- Food Allergies Rise Among Children
- FDA Cited for Lax Oversight of Foreign Drug Makers
- FDA Approves Magnetic Device to Treat Depression
- Bad Habits Linked to Lower Grades
- Mountain Climbers May Suffer Altitude-Related Brain Damage
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Food Allergies Rise Among Children
More than 3 million American children are allergic to at least one food, an 18 percent rise from a decade earlier, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report released Wednesday.
While some experts cited by the Associated Press said more parents are now reporting the problem and having their children evaluated by a doctor, CDC lead author Amy Branum said the increase was no "statistic blip."
About 1 in 26 children had a food allergy in 1997, up from 1 in 29 children in 1997, her report found. Peanut allergies among children in 2007 doubled from the decade-earlier report, and it seemed to be taking longer for kids to outgrow allergies to dairy and egg products than it did before.
The latest survey involved interviews at 9,500 households that had children under age 18. Among the report's other findings:
- Asked if any child in the home had a food allergy, about 4 percent of respondents said yes.
- Children with food allergies were more likely to have related conditions, including asthma, other respiratory problems, and eczema.
- Parents of Hispanic children reported fewer cases of food allergies than parents of white or black children. This marked the first racial/ethnic finding about food allergies of any national study, the AP said.
FDA Cited for Lax Oversight of Foreign Drug Makers
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been lax in overseeing and inspecting foreign drug plants, the Government Accountability Office has found in a report to be released Wednesday.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the analysis by the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress comes as a House committee continues its investigation of the agency's handling of problems at two Indian plants run by generic drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories. In September, the FDA banned import of 30 generic drugs produced at the two plants. The action came several years after the FDA first found manufacturing problems at one of the plants, the newspaper said.
In the five years ending in fiscal 2007, the FDA issued 15 warning letters to foreign drug makers that had serious problems, including manufacturing or record-keeping deficiencies. But only four of those companies were eventually re-inspected, the Journal reported.
In what the newspaper called "an unusual move," the GAO urged the FDA to conduct as many inspections of foreign drug makers as it performs on domestic ones.
The FDA has plans to open offices in China, India and Latin America, the newspaper said.
FDA Approves Magnetic Device to Treat Depression
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first noninvasive brain stimulator to treat depression. It works by beaming magnetic pulses through the skull, triggering small electrical charges that prompt brain cells to fire, the Associated Press reported.
The device, called transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS, is intended for patients who got no relief from their first antidepressant, offering them a different option than trying an assortment of drugs. It also doesn't pose the risks of surgically implanted electrodes or the treatment of last resort, shock therapy, the news service said.
The FDA cleared the prescription-only NeuroStar based on research that found that patients did modestly better when treated with TMS than when they received a placebo treatment that mimicked the magnet. About 24 percent of patients who received TMS scored significantly better on standard depression measures after six weeks, compared with 12 percent of those who got the placebo, the AP said.
That's about as well as patients respond to a single antidepressant, said Dr. Philip Janicak of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who helped lead the NeuroStar study.