Health Highlights: Aug. 4, 2010

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

Iams and Eukanuba Dry Dog Foods Recalled

Certain types of Iams and Eukanuba dry dog foods are being recalled because they may be contaminated with salmonella, says Procter & Gamble.

Humans are at risk because they can get salmonella from infected dogs. The company said there haven't been any reported cases of salmonella but recommended consumers discard the dog food, said CBS News.

The recalled products, sold at retailers and veterinary offices, are:

  • Iams Veterinary Dry Formulas, all sizes and varieties
  • Eukanuba Custom Care Sensitive Skin, all dry sizes
  • Eukanuba Pure, all sizes and varieities
  • Eukanuba Naturally Wild, all sizes and varieties

Proctor & Gamble recently recalled certain prescription cat foods that may have been contaminated with salmonella, CBS News reported.


New Rules Would Improve Medical Device Safety: FDA

Proposed new rules to tighten oversight of medical devices were released Tuesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Under the recommendations, companies that make medical devices ranging from X-ray machines and drug pumps to heart pacemakers would have to submit more safety information to win federal approval, the Associated Press reported.

In addition, the FDA would have greater power to revoke approval for products that prove unsafe or ineffective.

The recommendations were drafted by two internal FDA panels in response to intense criticism of the agency's medical devices division by public health advocates and lawmakers, the AP reported.

The FDA will accept public comments about the recommendations for 90 days. Some critics said they would have liked stronger action from the agency.

"The good news is that I think the agency is admitting there are loopholes in the system that have allowed products to be sold that aren't safe, the bad news is they haven't yet figured out what to do about it," Dr. Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families, told the AP.

Industry representatives had their concerns, too. AdvaMed, a leading device industry trade group, said it is in favor of rules that make device approvals more predictable, but cautioned that other proposals "could result in significant disruption to a program that has served patients well for more than 30 years."


7 Hours Of Sleep Optimal For Heart Health: Study

People who sleep fewer or more than seven hours a night are at increased risk for heart disease, according to a new study.

It included more than 30,000 adults who were healthy at the start of the study. As they followed the participants, the researchers found that the risk of developing heart disease was more than double for those who slept less than five hours a day (including naps) and 1.5 times greater for those who slept nine hours or more, CBS News reported.

The findings were published in the August 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

It's not clear why sleeping less or more than seven hours a night increases the risk of heart disease, said the West Virginia University School of Medicine researchers.

But they suggested it might be helpful for people to discuss their sleep habits -- including changes in sleep duration -- with their doctor, CBS News reported.


Breast Milk Sugars Support Beneficial Gut Bacteria In Infants

Complex sugars in breast milk support bacteria that coat the lining of an infant's intestine and protect against noxious bacteria, according to U.S. researchers.

It was long believed that these complex sugars, which constitute up to 21% of breast milk but cannot be digested by babies, had no biological significance, The New York Times reported.

But the University of California, Davis researchers found that a beneficial strain of bacterium -- a subspecies of Bifidobacterium longum -- has a special set of genes that enable it to break down the complex sugars in breast milk.

This researchers said this strain of bifido is not found in adults, The Times reported.

"We were astonished that milk had so much material that the infant couldnt digest," said researcher Dr. Bruce German. "Finding that it selectively stimulates the growth of specific bacteria, which are in turn protective of the infant, let us see the genius of the strategy -- mothers are recruiting another life-form to baby-sit their baby."

The research appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Gulf Oil Spill Triggers Major Stress: Survey

The massive BP oil spill has caused psychological distress for about one-third of people in coastal areas of states on the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new survey of 406 adults age 21 and older.

Based on the K6 psychological distress scale, about 30% of respondents suffer from probable serious or probable mild/moderate mental illness -- 18% in Louisiana, 14% in Florida, 12% in Mississippi and 10% in Alabama, United Press International reported.

Probable serious mental illness was detected in 32% of respondents who make less than $25,000 a year, compared with two percent of those who make more than $100,000 annually.

The percentage of Louisiana residents suffering serious mental illness due to the BP oil spill is double what it was among south Louisiana residents in July 2007, two years after the state was devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to Dr. Joseph E. Bisordi, chief medical officer of the Ochsner Health System, UPI reported.

"To see so many people mired in psychological misery and in worse shape than they were after Katrina is disheartening," he said in a news release. "This benchmark identifies the need for mental health services throughout the region."


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