Health Highlights: July 26, 2010

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

First Full Face Transplant Patient Thanks Donor’s Family

In his first public appearance, the Spanish man who received the world’s first full face transplant thanked the donor’s family and the medical team who performed the surgery.

“Friends, I want to thank the hospital coordinators, the entire medical team, the family of the donor and most of all my family who are supporting me these days,” he said at the televised news conference, the Associated Press reported.

The 31-year-old patient, identified only as Oscar, suffered severe facial injuries in a shooting accident five years ago and was unable to breathe, swallow or talk properly.

Using plastic surgery and micro-neurovascular reconstructive surgery techniques, the surgeons transplanted muscles, lips, nose, maxilla, palate, mandible, all teeth, and cheekbones, during a 24-hour long operation March 20 at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona, the AP reported.

Oscar struggles to speak clearly and still requires months of physical therapy.


AAP Issues Updated Head Lice Guidelines

New remedies are included in updated head lice treatment guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The previous 2002 guidelines listed permethrin as the approved treatment, but the new guidelines include products known as pyrethrins, and also say that benzyl alcohol can be used if the other methods fail, ABC News reported.

The AAP also takes a stronger stance against school screenings for lice.

“No healthy child should be excluded from or allowed to miss school time because of head lice. No-nit policies for return to school should be abandoned,” the group says.

“Although the Association of School Nurses agreed that a no-nit policy does not make sense over a decade ago, many schools still try to enforce the policy,” said Dr. Bernard Cohen, director of pediatric dermatology at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution in Baltimore, Md., ABC News reported.

The updated guidelines appear in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics.


Nap Nanny Recliners Recalled After Infant Death

The death of an infant has prompted a recall of portable recliners that claim to help babies sleep better.

The recall of 30,000 Nap Nanny recliners made by Pennsylvania-based Baby Matters LLC was announced Monday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Associated Press reported.

An investigation is under way into the death of a four-month-old Michigan girl who died in a Nap Nanny that was being used in a crib, the CPSC said. The infant reportedly became caught between the outside of the Nap Nanny and the crib’s bumper.

The CPSC said it knows of 22 reports of infants who fell over the side of the Nap Nanny despite the fact that most of them were strapped into the harness on the foam recliner, the AP reported.

The Nap Nanny is not meant to be used in a crib. It should be placed on the floor away from other products, the CPSC said.

Consumers with these products should contact Baby Matters to receive new product instructions and warnings and, in certain cases, a coupon toward the purchase of a new Nap Nanny.


Japanese Women Have Longest Life Expectancy

For the 25th straight year, Japanese women topped the world longevity ratings in 2009, with an expected lifespan of almost 86.44 years, according to the Japanese government.

The average life expectancy for Japanese men was 79.59 years. From 2008 to 2009, average life spans in Japan rose nearly five months for women and nearly four months for men, the Associated Press reported.

But the average life span of Japanese men slipped from fourth to fifth place worldwide, according to an official with Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Among women, those in Hong Kong had the second highest average life expectancy (86.1 years), followed by those in France (84.5 years) and Switzerland (84.4 years), the AP reported.

Men in Qatar had the longest life expectancy (81 years), followed by those in Hong Kong (79.8 years) and in Iceland and Switzerland (both 79.7 years).


Iams Cat Food Recalled

Two lots of Iams-brand prescription cat food have been recalled due to possible salmonella contamination, says maker Procter & Gamble.

The recalled products are 5.5-pound bags of Iams Veterinary Formula Feline Renal, but company spokesman Jason Taylor didn’t know how many bags were involved in the recall, Bloomberg news reported.

The cat food was distributed to veterinary offices through the United States.

In a news release, Procter & Gamble warned that people who handle dry pet food can become infected with salmonella, especially if they do not wash their hands afterward, Bloomberg reported.


Some VA Hospitals to Get OK for Medical Marijuana

Pending new federal guidelines will permit the use of medical marijuana for patients at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics in the 14 states where medical marijuana is legal, according to news reports.

The Veterans Affairs Department will issue a directive shortly that’s intended to clarify the existing policy that says veterans can be denied pain medication if they use illegal drugs. Veterans groups have long complained this could prevent veterans from VA benefits if they were caught using medical marijuana, the Associated Press reported.

The new directive won’t alllow VA doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, which is considered an illegal drug under federal law. But it will make it clear that in the 14 states where state and federal laws are in conflict, VA clinics will permit the use of medical marijuana for veterans already taking it under other clinicians, the AP said.