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Health Highlights: Nov. 27, 2019


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

Savannah Guthrie Suffers Eye Injury Playing With Son

Today show anchor Savannah Guthrie is recovering after suffering an eye injury while playing with her 2-year-old son.

"Charley threw a toy train right at my eye and it tore my retina," she said during a call Wednesday to explain her absence earlier this week, People reported. "It has a really pointing edge and he threw it right at me."

The 47-year-old said she temporarily lost sight in her right eye about 24 hours later because blood in the eye blocked her vision.

"It turned out to be kind of serious. They were afraid my retina would detach. They told me to just take it easy and they've been doing a bunch of laser procedures to avoid having to do the whole surgery," Guthrie said, People reported.

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Flavored Tobacco and Vaping Products Banned in Massachusetts

A ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products was signed into law Wednesday by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, making it the first U.S. state to have a permanent ban.

The sale of flavored vaping products takes effect immediately and sales of menthol cigarettes will be banned as of June 1, 2020, the Associated Press reported.

The law could send a message to companies accused of using flavored products to introduce teenagers to smoking, according to the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network.

"More than 80% of teens who have ever used a tobacco product started with a flavored product, and the tobacco industry knows this," the organization said in an emailed statement to the AP.

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Hepatitis A Outbreak Possibly Caused by Fresh Blackberries

There have been 14 cases of hepatitis A in five states -- Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin -- in an outbreak that may be linked to fresh blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market grocery stores, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The last reported case of the contagious virus that can cause liver disease was on Nov. 15, 2019.

Investigators have determined that the berries came from a distribution center that ships fresh berries to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in 11 states: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Consumers should not eat any fresh non-organic blackberries bought between Sept.9 and Sept. 30 from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in those 11 states, the FDA said. That includes berries that were frozen for later use.

People who ate those berries in the last two weeks and have not been vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus should talk with their healthcare provider to determine whether they require post exposure prophylaxis (PEP),the FDA said.

Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have become ill from eating these blackberries, or if you believe that you have eaten these berries in the last two weeks, the FDA advised.

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U.S. Birth Rate Falls to Lowest in Decades

The U.S. birth rate declined again in 2018, falling to its lowest in more than three decades, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.

It said there were 3,791,712 births registered in 2018, a 2% decrease from 2017, NBC News reported.

Too few babies are being born to sustain the U.S. population.

The fertility rate in 2018 was 1,729.5 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. For the nation's population to remain stable, the rate would need to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women, the CDC said.

It also found that women are waiting longer to have children. Birth rates among women in their 20s and early 30s declined, but rose slightly among women 35 to 44, NBC News reported.

The birth rate among girls aged 15 to 19 fell 7%, from 18.8 births per 1,000 in 2017 to 17.4 births per 1,000 in 2018.

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Trump Donates Salary to Fight Opioid Crisis

U.S. President Donald Trump has donated his third-quarter salary of $100,000 to help fight the nation's opioid epidemic, a White House official says.

The money was given to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, which is in charge of federal public health offices and programs, including the surgeon general's office, the Associated Press reported.

The money will be used "to continue the ongoing fight against the opioid crisis," according to the White House.

Opioids were involved in most of the more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017, the AP reported.

Trump has pledged to donate his salary while in office to worthy causes, and donated his second-quarter salary to the surgeon general's office.

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