Health Highlights: July 24, 2018
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Babies' Deaths Halt Trial Testing Use of Viagra in Pregnant Women
There have been 11 lung-related infant deaths after pregnant women in the Netherlands were given Viagra to boost the growth of their babies while in the womb.
The clinical trial included women whose placentas had been underperforming and were given the male erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil (brand name Viagra) in the hope it would improve blood flow to the placenta and promote fetal growth, according to The Guardian newspaper in the U.K.
Viagra widens blood vessels. Along with being used for erectile dysfunction in men, the drug is prescribed for people with high blood pressure.
The clinical trial included 183 pregnant women whose unborn babies had severely limited growth in the womb. Previous research in rats suggested the drug might boost blood flow in the placenta and promote a baby's growth, The Guardian reported.
But the study was halted last week after an independent monitoring panel learned that a higher-than-expected number of babies were being born with lung problems. Of the babies born to women who received Viagra, 17 developed lung problems, and 11 of those have died. Another eight babies died of unrelated conditions.
Of the babies born to the 90 women in a control group who did not receive Viagra, three developed the same lung problems, but none of them died. Nine other babies born to women in the control group died of unrelated problems.
Between 10 to 15 of the women who received Viagra are waiting to learn if their baby has been affected by the drug, The Guardian reported.
The drug may have caused high blood pressure in the lungs, resulting in the babies receiving too little oxygen.
Study leader Wessel Ganzevoort told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant: "We wanted to show that this is an effective way to promote the growth of the baby. But the opposite happened. I am shocked. The last thing you want is to harm patients.
"We have already notified Canadian researchers who are conducting a similar study. In any case, they have temporarily stopped their research."
The clinical trial was led by Amsterdam University Medical Center. A spokesman said the facility believed the research had been conducted properly, but expects an external investigation to be launched, The Guardian reported.
Fukushima Fallout in Some California Wines: Study
Some California red wines contain small amounts of radioactive particles from the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, but the affected wines don't pose a health risk.
After the meltdown, a radioactive cloud drifted across the Pacific Ocean to California. Researchers wondered whether that cloud led to wines with higher levels of a radioactive isotope called cesium-137, CNN reported.
They tested two well-known types of California wines -- rosé and Cabernet sauvignon -- made between 2009 and 2012. Some of the wines made after 2011 had twice as much cesium-137 as wines made before 2011.
The study was submitted July 11 to the Cornell University Library.
But there's no reason to avoid California wines, because the World Health Organization says the amount of radioactive material that spread to other countries after the Fukushima meltdown is much lower than what people are exposed to normally, CNN reported.