Health Highlights: Sept. 15, 2010

By on September 15, 2010

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

Chuck E. Cheese Toys Recalled

A recall of more than 1.2 million Chuck E. Cheese light-up rings and toy eyeglasses was announced Wednesday, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The agency said the Chinese-made toys can break and expose the small batteries inside, which might be swallowed by small children and cause esophagus, stomach or intestine problems, the Associated Press reported.

So far, there have been no reported injuries but two children did remove batteries from light-up rings. One child swallowed a battery and another put a battery up his nose, the CPSC said.

The toys should be taken from children and returned for a refund of cash or prizes.

This is the fourth time since 2001 that Texas-based Chuck E. Cheese has been involved in recalls of children’s toys, the AP reported.


Many Medical Residents Work While Sick: Study

Doctors typically tell sick patients not to go to work, but many junior doctors don’t follow that basic health rule, finds a new study.

An analysis of an anonymous survey of 537 medical residents at 12 U.S. hospitals conducted last year found that nearly 58 percent said they had worked at least once while sick and 31 percent said they had worked more than once while sick in the previous year, the Associated Press reported.

About half of the respondents claimed they didn’t have time to see a doctor about their illness.

The study was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The survey used in the study was conducted by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Council CEO Dr Thomas Nasca told the AP that residents are trained to put patients’ needs before their own. However, they need to understand that if they’re sick, it would be better for their patients if they were seen by other doctors.


Birth Control Omitted From 1 in 3 Teen Sex Ed Programs: Survey

Nearly all U.S. teens have received formal sex education, but only about two-thirds have been acquainted with birth control methods, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey.

It found that 97 percent of teens said they’d had formal sex education by the time they were 18, the AP reported.

However, the sex education instruction was more likely to discuss sexually transmitted diseases or teach teens how to say no than inform them about birth control.

By the end of high school, only 62 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls had learned about birth control, the AP reported.


Watching Others Can Lead To False Memories: Study

People can create false memories by watching someone else doing a simple action, say German researchers.

“This is a completely new type of false memory,” said study co-author Gerald Echterhoff, a psychology professor at the University of Muenster, USA Today reported. “This is a false memory from just observing someone.”

He and his colleagues found that more than 25 percent of participants created false memories by watching videos of other people doing things.

“It’s very hard to counteract this type of false memory, even when participants were warned it could happen,” said Echterhoff, USA Today reported.

The study appears in the September issue of the journal Psychological Science.


Panel Recommends Cough Syrups Stay Over-the-Counter

Cough medicines such as Robitussin and Nyquil should still be available over-the-counter even though abuse of the medications has been on the increase, a federal advisory panel ruled Tuesday.

In a 15-9 vote, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s committee decided not to suggest that a prescription be necessary to buy the more than 100 medications that contain dextromethorphan, although some groups have called for sales of these products to be restricted, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA is not bound to follow the panel’s recommendation, but it typically does.

Abuse of dextromethorphan, dubbed “robotripping,” is popular among teenagers as an inexpensive way to get high, but it carries risks, including elevated blood pressure, heart rate and fever. Abusers can also suffer side effects from other ingredients mixed in cough medicines, such as acetaminophen, which can cause liver damage. Nearly 8,000 such emergency room visits were reported in 2008, a 70 percent increase from 2005.

“Many teenagers are thinking that because it’s a legal drug it must be safer to abuse, and that’s why we’re also seeing a growing trend in prescription drug abuse,” panelist Janet Engle, department head of pharmacy practice at the University of Illinois, told the AP.

The FDA agreed to revisit how it regulates the medicines after the Drug Enforcement Agency suggested making them prescription drugs.


New Weight-Loss Treatment Freezes Fat Cells

A technique that freezes fat cells has been approved as a weight-loss treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The therapy, called Zeltiq, uses a gel patch and a machine that freezes fat cells, which self-destruct and are absorbed into the body, ABC News reported.

Zeltiq has been on the U.S. market for about a year as an FDA-approved way to anesthetize and cool the skin before dermatology procedures. But doctors discovered that the technology also helped people lose fat.

The FDA has also approved another new weight-loss technique called Zerona, which uses a low-energy laser to target fat cells, ABC News reported.

Doctors emphasize that these and other treatments should not be viewed as replacements for a healthy diet and exercise.


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