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Health Highlights: Jan. 29, 2007

Racehorse Barbaro Euthanized Glaxo Tried to Hide Paxil/Teen Suicide Link Bird Flu Vaccine Safe, Effective in Animals: Taiwan Officials Decades-Old Treatment Equals Estrogen in Easing Hot Flashes: Study Connecticut Woman, World's Oldest Person, Dies Braces Don't Boost Mental Well-Being: Study

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

Racehorse Barbaro Euthanized

Continuing complications from his breakdown at the Preakness Stakes last May led to the decision to euthanize Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro on Monday, his owners said.

Since the colt shattered his right hind leg at the Preakness, he's suffered numerous complications, including laminitis in the left rear hoof and an abscess in the right rear hoof, the Associated Press reported.

"We just reached a point where it was going to be difficult for him to go on without pain," said co-owner Roy Jackson. "It was the right decision, it was the right thing to do. We said all along if there was a situation where it would become more difficult for him then it would be time."

Barbaro had emergency surgery after the injury at the Preakness, but never regained his normal gait, the AP reported.

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Glaxo Tried to Hide Paxil/Teen Suicide Link

Secret company emails show that drug maker GlaxoSmithKline distorted trial results in an attempt to hide a link between its antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine) and increased suicide risk in adolescents, BBC News reported.

The company's own studies showed that the drug tripled the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in depressed youngsters. Despite the trial findings, Glaxo attempted to show that the drug benefited depressed adolescents.

Glaxo said it "rejects any suggestion that it has improperly withheld any drug trial information," BBC News reported.

The company emails were uncovered when Glaxo was forced to open its confidential internal archive after bereaved families in the United States joined together to sue the drug maker.

In one email, a public relations executive working for Glaxo wrote: "Originally, we had planned to do extensive media relations surrounding this study until we actually viewed the results.

"Essentially, the study did not really show it was effective in treating adolescent depression, which is not something we want to publicize."

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Bird Flu Vaccine Safe, Effective in Animals: Taiwan Officials

In tests on animals, a new bird flu vaccine appeared to be safe and effective, officials at Taiwan's National Health Research Institute said Monday.

They hope to soon begin clinical trials on humans and said the vaccine may be ready for general use by next year, CBC News reported.

A number of countries are striving to develop a vaccine against the dangerous H5N1 bird flu virus, which has led to the death or slaughter of more than 200 million birds since it first appeared a few years ago. The virus has also killed more than 160 people worldwide, most of them in Southeast Asia.

Most human cases have been the result of direct contact with infected poultry. But experts fear that if the H5N1 virus mutates into a form that's easily transmitted between humans, it could spark a pandemic.

In related news, officials have confirmed an outbreak of H5N1 among geese in the southeast part of Hungary. It's the first H5N1 outbreak in the European Union since last summer, CBC News reported.

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Decades-Old Treatment Equals Estrogen in Easing Hot Flashes: Study

A synthetic version of the hormone progesterone appears to be as effective as, and safer than, estrogen at relieving menopause-related hot flashes, concludes a Canadian-led international study in the January issue of the journal Clinical Science.

The one-year study of 41 women found that the synthetic treatment medroxyprogesterone -- developed about 40 years ago -- and estrogen both reduced hot flashes and night sweats. The study also concluded that medroxyprogesterone was safer than estrogen, CBC News reported.

The synthetic treatment did not cause blood clots, breast cancer, or increase the risk of migraine headaches. The study findings may prove good news for women concerned about the risks of hormone replacement therapy, which studies suggest increases the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke.

"As a doctor who takes care of women who have very bad hot flashes, the good news is that those with migraine headaches, those with blood clots, those with other reasons why they shouldn't take estrogen, now they have an equally effective choice," study author Dr. Jerilynn Prior, professor of endocrinology at the University of British Columbia, told CBC News.

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Connecticut Woman, World's Oldest Person, Dies

A 114-year-old Connecticut woman -- who was declared the world's oldest living person just last week -- died on Sunday, the Associated Press reported.

Emma Faust Tillman died Sunday night at an East Hartford nursing home. She became the world's oldest person Jan. 24 after the death of 115-year-old Emiliano Mercado del Toro of Puerto Rico.

The Guinness Book of World Records now reports the world's oldest known living person as 113-year-old Yone Minagawa of Japan, who was born Jan. 4, 1893, the AP reported.

Tillman was born Nov. 22, 1892 in North Carolina, during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison. Tillman's family moved to Glastonbury, Conn. in 1900. Tillman, who never smoked or drank, didn't need glasses and lived independently until she was 110 years old.

She and her husband, who died in 1939, had two daughters. One of the daughters is deceased and the other one, Marjorie, was her mother's caretaker and a constant presence with her at the nursing home, the AP reported.

During her life, Tillman worked as a cook, maid, party caterer and caretaker for a number of wealthy families in the Hartford area. She later ran her own baking and catering service.

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Braces Don't Boost Mental Well-Being: Study

Getting braces during childhood does not boost a person's quality of life or mental well-being in adulthood, according to a U.K. study that tracked about 1,000 children for 20 years.

The study authors said their findings show that there's no evidence to support the widespread belief in the dental profession that orthodontics improve self-esteem or psychological health, BBC News reported.

The Welsh schoolchildren in the study were followed from 1981, when they were ages 10 or 11, until 2001. Those who did receive braces to correct crooked teeth did say they were happier with their teeth. However, they did not have better self-esteem or mental health than those who had no orthodontic treatment.

In previous research, the same team found that not having orthodontics as a child did not have a negative effect on future dental health, BBC News reported.

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