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Health Highlights: Dec. 12, 2007

The risk of skin reactions -- which can include lesions, blisters, fever and itching -- is about 1 to 6 people per 10,000 among new users of such drugs in countries with mainly white populations. However, the risk is estimated to be about 10 times higher in some Asian countries.

It's estimated that about 5 percent of patients being considered for treatment with affected drugs are of Asian ancestry and would need to have this test, which looks for an inherited variant of an immune system gene found almost exclusively in people with Asian ancestry, the FDA said.

Patients who test positive shouldn't be treated with carbamazepine unless the benefit clearly outweighs the increased risk of serious skin reactions, the agency said.


Excess Weight Reduces Women's Fertility: Study

The more overweight a woman becomes, the less fertile she becomes, according to results of a Dutch study published in the journalHuman Reproduction.

Researchers evaluated 3,000 women with fertility problems and found that every point increase in body mass index (BMI) among women with a BMI between 30 and 35 resulted in a 4 percent decrease in conception rates, compared to women with a BMI between 21 and 29,BBC Newsreported.

People with a BMI above 25 are considered overweight, while those with a BMI over 30 are defined as obese.

The study also found that severely obese women (a BMI greater than 35) were between 26 percent and 49 percent less likely to get pregnant than those with a BMI between 21 and 29,BBC Newsreported.

"Given the increased prevalence of obesity, this is a worrying finding," said study leader Dr. Jan Willem van der Steeg. "We think women should be informed about their lower pregnancy chances due to their overweight."

The researchers suggested that losing weight may increase the likelihood of conception without the need for fertility treatment,BBC Newsreported.


Death Toll Reaches 30 in Uganda Ebola Outbreak

The death toll from an Ebola outbreak in Uganda is now 30 out of 116 people known to have been infected with the deadly virus,Agence France-Pressereported.

Health officials are still registering new infections in Bundibugyo district, the epicenter of the outbreak and home to 250,000 people. Hundreds of medical workers and villagers who have had physical contact with infected patients are under observation, Ugandan authorities said.

Experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are continuing their testing for the virus, which has been identified as a new strain of Ebola,AFPreported. The outbreak began in September but was only identified as Ebola in late November.

Ebola is a blood-borne disease that's spread through contact with bodily fluids.

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