These are items compiled by staff of the LA Times.
Birth defect-antidepressant link found
Infants born to women taking commonly prescribed antidepressants during the first trimester of their pregnancies have an increased risk of serious birth defects, though the danger remains tiny, according to two studies published today. By Denise Gellene, Times Staff Writer.
- MENTAL HEALTH
Gaming junkies get no diagnosis
Video-game buffs might feel hooked on their favorite titles, but they won’t be officially addicted anytime soon. Saying the issue needed more study, the American Medical Assn. on Wednesday scaled back a controversial proposal that sought to declare excessive video-game playing a mental disorder akin to pathological gambling. By Alex Pham, Times Staff Writer.
A $962,120 medical bill error
Helen Dorroh White thought she was doing the right thing when she called a health insurance company to question a nearly $1-million medical bill. Instead, she said, no one seemed to care. By Daniel Yi, Times Staff Writer.
- FOOD SAFETY
Chinese food safety campaign shuts down 180 plants
BEIJING – Bruised by international reaction to food safety lapses, the Chinese government announced Wednesday that regulators here have shut down 180 food manufacturers this year after finding such potentially toxic ingredients as formaldehyde in candy, pickles, biscuits and other common fare. By Mitchell Landsberg, Times Staff Writer.
- PETRIFIED FOREST
A buried treasure of trees
Yakima, Wash. – Clyde Friend’s life changed the moment his bulldozer hit the first tree on a hot summer afternoon in 2002 as he leveled a hill behind his workshop. Friend spent the rest of the summer, and much of the last five years, unearthing what scientists have since confirmed as an ancient hardwood forest that was buried under lava about 15 million years ago. By Tomas Alex Tizon, Times Staff Writer.
- ENDANGERED SPECIES
Bald eagle removed from imperiled list
The American bald eagle, revered and reviled over more than two centuries, today will be officially declared safe from extinction in the lower 48 states. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which led a four-decade effort to resuscitate the national bird, is taking it off the Endangered Species list. By Margot Roosevelt, Times Staff Writer.
Bush criticizes children’s health plan
WASHINGTON – Laying down a marker on healthcare, President Bush on Wednesday strongly criticized a push by Democrats and some moderate Republicans to broaden a popular children’s insurance program. Bush called the plan a step toward a government takeover of medicine. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Times Staff Writer.
- PUBLIC LANDS
Army range wants more Arizona desert
A plan to expand an Army artillery range could annex as much as 500,000 acres of federally managed desert in southwestern Arizona that is home to a variety of wildlife, including desert bighorn sheep, Sonoran desert tortoise and endangered lesser long-nosed bats. By Alison Williams, Times Staff Writer.
Opossums: your garden’s evening clean-up crew
Opossums are nature’s clean-up crew, working the graveyard shift. Like little dust busters, they cruise the landscape, round ears tilted like satellite dishes, fleshy pink snoots to the ground. They feast on snails and slugs, perhaps even a cockroach or two. By Lili Singer, Special to The Times.
Is bad medicine better than none?
If Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital is closed, will the people of Watts, Willowbrook and Compton be worse off? Joe R. Hicks and Earl Ofari Hutchinson debate the fight and the endgame over the troubled medical center.
Doubletalk won’t pay the AIDS bills
Last month, President Bush made headlines when he announced a proposal to double U.S. spending on global AIDS to $30 billion between 2009 and 2013. But let’s take a closer look at the proposal. The fine print shows that Bush is really just extending AIDS funding at its current level for the next five years. By Paul Zeitz.