Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
U.S. Health Officials Investigate Possible Norovirus Outbreak on
A Royal Caribbean cruise ship will be inspected Sunday by U.S.
health officials as they investigate a possible norovirus outbreak
that has sickened about 300 of the more than 3,000 passengers and
Known as the Explorer of the Seas, the ship was on a 10-day
cruise that had departed from Cape Liberty, N.J., the cruise line
and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told
The ship will be inspected by officials in St. Thomas, U.S.
Virgin Islands. The ship had stopped earlier in San Juan, Puerto
Rico, for a sanitizing regimen following reports of vomiting and
diarrhea by both passengers and crew members,
"During its sailing, Explorer of the Seas has experienced an elevated number of persons with a gastrointestinal illness," cruise line officials said in a statement, NBC Newsreported. "Those affected by the short-lived illness have responded well to over-the-counter medication being administered on board the ship."
Typically spread very easily by infected people or contaminated
food or water, norovirus is the most common cause of acute
gastrointestinal illness in the United States, according to the
Artificial Pancreas Could Replace Insulin Injections:
Human tests of an artificial pancreas are set to begin in 2016
and the first implants could take place within a decade, according
to British scientists.
They said the wristwatch-sized device is surgically implanted in
the abdomen and releases insulin into the bloodstream, and could
make insulin injections a thing of the past for people with
The insulin supply in the first-of-a-kind implant is controlled
by a gel barrier. When a user's blood sugar levels rise, the gel
liquefies and releases the insulin. When sugar levels drop, the gel
hardens again. Insulin is added to the device's reservoir every two
The device is the next best thing to a cure for diabetes because
patients no longer have to manage the condition themselves,
according to the development team at De Montfort University in
"The device will not only remove the need to manually inject insulin, but will also ensure that perfect doses are administrated each and every time," said Joan Taylor, professor of pharmacy, the Daily Mailreported. "By controlling blood glucose so effectively, we should be able to help reduce related health problems."
The researchers said the implant could help all people with type
1 diabetes and those with type 2 diabetes who require insulin
"This device is cheap and simple to use," Taylor said. "It has the potential to bring an end to the misery of daily injections for diabetics."
Less Educational Content in Kids' Screen Time as They Age
As children get older, their use of educational resources on
television and other electronic devices decreases, according to a
Researchers surveyed nearly 1,600 parents and found that what
might be considered educational material accounted for less than
half of the screen time among youngsters ages 2 to 10. Most of that
screen time involved television,
The New York Timesreported.
The poll also revealed that while children's screen time
increases as they get older, there is a decrease in the amount of
educational content, according to the researchers at the nonprofit
Joan Ganz Cooney Center, a research institute affiliated with the
The survey found that 2- to 4-year-olds had just over two hours
a day of screen time, including one hour and 16 minutes of
educational content, while children ages 8-10 had more than two and
a half hours a day of screen time, but only 42 minutes of that was
regarded as educational,
Family income appeared to have an effect. Children in households
earning less than $25,000 spent 57 percent of their screen time on
educational activities, compared with 38 percent of children in
families earning $50,000 to $99,000.
Weight May Reduce Effectiveness of Morning-After Pills
European health officials are reviewing morning-after emergency
contraceptives to determine if they're less effective in overweight
The European Medicines Agency said Friday that it would evaluate
new data suggesting that the effectiveness of morning-after pills
could be reduced in heavier women. There is no timeline on when the
review will be completed, the
"We need to find out what the association is with (body mass index) and if there is a cut-off threshold for when the medicine becomes less effective," agency spokeswoman Monika Benstetter said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said late last year that
it was studying the issue.
In November, HRA Pharma of France revealed that its
morning-after pill Norvelo was less effective in women who weighed
more than 165 pounds and did not work in women who weighed more
than 176 pounds. The company changed its labels to warn patients,
Norvelo contains the same active ingredient -- levonorgestrel --
as other emergency contraceptives such as ellaOne, Levonnelle and
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