Facebook

Twitter

iTunes

Listen: ABC News Update

Sunday
Apr262015

Study: Teens Texting While Driving Rates Down After State Bans

Onzeg/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As many states move to adopt laws banning texting while driving, a new study found teens in states without bans texted much more while driving than teens in states with bans.  

Within the states themselves, the rates of teen texting while driving decreased from 43 percent to 30 percent in a two year period after laws were implemented, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  

The study used data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Surveys of 2011 and 2013, a nationwide survey of teen risky behaviors performed by the CDC.  

Researchers specifically focused on the 14 states with new texting while driving bans.

Even though the drop in teen texting while driving in states with bans was very significant, about one-third of teens in those states still reported texting while driving.

Researchers also found that experienced teen drivers -- those more than one year older than the legal driving age limit --  were almost five times more likely to text while driving than less experienced teen drivers.

Teen drivers represent the largest proportion of distracted drivers, with cellphone texting frequently being a major distracter, according to the study.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Apr262015

Smiley Faces May Help Kids Eat Healthy

stockerteam/iStock/Thinkstock (CINCINNATI) -- Getting children to eat healthy, particularly in school where a larger selection of unhealthy foods is readily available, is an ongoing challenge.  

Researchers in Cincinnati tried a simple reward when visiting an inner-city school.

For 3 months, they placed “Green Smiley Faced” emoticons near the healthful foods, according to a new study published in the Pediatric Academic Society.   

Researchers then introduced a small prize for children who selected a “Power Plate” for lunch, which was a well-balanced combination of food items which created a healthy meal.  

After 5 months, the number of children who purchased fat free milk increased by 549 percent and those who chose the “Power Plate” tripled.  

Fruit and vegetable consumption also increased over the study.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Apr252015

Gender Identity Versus Attraction: 'It's Apples and Oranges' Says Bruce Jenner

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- When Brandon Jenner, Bruce Jenner’s son, learned his dad is transgender, his “biggest question,” he tells ABC News, was who his father might want to be in a relationship with in the future.

“I feel like in life we’re all looking for love and so many things are done in the world just to try to gain love, you know,” Brandon says, turning to his dad. “From here on out. ... I wonder how your—what your desires are in that regard. If you’re looking forward to meeting somebody."

When people come out as transgender -- especially if they choose to transition medically -- one of the most common questions they face is how it affects whom they are attracted to and whom they love. The fact is—for many transgender people—it simply doesn’t.

As Bruce Jenner tells Diane Sawyer, “It’s apples and oranges.”

“Never Been With a Guy”

Jenner tells ABC that when it comes to attraction, “No, I’m not gay. I am not gay. I am, as far as I know -- heterosexual.”

“I’ve never been with a guy -- I’ve always been married, raising kids, doing all that kind of stuff,” Jenner adds. "There’s two different things here. Sexuality is who you personally are attracted to—who turns you on— male or female. But gender identity has to do with who you are as a person and your soul, and who you identify with inside, okay?"

Endocrinologist Dr. Norman Spack, the co-director of a special gender management clinic at Boston Children's Hospital and an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, says that at first—years ago—even he needed a lesson. “I was confused about, does this make so-and-so gay? Does this make so-and-so straight?” Spack says.

But after treating 200 transgender adults, Spack still recites a lesson he learned early on from a member of the community.

"Sexual orientation is who you go to bed with,” Spack tells ABC News, “but gender identity is who you go to bed as.”

“A Human Experience”

Jennifer Boylan, a transgender woman and author of She's Not There: a Life in Two Genders, is a parent to two boys and a professor at Barnard in New York. Boylan remained married to her wife, Deirdre, through her transition. They have been together since 1988, when Boylan was living as a man. They are together still.

Boylan understands that some people may be confused.

“It is a human experience,” Boylan tells Diane Sawyer. "To address this issue, as Bruce Jenner is addressing this now, takes courage. It takes honesty. And it takes the support of people around you who will treat you with love rather than disdain.”

“My sense of myself as female was something that never left me,” Boylan adds, “But I was always attracted to women. My general experience is that whoever you were attracted to before remains who you're attracted to after.”

“There are no hard and fast rules. The important thing to understand is that sexuality, who you love, and gender identity, who you are, those really are different things.”

Nick Adams, who works for GLAAD and is also transgender, urges everyone to remember that sexual orientation isn’t about sex, "It’s about who you love—who you want to fall in love with." Adams, who transitioned in his early thirties, was oriented towards men even before transitioning to male himself. Today, he has been with his partner John since 2001. "I am a gay man," Adams says.

Jay Brown, of the Human Rights Campaign -- a transgender man who identifies as straight, may have been labeled a lesbian before his transition.

“Take me,” Brown says, “I'm a transgender man married to a woman. My gender identity is male and my sexual orientation is straight. Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight. We're dads and moms, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. We're your co-workers, and your neighbors. We're 7-year-old children and 70-year-old grandparents. We're a diverse community, representing all racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as faith backgrounds.”

“A Poverty of Our Language”

As Andrew Solomon writes in his book Far from The Tree, “It is a poverty of our language that we use the word sex to refer both to gender and to carnal acts.” In other words–your sex (whether you are male or female)—has nothing to do with, well, sex (as in—sex acts).

Dr. Spack says he has been “delighted” to see partners of all genders stand by and support his transgender patients. “I tried to play a game,” Spack says, “I'd try to guess whether a patient’s partner was male, female, or what. I never ask leading questions that would give it away. I could never guess whether -- in their affirmed gender—they would be gay, straight, or bi. One thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other. And the data shows it.”

“Every person is different, every experience is different,” adds psychiatrist Dr. Stephen B. Levine, “Everyone is a mosaic.”

So how do we know someone’s gender identity? Their orientation? The answer is we can’t—at least not until they choose to share it.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Apr252015

Seven Questions Answered About Transgender People

m_a_r_t_i_n/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It is believed there have always been people whose brain and bodies are at odds when it comes to their gender. In the past two decades, the term “transgender” has been used to define this population.

As part of Diane Sawyer’s exclusive interview with Bruce Jenner Friday on ABC's 20/20, a few experts offered to help answer questions often asked about the transgender community.

1. So How Many People Are Transgender?

While it’s impossible to know exactly how many transgender people live in the U.S., the most commonly cited estimate is 700,000—more than the population of Washington, D.C. Most experts on the transgender community believe that the number is probably higher.

“If you're in a high school of 2,000 kids, you're probably going to have somewhere between two and four trans kids in that school at any one time,” says Dr. Norman Spack, the co-director of the gender management clinic at Boston Children's Hospital.

Dr. Johanna Olson, the medical director of the transgender clinic at Children's Hospital Los Angeles notes that it would be helpful for the government to collect data about the community. “What we really need is a census bureau question that says, ‘Does anyone in your household identify as a gender different than the one they were assigned at birth?’” says Olson. “And that would probably give us a better prevalence number and a more accurate reflection of the trans experience.”

2. Is Being a Transgender Person Considered a Disorder?

No. And, as Dr. Olson says, “Being transgender is not a mental illness” either. In May 2013, medical professionals removed “Gender Identity Disorder” from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) -- replacing it with “Gender Dysphoria”. They also changed the criteria for diagnosis.

“Gender Dysphoria” is the term medical experts use to describe the distress a person may feel when their gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. There are various treatment options available to manage this discontent including mental health services, hormonal treatments, and— in some cases— surgery. There is a debate in the medical and transgender communities about whether or not “Gender Dysphoria” should remain in the DSM. Some believe removing it could limit patients’ access to insurance coverage.

3. Are There Transgender Children?

Yes. Children can be transgender, but not all children who experiment with gender play or exhibit gender nonconforming behavior will be transgender adults. Experts say only a small fraction of young children who exhibit gender noncomforming behavior will go on to be transgender later in life. In other words, most of these children will go on to report that their sex assigned at birth aligns with their gender identity.

Children who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria and continue to experience these intense feelings through adolescence are referred to as persisters. Those who do not continue through puberty are desisters.

“Think of someone running a hurdle,” Dr. Spack says. “The persisters run over the hurdle and continue on the path to becoming a transgender adult. The desisters hit a wall and they do not transition. The first thing to know is that you can’t define children for sure until they hit puberty. We don’t have a litmus test.”

"What we need to understand is that in development, all of us get dramatically transformed over time,” says psychiatrist Dr. Stephen B. Levine of Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, who has treated hundreds of transgender people, “by forces we don't fully understand.”

Dr. Spack agrees, but adds that for that small fraction who persist, their feelings of gender dysphoria are a sign of who they will be as adults. “I take care of many children who lift the sheets before they go to bed and pray that they'll wake up with a different body,” Spack says. "And then they lift the sheets when they wake up and say, ‘Why did this happen to me? Why should I feel this way?’”

That’s why Dr. Spack tells concerned parents to get professional counseling.

"If your kid expresses issues around gender identity it is so, so important to take it seriously,” Spack says. “It is still all too common for transgender people to take their lives. Sometimes they don’t know there is treatment for them.”

As Jenner tells Diane Sawyer, his feeling of gender dysphoria started in childhood and “it never, never ever went away.”

4. What Treatment Is Given to Children?

“Most people know their gender in early childhood,” says Dr. Olson. So for an adolescent experiencing intense gender dysphoria, the first medical option is to take puberty blockers, which prevent physical changes such as breast development and facial hair—buying a child time before a surge of unwanted hormones. It’s important to know that puberty blockers are completely reversible, but are not without some risks including effects on bone development and height. After puberty blockers, the second step for a medical transition is cross-sex hormones which have irreversible effects, such as breast growth from estrogen and facial hair growth brought on by testosterone.

A small Dutch study —out just last year— of transgender adolescents who were started on puberty blockers as children suggests that those who undergo this treatment (followed later by cross-sex hormones and/or surgery) turn out just as happy as their peers, avoiding the depression that all too often plagues transgender youth.

Jenner notes that when he began hormones as an adult, the treatment immediately aided in quality of life. They “take the edge off,” Jenner says.

As Dr. Levine tells us, sometimes the most important step before any medical intervention is understanding. “I want every parent with a gender atypical child,” Levine tells ABC, “to be fascinated with that child, to be interested in that child, to protect the child and to help the child understand the world.”

5. Do All Transgender People Have Surgery?

No. Not all transgender people have surgery—or any medical intervention. Being transgender is not about physical changes—it is about gender identity. For a transgender person, their gender identity does not align with their biological sex.

As Dr. Spack says, “For transgender people, their bodies below the brain do not define their gender status.”

Not all transgender people report experiencing gender dysphoria -- the term that describes distress related to identifying with a gender different from the one assigned at birth. But for those who do, medical intervention can be a great relief.

There are various reasons some transgender people do not have surgery. For many, the cost is prohibitive. For others, having surgery is not the most important way for them to express their gender. As Dr. Olson says, “There are some people that are completely fine—by the way—with the genitals they have.”

For those who do have surgery, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) recommends coming to the decision with the guidance of mental health professionals who specialize in transgender medicine. They also recommend living in the gender role a person identifies with for at least 12 continuous months. As Dr. Levine says, “This is not a cavalier thing.”

6. How Many Transgender People Are Lost to Suicide and Murder?

Following the death of Leelah Alcorn in late December -- the transgender young woman whose suicide note ended in the plea “Fix society. Please” -- there have been an additional eight transgender youth who have died by suicide in 2015. Nick Adams, who works for GLAAD and is a transgender man, says that all of us should be concerned about these tragic numbers. Adams says he believes the number of transgender people who commit suicide isn’t “because transgender people are more mentally unstable than non-transgender people—it's because we live in a society that gives us very little hope that we can be accepted and understood as our true selves. The culture needs to change so that transgender people can see a future for themselves and survive."

As for homicides, “In 2015,” Adams adds, “seven transgender women have been murdered in the United States.”

Dr. Olson says that some of these tragic findings apply even to her youngest patients, “There's a lot of self-harm, there's a lot of cutting, there's a lot of burning, there's a lot of suicidal thoughts,” Olson tells ABC News, “There's a lot of suicide attempts even in very young kids. And so it's a scary time. And it's a really important time to be listening if something's happening like that for a kid.”

“I would like to think we can save some lives here,” Jenner tells Diane Sawyer.

7. What About the Law? Are Transgender People Protected?

This year, Barack Obama became the first President to mention the community in an official address. “He actually was the first one to say the actual word, “transgender,” Jenner says. “I will certainly give him credit for that.” And just this past July, Obama signed an Executive Order prohibiting transgender discrimination for federal employees and contractors. But not every state has a law explicitly protecting all transgender workers.

Right now in 32 states there is no explicit state law protecting people from being fired for being transgender. Only 18 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) and D.C. currently prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. And according to the Human Rights Campaign, while “nearly 91% of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their workplace policies” only “61 percent include gender identity.”

As President Obama said when he signed the order, “Today in America, millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do, but because of who they are: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. And that's wrong.”

This video outlines definitions for transgender terminology, along with appropriate ways to use each word.


 
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr242015

Heroin Use Continues To Rise Over 10 Years

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -– The number of heroin users has continued to increase over the past 10 years.

From 2002 to 2013, the number of heroin users has increased from 404,000 to 681,000, while the number of users undergoing treatment has increased from 277,000 to 526,000, according to a survey released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The increase has overwhelmed some substance abuse treatment facilities, with almost one in ten of them working above capacity, according to researchers.

With over 11 million abusers of prescription pain medication, there was increasing concern that many of them would become heroin users.  

While there is evidence that abusers of prescription pain medication are at greater risk for becoming heroin users compared to non-prescription drug abusers, only a small number of them actually make the transition, according to the survey’s authors.  

Heroin users increase in number every year, and while treatment programs try to keep pace, researchers say it is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed and monitored.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr242015

Why Botulism Is Found in Canned Foods and How to Keep Your Pantry Safe

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a botulism outbreak following a church potluck in Ohio left a woman dead and sickened up to 28 others, health officials say canned food could be to blame.

Officials are looking into canned fruits and vegetables as well as pasta and potatoes salads and other menu items, according to Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Shannon Libby.

So, you may be wondering how to keep your pantry safe in time for picnic season.

Here's what you need to know:

What is botulism?

Botulism is caused by a nerve toxin released by certain bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies," according to the CDC. "Foodborne botulism is a public health emergency because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food."

Symptoms can take between 6 hours and 10 days to arise, and they include double vision or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing and muscle weakness, according to the National Institutes of Health.

How common is it?

"Botulism has virtually been eliminated in this country," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

There are about 145 cases a year in the U.S., according to the CDC. Only 15 percent of those are foodborne. The rest are either wound-related or something called infant botulism, which involves consuming the spores.

Why is it found in canned goods?

The bacteria Clostridium botulinum releases the toxin that causes botulism as part of its natural anaerobic process, meaning it multiplies in an oxygen-free environment, like a sealed can, Schaffner said.

"Back in the day when there was a lot of home-canning, people didn't always meticulously follow protocols," Schaffner said. "The spores were not killed and given that this was now an environment in a sealed container, the bacteria could multiply and produce the toxin."

With the advent of commercial canning and better understanding of botulism to put food safety procedures in place, he said it's now rare to have a canned good-related botulism outbreak.

What can you do to stay safe?

Unless the Ohio potluck investigators find that the food that caused the illness was commercially canned, Schaffner said people have nothing to worry about. But if they see a can that is puffy or dented, discard it.

"Spoilage of one kind or another likely occurred," he said. "There's no reason to subject yourself to any kind of chance of getting sick."


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr242015

CDC Issues Alert Following Indiana HIV Outbreak 

iStock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Health officials said on Friday that a HIV epidemic in rural Indiana among injection drug users is still not under control, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a nationwide alert.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced that he is extending a state of emergency to battle the epidemic, as officials say more than 140 cases have been reported this year in one small town.

“142 positive HIV tests have now been reported in southeastern Indiana. That's 136 confirmed and six preliminary and we literally have new cases being reported every day, literally on an hourly basis,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams on Friday.

Indiana Department of Health Chief Medical Consultant Joan Duwve said people are shooting up as often as 10 times a day and sharing with family and friends.

“They'll take the quarter of their oxymorphone pill, dissolve it, and inject it with whoever happens to be with them,” he said.

Duwye added that despite the agency’s efforts, new cases are being diagnosed daily.

“As of April 21st when the MSWR was written, a total of 135 persons have been diagnosed with HIV infection. The large majority of them residing in a city of only 4200 people,” Duwye said.

The CDC issued a warning on Friday to health officials nationwide over the increase in prescription drug abuse leading to a resurgence of HIV and hepatitis C.

CDC Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Jonathan Mermin, said needle sharing is to blame to the outbreak, and behind the nationwide warning.

“We're issuing a health advisory to alert public health departments and health care providers nationwide of the increasing Hepatitis C epidemic and the possibility of current or future HIV outbreaks among people who inject drugs,” he said on Friday.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr242015

Foods Kids See in TV Ads Do Not Meet Nutritional Standards, CDC Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Over half of the foods in advertising directed at children were ineligible for advertising if they followed government standards, the CDC says in a new report.

The CDC looked at a list of over 400 foods approved by the industry regulated Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and compared them against the government’s recommendations, which have limits on fat, sugar and sodium.

Researchers found that 53 percent of the CFBAI products did not meet these limits.  

Sugar was the most common nutrient that exceeded government recommended limits, with 32 percent of advertised products exceeding the sugar limit.  

Children on average see 10 to 13 food-related advertisements every day.  

The governmental agencies involved in creating these recommendations include the CDC, FDA, Federal Trade Commission, and the US Department of Agriculture.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr242015

Blue Bell Hits Restart Button on Its Operations After Listeria Outbreak

Blue Bell Ice Cream(NEW YORK) -- After a listeria outbreak that shut down Blue Bell Ice Cream operations and left three consumers dead, the company has announced a reboot.

Starting April 27, Blue Bell will "embark on an intensive cleaning program," the company said, and retrain employees at all four of its ice cream plants for the next week or so. The reboot will involve enhancing existing preventive measures, teaching hundreds of plant employees new cleaning techniques and making design changes to equipment. All ice cream made during that time will not be for sale to consumers.

"We just needed to set a reset button and get it right," Blue Bell spokesman Joe Robertson told ABC News, adding that they have not yet decided when to resume normal ice cream production.

The 108-year-old ice cream company expanded its earlier recalls this week to include all Blue Bell products. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also announced this week that listeria cases tied to Blue Bell Ice Cream had an illness onset date dating back as far as January 2010, after retrospectively reviewing old cases for the DNA fingerprints.

The CDC has confirmed 10 listeria cases tied to Blue Bell in four states. Three of these patients died, according to the CDC.

When the first Blue Bell products tested positive for listeria and the company issued a recall, Robertson said Blue Bell identified the piece of equipment and shut down the whole room of the plant. The company had already recalled 25 ice cream products when a batch of half-gallon chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, too, prompting the complete recall.

"We've always worked to make the very highest quality ice cream," Blue Bell CEO and President Paul Kruse said in a statement. "We intend to make a fresh start and that begins with intensive cleaning and enhanced training. This is a paradigm shifting event at Blue Bell and we want to put in place new systems to drive continuous improvement."

Although most people who are exposed to listeria don't become sick, it can be a very serious illness, said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. It kills about 260 people a year, according to the CDC.

"Ice cream isn't one of those foods that we tended to worry about because of pasteurization, where you heat the milk that would kill listeria," he said. "So they’re going to be looking very hard at these factories to try to figure out what went wrong here."

Although there is a "zero tolerance" policy at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when it comes to listeria, food safety expert Sandra Eskin told ABC News that companies aren't required to test for it -- at least not until the Food Safety Modernization Act is implemented later this year.

Robertson said Blue Bell had been testing for listeria and other bacteria, but it will begin testing even more going forward.

On Thursday, another ice cream company, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, announced that it was recalling all products after a positive listeria test. In a statement to ABC News, the FDA said it does not believe the outbreaks are related.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr242015

Papyrus Texts Reveals Ancient Egyptian Hangover Cure

The Egypt Exploration Society(CAIRO) -- You may want to keep this info handy, depending on your plans this weekend: An ancient Egyptian hangover cure has just been discovered.

Five hundred thousand papyrus texts from Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, dating back to the second century AD (1,900 years ago) were dug up by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt from 1896 to 1907, and experts have been translating their contents ever since.

Just recently, one of the medical texts was found to contain a “drunken headache cure,” now more popularly known as a hangover cure.

The text suggests that sufferers “wear leaves of Alexandrian chamaedaphne strung together.”

“So, basically wear a necklace of these leaves,” Egypt Exploration Society office manager Hazel Grey told ABC News. “It doesn’t sound like it should work, does it?”

The Egypt Exploration Society owns the majority of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Collection, which is housed by Oxford University’s Sackler Library.

Alexandrian chamaedaphne is a shrub available online and more commonly known as “poet’s laurel,” should you want to actually give this a try.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







ABC News Radio