Health Highlights: Nov. 30, 2012 - Terre Haute Regional Hospital | Terre Haute, IN
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Health Highlights: Nov. 30, 2012

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

Two More Deaths Caused by Mystery Virus

Two more deaths caused by a mysterious respiratory virus have been confirmed in the Middle East, according to international health officials.

The two cases date back to April and are part of a group of people who became ill in Zarqa, Jordan. Investigators are trying to determine if the 10 other people who fell sick also were infected with the virus and how it might have spread, the Associated Press reported.

Other cases of the SARS-related virus have occurred in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. So far, a total of nine people have been sickened by the virus and five of them have died.

The World Health Organization says it's not clear how the virus spreads and does not rule out the possibility that it is being transmitted from person to person, the AP reported.

In 2003, SARS killed about 800 people in a global outbreak.

Company Halts Production of Generic Lipitor

The world's largest producer of the generic version of the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor has stopped production until it can determine how glass particles ended up in its pills, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Earlier this month, Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals recalled more than 40 lots of the drug due to the glass contamination. The FDA says it has not received any reports of patients being harmed by the particles, which are about the size of a grain of sand, The New York Times reported.

Ranbaxy would not reveal where the drug was made, but an FDA spokeswoman said Thursday that the company would stop producing the pill's active ingredient, which is made in India, until the investigation is completed.

A Ranbaxy spokesman declined to comment beyond an informational statement posted on the company's website, The Times reported.

U.S. Birthrate Hits Record Low

The U.S. birthrate hit a record low in 2010, largely due to a sharp decline in births among immigrant women hard hit by the recession, according to an analysis of data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The Pew Research Center team said that the annual number of births per 1,000 women ages 15-44 fell eight percent from 2007 to 2010, when it reached 64 births per 1,000, the Wall Street Journal reported. The U.S. birthrate peaked at 122.7 per 1,000 in 1957.

The birthrate among immigrant women fell 14 percent between 2007 and 2010, to 87.8 births per 1,000 women. During the same time, there was a six percent decline in the birthrate among U.S.-born women, to 58.9 births per 1,000.

Among immigrants of Hispanic origin, the birthrate plunged 19 percent between 2007 and 2010. The birthrate for Mexicans, the largest groups among Hispanics, fell 23 percent, the WSJ reported.

Preliminary data show that the overall U.S. birthrate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000.

Most Adult Bedrail Deaths Involve Older People: Report

About 126 of the 155 adults who died in bedrail incidents between January 2003 to September 2012 were 60 or older, according to a review of adult bedrail deaths and injuries released Thursday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

About 61 percent of the deaths occurred at home and about one-quarter occurred in a nursing home or assisted living facility, The New York Times reported.

The CPSC review also found that nearly half of the adults who died in bedrail incidents had medical problems, including dementia, Parkinson's disease and heart disease. Most of the deaths occurred when patients became stuck in the bedrails, mainly with their head or neck getting trapped.

Between 2003 and 2011, nearly 37,000 people were injured in bedrail incidents and treated at hospital emergency rooms, according to the CPSC.

The review was released as the CPSC considers how to correct potential hazards associated with bedrails. Consumer advocates have long called for federal officials to take action on the issue, The Times reported.