Health Highlights: Aug. 21, 2008

"It is a very striking confirmation of something that has been suspected for a long time. The placenta is very sensitive to stress hormones in the mother. These hormones were probably amplified during the time of war," said Malaspina, AFP reported.

The study was published in the journal BioMed Central Psychiatry.

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Posture Training Eases Chronic Back Pain

Improving posture and coordination in people with chronic low back pain provides relief that lasts for more than a year, according to a British study.

The 579 patients in the study received either massage therapy, care from a family doctor, or lessons on the Alexander Technique, which involves training to improve posture and muscle coordination while walking, standing and sitting, CBC News reported.

After one year, the patients in the Alexander group had an average of three days of back pain a month, compared with 14 days for those in the massage group, and 21 days for those under a doctor's care, which included painkillers and exercise lessons in some cases. Alexander group patients also reported improved quality of life, such as being able to walk at a normal pace.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

The Alexander Technique was developed in the late 19th century by actor Frederick Alexander, who found he was losing his voice, because he was stiffening his body before speaking, CBC News reported.

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One Dead, 16 Sick in Listeriosis Outbreak in Canada

One person in Ontario has died and at least 16 others across Canada have become sick in a listeriosis outbreak believed to be caused by packaged meats made at a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto. On Wednesday, the company said it was closing the plant and expanding its recall of certain packaged meats, CBC News reported.

So far, 13 cases of listeriosis have been identified in Ontario, two in British Columbia, one in Saskatchewan, and one in Quebec, said the Public Health Agency of Canada. No further details about the death in Ontario have been released.

Ontario health officials said they're investigating another 16 probable cases of the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes, CBC News reported.

"I strongly advise the public, especially those at risk for listeriosis, such as the elderly, pregnant women and those with weak immune systems, to make sure they avoid consuming these products," Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, said in a statement.

On Sunday, Maple Leaf said it discovered listeriosis-causing bacteria in Sure Slice roast beef and corned beef and recalled those products. As of Wednesday, the recall had expanded to about 23 products, including a variety of smoked meat, turkey and roast beef products sold under brand names such as Schneiders, Sure Slice, Deli Gourmet and Burns Bites, CBC News reported.

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Minorities More Likely to Suffer Corporal Punishment in Schools

Minority children received a disproportionate share of the corporal punishment given to 223,190 American school children last year, says a study released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberty Union.

Black and Native American children were more than twice as likely as other students to be paddled, the Associated Press reported.

Most states have outlawed corporal punishment, but it remains widespread across the South. Texas and Mississippi accounted for 40 percent of the children who received corporal punishment at least once in the 2006-07 school year, followed by Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida and Missouri.

The study also found that boys were three times more likely to be paddled than girls, and special education children were also more likely to be paddled, the AP reported.

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