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Health Highlights: April 19, 2017


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

Running Can be Socially Contagious: Study

The need to take a daily run might be something that spreads person-to-person, new research shows.

How much people run can depend to a certain extent on their responses to other people's running, according to the findings from the analysis of social network data worldwide, The New York Times reported.

The results of the study in the journal Nature Communications also suggest that if you want to improve your running performance, it might be a good idea to become virtual friends with people who are a bit slower.

The researchers concluded that "running can be socially contagious," said study leader Sinan Aral, professor of management, MIT, The Times reported.

"In general, if you run more, it is likely that you can cause your friends to run more," Aral said.

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Hospital Inspection Details May Soon be Public

Previously confidential reports about problems at U.S. hospitals that put patients at risk may soon be available to the public.

Draft regulations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would require private health care accreditors to make public errors, mishaps and mix-ups they uncover during inspections of hospitals and other medical facilities, along with measures being taken to correct the problems, National Public Radio reported.

Those accreditors, not the government, oversee nearly 9 in 10 U.S. hospitals.

However, government officials are increasingly concerned that private accreditors are missing serious problems at health facilities, according to NPR.

A 2016 CMS report said its annual review discovered that private accreditors often overlooked significant issues that were later identified by state inspectors.

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Iowa Abortion Bill Sent to Governor

A measure to ban most abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy and impose a 72-hour waiting period on women seeking abortions was passed by the Republican-majority Senate in Iowa.

The bill was approved earlier this month by the GOP-led House and now goes to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who is expected to sign it, the Associated Press reported.

The 20-week restriction does not exclude cases of rape, incest or fatal fetal conditions, but would permit an abortion if a women's life was at risk.

Similar 20-week bans have been enacted in at least 19 other states. Some have been struck down by federal appeals courts, but most remain in effect, the AP reported.

Five other states also require women to wait 72 hours before getting an abortion, the longest waiting period in the country.

The bill also requires that before an abortion, women get counseling that includes information about the procedures' health risks. That counseling is biased and lacks scientific foundation, according to Planned Parenthood, the AP reported.

The abortion bill is "unprecedented and appalling," Rachel Lopez, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement.

"With this vote, Iowa has gone from a state that supports women and families, to one that is turning back the clock 50 years. Lawmakers' objectives are to shame women, and place undue and unconstitutional burdens on their attempts to access safe and legal abortion," Lopez said, the AP reported.

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George H.W. Bush Back in Hospital

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush is back in hospital.

He is being treated at Methodist Hospital in Houston but is doing fine, according to spokesman Jim McGrath, CBS News reported.

"He is already well on the path to recovery and going home," McGrath said.

No other details were provided. Bush, 92, was in Methodist for several days in January receiving treatment for pneumonia. He was on a ventilator and in the intensive care unit, but recovered and had been doing fine, CBS News reported.

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Progress Being Made Against Neglected Tropical Diseases: WHO

Goals to control, eliminate or eradicate neglected tropical diseases such as sleeping sickness and Chagas by 2020 will be met, says a World Health Organization report released Wednesday.

In 2015, one billion people were treated for neglected tropical diseases, which blind, disfigure, debilitate and maim hundreds of millions of people worldwide, according to WHO, CNN reported.

"By 2030, (neglected tropical) diseases could be part of history," said Dr. Dirk Engels, director of the WHO Neglected Tropical Diseases department. "In general, I can say there is a lot of progress that is being made."

These diseases are most common among poor people in remote, rural areas, urban slums and conflict zones with unsafe water, inadequate hygiene and sanitation, and poor housing conditions, CNN reported.

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