Health Highlights: May 15, 2019

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

U.S. Birth Rate Lowest in 32 Years

The U.S. birth rate fell for the fourth year in a row last year and was at its lowest since 1986, according to a government report.

It said there were 3.8 million births last year, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Birth rates for teens and women in their 20s were at record lows last year, while women in their late 30s and those in their early 40s had slightly higher birth rates in 2018 than in 2017.

The fertility rate in 2018 was 1.7 births per woman, a 2% decline from 2017. That rate means the current generation isn’t producing enough children to replace itself, the AP reported.

There were small declines in births among Hispanics, whites, blacks and Asians, while births among native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders remained stable.

Some experts believe the United States will have labor shortages if current birth trends continue, while others say today’s young women will catch up on having children later in their lives, the AP reported.


Two-Thirds of Sunscreens Fail Safety Tests: Report

Nearly two-thirds of sunscreens that were analyzed failed safety tests proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Working Group said Wednesday.

The findings are in the nonprofit consumer advocacy group’s latest edition of its annual Guide to Sunscreens, CNN reported.

The group analyzed the ingredients and performance of more than 1,300 sunscreen products with sun protection factor (SPF). Of those, 750 are marketed as beach and sport sunscreens.

The total sample size is just a small portion of the more than 12,000 sunscreen products the FDA says are available in the United States, CNN reported.

More than 60% of the sunscreen products tested did not provide adequate sun protection or contained potentially harmful chemicals, according to the Environmental Working Group.

The products were assessed using new FDA guidelines proposed earlier this year.

“Even though we’ve come up with similar results in our guide before, comparing it to the FDA’s actual proposed standards is really strong,” Nneka Leiba, director of healthy living science at the working group, told CNN.

“So, the fact that 60% of the market seemingly wouldn’t be considered safe and effective by the FDA is a huge deal,” Leiba said.


Comedian Tim Conway Dies at Age 85

Actor and comedian Tim Conway, who starred on The Carol Burnett show, is dead at age 85.

He died at 8:45 a.m. in the Los Angeles area on Tuesday, his rep Howard Bragman told People magazine.

Prior to his death, Conway suffered complications from normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). It’s an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain’s ventricles (cavities) that puts pressure on the brain, according to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Conway had no signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, People reported.

Conway was a guest star on “The Carol Burnett Show” for eight seasons before he became a regular in 1975. He often ad-libbed sketches and won a Golden Globe Award for the series in 1976, along with Emmys in 1973, 1977 and 1978.

He had a sitcom, “The Tim Conway Show,” for one season in 1970 and a varIety show of the same name in 1980-81. He also starred on “McHale’s Navy,” voiced Barnacle Boy on “Spongebob Squarepants,” and won an Emmy for a special appearance on the TV series “30 Rock,” People reported.

Conway is survived by his wife of 35 years, Charlene, his stepdaughter, his six biological children and two granddaughters.

Before his death, Conway’s wife and daughter Kelly had been fighting over his care, People reported.


Exercise, Healthy Eating Can Reduce Dementia Risk: WHO

Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, watching your blood pressure, avoiding tobacco and limiting alcohol intake can reduce your risk of dementia, according to World Health Organization guidelines released Tuesday.

The WHO also cautioned against taking dietary supplements such as Vitamins B and E in an attempt to prevent mental decline and dementia, CNN reported.

Dementia affects 50 million people worldwide and there is no effective treatment.

“While some people are unlucky and inherit a combination of genes that makes it highly likely they will develop dementia, many people have the opportunity to substantially reduce their risk by living a healthy lifestyle,” Tara Spires-Jones, U.K. Dementia Research Institute program lead and deputy director of the Center for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, U.K. told the Science Media Center, CNN reported.

“The WHO has looked at the available evidence and made recommendations that some lifestyle changes, in particular increasing exercise before any cognitive symptoms are present, can reduce dementia risk,” she explained.

In terms of healthy eating, the WHO said your best bet is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes lots of fruits and vegetables and olive oil, CNN reported.

There are 10 million new cases of dementia every year and that number could triple by 2050, according to the WHO.

It said the disease “can devastate the lives of affected individuals, their carers and families,” and that the cost of caring for people with dementia is expected to rise to $2 trillion a year by 2030, CNN reported.