Health Highlights: March 23, 2010

By on March 23, 2010

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

Sickle Cell Disease Tied to Other Health Problems: Study

Children with sickle cell disease may also experience physical and developmental health problems, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, released Tuesday in the American
Journal of Preventive Medicine
, found that black children with the inherited blood disorder are
more likely to have hearing impairment, intellectual disabilities and
severe headaches or migraines than black children without
sickle cell disease.

Fair or poor health status was seen four times more often in black children with sickle cell disease than in blacks without the disease. They were also twice as likely to have had mental health services as their counterparts and were more likely to receive special educational or early intervention services.

“The findings of this study emphasize the importance of
screening children with sickle cell disease for thinking ability,
hearing, and vision problems,” Sheree Boulet of the CDC’s Division of
Blood Disorders, said in a statement.

The study can also help health care providers plan comprehensive treatments for children with the disease,
she added.

The research included data from the 1997-2005 National Health Interview
Surveys involving black children under 18 years old with sickle cell disease. Many parents of children with sickle cell disease reported difficulty obtaining available health care.

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Developing Nations to Receive Pneumonia Vaccines

Two large drug makers have promised to supply new pneumonia vaccines to developing countries for 10 years.

The commitment made by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer Inc. was announced Tuesday by the public-private partnership GAVI Alliance, the Associated Press reported.

Each company will supply 30 million doses per year. Initially, the cost of the vaccines will be $7 per dose, but that will decrease to $3.50 for most of the 10-year commitment. The vaccine doses will be paid for by the recipient nations and Geneva-based GAVI.

The group said the total is a fraction of the current cost of pneumonia vaccines in many developed countries, the AP reported.

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Republican State AG’s Sue Feds Over Health Reform

Claiming that the new health care legislation is unconstitutional, Republican attorneys general from 13 states are suing the federal government to stop the health system overhaul.

The lawsuit, which names the departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor, was filed in federal court in Pensacola, Fla., immediately after President Barack Obama signed the reform bill Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

The lead in the lawsuit is being taken by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. It also includes attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Louisiana, Idaho, Washington and Colorado.

Other Republican attorneys general may join the lawsuit later or sue separately, the AP reported.

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New Health-Reform Law Requires Calorie Info on Menus

The new health-care reform bill to be signed Tuesday by President Barack Obama will require calorie information on menus and menu boards at more than 200,000 fast-food and other chain restaurants.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be directed to establish a new national standard for menu labeling at restaurants with more than 20 locations. The federal standard will supersede state and local laws, the Associated Press reported.

Currently, many restaurants post nutritional details in a hallway, on a food wrapper or on a Web site. The goal of the new law is to make that information available as customers are ordering their food.

“The nutrition information is right on the menu or menu board next to the name of the menu item, rather than in a pamphlet or in tiny print on a poster, so that consumers can see it when they are making ordering decisions,” said Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the AP reported. Harkin wrote the provision.

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