- Agency Chief Backs Testing of Unproven Autism Treatment
- 14 Babies in Texas Given Blood Thinner Overdose
- Thousands of Reactions to Cervical Cancer Vaccine Reported
- FDA Wants Suicide Warning for Epilepsy Drugs
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Agency Chief Backs Testing of Unproven Autism Treatment
The director of U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, pressured by the anxious parents of children with autism, is advocating testing chelation therapy as a treatment for the little-understood neurological disorder, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Chelation therapy aims to purge the body of heavy metals. Its use in children with autism is based on the unproven notion that mercury in the vaccines is responsible for cases of the disorder, the AP reported. With the exception of certain flu shots, mercury hasn't been used in pediatric vaccines since 2001.
NIMH director Dr. Thomas Insel told the wire service that he supports testing the therapy on autistic children. "So many moms have said, 'It's saved my kids,'" he said.
Several thousand children are already believed to be using the therapy, despite its fringe status. The drugs are relatively easy to get, some being marketed as dietary supplements, the AP reported.
Safety concerns over chelation have postponed the government testing for now, Insel said. One of the drugs used in the process, called DMSA, can have adverse effects including low white blood cell count and rashes. Research also has shown that the process may shift metals from elsewhere in the body to the central nervous system, the AP reported.
In adults, chelation has proven ineffective unless there are high concentrations of metals in the blood, the wire service said.
Austim describes a variety of disorders that affect victims' ability to communicate and interact. There is no proven cure.
14 Babies in Texas Given Blood Thinner Overdose
Fourteen infants in a Corpus Christi, Texas hospital's neonatal intensive care unit were accidentally given overdoses of a blood thinning drug, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
A pediatric version of the blood thinner Heparin was used to flush IV tubes to prevent blood clots from forming. The error at Christus Spohn Hospital was discovered by nurses on Sunday based on abnormal lab results.
It wasn't immediately clear how much of an overdose was administered. It's believed the error occurred in the hospital's pharmacy when the drug was being mixed, the AP said.
Two of the infants have been released and the others are being observed closely, a hospital spokesman told the wire service.
In November, the twin infants of actor Dennis Quaid were given a dangerously high dose of the anti-clotting drug at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. They have since recovered.
Thousands of Reactions to Cervical Cancer Vaccine Reported
Nearly 8,000 reports of adverse reactions to Merck & Co.'s Gardasil vaccine have been filed with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since June 2006, news reports said Tuesday.
Reaction totals for the vaccine -- used to prevent the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) that's been linked to cervical cancer in girls and women -- include 15 reports of death and 10 confirmed deaths, but none of the deaths has been tied to the vaccine, CNN said.
Other adverse reactions include reports ranging from injection site pain, nausea and dangerous blood clots to paralysis stemming from a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome. The CDC said it's still studying these reports.
The vaccine was approved in 2006 for girls as young as 9 years old. Merck said more than 26 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed worldwide, including almost 16 million in the United States.
The company said the vaccine is safe and effective. In a statement cited by CNN, Merck said a report of an adverse reaction "does not mean that a causal relationship between an event and vaccination has been established -- just that the event occurred after vaccination."