Health Highlights: Feb. 11, 2011

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

Almost 2 Million Summer Infant Baby Monitors Recalled

The Consumer Product Safety Commission on Friday announced the recall of nearly 2 million Summer Infant video baby monitors after the devices were linked to the strangulation deaths of two babies.

According to the Associated Press, the CPSC said the electrical cords on the monitors can pose a danger to babies if placed near the crib. One 6-month-old boy from Conway, S.C. died in November after being caught in the electrical cord of the monitor, which had been left on the crib’s changing table, the CPSC said. A baby girl in Washington, D.C., also died in a similar fashion in December.

“I urge all parents and caregivers to put at least 3 feet between any video or audio baby monitor cords and a child in a crib,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum told the AP. “This simple step can save your child’s life.”

Woonsocket, R.I.-based Summer Infant is recalling 1.7 million monitors, sold at major retailers across the United States between 2003 and 2011.

The company is also recalling rechargeable batteries from 58,000 Slim and Secure Video Monitors sold exclusively at Babies R Us in 2009 and 2010, due to a burn hazard.

For more information on the model numbers of the recalled devices, consumers should contact Summer Infant at 800-426-8627.


Strokes Hit Movie Stars Too: Study

Being rich and famous doesn’t offer protection against stroke, say U.S. researchers.

The team at the University of California, Los Angeles analyzed rates of stroke and heart attack among all the best actor/actress nominees since the Oscars began in 1927 until 2009, the Associated Press reported.

Of the 409 nominees, at least 29 have had a stroke (including six that were fatal) and 39 have had heart attacks. The average age of the nominees when they suffered a stroke was 67, but not all were old when they had a stroke.

For example, Sharon Stone was 43 when she suffered a stroke in 2001. Her stroke was a type of bleeding stroke, which are less common than strokes caused by a blood clot. A few years ago, Stone appeared in a public service video to raise awareness of stroke symptoms, the AP reported.

Other Oscar nominees who have suffered a stroke include Elizabeth Taylor, James Garner and Dudley Moore.

The study was presented Thursday at the International Stroke Conference in Hollywood.


Syphilis Test Wrong in One-Fifth of Cases: CDC

A common test for syphilis often gives incorrect results and hundreds of people in the United States may have mistakenly been told they have the sexually transmitted disease, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency said a study of five U.S. labs found that about 18 percent of the positive results from the test were actually negative, the Associated Press reported.

The test has been used since the 1980s and is given to all pregnant women and people considered high-risk for STDs. People who test positive for syphilis usually receive penicillin, which can cause side effects in some patients.

The CDC said it doesn’t know how widely used this test is compared to another method. The agency recommends a second test when there is a positive result, the AP reported.


Job Seekers Facing Tougher Anti-Smoking Rules

An increasing number of U.S. hospitals and medical businesses are implementing policies that make smoking a reason to deny a person a job.

The goal of the new rules, which essentially regard cigarettes like an illegal narcotic, is to boost worker productivity, reduce health care costs, and encourage healthier living, according to The New York Times.

The measures include job applications that warn candidates about “tobacco-free hiring,” requiring job seekers to have a urine test for nicotine, and firing employees who are caught smoking.

The tougher rules may reflect frustration with less-effective programs such as smoking bans, cessation programs and increased health care premiums for smokers, The Times reported.


Montana’s Medical Marijuana Law Faces Repeal

Montana’s six-year-old medical marijuana law may be repealed.

On Thursday, the state’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 63 to 37 to repeal the law. The move to repeal the bill will also be considered by the State Senate, also controlled by the Republicans, The New York Times reported.

It’s not clear what will happen if the bill to repeal the medical marijuana law makes it to the desk of Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat. While he believes the medical marijuana laws need to be tightened, he hasn’t announced his position on repeal.

Currently, 15 states and the District of Columbia allow the use of medical marijuana, The Times reported.