Health Highlights: April 14, 2011

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

Topamax Recalled After Odor Complaints

About 57,000 bottles of the prescription anti-seizure drug Topamax are being recalled due to customer complaints of an “uncharacteristic odor,” Johnson & Johnson announced Thursday.

The recall affects two lots of Topamax 100 milligrams tablets shipped and distributed between Oct. 19, 2010 and Dec. 28, 2010 in the United States and Puerto Rico. The tablets were made by Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho-McNeil Neurologics division, reported.

There were four consumer complaints about an odor believed to be caused by trace amounts of the chemical TBA (2,4,6 tribromoanisole), which is applied to wooden pallets used to transport and store packaging materials.

Similar complaints of a moldy, musty odor have led to the recalls of millions of bottles of Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl products. Last month, the U.S. government said it was taking over three Tylenol plants operated by McNeil and the Food and Drug Administration launched a criminal investigation into safety issues at the factories, reported.


Clogged Neck Veins Don’t Cause MS: Study

Blockages in neck veins don’t cause multiple sclerosis and may instead be a result of the disease, according to researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

They examined 289 MS patients, 21 patients who had experienced only one MS attack, 26 patients with other neurological disease, and 164 healthy people in a control group, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Blocked neck veins were found in 44 percent of the MS patients, 38.1 percent of those who had experienced one MS attack, 42.3 percent of those with other neurological conditions, and slightly more than a quarter of those in the control group.

While there appears to be a relationship between MS and blocked neck veins, these results suggest that blocked neck veins “may be a consequence rather than a cause of MS,” the researchers said.

The findings will be presented at a American Academy of Neurology meeting.

Earlier research suggesting that blocked neck veins may cause MS have led many people with MS to undergo surgery to have their neck veins unclogged, the Wall Street Journal reported.


Shortage of ADHD Drugs in U.S.

A U.S.-wide shortage of drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has many parents going from pharmacy to pharmacy in order to find the medicines for their children, according to

In the past two weeks, the Food and Drug Administration added Adderall and Ritalin to its growing list of drugs in short supply in the nation. Manufacturing delays and increased demand have been cited by some distributors as the reasons for the drug shortages, while others have offered no explanation.

A nationwide shortage of the ADHD drugs has been noted for nearly a month by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, with reports of regional shortages before that, said.

About 5.4 million children ages 4 to 17 in the U.S. have ever been diagnosed with ADHD, and 66 percent of those with current ADHD take medication for the condition, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Losing Weight Improves Memory: Study

Losing weight helps overweight and obese people improve their memories and concentration, according to a new study.

Researchers tested the cognitive abilities of 150 people who weighed an average of 300 pounds and repeated the tests 12 weeks after 109 of the participants underwent weight loss surgery and lost an average of 50 pounds, USA Today reported.

The follow-up tests revealed that those who had the weight loss surgery showed improvement in memory and other cognitive abilities, such as organizational skills. The participants who didn’t lose weight showed a small decrease in memory.

It makes sense that as the body becomes healthier, so does the brain, said study author John Gunstad, an associate professor of psychology at Kent State University, USA Today reported.

The study was published online this week in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.


Catherine Zeta-Jones Treated for Bipolar Disorder

Catherine Zeta-Jones, the actress and wife of actor Michael Douglas, was recently treated for bipolar disorder, her publicist said Wednesday.

“After dealing with the stress of the past year, Catherine made the decision to check in to a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat her Bipolar II disorder,” her publicist said in a statement. “She’s feeling great and looking forward to starting work this week on her two upcoming films.”

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness marked by dramatic mood swings. People with the disorder can alternate from energetic “highs” to episodes of feeling hopeless and sad, and then back again. They often have normal moods in between. Bipolar disorder can run in families, and it usually starts in late adolescence or early adulthood, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Bipolar II disorder is not as severe as bipolar I.

Zeta-Jones, 41, was outspoken about her anger after Douglas, 66, was diagnosed with throat cancer in August 2010, ABC News reported. “It makes me furious they didn’t detect it earlier,” Zeta-Jones told People magazine. “He sought every option and nothing was found.”

Zeta-Jones and Douglas were married in 2000, and they have two children together, Dylan Michael Douglas and Carys Zeta Douglas, ABC News reported.