Health Highlights: March 9, 2008

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

Are Mothers 'Hard-Wired' to Protect Their Babies?

The same instinct that makes mothers in the animal kingdom protect their offspring against danger appears to be a part of the human mother's brain as well.

The New York Times reports that researchers in Tokyo made magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of 13 mothers, each of whom had a child about 16 months old. The mothers were taken out of the room where they had been with their babies, and a videotape was made of the toddlers crying and reaching for their mothers, the newspaper reports.

    • Are Mothers 'Hard-Wired' to Protect Their Babies?
    • Texas Closes Three Shellfish Beds After Detecting Red Tide Organism
    • More 'Black Box' Warnings Added to Anemia Drugs' Labels
    • Drug Maker Withheld Diabetes Link to Schizophrenia Drug, Expert Witness Says
    • Many Later-Stage Premature Babies Require Long-Term Care
    • New Anesthesia Recovery Drug Appears Effective: FDA

When each mother saw the image of her child in distress, the MRI showed a markedly different neural reaction than when she was watching other mothers' babies, the Times says. This dramatic brain pattern reaction seems "to be biologically meaningful in terms of adaptation to specific demands associated with successful infant care," the newspaper quotes the study authors as noting in the study.

No similar study has yet been done with fathers, the Times says. The research was published in the February 2008 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry.


Texas Closes Three Shellfish Beds After Detecting Red Tide Organism

The microbe that produces what is known as red tide in coastal waters has been detected in some Texas shellfish beds, causing the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to close a number of bays to shellfish harvesting.

In addition to closing the shellfish beds at Aransas, Corpus Christi and Copano bays, the state has also issued a recall of oysters, clams and mussels because of an algae bloom of the Dinophysis organism, which can poison the shellfish and cause sickness in humans if they eat them.

According to a DSHS news release, all shellfish harvested from the affected bays since March 1 have been recalled from stores and restaurants. Texas state health officials say that anyone who recently bought shellfish and think they may have come from the affected areas should call the stores where they were purchased to determine their origin.

The Dinophysis organism produces okadaic acid, which permeates shellfish and can cause diarrhea, nausea and cramping in humans. Boiling the shellfish will not remove the contamination, Texas officials said. The symptoms can begin within 30 minutes of consumption and can last for up to three days. The contamination usually is not fatal in humans.

Texas DSHS officials are monitoring the affected coastal shellfish beds to determine when they can be re-opened for harvesting. No cases of okadaic acid poisoning had yet been reported by March 8, the state said.


More 'Black Box' Warnings Added to Anemia Drugs' Labels

The manufacturer of three popular anemia drugs -- erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) -- has expanded each medication's "black box" warning to include information about tumor growth and death in patients with early stage breast cancer and cervical cancer.

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