Health Highlights: May 1, 2009

Seattle Company Recalls Salads Jardine Cribs Recalled Due to Breaking Slats Lithium in Drinking Water Reduces Suicides: Study Baby Boomers With Disabilities a Growing Concern: Report

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

Seattle Company Recalls Salads

Two salad products made by Pasta & Co. of Seattle, Wash., are being recalled because they may be contaminated with salmonella, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Chinese Vermicelli Salad and Pot Sticker Salad were made using chili oil that was recalled by Union International Food Co. due to possible salmonella contamination. The salads were sold at Pasta & Co. stores in the Seattle area. Consumers who bought the salads can return them to any of the company's stores.

No known illnesses have been reported in connection with the salad products, the FDA said.

Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain in healthy people. In elderly or frail people, young children, and those with weakened immune systems, salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections.


Jardine Cribs Recalled Due to Breaking Slats

The third U.S. recall of Jardine cribs in a year involves about 96,000 cribs with slats that can break, leaving a gap that poses an entrapment or strangulation hazard, the Associated Press reports.

The recall, announced Thursday, comes after the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission received 31 reports of broken slats and two reports of infants getting trapped. Ten of the incidents involved children breaking the slats from inside the crib, the AP reported.

The recalled cribs were sold online and at Toys "R" Us, Babies "R" Us, KidsWorld and Geoffrey stores across the United States between September 2005 and April 2009. Consumers who bought the cribs can receive a full credit by calling Jardine at 800-646-4106.

The company recalled about 320,000 cribs in June 2008, and another 56,450 in January, the AP reported.


Lithium in Drinking Water Reduces Suicides: Study

Tap water that contains lithium may cut the risk of suicide, according to a Japanese study that looked at people in the prefecture of Oita.

Areas in the prefecture with the highest levels of lithium in drinking water had much lower rates of suicide than other areas, said the researchers from the universities of Oita and Hiroshima, BBC news reported.

The findings, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, warrant further research, but the study authors did not suggest that lithium should be added to drinking water.

Lithium is used to treat certain mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder.

"However, lithium also has significant and unpleasant side effects in higher doses and can be toxic," Sophie Corlett, external relations director at the mental health charity Mind in the U.K., told BBC News. "Any suggestion that it should be added, even in tiny amounts, to drinking water should be treated with caution and researched very thoroughly."


Baby Boomers With Disabilities a Growing Concern: Report

Over the next 20 years, aging Baby Boomers are expected to cause large increases in the number of U.S. adults with disabilities, says a new study that calls for expansion of programs to prevent and manage obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco use and other causes of disability.

In 2005, 21.8 percent of U.S. adults (47.5 million) reported a disability, an increase of 3.4 percent since 1999, the study said. Arthritis and rheumatism, back or spine problems, and heart trouble were the top three most common causes of disability.

Women have a higher rate of disability than men (24.4 percent vs. 19.1 percent). The study also found that disability rates increase with age, doubling with each successive age group (18-44, 11 percent; 45-64, 23.9 percent; 65 and older, 51.8 percent).

Currently, about as many Baby Boomers (45-64) are affected by disability as older adults. This suggests that the demands placed on the health care and public health systems by Baby Boomers will increase as they age into higher risk groups, the researchers said.

The study appears in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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