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Health Highlights: Oct. 30, 2013

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

Latin Americans to Benefit From $74M Gift to Boston Genomics Center

Biomedical research that benefits Latin Americans will get a boost from a $74 million donation made to Boston's Broad Institute by Mexican billionaire and philanthropist Carlos Slim Helu, one of the world's richest people.

The gift is meant to help correct a bias in genomic studies of human disease, which often use DNA from people of European descent. This bias could result in researchers missing important genetic causes of diseases in non-European populations and a lack of treatments for those groups, according to the Boston Globe.

"I try to support this kind of project -- that is for the interest of everyone in the world, but with some focus in Mexico and Latin America," Slim told the newspaper.

While he concentrates his philanthropy in Latin America, Slim said his donation to the Broad Institute is in keeping with that mission because he hopes the money will lead to progress in human health more universally.

"It's very important, when we have public health problems like diabetes, to know the causes and try to find solutions," Slim told the Globe.


CDC Releases New Food Allergy Safety Guidelines for Schools

The first guidelines outlining how schools should protect children with food allergies have been released by the U.S. government.

Restrictions on nuts, shellfish and other foods that can cause allergic reactions, and making sure that emergency medicines such as EpiPens are available are among the voluntary strategies , the Associated Press reported.

The recommendations were posted Wednesday on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 15 states, along with many schools or school districts already have their own policies.

However, experts say that many of these policies are probably not comprehensive, the AP reported.

About 1 in 20 U.S. children have food allergies, according to a recent CDC survey.


N.D. Woman Will Give Obese Trick-or-Treaters a Letter, No Candy

Instead of treats, overweight children who go to the home of a Fargo, N.D. woman on Halloween will receive a harsh letter to give to their parents.

The letter states: "You child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season," USA Today reported.

The letter continues: "My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits."

"I just want to send a message to the parents of kids that are really overweight. ... I think it's just really irresponsible of parents to send them out looking for free candy just 'cause all the other kids are doing it," the unidentified woman said in an interview with Y-24 Radio.

The letter could be more emotionally damaging than helpful, said Katie Gordon, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at North Dakota State University.

"It's just that kind of thing that for some kids, if they're vulnerable, might trigger major problems," Gordon told Valley News Live, USA Today reported. "Even if a child is overweight, they might be very healthy because of what they eat and how they exercise. It's ineffective anyway because it's not likely to help the kid."


1 in 3 Drug Clinical Trials Unpublished After 5 Years: Study

Nearly one-third of drug clinical trials remain unpublished five years after they've ended, a new study says.

The findings may increase pressure on drug companies to be more open about the results of their studies, according to Bloomberg News.

Researchers found that 171 (29 percent) of 585 clinical trials registered on a U.S. website to track drug research remained unpublished five years after completion, said the study in the journal BMJ.

Studies that received drug industry funding were more likely to remain unpublished than those that did not have such funding.

The failure to publish results from clinical trials "contributes to publication bias and also constitutes a failure to honor the ethical contract that is the basis for exposing study participants to the risks inherent in trial participation," study leader Christopher Jones, of Rowan University, and colleagues said in a statement, Bloomberg reported.

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