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Health Highlights: Feb. 10, 2009

Salmonella Suspected at Second Peanut Plant Postpartum Psychosis Risk Increases With Age: Study Rodriguez Hopes Baseball Fans Forgive Use of Banned Drugs Vaginal Gel Shows Promise Against HIV Infection

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

Salmonella Suspected at Second Peanut Plant

A peanut processing plant in Texas owned by the company blamed for the salmonella outbreak was closed Tuesday after state health officials reported that products there might be tainted with salmonella, according to a CNN report.

The plant, in Plainview, is owned by the Peanut Corporation of America, which has been the focus of a nationwide recall of more than 1,000 peanut products. Its plant in Blakely, Ga., also is closed after its products were linked to eight deaths and the sickening of 600 people nationwide, the news network reported.

According to CNN, Texas officials said, "It is not yet known if the salmonella possibly found in the product testing is the same strain of the bacterium implicated in a 43-state outbreak of salmonellosis." Peanut products such as peanut meal and granulated peanuts had not left the facility, authorities said, and dry roasted peanuts that were shipped to a distributor were stopped from being sent further.

The plant was closed after product samples tested by a private lab came back Monday night, indicating the possible presence of salmonella, CNN reported. Results from testing by a state lab were expected to be returned Tuesday.

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Postpartum Psychosis Risk Increases With Age: Study

Women who have their first baby after age 35 are 2.4 times more likely than mothers younger than 19 to develop postpartum psychosis that could put their newborn at risk, say Swedish researchers who analyzed data from nearly 750,000 first-time mothers.

"The risk of developing psychosis during the first 90 days (after childbirth) increased with age," wrote the researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Agence France Presse reported.

Postpartum psychosis is a serious mental disorder that involves delusions, hallucinations, severe eating or sleeping disturbances, and suicidal tendencies. Immediate medical attention is required, including anti-psychotic drugs and hospitalization, the researchers said.

About 80 percent of new mothers experience some form of mental disturbance or mild depression, but only about one in 1,000 develops actual psychosis in the first months after they give birth, according to the study, published in the Public Library of Science medical journal.

The researchers noted that most women who develop postpartum psychosis have prior psychotic histories, AFP reported.

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Rodriguez Hopes Baseball Fans Forgive Use of Banned Drugs

Baseball star Alex Rodriguez said he hopes fans will forgive him after he admitted using banned substances while playing with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03. Rodriguez said he hasn't used banned drugs since he was traded to the New York Yankees before the 2004 season.

On the weekend, Sports Illustrated reported that Rodriguez was one of 104 players on a list who had tested positive for steroids in 2003. Baseball's highest-paid player confessed to use of performance-enhancing drugs in an interview with ESPN on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

In the interview, Rodriguez dodged a question about how he obtained banned drugs and said he didn't even know what substance was detected by the drug test, the AP said.

The 2003 drug tests were conducted to determine the extent of steroid use in baseball. Players who tested positive weren't subject to discipline and their identities were supposed to be kept secret. But the results were seized by the federal government in 2004 and remain under seal, the AP reported.

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Vaginal Gel Shows Promise Against HIV Infection

An experimental vaginal gel shows promise in reducing women's risk of HIV infection, according to results of a preliminary study that included about 3,100 women in Africa and the United States.

Women who used the gel had a 30 percent lower risk of HIV infection, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded study presented Monday at a medical conference on retroviruses in Montreal, the Associated Press reported.

However, the researchers noted this difference wasn't statistically significant, which means the reduced risk could have occurred by chance.

The true effectiveness of the gel, made by Massachusetts-based Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc., needs to be assessed in larger studies, such as one involving 9,400 women that's scheduled to conclude in August, the AP reported.

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