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Health Highlights: Dec. 17, 2010

Passengers With TB Were Allowed to Fly: Report FDA Wants More Data on New Heart Drug Brilinta London is Western Europe's TB Capital Living Close to Freeway Increases Autism Risk: Study

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

Passengers With TB Were Allowed to Fly: Report

The U.S. "Do Not Board" list failed to stop three passengers with tuberculosis who boarded commercial flights this year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information given to congressional investigators.

The list, created in June 2007 in order to stop travelers with serious infectious diseases from boarding flights, did stop six other passengers who posed a potential health risk to other travelers, USA Today reported.

No one was sickened as a result of the three travelers who were allowed to board due to loopholes in the list. Those loopholes have been closed, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman.

Neither the CDC or the TSA would provide the dates the three people traveled, what cities they flew between, or the airlines involved, USA Today reported.


FDA Wants More Data on New Heart Drug Brilinta

Further information from a major clinical trial of AstraZeneca's new heart drug Brilinta is required before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decides whether to approve the drug.

Brilinta, which is designed to prevent blood clots that can lead to heart attacks and strokes, won marketing approval earlier this month in Europe, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The FDA wants more details about the Plato study, which included 18,624 patients treated for heart attack or worsening chest pain. The study found that Brilinta was generally more effective than Plavix, the leading anticlotting drug.

However, Brilinta doesn't appear to be as effective in American patients as in overseas patients, the Wall Street Journal reported.

AstraZeneca said it will provide the FDA with additional data from the Plato study as soon as possible.


London is Western Europe's TB Capital

London is the tuberculosis capital of Western Europe, says an article published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet.

The number of people with TB in London increased by 50 percent between 1999 and 2009, from about 2,309 cases to 3,450 cases. The total number of TB cases in Britain in 2009 was more than 9,000, the Associated Press reported.

These numbers are likely an underestimate since only about 70 percent of active TB cases are documented, the article said.

TB remains rare in the U.K.-- about 15 people per 100,000 -- but the rate is higher than elsewhere in Western Europe. For example, the rate in France is estimated to be 10 people per 100,000, the AP reported.


Living Close to Freeway Increases Autism Risk: Study

The risk of autism is twice as high in children born to mothers who live close to freeways, says a new study.

The finding adds to evidence that some types of environmental exposure may play a role in causing the condition in some children, said the researchers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Lead author Heather Volk, a researcher at the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and colleagues compared 304 children with autism and 259 children who were developing normally, ages 24 to 60 months.

They found that the risk of autism was twice as high among children who lived about 1,000 feet from a freeway at birth, the Times reported.

The study appears online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.


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