Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
California Sets Doctor Appointment Wait Limits
Time limits for doctors to see patients will take effect in California in January 2011, making it the first state to introduce this type of legislation.
The rules "set reasonable expectations about when care should be provided," said Cindy Ehnes, director of the state's Department of Managed Health Care, the Associated Press reported.
Family doctors in health maintenance organizations will be required to see patients seeking an appointment within 10 business days, while the deadline for specialists will be 15 days. Patients seeking urgent care that doesn't require prior authorization must be seen by a doctor within 48 hours. If they determine there's no threat to a patient's health, doctors can extend the waiting period.
"These regulations ... will not only get people access to care when they need it but will reduce unnecessary use of the emergency room," Anthony Wright, executive director of the consumer group Health Access California, told the Los Angeles Times, the AP reported.
Recalled Dorel Asia Cribs Linked to Infant's Death
The death of a 6-month-old boy and a number of reports of injuries have prompted the recall of about 635,000 cribs sold by major retail stores in the United States.
The recall includes 20 models of Dorel Asia cribs with both drop sides and fixed front rails. In some models of the cribs, the drop sides can detach and create a space where an infant can be trapped and suffocate or strangle, said the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In other models, a child can become trapped if one of the slats is broken or damaged, which can occur when the crib is being used or when it's being assembled, taken apart, or shipped, the Associated Press reported.
There have been 31 reported incidents involving drop-side cribs, including 6 reports of children being trapped between the mattress and the drop side. The 6-month-old boy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa became trapped and strangled after the drop-side hardware broke.
Dorel Asia and the CPSC have also received 36 reports of broken slats, including two reports of trapped children, the AP reported.
The cribs were sold by Kmart, Wal-Mart, Sears and other stores. Consumers can receive a free crib repair kit by contacting Dorel Asia at 866-762-2304. More information about the recall is available on the Dorel Asia Web site.
Exercise Increases Memory-Related Brain Cells: Study
Mice who exercised grew more brain cells in a part of the brain associated with memory than mice that didn't exercise, a finding that may explain why physical activity can improve brain power, say scientists.
The 105-day study included two groups of mice. One group was allowed unlimited access to an exercise wheel and ran an average of more than 20 km (12 miles) a day. The other group of mice weren't allowed to exercise, BBC News reported.
Tests showed that the mice in the exercise group were better able to distinguish between memories of similar things. This is likely due to the additional brain cells generated by exercise, the researchers said.
"Keeping similar memories distinct is an important part of having a good memory," said study senior author Timothy Bussey of Cambridge University, BBC News reported. "It is this aspect of memory that is improved by exercise, our study shows. The human equivalent might be remembering which car parking space you have used on two different days in the previous week. It becomes difficult to distinguish memories when events are similar."
The study was published Jan. 18 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Nanoparticles New Weapon Against Heart Disease?
American scientists say their creation of nanoparticles that can find and treat hardened arteries may offer a new way to fight heart disease.
The "nanoburrs," as they are called, look for damaged cells in blood vessel walls. They then attach to the site and release drugs for an extended period, said the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) team, BBC News reported.
"This is a very exciting example of nanotechnology and cell targeting in action," said Professor Robert Langer, one of the study authors. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This technology appears "promising," but requires much more work before it might be used to treat people, Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, told BBC News.
Dietary Supplements Recalled by MuscleMaster.com
Seventeen dietary supplements sold by MuscleMaster.com Inc. are being recalled because they may contain steroids, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The recall covers all lots and expiration dates of the 17 body-building products that were sold online between June 1 and Nov. 17, 2009, the Associated Press reported.
For more information, consumers can call 800-240-4767.
Steroids can cause liver damage and other serious long-term health problems. Massachusetts-based MuscleMaster.com says it hasn't received any complaints of illnesses or injuries associated with the recalled products, the AP reported.