Entries in ABC News (7)


Parents: What to Watch Out For at the Dentist

Design Pics/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As detailed in a report on Thursday's Nightline, an ABC News investigation found that American children are being put at risk by inadequately trained dentists who often seek to enhance profits by sedating their young patients for even routine tooth cleaning and cavity treatments.

There is no national registry of dental deaths, but according to the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation, more than a dozen children have died after being sedated by dentists. Some experts say many deaths go unreported or are never officially tied to dental sedation.

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To lessen the risk for young patients, the American Dental Association has prepared the following list of questions that parents and guardians should ask about sedation or anesthesia for children.

Questions to Ask Your Dentist about Anesthesia and Sedation for Your Child

The ADA offers the following questions that parents and guardians should ask concerning in-office sedation or general anesthesia for their children provided either by the dentist or by a separate sedation/anesthetic practitioner in that dental office. The ADA recommends talking to your dentist about any concerns you might have about the treatment plan prior, during and after the procedure:

Prior to the procedure:

  • Who will provide the pre-operative evaluation of my child including their past medical history such as allergies, current prescription medications and previous illnesses and hospitalizations?
  • What is the recommended time that my child should be without food or drink prior to the procedure (with the exception of necessary medications taken with a sip of water)?
  • Will any sedation medication be given to my child at home prior to their coming to the office and, if so, how should they be monitored?
  • What training and experience does the sedation/anesthesia provider have in providing the level of sedation or anesthesia that is planned for the procedure? Does this training and experience meet all of the standards of the ADA Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists?
  • Does the staff assisting in the procedure have current training in emergency resuscitation procedures, such as Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, and other advanced resuscitation courses as recommended by the ADA Guidelines? Is this training regularly renewed?
  • Does the state dental board require a special sedation/anesthesia permit or license that allows for the sedation/anesthesia provider to administer this specific level of sedation or anesthesia in the dental office?

During the procedure:

  • In addition to the use of local anesthesia (numbing), what level of sedation or general anesthesia will be given to my child? Is it minimal sedation (relaxed and awake), moderate sedation (sleepy but awake), deep sedation (barely awake) or general anesthesia (unconscious)?
  • How will my child be monitored before, during and after the procedure until the child is released to go home? Are the appropriate emergency medications and equipment immediately available if needed, and does the office have a written emergency response plan for managing medical emergencies?

After the procedure:

  • Will the sedation/anesthesia provider give me instructions and emergency contact information if there are any concerns or complications after returning home?

For more information on oral health topics for you or your family, please visit the American Dental Association's website

The Raven Maria Blanco Foundation, which seeks to alert parents to the potential dangers of the use of oral sedatives on young patients, has its own recommended sedation checklist for parents. CLICK HERE for the foundation's "Pediatric Dental Care Checklist."

The foundation is named for 8-year-old Raven Blanco of Chesapeake, Virginia, who died after her dentist, Dr. Michael Hechtkopf, gave her "three times the average range" of sedatives, according to the Virginia Board of Dentistry.

The dentist had his license restricted for three months and was ordered to complete seven hours of continuing education in record keeping and risk management. He has since retired.

A lawyer for Dr. Hechtkopf said the dentist "regretted" what happened.

Raven's parents, Robin and Mario Blanco, set up the foundation in their daughter's name to urge dentists to be better prepared for emergencies and to warn parents that what happened to their daughter could happen to others.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Facebook Tool Helps Organ Donors 'Share Life'


Facebook is about connecting and sharing -- connecting with your friends, family and communities, and sharing information with them about your life, work, school and interests. On any given day more than half a billion people share billions of stories, updates and photos.

What has amazed us over the past eight years is how people use these same tools and social dynamics to address important issues and challenges in their communities. Last year in Missouri, Facebook users tracked down and returned treasured mementos to families who thought they'd lost everything in the Joplin tornado. In Japan, people used Facebook to locate family and friends following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Smaller acts of kindness happen millions of times a day on Facebook.

We never could have anticipated that what started as a small network would evolve into such a powerful tool for communication and problem solving. As this happens, we hope to build tools that help people transform the way we all solve worldwide social problems.

Today, more than 114,000 people in the United States, and millions more around the globe, are waiting for the heart, kidney or liver transplant that will save their lives. Many of those people – an average of 18 people per day – will die waiting, because there simply aren't enough organ donors to meet the need. Medical experts believe that broader awareness about organ donation could go a long way toward solving this crisis. And we believe that by simply telling people that you're an organ donor, the power of sharing and connection can play an important role.

Starting today, you can add that you're an organ donor to your timeline, and share your story about when, where or why you decided to become a donor. If you're not already registered with your state or national registry and want to be, you'll find a link to the official donor registry there as well.

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Facebook's mission is simple: to make the world more open and connected. But the Facebook community has also shown us that simply through sharing and connecting, the world gets smaller and better. Even one individual can have an outsized impact on the challenges facing another, and on the world. At Facebook, we call that the power of friends.

--Mark and Sheryl

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Facebook. Sheryl Sandberg is the company's COO.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rare Condition Drives Girl to Eat Light Bulb

Natalie Hayhurst suffers from a rare condition called Pica that creates a never-ending compulsion to eat things that aren't food. (Courtesy The Hayhurst Family)(TERRA HAUTE, Ind.) -- Natalie Hayhurst looks like your average adorable 3-year-old. She plays with makeup, loves Justin Bieber, and loves playing with her big brother on their farm outside Terre Haute, Ind.  But when it comes to food, she's anything but average. Most kids her age are a little picky. Natalie likes everything -- literally.

"Well, I first noticed it was a problem...[when] she had actually eaten my vinyl blinds that hang out to cover your sliding door. She took two bites out of them," said Natalie's mother, Colleen Hayhurst.

Natalie suffers from a rare condition called Pica that creates a compulsion to eat things that aren't food.

"She prefers the wood, paper products, cardboard, sticks," said Colleen. "She'll eat rocks, dirt; she's had a bite out of a Diet Coke can; she's eaten the little magnet out of the shower curtain, plastic bottles, toys."

"You can't take your eye off of her, 'cause if you do she knows it, and she'll try to eat something when she knows you're not looking," said Colleen.

In February Natalie was rushed to the emergency room after eating a light bulb.

"She had moved her entertainment center and pulled the light bulb out of the night light while I was doing dishes," Colleen said. "She was in bed; I assumed she was asleep. She had eaten all the glass. I was pretty much hysterical."

Doctors performed surgery to help remove the glass.

When Colleen took Natalie to the pediatrician for a checkup and explained what was going on, the doctor, Dr. Lily Dela Cruz, knew this was something that went beyond typical toddler behavior. She referred them to a developmental behavioral specialist.

Although Pica is more common in young children -- more than 10 percent of kids aged 1 to 6 are believed to have some form of the disorder -- adults are not immune.

Pica is the Latin word for magpie, a bird that will eat anything. Doctors say these unusual cravings can be triggered by a lack of certain nutrients like iron or zinc. Some with Pica crave the texture of some materials in their mouths.

In the case of Natalie, who has a healthy appetite for regular food, Pica is thought to be psychological. Pica is a symptom of autism, but Natalie has not been tested for the condition. She does suffer from insomnia and ADHD. As she gets older, she understands more what she is doing is wrong, but she can't seem to help herself.

In addition to working with a therapist to curb her cravings, at home Colleen sprays Natalie's tongue with a sour spray that helps satisfy her constant need to put things in her mouth. Natalie also chews on biting sticks. And she has what her family calls her Pica Box full of textured toys that stimulate her senses.

Colleen is reaching out to help other mothers and their children in this predicament.

"There are nights I have cried myself to sleep, because you feel helpless," Colleen said. "My kids are my world...and I care about helping other people who are in the same boat as me."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Apple Juice Showdown: Dr. Oz Arsenic Claim Questioned

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- In a spirited showdown on Good Morning America Thursday, ABC News senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser confronted television's Dr. Mehmet Oz on what he called “extremely irresponsible” statements made on The Dr. Oz Show Wednesday concerning arsenic in apple juice.

“Mehmet, I’m very upset about this, I think that this was extremely irresponsible,” Besser said.  “It reminds me of yelling fire in a movie theater.”

“I’m not fear-mongering,” Oz fired back.  “We did our homework on this risk.”

Oz’s appearance on GMA is the latest development in a story that likely has many parents on edge about whether to continue serving apple juice to their children.

[Scroll down to watch Dr. Oz's appearance on ABC's Good Morning America.]

Oz and the show’s producers drew criticism for Wednesday’s episode of The Dr. Oz Show, which focused on the dangers of trace levels of arsenic present in many popular brands of apple juice.  Juice manufacturers, government regulators and scientists said the results of what the program called its “extensive national investigation” were misleading and needlessly frightening to consumers.

According to The Dr. Oz Show, a laboratory tested “three dozen samples from five different brands of apple juice across three American cities” and compared the levels of arsenic to the limits of arsenic for drinking water set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  They found 10 samples of juice with arsenic levels higher than the limits for water.

In a statement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said, “There is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices.”

The FDA sent a letter to The Dr. Oz Show on Sept. 9 -- five days before the show was to air -- which warned that airing the show would be “irresponsible” and “misleading” because the testing ignored that there are two forms of arsenic: organic and inorganic.  Organic is generally thought not to be harmful to health, whereas inorganic is.

The FDA also conducted its own tests of the apple juice investigated by The Dr. Oz Show.  In some of the very same lots of juice tested for the show, the FDA reported finding very low levels of inorganic arsenic; six parts per billion at most, even lower than the 10 parts per billion recommended by the EPA as a safe level for drinking water.

Oz acknowledged that “no children are dying from acute lethal arsenic poisoning,” stating instead that his concerns were about the long-term effect of arsenic exposure.  Still, Besser said Oz was implying to parents that drinking apple juice poses a risk to kids’ health.

“You have informed parents they are poisoning their children,” he said, a charge that Oz denied.

“We just want to have the conversation, and we’ve been trying to make this conversation happen,” Oz said.

Oz also added, “I would not take apple juice out of my kids’ containers now.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Feeding Hungry Kids with 'Bags of Hope'

Started as a way to feed just one hungry child in an Arizona community, Kitchen on the Street now provides 16,000 meals a month to hungry children in Arizona and Texas. In this photo, kids wait in line to receive their "bags of hope" -- a kit with five meals and five snacks that is designed to supply them with food for the entire weekend. (Kitchen on the Street)(PHOENIX) -- As the school cafeteria emptied out from lunch, Dennis Cagle, a charter school administrator in Arizona, noticed one little girl who stayed behind to collect the food left on other students' trays. When he asked her what she was doing, the girl explained that there was no food at her house, and she was bringing these leftovers home so she and her siblings would have something to eat that night.

The girl's plight haunted Cagle, who had no idea the extent to which children in his school were going hungry at home. But it shouldn't have surprised him: One in four Arizona children live in poverty, and according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, nearly 15 million children live in poverty nationwide. With high unemployment and foreclosures, this number has risen 20 percent since 2000. It's little wonder that many children go hungry.

Though Cagle would not live to see a solution, or at least a salve, to child hunger in his community, his story inspired his friends and fellow Phoenix residents Lisa and Vince Scarpinato to create the nonprofit Kitchen on the Street, which works to provide an entire weekend's worth of nonperishable meals to schoolchildren in need. Volunteers assemble these "bags of hope," as they call them, and distribute them to nearly 800 children in Arizona and Texas each week.

"We're parents," Lisa Scarpinato says, "and we just imagined the devastation of a parent if they felt like they couldn't feed their child. We had people in the community who were out of work, or had family members who were sick, and we knew we could help. We aren't overly rich, so we knew, at first, that we could at least help one kid, so we did, and that just grew."

Scarpinato attributes the increased attendance, better concentration and improved grades to the kids' having a secure source of food each weekend. "The food is not only healing these kids bodies but changing their perspective. Hope changes brain chemistry -- kids who are hopeful try harder, persist longer and are more successful," says Scarpinato.

Kitchen on the Street now operates in 14 schools in Arizona and Texas, funded in part by government grants but predominantly by individuals and local businesses. For $25 a month, Kitchen on the Street can provide one child with five meals, snacks and breakfast bars each weekend of that month, all packed in discreet backpacks and duffle bags.

The backpacks are used because hunger isn't the only thing Kitchen on the Street is fighting, Scarpinato says. It's also fighting the stigma against poverty.

"Unfortunately, we are battling more than just physical hunger. Kids (and adults) don't want to admit they don't have enough food to eat. There is a shame that goes with it," Scarpinato says.

But thanks to Kitchen on the Street's presence, that's beginning to change, she says. When it first began, the partner schools using the program weren't "overly excited" to have their names connected to it, "which means they saw a negative connotation in it," she says. "Now we see a shift. They put it on their website. We've gone from not wanting to mention we have hunger in our community five years ago, to wanting to raise awareness about it and be open about it today," Scarpinato says.

One Phoenix charter school says Kitchen on the Street has meant the difference between success and failure for its students.

Though some might question whether a school needs to concern itself with what their students eat over the weekend, Freddie Villalone, principal of a Phoenix Imagine Schools charter, says he believes "food insecurity" was holding many of his students back.

"If their bellies aren't filled, they're not going to be able to focus on their academics. They won't be able to do the homework we assign over the weekend because they're worried about finding food," he says.

At his school, 97 percent of students receive free or reduced-cost lunches. For several years, Villalone's charter school wasn't doing so well: It was in the bottom 5 percent of Arizona schools in terms of academic performance, and was told it had to improve students' grades quickly or face getting shut down. That's when it partnered with Kitchen on the Street.

Now, 150 of the school's 700 kids receive weekend "bags of hope." Since Kitchen on the Street came to the school, the school's academic rating went from an F to a B -- a turnaround that Villalone credits in large part to the food that Kitchen on the Street supplied to his students most need.

It's not only about feeding kids, he says, it's about "building a level of confidence. Their confidence levels go down if they're hungry and unable to concentrate come Monday. When they know they'll have enough to eat over the weekend, they come ready to learn. Our kids have made tremendous academic gains," he says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nine Questions You Need to Ask Your Doctor for Good Care

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- ABC News' chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser has compiled a list of nine essential questions to ask your doctor in order to make more informed decisions about your care, along with a couple more helpful tips for good measure:

Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor

What is my condition called?

What are my treatment choices, and what are the pros and cons of each one?

What's the LEAST treatment I can get for this? What would the effects be? Will I feel better? Will I live longer?

What's the MOST treatment I can get for this? What would the effects be? Will I feel better? Will I live longer?

Knowing the "least" treatment and the "most" treatment, which would you recommend for me, and why?

What does medical science say is the best answer for me? In other words, what's the most up-to-date recommendation for people who have the same issue I do?

How can I get a second opinion on this? (You're not being rude, you're being thorough. Ask about websites, medical centers and another doctor with whom you could have a consultation.)

Do you have written information about my condition that I can read? Can you recommend a good website or support group?

Can I follow up with you by phone if I have any additional questions?

More Tips for Your Doctor's Visit

Take someone with you. They can take notes for you, help you ask questions or ask questions you find embarrassing.

Get answers in plain English. What you can't understand can't help you. Make sure you know what your doctor is saying.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


How a Sweet Potato Is Saving Lives

Ablestock[dot]com/ThinkstockDOCTOR'S NOTEBOOK
By DR. RICHARD BESSER, ABC News Senior Health and Medical Editor

(NEW YORK) -- In a little village in Burkina Faso, under the scorching heat of the dry African season, I met a woman who has been empowered by a sweet potato.

Fatiba is 30 and she has three young children. She manages the family, grows the crops, cooks the meals, and sells produce in the market. She has been learning new farming techniques at the model garden center supported by Helen Keller International.

She lectured me about the importance of eating fresh produce, the impact of drip irrigation and mulch for extending the scarce water, and the nutritional value of the orange sweet potato.

"The orange sweet potato has Vitamin A," she said. "Our white sweet potato does not. I want my family to eat the orange one to make them healthier."

Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of preventable blindness and death in children around the world. Fatiba is taking steps to make sure her children and community are spared this problem.

She rides her bicycle 10 miles from the garden center back to her family compound to show us her own garden. Her face beams as she shows me the crops: cow peas, sweet peppers, and eggplant. She has grown carrots this year for the first time.

"They are a very good source of vitamin A," she tells me with the pride of someone who has newfound knowledge.

The garden means independence for her. Not only can her family have fresh vegetables every day for the first time ever, but the excess produce brings in money that is liberating.

She is quick to give her husband credit, too. Without the strong thatched fence that he built, the goats, donkeys, cattle and other animals would have destroyed the garden.

She fries up some sweet potato so I can give it a try and we sit on a mat with her children for an afternoon snack. They are a bit suspicious of me, but absolutely love the potatoes.

What's not to love? Sweet potato fries -- trendy in America -- are saving eyesight in Africa and are doing much more than that. The agricultural lessons that come with the potatoes are empowering women and improving their lives and the lives of their families.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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