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Health Highlights: July 29, 2011

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

SF Ballot Won't Include Circumcision Ban Proposal

A measure calling for a ban on circumcisions on most male children will not appear on San Francisco's November ballot.

In her ruling Thursday, Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi said the ban would violate the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom and a California law that gives the state, not cities, the authority to regulate medical procedures, the Associated Press reported.

The ballot measure was sponsored by anti-circumcision activist Lloyd Schofield, who is considering an appeal.

The proposed ban was challenged in court by the San Francisco's attorney office along with several Jewish groups and Muslim parents, the AP reported.


World Population to Reach 7 Billion This Year

The global population will reach 7 billion this year and could hit 9.3 billion by 2050, according to researchers.

The expected 2.3 billion increase in population over the next four decades represents as many people as lived on the planet in 1950, United Press International reported.

Nearly all of the 2.3 billion projected increase will occur in less developed regions of the world, with nearly half the increase in Africa, David Bloom, a professor of economics and demography at Harvard University, said in an article that appears in the journal Science.

He also said the population increase will lead to unprecedented global demographic upheaval, UPI reported.

The world's population reached 1 billion in 1850 but has jumped from 3 billion to 7 billion in the past half-century.


Tylenol's Maker Reducing Daily Dose to Help Prevent ODs

To lower the risk of accidental overdose from acetaminophen, Johnson & Johnson is reducing the maximum daily dose of Extra Strength Tylenol, its popular painkiller, by 1,000 milligrams.

Consumers will be advised to take no more than 6 pills a day (3,000 milligrams total) instead of the 8 pills a day (4,000 milligrams) specified on current packaging.

The dosing interval also will be extended -- to every 6 hours, from every 4-6 hours, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the J&J division that makes Tylenol, said in a news release issued Thursday. Product packaging will bear the new dosing guidelines beginning this fall.

The changes stem from a 2009 Food and Drug Administration decision calling for tighter regulation of acetaminophen, the painkiller in Tylenol, which can cause liver damage and fatal overdose when used in excess. Next year, McNeil also intends to reduce the maximum daily dose for Regular Strength Tylenol and other products containing the pain reliever.

"Acetaminophen is safe when used as directed," the McNeil statement said. Taking multiple products or not following the dosing instructions can result in accidental overdose, the company added.

Acetaminophen is found in hundreds of over-the-counter headache, fever and cold medications as well as prescription drugs, including Percocet and Vicodin.


Childhood Asthma Drug Costs Doubled Over 10 Years

The percentage of American children treated for asthma increased slightly over 10 years, while yearly drug costs to treat the disease more than doubled, according to a federal government report released Thursday.

Between 1997-98 and 2007-08, the average annual percentage of children treated for asthma rose from 4.7 percent to 6.1 percent. The average annual prescription drug expenses increased from $349 to $838 per child, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Overall average yearly health care expenses for a child with asthma rose 37 percent, from $1,827 to $2,503.

The analysis of data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey also showed that children ages 5 to 11 were more likely to be treated for asthma than children ages 12 to 17.


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Posted: July 2011