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Health Highlights: June 23, 2011

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

Whooping Cough Vaccination Recommended for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women who were not previously vaccinated against whooping cough should get the vaccination, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends.

The vaccine would be given in the third trimester or late second trimester, the Associated Press reported.

The recommendation was approved by the advisory panel on Wednesday.

Currently, children in the U.S. begin a series of whooping cough shots at two months and most infant deaths and hospitalizations caused by whooping cough occur in the first two months of life. Some studies have found that when a pregnant woman is vaccinated against whooping cough, she passes some immunity to her newborn, the AP reported.


New Wrinkle Treatment Approved by FDA

A new therapy that uses a person's own skin cells to create an injectable substance to smooth out laugh lines has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The approval of laViv, marketed by Pennsylvania-based Fibrocell Science, was based on the results of two clinical trials of 421 patients who received either laViv or a placebo in three treatments about five weeks apart, Agence France Presse reported.

In one study, 57 percent of patients who received laViv saw an improvement compared to 30 percent of those in the placebo group. In the other study, 45 percent of patients in the laViv group saw an improvement compared with 18 percent in the placebo group, according to The New York Times, AFP reported.

But improvements among patients receiving laViv were seen by only 33 percent of doctors involved in one study and 19 percent of doctors in the other study.

Redness, pain, and swelling or bruising at the injection site were the most common side effects, according to Fibrocell, AFP reported.


Gel Fuel for Patio Firepots Recalled

Reports of burn injuries have prompted the recall of nearly half a million bottles and jugs of gel fuel used in patio firepots, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says.

The recall covers 460,000 bottles and jugs of pourable gel fuel distributed by Napa Home & Garden of Georgia and sold at a number of stores, including Restoration Hardware and Bed Bath & Beyond, the Associated Press reported.

When poured on a firepot that is still burning, the gel fuel can ignite unexpectedly and splatter onto people who are nearby, the CPSC said.

The commission said Napa has so far heard about 23 burn injuries caused by the gel fuel, the AP reported.


Glen Campbell Has Alzheimer's Disease

Singer Glen Campbell says he has Alzheimer's disease.

The 75-year-old Grammy winner revealed the news in an interview with People magazine. Campbell has suffered from short-term memory loss for years but was diagnosed with Alzheimer's only six months ago.

Campbell and his wife Kim decided to go public with the diagnosis because he's planned a series of farewell performances this fall and wants his fans to know about his condition.

"Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer," Kim Campbell told People. "But if he flubs a lyric or gets confused on stage, I wouldn't want people to think, 'What's the matter with him? Is he drunk?' "

"I still love making music," Campbell said. "And I still love performing for my fans. I'd like to thank them for sticking with me through thick and thin."


Many Americans Spend More Than 10% of Income on Health Costs

About 1 in 6 Americans aged 18 to 64 used more than 10 percent of their total family income in 2007 to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses and to pay for health insurance premiums, according to a federal government report.

This included 47 percent of those who pay for their own health coverage, and 16 percent of those with employer-sponsored insurance (16 percent) or public insurance (16 percent), according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

It also included:

  • 29 percent of unemployed adults and 13 percent of working adults.
  • 30 percent of poor people, 19 percent of middle-income earners, and 7 percent of those with high incomes.
  • 21 percent of rural residents and 15 percent of people in metropolitan areas.
  • 35 percent and 32 percent of adults with complex or basic activity limitations, respectively, and 15 percent of adults with no activity limitations.


Infuse Bone Graft Studies Focus of Senate Investigation

Researchers who conducted clinical trials of the bone-growth protein product Infuse Bone Graft failed to report numerous complications associated with the product and the Senate Finance Committee wants to know why.

Over the past decade, the authors of the dozen research papers collectively received tens of millions of dollars in consulting fees or royalty payments from Medtronic Inc., which markets Infuse Bone Graft, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Infuse Bone Graft, which is widely used in spinal surgery, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002. But the FDA issued a safety alert in 2008 about the use of the product in the neck after it received dozens of reports of serious side effects.

A new study to be published in a medical journal outlines the many complications associated with Infuse Bone Graft. The study helped trigger the Senate inquiry, the newspaper reported.

In an emailed statement to the Wall Street Journal, Medtronic said it informs the FDA about all adverse events that occur in clinical trials of its products "irrespective of any financial relationship between the company and the clinical investigator or study author."


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Posted: June 2011