Health Highlights: Dec. 15, 2016

Related Health News

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

EPA Issues Rules to Prevent Deaths from Herbicide Paraquat

New safety rules to prevent poisonings caused by the ingestion of the herbicide paraquat are being finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The herbicide can also cause severe injuries or death from skin or eye exposure.

Paraquat is one of the most widely-used herbicides in the U.S. for the control of weeds, and is also used as a defoliant on crops such as cotton prior to harvest, the EPA said.

Since 2000, there have been 17 deaths, including three children, due to accidental ingestion of paraquat. These deaths occurred after the pesticide was illegally transferred to beverage containers and later mistaken for a drink and consumed. One sip can be deadly.

The new rules announced by the EPA include new closed-system packaging designed to make it impossible to transfer or remove the pesticide except directly into the proper application equipment.

Other measures include special training for certified applicators who use paraquat to emphasize that the chemical must not be transferred to or stored in improper containers, and changes to the label and warning materials to highlight the toxicity and risks associated with paraquat.

Accidental ingestion isn't the only risk. Since 2000, three deaths and many severe injuries occurred when paraquat got onto the skin or into the eyes of people mixing, loading or applying the herbicide.

To reduce that risk, the EPA will restrict the use of paraquat to certified pesticide applicators only.


First Birth Using Ovarian Tissue Frozen in Childhood

A woman had a baby boy after her fertility was restored with ovarian tissue that was removed and frozen when she was a child.

It's believed that 24-year-old Moaza Al Matrooshi is the first in the world to have a child after having ovary tissue frozen before puberty, BBC News reported.

She is from Dubai. The baby was delivered at a hospital in London, England.

Moaza was born with beta thalassaemia, an inherited blood disorder that is fatal if not treated. At age 9, she underwent chemotherapy, which damages the ovaries, before receiving a bone marrow transplant from her brother, BBC News reported.

Before the chemotherapy, doctors removed her right ovary and froze tissue from it.

Last year, surgeons transplanted five slices of the ovarian tissue back into Moaza -- four on her damaged left ovary and one on to the side of her uterus. After the transplant, her hormone levels rose, she began ovulating, and her fertility was restored, BBC News reported.

To boost their chances of having a child, Moaza and her husband underwent IVF treatment. Eight eggs were collected, three embryos were produced, and two of them were implanted earlier this year.

This successful outcome offers hope to other women whose fertility is at risk due to treatments for cancer, blood or immune disorders, according to Sara Matthews, a consultant in gynecology and fertility who conducted Moaza's fertility treatment.

"This is a huge step forward. We know that ovarian tissue transplantation works for older women, but we've never known if we could take tissue from a child, freeze it and make it work again," Matthews told BBC News.

Health Insurance Subsidies Cost Rises to Nearly $10 Billion

The cost to U.S. taxpayers of health insurance premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act will rise by $9.8 billion to $42.6 billion next year, from $32.8 billion currently, according to a Center for Health and Economy study.

It said the average monthly subsidy will increase $76 (26 percent), from $291 to $367, the Associated Press reported.

The higher subsidy is meant to reduce the impact of double-digit premium hikes.

More than 8 in 10 consumers who purchase private health insurance through and state markets receive tax credits from the government to help pay their premiums, the AP reported.

Republicans plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with an alternative, but have provided no details.


Babies Conceived With DNA from 3 People Approved by U.K. Regulator

The U.K.'s fertility regulator has given the go-ahead for doctors to create babies using DNA from two women and one man.

The technique is meant to prevent children from inheriting deadly genetic diseases from their mother. Doctors in Newcastle who developed this type of IVF are expected to be the first to offer the procedure and have already asked for donor eggs, BBC News reported.

This approach uses a donor egg along with the mother's egg and father's sperm. The resulting child has a small amount of DNA from the donor.

At the earliest, the first child created using this technique could born by the end of 2017, BBC News reported.

"It is a decision of historic importance," Sally Cheshire, chairwoman of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, said.

"This is about cautious go ahead, not gung-ho go ahead, and there is a long way to go," she added, BBC News reported.

This is a story from HealthDay, a service of ScoutNews, LLC.