Health Highlights: July 10, 2013

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

Texas House Passes Stringent Abortion Bill

Controversial abortion limits were passed Wednesday by the Texas House, less than two weeks after Senate Republicans failed to pass the bill. A final vote could be held as early as Friday in the Senate.

The House voted mostly along party lines. On Tuesday, lawmakers spent more than 10 hours debating the bill and Republicans rejected every attempt to amend the bill, the Associated Press reported.

The bill bans abortions after 20 weeks, only allows abortions in surgical centers, and requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Opponents of the bill say it would effectively ban abortions in much of the state by forcing the closure of 37 of its 42 abortion clinics. Supporters say it will improve the safety of women who have abortions.

Democrats are limited to trying to slow the bill down and lay the groundwork for a federal lawsuit to block the bill once it becomes law, the AP reported. Federal courts have ruled that states can regulate abortions but not to the point that they are impossible to obtain.

------

New Diaper Detects Infant Health Problems

A diaper that can detect possible urinary tract infections, kidney problems and dehydration in babies, along with a smartphone app that can transmit the diaper information to a doctor, has been developed by a New York Company called Pixie Scientific.

The front of the diaper has several colored squares. Each square represents a different interaction with a protein, water content or bacteria and changes color if there is something unusual, The New York Times reported.

The smartphone app takes a picture and can make precise readings of the chemical data based on color changes in the diaper squares. The information is relayed to a central location, where doctors can determine if the baby requires further testing.

The diaper is expected to be tested at Benioff Children's Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco this September, and Columbia University's children's hospital is considering a similar study. If the tests are successful, the diaper may then be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for final approval, The Times reported.

The diaper is expected to cost about 30 percent more than conventional diapers, according to Pixie Scientific founder Yaroslav Faybishenko.

-----

Surprising Pattern of Spine Injuries Among Jet Crash Survivors

A pattern of spine injuries among some survivors of the Asiana jet crash in San Francisco shows how violently passengers were shaken despite wearing seat belts, a doctor says.

Several patients have needed surgery to stabilize their spines so they can move and two patients can't move their legs, although it's not known if the damage is permanent, Dr. Geoffrey Manley, chief of neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital, told the Associated Press.

He said the worst injuries include crushed vertebrae that compress the spinal cord, and ligaments that are so stretched and torn that they're unable to hold neck and back joints in place.

Even among passengers who suffered mild spine trauma, the pattern of injuries shows how their upper bodies were hurled forward than backward over their lap belts, Manley told the AP.

However, that doesn't mean that adding shoulder belts to airline seats is a good idea.

"If you put in the shoulder belt, it might just move the injuries up further. Your head weighs a tremendous amount," Manley said. He hopes to study the issue by comparing survivors' injuries to where they sat, the AP reported.

Only 2 of the 307 passengers and crew of the jet died in Saturday's crash. More than 180 people went to hospitals with injuries, but only a small number were critically injured.

Published
Wednesday, July 10, 2013