Health Highlights: Feb. 24, 2012

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

Virginia Senate Suspends Conception Bill

Virginia's Senate voted Thursday to suspend consideration of a bill that would define life as beginning at conception.

The abrupt reversal by Republican lawmakers came hours after a Senate committee voted to approve the legislation for consideration by the full body, The New York Times reported.

Many believe that Gov. Bob McDonnell was behind the change in course on the piece of conservative legislation.

On Wednesday, McDonnell told Republicans in the House of Delegates to change a bill that would have required women to have a vaginal ultrasound before an abortion. The new version requires a noninvasive abdominal ultrasound, The Times reported.


Teen Drivers' Marijuana Use Causes Concern

Teens who drive while high on marijuana appear to be a growing problem.

Pot smoking is up among teens and use of the drug among high school students is higher than it has been in three decades, finds new survey data compiled by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and the insurance industry, the Washington Post reported.

Survey results also show that 19 percent of teens said they'd driven a vehicle while stoned, and more than one-third said marijuana causes no distractions to their driving, according to the information released Wednesday.

"What keeps me up at night is that this data reflects a dangerous trend toward the acceptance of marijuana and other substances compared to our study of teens conducted just two years ago," Stephen Wallace, senior adviser for policy, research and education at SADD, told the Post.

Last week, the Governors Highway Safety Association said that teen highway deaths increased in the first half of 2011, reversing an eight-year downward trend.


Male Y Chromosome Won't Vanish: Study

Men's Y chromosome may not wither away to nothing after all, according to a new study.

The male Y and female X chromosomes once had about 800 genes in common but the Y now carries just 19 of its ancestral genes, along with its male-determining gene, and is just a fraction of its original size, The New York Times reported.

This has led some scientists to wonder if the Y chromosome will eventually vanish and make human males a thing of the past.

But a new study suggests that the Y chromosome's gene-shedding is finished and it will shrink no more, The Times reported.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.



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