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Wednesday
Dec052018

In a medical first, baby born from a deceased donor uterus transplant

XiXinXing/iStock(SAO PAULO) -- In what could prove to be a major advancement for couples facing infertility, the first baby born from a deceased donor uterus transplant was successfully completed at the University Of Sao Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil, according to a report in the scientific journal Lancet.

While babies born from live donor uterus transplants have been done nearly a dozen times before, including once in 2017 at Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Dallas, this birth marks the first time doctors have been able to remove the uterus from a recently deceased donor and have it result in a live birth.

The birth followed 10 unsuccessful attempts, according to the authors of the new study.

The baby girl was born in Dec. 2017, but had to be closely monitored to ensure she was meeting appropriate developmental milestones. Likewise, the mother's health required months of ongoing monitoring to ensure that she didn't suffer any adverse effects from having the uterus transplanted and then later removed.

ABC News Chief Health and Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a practicing OB/GYN in Englewood, New Jersey, is optimistic about the breakthrough.

“This represents a major advance in reproductive health," she said. "While uterine transplantation sounds extreme, it can be indicated in women born without a uterus, or in women who have a non-functional or surgically-absent uterus."

Ashton cautioned, though, that the procedure is anything but routine, and not for everyone.

"The surgery involved is extensive, and there is the needed for antirejection medication post-operatively," she said. "While uterine surrogacy is legal in the U.S., this offers an option, albeit an extreme and expensive one, to women who want to carry their own baby.”

Before this breakthrough, women suffering from infertility due to congenital abnormalities, cancer, or other illnesses had few options aside from surrogacy or adoption. With the introduction of living donors as a possibility in 2014, there was some hope, but living donors are understandably hard to come by because of the intrusive removal process, making this a new frontier for infertility medicine.

What is a uterus transplant?

Uterine transplantation is a multi-step process that requires coordination among numerous physicians. Upon encountering a suitable candidate and donor, doctors must act quickly to remove the uterus and transport it to the patient. The patient must then undergo an operation implanting the new uterus into her body.

Who is a candidate?

Women who have irreversible infertility are the primary candidates to receive a transplant. Infertility, in general, affects about 15 percent of couples of reproductive age. Within this group about one in 500 women have irreversible infertility -- which can be due to a congenital malformation, cancer, or other illness, leading to genetic absence or removal of the uterus.

In the case announced on Tuesday, the mother is a 32-year-old female who had congenital infertility. She has a disease called Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome, commonly known as congenital uterine absence. It's a rare genetic condition, affecting about 4,500 women worldwide, in which they are born without a uterus.

Who are the donors?

In this study, recently deceased women who had given consent for organ transplant were screened based on previous ability to give birth, blood type and a lack of any history of sexual disease.

What are the risks?

The major risks associated with this process are organ rejection through blood type mismatch, inadequate immune system suppression or severe infection of the transplanted organ. In this trial, the mother was given standard doses of immune suppression medications for almost six months, with positive results, before implantation of the embryo was completed. Normal prenatal testing, including blood sugar tests and ultrasounds, were all done and returned without any abnormalities.

Is a uterus transplant permanent?

No. In order to keep the uterus after birth, the mother would have to continue taking immune system suppression medications which can pose risks. In this case, a cesarean section was performed for birth at 35 weeks gestation, and along with the delivery of an almost 6 pound healthy baby girl, the uterus was also removed.

The authors of the study acknowledge that, as a new medical procedure, there is much further work to be done to make the procedure safer and more efficient.

However, this advance serves as motivation to expand prospects for a novel technique in giving some women a chance at childbirth by greatly enlarging the potential donor population.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Dec052018

The case for giving more gifts to new moms and fewer gifts to newborns

AleMoraes244/iStock(NEW YORK) -- When a friend or family member has a baby, the usual response is to buy a gift for the new baby -- a rattle, blanket or even an outfit. But some women argue that the gifts should actually be for the woman who did the hard work of giving birth to a newborn.

Meghan Walbert, a freelance writer and mom to an 8-year-old boy, had that realization recently when her sister-in-law was giving birth to her first child.

“I’m just thinking the baby is just this one little person who’s not going to know what’s going on,” Walbert said. “In the meantime, my sister-in-law is about to have a C-section and her life is about to change.”

When Walbert’s nephew was born, she gave her sister-in-law gifts she hoped would provide her comfort in her new life as a mom.

“Knowing she loves coffee, I got her a new coffee mug and new coffee and fuzzy slipper socks,” said Walbert, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “My focus was to really have it be about her and not be about, ‘Now you’re a mom and you need these mom things.’”

Kate Westervelt, of Boston, agrees on focusing on the new mom, but she likes to give gifts that focus specifically on the mom's healing from childbirth.

Westervelt, 32, founded Mombox, which offers postpartum-care giftboxes for new moms, after going through her own postpartum experience with her son, Noah, who is now 2 years old.

"I didn’t know as a first-time mom the things I would need for my own self-care," she said. "We get sucked into the conversation about car seats and strollers and pregnancy glow, but we don’t have an honest conversation about what our bodies will need."

Westervelt's revelation came when she and her husband were on their way home from the hospital, and they had to stop at Target to buy recovery products such as pads, creams and nursing aids.

"I had a giant ice pack in my underwear and I hadn’t slept in 72 hours," Westervelt said. "I had to waddle between the pharmacy and baby sections because there is no postpartum section in stores."

Mombox offers gift boxes for regular births and C-sections with products like pain-relief tea, belly oil and overnight pads, all of which are made by female-owned companies and tested by other moms.

"You’re sort of drowning in baby supplies, and you don’t need half of them, and then you’re desperate for supplies that you need but you’re so overwhelmed with caring for a new life that you don’t raise your hand to say, 'I need help,'" Westervelt said. "We get groceries and everything delivered to home so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be delivering this to moms."

Walbert said the main reason she believes in giving gifts to new moms instead of newborns is because receiving a gift can help make a new mom "feel seen."

"When you’re pregnant, there’s a lot of attention bestowed on you, and once the baby comes, a lot of times, all of that attention naturally transfers to the baby," she said. "You forget to ask the mom, 'How are you feeling?'"

A gift to a new mom is also an acknowledgement of the physical and emotional experience she just went through, Walbert noted.

"Giving birth is a physical experience, emotional experience and your life has changed at the same time you physically feel very run down, you’re exhausted," she said. "It's important to show each other that, 'Hey you had a baby and he’s cute and I see you too, and the best thing you can do is take care of you to be a good mom.'"

Walbert wrote an article titled, "Send a New Mom Gifts for Her, Not the Baby," in which she details what she calls the "New Mom Care Package formula," based on ideas from other moms.

After posting the article, Walbert said she heard from a relative who still remembered the nightgown a friend had gifted her after she gave birth to her son 30 years ago.

"That little gesture [of a gift], when everything else is sort of about the baby, can make [a mother] feel special and important," Walbert said. "People really remember it."

Here are the five items that comprise Walbert's New Mom Care Package formula. She recommends including one or two of each of the items in a gift box as the perfect gift for a new mom:

1. Something to keep her hydrated, like a large water bottle or a set of herbal teas.

2. Something to keep her warm, like a robe, scarf, sweater or slipper socks.

3. Something to keep her pampered, like a gift certificate for a massage or her favorite lip balm or scented lotions.

4. Something to treasure, like a ring with the baby’s birthstone, or a bracelet or necklace engraved with the baby’s name, first initial or birth date.

5. A great card that congratulates the new mom on "bringing that baby into existence and still managing to function at a basic human level," as well as reminding her that "to be a good parent, you have to remember to take care of yourself. Your oxygen mask goes on first."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Dec052018

Man paralyzed by rare condition stands for first time during proposal

HCA Orange Park Medical Center(ORANGE PARK, Fla.) -- A man recovering from paralysis has stood up for the first time to propose marriage in a heartwarming moment that was captured on video.

Jacob Newbern, 27, popped the question to Mary Batar on Monday at HCA Healthcare’s Orange Park Medical Center Inpatient Rehabilitation Center in Florida -- one day before returning home from the hospital.

"She was shocked," Newbern told ABC News' Good Morning America. "It was my very first time standing up completely by myself. I'm surprised she didn't drop down to the floor. She was so excited."

Newbern was diagnosed last month with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) -- a rare neurological disorder in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks part of its peripheral nervous system. Newbern completed 22 days of rehab at HCA Healthcare’s Orange Park Medical Center Inpatient Rehabilitation Center and made a quick recovery.

"[He's doing] phenomenal," said Dr. Ronnie Bond, the neurologist who treated Newbern at HCA’s Orange Park Medical Center. "For him, he was progressing way more than I would expect. With this disease it can take months before there's any type of recovery."

Newbern said that after Bond told him about the long recovery associated with GBS, it motivated him to persevere.

"I looked at Dr. Bond in his eyes and I said, 'I plan on walking in two months,'" Newbern recalled. "I was 100 percent dedicated."

Newbern worked daily to regain mobility and even took 68 steps during a session, he said. Then on Monday, Newbern surprised Batar by not only asking her hand in marriage, but doing so while standing independently for the first time in nearly a month.

Newbern said this journey with Batar and her positive attitude was one of the many reasons why he proposed. The couple have been together for five years and have 10-month-old twin girls, Kallie and Kinsley, as well as a 3-year-old daughter, Braelynn.

"I've seen my worst and I've seen my best and she's been there with me the whole time," Newbern said. "She's very strong. Any woman that can deal with three kids, two newborns and a 3-year-old...with all the stress that she's got on her and still being able to come in here with a smile on her face, I just can't believe that."

Newbern is being discharged Wednesday and will continue improving through outpatient therapy. He hopes to spread awareness and help others catch the early symptoms of GBS.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Dec042018

'It changes everything': George H.W. Bush's legacy and one man's life with disabilities

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Almost 30 years ago, Paul Smith traveled to the nation’s capital to watch as the 41st President of the United States took the oath of office and his place in history.

It was Jan. 20, 1989 — the day President George H.W. Bush was inaugurated. Already, Smith admired Bush as a “strong, silent type” who “didn’t need credit for what he did, as long as it got done.” But he didn’t know then how the president would have such a direct impact on his life — and the parallel challenges both would eventually face.

Bush used a wheelchair in his final years and Smith has lived with physical disabilities for two decades, ever since a car accident left him with a shattered knee that would eventually require two replacement surgeries. Smith didn’t know when he was watching the 1989 inauguration that, as president, Bush would sign the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

“It affects me more because I’m in this position now, but just like Lyndon B. Johnson and the Civil Rights Act, it’s one of the cornerstones of equal rights for people,” Smith said of the 1990 law. “It gave freedom to people who didn’t have it before.”

On Tuesday, Smith, 52, returned to Washington, D.C., on the crutches he’s used on-and-off for about two years to pay his respects to Bush as he lay in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

He didn’t have the ease of mobility he had 30 years ago, and he was already feeling swelling in his knee from the red-eye flight he’d taken from Salt Lake City, Utah, that departed the night before. In fact, Smith didn’t even tell his wife he planned on making the trip until he was at the airport, he said, because he knew she’d tell him not to risk the issues it might cause for his knee.

“I ran away,” Smith, a self-described “history buff,” said with a laugh. “You’ve gotta do stuff like this every once in a while.”

While he was on the plane, he worried to himself about all of the stairs up to the Capitol Rotunda. But then he remembered: “Things have probably changed,” he said.

 Smith, who lives in Tooele, Utah, has attended many inaugurations — and taken his children to a few, he said — but has never seen a president lying in state. He decided the physical challenges would be well worth the “rare opportunity to witness history up close.”

“It’s a lot different now than it was 20 years ago,” Smith said after he arrived in the Capitol Visitor’s Center, referring to the accommodations built after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Now there’s practically nowhere I go where I’m without an elevator or without a plan.”

“It makes it so I can do things like this,” Smith said.

Smith was familiar with the act's importance when it was signed back in 1990, and, like Bush, encountered people every day through his job who were affected by it. Before taking disability leave, Smith worked in customer service for Delta Airlines for 31 years.

“I see it totally differently from this side,” Smith said. Bush, for whom the issue was already personal because his daughter Robin’s physical difficulties and, later, his son Neil’s learning disabilities, expressed the same sentiments once his battle with a form of Parkinson’s disease left him wheelchair bound.

“It changes everything you do,” said Smith, who used to ski in Utah three times a week before his accident. “But it doesn’t mean your life is over. I mean, here I am in Washington.”

Smith waited in line for about an hour before he got in an elevator up to see Bush’s casket. Soon after he entered the Rotunda to pay his respects, members of the military performed a slow, dignified changing of the guard.

Smith welled up, wiping tears from both eyes.

“It’s really emotional,” he said. “I was overcome.”

“There I was, standing five feet from it all,” he said, describing people around him from “all walks of life” who had stopped to take a minute and pay respects to the president — “how it’s supposed to be,” Smith said.

As he left, a U.S. Capitol Police officer pointed him to an elevator. Another asked if he’d had any trouble finding his way.

“I couldn’t do this if they didn’t have the accommodations,” Smith said as he got in line to sign a condolence book for the Bush family.

 Next to a note written by a woman who’d made the trip to D.C. from Florida, he thanked the late president for “the great example of what a good leader should be.”

“You ran the good race, you fought the good fight. Welcome home my faithful servant," Smith wrote. "You will be missed!”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Dec042018

2-year-old needs rare blood type to save her life, now there's a worldwide search underway 

OneBlood.org(NEW YORK) -- The family of a 2-year-old girl battling an aggressive form of cancer is desperately searching for a rare blood type that will allow her to obtain the life-saving treatment she needs.

Zainab Mughal was diagnosed with neuroblastoma two months ago. But her family believes the tumor in her stomach had been growing for at least 10 months before that, her father, Raheel Mughal, said in a video published by OneBlood, the organization aiding the family's search for Zainab's blood supply.

Mughal said his daughter's diagnosis was "the worst thing" they could have expected, until doctors discovered another problem.

Zainab's red blood cells are missing a common antigen known as Indian-B, said Susan Forbes, vice president of marketing and communications for OneBlood. Because the antigen is so common, it makes it difficult to find blood donors who are lacking it as well, Forbes said.

The blood is even harder to find because the donors must have blood types "O" or "A" and be 100 percent of Indian, Iranian or Pakistani descent, Forbes said.

Less than four percent of the world's population has the blood type Zainab needs to undergo treatment, which includes frequent blood transfusions, Forbes said. None of Zainab's family have turned out to be matches, Mughal said.

So far, OneBlood has located three matches, including one in the United Kingdom near London, with the help of the American Rare Donor Program, Forbes said. All three have since sent units of blood to the Miami area, where the family lives, Forbes said.

Zainab will need up to seven more people to donate throughout the course of her treatment, according to the organization. And more than 1,000 people who are of Iranian, Indian or Pakistani descent have donated blood to be tested, Forbes said.

"We will definitely need more blood," Mughal said. "My daughter, she’s still a long way from being perfect."

While the blood won't cure Zainab's cancer, it will allow her to undergo two bone marrow transplants, which will make her stronger and allow doctors to give her higher doses of chemotherapy, Forbes said.

The toddler is already undergoing regular chemotherapy, which has helped the tumor shrink, but "she still has a long road ahead of her," Forbes said.

"My daughter's life very much depends on the blood," Mughal said, describing the plea for help as a "humble request" from his heart.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Dec042018

FDA warns of dog foods recalled for too much Vitamin D

iStock/cmannphoto(NEW YORK) --  The Food and Drug Administration is warning pet owners that several brands of dry dog food contain too much vitamin D, which can be toxic in high amounts, increasing their risk of kidney failure.

The FDA said that dog food sourced from a single manufacturer, but sold by multiple brands, contained "excessive, potentially toxic levels of vitamin D." Recalls have been initiated for impacted food from Nutrisca, Natural Life Pet Products, Sunshine Mills, Inc., Kroger brand, and ELM dog foods.

 "After receiving complaints from pet owners about dogs with vitamin D toxicity, one of the firms reported to the FDA that it was recalling dry pet food due to potentially toxic levels of vitamin D. Many other brands with a common contract manufacturer have also been recalled. The FDA is working with the contract manufacturer to provide a comprehensive list of affected brands," the FDA said in a press release.

An FDA spokeswoman said they can't disclose the name of the manufacturer because it is protected information.

One of the companies, Nutrisca, said on its website that it received complaints from three pet owners who said their dogs showed vitamin D toxicity and that the excess levels were due to a "formulation error."

Another brand, Sunshine Mills, said its impacted products were distributed in the U.S. as well as exported to Japan, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Israel, Canada and South Korea.

Dogs that consume too much vitamin D can show symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst or weight loss, according to the FDA. Toxic levels can cause kidney failure or death.

The FDA recommends people contact their dog's veterinarian if their dogs have been eating food from the recalled brands or if they show any symptoms associated with vitamin D toxicity.

For specific information about the types of food impacted by recalls check the FDA's website at fda.gov.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Dec042018

ABC News' Ginger Zee taps sleep training expert to help son sleep through the night

Ginger Zee(NEW YORK) -- ABC News' Good Morning America meteorologist Ginger Zee is the mother of two boys, Adrian, who will turn three later this month, and Miles, who was born in February.

Like any parent, Zee is constantly in search of one thing: sleep.

When she heard about a baby sleep training expert through Twitter, Zee reached out. She and her husband, Ben Aaron, worked with the expert, Dana Obleman, who writes on her website, "My job is to get your baby sleeping through the night!"

Here is their experience, in Zee's own words:

I’m exhausted.

The type of exhausted that I can’t even really describe.

The type of exhausted that only a parent of a newborn can understand. But I don’t have a newborn. I have an nine-month-old.

Miles is the sweetest little boy and the most joyous addition to our family. Unlike his older brother, Adrian, who has been sleeping through the night since he was two-months-old, Miles... is not.

And we have done nothing different! It’s expected the first few months, but by month 4 between pumping, feeding and his wake-ups with my GMA schedule, I was lucky if I got a broken 4-5 hours of sleep.

So by eight months and never getting more than four hours at a clip, it’s really hitting me hard. So I did what felt comfortable. I reached out to my ever helpful fans on Twitter.

Among the many suggestions came the critical one.

"You should get in touch with Dana Obleman. The sleep boss," wrote one follower.

Fast forward a few direct messages later and Dana was on the other line diagnosing our situation.

She asked very basic questions about our sleep routine for Miles, food and nap details.

Then she said the magic words: “You are doing a lot right, with a few small adjustments I think he could be sleeping through the night in less than a week.”

Serious music to these tired ears.

We set up a plan with Dana - one big issue: Miles isn’t eating enough during the day. The night bottles were taking his hunger from the day when he should be eating.

Dana told us that babies his age should average 20 to 24 ounces [of breastmilk or formula]. We were lucky to get 16 [ounces] in him. He loves solid foods.

We were also too haphazard with the bottles.

Dana said we needed to feed him as soon as he gets up, wait an hour-and-a-half, then do solids, [wait] an hour-and-a-half and go down for a morning nap. Ideally nap for 1 to 1.5 hours (this is never happening), wake up and get another bottle. Repeat the waiting game. Lunch, nap and bottle. Then dinner and one last bottle before sleep. Ideally totaling 24 ounces.

Even when it was breast milk, Miles just prefers solid food over formula or breast milk. So it’s a tough to get the food in him.

The first night Dana says when he wakes we can give him half of what he usually takes at night to start weening him from that overnight food.

He wakes at his usual 2:30 a.m. and I feed him four ounces. He goes back down until 5:30 am. Not bad.

The second and third nights are supposed to be the hardest. We are not to feed him. Let him cry and check on him every 10 minutes.

But that second night he only wakes up once at 2:30 a.m. and magically works himself back to sleep, as if he knew. Dana asked that we let him shift and make noises, even cry, for 10 minutes the first night, so we did and he went back to sleep.

We were lucky.

Night three was difficult. He woke up at 2:30 a.m. and cried. Hard. For almost an hour. It was true torture but I kept reminding myself that Dana said this would be good for us all in the long run. She’s right. He eventually goes back to sleep and wakes up hungry and actually eats a full bottle!

The next night I hear him, but only briefly at 2:30 a.m. and he’s back to sleep.

That’s seriously all it took. He’s been going 10 to 11-hour stretches regularly now and it’s really heavenly.

Now our only issue is bedtime. He loves to go to bed early. Once we can push that back we should be in a much better place. Dana has been checking in and has even given us tips to get him to sleep in later.

Dana warns that daylight saving time, teething and illness can throw it off. Always go back to letting them cry it out unless something is seriously wrong.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Dec042018

CDB is the latest wellness trend, but does it work?

Morrison1977/iStock(NEW YORK) -- It seems like everywhere you look, they’re selling CBD.

The non-hallucinogenic marijuana plant extract is being added to everything from skin creams to dog treats with claims of miracle-like results. Some CBD products even claim it can stop anxiety and treat Parkinson’s disease and seizure disorders.

But what is CBD, and is the hype actually real? Let’s have a look.

What is a Cannabinoid?

There are three types of cannabinoids. Endocannabinoids, which are produced naturally in the body; man-made cannabinoids, which can be really dangerous; and the most popular, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, which come from the marijuana plant.

All three kinds of cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors in the body. CB1 receptors, located primarily in the brain, are believed to control mood, memory, sleep, appetite and pain. CB2 receptors are located in parts of the body that produce blood cells, such as the spleen, and are believed to affect inflammation.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, and it’s one chemical compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant -- in both marijuana and hemp. CBD differs from THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) because it doesn’t cause the intoxicating, euphoric “high” associated with marijuana.

What are the health benefits?

Though there are claims of health benefits wherever you go, the science isn’t quite there yet -- most of the research that has found benefits was done on animals. That’s because researching marijuana legally is difficult. Marijuana is a schedule I controlled substance, defined as having “no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

Still, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence, including the case of Charlotte Figi.

A robust and active toddler, Charlotte began having seizures early in life -- up to 50 per day. She was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a seizure disorder that can be uncontrollable with typical medications. After exhaustive research, Charlotte’s mother found that the best treatment was a combination of CBD extract with Charlotte’s normal antiepileptic drug regimen. This cut the seizures down to two to three per month, allowing her to live a normal childhood.

In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved a CBD-containing seizure medication called Epidiolex, which can be used for the uncontrollable seizures caused by diseases such as Dravet Syndrome.

CBD is also widely used to treat pain and anxiety. Scientists are quick to say they are still unsure of the way this works, but they believe it may be due to CBD altering some brain pathways linked to these symptoms.

In skin care, CBD has been reported to treat itchiness, acne and allergic dermatitis -- a skin reaction to allergies. While the mechanisms here are also unknown, scientists think it may be due to cannabinoid receptors in the skin which, when activated, work to reduce inflammation.

As states move to legalize these compounds to the public, all of these claims will need to be studied.

How do people use CBD?

Many CBD products are sold as oils or balms, but they are also available in lotions, facial serums, lozenges or as part of cocktails. Although manufacturers claim there is an appropriate dose for the products they make, that is up for debate. The nutrition and supplement business, in general, is highly unregulated and this includes CBD products, even in states with legal marijuana.

What are the risks?

Both the benefits and risks of CBD lack substantiated research. As with any supplement, there is always a risk for unintended drug interaction. A small number of studies on animals indicate that CBD could potentially affect cell health and the breakdown of drugs in the liver. In humans, a study that investigated CBD’s effect on seizures noted side effects including diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue and increased sleepiness.

Why is it popular now?

In a word: marketing.

Similar to vitamin C and kale, CBD is undergoing a rise to fame just similar to the way that kale has been labeled a “superfood,” which is a non-medical buzzword. And with celebrities publicizing anecdotal benefits, there’s been easing tension surrounding CBD’s stigma.

But most importantly, as mentioned, it’s being marketed as a fix for various ailments.

Is it legal to use CBD?

Not exactly. As mentioned, marijuana is still a schedule I substance, and that includes CBD.

The issue of legality comes down to how the CBD is obtained. The THC portions of the cannabis plant include the flowering tops (buds), the leaves and the resin of the plant. The remainder -- the stalks and sterilized seeds -- is where most CBD comes from. However, producers can also obtain it from the THC portions in which case it might yield a mixture of THC and CBD.

According to Katherine Pfaff, a spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration, “If the product does cause THC to enter the human body and/or contains greater than 0.3 percent of THC, it is an illegal substance that may not be manufactured, sold or consumed in the United States. If, however, the product does not cause THC to enter the human body and contains less than 0.3 percent THC, it is a non-controlled substance that may lawfully be sold.”

The National Institutes of Health lists over 150 studies involving CBD as a treatment for various diseases. The World Health Organization concluded in a press release that CBD is not harmful. And in the sports world, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed it from its prohibited substances list.

To top this off, CBD is widely available online as well as in countless bars and coffee shops nationwide. This legal ambiguity undoubtedly confuses consumers, and it won’t change until further research trickles in.

The bottom line is there are countless claims regarding CBD’s ability to cure common ailments and there are also many places to buy CBD over the counter. But while there are many people willing to answer for CBD, the reality is there are still many questions that the industry itself needs to answer.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Dec032018

FDA recalls blood pressure medication 

iStock/GlobalStockBy. Sumir Shah, M.D.

(NEW YORK) -- The Food and Drug Administration just announced a recall of Valsartan, a potentially life-saving blood pressure medication, after the discovery of a cancer-causing contaminant found in some batches. This is the third recall for this type of medication in 2018.

Teva Pharmaceuticals has recalled amlodipine/Valsartan and amlodipine/Valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide combination tablets, medications that are commonly used to treat high blood pressure.

The recall began after high levels of an active ingredient in Valsartan, N-nitroso-diethylamine (NDEA), was found in tablets produced in India. NDEA is a naturally occurring chemical in some foods, and can be found in drinking water, air pollution and industrial processes, but it’s also classified as a human carcinogen, meaning it may cause cancer in high levels.

Less than a month ago, the FDA also announced a recall of Irbesartan tablets, a drug in the same class as Valsartan, which also contained the NDEA ingredient. The tablets were produced by ScieGen Pharmaceuticals, a New York-based company with manufacturing relationships in India.

In July, the FDA announced another recall of an ingredient in Valsartan known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). This impurity, another carcinogen, was noticed in medications produced by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals in China. The impurity, according to the FDA, was a result of production process changes at the company.

“The FDA is committed to maintaining our gold standard for safety and efficacy,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a July statement. He added that when the agency discovers quality control problems, they take decisive action to alert the public and remove the product.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, which affects 75 million adults in the U.S., is one of the most common medical conditions. Blood pressure is a measure of how efficiently our hearts push blood through our arteries. If the pressure is too low, there is a risk that organs will not get enough blood; if pressure is too high, there’s a risk the heart is working too hard.

What is normal blood pressure?

Blood pressure measurement is divided into two phases. The first is pressure when the heart is squeezing, known as systolic. The second is pressure when the heart is relaxing, known as diastolic. If your doctor says your blood pressure is 130/80 -- the “130” would be systolic and the “80” would be diastolic.

While your target blood pressure is often determined by your age and medical conditions, most doctors recommend keeping it around 120/80.

Why is my blood pressure high?

It’s important to understand that the number will vary throughout the day, but that’s normal. High blood pressure can be caused by family history, obesity, smoking, high-salt diets, diabetes, lack of exercise or underlying kidney disease. Often, it can be controlled with a combination of lifestyle modifications and a variety of medications.

What is Valsartan/Ibresartan?

Valsartan is a medication for high blood pressure in a class known as Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs). These block a natural hormone called angiotensin II, which works to narrow your arteries, increasing your blood pressure. High blood pressure causes stress on your heart and can contribute to heart disease.

What does this recall mean for you?

If you are taking a blood pressure medication that was recently recalled, do not stop taking it. Instead, immediately contact your doctor to discuss a replacement drug. The FDA said that the effects of stopping this kind of medication abruptly can lead to rises in blood pressure that could pose further health threats.

Teva said they have not been informed of any health problems connected to contaminants in the recalled drugs.

According to the FDA website, people with questions should contact Teva by phone at: 888-838-2872 Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST. Voicemail is available 24 hours every day. You can also email them at druginfo@tevapharm.com.

Sumir Shah, M.D. is an emergency medicine physician in New York City, and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Dec022018

Mass shootings related to domestic violence often receive less attention, experts say

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For many, the term "mass shooting" conjures up a random attack in which a lone gunman opens fire, often for unknown reasons.

However, there have been just as many deadly mass shootings this year in which the shooter knew the victim, in many cases intimately, including instances of husbands killing their wives and children, or former partners killing their ex-girlfriends and other family members.  

The FBI defines a mass shooting as an incident where four or more people -- not including the suspect -- are killed. While there is no publicly accessible federal tracker of such incidents, various groups and watchdog organizations keep their own lists, often using different definitions of what qualifies as a mass shooting.

Of the 18 mass shootings that ABC News identified so far this year that fit the FBI's parameters, nine were instances of either intimate partner or family violence, both of which are forms of domestic violence.

Six of those nine cases involved men fatally shooting either their girlfriend, wife, or ex-partner, along with at least three other people. Some of those other victims were relatives of the female victim; others were bystanders.

Two of the nine cases involved a familial homicide, with parents or children shooting their direct relatives.

And in one case studied by ABC News, the male suspect kill his ex-partner's four young children. In another case, a mother killed her own children.

But too often, domestic violence doesn't receive the same media attention as other types of shootings, say many domestic violence and gun control advocacy groups.

“For so long, we’ve seen domestic violence as a personal issue – it happens in the home, don’t talk about it – but mass shootings show us otherwise,” said Bryan Pacheco, the spokesperson Safe Horizon, a crime and abuse victims' services agency. “These are not just personal issues. These are community issues that we all should be tackling.”

“The ability to help and support one survivor has the potential to save so many lives,” he added.
John Cohen is a former Homeland Security official and current criminal justice professor who also works as an ABC News contributor.

Cohen said that while it was not uncommon in the past for spurned partners to be violent towards their significant others, many of these incidents now involve powerful weapons and multiple bystander casualties.

“Unlike in years past when they may go into a location and harm that person, instead they're going into a school, a workplace, a house of worship, and they're seeking to address their grievance by shooting a large group of people,” Cohen said.

He specifically cited the deadly 2017 shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. In that incident, the shooter went to the church after allegedly expressing anger towards his mother-in-law, who was a parishioner. The suspect went to the church looking for his relatives but ended up killing 26 people before killing himself, authorities said.

Earlier this week, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released a report on the threats facing women around the world, showing that some of their greatest and deadliest dangers are at home.
The UN report found that 58 percent of women who were intentionally killed around the world in 2017 were killed by intimate partners or family members.

The report notes that globally, men are about four times more likely to be the victims of intentional homicide, but the share of women as victims goes up dramatically when looking specifically at violence perpetrated by an intimate partner or family member.

In those cases, 64 percent of victims of intimate partner- or family-related homicide are women, compared to the 36 percent of victims who are male. That percentage increases further for intimate partner homicide, as the report found that in those cases, 82 percent of victims are female and 18 percent are male.

The youngest victims of the deadly mass shootings this year were all killed in domestic violence incidents. In June, a man killed his two children –- ages 1 and 6 –- as well as his girlfriend’s other children –- ages 10 and 12 –- following a hostage situation in Florida before killing himself.

And the month before, a father killed his three children -- ages 4, 6, and 8 -- as well as his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. The suspect killed himself in front of his ex right after killing her boyfriend, she told The Huffington Post.

Pacheco said “people can’t fathom” instances where suspects kill their children, but it fits with the issues at hand in domestic violence cases.

“Domestic violence is about power and control and what’s the most terrible thing you can do to a mother or a father – usually a mother – is to harm their children,” he said.

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