Health Highlights: Sept. 19, 2007

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

Most U.S. Marriages Don't Last 25 Years

For the first time since World War II, America's married couples are more likely to have split by the 25-year mark than to have stayed together, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.

As reported in The New York Times, more than half of people who might have celebrated a 25th wedding anniversary in the year 2000 either found themselves divorced, separated or widowed instead, the government data found.

    • Most U.S. Marriages Don't Last 25 Years
    • U.S. Hospital Admissions for Children with Cancer Surge
    • Many Hispanics Lack Guidance on Helping Kids with ADHD
    • U.S. Grocery Industry Calls For Tighter Food Import Controls
    • FDA Recalls Defibrillators
    • FDA Warns Proctor & Gamble About Hand Sanitizer Claims
    • Stem Cell-Derived Lung Cells Successfully Implanted in Mice

Part of that may have to do with the fact that Americans are now more likely to wed later in life. In their mid-20s, most men (54 percent) and 41 percent of women have not yet tied the knot, the census found.

However, more Americans are marrying more than once during their lifetime -- in 1996, 69 percent of men and 76 percent of women over the age of 15 had been married only once, but those numbers dropped to 54 percent and 58 percent, respectively, by the latest census.

The divorce rate has remained constant over the past decade, at about one in every five people surveyed. "Basically, it looks like we're pretty much holding steady," Rose Kreieder, a Census Bureau demographer, told the Times.

Other statistics:

  • Older baby boomers were most likely to have been through a divorce -- 38 percent of males in their 50s were divorced, as were 41 percent of females.
  • The "seven-year-itch" is alive and well: Couples who separate tend to do so seven years into a marriage.
  • People who remarry typically do so about 3.5 years after their last marriage ended. Second marriages that end in divorce typically fizzle after about 9 years for men and a little more than 7 years for women.
  • In 2004, 12 percent of American men and 13 percent of American women had been married twice. Three percent of Americans of either gender have exchanged rings three or more times, the statistics show.


U.S. Hospital Admissions for Kids with Cancer Surge

Between 2000 and 2005, there was a more than 80 percent increase (from about 54,000 to 100,000) in the number of annual U.S. hospital admissions for cancer patients age 18 and younger, says the latest News and Numbers from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

A dramatic improvement in survival rates of children with cancer was partly responsible for this increase, said the report. It also found that in 2005:

  • Children with leukemia and brain cancer were most likely to be hospitalized, at 10,100 and 6,100 hospitalizations, respectively.
  • Other leading causes of hospitalization included: bone and connective tissue cancer (3,200), Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (1,700), kidney cancer (1,400), and Hodgkin's disease (900). Children requiring maintenance chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer accounted for about 53,000 hospital stays.
  • Children ages 1 to 4 accounted for more than 26 percent of pediatric cancer hospitalizations, followed by children: ages 10 to 14 (25 percent); ages 5 to 9 (22 percent): and ages 15 to 17 (19 percent). The death rate for children with cancer in hospitals was 0.9 percent.
  • Hospital costs for children with cancer totaled $1.7 billion.


Many Hispanics Lack Guidance on Helping Kids with ADHD

About one-third (36 percent) of Hispanic parents in the United States wouldn't know where to seek help for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), compared with 22 percent of non-Hispanic parents, according to a national survey released Wednesday by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health.

The survey also found that Hispanic parents see greater barriers to ADHD treatment, including social stigma and health system obstacles.

Other findings from the survey:

  • Many Hispanic parents (59 percent) reported that they have not received information about ADHD in the language of their preference.
  • A large number of Hispanic parents said that not having information (54 percent), the cost of treatment (54 percent), and not wanting their child to take medication (53 percent) are major factors in preventing children with ADHD from getting treatment.
  • About a third (30 percent) of Hispanic parents said they would worry a great deal about their child being discriminated against because of ADHD.

The survey was released to mark National Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Awareness Day.


U.S. Grocery Industry Calls For Tighter Food Import Controls

The U.S. grocery industry wants the federal government to increase regulation of imported food products in order to calm consumer concerns after a series of high-profile incidents, including drug-laced farmed fish and tainted pet food.

Under a Grocery Manufacturers Association proposal, the Food and Drug Administration would oversee a program to ensure that imported foods meet U.S. safety and quality standards and Congress would give the FDA enough funding to do the job, the Associated Press reported.

The association also wants to establish a system to expedite processing of imports that have been pre-cleared by the FDA. This would be achieved, in part, by having companies share in confidence test results and other data about those imports with the FDA.

This would enable the FDA to devote more resources to imports from sources deemed to be at high risk, the association said. Currently, the FDA inspects less than one percent of all food imports, the AP reported.

The proposal was welcomed by lawmakers and consumer groups who say that the FDA is unable to adequately monitor food imports.


FDA Recalls Defibrillators

A Class I recall for MRL/Welch Allyn AED 20 Automatic External Defibrillators has been issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A Class I recall, the most serious type, involves situations where there's a reasonable probability that the use of a product will cause serious injury or death.

AEDs are used by emergency or medical personnel to treat people having a heart attack.

The AEDs in this recall were made between October 2003 and January 2005, with serial numbers 205787 through 207509. These AEDs may show a "Defib Comm" error message on the device display during use which may result in terminal failure of the device to analyze the patient's ECG and deliver the appropriate therapy, the FDA said.

Anyone with the recalled devices should stop using them and contact Welch Allyn for a replacement. The company can be reached at 1-800-462-0777.


FDA Warns Proctor & Gamble About Hand Sanitizer Claims

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday ordered Proctor & Gamble to stop advertising that its Vicks Early Defense foaming hand sanitizer prevents the spread of viruses that cause colds, Bloomberg News reported.

There is not enough evidence to show the product is safe for such use, according to a warning letter posted on the FDA's Web site. The agency made specific reference to Proctor & Gamble's promotion of Early Defense for use by schoolchildren to prevent colds and to provide antimicrobial activity for up to three hours.

The FDA ordered Proctor & Gamble to correct the violations or face legal action, seizure or an injunction, Bloomberg reported.

The active ingredient in Early Defense is triclosan, which is covered under FDA regulations for certain antiseptic uses. Those regulations do not include Proctor & Gamble's directions that users should leave the Early Defense product on their hands, without rinsing with water.

"We believe we're within the FDA guidelines, and we're going to work with the FDA to clear up any misunderstandings," said Proctor & Gamble spokesman David Bernens, Bloomberg reported.


Stem Cell-Derived Lung Cells Successfully Implanted in Mice

U.K. scientists grew lung cells from mouse embryo stem cells and successfully implanted them in the lungs of mice. This "global breakthrough" suggests that someday it may be possible to use this kind of approach to treat lung disease in humans, Agence France-Presse reported.

In this study, scientists injected embryonic stem cell-cultivated lung cells into the lungs of mice. When the mice were examined two days later, the researchers found that the injected lung cells had lodged in the rodents' lungs.

This demonstrates the "high degree of specialization of these cells, which attach only to their target organ, ie, the lungs," the researchers said. The finding "opens up exciting new horizons for the treatment of lung disease."

The study was presented at the European Respiratory Society's annual meeting in Stockholm, AFP reported.