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Wednesday
Feb062019

Colorado could join small list of states that includes consent in sex education curriculum

noipornpan/iStock(DENVER) -- A controversial bill making its way through the Colorado legislature would add information about healthy relationships and consent to the state’s sex education curriculum.

Should the bill pass, Colorado would become only the ninth state in the U.S. to require teaching about consent as part of sex education in K-12 schools.

“Recognizing that even the adults in this building don’t understand personal boundaries, it’s a worthy conversation to start having with our kids,” said Rep. Susan Lontine, the Denver Democratic representative who introduced the bill, HB19-1032, and who last year filed a sexual harassment complaint against a fellow lawmaker.

“I think it’s really important that we start [teaching kids about consent] at a young age so they can advocate for themselves,” she said. “I can tell you from the conversations I’ve had with kids in the Denver area that is something they want.”

The topic of consent -- when both partners agree to a sexual activity and understand what they’re agreeing to -- has been in the spotlight thanks to the #MeToo movement and the sexual assault allegations faced by now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which he has denied.

Lontine's legislation, “Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education,” would update a 2013 law to bar promoting sexual abstinence as the sole preventive method for students and prohibit excluding the sexual experiences of LBGTQ students, among other things. It includes a $1 million grant for schools that choose to offer students a comprehensive sex education curriculum.

Though a hearing last week on the bill drew hundreds of people and lasted more than 10 hours, one of the least controversial parts of the bill appears to be the consent provision.

Lontine called it “one of the more important pieces of [the bill] that we’re not talking about.”

Candi Cushman, director of education issues and initiatives at Focus on the Family, a group that opposes the bill, said they take issue with the lack of parental involvement more than teaching about consent.

"I think where the controversy comes in is how are parents going to be involved in this," she said. "There is concern that the legislation is crossing the line beyond just simply communicating to kids that assault is wrong, or what their boundaries are, but it’s crossing that line and getting into sexual experimentation without involving the parent all the time."

Eight states require mention of consent in sex education

In most states, parents do not even have the chance to be included in conversations about teaching consent at their child's school.

Only eight states and the District of Columbia require mention of consent or sexual assault as part of sex education, according to a 2018 study by the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan policy institute.

The eight states -- California, Hawaii, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia -- are among only 24 states in the U.S. that mandate sex education in public schools, according to the study.

The study also found that the majority of public school students in America don't know how to identify behaviors that demonstrate healthy and unhealthy relationships.

"I think it’s still a really contentious issue and it kind of boils down to community norms around premarital sex, because that’s what we’re really talking about here," said Catherine Brown, a study author and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. "Some believe it’s giving permission for young people to have sex and that’s something they’re not comfortable with."

Brown said she has noticed an uptick in states' interest in adding consent and healthy relationships to their sex education curriculum because of #MeToo and last year's high-profile Kavanaugh hearings, during which Christine Blasey Ford, a college professor, accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while they were in high school.

Efforts to add consent to the curriculum are most effective when they are started by students, according to Brown's research.

"It's a really exciting development," she said. "They’re going out and talking to their legislators and they’re making change that will matter to them."

Moira Lees, a seventh-grader in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, is among the students pushing Colorado legislators to add consent to their sex ed curriculum. She was one of handful of students who testified in favor of the bill last week.

"I believe that consent is very important in relationships and just in the real world," Moira, 14, told ABC News' Good Morning America. "I don’t think I’m the only middle schooler that wants to learn this stuff."

Moira, whose mother also testified, was motivated to speak out after seeing language in her school's dress code and her older brother's sex education curriculum that she thought implied that clothes girls choose to wear can be consent for boys.

"Our dress code says that dresses should not be worn that distract from learning purposes and it’s really sexist," she said. "I thought it was important [for legislators] to hear from a middle schooler’s point of view."

The Colorado bill passed the Colorado House committee that Moira testified before last week and is now headed to the House Appropriations Committee.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Feb062019

Do we judge pain differently for boys and girls? A new study says yes

AndreyPopov/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Pain is a subjective feeling -- only you can really know how much pain you feel. But are we judging children’s pain differently depending on whether they’re a girl or a boy?

Levels of discomfort may not be obvious to bystanders, who tend to look for clear expressions of pain: facial expressions, sounds of distress and how you hold your body. A new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology in January showed that we may be estimating children’s pain differently based on their sex.

What has prior research shown?

In the U.S., women have often been perceived as oversensitive and emotional; men as stoic, able to handle pain without getting emotional. But the medical repercussions of those assumptions for boys and girls have not been studied extensively.

In 2001, researchers studying these gender biases warned that these “stereotypes or assumptions about behavior in such circumstances (oversensitivity, complaining [and] stoicism) add to the likelihood of under-treatment of some groups and overtreatment of others.”

How is this affecting children?

Children may not have yet developed the ability to voice pain, so they are particularly vulnerable to assumptions about how much they are hurting. The new study from Yale and Georgia State universities found that -- perhaps surprisingly -- adults perceive boys as having more pain and girls as having less, even when the level of pain is the same.

In the study, they showed 264 adults video of a 5-year-old dressed in gender-neutral clothes undergoing a blood test. For half the adults, the child was described as “Samuel” and for the other half as “Samantha.”

The “boy” was rated as experiencing more pain that the “girl” -- though the adults saw the same video.

The child was actually a girl.

“The child’s hair partially covered her face, which made determining her gender difficult,” the study's authors said.

After viewing the video, the participants were asked about their own beliefs about gender and pain.

When researchers accounted for those reported biases, there was no difference in the rating of how much pain the "boy" or "girl" was in.

What does this mean in terms of medical treatment for children?

This study did not focus on doctors, and we can hope that, since they have more experience judging pain, that they would be less likely to let bias sway their evaluation. But that remains to be studied.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Feb052019

People are trying face yoga in an attempt to reduce wrinkles, signs of aging

Olivia Smith/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Hang your tongue out of your mouth while your eyes drift to the ceiling. Breathe loudly and use your hands to pull your head in every which way. This is yoga for your face, and some people are using it as an alternative to Botox or plastic surgery.

"When you exercise your face muscles you can improve blood circulation on your face," Fumiko Takatsu, the creator of Face Yoga Method, told ABC News' Good Morning America.

Takatsu has written six books on face yoga and has been practicing facial exercises for about 15 years.

Takatsu, 50, said she came up with the idea of face exercises after a car accident when she was 35 years old.

"It made my body out of alignment and, as a result, it made my face out of alignment," she said.

Around the same time, Takatsu said she began to notice signs of aging but gave up on creams and facials after they became too expensive.

"One day I realized that I have muscles on my face. Why not exercise [the] muscles on my face?" she said.

Koko Hayashi, a face yoga instructor in Los Angeles who founded Face Yoga with Koko, said she first heard of face yoga by discovering Takatsu's work.

Hayashi, 39, said she had a chin implant when she was 27 years old, but took it out because it distorted her face.

"That's why I'm so interested in more natural beauty instead of plastic surgery," Hayashi said.

Hayashi, like others who practice facial exercises, believes it can fix signs of aging and help reduce wrinkles like crow’s feet and smile lines.

The origins of face yoga are unclear, but there are articles in the U.S. dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

The question that often pops up when someone mentions face yoga is, "Does it actually work?"

A study out of Northwestern University found that the exercises may help middle-aged women.

"This is a preliminary study that suggests that there might be some elements of face exercise that can be helpful to at least certain patients -- middle-aged women -- in improving certain signs of aging cheek fullness," said Dr. Murad Alam, vice chair and professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

"But we definitely need more studies to better understand exactly how much exercise is necessary to cause the benefit, whether it works for men and women and people of different ages, and then how much exercise is needed to maintain that benefit," Alam said.

ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said there is no solid evidence that face yoga works and that any benefits are most likely going to be up to the person trying it. If you feel better after trying face yoga it may be something to keep doing, she said.

"What are the risks of doing facial yoga? Pretty much none," Ashton said. "What are the benefits? That's the big question and that's going to be very subjective."

"If you look in the mirror after doing a couple of facial exercises and you think you look better that's terrific. But benefits are going to really be in the eye of the beholder," Ashton said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Feb052019

Mysterious, well-liked egg's Instagram account is all about mental health

Chesnot/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An egg is usually beaten but its Instagram account whipped up a lot of buzz last month, and on Super Bowl Sunday, its purpose was revealed: mental health awareness.

Instagram user @world_record_egg posted a generic picture of a farmer’s brown egg on Instagram in January and ultimately became the most-liked photo on Instagram with 52 million likes. Previously, celebrity Kylie Jenner held the most-liked spot with her birth announcement in 2018, which received 18 million likes.

On Super Bowl Sunday, a year after Kylie Jenner’s birth announcement, the intention of the egg post was finally cracked with a game-time ad on Hulu.

The advertisement began, "Recently, I started to crack. The pressure of social media is hurting me."

As pieces of the broken shell began to fall away, the advertisement urged, "If you're struggling too, talk to someone."

It ended with a link for viewers to visit for more information: talkingegg.info.

At the website, users are prompted to choose from a range of global resources classified under "useful mental health links below."

Within the United States section, there are three links to Mental Health America, CALM: Campaign against Living Miserably and NAMI: National Alliance of Mental Illness.

Prior to the advertisement's release, the egg's Instagram account posted a preview.

Soon after the account was created and broke the Instagram record, the account told viewers to "stay tuned," according to a statement released to ABC News.

It turns out the intention of the egg was all it was cracked up to be as it is now shining a light on mental health awareness.

The advertisement even ended with a message of unity: "We got this."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Feb042019

Too much toothpaste may hurt your child’s smile, study says

Tomwang112/iStock(NEW YORK) -- When struggling to put a child to bed on time each night, one of the last things on a parent's mind is the amount of toothpaste smeared across their toothbrush. However, a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that parents and care providers for young children should focus on the amount of fluoride-containing paste that is going into their children’s mouths. Nearly 40 percent of children ages 3 to 6 are using more fluoride-containing toothpaste than recommended by public health officials.

That said, the same CDC report also found that 80 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 15 began brushing after their first birthday -- which is too late, according to the American Dental Association. Many children also only brush once per day, while brushing twice a day is recommended.

Dentists recommend beginning to brush as soon as you see your child’s first tooth and using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children ages 3 to 6. A grain-of-rice amount of toothpaste is recommended for younger kids, because children inadvertently swallow small amounts while they are brushing, especially when they are not being carefully supervised.

While toothpaste itself is not harmful to health, excessive ingestion of it’s fluoride has the potential to cause Fluorosis in children. On the mild side Fluorosis can cause white discoloration and on the severe end can mean divots to enamel and a brown corrosive appearance. The damage, which is permanent, may be treated with cosmetic procedures to mask the stains.

There is no risk of discoloration to adults, because, “The chance of development of fluorosis exists through approximate age eight when the teeth are still forming under the gums,” according to the American Dental Association.

So make sure your children are not swallowing too much fluoride while brushing.

Rinsing with tap water has an added benefit.

There is probably fluoride in your tap water, a chemical that has been associated with lowering teeth decay rates. Around 75 percent of community water systems in the U.S. have access to fluoridated water, according to the CDC.

The ADA has endorsed the fluoridation of community water as “safe, beneficial and cost-effective and socially equitable public health measure for preventing dental caries in children and adults.”

To summarize, here are eight facts to remember:

• Start early! Begin brushing when you see your baby’s first tooth.

• A non-fluoride containing toothpaste can be used in children under age 2 (per CDC recommendations). Fluoride-containing toothpastes (per American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), and American Dental Association (ADA) can also be used, especially with children who are at high risk for cavities, as long as you are using the proper amount.

• Apply a small amount of toothpaste -- the size of a grain of rice -- and press it into the bristles of the toothbrush for kids ages 2 and under.

• Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste for kids ages 3 to 6.

• Monitor and help your child while they brush twice a day.

• Make sure your child spits after brushing, and parents should remove any noticeable toothpaste residue left in the mouth.

• Store all toothpaste and fluoride-containing products where your child can’t easily reach them.

Finally, each child’s individual needs may be different, so make sure to consult your doctor and dentists at regularly scheduled checkups.

Alexandra H. Antonioli, Ph.D., is completing a combined M.D./Ph.D. training at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is currently working with the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Feb042019

New measles cases discovered in Houston amid outbreaks elsewhere

Dr_Microbe/iStock(HOUSTON) -- Three new cases of measles were confirmed by health officials in Houston on Monday, making it the latest city to have the once-eliminated disease appear in recent weeks.

The Houston outbreak comes as new cases of measles are being confirmed in Washington state on a daily basis, and other cases have been confirmed in Oregon, Georgia, and New York.

The new measles cases in Houston bring the total number of cases in Texas to six so far in 2019.

A number of specific details about the cases in Houston have not been publicly disclosed, including how it is believed that the individuals contracted the disease and if they were previously vaccinated.

The only details about the three infected individuals that have been released is that two are young boys under the age of 2 and the third is a woman between the ages of 25 and 35 years old. All three individuals live in northwest Harris County, according to Harris County Public Health.

"Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus, which spreads to others through coughing and sneezing," Umair Shah, the executive director of Harris County Public Health said in a statement confirming the new cases in Houston. "However, it is easily preventable. Parents and caregivers have the power to protect their children and themselves from this disease by getting vaccinated."

The outbreak in Clark County, Washington, involves 49 confirmed cases of measles and nine suspected cases, according to local public health officials.

New York has also seen an outbreak that started in the fall of 2018 and has continued into 2019. A New York Department of Health official confirmed to ABC News last week that there were 30 confirmed cases to date in New York so far this year, and 122 confirmed cases in 2018. Those cases are mostly located in Rockland and Orange counties, about an hour and a half drive north of Manhattan.

Experts attribute the spread of measles in part to lower vaccination rates in certain communities, making more people vulnerable to the disease and lowering the level of herd immunity that protects large groups from becoming infected.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Feb042019

Woman creates clothing line to inspire others with chronic illnesses

demaerre/iStock(NEW YORK) -- There was a time when 33-year-old Keisha Greaves hid her muscular dystrophy. Now, she embraces her condition with her inspirational clothing line, Girls Chronically Rock.

In 2010, Greaves, who had a bachelor's degree in fashion design and merchandising and was studying for her masters at Framingham State University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, started noticing that she was no longer able to complete certain physical movements, such as raising her right arm.

"I would just repeatedly fall to the floor out of nowhere, and I had no idea where it was coming from," Greaves told ABC News' Good Morning America. "I thought something isn't right."

She was diagnosed with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD), which weakens arm and leg muscles.

Even after Greaves visited a neurologist for testing, she said she still felt in denial about her condition.

"Even just going on job interviews at this time, or just going out with friends, I totally wouldn't even tell them about my muscular dystrophy," she said. "I would say I just sprained my ankle or I was in a car accident instead of just saying I had muscular dystrophy."

It wasn't until a few years later when Greaves decided to use her "passion for fashion" as a way to look at her disease in a new light.

"I said, 'Hey, why don't I start a T-shirt line,' because I love wearing things that are comfortable, I love wearing T-shirts, so I wanted something with the word 'chronic' in it to incorporate for chronic illnesses," she shared.

Greaves launched her line Girls Chronically Rock, which now includes T-shirts, bracelets, hoodies and clothing with different sayings, such as "Trust in Your Dopeness."

"For me [Trust in Your Dopeness] means trust and believe in yourself," Greaves said. "If you want to do something, you can do it."

The designer said she wants Girls Chronically Rock to be more than a clothing brand -- she wants it to be a movement.

"Clients have reacted totally awesome to Girls Chronically Rock," she said. "I love getting inspirational letters or direct messages on Instagram from people I don’t know."

Greaves has received messages from people with loved ones struggling with muscular dystrophy and other illnesses such as fibromyalgia.

"We can all relate in some kind of way and that's what Girls Chronically Rock stands for," she shared.

In addition to her fashion line, Greaves serves as the Massachusetts Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Ambassador in Boston, where she shares her story at various speaking engagements and speakers with different medical professionals about muscular dystrophy.

One of her future goals is to expand her work to include adaptive clothing for people with disabilities.

"I have no control over this muscular dystrophy. This has control over me and that is something that I have accepted over some time. I just turn to things that make me feel happy," she said.

"Girls Chronically Rock honestly makes me feel good and happy every day," she added.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Feb042019

Woman, 72, who does CrossFit daily is serious #workoutgoals

Lauren Bruzzone/Carozza Fitness(NEW YORK) -- Lauren Bruzzone, 72, is a true fitness inspiration.

The attorney and adjunct college professor regularly attends a 6 a.m. CrossFit class at a gym near her Stamford, Connecticut, home.

She has been active her whole life, usually taking a dance or step aerobics class two days a week, but became a CrossFit devotee five years ago when a friend introduced her to the intense workout program.

“This is not something I would have ever guessed I’d be doing if you asked me 15 years ago,” Bruzzone told ABC News' Good Morning America. “[My friend] kind of had to talk me into it a little bit, but I figured I would try it and if I didn’t like it I would stop.”

“It’s just a little bit more intense but I’m still doing it and enjoying it,” she added.

Bruzzone’s definition of “just a little bit more intense” is debatable.

She has gone viral with videos showing her doing atomic sit ups with a weight, burpees over a bar, pulling a trainer via a rope and lifting weights.

“I see the younger people doing heavier weights and I want to get closer to what they’re doing,” she said. “It’s more motivation for me to push harder.”

Bruzzone, who retired from her career after she began CrossFit, credits her ability to keep crushing her fitness goals to consistency.

“Every once in a while I take a day off, but I try to be there because when you’re older your body kind of forgets,” she said. “It’s just easier to be there.”

Mike Carozza, who owns the gym, Carozza Fitness, where Bruzzone has trained for the last seven years, said she is his own fitness goal.

“She doesn’t give any excuses and she never has,” he said. “‘Okay, coach, I’ll try. I’ll do my best.’ Those are the words you usually hear from her.”

Carozza also credits Bruzzone’s strength in her 70s to her consistency as well as her willingness to focus on her weaknesses, instead of just doing the exercises at which she is best.

Bruzzone is also flexible, thanks to years of doing yoga, and watches her weight, though she doesn’t follow one particular diet.

Mostly, Bruzzone said she just follows the advice she would give to other people of any age, which is to never give up and to pace yourself with exercise.

“I’m happy taking it slow,” she said. “At my age you don’t want to break anything. It takes too long to fix.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Feb042019

Sisters shave off hair so mom with breast cancer won't have to fight alone

Courtesy Joanna McPherson(NEW YORK) -- Two sisters have shaved their heads in solidarity with their mom who lost her hair while undergoing chemotherapy.

"I kept trying to discourage them," Joanna McPherson of Shreveport, Louisiana, told ABC News' Good Morning America.

She said she told them, "I don't know if you know what you're really asking to do. You hair is part of your features, your head might be cold, and other kids could make fun if you."

"They said, 'If people are going to do that to you, then we don't want you to go through it alone,'" McPherson added.

McPherson was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer in October 2018.

The Air Force colonel and mom to Alexa, 11, Kayla, 10, Sophia, 7, and Jocelyn, 4, began treatment shortly thereafter.

HER2-positive breast cancers can be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.

McPherson was first diagnosed with a different type of breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. Doctors later determined she had HER2.

McPherson underwent three rounds of chemo and she has three more to go.

She began losing her hair on Dec. 21 so her husband, Shawn McPherson, shaved it off for her.

Weeks later, McPherson's middle daughters Kayla and Sophia asked if they could part with their own hair in support of their mom.

The McPhersons made it a family affair. Shawn took charge of the buzzer while the eldest Kayla filmed. A tearful McPherson stood by watching.

"I never felt that strongly or passionately about something at their age," she said. "I thought I would let them express themselves as they're dealing with this pain and difficult time in their lives about what their mom is going through...someone they love."

She went on, "They have such big hearts and I just thought it was very sweet of them to make such a grand gesture of love."

McPherson blogs about experience on her site, her2positivelife.com in hopes to help other families in similar situations.

 Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb012019

The hidden danger of the humble toothpick

Guido Cautreels/EyeEm/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Before you bite into that sandwich, take a closer look. Toothpicks have been known to injure thousands more people every year than plane crashes or shark attacks.

The danger a single toothpick can represent was highlighted in a recent case study published by the New England Journal of Medicine about a man who nearly died from swallowing a toothpick. It was hidden in a sandwich, and he had no idea he’d swallowed it — and neither did his doctors. As he continued to get sicker, scan after scan showed nothing; these small wooden objects don’t show up on medical imaging.

These sharp, pointy sticks used to clean teeth have been around for thousands of years; researchers found toothpick grooves in the teeth of a Neanderthal from 130,000 years ago. Toothpicks used to be whittled from sticks until the 1880s, when a Massachusetts businessman began mass-producing them with machines, making millions of toothpicks a day.

Death by toothpick is unusual — most injuries aren’t fatal. If someone swallows a toothpick they could, of course, choke on it.

It might also go unnoticed, however, down into the stomach. The stomach’s acid doesn’t break down wooden or plastic objects like it breaks down food. The toothpick can end up in the intestines, and poke a hole through the bowels or an artery, causing infection, bleeding, sepsis, and even death.

The young man in the medical study had recurring fevers and abdominal pain after gut bacteria leaked into his blood through a toothpick puncture in his bowel. A course of antibiotics could slow the infection down, but it always came back. Even when doctors looked into his intestine with a colonoscopy, the hole was so small that it couldn’t be seen. It wasn’t until surgery that doctors found the toothpick lodged in an intestinal artery.

The man survived and his case is rare, but far from unheard of. Children are at the highest risk, so toothpicks need to be kept out of reach, or not used at all.

This article was written by Dr. Azka Afzal, MD, a resident physician at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.


Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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