Public Health News Roundup: October 24
Smartphone Pro-Tobacco Apps Targeting Kids
Pro-smoking apps for smartphones are increasingly common and demonstrate the need for greater regulation, according to a new study in the journal Tobacco Control. While the apps, many of which target children, seem to be slipping through a regulatory loophole in the United States, they are in violation of a ban on smoking advertisements from the World Health Organization. The apps include smoking simulators, tobacco wallpapers and instructions on rolling cigarettes. There are currently 36 simulators available on the iPhone and 10 on the Android. Read more on tobacco.
Caffeine in Energy Drinks a Danger to People with Heart Conditions
The excessive amounts of caffeine in some energy drinks can be especially dangerous for people with underlying heart conditions, according to Health Day. Recent reports link Monster energy drinks to five deaths over the last three years, with one family filing a lawsuit against Monster Beverage Co. Suzanne Steinbaum, MD, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said some energy drinks have as much as seven times the caffeine of a can of soda. Such high levels can dramatically increase the heart rate and blood pressure. Current U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations do not require companies to show caffeine levels on beverage containers. Read more on nutrition.
Study: Severe Complications from Childbirth Up in the U.S.
Severe complications from childbirth are up in the United States, according to a study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 129 cases for every 10,000 women in 2008-2009, an increase up approximately 75 percent over the previous 10 years. Complications include heart attack, stroke, severe bleeding and kidney failure. While noting that complications are still relatively uncommon, researchers indicated that obesity, older women giving birth and various health conditions are all possible contributors to the trend. William M. Callaghan, MD, of the CDC, said the findings indicate women need to pay close attention to their health while pregnant. Read more on maternal health.