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Health Highlights: Jan. 27, 2017

Dangerous Belladonna Found in Homeopathic Teething Products: FDA Cancelled CDC Climate Change Meeting Revived, With Help From Al Gore Fewer NFL Player Concussions in 2016: League

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

Dangerous Belladonna Found in Homeopathic Teething Products: FDA

Certain homeopathic teething products marketed by Hyland contain belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade, "sometimes far exceeding the amount claimed on the label," according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"The agency is warning consumers that homeopathic teething tablets containing belladonna pose an unnecessary risk to infants and children, and urges consumers not to use these products," the FDA said in a statement released Friday.

The products in question are made by the Standard Homeopathic Company in Los Angeles. The FDA says it has contacted the company, but "at this time, the company has not agreed to conduct a recall."

"The body's response to belladonna in children under 2 years of age is unpredictable and puts them at unnecessary risk," Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the statement. "We recommend that parents and caregivers not give these homeopathic teething tablets to children, and seek advice from their health care professional for safe alternatives."

In November, Raritan Pharmaceuticals of East Brunswick, N.J., recalled three homeopathic products containing belladonna, two of which were marketed by the CVS drugstore chain.

The FDA's investigation of belladonna-containing teething remedies was launched Sept. 9 after at least 10 infants died and 400 became seriously ill after receiving such products, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in October.

These products often contain nothing but water, but several brands contain tiny amounts of belladonna, which is supposed to help ease redness and inflammation caused by teething.


Cancelled CDC Climate Change Meeting Revived, With Help From Al Gore

A conference on climate change and health that was abruptly canceled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been revived, with the help of former vice-president Al Gore.

The one-day meeting will take place Feb. 16 and organizers hope to attract as many as 200 attendees from across the nation to discuss human health threats from climate change, the Washington Post reported.

The sponsors include nongovernmental groups such as the Harvard Global Health Institute, the Turner Foundation and the Climate Reality Project, an education and advocacy group founded by former vice president Al Gore.

"He called me and we talked about it and we said, 'There's still a void and still a need.' We said, 'Let's make this thing happen,' " Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told the Post.

"It was a no-brainer," he added.

Benjamin said the CDC's sudden cancellation of its long-planned conference was a "strategic retreat" prompted by climate change skepticism in the Trump administration, the Post reported.

Environmental and public health experts condemned the CDC's decision.

"The meeting was important and should have been held," one scheduled attendee told the Post. "Politics is politics, but protecting the health of our citizens is one of our government's most important obligations."


Fewer NFL Player Concussions in 2016: League

The number of concussions in the National Football League this season are down from the previous year, the league says.

There were 244 diagnosed concussions in preseason and regular season games in 2016, compared with 275 in 2015. There were 167 concussions in regular season games in 2016, which is 16 fewer than in 2015, the Associated Press reported.

The NFL said it has implemented improved concussion detection and examination protocols.

Players' willingness to report injuries is a major factor in the reduced number of concussions, according to Dr. Robert Heyer, president of the NFL Physicians Society and team internist for the Carolina Panthers.

"I have been a team physician 22 years, and in the past three years I think we've seen a cultural change regarding concussions," Heyer told the AP.

"As result of ongoing education, players are more likely to speak up if they believe they might have a concussion. I know what we are doing is making a difference, but we must continue to do more," he said.

An unaffiliated neurological consultant working NFL games says there has been a change in his interactions with players on the sidelines.

"When we started the program, there was a significant amount of resistance from the players in terms of just being evaluated," Dr. Mitchel Berger told the AP.

"But now, I would say uniformly this past season, none of the players ever resisted. They are much, much more aware of the whole concussion situation and want to actively be engaged in the interview process on the sideline as well as in the locker room. They really are much more aware of and interested in their safety," Berger said.

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