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Health Highlights: May 7, 2010

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

Freshway Foods' Romaine Lettuce Recalled

Possible E. coli contamination has prompted the recall of Freshway Foods' romaine lettuce sold in 23 states and the District of Columbia, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The agency said the lettuce may be linked to 19 cases of E. coli in Michigan, Ohio and New York that involved the hospitalization of 12 people, three with potentially life-threatening symptoms, the Associated Press reported.

The lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, in-store salad bars and delis in Alabama, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, according to Ohio-based Freshway Foods.

The recall covers lettuce with a "best if used by" date of May 12 or earlier, as well as "grab and go" salads sold at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh grocery stores, the AP reported.


U.S. Should Allow Ritual 'Nick' of Girls' Genitalia: AAP

U.S. doctors should be allowed to perform a ceremonial pinprick or "nick" on young girls' genitalia in order to keep the girls' families from taking them overseas for full circumcision, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

U.S. law forbids any nonmedical procedure on the genitals of a girl. To get around the law, some parents take their daughters to other countries for what's commonly called female genital mutilation (FGM), The New York Times reported. The practice is common in some African and Asian cultures.

"It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm," said a policy statement released last week by the American Academy of Pediatrics' bioethics committee.

The suggestion triggered harsh criticism.

"I am sure the academy had only good intentions, but what their recommendation has done is only create confusion about whether FGM is acceptable in any form, and it is the wrong step forward on how best to protect young women and girls," Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) told The Times. He recently introduced a bill to make it a crime to take a girl overseas to be circumcised.

"FGM serves no medical purpose, and it is rightfully banned in the U.S.," said Georganne Chapin, executive director of an advocacy group called Intact America. She told The Times she was "astonished that a group of intelligent people did not see the utter slippery slope that we put physicians on" with the new AAP policy statement.


Sexual Satisfaction Decreases for Older Americans: Survey

Financial stress may be the main reason why Americans 45 and older are having sex less often and are less satisfied with sex.

A new AARP survey of 1,670 people 45 and over found that 28 percent said they had intercourse at least once a week, and 40 percent said they had intercourse at least once a month. Both categories were down at least 10 percent from 2004, the Associated Press reported.

Only 43 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their sex lives, compared with 51 percent in 2004.

The survey also found that only 22 percent of respondents said sex outside of marriage was wrong, compared with 41 percent in 1991.

"The economy has had an impact on these people," sociologist Pepper Schwartz, AARP's sex and relationship expert, told the AP. "They're more liberal in their attitudes, yet they're having sex less often. The only thing I see that's changed in a negative direction is financial worries."


More Nighttime Driving Deaths Among Young Blamed on Cell Phones

Talking and texting on cells phones is a likely reason why the proportion of nighttime fatal crashes involving drivers 16 to 19 years old increased 10 percent between 1999 and 2008, says a U.S. study.

Texas Transportation Institute researchers analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Reporting System and found that the total number of fatal crashes dropped between 1999 and 2008. However, the percentage of crashes that occurred at night increased, the AP reported.

There were 4,322 fatal crashes in 2008 involving drivers ages 16 to 19, and 2,148 (nearly 50 percent) of them were at night. In 1999, nighttime crashes accounted for 45 percent of the overall 6,368 fatal crashes involving drivers in that age group.

Nighttime crashes accounted for 18,601 of the 44,803 fatal crashes in 2008 involving drivers ages 20 to 97, compared with 18,899 of 48,991 fatal crashes in 1999, the AP reported.

Alcohol use is the primary reason for the proportional increase in nighttime crashes among drivers ages 20 to 97, but driver distraction caused by talking and texting on cell phones is the likely cause among younger drivers, the study authors said.


CPSC Investigating Concerns About New Pampers Diapers

Reports that new types of Pamper diapers can cause serious rashes are being investigated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The agency decided to look into the issue after receiving a handful of complaints that babies and toddlers had suffered severe and persistent rashes and blisters that resemble chemical burns, the Associated Press reported.

The new versions of Swaddlers and Cruisers diapers, which were introduced to the United States in March, use Dry Max technology instead of the paper pulp used in older versions. Cincinnati-based Proctor and Gamble says the new diapers are safe.

"There is no evidence from the people that have called us -- or from the research that we have done -- that a single baby has experienced a skin safety issue as a result of our Pampers with Dry Max," the company said in a statement, the AP reported.

The CPSC investigation is in the early stages and wants parents to report any problems with the diapers. "We would like parents and caregivers to report to CPSC if they feel that their baby has been affected by this issue," he said. "It's so important for it to come directly to us," said CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson.

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Posted: May 2010