Health Highlights: Oct. 4, 2007

"About 50 million Americans are living with a disability and most Americans will experience a disability some time during the course of their lives," Dr. Edwin Trevathan, director of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in a prepared statement.

"The release of these findings during Disability Awareness Month reminds us that disparities persist in health and health care of people with disabilities," he said.

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Many HIV Patients Overweight, Obese: U.S. Study

Nearly two-thirds of HIV-infected Americans may be overweight or obese, suggests a study of 663 HIV patients at Navy hospitals in San Diego and Bethesda, Md.

"We used to worry that they would lose weight and become wasted. Maybe we should redirect our concerns to making sure they are maintaining a healthy, normal weight," said study author Dr. Nancy Crum-Cianflone of TriService AIDS Clinical Consortium in San Diego, the Associated Press reported.

Of all the patients in the study, 63 percent were overweight or obese and only three percent were underweight. None of the patients was considered to be "wasted." Among patients with full-blown AIDS, about 30 percent were overweight or obese.

Patients who were infected at a younger age, those who had the virus for a longer time, and those who had high blood pressure were more likely to be overweight or obese, the AP reported.

The findings were to be presented Thursday at an infectious disease meeting in San Diego.

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More U.S. Children Taking Drugs for Digestive Problems

Between 2002 and 2006, there was a 56 percent increase in the number of American children aged 4 and younger taking prescription drugs for heartburn and other digestive problems, according to a Medco Health Solutions Inc. analysis released Thursday.

Last year, more than 557,000 children in that age group were taking the drugs. The analysis also found there was a 31 percent increase among children ages 5-11 (551,653 in 2006) and a six percent increase among children ages 12-18 (one million in 2006), the Associated Press reported.

Overall, about two million U.S. children 18 and younger used prescription drugs for digestive or gastrointestinal problems in 2006.

"It's a signal that something's going on that we need to keep an eye on," Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco's chief medical officer, told the AP. "Whether it's parents getting their children diagnosed more frequently, or obesity," or other factors, "it bears further study," he said.

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Kraft Recalls White Chocolate Baking Squares

Potential salmonella contamination has prompted a recall of Kraft's six-ounce Baker's Premium White Chocolate Baking Squares sold in the United States.

The recall, announced Thursday, covers product that has the UPC Code 0043000252200 and reads best when used by March 31, April 1, April 2 and April 3, 2008, the Associated Press reported.

Consumers with the recalled white chocolate should immediately discard it, Kraft said. The company launched the recall after testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration detected the presence of salmonella in some packages of the white chocolate baking squares. Kraft said it's investigating the source of the problem.

The company said the recall doesn't involve any other varieties of Baker's White Chocolate or any other Baker's products sold in the U.S. the AP reported.

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