Health Highlights: Dec. 1, 2017

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

Ban on Teflon Chemical Leads to Fewer Low-Weight Births in U.S.

There was a steep drop in low-weight births in the United States after a chemical used to make Teflon was banned, a new study says.

Along with nonstick cookware, Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was used in many other consumer products, including electronics, carpets and food packaging. But it was linked to a number of health problems, including low-weight births, The New York Times reported.

Use of the chemical was gradually phased out beginning in 2003, and it was eliminated by 2014.

This study found that blood levels of PFOA in U.S. women of childbearing age peaked in 2007-08 and then declined each year until 2014. The chemical was linked with 5 percent of low-weight births in 2007-08 and in 0.5 percent in 2013-14, The Times reported.

More than 118,000 low-weight births were prevented from 2003 to 2014, saving $13.7 billion in associated costs, according to the study in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health.

“It’s important to highlight the role of the Environmental Protection Agency in this,” senior author Dr. Teresa Attina, a research scientist at New York University, told The Times.


Freeze-Dried Plasma Now Used Across U.S. Military

Freeze-dried blood plasma is now carried in the first-aid kits of all U.S. military special operations soldiers in war zones.

Plasma helps clot blood and can prevent wounded soldiers from bleeding to death. The freeze-dried plasma does not require refrigeration and can be used within minutes after water is added to it, the Associated Press reported.

Freeze-dried plasma has been introduced in the U.S. military over the past five years. Last month, the Marines Corps’ special ops units became the last of the military branches to carry it.

Freeze-dried plasma was used by U.S. forces in World War II, but that stopped after it was linked with hepatitis outbreaks. However, safety testing improved and freeze-dried plasma has been used by the armed forces of a number of countries for years, the AP reported.