Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
After cuts in California dental insurance, ER visits went up
(Reuters Health) - After dental benefits were removed from California's public health insurance for the poor, emergency room visits for dental problems went up, a new study shows. Removing comprehensive dental benefits from the state's Medicaid program in 2009 led to nearly 1,800 additional ER visits per year for dental problems, the researchers estimate.
California may require warnings on products containing chemical BPA
Plastic drinking bottles, canned goods and other items containing the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) distributed in California might soon be required to carry a label disclosing that the compound can cause reproductive harm to women. Thursday's decision by a board of scientific experts to include BPA on a list of chemicals known to cause harm is the latest in a years-long dispute between state experts and the chemical industry, which says the substance is safe.
Heroin sends more young adults to California emergency rooms
The number of young adults admitted to California hospital emergency rooms with heroin poisoning increased sixfold over the past decade, the state said, the latest evidence of growing abuse of the highly addictive drug. Heroin abuse has been on the rise across the United States, in part because it has become easier to obtain than prescription opiates like Oxycontin.
CDC to help Washington state find source of E. coli outbreak at milk fest
Public health officials in Washington state said on Friday they had asked for assistance from the federal government in tracking the source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened more than 40 people who attended a milk festival last month. So far, eight people have been hospitalized, including a teenager treated for acute kidney failure, after being sickened by E. coli bacteria during the three-day Milk Makers Fest in Lynden, Washington, state health officials said.
Liberia declared Ebola-free, but outbreak continues over border
Liberia was declared free from Ebola by the government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday after 42 days without a new case of the virus, which killed more than 4,700 people there during a year-long epidemic. However, celebrations were muted by thoughts for the dead and medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) urged vigilance until the worst outbreak of the disease ever recorded was also extinguished in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Food ads during children's TV don't meet proposed guidelines
(Reuters Health) - On network and cable TV, during shows aimed at kids under age 12, the vast majority of commercials are for products with too much added sugar, saturated fat or sodium, according to a new study. Researchers compared the foods advertised to previous proposed U.S. nutrition guidelines for foods marketed to kids. The proposal was not adopted, and it's not surprising to see that most foods advertised on TV would not comply with it, said lead author Melanie D. Hingle of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Sexual orientation, gender identity tied to eating disorder risk
(Reuters Health) - Transgender and non-transgender lesbian, gay and bisexual college students seem to be at the highest risk for eating disorders, according to a new study. As reported April 28 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study involved students at 223 U.S. universities - including more than 200,000 heterosexuals, 5,000 who are "unsure," 15,000 who are gay, lesbian or bisexual and 479 who are transgender.
WHO adds hepatitis C drugs to essential list, urges lower prices
The World Health Organization has added new curative treatments for hepatitis C to its essential medicines list, but the U.N. agency said prices needed to fall to make them accessible to patients in poorer countries. The treatment of hepatitis C, which affects about 150 million people globally and kills around half a million each year, has been transformed by the arrival of new drugs, such as Gilead's Sovaldi.
Osteoporosis linked to higher risk of sudden deafness
(Reuters Health) - People with osteoporosis may be almost twice as likely to develop sudden hearing loss, compared to people without the bone disease, according to researchers in Taiwan. The cause of this sudden deafness is unknown, but the rapid loss of hearing typically affects one ear, and it's estimated to strike about one in every 5,000 Americans each year.
China to increase health care subsidies, deepen reform
China will increase its healthcare subsidies by 19 percent this year as part of efforts to deepen social reforms and strengthen safety nets, the government said on Saturday. Government healthcare subsidies for qualified urban and rural residents will be raised to 380 yuan ($61.21), from 320 yuan last year, the cabinet said in a statement posted on the website of the National Health and Family Planning Commission.