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Jun 05, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- BLOOD DISEASE AND CHILD ABUSE

A rare blood disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, produces hemorrhages that can appear to be the result of child abuse. The rareness of HLH and the commonness of child abuse are a disastrous combination, reports New Scientist. Three cases of HLH that show hemorrhages in the brain and eyes that mimic child abuse are highlighted in a study in Pediatrics. "Most pediatricians will never see a case of this during their careers," James Whitlock of Vanderbilt College of Medicine in Nashville told New Scientist. Three million children are abused each year in the United States, whereas just 200 are known to suffer from HLH. However, the absence of a quick-and-easy test for the disease makes diagnosis difficult. The link between brain symptoms that mimic HLH was discovered only recently.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory in 2001 warning women of child-bearing age to restrict their intake of shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Government advisories in the United Kingdom and other countries also warn the diets of children should not include fish species contaminated with methylmercury. However, a study by Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source, suggests the warning be extended to everyone, although the effects seen in adults are less severe than in children exposed to methylmercury before birth. Adults, who regularly eat contaminated fish could find their concentration, dexterity and verbal memory are impaired, according to the researchers at John Hopkins University.


A gun in a home dramatically increases the odds a member of the household will die of a gunshot wound. According to a study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, people who have a gun in their house were almost twice as likely to die in a gun-related homicide, and 16 times more likely to use a gun to commit suicide than people who did not have a weapon in their home. One in every 3 U.S. households contains firearms; the number of guns in those homes totals nearly 200 million, according to the National Institute of Justice. The study compared 1,720 homicide victims and 1,959 suicide victims over the age of 18 with a sampling of American adults. The study also found handguns accounted for 40 percent of all domestic homicides and one-third of all suicides. The findings suggest when violence occurs and a gun is accessible, the gun might be selected over a weapon that is less lethal, according to researcher Richard Weir.


The Food and Drug Administration said its investigation of bogus Lipitor has turned up more counterfeit quantities of the cholesterol-lowering pharmaceutical. Two additional lots of 10 milligram tablets in 90-tablet bottles, coded 20842V and 16092V, and one lot of 20 milligram tablets in 90-tablet bottles, coded D270481, are involved. The labeling on each bottles states, "Repackaged by: MED-PRO, INC., Lexington, NE 68850." Since learning of problems with this product late last month, FDA investigators have aggressively pursued a variety of leads all along the supply and distribution chain. FDA's advice to healthcare providers and consumers remains the same as when the agency issued its original alert on May 23. Consumers should return any Lipitor with the following lot numbers: 20722V, 04132V, 16942V, 20842V, 16092V, D270481.

(EDITORS: For more information on BLOOD DISEASE, contact Claire Bowles at 44-207-331-2751 or For MERCURY, Grace Baynes at 44-207-323-0323 or For GUNS, Ellen O'Brien at (215) 349-5659 or For LIPITOR, FDA communications office at (301) 827-6242.)

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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