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Health Highlights: March 15, 2019

Last Updated: March 15, 2019.

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

Young Child Goes to ER for Medicine Poisoning Every 10 Minutes: Report

The number of children under age 6 treated at U.S. emergency rooms for medicine poisonings has declined in recent years, but there were still nearly 52,000 cases in 2017, a new report says.

That's an average of 142 per day or one every 10 minutes, CNN reported.

Between 2010 and 2016, such ER visits fell 32 percent and the number of calls to poison control centers decreased 20 percent, according to the nonprofit group Safe Kids Worldwide.

As part of their report, the authors interviewed 42 parents in Maryland and found that medicine safety was not a top priority when they childproofed their homes, often because they believed they'd stored medicine in safe places such as cabinets or closets, CNN reported.

The authors said parents should add medicine safety to their childproofing task list, keep all medicines and vitamins out of children's reach and sight, and save poison control numbers on their phones and post them in a visible place at home.

"It's easy to look at your beautiful, newborn baby and think that he's not going anywhere anytime soon; believing you still have plenty of time to child-proof your home," Torine Creppy, president of Safe Kids Worldwide, said in a statement, CNN reported.

"But we've learned from our research that parents are all too often surprised by how quickly their babies grow and change. That's why it's so important to start life-saving habits, like safe medicine storage, well before your baby is on the move."


EPA Should Scrap Proposal to Allow Antibiotic Spraying of Citrus Crops: Consumer Reports

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to allow the use of the antibiotic streptomycin to treat citrus disease should be withdrawn because it poses a risk to human health and the environment, Consumers Reports says.

The move would lead to "a 26-fold increase in the use of streptomycin in plant agriculture and could trigger antibiotic resistance that would reduce the drug's effectiveness in treating diseases in people," the consumer group warned in a news release.

Medical experts say that growing antibiotic resistance poses one of the most serious threats to public health.

"This misguided proposal would allow a massive increase in the use of streptomycin -- far greater than its use in human medicine," Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumer Reports, said in the news release.

"The EPA has failed to adequately investigate the risks associated with this proposal, which would undermine current government efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics. We urge the EPA to withdraw this proposal."

The EPA proposal would allow streptomycin to be sprayed on all citrus trees in the U.S. up to three times a year. Based on current commercial citrus acreage, the amount allowed to be sprayed would total more than 942,000 lbs, according to Consumer Reports.

The group noted that other federal agencies have taken steps to reduce overuse of antibiotics in agriculture and human medicine.

Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people develop serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Jury Awards $29.4 Million in Talcum Powder/Cancer Case

A woman who said her mesothelioma was caused by her regular use of Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder was awarded $24.4 million by a California jury, which also awarded $5 million to her spouse.

The verdict Wednesday in favor of Teresa Leavitt and her spouse, Dean McElroy, came after a trial that started in January, CNN reported.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the tissue that lines lungs and other organs.

The award is only to repay the couple for their loss. The jury did not award punitive damages -- designed to punish defendants -- from Johnson & Johnson and the other companies involved in making the talcum powder.

Nearly 14,000 cases involving people who believe that J&J's talc powder caused their cancer are making their way through the U.S. legal system. Many of those cases allege that the talc is contaminated with asbestos and that Johnson & Johnson knew that its products were contaminated for decades, CNN reported.

J&J says its products do not contain asbestos, and said it will appeal Wednesday's jury decision.

On Tuesday, the science that may link talc to cancer was discussed at a hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. It also looked at the possibility of creating a law that would more closely regulate the cosmetic and personal products industry, CNN reported.

There is growing debate in the scientific community about a link between talcum powder and cancer. Some studies have concluded there is a connection, while others have not.

Most suggest that further research is needed, CNN reported.


Butterball Ground Turkey Recalled Due to Possible Salmonella

Nearly 39 tons of Butterball raw ground turkey products have been recalled due to possible salmonella contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service says.

The agency said the recalled products were distributed across the United States to institutions and major grocery chains, including Kroger and Food Lion, CBS News reported.

Consumers with the recalled products should throw them away or return them to the place of purchase, officials said.

"Because these products were packaged nine months ago, it is highly unlikely any of the product will be found in retail stores, but it is possible that consumers may have product in their freezers," Butterball said in a news release, CBS News reported.

The recalled products would have a use-or-sell-by date of July 26, 2018, but turkey can be stored unopened in the freezer for up to three years and still be safe to cook.

The contamination was discovered by federal and state health officials investigating a salmonella outbreak that sickened four people in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota, CBS News reported.

Salmonella can cause symptoms such as abdominal cramps and fever 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. The illness typically lasts four to seven days, but can be more dangerous for the elderly, infants and people with weakened immune systems.


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