Health Highlights: Sept. 7, 2018

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

Southwest Airlines Passengers May Have Been Exposed to Measles

Passengers and crew on four Southwest Airlines flights within Texas in late August are being notified that they may have been exposed to measles.

Officials said a passenger who took the four flights over two days was later diagnosed with measles, USA Today reported.

The flights were: Tuesday Aug. 21, Flight 5 from Dallas Love Field to Houston Hobby; Tuesday Aug. 21, Flight 9 from Houston Hobby to Harlingen, Texas; Wednesday Aug. 22, Flight 665 from Harlingen to Houston; Wednesday Aug. 22, Flight 44 from Houston Hobby to Dallas Love Field.

The airline and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are alerting passengers on those flights. The airline said it’s also notified crews on those flights.

In a letter from the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department, passengers were told to watch for potential measles symptoms until Sept. 11 because the incubation period for the highly contagious virus can be up to 21 days, NBC 5 in Dallas reported, according to USA Today.

Earlier this week, three passengers and seven crew members on an Emirates flight from Dubai to New York were hospitalized and diagnosed with the flu and other respiratory viruses, and passengers on two American Airlines flights from Europe to Philadelphia International Airport were evaluated after complaining of flu-like symptoms.


Diet, Exercise Help Reduce Overweight Women’s Pregnancy Weight Gain: Study

Beginning a diet and exercise program around the start of their second trimester helped some overweight and obese women limit their weight gain during pregnancy, but did not lower the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure, a new study says.

More than half of pregnant women in the United States are overweight or obese when they conceive, which increases the risk of health problems for the women and their children, The New York Times reported.

In an effort to find ways to tackle this problem, the U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded a trial that included 1,150 overweight and obese women at seven clinics nationwide.

The women were between nine and 15 weeks pregnant when they joined the study and were randomly assigned to a diet and exercise program or to a control group.

On average, the women in the diet and exercise program had four pounds less weight gain than those in the control group, and were 48 percent less likely to exceed the U.S. Institute of Medicine’s recommended amount of pregnancy weight gain, The Times reported.

However, 68.6 percent of women in the diet and exercise group exceeded the recommended amount of weight gain, compared to 85 percent of women in the control arm, and the rate of major pregnancy complications was the same in both groups, according to the study in the journal Obesity.

The results show that lifestyle changes can help overweight and obese women limit their pregnancy weight gain, but also suggest that more significant lifestyle changes may be needed before they conceive, according to study lead investigator Dr. Alan Peaceman, chief of maternal fetal medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“This is a problem that is more important now than it’s ever been, and it needs to be addressed,” he told The Times. “We are going to have to start talking to women who are overweight or obese even before pregnancy and explain to them the risk of that weight on a potential pregnancy.”

“One of our prevailing suspicions is that when we started with the intervention at the beginning of the second trimester it was already too late,” Peaceman said. “It’s possible the adverse outcomes were already influenced by weight gain before that time.”

Other studies show that women should be helped to improve their health long before they get pregnant, according to Dr. Patrick Catalano, a senior research investigator at the Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center.

“My belief is that this has to be a life course approach — it can’t just be something we try when women are already 14 weeks into pregnancy,” he told The Times.

“If you come into a pregnancy normal weight then statistically you’re at a decreased risk for having a lot of complications. If the goal is to try to improve pregnancy outcomes for both the mother and her offspring, then we need to start early,” Catalano said.


Actor Burt Reynolds Dies at 82

Burt Reynolds, the burly, often self-mocking Hollywood star of the 1970s and 1980s, has died at 82.

According to The New York Times, the death was announced by Reynolds’ agent, Todd Eisner, but no details were given.

Reynolds’ performances were often wry, masculine and playful, and while he was never a critic’s favorite, his star blazed bright throughout the late 1970s and early ’80s. His career spanned four decades, with hits such as “Smokey and the Bandit,” “The Cannonball Run,” “Deliverance” and “The Longest Yard,” cementing his status as fan favorite.

But many of his movies were box-office hits, not critical successes. He told the Times in 1978 that “I think I’m the only movie star who’s a movie star in spite of his pictures, not because of them; I’ve had some real turkeys.”

Born in Lansing, Mich., in 1936, Reynolds grew up in Florida where his father was a police chief. Football became a passion, and he played for Florida State University until a 1955 car crash sidelined a sports career.

Reynolds went on to study acting and moved to New York City, where he found an agent with the help of friend Joanne Woodward. In the 1950s and ’60s he was primarily a television actor, and it was his frequent, self-effacing appearances on the Johnny Carson Show and other talk shows that garnered him new fame. His much-lauded performance in 1972’s “Deliverance” launched his highly successful movie career.

That career took a hit in 1984 after an on-set accident shattered Reynolds’ jaw, and left him in such pain that he became addicted to the muscle relaxant Halcion. He beat that addiction, the Times said, but a second battle with painkillers followed a bout with back pain.

In the 1990s, Reynolds continued to work in TV, in the series “Evening Shade” and in the Paul Thomas Anderson film “Boogie Nights.”

However, financial and health issues plagued him in recent years, and Reynolds underwent quintuple bypass heart surgery in 2010.

In an interview in 2015, Reynolds said he wished he’d garnered more respect as an actor. Still, “I may not be the best actor in the world,” he concluded, “but I’m the best Burt Reynolds in the world.”


Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Reaches Settlement in False Ad Lawsuit

A $145,000 settlement will be paid by actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s company, Goop, in a lawsuit over unfounded claims that some of its products improve women’s sexual and emotional health.

The lawsuit was filed by prosecutors from 10 California counties. They said Goop did not have scientific proof for health claims made for three products sold online: jade and quartz vaginal eggs and a mix of essential oils, CBS News reported.

The vaginal eggs were marketed as a way to “balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles… and increase bladder control,” while the mix of essential oils was advertised as a way to “help prevent depression.”

“People have been selling snake oil for a long time. This is just another type of snake oil,” said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, CBS News reported.

“There’s a group of people who have problems like that and they might be vulnerable. A lot of people might do the things that you suggest and so you can do a lot of harm by falsely advertising that something is a medical cure,” Rackauckas said.

As part of the settlement, Goop will offer refunds to customers who request them, CBS News reported.

The three items are still on Goop’s website but the descriptions have been changed.

“Health and wellness is a very hot industry and part and parcel with that, we’re seeing a significant rise in misleading and deceptive marking claims,” Bonnie Patten, executive director of Truth in Advertising, told CBS News.

“Any time a consumer sees a product that’s being marketed as a treatment or cure all they need to be wary of that and they should definitely talk to a health care provider before purchasing it,” Patten said.

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