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Health Highlights: June 25, 2004

Bladder Control Loss Common, Under-Treated in U.S. Study Provides Insight Into Mother-Infant Bonding Defective Fuse Leads to Fireworks Recall 50,000 Medicare Recipients to Get Early Drug Coverage Maine City Is Latest to Offer Canadian Drugs 1st Stroke More Likely on Mondays, in Winter

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

Bladder Control Loss Common, Under-Treated in U.S.

About one in three Americans between the ages of 30 and 70 have some degree of bladder control loss, but 64 percent of them have not been diagnosed by a doctor and aren't doing anything to manage the condition, according to a Harris Interactive survey.

The survey of more than 1,400 people found that diagnosis of bladder control loss results in better knowledge, communication, and successful treatment of the condition, which affects tens of millions of Americans.

People who've been diagnosed are much more likely to successfully manage their symptoms, to feel a sense of relief, and to feel that their quality of life has improved, and are more comfortable talking with family members and doctors about the condition.

The survey, sponsored by the National Association for Continence (NAFC), also found that, on average, diagnosed adults waited six years after the first symptoms of bladder control loss to talk about it with a doctor. Moreover, people who are diagnosed are nearly twice as likely to report higher self-esteem than those who are managing their symptoms but are undiagnosed.

"People need to know that loss of bladder control is actually quite common and is always treatable," NAFC executive director Nancy Muller said in a prepared statement.

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Study Provides Insight Into Mother-Infant Bonding

New research into the brain's opioid system offers information about mother-infant bonding and may also help scientists better understand autism.

Italian scientists found that newborn mice cry out in alarm when separated from their mother, unless the young mice have a defect in their brain's opioid system, which plays a role in pleasure, pain, and addiction.

The scientists bred mice that lacked an important opioid receptor in the brain and compared these mice to normal mice, the Associated Press reported.

The opioid-deficient mice hardly cried when they were separated from their mothers. The normal mice shrieked frantically when parted from their moms.

In another test, normal mice always selected the nest built by their mothers over a nest built by a different mother. Only about a third of the opioid-deficient mice chose their mother's bed.

The study was published in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

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Defective Fuse Leads to Fireworks Recall

About 11,700 fireworks with defective fuses are being recalled, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced Friday.

The defective fuse on the "T6" Titanium 6 Break Artillery Shell Fireworks can fail to ignite the device. People who try to re-light the fuse after it goes out could suffer serious injury. There have been no reported injuries so far.

The fireworks model number CP1104 is listed on the launch tube and packaging. The device consists of a colorful plastic launch tube and six break display shells. The fireworks were sold from May 2004 through June 2004 for about $40.

Consumers are advised to return these fireworks to the store where they purchased them for a full refund. For more information, contact American Promotional Events, Inc., at 800-243-1189 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time Monday through Friday.

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50,000 Medicare Recipients to Get Early Drug Coverage

Most of the 500,000 Medicare participants without prescription-drug coverage will have to wait until 2006 to have their costs covered by last year's prescription drug law. But about 10 percent of them will get a 16-month head start -- thanks to a lottery announced by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, according to the Associated Press.

The "lucky individuals" Thompson mentioned at a Thursday press conference will be randomly chosen for early coverage. The lottery, written into the law passed by Congress last year, is limited to 50,000 people at a maximum cost of $500 million. Medicare will accept lottery applications from July 6 to Sept. 30, and will randomly select 25,000 cancer patients and 25,000 people with other conditions, the AP reported.

The program will mirror the 2006 drug benefit. Among the cancer drugs covered will be Gleevec for stomach cancer, thalidomide for blood cancer, and tamoxifen for breast cancer. Other conditions covered will include multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, the AP said.

The news service quoted an American Cancer Society spokeswoman who said that, while the lottery program would have minimal impact on people with cancer, some coverage is better than none.

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Maine City Is Latest to Offer Canadian Drugs

Maine's largest city is backing a program that will help 2,800 city employees to buy less expensive prescription drugs from Canada, the Portland Press Herald reported Friday.

It would make Portland the latest community to buck concerns by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other federal regulators who have insisted that imported drugs could be improperly labeled, counterfeit, and even unsafe.

The city estimates the program will save at least $250,000 a year, the newspaper reported. The program will not be run by the city itself, but will be overseen by a group of city officials and labor union representatives.

To increase participation, the city will waive the 20 percent contribution that employees normally pay under the municipal health plan, the Press Herald reported.

The drugs will be purchased by a U.S.-based drug broker, CanaRx, which has been chosen by several other city and state governments that have opted to let employees purchase prescription drugs from Canada. Due to Canadian government price controls, the medicines are 40 percent to 80 percent cheaper than equivalents sold in the Untied States.

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1st Stroke More Likely on Mondays, in Winter

A person's first stroke is more likely to occur on a Monday in younger people and in winter among older people, according to new research presented Thursday at the 5th World Stroke Congress in Vancouver, Canada.

An analysis of 12,529 first-stroke cases also found that instances of stroke were significantly higher in spring in men and in winter in women, according to a statement from the researchers at Japan's Tottori University.

The researchers offered little explanation for the weekly and seasonal variations, although they theorized that the Monday peak among younger people could be attributed to the post-weekend stress of returning to work.

Results of their research are published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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