Health Highlights: May 2, 2012

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

USDA Introduces New Rules to Combat E. Coli Contamination in Meat

Updated rules to keep potentially the deadly bacterium out of meat have been introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The new regulations allow inspectors to start looking for meat contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 as soon as early testing shows a potential problem. The goal of the new policy is to accelerate the USDA's ability to track down and contain contaminated hamburger and ground beef, USA Today reported.

The USDA says it will be quicker to take action if there are signs of trouble. Previously, the agency did not launch investigations into possible contaminated meat until several tests were completed, a process that often took days.

The policy change "buys us 24 to 48 hours in terms of finding the sources," said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen, USA Today reported.

Other new safety measures introduced by the USDA include an early reporting system that requires companies to notify the agency within 24 hours if potentially harmful meat or poultry has been shipped. The agency has also added six new E. coli strains to a government watch list.


Study Points to Trigger Behind Need for Nighttime Urination

Low levels of a certain protein might spur people to get up numerous times in the night to urinate, according to a new study conducted in mice.

Japanese researchers found that reduced levels of the connexin43 protein trick the bladder into believing that it is full, which sends a "must urinate" signal to the brain, Agence France-Presse reported.

The finding was made in laboratory mice that had been genetically modified to lack the gene that produces connexin43.

The study was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.


More American Teens Using Marijuana: Survey

A new survey says a growing number of American teens are smoking marijuana.

Past-month use of marijuana rose from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent last year. The percentage of teens who smoked marijuana 20 or more times a month increased from 5 percent in 2008 to 9 percent last year, according to the Partnership at survey results released Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Abuse of prescription drugs appears to be easing among youth in grades 9 through 12, but still remains high.

The survey also found that teens' use of harder drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine has stabilized in recent years, the AP reported.


Dog Food Recall Expanded

Diamond Pet Foods' recall of dog food due to possible salmonella contamination has been expanded to include puppy food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The latest recall is for Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food that was distributed in 12 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, reported.

Previous recalls were for Diamond Naturals Lamb & Rice dry dog food and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Adult Light formula dry dog food.

The FDA says there have not been any reports of dogs becoming ill after eating the recalled products, reported.


Mother Charged After Young Daughter Suffers Burns in Tanning Booth

A New Jersey woman has been charged with child endangerment after she allegedly took her 5-year-old daughter into a stand-up tanning booth and the girl suffered burns.

Police were called to an elementary school on April 24 because a kindergarten student was suffering pain due to a "pretty severe sunburn," Nutley Police Det. Anthony Montanari told The Record newspaper, the Associated Press reported.

New Jersey law bans anyone younger than age 14 from using tanning salons.

Patricia Krentcil, 44, posted $25,000 bail and was released to authorities in Camden County, where she had an outstanding warrant on a municipal charge, the AP reported.


Appeals Judge Grants Extension in Planned Parenthood Funding Case

In the ongoing legal fight over funding for Planned Parenthood in Texas, a federal appeals judge on Tuesday said more time is needed to hear arguments on whether that state can prevent the group from receiving funding as part of the the Women's Health Program.

The move comes less than 24 hours after another federal district court judge, Judge Lee Yeakel, issued an order forbidding Texas from enforcing a law that bans Planned Parenthood from participating in the program.

On Tuesday, Fifth Circuit Appeals Judge Jerry Smith gave lawyers for eight Planned Parenthood clinics involved in a lawsuit against the state until 5 p.m. Tuesday to present their arguments about why Texas should be prevented from enforcing the law, the Associated Press reported.

"We are disappointed in the stay granted last night," Sarah Wheat, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of Austin Family Planning, told the AP. "When presented with both sides, the District Court agreed the rule was likely unconstitutional, and that implementation would cause a serious problem with health care access for Texas women."


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Under the appeals judge's order, Texas can exclude the Planned Parenthood clinics from the Women's Health Program today, according to Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman.


New Facebook Initiative Promotes Organ Donation

Facebook has introduced an initiative to help promote organ donations for people who require life-saving transplants.

Facebook users in the United States and Britain can now indicate that they are organ donors on their timelines. If they are donors, they can find links to official donor organ registries and enroll, Agence France-Presse reported.

"We want to make it simple," said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. "You just put in the state or country that you're from, so that we can help link you to the official registries."

"Today, more than 114,000 people in the United States, and millions more around the globe, are waiting for the heart, kidney or liver transplant that will save their lives," Zuckerberg said in a statement with Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, AFP reported.


Insurer Agrees to Cover Transgender Woman's Mammograms

A transgender American women has won insurance coverage for mammogram breast cancer screening after a long battle.

Beth Scott, 44, was told by her doctor she needed a mammogram and underwent the procedure in June 2010. She paid $385 out of pocket and then submitted the claim to her insurance company Aetna, which denied the claim, ABC News reported.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund took up the case and announced this week that it had won the landmark battle and resolved Scott's claim. The settlement clarified that this type of denial will not happen in the future and that transgender people will be able to change their sex on their insurance records by providing a birth certificate or driver's license.

"I am really pleased and glad it went smoothly," Scott told ABC News. "It's something that gives me hope -- by the fact that Aetna apologized and reimbursed me," she said. "Their willingness to treat transgender people is a positive sign."


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