Health Highlights: April 7, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008; 12:00 AM

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

Hispanic Toddlers at Greater Risk of Iron Deficiency

Hispanic toddlers have double the rate of iron deficiency as white toddlers, concludes a new study published in the current issue of the journalPediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

In analyzing iron deficiency data from 1976-2002, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that overweight toddlers also were at greater-than-average risk.

Over the span, iron deficiency rates dropped among some groups, from 23 percent to 12 percent in 1-year-old children, from 22 percent to 9 percent among poor toddlers, and from 16 percent to 6 percent in black toddlers, the school said in a prepared statement.

The researchers attributed the decreases to ongoing efforts to fortify infant formula and foods with iron, and to the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. They recommended stepped-up efforts to provide nutrition education at clinics and community outreach programs, and that all overweight toddlers be screened for iron deficiency.

Lack of dietary iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, where the body does not have enough iron to form sufficient hemoglobin, a blood protein that carries oxygen to the body's cells.

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2 Mad Cow Deaths Reported in Spain

Two people in Spain have died from the human variant of mad cow disease, Spanish officials reported Monday.

The two deaths from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease occurred in Spain's Castilla-Leon region in December and February. The victims, aged 40 and 51, represent the nation's first deaths from the brain-wasting illness since 2005, theAssociated Pressreported.

A health official from the region, north of Madrid, told the wire service that the victims apparently contracted the disease before 2001. Preventive guidelines on livestock and meat production are considerably stricter now, the official said.


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