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Health Highlights: Aug. 5, 2003

H.S. Kids Applaud Their Parents Fisher-Price Recalls Crib Mobiles U.S. Issues New Food Supply Safety Guidelines Living Together Has Its Pitfalls: Study FDA Approves Drug for GERD-Related Syndrome

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

H.S. Kids Applaud Their Own Parents

This year, parents are cool.

Almost 75 percent of high school students say they get along very well or even extremely well with their parents or guardians; most of the rest call their relationship with their parents "just OK,'' and only 3 percent say they and their parents don't get along well.

Overall, the 1,055 U.S. high school students questioned for an annual "State of Our Nation's Youth'' survey of teen attitudes had a lot more admiration than animosity for family members, the Associated Press reports .

More of them chose being with their families over relaxing with friends, playing sports or anything else. They put family members atop their list of role models, ahead of entertainers and athletes, and at least nine out of 10 said they have at least one family member to confide in.

Even the disputes teens have with their parents aren't of great consequence, according to the survey, which was released by the Horatio Alger Association. The most common argument, teens say, is over cleaning their rooms; only 4 percent of fights are about student appearance.

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Fisher-Price Recalls Crib Mobiles

Toy maker giant Fisher-Price is recalling a quarter-million crib mobiles, warning that children could experience chemical burns if batteries in the toy leak.

The company, a subsidiary of Mattel Inc., said it has received 30 reports of acid leaking out of the battery compartment for Sparkling Symphony mobiles. In six of the cases, babies suffered minor burns, the company said in a recall notice.

The toy mobiles, which have four star and moon characters, attach to a crib's side rail and play music and flash lights. The model number, 71985, can be found in the lower arm of the mobile and in back of the toy's remote control. The mobiles were made from October 1999 through November 2000 and sold for about $25 at discount department stores and toy shops nationwide.

CNN reports Fisher-Price is offering free repair kits containing a seal for the toy's battery compartment, which the company said should prevent leakage. To determine if you own a recalled model, call Fisher-Price at (800) 357-9460.

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U.S. Issues New Food Supply Safety Guidelines

Companies that ship food should bolster security in places vulnerable to tampering and terrorism, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says in issuing new safety guidelines.

The voluntary recommendations include a warning that terrorists are most likely to strike at hamburger, chicken, and various other meat and poultry products as they are loaded to and from trains and trucks, the Associated Press reports.

The guidelines include recommendations that:

  • Truckers be trained in preventing and detecting deliberate or accidental contamination of their food products, including making sure that the food is kept at proper temperature.
  • Shippers should frequently check the doors of boats, planes, and trucks to make sure no one has broken in.
  • Food processors and manufacturers should make sure that shippers maintain a vigilant security program to safeguard the food.

The USDA says it's seeking comments on the guidelines before it considers whether to make them requirements, the AP reports.

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Living Together Has Its Pitfalls: Study

More than half of all couples now live together before marrying, as opposed to the 10 percent who acknowledged cohabitating 30 years ago, Penn State researchers say. But in both groups, the researchers found, people who lived together faced greater prospects of an unhappy marriage and divorce.

"Contrary to the popular belief that living together will improve a person's ability to choose a marriage partner and stay married, the opposite is actually the case," lead researcher Claire Kamp Dush, a doctoral candidate in human development and family studies, says in a statement.

She says the exact reasons for the link between cohabitation and troubled unions remains a mystery, though there are indications that people choose riskier partners when living together because they think it will be easier to break up than if they were married. Cohabitating partners also tend to focus less on resolving problems and providing support to their partners, the researchers say.

They compared data on 1,425 people married between 1964 and 1980, and between 1981 and 1997. Results of the study are published in the August edition of the Journal of Marriage and the Family.

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FDA Approves Drug for GERD-Related Syndrome

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Photofrin (porfimer sodium) to treat precancerous lesions in people with a severe form of a disorder called Barrett's esophagus.

The condition affects the lining of the esophagus and is associated with a common disorder called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is characterized by frequent heartburn. While Barrett's esophagus may cause no symptoms itself, in rare cases it can lead to development of precancerous lesions that progress to a deadly form of cancer.

Photofrin is an agent used in photodynamic therapy (PDT), which uses a particular type of laser light to zap cancer cells. The agency first approved Photofrin in 1998.

In clinical trials and a subsequent two-year follow-up, patients who received Photofrin had an 80 percent chance of being cancer-free. The long-term effects of Photofrin on esophageal cancer haven't been determined, the FDA says.

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