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Health Highlights: June 17, 2013

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

Children's Hand Transplant Program Announced by U.S. Hospital

The world's first hand transplant program for children is being launched by Boston Children's Hospital.

Patients will include children born without hands, those who lose hands in accidents, and youngsters with infections that require damaged hands to be amputated, the Associated Press reported.

Only one child in the world is known to have had a hand transplant. The case involved a baby girl in Malaysia in 2000 who received a hand from a twin who died at birth.

"We feel that this is justifiable," Dr. Amir Taghinia, who will lead the new transplant program, told the AP. "Children will potentially benefit even more from this procedure than adults" because they regrow nerves more quickly and have more problems with prosthetic hands, he explained.

The main risk facing children who have hand transplants comes from immune suppressing drugs used to prevent rejection of the new hand. These drugs cause side effects and may increase the child's long-term risk of cancer.

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