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Health Highlights: Feb. 1, 2019

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

Shortage of Anxiety Drug Concerns Patients, Doctors

A shortage of the anti-anxiety drug buspirone has patients and doctors concerned.

Some people rely on the medication to prevent debilitating anxiety and panic attacks, and doctors say not knowing when the normal supply will resume makes it difficult to manage patients, The New York Times reported.

Buspirone is among one of the generic drugs whose prices have fallen so low that many manufacturers claim they can't make a profit on them.

About 20 percent of people in the United States had an anxiety disorder in the past year, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

It's considered a much safer drug than benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax, The Times reported.

Buspirone is not addictive, has few side effects, and does not cause sexual dysfunction. It can also be used to augment antidepressants and to help reduce sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants.

There is no equivalent medication that works the same way as buspirone.

"Buspirone is in a class by itself. It occupies a unique niche," Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, chief of the anxiety disorders section at Stanford University School of Medicine, told The Times.

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Too Many Kids Using Too Much Toothpaste

Overuse of toothpaste puts many young American children at increased risk for splotchy or streaky teeth when they're older, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey finds.

The poll of more than 5,000 parents of children aged 3 to 15 found that 40 percent of children aged 3 to 6 used a brush that was full or half-full of toothpaste, rather than the recommended pea-sized amount, the Associated Press reported.

Health officials say children under age 3 should use a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice, while those aged 3 to 6 should limit it to a pea-sized amount.

The problem with using too much toothpaste is the fluoride in it. While fluoride protects teeth, too much of it when teeth are forming can lead to tooth streaking or spottiness (dental fluorosis), the AP reported.

The survey also found that about 60 percent of children brushed their teeth twice a day, and that about 20 percent of white and black kids, and 30 percent of Hispanic kids, didn't start brushing until they were 3 or older, the AP reported.

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Pain Often Missed in Girls

Americans tend to overestimate pain severity in boys and underestimate it in girls, a new study finds.

Yale University researchers found that when adults were shown a video of a child's finger being pricked, they rated the child's level of pain higher if they thought it was a boy and lower if they thought it was a girl, CNN reported.

"Explicit gender stereotypes -- for example, that boys are more stoic or girls are more emotive -- may bias adult assessment of children's pain," the authors wrote, CNN reported.

The study was published in The Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

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Staying Off Facebook Brings Benefits: Study

Turning away from Facebook could benefit you in a number of ways, according to a new study.

You'd have more in-person time with family and friends, be less politically partisan, have a slight improvement in daily moods and life satisfaction, and have an extra hour a day of downtime if you're an average Facebook user, The New York Times reported.

One downside among those who stopped using Facebook was a decrease in political knowledge.

The Stanford University and New York University-led study included nearly 3,000 Facebook users over age 18 who spent at least 15 minutes on the platform each day. The daily average was an hour, but it was two to three hours or more for heavy users.

Half were asked to deactivate their Facebook accounts for a month, in exchange for payment. On average, the amount was about $100, The Times reported.

The study, posted recently on the open access site Social Science Research Network, has not yet undergone peer review.

"This is one study of many on this topic, and it should be considered that way," a Facebook press officer said in a statement, The Times reported.

In quoting from the study itself, the statement said ""Facebook produces large benefits for its users," and that "any discussion of social media's downsides should not obscure the fact that it fulfills deep and widespread needs."

There are about 2.3 billion Facebook users worldwide.

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