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Health Highlights: March 7, 2011

Distracted Driving Common Among Young Adults: Poll Skippy Peanut Butter Recalled Psychiatrists Abandoning Talk Therapy: Report Recalled Hazelnuts May be Linked to E. Coli Cases

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

Distracted Driving Common Among Young Adults: Poll

A new poll finds that 63 percent of Americans under 30 use a handheld phone while driving and 30 percent admit they've sent text messages while behind the wheel.

The survey, by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports, also found that only one-third of young drivers believe such behavior is very dangerous, the Associated Press reported.

Among Americans over age 30, 41 percent said they use handheld phones while behind the wheel and 9 percent said they'd sent test messages while driving.

Nearly 5,500 people were killed in distracted driving-related crashes in 2009, according to the Department of Transportation, the AP reported.

The Transportation Department and Consumers Union have launched a new partnership to tackle the issue. It includes a guide for parents and educators, a public service announcement for TV stations, and a video for retail stores.


Skippy Peanut Butter Recalled

Concerns about possible salmonella contamination have led to a recall of some jars of creamy and chunky Skippy Reduced Fat peanut butter.

The recall includes jars distributed to retailers in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, according to information on the website of Skippy manufacturer Unilever, CBS News reported.

The 16.3-ounce jars are marked with UPC codes 048001006812 and 048001006782 and have Best-If-Used-By Dates of MAY1612LR1, MAY1712LR1, MAY1812LR1, MAY1912LR1, MAY2012LR1 and MAY2112LR1.

Consumers with recalled jars of Skippy peanut butter should stop consuming it and contact Unilever at 900-453-3432 for a replacement coupon, CBS News reported.


Psychiatrists Abandoning Talk Therapy: Report

Health insurance changes are a main reason why many of the 48,000 psychiatrists in the United States now focus on prescribing medications instead of providing talk therapy to their patients, according to The New York Times.

For example, Dr. Donald Levin of Philadelphia treated 50 to 60 patients in once- or twice-weekly talk therapy sessions of 45 minutes each when he first established a private practice in 1972. His goal was to keep patients happy and fulfilled.

But Levine now treats 1,200 patients in short office visits that focus mainly on prescription adjustments. The objective now is just to keep patients functional, the Times reported.

This type of brief consultation is now common in psychiatry, according to Dr. Steven S. Sharfstein, a former president of the American Psychiatric Association and the president and chief executive of Sheppard Pratt Health System in Maryland.

"It's a practice that's very reminiscent of primary care," Sharfstein told the Times. Psychiatrists "check up on people; they pull out the prescription pad; they order tests."


Recalled Hazelnuts May be Linked to E. Coli Cases

Hazelnuts and mixed nuts that may be linked to seven cases of E. coli infection in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin have been recalled by DeFranco & Sons of Los Angeles, according to U.S. health officials.

The hazelnuts and mixed nuts with hazelnuts were sold across the United States and in Canada in November and December. No E. coli has been found in the products, the Associated Press reported.

The recalled products -- sold under the brand names Sunripe, George Packing, Firestone Farms, and Northwest Hazelnut -- were available in a variety of packages as small as 1 pound.

Fifty-pound bags of hazelnuts and mixed nuts with hazelnuts may have been repackaged in smaller containers or sold from bulk containers, the AP reported.

Consumer News