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Wednesday
Dec072016

Four More Infants Born in NYC With Zika Virus-Related Birth Defects

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Four more infants have been born with birth defects related to the Zika virus in New York City, the city's Health Department announced Wednesday.

The four cases occurred after a previous reported case in July, where an infant was born with Zika-related microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head or brain, often leading to significant developmental problems.

These four infants were born with "congenital Zika virus syndrome," which encompasses variety of birth defects, including microcephaly, brain and eye abnormalities, shortened or hardened muscles and tendons and neurologic impairment, according to the health department.

In addition to these five cases where infants were born with health problems related to the Zika virus, eight other infants tested positive for the virus but have shown no symptoms of impairment or birth defects related to the virus, the health department said. Health officials said they will continue to monitor the children for at least a year to see if and how their symptoms progress as they get older.

In total, more than 200 infants have been born to women with a Zika virus infection in New York City, according to the health department.

“Today’s news is a reminder that Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women and their babies," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement Wednesday.

"As we enter the holiday season, we urge all pregnant women in New York City, those who might become pregnant, and their male sexual partners not to visit places where there is active Zika virus transmission,” Bassett added. “We are closely following all babies born to mothers who test positive for Zika infection and will connect parents to available services to improve their child’s quality of life.”

As of Dec. 2, at least 8,000 people in New York City have been tested for the Zika virus with 962 people testing positive, according to the health department, which also noted that of those who tested positive, 325 were pregnant women. All of the Zika infections reported in New York City were acquired while traveling to areas where the virus was more prevalent, except in six cases that were spread through sexual contact, the agency said.

A Zika infection in adults often includes mild symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 1 in 5 people infected with the virus shows symptoms. Severe complications from Zika that require hospitalization are rare, and most people are over the worst of the symptoms after a week, according to the CDC.

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Wednesday
Dec072016

Winter Health Hazards: Tips on Surviving Icy Temps

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Temperatures are expected to plummet this week in multiple states across the country, with heavy snow storms expected to hit many areas, including the plains and Great Lakes regions.

In North Dakota, a blizzard has already blanketed much of the state in multiple inches of snow. Winter weather that can leave cars stranded and driveways blocked with snow isn't just a nuisance but also a potential danger to those spending a lot of time outdoors.

Here are a few health tips to keep in mind this winter season:

Frostbite Can Appear Within Minutes

Cold temperatures and icy wind means an increased risk of frostbite. Dr. Edmundo Mandac, director of emergency medicine clinical operations at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Ohio, said in an earlier interview that it might "take only a minute or two" for people to develop frostbite symptoms in below-freezing temperatures.

"If you’re outside and you start feeling your fingers get a little bit tingly or painful, you shouldn’t ignore those signs," Mandac said. "Go in an rewarm yourself."

Even after you've warmed up after a hot cup of tea, Mandac said it still may not be safe to go outside since tissue is "more susceptible" to frostbite on a second trip outdoors.

Shoveling Snow Can Be Hard on Your Heart

Shoveling snow is often a necessary chore during a blizzard, but this is one chore you might want to avoid until the weather warms up a bit. The American Heart Association explains that cold weather and the strain of shoveling snow has been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks.

Cold temperatures put extra strain on the body, which can be a recipe for disaster, Mandac noted.

"You’re trying to warm up -- trying to shiver -- and throw in physical activity and most people are not in good physical shape," he told ABC News.

Anyone who doesn't feel up to shoveling snow physically should not try to push themselves, Mandac said.

"If you’re not sure about your health ... don’t try to shovel snow," he said.

Avoid Alcohol

Anyone who thinks that a quick sip of alcohol will take away the chill should think again. The American Heart Association says having a sip of whisky or other liquor before going to shovel snow could be more dangerous since the alcohol can cause a person "to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold."

Alcohol, along with some other medications, affect how the body regulates temperature, Mandac pointed out. As a result, it might make a person more susceptible to the cold weather.

Be Aware of Hypothermia Risk and Check on Elderly Family Members

Mandac said he has seen people arrive in his emergency room suffering from severe hypothermia, with body temperatures below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We really start seeing problems," with hypothermic patients, Mandac said. "They’re not thinking right. They might be in a coma. It really involves a lot of rewarming process to save them."

While some patients may have been stranded in the outdoors, others patients have become hypothermic even while in their homes, he said.

"Older people, who either because it's not warm enough for them at home or they have medications they take and can’t tell what the temperature is, they can become hypothermic even inside the house," Mandac said.

As people age, it's harder for their bodies to regulate temperature, he noted. If the power goes out or the heat doesn't come on, it can have dangerous consequences for elderly people.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also gives advice on how to heat the home safely. The CDC advice includes keeping space heaters at least three feet from anything that can catch fire, not using an extension cord for a space heater and keeping a carbon monoxide detector around.

The CDC also advises against using generators, grills or camp stoves as a heat source because they can generate deadly carbon monoxide gas.

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Wednesday
Dec072016

Meet 'LiLou,' San Francisco Airport's Therapy Pig Who Helps People Fly

Courtesy San Francisco International Airport(SAN FRANCISCO) -- This little piggy is the first known airport therapy pig in the U.S., according to the San Francisco International Airport. Her name is LiLou.

She "promises to surprise and delight guests with her winning personality, charming costumes and painted nails," the airport said in a statement.

And she's no stick in the mud, either. "LiLou loves performing tricks for her audience," the airport added.

The Juliana-breed pig was officially welcomed into the airport's team of trained animals called The Wag Brigade this past Monday.

The Wag Brigade is a team of trained animals certified by the San Francisco SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program to "make passenger travel more enjoyable," the airport said.

The airport said the brigade's animals are carefully selected "for their temperament and airport suitability" and that the animals "wear vests that read 'Pet Me!' to encourage interaction with airport guests."

"We have more than 300 dog, cat and rabbit volunteer teams, but LiLou is the first pig in our program," Dr. Jennifer Henley, SF SPCA Animal Assisted Therapy manager, said in the statement.

"With the addition of LiLou, we can look forward to more moments of surprise and delight for guests at our airport," added Christopher Birch, director of guest experience at the airport.

The therapy pig "also visits several other facilities in San Francisco including senior centers and hospitals," the airport noted.

LiLou's "mom" chronicles her adventures on Instagram on the account @lilou_sfpig.

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Wednesday
Dec072016

Vets and Ex-Athletes with Traumatic Brain Injuries Team Up for Treatment

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Athletes are teaming up with veterans to fight the effects of concussions and PTSD, and they’re already seeing major results.

After four years of study, athletes and vets in treatment together at the Eisenhower Center in Michigan saw improvements in depression, anxiety, PTSD and even pain.

Now, for the first time, the After the Impact Fund will help these groups get treatment in their own, dedicated facility in Jacksonville, Florida, opening early next year.

Watch the video below for more:


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Wednesday
Dec072016

Your Body: What You Can Do to Help Avoid a Preterm Birth

DigitalVision/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

About 1 in 10 babies are born preterm, or before completing the normal 37 to 40 weeks of pregnancy. These babies miss out on the important growth and development that happens in these final weeks.

Babies who survive can have short-term and long-term health issues, such as vision problems and intellectual impairment, so here are some things you can do:

  • Make sure you keep all your prenatal appointments. This gives your provider a chance to screen for infection or preterm contractions.
  • Commit to be fit before and during your pregnancy. Exercise is good for mom and baby and is recommended for all average risk pregnancies.
  • Listen to your body. If you’re pregnant and have any cramps, bleeding or leaking fluid, call your obstetrician or midwife immediately.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Dec062016

Amy Schumer Talks Fat-Shaming; Hits Back at Body Critics

Jim Spellman/WireImage via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amy Schumer has addressed "trolls" who have criticized her looks.

In an Instagram post Tuesday, the comedian stated that she is "very, very honored" to be under consideration to play "an important and evolving icon."

According to a Deadline report from Dec. 2, the actress is in negotiations to star in a live-action "Barbie" film.

Almost immediately, Schumer's critics voiced their opinions that the "Trainwreck" star does not look the part.

She responded to those critics in her Instagram post.

"Is it fat shaming if you know you're not fat and have zero shame in your game? I don't think so. I am strong and proud of how I live my life and say what I mean and fight for what I believe in and I have a blast doing it with the people I love. Where's the shame? It's not there. It's an illusion," she wrote.

"Thanks to everyone for the kind words and support and again my deepest sympathy goes out to the trolls who are in more pain than we will ever understand," she continued. "I want to thank them for making it so evident that I am a great choice. It's that kind of response that let's you know something's wrong with our culture and we all need to work together to change it."

This is not the first time Schumer, 35, has spoken out about her body. Back in April, she questioned Glamour magazine's decision to include her name on the cover of its "Chic at Any Size Issue" alongside Adele and Melissa McCarthy, and, last year, she posed semi-nude for the Pirelli calendar.

"I felt I looked more beautiful than I've ever felt in my life," she said at the time, "and I felt like it looked like me."

In her Instagram post, Schumer also noted how flattered she was by the two Grammy nominations she received Tuesday morning. The comedian's book, "The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo," was nominated for best spoken word album and best comedy album.

"When I look in the mirror I know who I am. I'm a great friend, sister, daughter and girlfriend. I'm a bad-ass comic headlining arenas all over the world and making TV and movies and writing books where I lay it all out there and I'm fearless like you can be," she told her 5.4 million Instagram followers.

"Anyone who has ever been bullied or felt bad about yourself I am out there fighting for you, for us. And I want you to fight for yourself too! We need to laugh at the haters and sympathize with them. They can scream as loud as they want. We can't hear them because we are getting s*** done. I am proud to lead by example."

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Tuesday
Dec062016

Twin Girls Joined at the Chest to Be Separated Tuesday

Stanford Children's Health(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- A pair of twin girls conjoined at the chest and abdomen will undergo a lengthy surgery to finally be separated.

Erika and Eva Sandoval, of Antelope, California, were born joined at the lower chest and upper abdomen, a type of conjoined twin called omphalo-ischiopagus twins. While their heart and lungs are separate they share some lower some anatomical structures including a liver, bladder and two kidneys.

In an effort to allow the 2-year-old girls to live independently of one another, surgeons and other physicians are performing surgery to be separate the toddlers Tuesday. The medical staff who will work on the surgery at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, which is part of Stanford University, anticipate that there is a 70 percent chance that both girls survive the arduous operation.

"It's hard to see the numbers and find comfort on the odds. But as you know from the beginning our girls have superseded the doctors expectations of life and will continue to show us their strength," parents Aida and Arturo wrote online earlier this year.

The procedures are expected to take around 18 hours with 50 medical staff attending to the girls, according to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

"This surgery is complex in terms of enabling a good quality of life for the girls after the separation," lead surgeon Dr. Gary Hartman, division chief of pediatric surgery at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, said in a statement last week.

Conjoined twins are exceedingly rare and occur between every 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 200,000 live births, according to the hospital. To take on the difficult surgery to separate Erika and Eva, the medical team created a 3D model of the girls' shared abdomen. As the surgery progresses, their MRI, CT scans and the 3D model will be used to help guide the surgeons.

"You can think of their anatomy as two people above the rib cage, merging almost into one below the bellybutton," Dr. Peter Lorenz, a professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Stanford University Medical Center who will lead the reconstructive phase of the twins’ procedure, said in a statement.

The operation is scheduled to start Tuesday, but hospital officials declined to give an update on the girls at this time due to the "complex and sensitive nature" of the operation.

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Tuesday
Dec062016

The Top Baby Names of 2016

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it's time for your baby to attend school, you can bet there's going to be a little Sophia or Jackson in the classroom.

There may even be a few Aidens, Emmas, Lucases and Olivias.

That's because these names top the list of most popular baby names of 2016, according to the popular website Baby Center. The list was culled from the 400,000 submissions received from new parents.

Here are the top 10 names by gender:

GIRLS

  • Sophia
  • Emma
  • Olivia
  • Ava
  • Mia
  • Isabella
  • Riley
  • Aria
  • Zoe
  • Charlotte

BOYS

  • Jackson
  • Aiden
  • Lucas
  • Liam
  • Noah
  • Ethan
  • Mason
  • Caden
  • Oliver
  • Elijah

For the complete list of the top 50 boys' and girls' names, visit Baby Center.

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Tuesday
Dec062016

Your Body: Are You an Early Bird or Night Owl?

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Are you more of a morning person or do you tend to be more productive at night? According to a new study, whether or not you’re an early bird or a night owl is actually in your DNA.

Researchers found 15 different spots in the genetic script that was likely between morning people and self-described evening people. Seven of these genetic swaps occur near genes involving regulating a person’s daily cycles or circadian rhythm.

Here's my take:

  • Try to really pay attention to your body and figure out if you’re a morning person or an evening person.
  • Don’t fight mother nature. Although I’ve had to work many all-nighters as an OB/GYN, most of my life as a doctor and a mom involves waking up way before 6 am. But try to make me stay up late? That’s a different story.

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Tuesday
Dec062016

Some Children's Headphones Raise Concerns of Hearing Loss, Report Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Some headphones marketed for children may not restrict enough noise for young ears, according to a new report published Tuesday by the technology guide The Wirecutter.

The Wirecutter tried out 30 different children’s headphones for style, fit and safety by using both a plastic model ear and a few real children.

“There's no governing board that oversees this,” Lauren Dragon, the Headphone Editor at The Wirecutter, told Good Morning America in an interview that aired Tuesday. Dragon added that the headphones for children all claim to limit volume to around 85 decibels. Sound below the 85 decibel mark for a maximum of eight hours is considered safe, according to the World Health Organization.

The Wirecutter report found that some of these headphones emit sound higher than the 85 decibel mark. To read the full report click here.

The report gave the highest rating for kids' headphones to the Puro BT2200, Bluetooth wireless headphones that retail for around $100 on Amazon.com. The Wirecutter notes the Puro headphones met their "volume-limiting test standards" and were liked by kid testers of all ages.

The lowest rating among the products reviewed by The Wirecutter went to a pair of wired headphones by Kidz Gear.

Dragon claimed that the volume limiter on the Kidz Gear headphones could be easily removed by children. The Wirecutter report claims that the audio level is safe with the limiter, but without it, the audio can reach as loud as 110 decibels.

The Wirecutter report notes it is up to adults to monitor children's overall noise exposure. "A limiting circuit alone doesn’t make for safe listening," the report states.

Kidz Gear told ABC News in a statement that in over 15 years they have “never had a customer complaint on using a limiter when needed.”

"Parents and children alike love the fact that the headphones can be happily used in any sound environment," the statement read. "We believe when a volume limiter is used, safe sound is achieved and any issues with volume is a user or configuration issue."

The Wirecutter report comes at a time that one in five teens now suffer from some sort of hearing loss, according to the Journal of American Medical Association. Some doctors say that headphones are to blame for this.

“I’ve seen kids as young as seven who’ve had noise-induced hearing loss,” Dr. Scott Rickert, an otolaryngologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, told ABC News. “They’re listening to their headphones at full blast.”

"We’re really talking about listening to a rock concert on a daily basis,” Rickert added.


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