Health Highlights: March 21, 2008

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

China Orders Tighter Controls on Heparin Production

China's drug agency has ordered local authorities to tighten control on the production of the blood thinner heparin. The move is a reversal of the agency's previous position that ensuring the quality of Chinese-made compounds was the responsibility of importers and importing countries, the Associated Press reported.

Tainted heparin has been linked to 19 deaths in the United States and hundreds of allergic reactions. Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it had found a contaminant called oversulfated chondroitin sulfate in batches of Chinese-made heparin distributed by U.S. pharmaceuticals company Baxter International Inc.

    • China Orders Tighter Controls on Heparin Production
    • Certain Motor Vehicle Features Benefit Seniors
    • Toys Recalled for Lead Paint Danger
    • Diabetes-Related Amputations Increase Among U.S. Hispanics
    • Health Canada Issues Advisory About Carbamazepine
    • Tap Water Suspected in Colorado Salmonella Outbreak

In an order posted Friday on its Web site, China's State Food and Drug Administration said heparin producers must obtain the raw chemicals used to make heparin from registered suppliers, who must improve their product management and testing, the AP reported.

Both U.S. and Chinese authorities are continuing their investigations into how the heparin batches became contaminated with oversulfated chondroitin sulftate, which is not a naturally occurring substance. Officials haven't confirmed if the contaminant actually caused the dangerous allergic reactions.


Certain Motor Vehicle Features Benefit Seniors

When older adults are looking for a new vehicle, they should consider features such as a thicker steering wheel, wide-angle mirrors, large dashboard controls, and six-way adjustable seats, according to the AAA (American Automobile Association) and the Florida National Older Driver Research and Training Center.

The Smart Features for Mature Drivers program recommendations -- meant to address the physical, visual and cognitive changes that affect older drivers -- were announced Friday at the New York International Auto Show.

A recent AAA survey found that 43 percent of drivers over age 55 have at least one of nine common age-related driving difficulties, such as reduced range of motion, arthritic joints, diminished fine motor skills, and trouble with night vision and recovery from glare.

"There are ways to counteract the difficulties brought on by age-related changes so that seniors can maintain their safe driving abilities. One of these is through proper use of particular vehicle features," Dennis McCarthy, co-director of the National Older Driver Research and Training Center and a research assistant professor at the University of Florida College of Public Health, said in a prepared statement.

Other recommendations include keyless entry and ignition and the purchase of four-door models, because the doors require less strength to open and close than those on two-door models.


Toys Recalled for Lead Paint Danger

Two more recalls of Chinese-made toys that violate the U.S. lead paint standard have been announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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