Public Health News Roundup: October 10
Group Pushes for Simplified, Standardized Medical Labels
The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is pushing for the standardization of medication labels in order to simplify directions and protect against unintentional misuse. Confusion over prescription drug labels contributes to more than 1 million dosage mistakes each year, according to HealthDay. Joanne Schwartzberg, MD, director of aging and community health at the American Medical Association and a member of the USP's Nomenclature, Safety and Labeling Expert Committee, pointed to confusion over directions such as "Take two pills twice daily," which leads some patients to think they only take two pills per day. "That's a mistake that [even] college-educated people make. The words are very simple, but understanding what they mean can be a problem," she said, according to HealthDay. Read more on access to health care.
Blood Test May Help Identify Risk of Heart Disease, Other Issues in Women
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that a blood test could help determine which women are at highest risk for heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer, enabling physicians to begin early preventative care. Researchers looked at the blood samples of approximately 4,600 people. "Women with high levels of proneurotensin in the blood died significantly earlier than women with normal proneurotensin concentrations, and the excess mortality with high proneurotensin was primarily caused by cardiovascular diseases," said Olle Melander, MD, professor of internal medicine at Lund University in Malmo, Sweden. Read more on heart health.
Study: Flu Vaccine Safe for Kids with Egg Allergies
The flu vaccine is developed using chicken eggs, often leaving parents and other caregivers concerned over giving the vaccine to kids with egg allergies. However, a new study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows modern flu vaccines contain very little egg protein, meaning children with egg allergies are at very little risk of even mild reactions. "I think parents of children with egg allergy should be reassured about the safety of the influenza vaccine for their child, and understand that the benefits are likely to outweigh any risks," said Lynda Schneider, MD, director of the allergy program at Boston Children's Hospital, to Reuters. Children ages 6 months and older should receive the flu shot each year, especially children younger than five. Read more on influenza.