Health Highlights: Oct. 25, 2007

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

Study Looks at Tracking of Extremely Low Birthweight Infants

States that fail to follow up on the status of extremely low birthweight infants may be underestimating their infant mortality rates, concludes a study in this week's issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the study, Ohio Department of Health researchers analyzed data on infants born from January to June 2006. They found that seven percent of deaths of infants weighing 750 grams or less were unregistered.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Study Looks at Tracking of Extremely Low Birthweight Infants
    • Folic Acid Intake Falls Among Some California Women
    • Lead Concerns Spur More Toy Recalls
    • Children May Be Especially Prone to Bird Flu: Study
    • Being Single, Chewing Gum May Help Prevent Weight Gain
    • Study Identifies Brain Areas Tied to Optimism, Pessimism

Due to their small size and sometimes very short lifespans, deaths in extremely low birthweight infants may go unregistered, according to background information in the study. Under-registration of these deaths results in an under-estimation of the overall infant mortality rate, the team said.

Accurate infant mortality rates are important for a number of reasons, including identification of health disparities and emerging trends, and the development of prevention strategies.

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Folic Acid Intake Falls Among Some California Women

Folic acid supplement intake is decreasing among Hispanic women and those with lower levels of education, according to findings from the California Women's Health Survey.

Targeted and evidence-based strategies for increasing folic acid intake among these groups of women are needed, recommend the authors of a study in this week's issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When women of child-bearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, they're 80 percent less likely to have infants with serious neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

The survey's finding that Hispanic women and those with lower levels of education are of particular concern, since Hispanic women in the state are twice as likely as white women to have neural tube-affected pregnancies, the study authors said.

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Lead Concerns Spur More Toy Recalls

A number of new recalls involving children's toys and novelty items that may have high levels of lead were announced Thursday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In all cases, consumers should immediately stop using the products.

The recalls include:

  • About 142,000 purple Halloween pails with decorations sold at Family Dollar Stores. Green paint on the pails contains excessive levels of lead.
  • About 80,000 football bobble head cake decorations distributed by DecoPac Inc. of Anoka, Minn.
  • About 97,000 children's toy gardening tools sold by Jo-Ann Stores of Hudson, Ohio. Surface paint on the handle of the toy gardening tools may contain excessive levels of lead paint. Previous recalls in August and September involved 16,000 toy rakes and 6,000 toy watering cans.
  • About 38,000 Fisher-Price Go Diego Animal Rescue Boats. Surface paint on the toys may contain high levels of lead.

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Children May Be Especially Prone to Bird Flu: Study

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