Health Highlights: March 6, 2014
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Lawsuit Launched Against New Abortion Drug Rules in Arizona
Arizona is being taken to court over new rules that limit the use of abortion drugs.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tucson, abortion providers say the new rules -- which are to take effect April 1 -- would prevent many women from having abortions, the Associated Press reported.
Under the rules, the most common abortion drug can be given only at the FDA-approved dosage no later than seven weeks into a pregnancy, rather than nine weeks. Both doses of the drug must be taken at the clinic.
Typically, the drug is taken at home and the dose is lower. If the rules had been in place in 2012, about 800 women would have been forced to undergo surgical abortions instead of using abortion drugs, according to Planned Parenthood Arizona president Bryan Howard, the AP reported.
Federal courts have upheld similar rules for abortion drugs in Ohio and Texas, but state courts in North Dakota and Oklahoma have blocked similar laws.
Early Treatment May Have Cured HIV Infection in Second Baby: Doctors
A second baby who was born with HIV infection may have been cured by receiving treatment soon after birth, doctors said Wednesday at an AIDS conference in Boston.
The first case, which was announced last April and involved a baby girl in Mississippi, made doctors worldwide reconsider how soon and aggressively to treat infants born with HIV, the Associated Press reported.
That baby, who began treatment 30 hours after birth, is now 3 1/2 years old and appears to be HIV-free, even though she hasn't received any treatment for about two years.
In the newer case, the baby girl in Los Angeles received treatment four hours after birth and her HIV infection appears to be in remission, according to doctors. However, the state of her infection is unclear because she is still receiving AIDS medicines.
"We don't know if the baby is in remission ... but it looks like that," Dr. Yvonne Bryson, an infectious disease specialist at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA who consulted on the girl's care, told the AP.
She added that the medical team is being cautious about claiming the baby girl has been cured, "but that's obviously our hope."
A number of tests suggest that the baby is clear of HIV, according to Dr. Deborah Persaud, a Johns Hopkins University doctor in charge of the testing. The test results are different than those seen in patients whose HIV infections are merely suppressed by treatment, she explained.
The L.A. baby's mother had HIV but was not taking her HIV medicines. She received AIDS drugs during labor in an attempt to protect her baby from infection. But the girl was infected and began treatment a few hours after birth, the AP reported.
The Mississippi girl received HIV drugs until she was 18 months old, at which point the doctors lost contact with her. When they saw her 10 months later, she had no signs of HIV infection even though her mother had not been giving her AIDS medicines.
A new U.S. government study will examine whether very early treatment can cure HIV infection in newborns. It will include about 60 infants in the U.S. and other countries. They will receive very aggressive treatment that will be halted if long-term testing shows they no longer have active infection, the AP reported.
Children's Deaths Highlight Dangers of Storage Chests
The recent suffocation deaths of two children in Massachusetts have prompted federal officials to remind people about the potential dangers of storage, cedar, hope and toy chests.
The brother and sister died in January after they were trapped inside a 75-year-old Lane cedar chest that was recalled in the mid-1990s, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.
Since 1996, a total of 34 children younger than 18 have died in incidents involving chests. The lids on many chests can automatically latch shut and trap children inside them, or lid supports on chest lids can fail and falling lids can trap children by the head or neck and cause strangulation.
Many homes have older chests that were passed down as family heirlooms or bought used.
The CPSC is working with sellers of used furniture to ensure that store managers and staff do not accept or sell chests that have been recalled or pose a threat to children. The agency also urged people not to buy or sell any recalled chest that has not been repaired.
About 27 companies have taken action to correct more than 14 million storage and toy chests that posed a suffocation, strangulation or injury risk, the CPSC said.
If you have a chest with an automatic latch/lock, disable or remove it. If a chest's lid support does not keep the lid open in every position, replace it with a spring-loaded lid support that keeps the lid open in any position. All toy chest should have ventilation holes that are not blocked by the floor or a wall, the CPSC said.