Health Highlights: Oct. 27, 2007

Bad Air Quality Threatens Southern Californians in Wake of WildfiresHere's a Healthy Recipe That's Not So 'Nutty' As It First Seems CDC Offers Spanish-Language Wildfire Health and Safety Web Site Mood Stabilizers Ease Symptoms in Kids with Bipolar Disorder Fall Hazard Prompts Baby Seat Recall Study Examines Acne Drug's Effectiveness Against MS

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

Bad Air Quality Threatens Southern Californians in Wake of Wildfires

The latest threat from the wildfires that ravaged much of Southern California during the past week is the soot and dust in the air that makes it difficult to breathe.

The Associated Press reports that as the fierce Santa Ana winds died down, the normal offshore breeze from the Pacific returned, and with it came all the pollutants that had been blown out to sea during the fires.

The air quality was especially bad in San Diego County, where most of the fires were still not under control Saturday, the wire service reported. Representatives of both the American Lung Association and Breathe L.A. advised residents to stay in indoors and use their air conditioning to filter out the dangerous particulates in the air.

The pro football team San Diego Chargers was planning to play a home game Sunday, the A.P. reported, but Ross Porter, a spokesman for the American Lung Association of California is quoted as saying that it might not be a good idea to attend the game. "Sometimes it's better to sit quietly at home and watch it on TV," he said.


Here's a Healthy Recipe Thats Not So 'Nutty' As It First Seems

OK, class, ready for today's quiz?

Which is the healthiest way to eat peanuts?

  • A) Salted and roasted
  • B) Roasted only
  • C) Raw
  • D) Boiled

If you're from the South, you may not be surprised that the correct answer is "boiled." But for the rest of America, the idea of eating boiled peanuts as a healthful snack may take some getting used to.

The Birmingham News reports that the latest research from Alabama A&M University scientists in Huntsville shows that boiling peanuts increases the amount of healthy phytochemicals fourfold.

Phytochemicals are high in antioxidants, which fight cancer-causing cells and heart disease. "These things [phytochemicals] are not nutrients; at the same time they have health benefits to humans," co-author Lloyd Walker told the newspaper.

Boiled nuts turn into a mushy mixture that is well-known in many southern communities. Walker told the newspaper it was important not to overcook the nuts, because the phytochemicals would lose their effectiveness.


CDC Offers Spanish-Language Wildfire Health and Safety Web Site

A Spanish-language Web site that provides information about wildfire-related health issues has been developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The site, which will be updated on a regular basis, includes:

  • A link to a Spanish-language fact sheet about wildfires
  • Instructions on coping with loss of electricity, including food and water safety tips and information about dealing with heat
  • Information on worker safety during fire cleanup
  • Mental health resources to help people cope with a disaster or traumatic event
  • Audio and video public service announcements about disaster-related health and safety issues
  • Links to other Spanish-language wildfire information resources.

The new CDC Web site can be found at


Mood Stabilizers Ease Symptoms in Kids with Bipolar Disorder

The mood stabilizer drugs divalproex and lithium significantly improved symptoms in children and adolescents with bipolar I disorder, according to a six-month study of 153 patients, ages 7 to 17. It's the largest pediatric study of its kind to date, the researchers said.

They noted that many psychiatric medications prescribed for children and teens haven't been indicated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in young people.

"Divalproex and lithium are the most widely used mood stabilizers for children and adolescents diagnosed with bipolar disorder," Dr. Robert A. Kowatch, a child and adolescent psychiatrist specializing in bipolar and other mood disorders at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

"Our study now proves that these agents definitely work, which may give clinicians and families peace of mind," he said.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Boston.


Fall Hazard Prompts Baby Seat Recall

Incidents of infants falling and suffering serious head injuries have prompted a recall in the United States of about one million "Baby Sitter" seats made by Bumbo International of South Africa, the Associated Press reported.

There have been 28 reports of infants falling out of the seats, including three cases involving skull fractures, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday.

The agency warned that babies are at risk for serious head injuries when the seats are placed on a table, countertop, chair or other raised surface. When infants sitting in the seats arch their backs, they can flip out of the seats and fall to the floor. Consumers should never use these seats on elevated surfaces, the CPSC said.

The seats, made of a single piece of molded foam, have leg holes and a seat back that wraps completely around the infant, the AP reported. The word "Bumbo" and an image of an elephant are on the front of the seats, which were sold by Target, Sears, Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, Babies "R" Us, USA Baby and other children's and toy stores across the U.S. from August 2003 through October 2007.

For more more information, call 877-932-8626.


Study Examines Acne Drug's Effectiveness Against MS

A two-year study of 200 patients in 14 Canadian cities will examine the effectiveness of the oral acne drug minocycline in controlling multiple sclerosis (MS), the Toronto Star reported.

The multi-center trial, announced Thursday, was organized after findings from earlier small studies suggested that minocycline helped patients with the neurodegenerative disease.

Minocycline, a type of antibiotic, has been used for about 30 years to control acne, largely by killing the germs that are thought to cause the skin condition, the Star reported. Researchers believe it's the drug's anti-inflammatory properties that may help slow the progression of MS.

Current MS medications can cost between $18,000 and $40,000 a year, while minocycline costs about $800 a year.


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