Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Louisiana lawmakers pass bill to ban abortions as early as six weeks
The Louisiana House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to prohibit abortion after detection of an embryonic heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks from conception, often before a woman even realizes she is pregnant. The 79-23 vote by the Republican-controlled House sends the bill to the state's Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, who has indicated that he would sign it.
When shots start younger, more teens get meningococcal vaccine
Teens are more likely to get at least one of two recommended doses of the meningococcal vaccine when they receive their first shot by early adolescence, a U.S. study suggests. Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that can lead to bloodstream infections and severe swelling in the brain and spinal cord. About 10 percent to 15 percent of people who catch it die, and many survivors have lasting impairments like neurological deficits, loss of limbs or digits and hearing loss.
Patients with food allergies may need mental health support
Many patients with life-threatening food allergies may feel anxious or overwhelmed at times, but it's rare for mental health professionals to be involved in their care, suggests a survey of U.S. centers of excellence in allergy treatment. Allergy specialists and mental health professionals should work together to create easier pathways for patients to get mental health support, the survey team writes in a "clinical communication" in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Daily strides may mean longer life for older women
Older women who get in enough steps each day to walk the equivalent of about two miles - far less than the five-mile goal set by many Americans - might still live longer than their less active counterparts, a U.S. study suggests. Many people trying to achieve a healthy weight and stay in shape set a daily goal of 10,000 steps, or about five miles, often because they use a fitness tracker with that target, researchers write in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Most face transplant patients continue to report better quality of life
Doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston say most of the face transplant patients they have been following for about five years are continuing to show improvement in quality of life. Their new faces are functioning - in terms of movement control - at about 60 percent of what a normal face would, and the patients are seeing "significant improvement" in the ability to feel hot, cold and pressure on the skin.
Exclusive: Canada told drugmakers it would limit scope of some new price rules
The Canadian government has assured the pharmaceutical industry that new features of its plan to cut drug costs would apply only to new medicines, Health Canada said, offering some relief to drugmakers even as other regulations could still lower prices of medicines already on the market. Drugmakers have argued that new regulations should only apply to newly approved drugs. The Health Canada clarification comes after draft rules published in 2017 sowed confusion over how the government would implement its plan.
Louisiana governor to sign 'heartbeat' ban, latest move to curb U.S. abortion rights
Louisiana's Democratic governor said on Wednesday he would sign a bill passed earlier in the day to ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, the latest legislation in a movement in mostly Southern and Midwest states to curb abortion rights. Earlier on Wednesday, Missouri's governor renewed his intention to close a Planned Parenthood clinic and become the first state without a medical facility that performs abortions.
Congo's Ebola epidemic inflicts heavy toll on children
Eight-year-old Kennedy Muhindo was running a high fever and racked by stomach pain and diarrhea. Health workers told him he had Ebola but his first thought was for his sister who had been battling the virus.
Overdose victim's father to testify in Oklahoma opioid trial of J&J
The father of a university football player who died of a drug overdose is expected to testify on Wednesday on the second day of trial in a lawsuit by the state of Oklahoma accusing the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson of fueling the U.S. opioid epidemic. The trial in a state court in Norman, Oklahoma, in the first to result from more than 2,000 similar lawsuits against opioid manufacturers nationally.
Insomnia, sleep apnea diagnoses up sharply in U.S. Army
Between 2003 and 2011, rates of insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis among U.S. Army soldiers increased by more than 600 percent, a new study finds. Those who were deployed were twice as likely as non-deployed soldiers to be diagnosed with insomnia or sleep apnea, according to the study published in Sleep. Combat exposure independently increased the risk of insomnia, but not sleep apnea, the study authors report.