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Health Highlights: June 21, 2018

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

Industrial Chemicals in Drinking Water More Toxic Than Thought

Industrial chemicals called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl found in public water supplies across the United States are toxic at levels seven to 10 times lower than previously believed, a federal government report says.

High levels of exposure to the chemicals are associated with liver damage, some forms of cancer, developmental problems and other health risks, the Associated Press reported.

The chemicals are no longer used by U.S. manufacturers, but had been used in fire-suppressing foam, nonstick pans, fast-food wrappers, stain-resistant fabric and carpet and other products.

The Environmental Protection Agency has scheduled hearings on the chemicals, and Wednesday's release of the report will likely lead state and local water systems with the chemicals to increase filtering, according to the AP.

"The more we test, the more we find," said Olga Naidenko, a science adviser to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.


Newer Flu Vaccine Only Slight More Effective in Seniors: FDA

A newer flu vaccine was only slightly more effective in seniors than older vaccines during the last flu season, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Overall, flu vaccines were only about 24 percent effective among people 65 and older. The newer vaccine, Flucelvax, was about 26.5 percent effective in that age group, the Associated Press reported.

Most flu vaccines in the U.S. are made in chicken eggs, but Flucelvax is made by growing viruses in animal cells.

"The big problem is still the same -- we need better vaccines. But these incremental improvements are very important," said Brendan Flannery, a flu expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the AP reported.

The FDA's findings were presented Wednesday to a panel that advises the government on vaccine recommendations.

The CDC says flu vaccines were 40 percent effective for Americans of all ages this past flu season, but were far less effective against the strains that made most people sick, the AP reported.


Laser Pointer Burns Hole in Boy's Retina

A boy in Greece burned a hole in his retina after repeatedly gazing into a laser pointer's beam, doctors say.

They discovered a large hole is in the macular, an area in the retina that helps distinguish detail in faces and while reading or driving. There was also damage to two areas below the macular hole, CNN reported.

Vision in the 9-year-old boy's injured left eye is 20/100 and doctors who treated him said it's not possible to restore normal vision to that eye. The boy's right eye has 20/20 vision.

The case report was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Experts say that parents who use laser pointers for work should keep them away from children, CNN reported.

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Posted: June 2018

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