Monday, June 27, 2011

New Car Seat Safety Laws Aim to Protect 6 to 8 year olds in Car Accidents

A new law that goes into effect in Georgia this Friday will be a crucial step in closing the gap between Georgia law and federal guidelines when it comes to child seat safety laws and protecting children in car accidents.

Beginning July 1, the minimum age for a child to stop using a booster seat will change from 6 to 8. However, children under the age of 8 who weigh more than 40 pounds and are more than 4 feet 9 inches tall will be exempted from the law. Children who are less than 40 pounds and shorter than 57 inches tall are just too small to properly be restrained by a vehicle's seatbelt alone. They will be required to use a booster seat or 5-point harness.

Statistics show that only about 12% of children between the ages of 6 and 8 are currently using booster seats so there will be a lot of children going back into booster seats that had previously been using only the vehicle's lap and shoulder belt. But the bright side is this: statistics also show that children who are properly restrained have a much greater chance of surviving a motor vehicle collision with minor injuries or no injuries at all.

While children may reach the age where all they are required to use is a booster seat, experts agree that car seats with a 5-point harness are the best protection for children less than 100 pounds. The reason is this simple: the 5-point harness system is designed to distribute the forces of a car crash across the strongest bones of a child's body--the shoulders, chestbone and thigh bones--and minimize the strain placed on the child's neck and spine. The fact that a child has reached the minimum requirement to begin using a booster seat does not mean that it is the safest choice.

For more information on children's safety in cars, please see our September 30, 2010 post about car seats. We posted great videos that demonstrate what a difference a 5-point harness can make in a car crash.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Understanding Sunscreen Labels: FDA Helps Reduce Confusion and Permanent Injury

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Tuesday that sunscreen products meeting modern standards for effectiveness may be labeled with new information to help consumers find products that, when used with other sun protection measures, reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, as well as help prevent sunburn.

The final regulation allows sunscreen products that pass the FDA’s test for protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to be labeled as “Broad Spectrum.” Both UVB and UVA radiation contribute to sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging. Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB radiation.

Under the new labeling, sunscreens labeled as both Broad Spectrum and SPF 15 (or higher), if used regularly, as directed, and in combination with other sun protection measures will help prevent sunburn, reduce the risk of skin cancer, and reduce the risk of early skin aging.

Here's the key: Products that have SPF values between 2 and 14 may be labeled as Broad Spectrum if they pass the required test, but only products that are labeled both as Broad Spectrum with SPF values of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, when used as directed.

Any product that is not Broad Spectrum, or that is Broad Spectrum but has an SPF between 2 to 14, will be required to have a warning stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.

In addition to the final rule for sunscreen labeling, the FDA also released a Proposed Rule that would limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labels to “50 +”, because there is not sufficient data to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users than products with SPF values of 50.

The new regulations will become effective for most manufacturers in one year.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Warning

The Food and Drug Administration warned Wednesday that a popular cholesterol-lowering drug should no longer be prescribed at its highest dosage to new patients because of concerns that it can cause muscle damage.

The drug is simvastatin and the unsafe dosage level is 80 milligrams. This dosage level can increase the risk for myopathy, which is a form of muscle damage.

Simvastatin is sold under the brand name Zocor, in addition to being sold as a generic product. It is also sold in combination with other drugs under the brand names Vytorin and Simcor.

The FDA recommendation is that doctors only continue prescribing the 80 mg dose to patients who have been taking it for at least a year without experiencing problems.

Additionally, simvastatin should not be taken with some other drugs, including some antibiotics, HIV drugs and anti-fungal medications, according to the FDA and Merck, which makes the drug.

In 2010, about 2.1 million patients in the United States were prescribed a product containing simvastatin at that dose, the agency said. About 12 percent of simvastatin users take that dose, according to Merck.