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Health Highlights: March 5, 2019

Last Updated: March 05, 2019.

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

Sperm Retrieved From Brain Dead West Point Cadet

Sperm was retrieved from a West Point cadet who had been declared brain dead after a skiing accident.

The retrieval of sperm from 21-year-old Peter Zhu was granted by a judge at his parents' request. The retrieval occurred Friday before his organs were removed for donation later that day at Westchester Medical Center, the Associated Press reported.

The judge ordered the sperm stored pending a court hearing March 21 to determine the next steps.

Peter Zhu was declared brain dead Wednesday, four days after a skiing accident at West Point fractured his spine and cut off oxygen to his brain.

His parents, Monica and Yongmin Zhu of Concord, California, said in a court petition that they wanted to fulfill at least part of Peter's oft-stated desire to one day raise five children. Peter was their only male child, the AP reported.

The first documented sperm removal after death occurred in 1980 and the first baby conceived using the procedure was born in 1999, according to medical journals. The request is typically made by a surviving spouse.


Salmonella Spurs Recall of Sunstone Organics Kratom

Two lots of Sunstone Organics Kratom are being recalled due to potential salmonella contamination.

The lots include Sunstone Organics White Vein Kratom Lot 119 and Sunstone Organics Maeng Da Kratom Lot 124A in both capsules and powder form and in all sizes.

No reports of illness associated with the recalled products have been reported, according to the company.

For more information about the recall, call Sunstone Organics at 541-972-3327.

Symptoms of salmonella infection can include illness and vomiting. Death can occur in some cases. The risk of illness is highest for people with a compromised or weak immune system, including the elderly and young children.


Heat Alerts May Come Too Late in Northern States

Hospital admissions for heat-related health problems increase in Northern states long before heat alerts are issued, a new U.S. study shows.

Not only that, these higher admission rates occur at lower temperatures than in the South, where people are more used to heat, the Associated Press reported.

The findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that heat alerts in northern states are not being issued early enough, Dr. Renee Salas, an emergency room doctor and researcher at the Harvard Global Health Institute, told the news service.

The study is important in a warming world where the problem of heat illness is only going to get worse, said Salas, who wasn't part of the study.

In the study, U.S. government researchers analyzed hospital admissions for heat-related illnesses in 22 states over a decade. They found an average of 36,000 such hospitalizations each summer.

The study said that when the heat index -- a combination of temperature and humidity -- reaches 85 degrees, there's a noticeable rise in the number of people who go to the hospital with heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, breathing and heart problems, and even diabetes, the AP reported.

However, the National Weather Service doesn't issue its first level of heat alerts in those regions until the heat index approaches 100 degrees, the AP reported.


Over 20 States to Fight Trump Administration Abortion Rule

The Trump administration's new rule forbidding taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers is being challenged in court by California and 20 other Democratic-led states.

Critics say the rule would divert millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood to faith-based family planning organizations, the Associated Press reported.

On Monday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state had filed its own federal lawsuit in San Francisco that aims to block the new rule.

"The Trump-Pence administration has doubled down on its attacks on women's health," Becerra said.

On Tuesday, 20 states and Washington, D.C., said they would sue separately. The states are: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin, the AP reported.

In addition, Washington state's Democratic attorney general has said that state would challenge the new rule.


Social Media Companies Must Curb Spread of Vaccine Myths: AAP

Google, Facebook and Pinterest need to take more action against the growing threat to children posed by online misinformation about vaccines, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a letter sent to the social media companies.

"Pediatricians are working in our clinics and our communities, talking with families one-on-one about how important vaccines are to protect their children's health. But it's no longer enough," AAP President Dr. Kyle Yasuda said in an academy news release.

"Our worst fears are being realized as measles outbreaks spread across the country. I reached out to the technology industry with an urgent request to work together to combat the dangerous spread of vaccine misinformation online," Yasuda said.

Google (which owns YouTube), Facebook (which owns Instagram and WhatsApp) and Pinterest all say they're taking steps to tackle the problem, but the AAP says more needs to be done to ensure that parents have credible information about vaccines.

In the letter, the AAP asks the companies to meet and discuss ways to work together to achieve that goal.

"We have an opportunity -- and in my view, an obligation -- to work together to solve this public health crisis," Yasuda said. "It will take commitments across all sectors -- local and federal government, the medical and public health community, and the technology industry -- to do so."

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