Health Highlights: June 5, 2008

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

Anxiety More Important Than Looks in Teen Eating Disorders

In teens with eating disorders, anxiety plays a bigger role than dissatisfaction with appearance, says a study by Finnish researchers.

They conducted two surveys, a year apart, of 372 students, ages 15 to 17, and found that 13 percent reported eating disorders in either the first or second survey and 5 percent reported eating disorders in both surveys, United Press International reported.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Anxiety More Important Than Looks in Teen Eating Disorders
    • Dental Fillings With Mercury Pose Threat to Children, Fetuses: FDA
    • Crib Mattresses Recalled Due to Entrapment Hazard
    • Race, Region Affect Patient Care in U.S.: Report
    • Pesticides Increase Diabetes Risk
    • Pop Star's Breast Cancer Boosted Screening Among Young Women

The researchers also found that students who reported suffering from anxiety earlier in adolescence were 20 times more likely to report ongoing eating disorders. Teens who said they were dissatisfied with their appearance only had recurring eating disorders if they also reported anxiety earlier in adolescence.

Teens with eating disorders were more likely than those without eating disorders (70 percent vs. 40 percent) to report one or more health problems such as insomnia, fatigue, headache, abdominal pain or dizziness, UPI reported.

The study was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

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Dental Fillings With Mercury Pose Threat to Children, Fetuses: FDA

Dental fillings that contain mercury may be harmful to children and fetuses, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a warning posted on its Web site Wednesday.

The agency agreed to post the warning as part of a lawsuit settlement reached with several consumer advocates. The FDA also agreed that by July 2009, it would issue a more specific rule for fillings that contain mercury, FOXNews reported.

"Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses," says the warning on the FDA Web site.

"Pregnant women and persons who may have a health condition that makes them more sensitive to mercury exposure, including individuals with existing high levels of mercury bioburden, should not avoid seeking dental care but should discuss options with their health practitioner," the FDA advises.

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Crib Mattresses Recalled Due to Entrapment Hazard

About 20,000 Simmons Kids Crib mattresses are being recalled because they may pose an entrapment hazard to infants. Some of the mattresses can measure smaller than the 27 1/4-inch minimum width requirement for cribs, leaving a gap between the mattress and side rails, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

There's been one report involving a six-month-old baby becoming wedged between the mattress and the crib's frame. The baby was unharmed.

The recall covers open coil mattresses made between July 1, 2006, and March 23, 2008, with the following model names: Pottery Barn Kids by Simmons Kids Lullaby; Simmons Kids Slumber Time Evening Star Luxury Firm; Simmons Kids Baby Mattress Series 400; Simmons Kids Baby Mattress 234 Coil Count.

They were sold at Pottery Barn Kids and nursery furniture stores across the United States for between $100 and $150.

Consumers should measure the width of their crib mattresses. If the mattress measures less than 27 1/4 inches wide, they should contact Simmons Kids at 1-800-810-8611 to receive a free replacement mattress.

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Race, Region Affect Patient Care in U.S.: Report

In the United States, a person's race and where they live can have a huge influence on the course and quality of medial treatment they receive, says a new study by researchers at Dartmouth College.

Their analysis of Medicare claims data identified a number of racial and geographic disparities, The New York Times reported.

"In U.S. health care, it's not only who you are that matters; it's also where you live," wrote study leader Dr. Elliott S. Fisher and colleagues.

Among their findings:

  • The rate of leg amputations for blacks was about six per 1,000 in Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina, compared with less than two per 1,000 in Colorado and Nevada. The rates for whites in the southern states were about 1.3 per 1,000, double the rates for whites in the two western states.
  • The mammogram rate for black women in California was 48 percent, compared to 72 percent in Massachusetts. California and Illinois had the widest racial gaps in mammogram rates -- a 12 percent difference between black and white women.
  • In all but two states, blacks with diabetes were less likely than whites to receive annual hemoglobin testing. Blacks in Colorado were far less likely to receive this screening than blacks in Massachusetts -- 66 percent vs. 88 percent.
  • There was wide variation in the percentage of patients who'd seen a primary care doctor within a two-year period, ranging from 65 percent in New Jersey to 86 percent in Nebraska.
  • Hawaii, Utah, and Washington had far higher rates of unnecessary hospitalization than Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia.

The study was commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which on Thursday is expected to announce a three-year, $300 million project to reduce racial- and geographic-related health disparities, the Times reported.

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Pesticides Increase Diabetes Risk

Exposure to pesticides increases a person's risk of diabetes, say U.S. researchers who analyzed data from 31,787 licensed pesticide applicators in North Carolina and Iowa. Of those, 1,171 reported a diagnosis of diabetes over five years.

The study found that applicators in the highest category of use (more than 100 lifetime days) of any pesticide had a 17 percent higher risk of diabetes compared to those in the lowest pesticide use category of zero to 64 lifetime days, United Press International reported.

When the researchers looked at specific pesticides, the increased risk of diabetes ranged from 20 percent to 200 percent. The study appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

"The results suggest that pesticides may be a contributing factor for diabetes along with known risk factors such as obesity, lack of exercise and having a family history of diabetes," study co-author Dale Sandler, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said in a prepared statement, UPI reported.

"Although the amount of diabetes explained by pesticides is small, these new findings may extend beyond the pesticide applicators in this study," Sandler said.

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Pop Star's Breast Cancer Boosted Screening Among Young Women

Publicity about pop star Kylie Minogue's breast cancer diagnosis in April 2005 led to a large increase in mammography and ultrasound procedures among low-risk women, says an Australian study.

In the six months following Minogue's diagnosis, mammography and ultrasound procedures increased 30 percent among women ages 25 to 44, who are considered to be at low risk for breast cancer. Breast biopsies in this age group increased 46 percent, CBC News reported.

In women ages 35 to 44, breast imaging increased 25 percent and breast biopsies increased 37 percent, the University of Melbourne study found.

There was no overall increase in rates of surgery to remove breast tumors. The study appears in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

"Raising women's awareness of the need to get screened is generally a good thing," study leader Margaret Kelaher said in a prepared statement, CBC News reported. "But these findings suggest that thousands of additional imaging procedures and biopsies did not improve breast cancer detection among young women. It appears there has been a situation where publicity has led to many low-risk women using -- and probably overusing -- screening services."