Health Highlights: April 10, 2013

Large Rise in U.S. Nursing Home Costs: Survey Parents of Infants in Study Not Warned About Dangers IVF Pioneer Dies at Age 87 Young Boy Recovers From H7N9 Bird Flu

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

Large Rise in U.S. Nursing Home Costs: Survey

The median annual cost of a private room in a nursing home in the United States rose 24 percent over the past five years, from $67,527 to $83,950, a new survey says.

The price climbed 4 percent from last year to this year, according to Genworth's 2013 Cost of Care Survey, which is based on data from nearly 15,000 long-term care providers, CNN reported.

The cost of a semi-private room at a nursing home has increased 23 percent over the past five years to a median of $75,405 a year. The cost of being in an assisted living facility also rose 23 percent and is now $41,400 a year.

Prices are being pushed up by a number of factors, including food, building maintenance, insurance and labor costs, Bob Bua, vice president of Genworth, told CNN.


Parents of Infants in Study Not Warned About Dangers

The parents of premature babies involved in a study examining how the babies were affected by different levels of oxygen were not warned that participating in the study could increase their infants' risk of blindness or death, according to the U.S. Office for Human Research Protections.

In a letter to the University of Alabama, the office outlines what it said were violations of patients' rights. The university was the lead site for the study conducted between 2004 and 2009, The New York Times reported.

Government officials said the university did not detail the risks in consent forms given to parents. Specifically, infants in the high-oxygen group had an increased risk of blindness and those in the low-oxygen group had a greater risk of death than if they had not taken part in the study.

In the study, 91 of 509 infants in the high-oxygen group became blind and 130 of the 654 babies in the low-oxygen group died, The Times reported.

A University of Alabama spokesman said the consent forms were written by researchers at another university participating in the study, but that they were approved by all 23 academic institutions involved in the study, which was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.


IVF Pioneer Dies at Age 87

Robert Edwards, the British scientist who was a pioneer of in vitro fertilization (IVF) has died. He was 87.

The Nobel Prize winner passed away in his sleep, the University of Cambridge said Wednesday. Edwards was a professor at the university.

He and colleague Dr. Patrick Steptoe developed IVF, which led to the birth in 1978 of the world's first test-tube baby, Louise Brown. Since then, more than 4 million babies have been born using this technique, the Associated Press reported.

Edwards received the 2010 Nobel prize in medicine for the development of IVF. Steptoe was no longer alive and Nobel prizes are not awarded posthumously.


Young Boy Recovers From H7N9 Bird Flu

A 4-year-old boy in Shanghai who was hospitalized due to infection with H7N9 bird flu has recovered and been discharged, according to a doctor in the infectious disease department of the Pediatric Hospital affiliated with Fudan University in Shanghai.

The doctor, who refused to give her name, said she did not know if this was the first recovery from H7N9, the Associated Press reported.

However, the official state news agency Xinhua did say that the boy was the first person to completely recover from H7N9. To date, 28 people in China are confirmed to have been infected with the new strain of bird flu and nine of them have died.

People appear to be getting sick from direct contact with infected birds, according to Chinese officials. But they say it is difficult to track the virus because it seems to be spreading in birds without making them ill, the AP reported.

In related news, South African officials said Tuesday that the H7N1 bird flu strain has been detected on an ostrich farm and that farms in a two-mile radius have been quarantined while an investigation is conducted, the AP reported.


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