Health Highlights: Aug. 14, 2008

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

Bush Signs Bill Banning Lead in Children's Products

Legislation that bans lead from children's products was signed Thursday by President George W. Bush, giving the United States the toughest standard in the world. The bill was passed by both houses of Congress two weeks ago.

Under the new law, lead beyond minute levels is prohibited in products for children under 12 years old, the Associated Press reported. Last year, lead paint was a major factor in U.S. recalls of 45 million toys and other children's products, mainly from China.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Bush Signs Bill Banning Lead in Children's Products
    • Neck Artery Stent Devices Recalled
    • Food Additive MSG Increases Risk of Overweight
    • U.S. Traffic Deaths Decreased in 2007
    • A Happy Attitude May Extend Life
    • Birth Control Pills May Impair Women's Mate Selection: Study
    • Portable Machine Speeds Bird Flu Diagnosis

The new legislation also bans the use of phthalates, chemicals used to make plastic products softer and more flexible. It also gives the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission more money and power to oversee testing of products and to penalize violators.

Each year in the United States, unsafe products cause about 28,000 deaths, according to the CPSC. Last year, faulty consumer products injured more than 33 million people, the AP reported.

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Neck Artery Stent Devices Recalled

Stents and related devices made by Boston Scientific -- used to keep once-clogged neck arteries open -- are being recalled because of problems with the system used to implant the stents, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

The recall affecting the NexStent Monorail, NexStent Carotid Stent and Monorail Delivery System does not affect devices that have already been implanted, the Dow Jones news service reported. Affected devices were produced between June 12, 2007 and May 2, 2008.

Stents are hollow tubes of wire mesh that are surgically implanted inside an artery to keep it open after a procedure to unclog the blood vessel. The affected devices are meant to be used in the carotid artery, a primary supplier of blood to the brain. They're being recalled because "the tip of the stent delivery system may detach from the delivery system during the procedure," the news service said, citing a notice on the FDA's Web site.

This problem could "lead to increased procedure time, cause vessel wall injury, stroke and/or emergency surgery to remove the detached tip," the agency warning continued.

The FDA said Boston Scientific sent a recall letter to customers on June 6.

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Food Additive MSG Increases Risk of Overweight

People who eat foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG) are more likely to be overweight, according to American and Chinese researchers who studied more than 750 people, ages 40 to 59, in three rural villages in China.

About 82 percent of the study participants used MSG in their home food preparation. One-third of those who used the most MSG were nearly three time more likely to be overweight than people who didn't use MSG, United Press International reported.

"We saw this risk even when we controlled for physical activity, total calorie intake and other possible explanations for the difference in body mass," Dr. Ka He, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health, said in a news release.

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