Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Experts Question Necessity of Flu Shot for Some This Season
The influenza vaccine for the coming season is a duplicate of
that issued to millions of Americans in the 2010-2011 season, so
some experts are questioning the need for many young, healthy
Americans to get a "repeat" shot, the
Associated Press reported.
"For healthy people, it can't be said to be necessary," Dr. Robert Couch, a flu vaccine expert at the Baylor College of Medicine, told the news agency.
Nevertheless, that isn't stopping national health experts from
urging that all Americans get the flu shot. Their reasoning: Any
vaccine's protective powers can wane over a few months, especially
for elderly recipients.
Certainly, there will be no flu vaccine shortage this year:
According to the
AP, five makers are manufacturing a total of between 166 million and 173 million doses, 6 million more than has ever been produced.
Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
recommends that everyone older than 6 months of age get an annual
flu shot, with the exception of people with egg allergies or
certain rare conditions.
Still, the fact that this season's vaccine is identical in
makeup to last year's is giving some experts pause. Some studies
suggest that the flu shot can provide protection for more than a
year in adults, and perhaps up to three years in children. But
other studies have suggested that immunity may drop more quickly
and steeply than that.
"Nobody really, really knows," Dr. John Treanor, a flu vaccine researcher at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, told the AP. He and other experts support the CDC's stance.
"The bottom line is, with our current knowledge, we believe it is better to be re-vaccinated. And getting another shot is certainly not going to harm you," Dr. Arnold Monto, an influenza expert at the University of Michigan, told the AP.
Lack of Prenatal Vitamins Tied to Higher Risk of Autism in
Mothers who did not take vitamins during their pregnancy appear
to have a higher risk of having a child with autism, a new study
As reported by
UPI, the study involved about 700 California families with children between the ages of 2 and 5 with or without autism. Women were asked in a phone interview if they took prenatal vitamins, multivitamins or other supplements in the three months prior to pregnancy, during their pregnancy and during breast-feeding.
"Mothers of children with autism were significantly less likely than those of typically developing children to report having taken prenatal vitamins during the three months before and the first month of pregnancy," lead author Rebecca J. Schmidt, assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, said in a statement, UPI reported.
Women with a particular set of genes placing them at high risk,
and who also did not take prenatal vitamins, had an estimated seven
times higher risk of having a child with autism compared to women
without these genes who did take the vitamins, the study found.
The findings will be published in the July issue of the journal
Groups Sue FDA to Ban Certain Antibiotics in Animal Feed
A number of environmental and health-advocacy organizations have
launched a lawsuit to try and force the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration to ban the use of two types of antibiotics in
livestock feed, the
Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The groups charge that the widespread use of penicillin and
tetracycline antibiotics in animal feed is contributing to
bacterial resistance to antibiotics that people use to fight
dangerous infections. They say the government has failed to stop
"Approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States today are used in livestock," the groups said in the suit, the Journal reported. "Most of these drugs are not used to treat
disease. Instead, they are given to healthy animals in their feed
or water, both to promote faster growth and to prevent
According to the newspaper, the FDA said that livestock raised
in the United States consumed almost 29 million pounds of
antibiotics, with about 74 percent given through the animal's
Groups involved in the suit include the Natural Resources
Defense Council, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food
Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen, and Union of Concerned
Scientists. They filed the suit Wednesday with the U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of New York.
Doug Wolf, president of the National Pork Producers Council,
called the suit "spurious," the
FDA spokeswoman Siobhan Delancey said the agency does not
comment on pending litigation.
Most ER Visits for Sports-Related Concussions Involve Kids
More than 80 percent of all emergency room visits for
sports-related concussions involve children under the age of 18, a
new U.S. government study shows.
In a report released Wednesday, the Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that almost 40,000 youths wound
up in the ER and were diagnosed with the condition in 2008
Those between the ages of 14 and 18 accounted for the lion's
share of these head injuries, at 58 percent, while 17 percent were
between the ages of 11 and 13 and another 7 percent were aged 6 to
10. The AHRQ researchers also found that 21 percent lost
consciousness briefly, while another 12 percent blacked out for a
longer period of time.
The good news was that 52 percent of these patients did not lose
consciousness, and 95 percent did not have to be admitted to the
hospital. Boys represented almost 80 percent of the injuries.
These young patients often wound up receiving care for other
injuries, for everything from pulled muscles and sprains to skull
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