Roundup: FDA’s Warning for Pregnant Women ; Detergent Packets Still Hazardous to Kids; and Measles Update

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June 7, 2019


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FDA Warns Pregnant Women to Avoid Vinpocetine, A Dietary Supplement Ingredient

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning pregnant women and women of child-bearing age to avoid a dietary supplement ingredient because it may cause miscarriages or problems with fetal development if used during pregnancy.

Consumption of the ingredient, vinpocetine, was linked to miscarriages or fetal development issues after the FDA said it revieweed data that included a recent report by the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Toxicology Program (NTP),

Dietary supplements containing vinpocetine are often marketed for uses that include enhanced memory, focus, or mental acuity; increased energy; and weight loss.

“These findings are particularly concerning since products containing vinpocetine are widely available for use by women of childbearing age,” the FDA said in a statement. “That’s why today we’re advising pregnant women and women who could become pregnant not to take vinpocetine.”

The FDA is also advising firms that are marketing dietary supplements containing vinpocetine to “evaluate their product labeling to ensure that it provides safety warnings against use by pregnant women and women who could become pregnant.”

Vinpocetine is a synthetically produced compound that is used in some products marketed as dietary supplements, either by itself or combined with other ingredients. Vinpocetine may be referred to on product labels as Vinca minor extract, lesser periwinkle extract, or common periwinkle extract.

In some countries outside of the U.S., vinpocetine is regulated as a prescription drug, the FDA states. When products such as vinpocetine are sold as dietary supplements in the U.S., they are not reviewed by the FDA.

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Launder Detergent Packets Still Poisoning Too Many Kids, Study Says

Those popular liquid detergent packets, or “pods,” that can be tossed into a washing machine continue to poison kids, despite measures taken in 2015 by manufacturers to make the product saver, according to a new study.

From 2012 to 2017, poison control centers fielded nearly 73,000 calls about poisoning from these pods. And nearly 92 percent involved kids under 6. The study also found that eye injuries from the detergent pods are increasing in adults, with 700 people ending up in the ER last year.

“Exposures among older children and adults are increasing,” concludes the new study, published this week in the journal Pediatrics. “Opportunities exist to strengthen the current product safety standard to further reduce exposures.”

Researchers say the liquid laundry detergent packets are more toxic than the standard liquid and powder. The chemicals in the pods are very concentrated and that makes them dangerous, experts have said. They have caused severe burns to the mouth and respiratory tract, in addition to cognitive issues.

“The current voluntary standard, public awareness campaigns and product and packaging changes to date are good first steps, but the numbers are still unacceptably high — we can do better,” said lead researcher Gary Smith, M.D., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Toddlers will put just about anything in their mouths, and the packets are the perfect size and shape to be picked up, the researcher said. The colorful packets can also look like candy or juice to a young child.

Parents and caregivers can help children stay safer by following these tips, researchers say:

  • People that have young children or adults with dementia or developmental disabilities who live in or visit their home should use traditional laundry detergent, which is much less toxic than laundry detergent packets.
  • Store all laundry detergent including packets up, away, and out of sight — in a locked cabinet is best.
  • Close laundry detergent packet packages or containers and put them away immediately after use.
  • Save the national Poison Help Line number (1-800-222-1222) in your cell phone and post it near your home phones.

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Number of Measles Cases in U.S. Surpasses 1,000 for First Time Since Early 1990s

The number of measles cases in the United States this year has surpassed 1,000, the US Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. The agency said there have been 1,001 cases so far in 2019, that’s That’s 20 more cases than the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention reported on Monday in its weekly update.

Measles cases this year has already surpassed the highest number during a single year since the early 1990s.

“We cannot say this enough: Vaccines are a safe and highly effective public health tool that can prevent this disease and end the current outbreak,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a statement. “The measles vaccine is among the most-studied medical products we have and is given safely to millions of children and adults each year.”

He encouraged all U.S. adults to talk to their doctors about what vaccines are recommended to “protect you, your family, and your community from measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Measles is one of the most highly contagious diseases. Once a person exposes others to measles, there’s about a 90 percent chance he or she will develop the disease.

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