Health Highlights: July 8, 2010

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

Doctors Perform 1st Face Transplant Including Eyelids, Tear Ducts

A 35-year-old man who underwent the world's first full-face transplant including eyelids and tear ducts is doing well, according to the French doctor who did the surgery.

Dr. Laurent Lantieri performed the transplant June 27 at the Henri Mondor Hospital in the Paris suburb of Creteil. Neither he nor the hospital provided any more information about the patient, who has a genetic disorder, or the donor, the Associated Press reported.

Experts said the transplant further advances efforts to provide new faces and lives for disfigured patients.

This is a "considerable achievement," said Neil Huband, a spokesman for the U.K. Facial Transplantation Research Team, based at the Royal Free Hospital in London, the AP reported.

This is the 12th face transplant worldwide since the first successful one was performed in France in 2005. In that case, doctors replaced the nose, mouth and chin of a woman whose face had been disfigured by a dog attack.


Obesity Leads to Inactivity in Kids: Study

A new study challenges the widely held belief that a lack of exercise leads to obesity in children.

The 11-year study, which included more than 200 children in Plymouth, England, suggests that putting on excess weight leads to inactivity in children -- instead of the other way around -- and that anti-obesity programs need to focus more on diet than exercise, BBC News reported.

Because they may have a negative body image, overweight and obese children might decide not to participate in exercise and sports, the study authors said. In addition, children who are too heavy may be more likely to suffer discomfort and pain during exercise.

The study appears in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

While the findings offer new insight, the wider health benefits of exercise for children need to be considered, Dr. David Haslam, of the National Obesity Forum in Great Britain, told BBC News.

"What we shouldn't do is take the paper at face value and allow lean children to be as lazy as they please, as that would be a catastrophic mistake," he warned.


New Rules May Ease Veterans' Claims for PTSD Compensation

New regulations will eliminate a requirement that U.S. veterans document specific incidents -- such as firefights, mortar attacks or bomb blasts -- when they apply for post-traumatic stress syndrome-related compensation.

Under the new rule, which could take effect as early as Monday, veterans of all wars will be eligible for compensation if they can prove they served in a war zone in a role consistent with events they say caused their condition, The New York Times reported.

Veterans have long complained that finding documents about specific incidents that triggered PTSD was an extremely time-consuming and sometimes impossible task.

One provision of the new rule that's causing concern is that a final decision of a veteran's case will be made by a psychiatrist or psychologist who works for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans' advocates fear this requirement could be used by the VA to sharply limit approvals of PTSD-related compensation, the Times reported.


FDA OKs Mini Eye Telescope for Macular Degeneration

A tiny telescope that can be implanted inside the eye in order to improve vision in people with age-related macular degeneration has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults, causes the gradual loss of central vision.

The Implantable Miniature Telescope is surgically implanted in one eye in order to improve central vision, while the other eye is left as it is in order to provide the patient with peripheral vision. The brain fuses the input from both eyes, the Associated Press reported.

In its approval of the new device, the FDA noted that patients require post-implantation therapy to learn how to use the miniature telescope.

FDA approval was based on a study finding that 90% of patients who received the device showed a vision improvement of at least two lines on an eye chart, and about 75% went from severe to moderate vision impairment, the AP reported.

California-based manufacturer VisionCare said the miniature telescope costs $15,000. That doesn't include surgery and rehabilitation fees.

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