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Health Highlights: May 3, 2013

Health Highlights: May 3, 2013

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

Brain Specimens Sought for Autism Research

A U.S.-wide network has been created to collect brain specimens for autism research.

Organizers said the more brain specimens they get, the better their chances of finding new ways to treat the developmental disorder. The network needs brains from people with and without autism. So far, more than 6,000 people have signed up to be donors after they die, the Associated Press reported.

The network currently has four sites: McLean Hospital near Boston, Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City, the University of California, Davis, and the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas.

Last year, dozens of brain samples at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital were lost when a freezer malfunctioned. The new network was planned before that incident, according to neuroscientist Robert Ring of the advocacy group Autism Speaks, the AP reported.

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Obama 'Comfortable' With Lower Age Limit for 'Morning-After Pill'

President Barack Obama is "comfortable" with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision to allow girls as young as 15 years old to have access to morning-after contraceptive pills without a prescription.

The previous minimum age was 17.

"It's not my decision to make," Obama said at a news conference Thursday during a three-day visit to Latin America. He emphasized that it was up to the FDA to make decisions based on science, but said the decision was something "I'm comfortable with," The New York Times reported.

Obama also said he believes that girls should have broad access to birth control.

"I think it's very important that women have control over their health- care choices," he said. "We want to make sure that they have access to contraception."

In related news, the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday appealed a federal judge's ruling giving girls and women of all ages access to morning-after pills, The Times reported.

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High Levels of TV Violence Concern Group

The continuing high levels of violence on television shows are cause for concern, a parents' group says.

The Parents Television Council looked at 392 prime-time scripted programs shown on broadcast networks between Jan. 11 and Feb. 11 and found that 193 had some incident of violence, the Associated Press reported.

Along with an increase in gore from other studies it has conducted over 18 years, the group said the new study found greater specificity and darkness to the violence.

"There has been no accountability, in my opinion, in terms of the degree and amount of violence," Tim Winter, the group's president, told the AP.

"I think it is only going to get worse," said Dr. Victor Strasburger, a pediatrics professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and an expert on violence in the media. He told the AP that media executives are "not willing to own up to their public health responsibilities."

 
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