Health Highlights: Jan. 22, 2008

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

Nearly 9.7 Million Children Died Worldwide in 2006: U.N. Report

In 2006, nearly 9.7 million children under age 5 died worldwide, mostly from preventable causes such as malnutrition, diarrhea or malaria, according to the U.N. Children's Fund annual report released Tuesday.

On average, more than 26,000 children under age 5 die each day. The agency said many of those deaths could be prevented through simple measures, such as vaccinations, insecticide-treated bed nets and vitamin supplements, the Associated Press reported.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Nearly 9.7 Million Children Died Worldwide in 2006: U.N. Report
    • Ty Inc. Won't Recall Lead-Tainted Toys From Illinois Stores
    • NYC Forces Restaurant Chains to Include Calorie Counts in Menus
    • FDA Approves New Hypertension Tablet
    • Lack of Food Not Linked to Obesity in Low-Income Children: Study
    • Flu Vaccination Rates Lower Than Expected

In 2006, Sierra Leone had the highest child death rate (270 per 1,000 births), followed by Angola with 260, and Afghanistan with 257. The worldwide rate was 72 deaths per 1,000 births and the average rate in industrialized countries was six deaths per 1,000 births.

But the U.N. agency noted that there has been some progress. The global death rate for children under age 5 has declined 23 percent since 1990. Nearly one-third of the world's 50 least developed countries have reduced child death rates by at least 40 percent since 1990, the AP reported.

However, the rate of improvement must increase to reach a U.N. goal of decreasing the 1990 global child death rate by two-thirds before 2015.

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Ty Inc. Won't Recall Lead-Tainted Toys From Illinois Stores

U.S. toy maker Ty Inc. is refusing to recall toys that violate Illinois lead safety standards from store shelves in the state, which may sue to company to force it to comply with the law, the Associated Press reported.

Tests by the Chicago Tribune found that red vinyl shoes on three Jammin' Jenna dolls exceeded Illinois lead levels. The dolls are part of the Ty Girlz toy line.

Initially, Ty Inc. said it would remove all Jammin' Jenna dolls from Illinois stores, but later reversed its position and said it would not recall the dolls already in stores. The company said the state ban on toys that contain more than 600 parts per million of lead is superseded by federal law, which has a higher limit, the AP reported.

Both the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission and the state attorney general's office contend that Illinois' lead standard is valid because states are allowed to adopt their own rules where no federal law exists.

Scott Wehrs, Ty Inc.'s chief operating officer, declined to comment on the matter, the AP reported.

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NYC Forces Restaurant Chains to Include Calorie Counts in Menus

New York City's Board of Health voted Tuesday to bring back a regulation requiring restaurant chains to post calorie counts on their menus. It's hoped the plan, scheduled to take effect March 31, will encourage people to make healthier food choices.

A similar regulation was struck down by a judge last September. The new version was altered to make it comply with the court ruling, the Associated Press reported.

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