Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Sharon's brain scans show leaps in science of comas

LONDON (Reuters) - The state-of-the-art brain scans that allowed doctors to look inside the head of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon show how advances in neuroscience are forcing a rethink of what it means to be in a long-term coma. Neurologists who performed the tests said they hinted that Sharon, who has been in a coma since suffering a stroke in 2006, may have a degree of consciousness and be able to hear sounds or make out pictures.

Insight: Think preventive medicine will save money? Think again

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It seems like a no-brainer. Since about 75 percent of healthcare spending in the United States is for largely preventable chronic illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, providing more preventive care should cut costs.

Placebo as good as most drugs for kids' migraines

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A drug-free placebo pill prevents migraines in kids and teens just as well as most headache medicines, according to a new review of past evidence. Researchers found only two drugs known to help migraine-plagued adults reduced the frequency of kids' headaches better than a placebo. And even in those cases, the effect was small - a difference of less than one headache per month compared to the dummy pills.

Pregnant women should get whooping cough shot: CDC

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Moms-to-be should get a booster tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine during each pregnancy to help protect their infants from whooping cough, according to a new vaccine schedule released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Babies don't get their first pertussis vaccine until two months of age - and even then, they aren't fully protected until after their third shot, at six months. In the interim, they are at especially high risk of getting very sick from the bacterial disease.

Can pneumonia be reliably diagnosed without x-rays?

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Doctors may miss some cases of pneumonia if they rely solely on their patient's medical history and symptoms without the help of x-rays, according to a new study from Europe. Dutch researchers, who published their findings in the European Respiratory Journal, found that of 140 patients who had their pneumonia diagnosed by x-ray, doctors initially thought only 41 of them had the severe lung infection.

Pillows, stretches tied to less misshapen kids' heads

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Parents who used stretching exercises and special sleeping pillows saw improvements in head deformities often created when infants lay in the same spot for a long time, according to a new study. Those two alternatives are less expensive than special helmets that cost $2,000 or more and that are only typically covered by insurance in some countries, according to a team of German researchers conducting the study.

Salmonella linked to ground beef sickens 16: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2013-01-28T225552Z_2_BRE90R0ZP_RTROPTC_0_US-USA-SALMONELLA-BEEF .XML () -

Judge freezes assets of owners of meningitis-linked pharmacy

BOSTON (Reuters) - A bankruptcy judge on Monday froze the assets of the owners of the pharmacy linked to a deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak. Orders signed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Henry Boroff temporarily restrict the owners of New England Compounding Center (NECC) from selling their luxury homes or spending up to $21 million they received last year in salary and shareholder distributions.

Veggie Grill raises $20 million to build on healthy eating trend

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Veggie Grill raised $20 million from current stakeholders and new investors to bolster its expansion and capitalize on the growing popularity of healthy dining options, the Santa Monica, California-based restaurant company said on Monday. It is the fourth round of equity funding for the vegetarian restaurant chain, whose menu includes dishes such as the "All Hail Kale" salad. The privately-held company declined to disclose its valuation.