Health Highlights: Oct. 13, 2016

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

DEA Halts Move to Ban Controversial Herbal Kratom

Bowing to public pressure, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has halted a move to ban a plant called kratom, which experts say could help battle the nation’s opioid epidemic.

In a preliminary document posted to the Federal Register Thursday, the DEA announced withdrawal of its notice of intent to ban kratom and said it needs to obtain more research, the Washington Post reported.

Kratom is a plant from southeast Asia that contains a number of substances that trigger effects similar to opiates when consumed. Some people claim that kratom helped them overcome opiate and alcohol addiction and to treat chronic pain.

Researchers say kratom may help them develop nonaddictive alternatives to opiate painkillers, but that a DEA ban on kratom would hinder those efforts, the Post reported.

A number of U.S. lawmakers also opposed the DEA’s move to ban kratom.

The DEA will accept public comment on krakom until Dec. 1 of this year and asked the Food and Drug Administration to expedite a “scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendation” for the active chemical compounds in kratom, the Post reported.

After the public comment period closes, the DEA could impose different levels of regulation on kratom or leave it unregulated.


Deaths Lead to FDA Investigation of Homeopathic Teething Products

An investigation was launched after at least 10 infants died and 400 became seriously ill after receiving homeopathic remedies for teething pain, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

The agency began the investigation Sept. 9 and it is still underway. No single product has been implicated, said FDA spokeswoman Lyndsay Meyer, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Parents should throw away any homeopathic teething remedies, the FDA advised.

“We’re not limiting our alert to any one product,” Meyer told the Inquirer. “We’re making the alerts about all homeopathic teething products.”

These products often contain nothing but water, but several brands contain tiny amounts of belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade, which is supposed to help ease redness and inflammation caused by teething.


New Law Mandates Diaper Changing Facilities in Men’s Restrooms in Federal Buildings

A law requiring diaper-changing facilities in male and female restrooms in federal buildings was signed into law this month by President Barack Obama.

If restrooms do not have changing tables, hallway signs must indicate the nearest diaper changing area, CNN reported.

The new law does not apply to public buildings such as stores and restaurants, or buildings that can’t support diaper changing facilities.

Greater access to diaper changing facilities is a cause championed by actor Ashton Kutcher, who launched a petition calling for changing tables in men’s bathrooms in major retail stores, CNN reported.

“As a new dad, I recently learned an unfortunate reality about changing diapers while out in public with a child,” Kutcher, who is expecting his second child with wife Mila Kunas, wrote on “Almost all public changing tables are in women’s bathrooms, which makes it nearly impossible to find a table that’s accessible to dads.”