Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
U.S. scientists join effort to solve mysterious vaping-related illnesses
The U.S. investigation into hundreds of cases of life-threatening lung illnesses related to vaping has turned up a curious abnormality: Many of the victims had pockets of oil clogging up cells responsible for removing impurities in the lungs. Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, who has been leading the inquiry at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, wants to know where that oil came from. The answer will help explain whether these cells play a key role in the vaping-related outbreak that has killed seven people and sickened 530 so far.
Warm freshwater can harbor dangerous parasite
People who swim in warm freshwater lakes, ponds and hot springs should do their best to avoid getting water up their nose because it could transmit a deadly parasite, a U.S. case report suggests. Typically, the infection occurs when water enters the nose, and the ameba migrates from the nose to the brain. It destroys brain tissue and causes brain swelling, quickly advancing from symptoms to death.
Abortion front and center as new U.S. Supreme Court term nears
With new abortion cases on a fast track to the U.S. Supreme Court, the nine justices will get an opportunity within weeks to take up legal fights over Republican-backed laws that could lead to rulings curbing a woman's ability to obtain the procedure. The big question is not so much whether the court, with its 5-4 conservative majority that includes two justices appointed by President Donald Trump, will take up an appeal that could permit new restrictions on abortion rights, but when it will do so, according to legal experts.
Trump signs order aimed at development of better flu vaccines
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at spurring the development of better vaccines to protect against seasonal influenza as well as a potential pandemic flu outbreak. The order does not allocate additional funding for now, but calls for an evaluation of current flu vaccine manufacturing abilities and a task force report including cost estimates, administration officials said on a call with reporters.
Too few pregnant women get exercise advice from doctors, study finds
(Reuters Health) - Only one in two pregnant women in an Australian survey said their healthcare practitioner had advised them about exercising, and more than half of these women had to raise the topic themselves, researchers found. Healthcare practitioners "are uniquely positioned" to advise women about exercise during pregnancy, the study team writes in the journal Women and Birth, but it's possible that many doctors don't bring it up because they are unsure about what to recommend.
U.S. senators urge FDA to remove pod, cartridge-based e-cigarettes from market
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Friday urged federal regulators to immediately remove all pod and cartridge-based e-cigarettes from the market until it can be proven the products are safe. In a letter to Ned Sharpless, acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Senators Dick Durbin, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Merkley and Richard Blumenthal cited recent reports of 530 cases of vaping-related lung disease, as well as eight deaths, in asking for the ban.
Obesity, drinking and unhealthy diet add to gout risk
(Reuters Health) - Behavior changes could potentially reduce a large part of the risk for developing gout, a U.S. study suggests. Based on data from more than 14,000 people, researchers calculated how much factors like being overweight, following a diet that isn't heart-healthy, drinking alcohol or taking water pills known as diuretics contribute to high levels of uric acid, known as hyperuricemia, which is a precursor to gout.
Congo to deploy second Ebola vaccine
Health authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo said on Saturday that they plan to introduce a second Ebola vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, to counter the second-worst outbreak of the virus in history. The team overseeing Congo's Ebola response did not say when exactly the J&J vaccine would be introduced. It will complement another vaccine manufactured by Merck, which has been administered to more than 225,000 people since August 2018.
Anemia in early pregnancy linked with risk for neurodevelopmental disorders
Children born to mothers with iron-deficiency anemia early in pregnancy may be at higher risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, a new study suggests. In an analysis of data on more than half a million babies born in Sweden, researchers found that anemia in the mother before the 30th week of pregnancy was linked with a heightened risk of disorders including autism, ADHD and intellectual disability.
FDA proposes rule over record-keeping for vape makers
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday issued a proposed rule for e-cigarette makers, requiring them to maintain records related to the legal marketing status of their products. When finalized, the rule would also help to ensure that e-cigarette applications by manufacturers contain information on the product's potential public health benefits and harms, the FDA said.