Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Radley Balko at Reason Online reports on growing doubts about "shaken baby syndrome":

The phrase shaken baby syndrome entered the pop culture lexicon in 1997, when British au pair Louise Woodward was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Massachusetts infant Matthew Eappen. At the time, the medical community almost universally agreed on the symptoms of SBS. But starting around 1999, a fringe group of SBS skeptics began growing into a powerful reform movement. The Woodward case brought additional attention to the issue, inviting new research into the legitimacy of SBS. Today, as reflected in the Edmunds case, there are significant doubts about both the diagnosis of SBS and how it's being used in court.
In a compelling article published this month in the Washington University Law Review, DePaul University law professor Deborah Teurkheimer argues that the medical research has now shifted to the point where U.S. courts must conduct a major review of most SBS cases from the last 20 years. The problem, Teurkheimer explains, is that the presence of three symptoms in an infant victim—bleeding at the back of the eye, bleeding in the protective area of the brain, and brain swelling—have led doctors and child protective workers to immediately reach a conclusion of SBS. These symptoms have long been considered pathognomic, or exclusive, to SBS.

If you're really interested, you can dig up some ideas about alternate causes of SBS at this blog.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mattel Exempted Itself from Lead Testing

Via Purple Pawn: The LA Times reported late last month that Mattel had lobbied itself out of third-party lead testing of its products.

"It's really ironic that the company that was a principal source of the problem" is now getting favorable treatment from the government, said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland.
Mattel is getting a competitive advantage, Green said, because smaller companies must pay independent labs to do the tests. Testing costs can run from several hundred dollars to many thousands.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Medical Isotope Shortage

Via Orthoprax: the Journal of the American Medical Association reports on the ongoing "critical" shortage of medical isotopes (99mTc) due to a reactor shutdown in Canada.

The shortage was expected to be exacerbated by the temporary closing of the Netherlands reactor for a month-long maintenance inspection from July 18 to August 18. Because the isotopes have a relatively short half life, they cannot be stockpiled.
Canadian authorities said they were working with medical isotope distributors and others to maximize the use of existing isotope supplies and with other international producers to increase isotope production and to coordinate shutdowns and other operations.

Since the journal article was written, the reopening of the Ontario reactor has been pushed into 2010, causing some trouble for the company that sells the isotopes, the Canwest news service reports:

Life sciences company MDS Inc. said Wednesday it has agreed to sell its analytical technologies division to Danaher Corp. for $650 million in cash and is also looking to unload its pharma business.
The Mississauga, Ont.-based company cited the recession and the prolonged shutdown of the National Research Universal reactor in Chalk River, Ont., as its reasons for the sales, which will allow MDS to focus on its isotope business, MDS Nordion.
Stephen DeFalco, chief executive at MDS, said the company still expects the reactor to restart in spring 2010.