Health Highlights: Oct. 24, 2017
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Iowa Abandons Plan to Withdraw From ACA Marketplace
Iowa has withdrawn its request to opt out of the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplace next year.
Iowa had submitted the waiver request because it wanted to create a state-run system that it said would have lower premiums and a high deductible, but Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state could not do so without violating the Affordable Care Act, The New York Times reported.
The act's enrollment season begins in just over a week.
If Iowa's waiver request had been successful, it would have opened the door for other states to follow, weakening the health law's protections for low- and middle-income people, according to critics.
"This is a case of the law's guardrails protecting people and their coverage," said Sarah Lueck, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which opposed the waiver, The Times reported.
"Hopefully now Iowa can start looking at more practical and less disruptive solutions to deal with the challenges in its market," she added.
Vegetables Recalled in U.S. and Canada Due to Possible Listeria Contamination
A large California-based vegetable supplier has recalled products in the United States and Canada that may be contaminated with harmful listeria bacteria.
The recall announced last week by Mann Packing includes produce shipped to supermarkets such as Walmart, Safeway, Meijer, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Albertson's, CNN reported.
"Mann Packing is issuing this recall out of an abundance of caution," the company said in a statement, adding that no illnesses have been linked to the products.
The potential listeria contamination risk was identified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency through random sampling. The recalled products have a "best if used by" dates of October 11 to October 20. People should throw the recalled produce away or return it to the place of purchase, CNN reported.
Mothers Worldwide Have Similar Responses to Infant Crying: Study
Mothers around the world have similar brain and behavioral responses when their babies cry, researchers say.
They looked at 684 first-time mothers in 11 countries and found that when their infants cried, the women consistently picked up, held and talked to their babies, CNN reported.
MRI brain scans revealed heightened activity in regions tied to caregiving, movement and speech when mothers heard their infants cry, according to the study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Identifying such brain/behavior links is part of what neuroscience is all about, according to lead author Marc Bornstein, chief of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's section in child and family research, CNN reported.
"As for the 'practical' side, infant cry is one of the most talked about and asked about issues for new parents. Cry also signals the health status of a child," he said.
"Infant cry excites some adults, mothers included, to respond with empathy and care but others with neglect or even abuse. Infant cry is a trigger to maltreatment. So understanding how mothers normally respond to cry at the behavioral and nervous systems levels is potentially telling," Bornstein explained, CNN reported.
"We hope this research will spur others to study brain responses associated with non-normal variations in parenting, such as mothers who maltreat," he said.
Dozens of New Breast Cancer-Linked Gene Mutations Identified
Researchers have discovered 72 previously unknown gene mutations linked with breast cancer.
The team of 550 researchers at 300 institutions worldwide identified 65 gene mutations that are common among women with breast cancer and seven associated with estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer, which doesn't respond to hormonal therapies, such as the drug tamoxifen, CNN reported.
The findings, published Monday in the journals Nature and Nature Genetics, bring the total number of known gene mutations associated with breast cancer to nearly 180.
The researchers examined DNA in blood samples taken from nearly 300,000 women, about half of whom had breast cancer, CNN reported.
It's long been known that BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations significantly increase breast cancer risk. Fifty-five to 65 percent of women with a BRCA1 mutation and about 45 percent of women with a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
But BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are present in less than one percent of women and explain only a fraction of all inherited breast cancers, CNN reported.
That's why this international team wanted to look for other genetic mutations associated with breast cancer.
The newly discovered mutations only slightly -- between 5 to 10 percent -- increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, according to Jacques Simard, a study author and professor and researcher at Laval University, Quebec City, Canada.
However, there are so many of them that their "overall contribution is larger" than BRCA1 and BRCA2, noted research leader Doug Easton, a professor at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., CNN reported.
The combined effects of two or more of these smaller risk gene mutations may increase a woman's riks of breast cancer, he explained.
Women with a number of these newly-identified genetic mutations would likely benefit from earlier mammography screening, Peter Kraft, a study author and professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told CNN.
Posted: October 2017