Health Highlights: Aug 31, 2015

Health Highlights: Aug 31, 2015

Health Highlights: Aug 31, 2015

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

Kidney Transplant Racial Gap Shrinks: Study

A large disparity in kidney transplant rates between white and black Americans has shrunk since the late 1990s, according to a new study.

An analysis of nearly 200,000 kidney failure patients found that the transplant rate for blacks rose from 93 per 1,000 patients in 1998 to 128 per 1,000 in 2010 and 2011. The 2010-11 rate was the same for whites, a small decline from 1998, the Associated Press reported.

The findings were published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The improving rate among black patients was "driven wholly by increased rates of transplants from deceased donors," Dr. Jesse Sammon, a urologist-researcher at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, and colleagues wrote.

In 2011, about 80 percent of black patients received kidneys from deceased donors, and these organs tend to do worse than those from living donors.

So while the study offers mostly "good news," still more needs to be done to eliminate racial disparities in kidney transplants, Sammon told the AP.

Younger black kidney failure patients die at nearly twice the rate of whites and are less likely to be placed on the transplant list, according to Dr. Dorry Segev, an organ transplant specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

Even so, it's encouraging that once on the transplant list, "they receive fair organ allocation and achieve good transplant outcomes," he told the AP.

"This is what we've been working for years, to make sure we have equitable access to every potential candidate across the United States," Dr. Mark Aeder, chairman of the United Network for Organ Sharing' kidney committee, who was not involved in the research, told the AP.


Blue Bell Ice Cream Back in Some Stores

Four months after a massive recall, Blue Bell ice cream returned to select locations Monday.

The ice cream is available at stores in the Houston and Austin areas and in some parts of Alabama, the Associated Press reported.

Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries recalled about 8 million gallons of ice cream and ice cream products in April after they were linked with to 10 listeria cases in four states, including three deaths in Kansas.

Extensive cleaning and decontamination was conducted at Blue Bell plants in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama. The plant in Alabama resumed ice cream production in July, the AP reported.


Kardashian's Online Posts About Morning Sickness Drug Now Include Warnings

New online posts by Kim Kardashian point out the side effects of a controversial morning sickness drug she is paid to endorse.

On Aug. 7, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to drug maker Duchesnay about Kardashian's endorsement of the medicine Diclegis. The letter said the endorsement left out important safety information, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The FDA approved Diclegis in 2013 to treat morning sickness in pregnant women who don't respond to more conservative therapies.

In her new online posts, Kardashian includes cautions used in TV ads, such as the fact that Diclegis has not been studied in women with extreme, persistent vomiting. The new posts also have warnings about interactions with other medications and alcohol, as well as side effects like drowsiness, the Tribune reported.


Neurologist and Author Dr. Oliver Sacks Dead at 82

Renowned neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks died Sunday at age 82.

He died at his home in New York City, according to his assistant Kate Edgar, the Associated Press reported.

In February, Sacks revealed that he had a rare eye cancer that had spread to his liver.

Sacks offered new insights into the workings of the human brain and wrote a number of books, including "Awakenings," which was made into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Robin Williams, the AP reported.


Texas Teen Killed by Brain-Eating Amoeba

A 14-year-old Texas teen has died from infection with a brain-eating amoeba.

Michael John Riley Jr. was infected with the Naegleria fowleri amoeba while swimming at Sam Houston State Park on Aug. 13, CNN reported.

Riley was a star athlete who qualified for the Junior Olympics three times in track.

Naegleria fowleri is typically found in warm fresh water such as lakes, rivers and hot springs. It enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain. Infections with the amoeba are rare but usually fatal, CNN reported.

In the past 53 years, about 133 cases of Naegleria fowleri infections have been documented in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those patients, only three survived.
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