Health Highlights: June 4, 2003

House to Vote on Partial Birth Abortion Ban FDA Finds More Fake Lipitor Summer Safety Hazards for Children No New SARS Cases or Deaths Reported in China Special Cooking Oil Blend Helps Men Lose Weight

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

House to Vote on Partial Birth Abortion Ban

The U.S. House of Representatives to expected to approve today a ban on so-called partial birth abortions.

After minor differences with a bill already approved by the Senate are ironed out, the proposed legislation would go to President Bush, who has said he will sign it into law, the Associated Press reports.

Partial birth is described as a case in which the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother or, in the event of a breech delivery, if "any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother," the AP says.

The bill would make it a crime for a doctor to perform the procedure. It includes an exemption for cases in which the life of the mother is jeopardized, the AP says.

Abortion opponents say the procedure is performed routinely, while pro-choice advocates say it's rarely used.

Congressional opponents of partial birth abortion have been fighting for eight years to have the procedure banned.

If the ban becomes law, abortion-rights groups say they'll immediately challenge it in court.


FDA Finds More Fake Lipitor

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found another 30,000 bottles of a fake version of the top-selling cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor.

The latest find comes about two weeks after the FDA first uncovered about 100,000 bottles of the counterfeit drug, the Associated Press reports.

The fake pills don't actually lower cholesterol.

The FDA says consumers can identify the counterfeit drug by looking for the words, "Repackaged by MED-PRO Inc., Lexington, NE 68850" on 90-tablet bottles that have these lot numbers:

  • 2084V, expiration 09-2004
  • 16092V, expiration 07-2004
  • 20722V, expiration 09-2004
  • 04132V, expiration 01-2004
  • 16942V, expiration 09-2004
  • D270481, expiration not available.

The last batch contains 20-milligram tablets. All the others contain 10-milligram tablets.

Pfizer Inc., which makes Lipitor, on Tuesday filed suit to stop the sale of any more fake pills by Med-Pro Inc. and Albers Medical Distributors. Both companies deny involvement in the sale of the counterfeit pills, the AP reports.


Summer Safety Hazards for Children

Just in time for the summer holidays, the Consumer Federation of America and have released a list of the top 10 summer hazards for children, along with injury-prevention tips.

Here's the list:

  • Poisoning. On average, poison centers in the United States handle one poison exposure every 14 seconds. Poisons come in many forms, such as solids (plants, batteries or berries), liquids (household cleaners, lamp oil or gasoline), sprays (oven cleaners, furniture polish or insect sprays), or gases (carbon monoxide). Post the National Poison Hotline number (1-800-222- 1222) by your phone.
  • Head injury. Children should wear a helmet and other protective gear when biking, skating, skateboarding or riding scooters, horses or ATVs. Every 21 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a traumatic brain injury.
  • Drowning. Children need constant supervision when near water, even small amounts. They can drown in as little as an inch of water.
  • Vehicle. Always ensure your children are buckled up. Never leave a child unattended in a car. At least 34 children died in the United States in 2001 when they were left in hot cars. Be extra careful when backing up your car.
  • Playground injuries. Falls cause 80 percent of all injuries, so a safe playground surface is important. Limit the height of playground equipment and install and maintain a resilient surface that meets current safety guidelines.
  • Sun damage. Apply sunscreen regularly to children when they're outside, even on cloudy days. Overexposure to sun as a child can lead to skin cancer later in life.
  • Insects. West Nile virus, Lyme disease or allergic reactions are some of the complications that can occur from insect bites or stings. Dress your child in long sleeves and pants and light colors and use DEET-containing insect repellant on their clothing.
  • Injuries while home alone. Statistics show that children home alone are three times more likely than those under adult care to be injured or harmed. Make sure your children know what to do if they're injured, if something scares them, or if there is an emergency.
  • Lightning. Each year, about 100 people in the United States are killed by lightning. Children should be taught to seek safe shelter before a storm begins. If no shelter is available, they should get to an open space and squat low to the ground, kneeling or crouching with their hands on their knees.
  • Boating and personal water craft injuries. Make sure your child has a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. Be aware that children riding jet skis are at risk of head trauma, spinal injuries and chest and abdomen trauma.


No New SARS Cases or Deaths Reported in China

For the first time since April, Chinese officials on Wednesday reported no new SARS cases or deaths and said there's been a large decrease in the number of SARS cases in Beijing.

But the World Health Organization greeted the news from China with skepticism, saying that China lacks credibility on its reporting of SARS, the Associated Press reports.

About 100 new cases of SARS were being reported each day in Beijing at the beginning of May. That dropped to about 50 a day by mid-May and decreased to single digits in recent days.

Beijing has had about half of China's reported 5,331 cases of SARS infections. The death toll in China stands at 334 people.

The situation in Taiwan and Hong Kong continues to improve. Hong Kong reported one new case of SARS, and Taiwan reported two new cases, the AP reports.

To date, SARS has infected at least 8,300 people and killed 773 in more than two dozen countries since it appeared in southern China last November.


Special Cooking Oil Blend Helps Men Lose Weight

A particular blend of cooking oils seems to help men shed fat and weight, says a Canadian study.

Researchers at McGill School of Dietetics in Montreal found that a group of men lost an average of 1 pound over a 27-day period while using the special blend of oils. Oddly, women using the same blend of oils didn't lose any weight.

During the study, the men ate a normal diet.

The blend includes mostly tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil, along with some olive oil and flaxseed oil, BBC News Online reports.

The McGill researchers say this particular blend of oils travels directly to the liver and is burned up there.

This so-called "functional oil" contains fats called medium chain triglycerides. Conventional cooking oils contain fats called long chain triglycerides.

Consumer News