Health Highlights: Dec. 5, 2017
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Mandatory Screening of Newborns for Congenital Heart Disease Saves Lives: Study
Eight states had significant decreases in infant deaths from critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) after they made it mandatory for hospitals to screen newborns for the condition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Those states had a 33 percent decline in deaths from CCHD and a 21 percent drop in deaths from other or unspecified heart-related causes, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers said that CCHD screening nationwide could save at least 120 babies a year.
Screening for CCHD is done with a simple bedside test called pulse oximetry, which measures the amount of oxygen in blood and the pulse rate. Low levels of oxygen in the blood can be a sign of CCHD.
Currently, 47 states and D.C. require hospitals to screen for CCHD. One state, California, requires the screening be offered.
About 1 in 4 babies with a congenital heart defect as CCHD. Each year, about 7,200 babies born in the U.S. have one of seven CCHDs. If not screened in the hospital, some newborns with a congenital heart defect can initially appear healthy and be sent home before their heart defect is detected, the CDC said.
New Policy For Distribution of Livers for Transplant in U.S.
Changes in how livers for transplant are distributed across the United States will improve availability of the organs in some parts of the country with severe shortages, officials say.
Regional disparities in available livers has been a problem in the U.S for decades. For example, cities such as New York and Chicago have low numbers of donor livers, while more livers are available in the Deep South, the Washington Post reported.
The Deep South has a high rates of fatal strokes and above-average deaths from traffic crashes, which means there are more deceased donors with intact livers.
A new policy approved Monday by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network will change how livers are distributed to people on waiting lists at the nation's 143 liver transplant centers. It took more than five years to develop the policy, the Post reported.
Since 2002, patients on liver transplant wait lists have been given a score based on how sick they are. Using those scores, a liver must first be offered within the local district and region where it was donated. If there is no donor-recipient match, the liver can then be offered to other regions.
But patients with more resources can register at multiple transplant centers. That's what happened with the late Apple founder Steve Jobs' liver transplant. He lived in California but received a liver in Tennessee, the Post reported.
Under the new plan, the area in which a liver can be offered would be extended to a 150-nautical-mile circle around donor hospitals. However, there would be some exceptions.
The new policy is expected to make hundreds more livers available to patients in areas with the longest waiting lists, the Post reported.
But it won't affect the overall shortage of livers in the U.S. Last year, 7,841 livers from deceased donors were transplanted in the U.S., but 14,000 people remained on the national waiting list. More than 1,000 people on the liver transplant waiting list die every year.
Healthy Eating Has Environmental Benefits: Study
Not only can a healthy diet improve your health, it can benefit the environment, researchers say.
They concluded that if people in 28 wealth nations such as the United States, Germany and Japan followed their governments' dietary recommendations, there would be a 13 percent to 25 percent in climate change-causing greenhouse gases related to the production of food, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The amount of land required to produce that food could decrease by as much as 17 percent, according to the study in the journal PNAS.
"At least in high-income countries, a healthier diet leads to a healthier environment," said study leader Paul Behrens, an environmental scientist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, the Times reported. "It's win-win."
He noted that while some countries -- such as Britain, Switzerland and China -- acknowledge that their dietary guidelines can benefit the environment, that message is rarely passed on to their citizens.
That's a missed opportunity, according to Behrens.
"Dietary recommendations can be a great way to talk about human health and the health of the environment," he said. "The main point is you can win both ways."
Mold Contamination Triggers Kroger Recall of Water for Infants
Comforts FOR BABY Purified Water with Fluoride Added has been recalled by the Kroger Company after mold was found in the product.
The mold, a species called Talaromyces penicillium, may not be visible to the naked eye, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The recall covers 1 gallon, clear containers with expiration dates from April 26, 2018 to October 10, 2018. In addition to Kroger grocery stores, the products were sold at affiliated stores such as Food 4 Less, Jay C Food Plus, Payless Super Market and Ruler stores. The product has been removed from store shelves, CNN reported.
The FDA said that inhaling or touching mold spores can trigger "hay fever-type" allergic reactions and "can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs, even in people who aren't allergic to them."
The FDA also said infants who have HIV or other immune compromising conditions may be at risk, CNN reported.
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