Health Highlights: March 15, 2012

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  • CDC Announces Nationwide Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign
  • 3 Brands of Pet Treats Possibly Linked to Dog Illnesses
  • Doctors Repair Airway Disorder in Fetus

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

CDC Announces Nationwide Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign

A nationwide antismoking campaign using graphic ads that feature smokers who have suffered serious health problems is being launched by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials hope the $54 million effort, which includes billboards and print, radio and TV ads, will convince as many as 50,000 people to stop smoking, the Associated Press reported.

The ads, which show smokers who have experienced heart surgery, tracheotomy, limb amputation or paralysis, will begin Monday.

This the CDC's largest and starkest anti-smoking campaign and its first national advertising effort. It provides advice on how to quit smoking and information on a national quit-smoking hotline.

"This is incredibly important. It's not every day we release something that will save thousands of lives," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden told the AP.

The number of American who smoke has been stuck at about 20 percent in recent years, following decades of significant declines, the news service said.

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3 Brands of Pet Treats Possibly Linked to Dog Illnesses

Some specific brands of jerky pet treats possibly linked to kidney failure and other serious illnesses reported in at least 600 dogs in the United States are cited in internal Food and Drug Administration documents.

Of 22 "Priority 1" cases listed in a log of complaints from pet owners and veterinarians, 13 cited Waggin' Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders, both produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., according to the documents obtained by msnbc.com.

Three other cases listed Milo's Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. The rest of the cases listed single brands or no brand.

An FDA spokeswoman said Priority 1 cases involve animals aged 11 or younger for which medical records that document illness are available, msnbc.com reported.

Officials at Nestle Purina and Del Monte officials said their pet treats are safe. FDA officials said repeated tests have found no solid link between the dog illnesses and any jerky treat brand or manufacturer.

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Doctors Repair Airway Disorder in Fetus

In what they say was a world-first surgery, Spanish doctors fixed a blocked bronchial tube in a 26-week-old fetus while she was still in her mother's womb.

The fetus had bronchial atresia, a condition in which the air tubes (bronchi) leading from the trachea to the lungs do not connect properly with the central airways. The condition results in the death of the fetus in 90 percent of cases, Agence France-Presse reported.

The surgery, which lasted 30 minutes, was performed in late 2010. The doctors used an endoscope to go through the fetus' mouth and connect the right bronchi with the central airways.

Eleven weeks after the procedure, the mother gave birth to a 5.5-pound girl named Alaitz, which means "joy" in the Basque language. The baby is now 16 months old and healthy.

"It is the first time in the world that this has been achieved. It is the first time that it has been tried and it turned out well," Eduard Gratacos, the head of the maternal-fetal medicine department at Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, said at a news conference Tuesday, AFP reported.

"It is an extremely delicate operation since it is carried out near the heart on tissues as thin as cigarette paper. But without this fetal therapy, the baby would not have survived," Gratacos explained.

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