IKEA recalls 80,000 baby gates

— IKEA is recalling 80,000 baby gates because they can come unintentionally unlocked, posing a risk of falls and related injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced Thursday.

Ten injuries have been reported, including two concussions, as well as cuts and bruises, the CPSC said.

The recalled gates are the PATRULL safety gate and extension, the PATRULL FAST safety gate, and the PATRULL KLAMMA safety gate and extension. The PATRULL KLAMMA was first recalled by IKEA in May because of reports it was coming unmounted from the wall and not staying in place. At the time, CPSC reported 18 such incidents, including three in which children fell down stairs and were injured.

These items were sold online from the store’s website, and in U.S. stores, between August 1995 and June 2016 for $10 to $60. They were manufactured in Denmark.

IKEA advised customers who have these gates to immediately stop using them and return them to the store for a full refund

Baby with Zika-related microcephaly born at New Jersey hospital

A baby with Zika virus-related microcephaly was born in New Jersey on Tuesday, hospital officials said.

The baby and mother are stable and doing well following the cesarean delivery, said Dr. Abdulla Al-Khan, director of maternal and fetal medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center.

“The mother is stable, obviously sad, which is the normal emotional reaction given the situation,” he said.

The mother is visiting the United States from Honduras and does not want to be identified.

Doctors first examined her when she came to the medical center Friday. Ultrasound screening revealed the baby had “significant microcephaly,” including calcification and dilated ventricles of the brain, according to Al-Khan.

Tests were done to rule out other causes of these abnormalities.

“When I saw her today, I was pretty much convinced this was a Zika-affected baby,” he said.

CDC confirmation

The mother traveled to the United States from Honduras in hopes of receiving better medical care because she knew her baby may have Zika-related problems, according to Al-Khan.

Doctors believe she was infected during the second trimester of her pregnancy. She experienced a fever and rash, both symptoms of the mosquito-borne disease, which is known to cause the devastating birth defect microcephaly and other neurological disorders.

“When she developed the symptoms, she was seen by an OBGYN who suspected the baby was growth restricted,” he said.

Doctors there coordinated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test the woman for the Zika virus.

The samples were sent to the CDC and results confirming the diagnosis of the virus came back Tuesday, according to Al-Khan. However, he said, that was not a factor in her having the C-section.

Close to due date

The mother was close to full-term in her pregnancy.

“There were a few reasons the baby needed to be delivered today, including low amniotic fluid,” he said.

Al-Khan said such babies have “tremendous neurological problems,” and most don’t do well.

In January, health officials confirmed that a baby with severe microcephaly was born in Hawaii to a woman who had become infected with the Zika virus while living in Brazil.

Earlier this month, Puerto Rico health officials confirmed their first case of a fetus with severe microcephaly linked to local transmission of the virus.

Al-Khan said this is believed to be the third case of a baby born with Zika-related microcephaly in the United States, but the first in the northeast. He said there was also a baby born in the south but he did not know details about the case.

There are more than 300 pregnant women with the virus in the United States and its territories who are being followed as part of a national registry.

Information on the outcomes or stages of these pregnancies has not been released. In February, the CDC released a report detailing the first nine pregnancies among Zika-infected women in the United States.

Chipotle E. Coli outbreak now linked to illness in Maryland

— The outbreak of E. coli linked to Chipotle Mexican restaurants has now caused individuals to become ill in nine states since October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania now join California, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington in reporting cases linked to the outbreak.

The agency also reported seven additional cases of illness that occurred in October and November. The most recent sick individual began feeling ill on November 13.

In all, 52 people have become ill, most of them reported eating food from Chipotle within the week before their symptoms began. Twenty of those individuals have been hospitalized.

Symptoms, which include diarrhea and abdominal pain, usually begin two to eight days after a person has been exposed to the bacteria and resolve within a week. Some cases are severe and patients can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which is a type of kidney failure. There have been no cases of HUS or deaths from this outbreak.

The restaurant chain said it is continuing to work with federal, state and local health officials to investigate the outbreak. They have not yet identified a single food source or menu item as the culprit.

The outbreak was initially limited to Chipotle locations in Washington and Oregon, where locations were closed as a precaution during the initial investigation. They reopened last month.

In a statement issued Friday, Chipotle said they have “taken aggressive actions to implement industry-leading food safety and food handling practices in all of its restaurants and throughout its supply chain.” This is beyond food safety practices previously in place, the statement said. Improvements include enhanced testing and training, among other measures.

Mansour Samadpour, CEO of IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group, which was hired by Chipotle as an outside food safety consultant, said in a press release, “this program eliminates or mitigates risk to a level near zero and will establish Chipotle as the industry leader in this area.”


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Smoking rates continue to decline among U.S. adults

— The number of adults in the United States who currently smoke is 14.9%, according to new government statistics from the first half of this year. This is even lower than a report released just last week that found 16.8% of adults were smoking in 2014. To be sure, this is the lowest percentage reported since this survey began in 1997, when 24.7% of U.S. adults were smokers.

The new calculation is from the National Health Interview Survey, released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, capture smoking prevalence between January and June of this year.

So who is still smoking 52 years after the U.S. surgeon general first warned the nation about the harms of lighting up? According to the report, more men than women. And the habit seems to be more appealing among younger individuals because people age 18 – 44 (16.3%) and 45 – 64 (16.7%) are more likely than those age 65 and up to smoke. When broken down by race, more non-Hispanic, whites and blacks (17%) smoke than their Hispanic peers (9.7%).

The success is due to a combination of smoking bans, the increasing cost (including taxes) of cigarettes and other tobacco products, awareness campaigns and improved access to tools that can help smokers kick the habit, according to the CDC.

“They work to reduce the enormous health and financial burden of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure among Americans,” said Brian King, with the CDC’s office on smoking and health, in a press release.

The news is encouraging for health officials who hope the percentage of individuals who smoke will drop to 12% or less by the year 2020.

And there’s plenty of motivation to get there. According to the CDC, 480,000 people die in the United States each year from smoking cigarettes and 42,000 of those are from second-hand smoke. For those who live, smoking-related illness costs an additional $300 billion dollars annually in the United States.


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Source of E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle still unknown

— The cause of an E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon remains unknown, according to health officials from the Washington State Department of Health.

Tests of food samples from the restaurants found no traces of E. coli, the health department said Monday.

Nearly 25 food samples were taken from Chipotle locations in Oregon, which also found no E. coli. Results are still pending for a few samples.

This is not unusual as contaminated foods are sometimes consumed or thrown out before samples are taken, according to health officials.

To date, 42 people (27 in Washington and 15 in Oregon) have become ill from E. coli, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fourteen of those individuals have been hospitalized. Most of them reported eating at Chipotle locations before becoming ill.

Symptoms, which include diarrhea and abdominal pain, usually begin two to eight days after a person has been exposed to the bacteria and resolve within a week. Some cases are severe and patients can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which is a type of kidney failure. There have been no cases of HUS or deaths from this outbreak.

Chipotle restaurants across Washington have remained closed as a precaution since the outbreak was identified. State health officials outlined the process the establishments will go through before reopening. They include disposing of all food items, sanitizing each facility and bringing in all new food. Menu items identified as high risk will be tested before being sent to restaurants, and all fresh produce will be carefully rinsed and sanitized. In addition, county food safety inspectors will confirm these steps have been taken at each location.

In Oregon six Chipotle locations in the Portland area have been closed. They will follow the same criteria for reopening as the Washington locations, according to Oregon health officials.

Last week the chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, Steve Ells, said in a statement, “The safety of our customers and integrity of our food supply has always been our highest priority.”

There is one case of the same strain and DNA fingerprint of E. coli in Minnesota, but that person had not eaten at a Chipotle within the week before symptoms began, therefore health officials believe this is an unrelated case. The CDC is unaware of any cases in other states.

State and local health officials continue to work with federal health officials to investigate this outbreak.

‘Female Viagra’ gets FDA approval

— Women who have lost their sex drive will have a little pink pill to help them come October. On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved flibanserin, which will be sold as Addyi, for the treatment of sexual dysfunction in premenopausal women.

This is the first FDA approved treatment for sexual desire in men or women.

“Today’s approval provides women distressed by their low sexual desire with an approved treatment option,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said in a statement announcing the approval. “The FDA strives to protect and advance the health of women, and we are committed to supporting the development of safe and effective treatments for female sexual dysfunction.”

The approval is not without warnings. In fact, the agency approved the drug with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, to ensure safety. Of greatest concern, an increased risk of severe low blood pressure, so low it can cause a temporary loss of consciousness. This is more of a concern in patients who drink alcohol while taking the drug. As required by REMS, health care providers who prescribe the medication and pharmacies that dispense it are required to first complete a training program to become certified. They will be required to warn patients of the risks of consuming alcohol while taking Addyi and the importance of not doing so.

In addition, the agency is requiring a “boxed warning” to notify patients who drink alcohol, have liver problems or those who take medications called CYP3A4 inhibitors (which interfere with the breakdown of the medication in the body) not to take Addyi.

A 2002 study found that up to one-third of adult women might experience hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a technical term for when women lack sexual desire or fantasy.

Some experts say that for women, the cure for low libido is more likely to be found in their brains than in a bottle.

“Women’s sexuality is very complicated. It’s not a matter of just taking that pill, by the way, and then all of a sudden the lights go on,” said Judy Kuriansky, a clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist. “You have to feel good about your body. You have to feel good about yourself. You have to feel the guy really loves you. … It’s complex. It’s not the same as a man taking a pill.”

Addyi is frequently referred to as “female Viagra” because it’s a pill for sexual dysfunction in women. However, experts say it’s a misnomer to describe it as such because it works in a distinctly different way to target the brain.

Viagra treats erectile dysfunction, a physical problem, and does not induce sexual desire. Addyi works on the central nervous system, which is why it’s in the same category as an antidepressant.

Another difference is that men take Viagra as needed before a sexual encounter, and women take Addyi once every night. Taking it at night will reduce the likelihood of adverse reactions from low blood pressure and sleepiness or depression from a depressed central nervous system.

Other common side effects include dizziness, nausea, fatigue, insomnia and dry mouth.

In clinical trials, women taking the drug experienced a 37% increase in sexual desire, according to Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which makes the drug.

“It doesn’t treat all sexual dysfunction, it won’t help all women with sexual problems, but it will have a role in the therapy. Just like with any medication — adult women in conjunction with their physician can make an informed decision about whether this is an appropriate therapy for them,” said Dr. Holly Thacker, an obstetrician gynecologist at The Cleveland Clinic.

There’s no doubt that sex drugs for men have been a boon for the pharmaceutical industry. The FDA approved Viagra in 1998. Last year, the drug earned more than $1.6 billion for Pfizer. But drug companies have struggled to come up with the right formula for women.

Addyi will cost about the same per month as a one month supply of Viagra for men, Sprout said on Tuesday.

In June, an advisory committee recommended the drug for approval after two previous failed attempts to do so that cited concerns about side effects.

“It has been a remarkable journey to get to this breakthrough moment. Today we celebrate what this approval means for all women who have long awaited a medical treatment option for this life impacting condition,” Cindy Whitehead, chief executive officer of Sprout, said in a company statement after the approval was announced.


Indiana HIV outbreak linked to injection drug use

— Indiana Gov. Mike Pence issued an executive order Monday to extend a public health emergency in his state in response to a rampant HIV outbreak that first began in mid-December.

As of Tuesday, there were 135 cases — 129 confirmed, and six preliminary — of HIV. The increase has been linked to injection drug use, primarily of the prescription opioid opana.

Pence issued an order in March for Scott County, which then had 79 confirmed cases of HIV since mid-December.

The county normally averages about five new cases a year.

“Scott County is facing an epidemic of HIV. But this is not a Scott County problem — this is an Indiana problem,” Pence said in March.

Officials expect more cases as more individuals are tested, particularly because it can take up to three months for HIV to appear in a person’s system after initial infection.

The emergency order was first issued last month and set to expire Friday, but now will be in place until May 24. It calls on multiple state agencies to coordinate a response to the unprecedented outbreak and provides additional resources. Law enforcement, emergency agencies and health officials are working together. Most notably, a temporary needle exchange program that began April 4. As of Tuesday, more than 4,300 clean syringes had been distributed and more than 3,100 used needles had been turned in, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

A team from the CDC Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention was working on site with state and local officials.

In extending the public health emergency declaration, the governor said: “While we’ve made progress in identifying and treating those affected by this heartbreaking epidemic, the public health emergency continues and so must our efforts to fight it.”


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