Health Highlights: Aug. 15, 2013

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

53-Year-Old Woman Gives Birth to Own Twin Granddaughters

A 53-year-old Iowa grandmother who gave birth to her own twin granddaughters in July said the pregnancy was uneventful and similar to pregnancies with her own four children, ages 20 to 30.

Susie Kozisek acted as a gestational carrier for her daughter, Ashley Larkin, who cannot get pregnant because she has pulmonary hypertension. Kozisek was also the gestational carrier for Larkin's daughter, Harper, born in 2011, the Associated Press reported.

A gestational carrier is used when a woman cannot carry a pregnancy. The eggs and sperm are collected from the biological parents and conception takes place through in-vitro fertilization. The resulting embryo is then implanted in the carrier's uterus.

"I heard about the procedure on a talk show and decided to check out the possibility of me doing this for them so they could have kids of their own if they wanted," Kozisek told the AP.

Larkin said her children are a blessing and a miracle.

"I've always been close with my mom even before this so that hasn't changed and I'm grateful she will have such a special bond with her grandkids," Larkin told the AP.


IKEA Recalls Children's Beds

Two models of IKEA children's beds are being recalled because a metal rod can break and potentially cause injuries.

The furniture chain said it had received seven reports concerning the metal rod connecting the guardrail to the bed frame. There have been no reported injuries, but IKEA said the broken rod could expose sharp metal edges, according to the Associated Press.

The recall covers KRITTER beds with the manufacturing dates 1114-1322 and SNIGLAR beds labeled 1114-1318. About 200,000 of the faulty beds were sold worldwide, IKEA said.

The company said people with these beds should contact customer service to get a free repair kit, the AP reported.


Magnetic Stimulation Reveals Brain Injury Patients' Consciousness

Measuring the brain's response to magnetic stimulation offers a new way to measure consciousness and guide treatment of brain injury patients who can't respond to commands, a new study says.

Italian researchers tested a trans-cranial magnetic stimulation device on 52 brain-injured and healthy people and were able to measure the amount of information flow in the brain and determine various levels of consciousness with a numerical index, Bloomberg News reported.

The researchers also found that brain injury patients with low levels of response actually had much higher levels of consciousness than healthy people who were asleep or anesthetized.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

"Measures that can reliably distinguish vegetative states from minimally conscious states are crucial and will have an impact on clinical practice," Nicholas Schiff, a professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College, wrote in a comment accompanying the paper, Bloomberg reported. "Misdiagnosis rates are high when behavioral evidence of consciousness is limited."


Study Offers New Insight Into Cancer Origins

Scientists who found that 21 major genetic mutations account for 97 percent of the 30 most common cancers say their achievement is a major milestone in cancer research.

Identifying the causes of these mutations could lead to new cancer treatments. Smoking, exposure to ultraviolet light and some other causes of these mutations are known, but more than half are a mystery, BBC News reported.

The scientists made their discovery after analyzing mutations in 7,042 samples taken from the 30 most common cancers. The effort was led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the U.K.

"I'm very excited. Hidden within the cancer genome are these patterns, these signatures, which tell us what is actually causing cancer in the first place -- that's a major insight to have," Sanger Institute Director Sir Mike Stratton told BBC News.

"It is quite a significant achievement for cancer research, this is quite profound. It's taking us into areas of unknown that we didn't know existed before," Stratton said. "I think this is a major milestone."

The study was published in the journal Nature.

This is a "fascinating and important study" that identifies several new processes driving the development of cancer, Nic Jones, chief scientist at Cancer Research U.K., told BBC News.

"Understanding what's causing them could be an extremely important way to get to the bottom of how cancer develops in the first place -- and this will lead to new ways to prevent and treat the disease," Jones explained.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

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