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Health & medicine

FDA to reconsider silicone implants

By Wire services
Published October 9, 2003

WASHINGTON - Eleven years after most use of silicone-gel breast implants was banned amid fears they were dangerous, the Food and Drug Administration is considering letting them back on the U.S. market.

Revisiting the emotionally charged issue, the FDA next week will hear testimony essentially pitting woman against woman - some who say the implants broke apart to leave lasting scars, others who want implants they say feel more natural to reconstruct breasts savaged by cancer.

Inamed Corp. of Santa Barbara, Calif., reopened the controversy by asking the FDA for permission to sell its version of the implants in the United States, like it long has in Europe.

Feminist groups and other critics say questions about longterm side effects when silicone gel leaks from the implants haven't yet been settled, and that at the least, women face pain and repeated surgeries when the implants break.

Studies: A good night's sleep may restore memory

Getting a good night's sleep before a big exam might be better than pulling an all-nighter. A study found that sleep apparently restores memories that were lost during a hectic day.

It's not just a matter of sleep recharging the body. Researchers say sleep can rescue memories in a biological process of storing and consolidating them deep in the brain's complex circuitry.

The finding is one of several conclusions made in a pair of studies in today's issue of the journal Nature that look at how sleep affects memory. The researchers said the findings may influence how students learn, and someday could be incorporated into treatments for mental illnesses involving memories, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

In separate studies, scientists at the University of Chicago and Harvard Medical School trained college-age people to perform specific tasks, then tested them to see how much they recalled after either a night's sleep or several hours awake.

Study: Early-onset asthma likely to recur

The earlier asthma begins in youngsters, the less likely they are to outgrow it, according to a 17-year New Zealand study.

Most children with asthma, particularly those with mild cases, outgrow the disease. The latest findings offer an additional way of predicting which childhood sufferers will have the disease as adults.

The study followed 613 children who were part of a longrunning study of the physical and mental health of all children born in Dunedin, New Zealand, in one year, starting in 1972. Some never had asthma, but nearly three-quarters experienced wheezing - asthma's hallmark symptom - at some point. It found that the risk of an asthma relapse by age 26 rose steadily the earlier the wheezing began. Those whose asthma began 10 years earlier than others were 69 percent more likely to have a relapse by 26.

Most longterm asthma studies test patients treated by specialists at medical centers, a group likely to have more severe asthma. The study was reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

CDC: SARS fear could swamp emergency rooms

ATLANTA - Fear over the possible return of SARS is so great in the United States that even if the virus does not appear, it will probably cause disruptions in hospitals this winter, health officials say.

CDC and other health officials say emergency rooms could be swamped with suspected cases of the disease.

"Whether the virus comes back this winter or not, we will be dealing with SARS," said Dr. James Hughes, director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "When people start showing up with respiratory diseases, physicians will be thinking of SARS."

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