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Health Highlights: May 18, 2006

1.5 Million U.S. Students Victims of Dating Violence: CDC U.S. Panel Recommends Widespread Shots in Future Mumps Outbreaks Denver Hospital Alerts Six Patients About Deadly Brain Disease Multivitamin Benefits Unclear: Report

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

1.5 Million U.S. Students Victims of Dating Violence: CDC

One in 11 U.S. high school students, or about 1.5 million students nationwide, reported they had been the victims of physical dating violence in the previous year, according to a new government survey released Thursday.

The adolescents who said they had been hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year were more likely to report involvement in binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fighting and current sexual activity, says the study, which was based on data from the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Other findings from the survey, which was published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report:

  • Both high school girls and boys have about the same risk of being a victim of physical dating violence.
  • 13.9 percent of black adolescents reported physical dating violence, compared to 9.3 percent of Hispanic teens and 7 percent of whites.
  • Lower grades in school were associated with higher reported levels of dating violence.

"This study illustrates the importance of teaching adolescents how to have good relationships," Dr. Ileana Arias, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Violence and Prevention, said in a prepared statement.

In order to reduce teen dating violence, the CDC has launched a campaign called Choose Respect, which focuses on teaching healthy relationship skills to adolescents, ages 11 to 14 years old.

Here's where you can find out more about Choose Respect.


U.S. Panel Recommends Widespread Shots in Future Mumps Outbreaks

A U.S. federal panel recommended Wednesday that all people in the region of a potential mumps outbreak should get mumps shots, unless childhood exposure has made them immune to the virus or they've already been vaccinated.

The immunization advisory committee, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also said that healthcare workers under age 50 should get two doses of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine unless they still have immunity from childhood, the Associated Press reported.

The panel's advice is usually adopted by the CDC.

This aggressive policy is meant to impede future mumps outbreaks, like the one currently afflicting Iowa and some other Midwestern states. Iowa health officials said there are still more than 1,700 cases, but the number of cases seems to be dropping, the AP reported.

In 1998, the panel recommended that healthcare workers born in 1957 or later receive a single dose of vaccine, which is about 80 percent effective. The new recommendation is for two doses, which is about 90 percent effective.


Denver Hospital Alerts Six Patients About Deadly Brain Disease

Six brain surgery patients at Littleton Adventist Hospital in Denver have been alerted about the case of another patient who died of classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), a rare degenerative brain disorder, hospital officials said Thursday.

The six patients were alerted because there's a remote possibility that the disease could be transmitted by surgical instruments, even after they've been sterilized. The six patients had neurosurgery after the patient with CJD, the Associated Press reported.

It's not yet clear whether the same surgical instruments used on that patient were also used on the other six patients.

Unlike variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, classic CJD is not related to mad cow disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that classic CJD, which occurs in about one in a million people in the United States each year, progresses quickly and is always fatal, the AP reported.


Multivitamin Benefits Unclear: Report

There isn't enough evidence to make a decision to recommend for or against the use of multivitamins and mineral supplements, a U.S. panel said Wednesday.

The panel noted that Americans spend about $23 billion a year on multivitamins and multi-mineral supplements in the belief that the products will help prevent heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases, the Washington Post reported.

About 52 percent of adults in the United States reported taking multivitamins, according to a recent national survey, and slightly more than a third said they take the products regularly.

The evidence that multivitamins and other supplements promote health and prevent some common diseases is "quite thin," noted panel chairman J. Michael McGinnis, senior scholar at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine.

He and his colleagues analyzed numerous studies and could not come to any conclusion about whether people actually benefit from taking multivitamins, the Post reported.

The panel said there are only three situations where vitamins or other supplements actually provide a clear health benefit. They are:

  • The use of folic acid to prevent birth defects of the spine and brain.
  • Supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and the minerals zinc and copper to reduce the risk of vision loss in people with early signs of macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of age-related blindness.
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk of bone fractures in post-menopausal women.
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