuries on the Rise: Study

Pubic hair grooming injuries are sending an increasing number of Americans to emergency departments, according to a new study.

The number of such visits rose five-fold between 2002 and 2010, when there were an estimated 2,500 pubic hair grooming mishaps involving cuts, burns, rashes, gashes and other problems that required emergency medical care, MSNBC reported.

However, this figure represents only people who sought medical help and the actual number of pubic hair grooming injuries is likely much higher, said study author Dr. Allison Glass, a clinical researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

Shaving razors caused 83 percent of the injuries, followed by scissors at 22 percent and hot wax at 1.4 percent, according to the study in the journal Urology. About 57 percent of the injuries occurred in women and 43 percent in men.

The study said that 70 to 88 percent of young women in the U.S. partially or fully remove their pubic hair, along with 58 to 78 percent of men, MSNBC reported.

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Posted: February 2013