Health Highlights: April 20, 2016

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

White Americans’ Life Expectancy Declines for First Time Since 2005

A rise in drug overdoses, liver disease and suicide are among the reasons why life expectancy for white Americans declined slightly in 2014, new federal data shows.

Life expectancy for whites fell from 78.9 in 2013 to 78.8 in 2014, the first drop since 2005, The New York Times reported.

Life expectancy for blacks rose from 75.5 in 2013 to 75.6 in 2014, and blacks have gained more than one year of life expectancy since 2008. Black men had the largest increase of all groups in 2014, climbing to 72.2 from 71.8 the previous year.

Among Hispanics, life expectancy increased from 81.6 in 2013 to 81.8 in 2014.

Overall life expectancy for Americans remained unchanged at 78.8 in 2014, The Times reported.


Doctors Call for Better Newborn Pain Prevention, Control

Improved pain prevention and relief during medical procedures is needed for newborns, especially premature babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

Experts say pain relief for newborns is often inadequate even though there is evidence that simple comforting techniques and medication can both help, the Associated Press reported.

Pain in newborns “continues to be inconsistently assessed and inadequately managed,” according to a recently released AAP policy statement. Pain reduction methods “are currently underused for routine minor yet painful procedures.”

Failure to prevent and reduce pain in newborns is important because failure to do so can affect infant development, the group said.

Recent research showing that alternatives to medication — such as sugar-dipped pacifiers, tight swaddling and skin-to-skin contact with parents — can help ease pain in newborns, policy lead author Erin Keels, a newborn specialist and nurse at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus, Ohio, told the AP

She also noted that newer methods of assessing infant pain are being tested, such as measuring brain waves and electrical impulses in the skin.

Knowledge about appropriate doses and potential long-term effects of using medications to manage pain when infants have surgery or other major medical procedures is “woefully lacking,” and more research in this area is needed, according to the AAP.

“While we want to manage pain appropriately, we also have to pay attention to not going too far in the other extreme,” Dr. William MacKendrick, medical director of the infant special care unit at Evanston Hospital in Evanston, Illinois, told the AP.

He was not involved in drafting the policy.


Nice! Mandarin Oranges Recalled

Nice! Mandarin Oranges sold at Walgreens Stores across the United States are being recalled because they may contain pieces of glass, Milky Way International Trading Corp. says.

The recall is for certain batches of 8-ounce bottles of Mandarin oranges in light syrup.

To date, there have been three complaints and one possible injury, according to the company.

The products have been removed from Walgreens stores. Consumers with the recalled products are advised to call Milky Way at 1-562-921-2800, Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST.


Zika Treatment Research Bill Signed into Law By Obama

A bill encouraging drug companies to develop treatments and vaccines for the Zika virus was signed into law Tuesday by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The law places the mosquito-borne virus in the Food and Drug Administration’s priority review voucher program meant to speed development of treatments for tropical diseases, CBS News reported.

The Obama administration has also been seeking $1.9 billion in emergency funding for efforts to fight Zika, which can cause birth defects.

Adequate congressional funding to battle Zika is crucial, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“That’s the reason why we asked for it, because, right now, we’re using money from other accounts to do that,” Fauci said of the request for the emergency funding. “And that is going to be just a stopgap measure. We are going to have to get the money to be able to do the full job that we planned to do.”

However, Fauci said there is no cause for alarm about the current situation in the country. So far, the presence of Zika in the U.S. has been limited to more than 350 cases where people acquired the virus during travel to other countries, CBS News reported.

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