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Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A08

Contraceptive Sponge Wins New Approval

The Today Sponge contraceptive is returning to the market after a decade as federal regulators approved it again yesterday.

Allendale Pharmaceuticals Inc. said the Food and Drug Administration has approved U.S. sales of the sponge, which was the favorite nonprescription birth control product of women when it was withdrawn from the market in 1995.

The polyurethane sponges will be available soon on a company Web site and later at retailers.

Allendale bought rights to the sponge from American Home Products (now Wyeth), which stopped making the sponge rather than upgrade a manufacturing plant after the FDA found deficiencies there.

The device's effectiveness and safety were never questioned.

Day Care May Cut Leukemia Risk

Sending very young children to day-care centers and play groups could help protect them from childhood leukemia, researchers said, bolstering the theory that some degree of exposure to common illnesses early on is important for the immune system.

Unknown infections, along with a genetic default that occurs before birth, are the most likely cause of childhood leukemia, they added.

"Early exposure to infections through social contact seems to be protective against the disease," Mel Greaves of the Institute of Cancer Research in London said at a news conference.

-- From News Services

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