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Thursday
Apr192018

Kids with special needs learn to ride bikes

WCVB(BOSTON) -- Riding a bike for most kids is a rite of passage, but for kids with special needs attending the bike camp at Emerson Hospital, it’s like a dream come true.

For 8-year-old Chloe, who has a form of cerebral palsy, it can be a bit overwhelming, she told ABC Boston affiliate WCVB.

“Scared because not used to ride without training wheels, you might fall ..." she said.

For Chloe’s mom, Jenn Smagula, it’s exhilarating. “We live in a neighborhood, there's kids riding bikes all the time, and she hasn't been able to. I'm just so appreciative and thrilled,” she told WCVB.

The camp at Emerson Hospital runs about a week. Kids with special needs are paired up with coaches and special bikes, working to progressively get them on two wheels.

The camp is not just about learning to ride bikes; it also gives kids courage and determination to tackle many other things, Emerson Hospital spokesperson Mary Evans said.

“This changes lives, every parent will tell you, once their child learns to do something that they've never been able to do and thought 'I just can't do that' and they're like, 'I can DO THAT,'” said Evans.

For Molly, who has Down syndrome, learning to ride the bike, is an opportunity to do something together with her family.

“We're gonna ride together," said Molly, together with her mother Brenda Cassella.



Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Apr192018

Junk food TV advertising likely highest when kids are watching, study says

iStock/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- A new study in Australia looked at how much junk food advertising kids were exposed to and the numbers were staggering.

Food advertising can directly affect the types of foods that children actually eat, The World Health Organization has said.

To establish just how much food advertising children may be exposed to, researchers in this study examined the advertising content of a single TV network in Australia for the year 2016. Researchers sorted through 30,000 hours of TV and over 800,000 advertisements, paying special attention to the times in which children were most likely to be watching: before school (7 to 9 am) and after school (4 to 10 pm).

During these times, there were twice the amount of unhealthy foods advertisements, compared to the amount of healthy food advertisements. These unhealthy ads aired 1.7 times per hour. The most commonly advertised foods included snack foods like chips and popcorn, fried food and fast food. The least commonly advertised foods included vegetables, low sugar cereals and fruit.

The study calculated that an average school-aged child watched approximately 827 unhealthy food advertisements, amounting to 4 hours, in a single year.

The researchers made these calculations under the assumption that children watch 80 minutes of TV per day. But data from the American Academy of Pediatrics states that the average American child consumes more than 120 minutes of screen time per day so that estimate could be low for kids in the U.S.

Because of the long hours and the impact advertising can have on children, the authors of this study discuss the potential benefit of regulating unhealthy advertising on media children consume.

“Australian health, nutrition and policy experts agree that reducing children’s exposure to junk food ads is an important part of tackling obesity and there is broad public support for stronger regulation of advertising to protect children,” Professor Lisa Smithers, the article’s lead author, said in a statement.

Childhood obesity -- defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to the 95th percentile, meaning the child weighs far more than what is ideal for their height -- is an epidemic on both a national and international scale.

In 2014, 17.4 percent of American children and teenagers were obese according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children are obese for the same reasons adults are obese, the agency says, meaning too much bad food and too little activity are the main culprits -- although certain medications, poor sleep and lack of community support also play a role.

People who are obese as children are more likely to be obese as adults, the agency added. Obesity leads to a host of well-known medical issues including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, arthritis, liver disease, and gall bladder disease.

To combat this rising problem, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. They also recommend limiting sweetened beverages like soda or juice drinks, in addition to limiting all forms of sedentary entertainment like TV and video games.

When that entertainment includes advertisements for junk food, the study authors believe there may need to be limits set on how many can run, which could even include government policy.

"The first step in establishing whether to regulate is knowing what advertising children might be exposed to," she added. "Our work has done that more comprehensively than before."

More research would be needed to determine how much impact, and at what frequency, advertisements might have on children's food choices or their parents'.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Apr192018

Woman claims doctors ignored cancer symptoms because of her weight: 'It was very scary'

Courtesy Rebecca Hiles(NEW YORK) -- A woman who alleges that she was misdiagnosed by doctors because of her weight is sharing her story.

Rebecca Hiles, 28, said she was told by doctors that her health problems were related to her weight. But it turns out that Hiles was suffering from cancer.

"It was very scary to sort of exists in a body that I thought was failing me and have medical professionals who didn't seem to take me seriously," Hiles said on "Good Morning America.

Hiles credits the medical team for setting her health on the right path, which ultimately lead to the shocking cancer diagnosis.

In 2012, doctors found a tumor in Hiles’ bronchial tube. Less than two weeks later, she had surgery to remove her entire left lung.

"It was the first time in my life that I remember having a doctor take me seriously," Hiles said. "The first moment that I saw my surgeon who said, 'You have carcinoid cancer' and the time that I had to surgery was two weeks."

Carcinoid tumors are a type of slow-growing cancer that can develop in several places throughout a person's body, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Six years after her surgery, Hiles said she's speaking out to enourage women to be their own health advocates.

"Had the diagnosis been made two years prior, had it been made when I was 20, maybe things would have been different," she said.

ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said patients who feel they may be facing weight bias can take action.

"From the patient's side, it's really important to understand, we make a medical assessment first, visually -- what does a patient look like?" said Ashton, who is board-certified in obesity and medicine. "It is a fact being overweight or obese does carry certain risks of other things. It is also a fact that you can have more than one thing going on at the same time. So you can be overweight or obese, have a cough, have an infection and you can have lung cancer."

Ashton said that training more doctors in obesity medicine would be useful.

"Making a diagnosis is a very involved, complex process," she said. "But [patients] also need to hold their healthcare provider accountable and if they are being made to feel, 'You're not hearing me,' express your feelings. That can totally turn the table and give the patient more power."



Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Apr192018

Man jailed for life after deliberately infecting men with HIV

Sussex Police Department(LONDON) -- A British man has been jailed for life after being found guilty of deliberately trying to infect 10 men with HIV.

Prosecutors alleged that Daryll Rowe, 27, infected five men through unprotected sex, and attempted to infect several others by intentionally damaging condoms.

Rowe, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2015, met men on the gay dating app Grindr, prosecutors said.

After having sex with his partners, he would message some of the victims saying, “I have HIV. Lol. Whoops,” according to The Guardian.

Christine Henson, the judge at his sentencing, said, “The messages you sent make it crystal clear you knew exactly what you were doing. As well as the physical offenses, it is clear for the victims the psychological effects are immense."

"Many of those men were young men in their 20s at the time they had the misfortune to meet you," she said, adding, “I cannot see how and when you will no longer be a danger to gay men.”

One of Rower's victims testified during the six-week trial that he felt “pressured” into having sex with Rowe; another branded him as “grotesque” and a “sociopath.”

A third victim said Rowe had “destroyed my life. I would rather he had murdered me than left me to live my life like this.”

Rowe's lawyer pleaded with the judge for a lighter sentence, arguing that a life term would stigmatize HIV sufferers.

Henson said the sentence would not be about "stigmatizing anyone with HIV," but about the "immense" psychological effects Rowe caused his victims.

Rowe, who is 27, will serve at least 12 years of his sentence in prison. It is the first sentencing of its kind in the U.K., where a person is imprisoned for “grievous bodily harm” by intentionally infecting others with HIV.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Apr192018

These are the best times to exercise to lose weight

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The key to crushing your fitness goals may come down to something as simple as changing the time of your workout.

If you want to run faster and lift heavier, research shows you should hit that snooze button and workout in the afternoon, according to Daniel Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Morning workout benefits

If you want to lose weight, set your alarm for an early-morning workout, according to Pink, who analyzed decades of research for the book.

“There really isn't a perfect time to exercise,” he told ABC News. “It really depends on what you're trying to achieve.”

People who hit the gym for their mental health are better off exercising in the morning, according to Pink.

"One of the greatest benefits of morning exercise, at least in my view, is that exercise gives us a mood boost," he said. "We feel better."

Pink added, "That can last a long time, and if you exercise in the morning, you get that mood boost and it lasts a big chunk of the day."

Perks of an afternoon workout

On the other hand, if you want to set personal records, working out in the afternoon or early evening can help you reach your peak performance.

"Afternoon exercise seems to be better for performance overall," he said. "Lung performance is higher at that time of day, and eye-hand coordination is better that time of day. And also, speed is better."

Pink attributes that quality to the fact that our bodies are more warmed up by the middle to end of the day.

For that same reason, afternoon and evening exercise is preferred to avoid injury because, according to Pink, "you're literally more warmed up."

What an evening workout is good for

If you want to actually enjoy exercise -- and not dread it -- you can also sleep in and schedule an evening workout instead.

"Late afternoon, early-evening exercise -- people report enjoying it more at that time of day. Particularly, finding it less effortful," Pink said. "I think the reason for that is body temperature."

He continued, "We're more warmed up, and so people seem to enjoy it more and find it less of a strain."

When by Pink explains the best time to do anything, from running a marathon to asking for a raise.

No matter your goal, Pink found that motivation for exercise also comes when you are facing a life milestone, such as the end of a decade.

"Twenty-nine-year-olds are twice as likely to run a first marathon as 28-year-olds and 30-year-olds," he said. "Another age at which people are disproportionately likely to run a first marathon is 39 and also 49. It all has to do with endings."

"When we get to the end of something, even something as arbitrary as a life decade, it tends to energize us," Pink said. "We kick a little bit harder."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr182018

Wife of wounded veteran wrote book to explain amputations and injuries to children

Paul Morigi/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- “Someone told me daddy is gross. He isn’t gross. He is a hero,” said the oldest daughter of Michael Verardo, a wounded veteran who is missing a limb.

Verardo lost his leg in 2010 serving as an infantryman in Afghanistan. Since then, he has undergone over 100 surgeries and years of physical and occupational therapy, according to a press release.

After hearing their daughter’s words, the Verardo family realized the need for a children’s book that could explain the wounds sustained by many veterans.

“There are many military families who struggle with explaining the complex injuries to their own children, and even more so with children who are not exposed to this life on a daily basis,” said Michael’s wife and caregiver, Sarah Verardo.

She's now the author and publisher of "Hero At Home," a children’s book that aims to normalize interactions with injured veterans, especially those with amputations.

“Our goal with this book is to be able to describe this in a way that allows these children to understand the sacrifices made by our nation’s wounded veterans and to see that they are truly heroes,” she said.

The mother of three is also the executive director of the Independence Fund, an advocacy organization for severely wounded Veterans.

One of the pillars of the Independence Fund is the mobility program, which provides all-terrain wheelchairs and adaptive bicycles to veterans “of all eras.”

The cover of "Hero at Home" features an illustration of a veteran in one of those all-terrain wheelchairs. While the book may be for children, a spokesperson says that it's educational for people of all ages.

"Hero at Home" is currently available on Amazon. The proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards the Independence Fund, according to a spokesperson.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr182018

Even a mild head injury increases risk for Parkinson's disease, veterans study shows

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- A new study shows that even a mild head injury, commonly called a concussion, makes veterans more likely to get Parkinson's disease later on in life. This is the same type of injury suffered by many Americans on the sports field or in a motor vehicle crash each year.

A group of 165,000 veterans with a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) were found to have a higher risk of Parkinson's disease, compared to other veterans of the same age.

The link between severe head injury and Parkinson's disease was already known, but the most important finding was that even mild head injuries can increase this risk. Half of the veterans in the study had only a mild head injury, and this group was 56 percent more likely to receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis than those with no TBI. The risk increased more in those with a head injury classified as severe.

"This is the highest level of evidence so far to establish that this association is a real one and something to be taken seriously," Dr. Raquel Gardner, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of neurology at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the San Francisco VA Medical Center, told ABC News.

Overall, Parkinson’s is still very rare.

"Even in our study, the vast majority of veterans who had a traumatic brain injury [more than 99 percent] did not get Parkinson’s disease. So the risk is low on the individual level," Gardner explained.

What is the link?

It may be explained by the release of a protein called “alpha-synuclein” by injured brain cells into the fluid surrounding the brain. Abnormal accumulation of this protein inside cells is a hallmark of Parkinson's disease. But there is a lot more research needed to better understand the effects of the brain injury.

“The TBI might directly trigger changes in the brain that weren’t there before. The other possibility is that maybe there was a process already happening in the brain and the person might have gotten Parkinson’s disease [anyway] many years later. But the brain injury made the symptoms come on sooner and the diagnosis come sooner,” Gardner explained. “We need more studies to unravel the biology behind what’s going on here.”

The study was published on Wednesday in the online edition of the Journal of Neurology. This study is a part of the large-scale Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium research initiative. One of the investigators is senior author Kristine Yaffe, professor in the UCSF departments of neurology, psychiatry, medicine, and epidemiology and biostatistics. The goal of the study is to understand the chronic effects of TBI -- particularly mild TBI -- in veterans, and it's a response to the high rates of mild TBI in young veterans.

“While the participants had all served in the active military, many if not most of the traumatic brain injuries had been acquired during civilian life,” Yaffe said in a press release. “As such, we believe it has important implications for the general population.”

About Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s is a chronic, progressive brain disorder that leads to problems with balance and movement. People often develop tremors or very slow, stiff movements which eventually lead to difficulty walking or completing simple tasks. Symptoms usually develop gradually.

Researchers are still working to understand what causes Parkinson’s. It is likely a combination of genetics and changes in the brain throughout one's lifespan. Parkinson’s usually develops in adults over the age of 60. There is no cure for the disease, but therapies can slow the progression of movement symptoms. Currently available treatments are medications which affect brain signaling and a procedure called deep-brain stimulation, which involves electrodes implanted in the brain.

You can find out more about Parkinson's disease at the American Parkinson Disease Association website.

About TBI

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes a TBI as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.”

TBI is gaining attention as a public health problem in the United States. They contribute to about 50,000 deaths per year, but there are also concerns for people who survive their head injury.

After a TBI, people may experience impaired memory and reasoning, abnormal sight or hearing, balance problems, or difficulty communicating. They may also have emotional changes like anxiety, depressed mood, aggression, or even social inappropriateness. When the injury is a concussion, symptoms usually disappear within six weeks. Some people experience post-concussive syndrome, which is a prolonged period of difficulty performing daily tasks due to symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, irritability, difficulty concentrating and slowed thinking.

Having more than one head injury in a short time span can be highly dangerous. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), made famous in the film "Concussion," is a specific type of brain condition which may result after TBI or after many repeated minor hits to the head.

Long-term problems related to concussion are very rare, but TBI has been shown to increase a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease, ALS (or Lou Gehrig's disease), depression, and bipolar disorder. In most of these cases, the brain injury is probably not the only cause for the condition but is one of many factors, like genes, lifestyle habits, and age, which all act to make a person more susceptible to the associated brain changes.

Athletes and military personnel are at high risk for TBI. There is growing awareness that very young children and the elderly are frequently affected by TBI as a result of accidental falls. Motor vehicle crashes are also a leading cause of TBI.

Protecting you and your loved one from TBI

The best way to avoid the consequences of TBI is to minimize the risk of head injury in the first place.

Wear a properly fitted helmet every time you are involved in a high-risk activity. This includes riding a bike, scooter, skateboard, or all-terrain vehicle, playing a contact sport such as football or ice hockey, or any activity with the possibility of high speed falls, like skiing, rock climbing, or riding a horse.

Buckle your seat belt every time you ride in a vehicle. If you have young children, make sure their car seats are properly installed.

Family members can help senior citizens have a fall-safe home by making sure there's good lighting in hallways and stairways, using non-slip mats in the shower and bathroom, and removing potential trip hazards like rugs or electrical cords from the floor.

If you have young children around, install trip gates at the top and bottom of every stairway and make sure their playground surfaces are made of soft material.

For more information on these safety tips, see the CDC website.

And if you or a loved one does suffer a concussion, the best thing you can do for recovery is rest, rest, and more rest.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr182018

6-year-old boy grows out his hair for 2 years, donates 14 inches to kids in need

Jennifer Williams(RED OAK, Texas) -- One selfless 6-year-old has cut his long hair for kids in need.

Daniel Williams grew his hair out for two years so another child who's experiencing hair loss due to cancer, alopecia and other disorders, can have a wig. Daniel and his family recently donated his hair to Wigs For Kids in Ohio, his mother Jenny Williams told ABC News.

Daniel, a kindergarten student, was inspired by his sister Rachel, 7, who donated nearly 18 inches of her own hair last year. Both children had their hair cut at the cosmetology department at Red Oak High School in Texas where their mom is a teacher.

"I'm really proud of them," Williams said. "Of course I have some bias as a mom, but I think they really have kind hearts and a love for people."

Marti Weimar, the cosmetology instructor at Red Oaks, was the one to cut Daniel's hair.

"When you have children who think of others before they think of themselves it makes you proud as a teacher and a mom," Weimar told ABC News.

Michael Goddard, Ph.D., superintendent of Red Oaks School District, said Daniel exemplifies the model student.

"I saw him this morning as we were walking in [to school] and we talked about what he did," Goddard said. "He's already a hero in his class."



Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr182018

Pope Francis meets with father of terminally ill British baby denied further treatment 

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The father of a terminally-ill British baby who has been denied further treatment had a private audience with Pope Francis on Tuesday, during which he asked for help to save the child.

In a tweet by an Italian newspaper, Pope Francis is reported to have said in the meeting with Alfie Evans' father, Tom Evans, that the "only master of life is God. Our duty is to do everything to protect life."

Alfie, who is just under 2 years old, has a rare neurological condition that will continue to progress. Doctors have not been able to diagnose it.

The boy's parents, Evans and Kate James, have appealed on numerous occasions against legal decisions preventing the baby from being taken to Italy for treatment.

After hearings in London and Liverpool in February, a judge ruled that doctors at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where the baby is being treated, could end life support against the wishes of his parents.

The judge, Justice Hayden, endorsed a plan submitted by doctors for withdrawing his treatment.

The Pope has previously called for the two sides to work together toward a solution to help Alfie, in the wake of protests about the decision.

The Papal audience comes two days after the Court of Appeal in London refused to overturn a decision that would allow Alfie to leave Alder Hey, where he has been treated since December 2016, and receive treatment in Rome.

Alfie's parents have lost legal battles in the Court of Appeal and the High Court, and their appeals have also been rejected by the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

Alfie has been compared to baby Charlie Gard, who died last year in London at the age of 11 months old from a terminal mitochondrial disorder after doctors ended treatment that he had been receiving since birth.

His parents also fought a legal battle to allow Charlie to receive experimental treatment abroad, but were defeated in the courts. The case garnered widespread international attention and statements of support by both Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr172018

Here's why you need to start asking your doctor to check your blood pressure twice

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Checking your blood pressure is a mainstay of every medical checkup. Now, there's some new medical advice on this seemingly mundane part of a wellness visit to the doctor.

So, what's the new medical advice?

Get your blood pressure checked twice, a new study advises.

Patients who had their blood pressure (BP) checked a second time at their primary care doctor’s office often have a lower number, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association this week.

The truest blood pressure reading is taken after sitting quietly for at least five minutes, and that rarely happens in a doctor’s office. Usually, a blood pressure reading is the first thing done, along with a heart rate reading.

From nervousness and stress to arm positioning and the wrong cuff size, there are several reasons for a blood pressure reading to be high initially.

If its high, here's why you should ask your doctor to check your blood pressure a second time

In the study, checking the blood pressure again, even just one minute after the initial reading, showed a drop in the systolic (top number) blood pressure of up to 17 mmHg, which is enough to change a diagnosis from hypertension to healthy. Researchers found that the higher the initial reading, the steeper the drop for the second try.

The study, which was done in a large healthcare system, MetroHealth in Cleveland, Ohio, looked at 38,000 patients who had high blood pressure and were seen approximately 80,000 times over the course of 2016 by their primary care doctors. A simple alert was placed on their chart to remind the staff or doctor to take a second blood pressure reading if the first one was high -- over 140/90 mmHg, which is the number doctors are told is the threshold to treat high blood pressure.

The second blood pressure reading, however, took 36 percent of people in the study out of the “high blood pressure” category and put them within the normal range.

One out three adults have high blood pressure in the United States

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. Almost half of people seen by a primary care doctor do not have their high blood pressure controlled -- to a reading less than 130/90 mmHg -- based on the new 2017 American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Guidelines.

A primary care office visit usually takes 15 to 20 minutes and checking a patient's blood pressure -- one of the most common reasons people see a primary care physician -- takes less than a minute. While a second check will take up another minute in an already short doctor’s visit, it's a minute well spent.

The lower reading avoids unneeded medication, decreases secondary fatal effects of hypertension and will likely decrease overall healthcare costs. When it comes to blood pressure control, getting it checked once is not enough.

This article was written by Dr. Roshini Malaney, a Cardiology Fellow at Stony Brook University Hospital who works with the ABC News Medical Unit.

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