Health Highlights: May 5, 2010

By on May 5, 2010

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

Children More Likely to Eat ‘Fun’ Fruit: Study

Children are more likely to eat fruit if it’s made fun and attractive, say European researchers who studied nearly 100 children ages 4 to 7.

The children were offered apples, strawberries and seedless grapes cut into cubes and either made into a hedgehog — skewered with colorful cocktail sticks and stuck into a watermelon — or given to them on a white plate, BBC News reported.

Even though they understood that presentation doesn’t change the taste of the fruit, the children ate nearly twice as much of the “fun” fruit. The study appears in the journal Appetite.

“How food looks probably does have quite an influence, especially for kids who are getting used to different types of foods,” Dr. Laura Wyness, of the British Nutrition Foundation, told BBC News.

Simple ways to make food interesting include cutting it into triangles, squares or strips, she said.

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Fewer Black Asthma Patients Take Medicine Daily: Report

The disparity in the number of white and black Americans with asthma who take inhaled or oral medicine daily to prevent asthma attacks is growing, according to a federal government report.

In 2003, daily asthma medicines were used by 29 percent of blacks with asthma and 30 percent of white patients. By 2006, the rates were 25 percent and 34 percent, respectively, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Among the other findings from the analysis of data from the 2009 National Healthcare Disparities Report:

  • The number of Hispanic asthma sufferers who reported taking a daily asthma medicine decreased from 28 percent in 2003 to 23 percent in 2006.
  • During that same time, the gap shrank in use of asthma medications between lower- and higher-income patients.
  • The gap also narrowed between patients who didn’t finish high school and those with higher levels of education.

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D.C. Council Approves Medical Marijuana Use

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the 13-member District of Columbia Council voted to allow people with cancer, glaucoma or a “chronic and long-lasting disease” to obtain medical marijuana from up to eight dispensaries regulated by the city.

The legislation would allow patients to receive two ounces of marijuana a month and gives the mayor the power to raise that amount to four ounces without further council action, The New York Times reported.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is expected to sign the measure into law. Congress and the White House would then have 30 days to decide whether to allow the city to proceed with the medical marijuana plan.

In order to block the law, the House and Senate must pass a joint resolution that would then need the approval of President Barack Obama, The Times reported.

Currently, 14 states allow residents to use marijuana for medical purposes.

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Bret Michaels Released From Hospital

Reality TV and rock star Bret Michaels was released from the hospital Tuesday, less than three weeks after he suffered a potentially deadly bleed at the base of his brain stem.

At a press conference, doctors said Michaels can walk and talk but is not yet fully recovered and will continue to receive care outside the hospital, ABC News reported.

He was treated at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

“It was a combination of Bret’s fight to stay conscious during the hemorrhage and get to the emergency room and the immediate medical attention provided by our staff at Barrow that enabled us to stabilize his condition,” Dr. Joseph Zabramski, who led the treatment team, said at the press conference.

He added that Michaels should wait at least four to six weeks before resuming normal activity, ABC News reported.

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Face Transplant Patient Makes Public Appearance

A Spanish man who received a partial face transplant in January made his first public appearance at a news conference Tuesday and thanked his surgeons and the donor’s family.

The man, identified only as Rafael, underwent the 30-hour surgery at Seville’s Virgen del Rocio Hospital to replace the bottom two-thirds of his face, which was deformed with benign tumors from a congenital disease, the Associated Press reported.

He has to undergo months of rehabilitation, but Rafael said he can now feel pain in his lips and distinguish between hot and cold.

One reason Rafael decided to appear at a news conference was because he believed it may encourage donations that would help others who need these types of transplants, the AP reported.

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