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Health Highlights: Aug. 29, 2019

Last Updated: August 29, 2019.

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

U.S. Surgeon General Warns About Marijuana Use by Young People, Pregnant Women

Marijuana use is risky for young people and pregnant women, a U.S. Surgeon General health advisory warns.

The latest research shows that marijuana is particularly harmful to developing brains and can be passed along to infants in the womb or through breast milk, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Thursday, ABC News reported.

Adams said he was deeply concerned about what he called the "rapid normalization" of marijuana and the mistaken belief among young people that because the drug is now legal in some states, it must be safe.

"Not enough people known that today's marijuana is far more potent than in days past," Adams said, ABC News reported. "This ain't your mother's marijuana," he added.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has long advised young people not to use marijuana and has said that no amount of marijuana has been proven safe to use while pregnant or breast feeding.

Adams and Health Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said they support additional research on the effects of marijuana, and Azar said the federal government will launch a public awareness campaign, ABC News reported.

Last year, the surgeon general issued a warning about e-cigarette use by young people, called it "unsafe" in any form.

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Brutus & Barnaby Pig Ear Treats For Dogs Recalled

All package sizes of Brutus & Barnaby pig ear treats for dogs have been recalled due to possible salmonella contamination, the Florida-based company says.

The 8-, 12-, 25- and 110-count packages are labeled "Pig Ears 100% Natural Treats for Dogs" and were sold online across the U.S. through Amazon.com, Chewy.com, Brutusandbarnaby.com, and also sold at the Natures Food Patch store in Clearwater, Florida.

Dogs that eat the treats and people who handle them could be at risk for salmonella infection. Consumers who bought the treats should destroy them and contact the place of purchase for a full refund, Brutus & Barnaby said.

For more information, contact the company at 1-800-489-0970.

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Risk From Tainted Blood Pressure Drugs Very Low: FDA

The health risk from contamination of widely used generic blood pressure medications is very low, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Since last July, low levels of a probable cancer-causing chemical have led to more than 50 recalls of the medications taken by millions of Americans, the Associated Press reported.

Last year, the FDA said there would be only one extra lifetime case of cancer if 8,000 patients took the maximum doses of the drugs for four years.

On Wednesday, the agency said it's likely that the risk is much lower than this "worst case scenario" because most patients likely "received much smaller amounts of the impurity," because not all blood pressure medications are tainted, the AP reported.

Patients should keep taking their blood pressure medications because the risk from untreated high blood pressure and heart failure "greatly outweighs the potential risk of exposure to trace amounts" of the harmful chemicals, according to Janet Woodcock, FDA's drug center director.

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"Dramatic Resurgence" of Measles in Europe: WHO

Vaccine refusals have contributed to a "dramatic resurgence" of measles in Europe, the World Health Organization says.

In the first half of this year there were nearly 90,000 measles cases in Europe, nearly double the number reported for the same period in 2018, according to a WHO report released Thursday.

Ukraine had most of the measles cases in the first half of 2019 (84,000), followed by Kazakhstan and Georgia, the Associated Press reported.

Four European countries -- Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and the U.K. -- have lost their status as having eliminated measles, an expert WHO committee said.

"If high immunization coverage is not achieved and sustained in every community, both children and adults will suffer unnecessarily and some will tragically die," said Dr. Guenter Pfaff, chair of a WHO expert committee on measles in Europe, the AP reported.

Vaccination can prevent measles, but there is no effective treatment for the disease once people are infected.

A number of European countries have implemented stronger vaccination policies, but areas of vaccine refusal have led to epidemics across the continent, the AP reported.

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Vaccine-Related Searches on Pinterest Will Show Only Public Health Organizations

From now on, if you do vaccine-related searches on Pinterest, you'll only get results from public health organizations.

"We're taking this approach because we believe that showing vaccine misinformation alongside resources from public health experts isn't responsible," Ifeoma Ozoma, the social media company's public policy and social impact manager said in a statement released Wednesday, CNN reported.

"As we continue to tackle health misinformation, we remove it and the accounts that spread it from our service," Ozoma added.

Pinterest will only show results from institutions such as the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization-established Vaccine Safety Net, CNN reported.

The results for such searches won't include recommendations or comments on Pins and won't show ads.

Last year, Pinterest stopped showing vaccine-related search results in order to halt the spread of harmful misinformation, CNN reported.

The new vaccine-related search response is available now in English on its website and its mobile apps, according to the company.

Social media changes could "help us turn the tide" on vaccine misinformation, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told CNN this week.

She and her colleagues were surprised by the influence social media had on vaccines, she added.

"I do think it caught us all a little flat-footed -- how quickly the myths and misinformation spread," Messonnier told CNN.


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