Health Highlights: April 14, 2007

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

Possibility of Botulism Prompts Imported Italian Olives Recall

The latest U.S. government alert about food that may cause serious illness concerns olives imported from Italy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that olives made by Charlie Brown di Rutigliano and Figli S.r.l, of Bari, Italy may contain the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. C. botulinum, which causes botulism, a disease that often leads to death. The olives were initially recalled by the maker on March 27. They had been distributed in the United States to both restaurants and retail stores.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Possibility of Botulism Prompts Imported Italian Olives Recall
    • Teen Sexual Abstinence Education Program Not Working, Report Says
    • Court Won't Order FDA to Tighten Rules on Mercury Fillings
    • New HIV Drug Shows Promise
    • U.S. Woman Has Baby Conceived with Frozen Egg and Sperm
    • Senate Panel OKs Bill to Negotiate Medicare Drug Prices

Although no illnesses have been reported in the United States, the FDA says the olives should be discarded, even if they appear not to be spoiled. They are sold under the following brands: Borrelli, Bonta di Puglia, Cento, Corrado's, Dal Raccolto, Flora, Roland and Vantia, and have codes that start with the letter "G" and are followed by 3 or 4 digits. All sizes of cans, glass jars and pouches of Cerignola, Nocerella and Castelvetrano type olives are affected, the FDA says.

Botulism symptoms include weakness, dizziness, double vision, trouble speaking or swallowing, difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation.

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Teen Sexual Abstinence Education Program Not Working, Report Says

It doesn't appear that teenagers are getting the message about sexual abstinence.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. government-funded program, costing about $176 million annually to alert teenagers to the problems of sexual promiscuity, isn't getting the desired results.

Just as many teens who attended one of four abstinence classes surveyed were as likely to have sex as those who didn't attend the program, the wire service reports. The study was ordered by Congress to determine whether the sexual abstinence classes, begun in 1999, were making a difference.

The classes were designed to encourage teens to abstain from having sex until they got married. While acknowledging the report's accuracy, a Bush administration official also says that follow-up is needed to make the program effective.

"This report confirms that these interventions are not like vaccines," Harry Wilson, the commissioner of the Family and Youth Services Bureau at the Administration for Children and Families, is quoted as saying. "You can't expect one dose in middle school, or a small dose, to be protective all throughout the youth's high school career."

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Court Won't Order FDA to Tighten Rules on Mercury Fillings

A U.S. federal appeals court unanimously ruled Friday that it can't compel the Food and Drug Administration to tighten rules on dental fillings that contain mercury, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that it has no jurisdiction to review the agency's handling of the issue.

Advocacy groups went to court in an attempt to ban mercury fillings and to force the FDA to reclassify the products and impose stricter regulations on them, the AP reported.

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