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Health Highlights: Oct. 30, 2014

Gerber Sued Over Baby Formula Allergy Claims Obese Crash-Test Dummies Being Developed Ebola Nurse Being Watched by State Police

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

Gerber Sued Over Baby Formula Allergy Claims

Baby food maker Gerber is being sued for claiming that its Good Start Gentle formula can prevent or reduce allergies in children, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday.

The company's claim is false and it misled consumers by suggesting the formula was the first to meet government approval for reducing allergy risk, said an FTC complaint filed in federal court, the Associated Press reported.

The agency wants Gerber Products Co. -- also doing business as Nestle Infant Nutrition -- to remove the claim from formula labels and advertisements and may ask the court to force the company to issue consumer refunds.

"Parents trusted Gerber to tell the truth about the health benefits of its formula, and the company's ads failed to live up to that trust," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection, the AP reported.

"Gerber didn't have evidence to back up its claim that Good Start Gentle formula reduces the risk of babies developing their parents' allergies," Rich added.

Gerber says it didn't violate the law, the AP reported.


Obese Crash-Test Dummies Being Developed

New crash-test dummies are being developed to reflect the fact that many Americans are obese.

Currently, a typical crash-test dummy represents a person who is about 167 pounds and not overweight. New dummies under development are based on the measurements of a 270-pound severely obese person, ABC News reported.

The updated dummies are being created by Humanetics, the only U.S. producer of crash-test dummies. Testing on the larger dummies will begin by the end of this year and they'll be available for wider use sometime next year, according to Humanetics CEO Chris O'Connor.

"Studies show that obese drivers are 78 percent more likely to die in a car crash," O'Connor told ABC News.


Ebola Nurse Being Watched by State Police

A nurse who says she'll defy Maine's quarantine for health care workers who've treated people with Ebola is under close observation by state police as officials seek a court order to detain her.

Troopers are tracking the movements and interactions of Kaci Hickox, but cannot take her into custody without a judge's permission, the Associated Press reported.

State officials are seeking a court order to force Hickox to remain in quarantine for the rest of the 21-day incubation period for Ebola, which would end on Nov. 10. As a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, Hickox cared for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.

She said she doesn't need to be quarantined because she has no symptoms of Ebola. On Wednesday, she stepped outside her home to talk to reporters while police watched from across the street, the AP reported.

"I'm not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it's not science-based," Hickox told reporters.

"There's a lot of misinformation about how Ebola is transmitted, and I can understand why people are frightened. But their fear is not based on medical facts," Norman Siegel, one of her lawyers, said Wednesday, the AP reported.

When Hickox flew home from West Africa, she was forced into New Jersey's mandatory quarantine for people arriving at the Newark airport from Ebola-stricken areas. She spent the weekend in quarantine before returning to her home in Maine.

Maine health officials could have difficulty convincing a judge that Hickox poses a health threat, according to Jackie L. Caynon III, a health law specialist in Massachusetts.

"If somebody isn't showing signs of the infection, then it's kind of hard to say someone should be under mandatory quarantine," he told the AP.

Health care workers who come into contact with Ebola patients should receive daily monitoring, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Maine and some other states are going well beyond those guidelines.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. People aren't contagious unless they're sick, health officials say. Only four people in the United States have been diagnosed with Ebola, the AP reported.

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