Health Highlights: Sept. 2, 2011

Puberty Timing and Progression Affect Behavior and Mood: Study Obama Administration Cancels Tougher Air-Quality Rules FDA, Drug Makers Reach Drug Review Fee Deal Children Receiving Fewer Antibiotics: CDC Gel Fuel for Firepots Recalled FDA Updates Kidney Failure Warning on Bone-Building Drug

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

Puberty Timing and Progression Affect Behavior and Mood: Study

The timing and progression of puberty affect youngsters' behavior and mood, say researchers who tracked 364 white boys and 373 white girls for six years through puberty.

In girls, both an early start and a faster progression of puberty were associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, social withdrawal and vague physical complaints. Faster progression was also linked to behavioral problems such as lying and cheating, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Faster progression of puberty in boys was associated with more behavioral problems, which were most evident in boys who also started puberty earlier than their peers.

"The thought is that when the major changes of puberty are compressed into a shorter amount of time, adolescents don't have enough time to acclimate, so they're not emotionally or socially ready for all the changes that happen," lead author Kristine Marceau, of Penn State, said in a news release, the Times reported. "This is the explanation that originally was attributed solely to early timing, but we suggest that the same thing also is happening if the rate of puberty is compressed."

The study appears in the September issue of the journal Developmental Psychology.


Obama Administration Cancels Tougher Air-Quality Rules

The Obama administration has canceled immediate implementation of new Environmental Protection Agency air-quality laws meant to reduce emissions of smog-causing ground-level ozone.

Instead, the administration will stick with a more lenient 2008 Bush administration standard until a scheduled reconsideration of acceptable pollution limits in 2013, The New York Times reported.

Environmental groups were shocked by Friday's White House announcement.

A statement released by League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said: "The Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe. This is a huge win for corporate polluters and huge loss for public health."

Early this summer, leaders of major business groups met with William Daley, White House chief of staff, and warned him that implementing the new rule would be very costly to industry and would harm Obama's chances for re-election, The Times reported.


FDA, Drug Makers Reach Drug Review Fee Deal

Under a proposed new deal, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will provide quicker, more predictable reviews of new prescription drugs in exchange for continuing to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in fees from drug companies.

The draft agreement, released Thursday after months of closed-door meetings between FDA and drug makers, would extend a two decade-old program in which fees paid by the drug industry supplement the FDA's budget, the Associated Press reported.

Under the deal, the FDA would provide more frequent updates to drug makers on the status of certain drug reviews.

The agreement must be approved and drafted into law by Congress before Oct. 1, 2012, the AP reported.


Children Receiving Fewer Antibiotics: CDC

U.S. pediatricians are prescribing fewer antibiotics to children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Since the early 1990s, there's been a 10 percent drop in antibiotic prescription rates for children 14 and younger, according to a CDC study released Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Larger declines were seen in the use of antibiotics to treat colds and sore throats, but there was little change in the use of antibiotics for ear infections, the CDC found.

Even though they're ineffective against viral illnesses, antibiotics are often used in such cases. This type of misuse can result in bacterial resistance to antibiotics, the AP reported.


Gel Fuel for Firepots Recalled

About two million bottles and jugs of gel fuel for patio firepots are being recalled by nine companies, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says.

The recalled gel fuel has been linked to several dozen incidents where people suffered burns after pouring more gel fuel into a firepot because they couldn't tell whether the flame was out, the Associated Press reported.

The companies that agreed to the recall are: Bird Brain Inc. of Ypsilanti, Mich.; Bond Manufacturing of Antioch, Calif.; Fuel Barons Inc. of Lake Tahoe, Nev.; Lamplight Farms Inc. of Menomonee Falls, Wis.; Luminosities Inc. of St. Paul, Minn.; Pacific Decor Ltd. of Woodinville, Wash.; Real Flame of Racine, Wis.; Smart Solar USA of Oldsmar, Fla.; and Sunjel Company of Milwaukee.

The CPSC said another company, Marshall Group of Elkhart, Ind., withdrew from the recall announcement at the last moment.

Consumers should stop using the recalled gel fuel and contact the manufacturer or distributor for a refund, said the CPSC. It launched an investigation into firepots a few months ago and issued a flash fire hazard on pourable gel fuels in June, the AP reported.


FDA Updates Kidney Failure Warning on Bone-Building Drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued an updated warning that doctors should screen patients for kidney problems before prescribing Reclast, a bone-building drug that has been linked to an increased risk of kidney failure in certain patients.

In a statement posted on its website, the agency said kidney failure "was a rare but serious condition associated with the use of Reclast in patients with a history of or risk factors for [kidney] impairment."

The agency said it has added instructions to the medication's labeling that tell doctors to test patient's kidney function with a blood test and to monitor patients who already take Reclast (zoledronic acid). Patients who have acute kidney impairment should not be prescribed Reclast, the FDA noted.

A warning about possible kidney failure was first added to the drug's labeling back in 2009, after the FDA received five reports of kidney failure, some of which were fatal, following Reclast infusion. Since then, the agency has received 11 reports of fatal kidney failure and nine reports of non-fatal kidney injury in similar patient settings.


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