Health Highlights: Oct. 17, 2011

Protein Could Act as 'Fertility Switch' Key Piece of Health Care Reform Package Cancelled Listeria-Related Recall of Giant Eagle Shredded Lettuce Huge Rise in Children's Sports-Related Knee Injuries

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

Protein Could Act as 'Fertility Switch'

A "fertility switch" protein that plays a role in infertility and miscarriage has been identified by U.K. researchers.

They analyzed womb lining samples taken from more than 100 women and found high levels of the SGK1 enzyme in those with unexplained fertility and low levels in those who'd suffered miscarriages, BBC News reported.

In mouse studies, the researchers found that levels of SGK1 in the womb lining decrease during times when female mice can become pregnant. When extra copies of the SGK1 gene were implanted in the womb lining, the mice were unable to get pregnant. When the researchers blocked the SGK1 gene, the mice were able to get pregnant but were more likely to have a miscarriage.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, could lead to new ways to help infertile women.

"I can envisage that in the future, we might treat the womb lining by flushing it with drugs that block SGK1 before women undergo IVF," said study leader Professor Jan Brosens, of Imperial College London's Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, BBC News reported.


Key Piece of Health Care Reform Package Cancelled

A long-term care insurance plan that was part of the U.S. health reform law has been scrapped by the Obama administration over doubts about its financial solvency.

Under the Community Living Assistance and Services and Supports (CLASS) program, workers would pay monthly premiums during their careers and receive a modest cash benefit of at least $50 if they became disabled later in life. The money could be used to help pay nursing home fees or services provided at home, the Associated Press reported.

But the program required a large number of healthy people to enroll during their working years in order to keep premiums at affordable levels.

On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the program was not financially feasible, the AP reported.

"Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time," Sebelius said in a letter to congressional leaders.


Listeria-Related Recall of Giant Eagle Shredded Lettuce

A recall of shredded lettuce and deli sandwiches possibly contaminated with listeria was announced by Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, Inc. after the deadly bacteria was detected during a random U.S. Food and Drug Administration test.

The test was conducted on an eight-ounce package of Giant Eagle Farmer's Market Shredded Iceberg Lettuce (UPC 3003430195), CBS News reported.

Along with the packages of shredded lettuce, the recall also includes several Giant Eagle brand deli sandwiches:

  • Large New York Sandwich Ring (UPC 22755100000)
  • Mini New York Sandwich Ring (UPC 25755500000)
  • Large Italian Sandwich Ring (UPC 23755100000)
  • Mini Italian Sandwich Ring (UPC 24755500000)
  • Large All America Sandwich Ring (UPC 21755100000)
  • Mini All American Sandwich Ring (UPC 26755500000)

Giant Eagle said all the recalled products have been removed from store shelves and customers who bought the products should dispose of them or return them to the store for a refund. For more information, customers can call 800-474-4777, CBS News reported.

There have been no reported illnesses linked with the recalled Giant Eagle products and this listeria-related recall is not associated with a listeria outbreak from cantaloupes that has sickened 116 people and killed 23, the FDA said.


Huge Rise in Children's Sports-Related Knee Injuries

The number of sports-related knee injuries among children has increased more than 400 percent over the last decade, according to a Children's Hospital of Philadelphia study.

The growing number of injuries coincides with a rising number of youngsters playing organized sports.

"Year-round sports have become very popular, and the more you participate in anything, it's going to increase your chances of injury," Dr. Laith Jazrawi, chief of sports medicine with NYU, told CBS News.

But avoiding sports isn't the answer, according to orthopedists.

Instead, experts advise that children need to learn proper methods to reduce sports-related stress on their bones, CBS News reported.

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