Health Highlights: Oct. 9, 2006

Three More Hospitalized by Botulism in Carrot Juice Following Guidelines Cuts Antibiotic Resistance in Hospitals Radiotherapy Before Surgery Cuts Risk of Bowel Cancer Recurrence Unstructured Playtime Helps Kids' Development: Report

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

Three More Hospitalized by Botulism in Carrot Juice

Two Canadians and one American have been added to the list of those poisoned by botulism toxin in bottled carrot juice made by California-based Bolthouse Farms.

Two people in Toronto are paralyzed and in the hospital after they drank carrot juice that contained botulism toxin, the Toronto Star reported.

An unidentified woman in Florida has also been in the hospital since mid-September and is unresponsive, Jylmarie Kintz, Hillsborough County Health Department epidemiologist, told the Associated Press.

Three people in Georgia who suffered respiratory failure after drinking the bottled carrot juice in early September remain hospitalized on ventilators, U.S. health officials added.

Symptoms of botulism poisoning include double vision, droopy eyelids, trouble speaking or swallowing, and paralysis that can restrict breathing.

Last week, Bolthouse announced a recall of carrot juice with a best-before date of Nov. 11 sold in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Hong Kong, the AP reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating the botulism poisonings.


Following Guidelines Cuts Antibiotic Resistance in Hospitals

U.S. hospitals that follow national guidelines on controlling antibiotic use have lower rates of antibiotic resistance, says a study released Monday.

Researchers looked at the rates of four major types of antibiotic resistance in nearly 450 hospitals, along with what each hospital did to control antibiotic use.

"We saw in this study, as in other work we have done, that antibiotic resistance is increasing rapidly. This increase is seen in all types of hospitals across the country -- large and small, teaching and non-teaching, VA and non-VA," study leader Dr. Bradley N. Doebbeling of Indiana State University School of Medicine said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues found that controlling the duration of administration of an empiric antibiotic (prescribed before a doctor knows the specific nature of the bacteria) was associated with lower rates of antibiotic resistance.

It also found that limiting broad spectrum antibiotics helped prevent resistance, but that having a restricted hospital formulary that limited the antibiotics available in a hospital was associated with higher rates of resistance.

The study appears in the October issue of the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.


Radiotherapy Before Surgery Cuts Risk of Bowel Cancer Recurrence

Giving bowel cancer patients radiotherapy before they have surgery can reduce the risk of cancer recurrence to as little as 1 percent, says a U.K. study of 1,350 patients with tumors in their rectum. This form accounts for about a third of all bowel cancers.

The study compared patients who received five daily treatments of radiotherapy before surgery and patients who first had surgery and, if they still had cancer cells, were given follow-up radiotherapy and drug treatment for five weeks, BBC News reported.

After five years, those in the first group had a 5 percent rate of cancer recurrence and a 75 percent survival rate, while those in the second group had a 17 percent rate of cancer recurrence and a 67 percent survival rate.

Among patients who had radiotherapy and the best possible surgery, the risk of cancer recurrence was just 1 percent, BBC News reported.

The findings were presented to the U.K. National Cancer Research Institute.


Unstructured Playtime Helps Kids' Development: Report

Children need more old-fashioned, unstructured playtime for healthy development, concludes an American Academy of Pediatrics report to be released Monday at its annual meeting.

Too often, parents sacrifice children's spontaneous free play for structured learning and activities in an effort to help the youngsters excel. However, the report noted that this can create stress for both parents and youngsters and increase the risk of childhood obesity, the Associated Press reported.

Unstructured play -- such as romping on the floor with parents or playing with "true" toys such as block or dolls -- offers many benefits. These include helping children to become creative, develop problem-solving skills, relate to others, discover their own passions, and adjust to school settings, the report said.

Noted pediatrician and author Dr. T. Berry Brazelton praised the report and said he hoped it would have an effect, the AP reported.

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