Health Highlights: July 2, 2015

Health Highlights: July 2, 2015

Health Highlights: July 2, 2015

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

FDA to Weigh Safety of Giving Codeine to Kids for Coughs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it will weigh the safety of giving the narcotic painkiller codeine to kids for coughs because of potentially serious breathing problems the medication can cause.

The agency announced it will convene one of its expert panels to examine and recommend whether the powerful medication should be used in cough syrups for children under the age of 18.

In April, the European Medicines Agency announced that codeine can't be used to treat cough and cold in children under the age of 12, and codeine is not recommended for patients between the ages of 12 and 18 who have breathing problems, including asthma, the FDA noted in a statement.

Once codeine is in the body, it converts to morphine and can slow breathing, especially in the small percentage of patients who metabolize codeine quickly, the FDA said.

Ten U.S. kids have died and three have overdosed on codeine since 1999, NBC News reported. In 2013, the FDA advised doctors not to give codeine to children who have had their tonsils removed.

Meanwhile, parents should watch their kids carefully if they are given codeine, the agency said.

"Parents and caregivers who observe unusual sleepiness, confusion, or difficult or noisy breathing in their child should seek medical attention immediately, as these are signs of overdose," the FDA said in its statement.

In 2007, the agency persuaded drug companies to take over-the-counter cough and cold medications for infants off the market.


Liberia Reports 3 New Ebola Cases

After being declared Ebola-free more than seven weeks ago, the West African nation of Liberia has seen a return of the deadly disease.

A teenage boy died of Ebola in the Liberian village of Nedowein on Sunday, the BBC reported, and two more cases have now been reported in people living in the area.

Liberian authorities had quarantined the area around Nedowein after the boy's death and they believe his funeral was performed safely, the BBC said. It's not yet clear how the boy contracted Ebola.

Ebola has claimed more than 11,000 lives since December of 2013 in a widespread outbreak in West Africa. Most of the deaths have occurred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
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