Health Buzz: Cryoablation Outperforms Atrial Fibrillation Drugs

5 food package claims that deserve a double take; new warning on baby slings

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New Device Outperforms Atrial Fibrillation Drugs 

A new study suggests that using a catheter to freeze heart tissue is more effective than existing medications for treatment of atrial fibrillation, Reuters reports. In the 245-person clinical trial, 70 percent of the participants treated with Medtronic's cryoablation system were arrhythmia free after one year, compared with 7 percent of those on drug therapy. The Medtronic device was also as safe as antiarrhythmic drugs, according to Reuters. It is not approved for use in the United States. 

[Read Warning: Herbal Supplements Don't Always Go Well With Heart Drugs and First Ablation Catheters Approved for Atrial Fibrillation.] 

5 Food Package Claims That Deserve a Double Take 

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration warned 17 food companies that the marketing claims on some of their products weren't in line with government rules, U.S. News's Katherine Hobson reports. If you buy ice cream marketed as having "zero grams trans fat," for example, but it still contains a significant amount of saturated and total fat, that information is supposed to be prominent. The letters are part of the FDA's move to address the confusion surrounding front-of-package claims, an effort that will include a standardization of how this information is presented. 

Until it's all sorted out, there are plenty of food labels that are difficult to decipher, say dietitians and nutrition experts. Beware of products that claim to be "natural," they warn. The Center for Science in the Public Interest's recent food labeling report wants the FDA to crack down on this claim and to prohibit the term's use in foods made with high-fructose corn syrup or artificial ingredients. Here's an easy rule of thumb: Ignore the claim entirely. "Natural" is virtually meaningless; not everything made in a lab is harmful, not everything that pops up in the natural world is beneficial (E. coli is perfectly natural, after all), and distinguishing between the two is often an exercise in splitting hairs rather than a way of determining what you really want to know: How healthful is this food? Read more

[Read Is a 'Traffic Light' Coming to Food Labels? and More Nutrition Information Systems Hit the Shelves—Do They Work?

New Warning on Baby Slings and Safety Risks 

Baby slings are a godsend for parents who want to hold their baby close and have their hands free. But slings also pose a health risk, according to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission. A baby can suffocate if the sling fabric presses against the baby's nose and mouth or if the sling curves the child's body into a C-like position, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute writes. 

The CPSC has investigated at least 13 sling-related deaths in the past 20 years, including three in 2009. Given that slings are increasingly popular, the new caution makes sense. Week-old Derrik Cochran of Keizer, Ore., died last year after he stopped breathing while being carried in a bag-style sling by his mother, Lisa. The family is suing the company that made the sling. 

How can parents safely use slings to carry babies? There are no federal safety standards for baby slings, but the new advisory points out that many of the babies who died were premature, had low birth weight, or had a cold or other breathing problems. So parents with babies who fit those parameters should be extra cautious about using slings. Read more

[Read Kids and Killer Hot Dogs? 3 Tips to Prevent Choking on Food and How to Avoid Dosing Errors With Kids' Medicine.] 

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