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Health Highlights: Sept. 6, 2012

Last Updated: September 06, 2012.

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

More Than 450,000 Blinds Recalled by Blinds Xpress

More than 450,000 vertical and horizontal blinds are being recalled by Blinds Xpress after a 2-year-old girl reportedly strangled in a blind's cord.

The 2009 incident involved a Michigan girl who got caught in a vertical blind cord that was not attached to the wall or the floor, the Associated Press reported.

The recall covers all Blind Xpress horizontal blinds that do not have inner cord stop devices and all custom-made vertical blinds that do not have a cord tensioning device that attaches to the wall or floor.

The blinds were sold from January 1995 through December 2011 at stores in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, the AP reported.

Conusmers should immediately stop using the blinds and contact the Window Covering Safety Council at 1-800-506-4636 to receive a free repair kit, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.


Many American Grandparents Help Care for Grandkids

Two new studies show that most grandparents in the United States babysit and provide financial support for their grandchildren. The findings are timely because Sunday is Grandparents Day.

In one study, University of Chicago researchers analyzed data collected between 1998 and 2008 from more than 13,000 grandparents, ages 50 and older. Sixty-one percent of the grandparents provided at least 50 hours of care for grandchildren for at least one year during those 10 years, and 70 percent provided care for two years or more, USA Today reported.

Grandparents with more education and higher incomes were more likely to provide babysitting. Those less likely to do so have children of their own at home or are older, unmarried and less likely to have a job.

The study was published in the Journal of Family Issues.

The other study involved an online survey of more than 1,000 grandparents, ages 45 and older. It was conducted in April for the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the nonprofit Generations United, an intergenerational policy group, USA Today reported.

It found that 62 percent of grandparents had provided financial support to grandchildren in the past five years, averaging $8,289, primarily for investments and education. Seventy-four percent of the grandparents said they babysit or provide care weekly.


Scientology Detox Method Used to Treat Agent Orange Victims

A detoxification treatment developed by the founder of the Church of Scientology is being used by the Vietnamese government to treat some people exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange.

The defoliant was used by American troops during the Vietnam War and contained dioxin, which has been linked to cancers, birth defects and other diseases, The New York Times reported.

The treatment, which as been used on about 300 people in Vietnam, includes taking vitamins and minerals, doing strenuous exercise, and sweating in a sauna. Some doctors and others doubt that the treatment, known as the Purification Rundown or the Hubbard method, is effective.

"I would not expect that it would lower the body burden of dioxin in a given person," Dr. Marcella L. Warner, a research epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the long-term health effects of dioxin exposure, told The Times.

"We are not aware of any safe, effective detoxification treatment for people with dioxin in body tissues," Christopher Hodges, a spokesman for the American Embassy in Hanoi, said. "The best way to reduce health risks associated with dioxin is to prevent human exposure to dioxin."


Colorado Girl Recovering From Bubonic Plague

A seven-year-old Colorado girl is recovering after contracting a rare case of bubonic plague.

Sierra Jane Downing's father rushed her to hospital in their town of Pagosa Springs after she developed a high fever and suffered a seizure on Aug. 24., a few days after the family had gone camping in southwestern Colorado, the Associated Press reported.

Doctors struggled to diagnose what was wrong with Sierra Jane, who was eventually transferred to Denver. By the night of Aug. 25, she had a high rate, low blood pressure, and a swollen lymph node in her left groin was extremely painful. Sierra Jane was put on a specific antibiotic while doctors conducted tests that confirmed bubonic plague.

By Wednesday, Sierra Jane was well on the road to recovery and doctors say she could be discharged within a week, the AP reported.

Humans typically become infected with bubonic plague through the bites of infected fleas, but the disease can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected rodents and other animals.

So far this year, there have been two other confirmed cases and one probable case of plague in United States, according to federal officials. The confirmed cases were in New Mexico and Oregon and the probable case was also in Oregon. No one died, the AP reported.

Antibiotics are used to treat people with bubonic plague.


Yosemite Visitors in 39 Other Countries Warned About Hantavirus

Yosemite Park visitors from 39 countries outside the United States have been sent warnings about a hantavirus outbreak linked to some of the park's cabins, health officials said Wednesday.

Six cases of the potentially deadly rodent-borne disease have been reported among people who stayed at 'Signature Tent Cabins" in the park's popular Curry Village from early June to late August. Two of those infected have died, CNN reported.

Up to 100,000 people are at risk, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"All guests who made reservations to stay in the 'Signature Tent Cabins' from June 10 through August 24, 2012 (approximately 2,900 persons) were e-mailed or mailed a health advisory urging them to seek immediate medical attention if they or other persons in their party exhibit symptoms of HPS," or hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, the CDC said last week.

The syndrome is a rare lung disease that kills about one third of those infected, CNN reported.


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