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Health Highlights: Sept. 2, 2004

Injuries Rampant in U.S., Study Says Alternative Found for Dental Anesthesia New Virus May Have Killed Wisconsin Infants Electric Scooters Recalled for Fire Hazard Unsafe Abortions Kill 70,000 Women Each Year: Report

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

Injuries Rampant in U.S., Study Says

Injuries kill 18 Americans each hour, a new government report says.

That figure translated into 157,000 people in 2001 alone, with no age group, gender, or race exempt, said the first national report for both fatal and nonfatal injuries released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An estimated one in six U.S. residents requires medical treatment for an injury, while one in 10 visits a hospital emergency room for such an injury, according to a HealthDay account.

Medical care as a result of these injuries costs an estimated $117 billion annually.

"When you look at all this together, it really does emphasize just how extensive the problem is," Lee Annest, lead statistician for the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and one of the main authors of the report, told HealthDay. "The CDC needs to really address prevention, and people need to become more aware of what they can do to address injuries."

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Alternative Found for Dental Anesthesia

British scientists said they have found an alternative to general anesthesia for people, especially children, who have complex dental procedures.

The alternative combines the sedative midazolam with a small amount of two gases that make kids relaxed and drowsy, according to a BBC account.

Researchers at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne tried out the alternative on 600 children, and said the procedure worked 93 percent of the time.

They say it could be particularly helpful on children who undergo complicated dental work, but who may be scared of undergoing a general anesthetic.

The children were conscious throughout the procedure, but didn't remember it afterward, according to the BBC.

The results appear in the journal Anaesthesia.

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New Virus May Have Killed Wisconsin Infants

The September 2003 deaths of two Wisconsin babies thought to have had sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) may, in fact, have been caused by a newly discovered virus, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Recent tests on tissue samples from the two infants have tested positive for the human parechovirus-3 (HPEV-3), which was initially detected by Japanese scientists earlier this year, the wire service said. The discovery raises questions about how often cases of SIDS might be caused by germs.

The virus's origin is a mystery, as is how the infants may have come in contact with it. The first case involved a 4-week-old girl whose family had colds at the time of her death. Her mother is a travel agent, but had no face-to-face contact with clients who had been in Asia, the AP reported. The second death two weeks later involved a 4-month-old girl, whose father had recently traveled to China. She also had cold symptoms, but had no known contact with the first victim.

SIDS is an umbrella term for unexplained deaths that occur among infants less than a year old. Some 2,200 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. While its causes remain a mystery, known factors that increase an infant's risk include putting babies to sleep on their stomachs, smoking around infants, and bundling babies in too many layers.

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Electric Scooters Recalled for Fire Hazard

Nearly 60,000 "Red Dragon" and "E-Scooter" electric scooters sold at Target stores nationwide are being recalled for faulty wiring that poses fire and shock hazards, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

Manufacturer Leoch E-Vehicle Ltd., of China, has five reports of property damage, including two reported house fires, the CPSC said in a statement. The company also has 13 reports of the scooters starting on their own, resulting in at least one injury.

The affected scooters, model number DK24350-3, include a sticker on the right footrest with a horse-head image. On the left footrest is a sticker with the serial number.

The products were sold from February 2003 through June 2004 for about $200. Consumers should stop using the scooters immediately and return them to any Target store for a full refund. For more information, contact Target at 800-440-0680 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday.

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Unsafe Abortions Kill 70,000 Women Each Year: Report

About 70,000 women -- nearly 200 a day -- die each year around the world due to botched abortions, says a report by Ipas, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization.

In addition to the deaths, unsafe abortions also leave thousands of women with long-term debilitating injuries. Most of the problems occur in Asia, the report said.

The report was presented in London at Countdown 2015, a conference examining what progress has been made since the International Conference on Population and Development held in 1994.

That conference, sponsored by the United Nations, set goals to improve worldwide sexual and reproductive health by 2015.

"Until nations everywhere take steps to make abortion legal and readily available as well as helping to remove the stigma that surrounds it, women will suffer," Elizabeth Maguire, president of Ipas, said in a prepared statement.

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