Health Highlights: Aug. 6, 2013

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

Whooping Cough May Shorten Life Expectancy: Study

Being born during whooping cough epidemics may shorten people's life expectancy, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed birth and death records from 1813 to 1968 in five rural parishes in Sweden. They found that the risk of premature death was 40 percent higher among men born during whooping cough epidemics and 20 percent higher among women born during these epidemics, The New York Times reported.

Women born during whooping cough epidemics were also at increased risk for miscarriages and of having children who died in infancy, the Lund University researchers found.

They said that lung infections such as whooping cough during infancy may cause permanent damage that makes lung infections during adulthood more dangerous. The long-term dangers of whooping cough should be studied and women who had it in infancy should be monitored in pregnancy, said study lead author Luciana Quaranta, The Times reported.

Last year, the United States had its largest whooping cough outbreak in 60 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Illegal Buttock Injections a Problem in U.S.

A number of deaths have been reported among the growing number of American women who have illegal injections to make their buttocks bigger.

In some cases, home-improvement materials such as silicone are being injected by people with no medical training, the Associated Press reported.

Deaths from these types of illegal buttock injections have been reported in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada and New York. In Mississippi, an interior decorator faces trial in the deaths of two women who were injected at her house.

There is little data on the procedures or injuries they cause, but doctors and officials say there are a growing number of them. Online forums used to set up illegal buttock injections have thousands of responses, the AP reported.


World's First Lab-Grown Burger Put to Taste Test

The world's first laboratory-grown hamburger was cooked and eaten at a news conference in London on Monday, BBC News reported. The burger was created from cells that were taken from a cow and turned into strips of muscle and combined to make a patty.

Food critics Hanni Ruetzler and Josh Schonwald did the taste test. "I was expecting the texture to be more soft...It's close to meat, but it's not that juicy," Ruetzler said.

"I miss the fat, there's a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger," Schonwald said, according to the BBC News report.

The taste test was "a very good start," according to the scientist behind the burger, Prof. Mark Post, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. But he couldn't say when lab-grown burgers would by available to consumers, noting, "This is just to show we can do it."

Proponents say the technology could offer a sustainable way of meeting what they say is a growing demand for meat, while critic say eating less meat would be a better way to deal with predicted food shortages, BBC News reported.


Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Study Halted

Development of a new rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment has been halted after disappointing Phase II clinical trial results, Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. has announced.

While RA patients in the study of the ISIS-CRP treatment showed some improvements, the improvements weren't statistically significant compared to those seen in patients taking a placebo, the Wall Street Journal reported.

While it has no plans to further develop the C-reactive protein for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the company said it will continue to evaluate it for treating other diseases.

A Phase II study of ISIS-CRP for patients with atrial fibrillation is currently underway and data from the study is expected in the first half of next year, WSJ reported.

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