Reuters Health News Summary

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

4D scans show fetuses yawn in the womb

LONDON (Reuters) - Growing into a fully formed human being

is a long process, and scientists have found that unborn babies

not only hiccup, swallow and stretch in the womb, they yawn

too. Researchers who studied 4D scans of 15 healthy fetuses

also said they think yawning is a developmental process which

could potentially give doctors a new way to check on a baby's


Judge denies motion to freeze meningitis pharmacy owners'


BOSTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday denied a

motion to freeze the assets of the owners of the compounding

pharmacy at the heart of the deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak,

but said the company may not make extraordinary cash transfers

or pay dividends or bonuses to the pharmacy's owners. Judge

Dennis Saylor, of U.S. District Court in Boston, ordered an

attachment of $5 million for each of the two plaintiffs who had

moved for a preliminary injunction and prejudgment attachment

restraining the assets of the Framingham, Massachusetts-based

New England Compounding Center.

FDA took 684 days to warn meningitis-linked firm: files

BOSTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration

took 684 days to issue a warning letter after uncovering

infractions that could potentially harm patients at the

pharmacy at the center of the deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak,

newly released documents show. The New England Compounding

Center (NECC) chastised the FDA in a letter dated January 5,

2007, telling the agency its response time was nearly 18 months

longer than the FDA's average response, according to letters

released under an open records request.

Infections linked to tainted steroid injections nears 500


NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - A deadly outbreak of

infections linked to tainted steroid injections is approaching

500 cases nearly two months after it began, and health experts

said on Wednesday it was unclear whether the epidemic had

peaked amid new risks facing patients. Many patients initially

stricken with fungal meningitis are developing secondary

infections, prompting a renewed effort to contact people who

received the injections, said health officials in Tennessee and

Michigan, the two hardest-hit states.

Sex won't bring on labor: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite a widespread belief

that sex during the later stages of pregnancy can jumpstart

labor, a new study from Malaysia found no differences in the

timing of delivery between women who had sex near term and

those who abstained. "We are a little disappointed that we did

not find an association," said Dr. Tan Peng Chiong, an

obstetrics and gynecology professor at the University of

Malaya, and one of the authors of the study. "It would have

been nice for couples to have something safe, effective and

perhaps even fun that they could use themselves to help go into

labor a little earlier if (they) wanted."

Study reignites controversy over mammograms

CHICAGO (Reuters) - As many as a third of cancers detected

through routine mammograms may not be life threatening,

according to a study published on Wednesday that raises fresh

questions about the benefits of breast cancer screening. The

study, which looked at three decades of U.S. government data,

found more than 1 million women may have been over diagnosed

for breast cancer, needlessly exposing them to the anguish of a

breast cancer diagnosis and the ordeal of treatment.

Medication cuts crime rate among ADHD sufferers

LONDON (Reuters) - Criminal behavior in adults with

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drops sharply

when they take stimulant drugs like Ritalin to help them to

control impulses, scientists said on Wednesday. A study of more

than 25,000 people with ADHD found the number of crimes

committed was about a third or more lower in those taking

medication, suggesting that encouraging ADHD patients to stay

on the pills could cut the risk of crime.

Longer waits for breast cancer patients on Medicare

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women with a new diagnosis of

breast cancer who are covered by Medicare are waiting longer

and longer to get treatment, according to a new nationwide

study. Researchers found that between 1992 and 2005, the

average waiting time between being diagnosed and having surgery

rose from 21 days to 32 days. The delay was especially long for

black and Hispanic women, and for those living in large cities.

Ob-gynecologists back genetic blood test for at-risk women

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - New, non-invasive tests for

chromosomal disorders should be reserved for pregnant women

with a higher-than-average risk of having a baby with Down

syndrome, doctors said this week. The screening tests, which

find small amounts of DNA from the fetus in the blood of

pregnant women, can help diagnose a few genetic disorders

starting late in the first trimester.

"Irrational" factors may drive end of life access to


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Access to radiation treatments

to ease cancer symptoms in the last days of life may be driven

by costs and other non-medical considerations, a new U.S. study

concludes. Researchers looking at Medicare claims over nearly a

decade found that only a small proportion of cancer patients

received radiation in their final 30 days of life, but of those

who did get the treatment - typically used to ease pain and

other symptoms in the terminal stages of the disease - one in

five got more than the recommended number of doses.

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