Health Highlights: Oct. 15, 2007

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

Personal Care, Food Service Workers Have Highest Depression Rates

Personal care and food service workers have the highest rates of depression (10.8 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively) among full time workers in the United States, says a report released Monday by the federal government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Overall, seven percent of fulltime workers ages 18-64 experienced one or more major depressive episodes in the past year. Women were more likely than men to suffer depression and young adults, ages 18-25, had the highest rate of depression (8.9 percent) among all age groups of adults working fulltime.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Personal Care, Food Service Workers Have Highest Depression Rates
    • California Bans Kids' Products with Dangerous Chemical
    • Chlamydia Harms Male Fertility
    • Medtronic Warns of Faulty Heart Implant Component
    • More Family Dinners Seen as Help in Fighting Teen Obesity
    • Fearful Expressions More Rapidly Identified, Study Says

Depression rates among other age groups were: 7.6 percent, ages 26-34; 7.2 percent, ages 35-49; 5.1 percent, ages 50-64. Among young adult workers, those in health care and technical occupations had the highest rate of depression within the past year (11.9 percent).

Occupations with the lowest rates of depression were: engineering, architecture and surveying, 4.3 percent; life, physical and social science, 4.4 percent; and installation, maintenance and repair, 4.4 percent.

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California Bans Kids' Products with Dangerous Chemical

Toys and baby products such as teething rings that contain more than a trace amount of a chemical used to soften plastics will be banned from California beginning in 2009. Studies have found that the chemical, phthalate, interferes with hormones and may lead to early puberty, reproduction defects and other health issues, the Associated Press reported.

Under the bill, signed into law Sunday, any product made for young children that contains more than one tenth of one percent of phthalates can't be made, sold or distributed in California, the first state to impose such a ban. Some other states are considering banning phthalates in certain products.

The European Union and at least 14 other countries have banned phthalates, the Associated Press reported.

Toy industry representatives have claimed that the levels of toxic chemicals and the length of exposures associated with children's toys are both so low that they're not a health threat.

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Chlamydia Harms Male Fertility

The common sexually transmitted disease chlamydia damages male fertility, according to a Spanish study of 143 men. It was already known that untreated chlamydia infection can cause infertility in women.

In this new study, researchers analyzed sperm from men infected with chlamydia who hadn't been able to father children. The level of DNA damage in the men's sperm was more than three times higher than in healthy men, BBC News reported.

The researchers also found that the men with chlamydia infection had low sperm concentrations, defective-shaped sperm, and sperm that were unable to swim quickly. When 95 of the infertile men were treated with antibiotics, their DNA sperm damage improved an average of 36 percent within four months.

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