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Health Highlights: Nov. 10, 2009

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

Basketball Legend Abdul-Jabbar Treated for Leukemia

Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is being treated for chronic myeloid leukemia and has been given an encouraging prognosis.

While doctors haven't given him any guarantees, the NBA's all-time leading scorer said they told him: "You have a very good chance to live your life out and not have to make any drastic changes to your lifestyle," the Associated Press reported.

Abdul-Jabbar, 62, is taking an oral medication for the blood cancer. At the time of diagnosis last December, doctors told him the disease was treatable with proper medication and monitoring.

Now a special assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar has been able to maintain his normal level of activity of coaching, as well as his usual regimen and diet. He says he wants to raise awareness of chronic myeloid leukemia and its treatment, the AP reported.

"There is hope. This condition can be treated. You can still live a productive, full life," Abdul-Jabbar said.


Maclaren Strollers Pose Amputation Hazard

About 1 million strollers made by British company Maclaren are being recalled after about a dozen reports of children's fingertips being amputated by a hinge mechanism on the side of the stroller.

Children have been injured when getting into the strollers and also while seated in the strollers, which have been sold since 1999, ABC News reported.

The recall involves all models of Maclaren single and double umbrella strollers including Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, Techno XLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno and Easy Traveller.

Consumers should stop using these strollers until they get a hinge cover that can be ordered from Maclaren, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

For more information, contact the company at (877) 688-2326.


HIV/AIDS Leading Killer of Childbearing-Age Women: WHO

HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of disease and death worldwide among women ages 15 to 44, according to a World Health Organization global study of women's health released Monday.

The U.N. agency said unsafe sex is the leading risk factor in developing countries, followed by lack of access to contraceptives and iron deficiency, the Associated Press reported. Worldwide, unsafe sex is linked to one in five deaths among women in this age group.

"Women who do not know how to protect themselves from such infections, or who are unable to do so, face increased risks of death or illness," the study said. "So do those who cannot protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy or control their fertility because of lack of access to contraception."

The study findings underscore the inequality in health care faced by females of all ages because of poverty, less access to health care and cultural beliefs that put a priority on male well-being, the AP reported.

"We will not see a significant improvement in the health of women until they are no longer recognized as second-class citizens in many parts of the world," WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan said at a news conference.


Needle-Exchange Funding Bill Criticized

A bill to lift a ban on the use of U.S. government money for needle-exchange programs includes a provision that could still prevent most of the country's approximately 200 exchanges from getting any federal funding.

That's because the bill -- which has passed the House and a Senate subcommittee and awaits Senate action -- would forbid federally financed needle exchanges from being within 1,000 feet of a school, park, library, college, video arcade or any other place where children are likely to gather, The New York Times reported.

There are few, if any, places that could house a needle exchange under those rules, according to officials at exchanges in major cities. The same is true for many smaller, rural needle exchanges.

"This 1,000-foot rule is simply instituting the ban in a different form," Rebecca Haag, executive director of the AIDS Action Council advocacy group, told The Times. "Clearly the intent of this rule is to nullify the lifting of the ban."


Assess School Food Safety: Lawmaker

A U.S. lawmaker wants federal investigators to assess the risk for E. coli contamination in food used for school meal programs.

The concern expressed by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, is the result of a recent 11-state E. coli outbreak that killed at least two people and sickened about two dozen others, the Associated Press reported.

While no schools were involved in the outbreak, which was linked to ground beef produced by a New York state company, Miller asked the Government Accountability Office to determine what protections are in place at the local, state and federal levels to ensure the safety of school meals.

He also wants the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, to compare the safety and quality of ground beef used in schools with ground beef sold to restaurants and other commercial purchasers, the AP reported.

In September, the GAO released a report that said federal officials failed to inform schools about recalls of potentially tainted canned vegetables and peanut products. As a result, school cafeterias may have unknowingly used the products in meals.

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Posted: November 2009