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A summary of important health news from the past week.

California grower recalls avocados over possible listeria

By: Associated Press

Henry Avocado recently recalled their conventional and organic avocados because of a possible listeria contamination. These avocados are generally sold in California, Wisconsin, Florida, among other east coast states. The company decided to jump ahead of the issue as some of their routine inspections showed positive results for listeria. Up to this point, there have not been any reports of illness associated to listeria and the avocados. It will be important to monitor the situation as listeria is known to cause fevers and even complications for pregnant women.

Baby Monkey May Offer Hope to Preserving Fertility of Kids With Cancer

By: Amy Norton

Scientists have used frozen testicular tissue to give birth to a healthy baby monkey. They hope to use their success to help childhood cancer survivors who are infertile from chemotherapy and radiation. If sperm is effective in boys, they do not have the option to freeze sperm like adult cancer patients might. Removing and freezing a sample of testicular tissue can give those boys an alternative because the tissue holds the precursor cells that produce sperm. There is not certainty if the frozen tissue can ultimately produce a baby. But, scientists might know for sure in the next two to five years. 

FDA approves first postpartum depression drug

By Jacqueline Howard

The first treatment for postpartum depression has been approved by the FDA. Postpartum depression affects 1 in 9 new mothers and poses serious risks to the mother and to the child. The drug will be sold as Zulresso but will be carefully administered because of potential side effects like sudden loss of consciousness. Moreover, the treatment requires 60 hours to be administered and will be priced around $20,000 to $35,000 per treatment.  Nonetheless, because there are no treatments for postpartum depression, a devastating condition that can last for years, this is considered to be a breakthrough. The drug not only provides rapid relief of symptoms, as opposed to antidepressant medications, it also sets a new standard for treatment.

One in Five Chinese Children is Overweight or Obese, and the Booming Economy may be to Blame, Study Reveals

By: Katie Hunt

A study published in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology found that 20.5% of Chinese children are overweight or obese, up from 5.3% in 1995, which may be due to China’s rapidly growing economy. The rapid shift from food scarcity to food abundance has created a lagging perception of how much food is healthy across different generations. This change is evident in the fact that obesity rates among Chinese adults are very low. Since Chinese grandparents are often the ones raising the young children, they determine what the children will eat, so the children are influenced by outdated ideas of what is healthy, despite living in a world of food abundance. The increasing rate of childhood obesity in China will likely result in drastic increases in rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease as these children grow into adolescents and adults.

Fentanyl deaths skyrocketed more than 1,000% over six years in the US. Here’s who it’s killing

By: Nadia Kounang

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report which showed deaths from the synthetic opioid fentanyl to have inflated by 1,000% between 2011 and 2016 in the United States. Fentanyl-related deaths began to double annually from 2014, reaching a toll of over 18,000 in 2016. Out of all fatalities within this six year period, males were seen to be most heavily implicated with the largest rate increases witnessed among younger age groups (deaths elevated almost 100% each year in 25- to 34-year-olds). The rates among African Americans and Hispanics were also fast-growing, displaying annual increases of 140.6% and 118.3% respectively. With opioids recognized as a key driver of national drug overdose deaths and fentanyl the most commonly involved in these fatalities, there is substantial need to take action to effectively manage and prevent the use of opioids such as fentanyl on a national-level.