Health Highlights: Oct. 25, 2010

Companies May Be Allowed to Change Health Plans Without Penalty Peanut Risk Prompts Nestle Raisinets Recall Haiti Trying to Prevent Cholera From Reaching Earthquake Survivors' Camps Screen New Moms for Depression: AAP Woman's Blood Type May Affect Fertility: Study FDA Withholds Approval of New Weight Loss Drug Teething Tablets Recalled

HealthDay News

HealthDay News

Updated on October 25, 2010

Companies May Be Allowed to Change Health Plans Without Penalty

Changes that would allow businesses to shop for cheaper employee health insurance plans without having to pay a penalty under the new health care law are being weighed by the Obama administration.

Currently, the law requires companies who change health insurers to provide added services, including preventive care. But the government is considering permitting employers to avoid the requirement as long as worker benefit levels remain the same, a White House official told Bloomberg news.

The move would fit with the law's goal of lowering costs, according to John Green, of the National Association of Health Underwriters.

"I think they really do care what businesses are saying," Green told Bloomberg.


Peanut Risk Prompts Nestle Raisinets Recall

Some packages of Nestle Raisinets are being recalled because they may contain peanuts and pose an allergy risk to some people, says Nestle USA.

The company says it has received three complaints about the 10-oz. "fun size" bags distributed to Target, Shop Rite and Don Quixote stores, the Associated Press reported.

The recall applies to packages with a production code of 02015748 and UPC number of 2800010255, Nestle said. People with peanut allergies should not eat the candy. No other Nestle products are affected.

Consumers should not return the candy to stores, Nestle said. Instead, the company said they can call 1-800-478-5670 for a refund, the AP reported.


Haiti Trying to Keep Cholera From Earthquake Survivors' Camps

Health officials and workers in Haiti are striving to prevent the cholera outbreak from spreading to tent slums housing 1.3 million earthquake survivors in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

The cholera outbreak in rural areas has killed 250 people so far and sickened more than 3,000. It's feared that hundreds of thousands of people could get sick if the bacterial disease reaches the earthquake survivors' camps, where there is poor hygiene and sanitation, the Associated Press reported.

On Monday afternoon, the AP reported that aid groups and the government said a drop in the death rate and the number of new cases suggested the outbreak could progress more gradually than feared.

Tight limits on the movement of cholera patients and careful disposal of bodies are needed to prevent a major medical disaster, said Health Ministry director Gabriel Timothee.

In related news, U.N. officials said Monday that there have been 38,173 cases and 1,555 deaths so far this year in a cholera outbreak in Nigeria, the AP reported.


Screen New Moms for Depression: AAP

New mothers should receive routine screening for depression, which can harm their babies, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The group said research shows that infants with depressed mothers can suffer development and social delays, the Associated Press reported.

The academy said severely depressed new mothers should be referred to mental health experts for treatment. The recommendation appears in the journal Pediatrics.

Each year in the United States, more than 400,000 babies are born to depressed women and between 5 percent and 25 percent of women develop postpartum depression, according to the AAP.

Similar depression screening guidelines for new mothers were released earlier this year by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the AP reported.


Woman's Blood Type May Affect Fertility: Study

A woman's blood type may affect her chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study.

The study included more than 560 U.S. women, average age 35, undergoing fertility treatment. Researchers took blood samples to measure the women's levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), a marker of fertility, reported the British newspaper The Guardian.

Women with FSH levels greater than 10 have more difficulty conceiving than those with levels less than 10. The study found that women with blood type O were twice as likely as those with any other blood type to have an FSH level greater than 10. Women with blood type A were much less likely to have an FSH level greater than 10 compared to those with a blood type O.

The study was presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Denver.

"This is the first time that I'm aware of that researchers have shown a link between blood group and potential for fertility," said Tony Rutherford, chair of the British Fertility Society, The Guardian reported.


FDA Withholds Approval of New Weight Loss Drug

The new weight loss drug Lorcaserin will not be approved for sale in the United States at this time due to its marginal effectiveness and higher-than-normal rates of breast and brain tumors in rats taking the drug, the Food and Drug Administration said.

An FDA letter to San Diego-based Arena Pharmaceuticals was released by the company Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported. Arena developed the weight-loss drug in partnership with Eisai Co.

Arena executives said they would meet with FDA officials to discuss the agency's concerns about Lorcaserin.

A clinical trial found that two-thirds of patients who took the drug lost at least 5 percent of their body weight, while one-third lost at least 10 percent. The average weight loss was 17 to 18 pounds, according to the findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Times reported.

The results of a clinical trial of Lorcaserin in obese patients with type 2 diabetes are expected to be released within the coming weeks.


Teething Tablets Recalled

Hyland's Teething Tablets may pose a risk to children and are being recalled, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The agency has received reports of "serious adverse effects" in children who took the tablets, which contain inconsistent amounts of belladonna, which can cause serious harm in larger doses, the Associated Press reported.

The tablets are distributed throughout North America by the Standard Homeopathic Co., which said it believes the tablets to be safe.

For more information, consumers can call the company at 1-877-496-5044 or go to, the AP reported.

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