Today's Health Highlights

Fourth Anthrax Case Reported Study Favors Vaginal Delivery for Stalled Labor Zinc, Antioxidants Stave Off Eye Disease

(FRIDAY, Oct. 12) -- Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of The HealthDay Service:

Another Anthrax Victim ID'd in NYC

An NBC News employee in New York City has tested positive for a form of anthrax that enters through the skin, the network announced today.

HealthDay reports the case marks the second time in as many weeks that the rare disease, long feared as a potential bioterrorism weapon, has struck a major media outlet. It is also the first time a case of anthrax has been reported in New York City in 50 years, according to the Health Department.

The victim, an unidentified female employee of the "Nightly News" show "is in good health, in good care, and is getting all the health treatment," says NBC President Andrew Lack.

Investigators from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York City Department of Health sealed off the third floor of NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center,

The new case comes on the heels of three inhaled anthrax cases, including one fatality, at American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla. The company publishes several of the nation's most popular supermarket tabloids, including the National Enquirer and The Sun. The two other victims are doing well, health officials say.

Federal law enforcement officials say they have no reason to believe the anthrax cases are the work of terrorists.

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Study Favors Vaginal Delivery for Stalled Labor

A new study of women with stalled labor shows that Caesarean sections are more likely than vaginal deliveries to result in prolonged hospitalization and serious bleeding for mothers, with no significant gain for the health of the newborn, according to HealthDay.

British researchers say that women who are stuck in the middle stage of labor are better off having a vaginal delivery, even when injurious instruments are used, and that they should avoid C-sections if possible.

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Zinc, Antioxidants Stave Off Eye Disease

A new study has found that a simple regimen of antioxidants along with high levels of zinc significantly reduces the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading causes of vision loss and blindness in the United States, HealthDay reports.

The results should benefit hundreds of thousands of Americans who currently have intermediate or advanced AMD in one eye.

The six-year study, conducted by the National Eye Institute and reported in the latest issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology, followed more than 3,500 people between the ages of 55 and 80 at 11 clinical sites around the country.

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Cutting Back on Smoking Makes Baby a Bit Bigger

Women who smoke late into pregnancy can slightly increase their unborn baby's birth weight if they cut down on their smoking, says a new study.

Experts stress that pregnant women shouldn't consider the findings an excuse to keep smoking, which has been shown to significantly increase the odds of delivering a premature baby. Smoking also carries considerable health risks for the mother, including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. A report on the study appears in the Oct. 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, according to HealthDay.

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Number of U.S. Smokers Holds Steady

The number of U.S. adults who smoke remains stuck at about 25 percent of the adult population, the Associated Press reports.

A 1999 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 23.5 percent of adults, roughly 46 million people, smoke regularly. That figure is down only slightly from 24 percent in 1998 and 25 percent in 1993. The government is aiming for a 12 percent smoking rate by 2010, the AP says.

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Real-Time Pacemaker Approved

U.S. health officials have OK'd a pacemaker outfitted with a tiny transmitter that can tell your doctor how your heart is doing -- the first medical implant capable of real-time monitoring, the Associated Press says.

The Biotronik Home Monitoring System essentially provides a house call any time of day without a doctor or patient taking any special steps. It's the first in an expected wave of medical devices that will let doctors track the chronically ill day-by-day to keep their conditions from worsening between office visits.

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