Entries in Eggs (11)


Lead Found in Eggs Laid by Chickens in New York City Gardens

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The discovery of lead in some city-raised eggs is ruffling feathers among public health experts.

An ongoing study by the New York State Department of Health found eggs raised in urban neighborhood gardens contained levels of lead significantly higher than those seen in store-bought eggs.  The lead is thought to come from contaminated soil eaten by city-dwelling chickens.

"Because we feel it's important to reduce lead exposure wherever possible, we encourage chicken keepers to be aware of the potential risks associated with contaminated soil and take measures to minimize those risks, while at the same time recognizing that raising chickens can be a healthy activity," said Henry Spliethoff, a research scientist with the Department's Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment.

Lead exposure in children is linked to low IQ later in life. And lead poisoning in people of all ages can cause difficulty sleeping, headaches, seizures and even comas. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has no limit for acceptable lead exposure in eggs, but in 2005 set a limit of 100 parts per billion for candy consumed by children.

Spliethoff and colleagues tested 58 eggs raised in community gardens around New York City and found nearly half contained lead levels between 10 and 73 parts per billion.  One egg had levels exceeding 100 parts per billion.

"We were encouraged to find that all the eggs had lead levels were below the guidance value except for one," said Spliethoff.  "Eggs with lead levels below that guidance value -- even with a fairly egg-heavy diet -- are probably OK."

But some experts say no level of lead in food is safe.

"There's virtually no level at which we can assume lead is not dangerous," said Dr. John Rosner, a professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

Rosner, who co-authored the 2002 book Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution, said lead levels in urban neighborhoods have been "a contentious issue for a very long time."

"The problem is that we've never been willing to confront this issue head on," he said, describing how old buildings with leaded paint were demolished rather than detoxified.  "It just continues to haunt us."

While the New York study is ongoing, Spliethoff said urban farmers should be aware of their soil's lead levels and make efforts to minimize their chickens' exposure by building separate chicken runs, putting food in a feeder and laying down extra mulch or soil.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rabbis Urge Single, Orthodox Women to Freeze Eggs at 38

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Rebecca, an Orthodox Jew from California, was two weeks away from her marriage to the son of a respected rabbi when medication she was taking for migraines triggered a debilitating stroke.

She fell to the floor of the emergency room where she was working as a manager and broke her neck, suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries. When her fiance saw the extent of her disability, he called off the wedding.

"We did everything the Orthodox way," she said of their three-month engagement after being matched by family members. "I was in the hospital on my wedding day and they got out the wheelchair, and he was so frightened he backed off."

Now 38 and walking again, Rebecca is single, but her Orthodox faith implores her to find a husband and build a family. So she sought spiritual guidance from three or four rabbis and has decided -- with their blessing -- to have her eggs frozen for the future, when she hopes she will marry and start a family.

Doctors in the United States who are familiar with "halacha" -- or Jewish religious law -- say they are seeing more Orthodox patients who have been sent by their rabbis to freeze their eggs before their fertility wanes.

Orthodox Jews include a number of different sects worldwide, including the large Hasidic communities in New York City, which all place an importance on raising families.

"I couldn't think of a life without children because of our religion," said Rebecca, who did not want to share her name for privacy reasons. "That's the biggest mitzvah [commandment]. To bear kids and to bring them up the right way and to teach them the Torah is a woman's obligation."

Reproductive technology has perfected freezing techniques so that pregnancy rates are about the same as using fresh eggs when in vitro fertilization methods are used.

Rebecca is prepared to spend $7,000 to $10,000 per cycle to freeze her eggs with fertility specialists who can provide religious supervision.

"Most rabbis are strongly recommending this, and most should," said Dr. Sherman Silber, director of the Infertility Center of St. Louis, whose practice caters to Orthodox Jews. "'Be fruitful and multiply' is considered the first commandment."

The procedure helps make these single women more marriageable in the eyes of their communities, according to Silber.

"In truth, however, most orthodox women marry much earlier than this, often at age 20," he said. "So it is an uncommon event, but an important one for them."

About five percent of Silber's patients are Orthodox and his practice is supervised by top halachic authorities in Judaism from Jerusalem.

He recommends egg freezing "for all women who do not anticipate having a baby soon," he said. "Aging of the eggs is the critical and most important reason for the current infertility epidemic worldwide. And I would suggest well before age 38 to do that."

"We do everything we can to follow Orthodox halacha in all of our IVF practice," said Silber. "The patient can get her shots on Friday night before shabbos, and she can get her shots on Saturday night after shabbos. This is never a scheduling or dosage problem."

Rabbis also give special approval in rare cases when egg pick-up must be over the Sabbath, according to Silber, "as life trumps all other mitzvahs," including getting approval for a non-Jewish doctor.

In Israel the procedure is covered by the government. Some rabbis recommend every single woman over age 32 freeze her eggs as an insurance policy against infertility.

More women delay pregnancy for careers, but by their mid-30s their fertility dramatically drops and miscarriage rates rise. Harvesting a woman's eggs literally freezes them in time.

The first "frozen egg" baby was born in 1986, but success rates were so low that it was considered experimental. Unlike sperm, which had been successfully frozen for years, unfertilized eggs contain a lot of water and slow freezing causes ice crystals to form, destroying cell structure. But a specialized fast-freezing technique called vitrification changed all that.

Dr. Jamie Grifo, program director of the NYU Fertility Center in New York City, has done 1,100 frozen egg cycles since 2005, and recommends the earlier the eggs are harvested the better.

"Ideally, the best results are under 35, optimally in their early 30s," he said.

In his studies of live birth rates from 2003 to 2009, the pregnancy rate among 30-year-olds is 61 percent, but at age 44 it drops to five percent.

Grifo is also able to cater to Orthodox patients and has a rabbinical observer in his labs to oversee labeling and storing of eggs.

In accordance with halacha, eggs must be placed in new Petri dishes, even if they have been sterilized.

Rebecca is now in counseling with Rabbi Gideon Weitzman of Jerusalem, who is director of the Puah Institute, which for 20 years has been a "central authority" on infertility procedures performed in accordance with Jewish law.

"There is a very, very huge interface through the millennia between Judaism and medicine and technology," he said. "We've learned to go hand in hand with science."

Weitzman said freezing the eggs of single women is a real "boon" for Orthodox women who are taught at a young age that marriage and children are important.

"We get calls on this question every single week, if not every single day," he said.

Most of the time, women who freeze their eggs do not end up using them after they have found a husband and conceive the usual way.

Jewish law is "permissive" on destruction of unused eggs or embryos.

"Everybody agrees life in a Petri dish isn't life," said Weitzman.

Rebecca, who is of Moroccan Jewish descent, did not grow up in a religious family, but became modern orthodox when she was 27. She observes Shabbat (the Sabbath), prays each morning and dresses modestly in skirts below the knee -- except at the hospital, where she wore scrubs to work.

After his initial hesitation, her fiance later asked her to marry once again, but she refused.

"That wasn't an option for me after the way he behaved in my recovery," she said. "I wanted someone to be there for me the Orthodox way -- to be there for you regardless, someone who is more nurturing."

She wears a neck collar and has multiple therapies for her brain injury, which makes her processing slower.

"As an OR manager and director, I was, all the time, very active," she said. "But now, it's sometimes hard to read a book. I get fatigued easily."

She has been told she can never do nursing again. But with a helping husband, she said being a mother one day is possible.

"I know that I have a long road to recovery and my self-esteem went down," she said of her broken engagement.

Still, she eventually wants to go back to dating and find a husband.

"I feel hopeful," she said. "I am a very positive person. Thank God, I never got depressed and my religion has helped me a lot."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Egg Study Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study says eggs may be on par with cigarettes when it comes to heart health, but doctors and media critics say it’s not a fair comparison.

Researchers at Western University in Canada surveyed 1,200 patients about their egg and cigarette consumption and used ultrasound to measure the plaque in their arteries. They then concluded in the study, which was published in the journal Atherosclerosis, that people who ate more eggs over time had more plaque in their arteries, and equated eating eggs to smoking cigarettes.

The study’s lead researcher, Dr. David Spence, said in a press release that his study has shown that yolks make plaque build up more quickly in the arteries, “about two-thirds as much as smoking,” adding, “in the long haul, egg yolks are not okay for most Canadians.”

But cardiologists say the study shouldn’t be taken so seriously because the research is flawed.

“This is very poor quality research that should not influence patient’s dietary choices,” said Dr. Steven Nissen, who chairs the department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, in an email. “It is extremely important to understand the differences between ‘association’ and ‘causation.’”

Nissen said the researchers relied on patients to recall how many eggs they consumed, but asked them once and assumed it remained constant, which isn’t reliable. He said the way researchers measured patients’ plaque has come under “considerable criticism,” and that researchers failed to adjust for other dietary factors.

Dr. David Frid, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told ABC News he doesn’t think smoking should be equated with eating eggs because eggs have an indirect rather than direct impact on heart disease. The eggs have to first increase cholesterol to create plaque build-up. The impact of smoking on heart disease is direct because smoking causes arteries to become inflamed, which prompts the body to respond with plaque.

He said the study fails to take exercise or other dietary habits into account. Study participants could have consumed more salt, or they could have been on cholesterol-reducing drugs, too.

“It may be that people who consume a lot of eggs also consume a lot of other fatty foods,” Frid said, adding that how the egg is prepared should also be taken into account.

Dr. Jorge Plutzky, the Director of the Vascular Disease Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said that the study authors explained the limitations of their study, which includes the potential for other variables to mask results and errors inherent in having patients self-report their egg consumption.

He said what the study really does is generate “a clue or suggestion” that needs to be revisited. It is not conclusive.

Dr. Richard Besser, the Chief Health and Medical Editor, of ABC News, spoke about the egg study on Good Morning America Wednesday morning.

“Eggs keep getting a bum rap,” Besser said. “First they’re really good for you, and then they’re bad for you, and this is another one where they’re bad for you.  But there are a number of things that affect your cholesterol that they didn’t look at that people can really pay attention to.”

Besser suggested exercising, reducing saturated fats, and maintaining a healthy weight. He said an egg a day is fine, unless you have heart disease, in which case limiting consumption to four eggs a week is a good idea.

“Eggs are a great source of balanced protein and many vitamins,” he said. “If you do it in moderation, it’s a great part of your diet.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Are Egg Yolks as Bad as Cigarettes?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study suggests regular consumption of egg yolks can be just as bad for heart health as regular cigarette use.

Watch the Good Morning America report:

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Promising New Treatment for Kids with Egg Allergy

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you're allergic to eggs, a doctor has probably told you to avoid the protein.  But researchers have now found that eating small amounts of egg for several months may lower the allergic reaction.

The multi-center study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that giving children with egg allergies a small amount of egg-white powder for 10 months reduced or eliminated their allergy after the study period.

About 4 percent of children in the U.S. experience food allergies, according to the research, and egg allergy is one of the most common.  Many children outgrow the allergy after age 5, but for some, the sensitivity can continue into adulthood.  Food allergy reactions can range from a mild rash to death.

"The children were treated and then taken off treatment, the first large study to do so.  Almost a third of those treated were able to come off treatment and now eat eggs in their diet," Dr. Wesley Burks, the lead author of the study and chairman of pediatrics at UNC, told ABC News.

Researchers enrolled 55 children and teens with egg allergies.  Participants' families were then either given the equivalent of one-third of an egg in powder form, or a placebo, to mix into their children's food.

After 10 months, researchers gave the kids an "oral food challenge" in which they were given 5 grams of egg powder, the equivalent to one whole egg.  They found that 55 percent of the children did not have an allergic reaction at that time.  After 22 months, researchers gave the children two whole eggs and found that 75 percent of the children were no longer allergic.

More than one-quarter of the study group was able to work egg back into their regular diet regimen.

The approach has been taken with peanut allergies, as well as milk and egg in the past.  This suggests it could be applicable to all food allergies, said Dr. Harold Nelson, a professor of medicine at National Jewish Hospital in Denver.

But Burks warned parents not to try this at home.  More trials are needed before the allergy intervention is used in widespread clinical practice.  There needs to be Food and Drug Administration approval and further trials with bigger patient populations, and it could take a number of years before the intervention is seen in general practice.

"It is likely that this will eventually become an accepted clinical approach but even then should be only done by physicians with experience in the procedure, who appreciate the dangers and have the time to carefully supervise the process," said Nelson.  "This will never be an approach that should be conducted out in primary care."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Few Women with Cancer Freeze Eggs to Preserve Fertility

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Few women in their childbearing years with cancer opt to preserve their eggs before going through chemotherapy and radiation treatment, according to the findings of a new study.

The research, carried out at the University of California at San Francisco, surveyed more than 1,000 women ages 18 to 40 who were diagnosed with five different cancers: leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, breast cancer and gastrointestinal cancer.  The data showed that only 61 percent of the women had received counseling on infertility and only 4 percent of women overall pursued fertility preservation.

White women who were younger and college-educated were among the most likely to receive counsel on fertility options from their doctors.

"There remains a large unmet need for fertility preservation," said Dr. Mitchell Rosen, lead author of the study and director of the UCSF Reproductive Labs and Fertility Preservation Program.  "Chemotherapy and radiation save lives, but they potentially compromise the ability to carry on a legacy, something that we all may take for granted."

Just as it is automatic for patients to consult with a plastic surgeon to discuss reconstruction after a mastectomy, Rosen said fertility consultation should be a part of the process, as well.  But, while reconstructive surgery is covered by health insurance, fertility preservation is not, and it can cost as high as $20,000.

It is difficult for an oncologist to predict whether a woman will be infertile after her cancer treatments, but age and the type and dose of chemotherapy given factor into risk.  Because of this, a good working relationship is needed between the oncologist and the fertility specialist to provide options to women, said Dr. Jennifer Litton, assistant professor of breast medical oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"This conversation needs to happen early during treatment decisions in order to have enough time to stimulate and retrieve the eggs before chemotherapy needs to start," said Litton.  "There are certainly…some cases where it may not be appropriate as the treatment cannot wait the potential two- to six-week delay."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Maryland Bill Sets Rules for Frozen Eggs, Sperm

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- A proposed bill in the Maryland legislature would make it illegal to use a dead person’s sperm or eggs to reproduce without a notarized agreement from the donor.  If the bill is passed, violators could face a $1,000 fine for a first offense.

The bill aims to clarify a legal gray area created by in vitro fertilization, a procedure introduced in the late 1970s that allows women to become pregnant using frozen sperm and eggs donated months, even years earlier. It would also allow children born within two years of a biological parent’s death to receive inheritance, as long as the parent consented.

Just this week, U.S. Supreme Court justices were divided on whether twins conceived with frozen sperm and born 18 months after their father’s death were eligible for Social Security survivor’s benefits, the Baltimore Sun reported.

“Nobody knows what’s enforceable, what’s conscionable or what makes sense,” Sen. Dolores Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat who sponsored the bill, told the Sun.

The first report of post-mortem sperm retrieval dates to 1980, and involved a 30-year-old man who was left brain dead after a car accident, according to the journal Human Reproduction. In 2010, Missy Evans of Bedford, Texas, retrieved sperm from the body of her 21-year-old son Nikolas in hope of becoming pregnant with her own grandchild.

In the 1990s, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill banning the use of sperm from deceased donors entirely -- legislation later vetoed as an intrusion into parents’ private decisions, the Sun reported. The issue has remained largely untouched until now.

The bill applies only to donors known by the person wishing to conceive, such as a widow hoping to conceive with her late husband’s sperm. It does not apply to anonymous sperm and egg donors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Are Your Eggs Safe To Eat?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of an ABC News investigation into potentially unhealthy conditions at one of America's top egg producers, fast food giant McDonald's announced it would be finding eggs for its famous breakfast menu elsewhere.

Watch the full story Friday night on ABC's 20/20.

But how can you be sure the eggs you're picking up at the local supermarket are clean and safe to eat, no matter where they come from?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, an estimated 142,000 illnesses every year are caused by people eating eggs that are contaminated with salmonella. And though the FDA has regulations in place meant to keep the eggs clean before they hit your pan, the administration says consumers are their own best safeguard.

Whether the chicken that produced the eggs was infected with salmonella or the eggs were subjected to unsanitary conditions, the most effective way to be safe is simply to cook them, according to former FDA food safety chief David Acheson, and cook them well.

"What do I mean by cook them? Salmonella will be killed if you cook your eggs so that everything is hard," Acheson told ABC News. "The white is hard and the yolk is hard."

To be totally safe that means, according to Acheson, no runny yolks or eggs sunny side up.

For any recipes that require eggs be undercooked, the FDA recommends using eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella through pasteurization.

For more on egg safety, including an instructional video, visit the FDA website.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Maria Menounos: ‘My Choice’ to Freeze My Eggs

ABC/Lou Rocco(NEW YORK) -- Maria Menounos is a red carpet regular, known for her A-list interviews. But the Extra co-host became the center of attention herself after she went public with her decision to have her eggs frozen as a way to assure her fertility in the future.

“To me, parenting is the most difficult job in the entire world, and when I do it, I want to be committed, and I want to be 100-percent ready to take it on and be the best mom I can be,” Menounos, 33, said Monday on Good Morning America. “Right now, I don’t find myself in that position.”

Menounos announced her fertility decision last Thursday in an appearance on the CW network’s Lifechangers With Dr. Drew series, to which she also contributes.

“I’m 33, and I decided that I know I have a couple of years of work I want to get to, and then do it,” Menounos told the show’s host, Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Although Menounos is one of a growing number of women who have decided to postpone pregnancy by harvesting their eggs, her decision drew headlines on two fronts: her decison to put work before family, and to go so public with it.

“For me, this is important...because now we can show women there is an option if you need it and if you want it and if you think it’s right for you,” Menounos told GMA.

Menounos said she was motivated to both undergo the harvesting procedure and document it publicly because she, like many women, was not aware of how quickly a woman’s chances for pregnancy decline once they hit 40.

Explaining the video diary-style documentary series that will air on the Lifechangers show in the upcoming weeks, she said, “We’ll show you every step of the way. I’ve been shooting footage of my injections and exactly how I’m feeling because, for me, it’s important to show that.”

Around 1,000 to 2,000 babies around the world have been born using frozen eggs, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which sets industry guidelines.

Menounos’  doctor, Los Angeles fertility specialist Dr. Melanie Landay, shared with GMA the statistics.

“People do get pregnant when they’re 40, but the chances of pregnancy per month at age 40 are about five percent compared to someone who’s 30 when they’re about 20 to 25 percent per month,” Landay said.  “So there is a chance, but it’s dramatically decreased.”

At 33, Menounos is still young enough to benefit from egg harvesting, said Landay, which requires taking a series of hormone injections.

“The best candidate is someone who’s under the age of 35,”   Landay said. “The one thing we can’t do with medicine is we can’t avert the aging process.”

Menounos also took the extra step, Landay told GMA, of having both her eggs and embryos fertilized to increase her likelihood of becoming pregnant.

“Just because you freeze your eggs doesn’t mean there’s a 100-percent chance you’re going to have a baby, but it absolutely doesn’t affect your chance of getting pregnant naturally,” which Menounos has not ruled out.

Having a child naturally is still something the TV host, who has been in a steady relationship with director Keven Undergaro for 13 years, plans to try first, she said.

“It’s a bit of an insurance policy,” Menounos said of her decision to harvest her eggs.  “It doesn’t mean that in two years or three years I’m not going to try naturally, but at least I have this in case there’s a problem.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Israeli Court Allows Family to Harvest Dead Daughter's Eggs

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- An Israeli family has received permission to extract and freeze the eggs of its 17-year-old daughter who died earlier this month in a car accident, according to the Israeli English-language website Haaretz.

Chen Aida Ayash died on Aug. 3, 10 days after she'd been struck by a car, at Kfar Sava's Meir Hospital.  Her parents donated her organs and obtained a court order to remove and freeze Chen's eggs.  They'd initially requested that the eggs be fertilized with donated sperm, but judges declined the petition until the family could prove that Chen had wanted to have children.

"Ethically, the important issue is not whether the woman would have wanted children," said Rosamond Rhodes, director of bioethics education at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "Regardless of the reproductive possibilities, she will not be around to have the child [or] children."

Instead, Rhodes said the critical issue is whether Chen would have wanted her biological children to come to life after she was dead.

"This question is rarely considered by anyone," said Rhodes. "People can have strong negative feelings about this possibility -- it can sound really yucky.  And many people would not want others, including their own parents, to raise their biological child."

The court decision is the first of its kind in Israel, and possibly the world, to allow a family to extract a woman's ova after her death, but there are several known cases of families harvesting the sperm of dead male family members.

Despite the growing number of cases, medical ethicists remain unsettled with the idea of extracting eggs and semen after death.

"While organs of the dead can be used to save the life of another, using the gametes of a dead child to create another child creates a troubling precedent," said Laurie Zoloth, director of the Center for Bioethics, Science and Society at Northwestern University.  "In a world in which thousands of children are lost and starving, the use of medical technology for this end raises other questions about the just use of shared resources."

"The fact that sperm has been used this way, for the same tragic reasons, is not an ethical justification," she said.

When doctors and families do decide to follow through with such decisions, several other weighty problems arise.

"Here, since the patient cannot give consent, doctors would need to be assured that a suitable substitute decision-maker is in place and can provide consent," said Judith F. Daar, professor of law at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California.  "Families must try to set aside their understandable desire to keep a part of their child and focus on what their child would have actually wanted.

"It strikes me as unlikely a minor child would have had the capacity and maturity to meaningfully assert an interest in motherhood, let alone motherhood after her death," said Daar.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio