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Health Highlights: Oct. 6, 2009

Menu Calorie Info Doesn't Change Eating Habits: Study Eating Licorice During Pregnancy May Harm Child: Study Woman's Education Affects Male Partner's Lifespan: Study Gen. Patraeus Treated for Prostate Cancer Improved Care Could Save 600,000 Babies Each Year: Study

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

Menu Calorie Info Doesn't Change Eating Habits: Study

A law requiring New York City restaurant chains to list calories on menus hasn't changed the eating habits of low-income people, according to a study published Tuesday.

New York University and Yale researchers studied people eating at Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's and Wendy's in lower-income neighborhoods with high obesity rates and found that half of the customers noticed the calorie information, CBS and the Associated Press reported.

Twenty-eight percent said the calorie postings influenced what they ordered and 90 percent of those people said they made healthier food choices as a result. However, the researchers analyzed the customers' receipts and found they ordered slightly more calories than the typical customer did before the law took effect in July 2008.

The findings show that calorie postings don't have enough impact, study lead author Brian Elbel, an assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine, according to published reports.

The study was published in the journal Health Affairs.


Eating Licorice During Pregnancy May Harm Child: Study

Eating large amounts of licorice during pregnancy could have a detrimental impact on a child's intelligence and behavior, say European researchers who studied 8-year-old children in Finland, where many young women consume licorice.

The study found that children born to women who ate a lot of licorice while pregnant scored lower on tests than other youngsters, BBC News reported.

A component in licorice called glycyrrhizin may enable stress hormones to cross through the placenta from mother to child. These hormones may affect fetal brain development and have been linked to behavioral disorders, the researchers said.

The findings show "that eating licorice during pregnancy may affect a child's behavior or IQ and suggests the importance of the placenta in preventing stress hormones that may affect cognitive development getting through to the baby," said Professor Jonathan Seckl, of Edinburgh University's Centre for Cardiovascular Science, BBC News reported.

The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.


Woman's Education Affects Male Partner's Lifespan: Study

Well-educated women and their male partners are more likely to live a long life than less-educated women and their men, according to a Swedish study of 1.5 million working people ages 30 to 59.

The study found that women with a university education were 53 percent less likely to die at an early age than those with only a school education. Men whose female partners had a university education were 25 percent less likely to die early than those who lived with a woman with a school education, BBC News reported.

"Women traditionally take more responsibility for the home than men do and, as a consequence, women's education might be more important for the family lifestyle -- for example in terms of food habits -- than men's education," said lead researcher Dr. Robert Erikson.

He and his colleagues found that men's income and social status affect their female partner's lifespan, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the journal Epidemiology and Community Health.


Gen. Patraeus Treated for Prostate Cancer

It's been revealed that the United States' top commander for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year and has undergone radiation treatment.

Gen. David Patraeus, 56, was told in February that he had early stage prostate cancer, the Associated Press reported. But the illness was not made public at the time because he and his family considered it a "personal matter" that "did not interfere with the performance of his duties," said the general's spokesman, Col. Erik Grunhus.

President Barack Obama and high-ranking administration officials were told.

Following the diagnosis, Patraeus underwent two months of radiation therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The Pentagon said the treatment was successful. He made at least one trip overseas during his treatment, the AP reported.


Improved Care Could Save 600,000 Babies Each Year: Study

About 600,000 of the two million babies who die worldwide each year could be saved by improving health care for women giving birth in poor countries, a new study says.

About 99 percent of baby deaths occur in poor homes in areas of Africa and South Asia where there are few doctors, resources or medical equipment, said the study. It found that 1.02 million babies a year are stillborn during labor and about 904,000 die soon after birth due to birth complications, Agence France Presse reported.

Only about one million of nearly eight million physicians worldwide work in countries where 77 percent of childbirth deaths occur, and the majority of those one million doctors work in urban areas, the news service said.

The researchers also found that only about 20 percent of babies born in African hospitals are delivered by staff with the skills and equipment needed to resuscitate babies if they don't breathe at birth, AFP reported.

The study, published in the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, was released at an international conference in Cape Town, South Africa.

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