Teen Births Decline in U.S.
Between 1997 and 2004, the rate of girls under age 18 giving birth in U.S. hospitals declined by about 25 percent -- from 55 to 41 admissions per 100,000 girls. Even so, the United States still has the highest teen pregnancy and birth rates in the industrialized world, says the latest News and Numbers from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Among the other findings:
- About 148,000 girls under age 18 gave birth in U.S. hospitals in 2004, which represents 3.5 percent of all childbirth-related hospital stays in community hospitals.
- More than 19.2 percent of the girls had Caesarean sections, compared with 30.5 percent of women.
- The highest rate of girls under 18 giving birth was in the South (52 per 100,000 girls) and lowest in the Northeast (27 per 100,000). The rate in the Midwest was 36 per 100,000 and the rate in the West was 42 per 100,000.
- About three of every four teen childbirths was billed to Medicaid, for a total cost of about $348 million. Private insurers paid for 21 percent of such cases; other payers, such as Tricare, paid for 2 percent. In 3 percent of cases, the girls had no health insurance.
New Jersey Creates Anti-Obesity Office
A new Office of Nutrition and Fitness has been created by New Jersey's health department in order to fight obesity. It's believed that New Jersey is the first state to establish such an agency, the Associated Press reported.
The office, scheduled to begin operations next week, will coordinate spending of more than $2 million in fitness and nutrition programs and work with other state agencies, including the agriculture and education departments.
New Jersey has the highest percentage (17.7 percent) of overweight and obese children under age 5 in the United States., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, 37 percent of the Garden State's residents are overweight and 23 percent are obese, the AP reported.
Children will be a special focus for the new agency, because instilling healthy diet and exercise habits in young people in order to prevent obesity is easier than trying to reverse weight problems, said Dr. Fred M. Jacobs, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Senior Services.
Fisher-Price Recalls Infant Swings
About 112,000 Fisher-Price Rainforest Open Top Take-Along Swings sold in the United States have been recalled because infants can get caught between the frame and the seat and suffer injuries, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday.
An additional 15,000 of the swings were sold worldwide. The swings were made in China.
To date, Fisher-Price has received 60 reports of infants becoming entrapped, resulting in injuries such as cuts, bumps, bruises and red marks on their skin. The recall affects model numbers K7203, K7192 and K7195. The model numbers are located under the right handle on the swing.
Consumers should immediately stop using the swings and contact Fisher-Price (1-888-303-5631) for instructions on how to return the swing and receive a voucher for a free replacement product.
Jury Awards $2.6 Million in Accutane Lawsuit
A New Jersey jury on Tuesday ordered Roche Holding AG to pay $2.5 million in damages and $119,000 for past medical expenses to an Alabama man who suffered inflammatory bowel disease after he took Roche's Accutane acne drug.
The jury said that the drug company failed to warn of the drug's risks. This is the first of 400 such lawsuits faced by Roche, Bloomberg news reported. The company said it will appeal the verdict.
The case involved 36-year-old Andrew McCarrell, who said he suffered severe diarrhea, surgeries and depression after taking Accutane in 1995.
Since Accutane was introduced in 1982, about 13 million people have taken the drug, which has also been associated with birth defects and depression, Bloomberg reported.
Hookahs No Safe Alternative to Cigarettes: WHO
Smoking a water pipe (hookah) may pose the same health risks as puffing on cigarettes, says an advisory note released Tuesday by the World Health Organization, the Associated Press reported.
"Using a water pipe to smoke tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking," according to the WHO document. "Contrary to ancient lore and popular belief, the smoke that emerges from a water pipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other diseases."
The U.N. health agency called for more research to examine the association between hookah use and a number of deadly diseases, the AP reported.
The hookah has been used for centuries in North Africa, the Middle East and Central and South Asia. Recently, it's become increasingly popular in Europe and the United States, particularly among college students and young adults.
Hookah users aren't the only ones who may be at risk. The WHO said that secondhand smoke from hookahs appears to pose the same health risks as secondhand smoke from cigarettes, the AP reported.
In related news, another WHO report released Tuesday urged all countries to ban smoking at indoor workplaces and in public buildings. Unless governments take action, increasing numbers of nonsmokers will die from illnesses caused by secondhand smoke, the agency warned.
Workplace exposure to secondhand smoke results in the deaths of at least 200,000 people worldwide each year, according to the U.N., the AP reported.
Similac Formula for Premature Infants Recalled
About 5,000 cases of 2-ounce bottles of Similac Special Care 24 Cal/fl. oz. Ready-to-Feed Premature Infant Formula with Iron have been recalled because they don't contain as much iron as indicated on the label, the Associated Press reported.
The formula -- primarily sold through pharmacies at the direction of a health care professional -- is given to premature infants after they're discharged from hospital.
Infants who are fed the recalled formula for more than a month after they're discharged from hospital may be at increased risk of developing anemia due to insufficient iron intake, Abbott Laboratories of Columbus, Ohio said in statement.
The recall includes three lots with stock code number 59582 and lot numbers 46815D5, 47847D5 and 52023D5 printed on the outside carton and case and lot numbers 44427X8, 44427X81 and 50005X8 printed on the bottom of the bottles, the AP reported.
The lots were distributed in the United States between November 2006 and May 2007. For more information, consumers can all Abbott's Ross Products Division at 1-888-899-9182.