Holiday Hangover: Alcohol Linked to SIDS Deaths

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- The New Year's Day hangover can be deadly for caregivers who have had a night of heavy drinking and awake to find a lifeless baby in the crib.

More than 2,500 babies a year die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and now researchers now say there may be an association between those deaths and alcohol.

A University of California study published this month in the journal Addiction found a 33-percent spike in SIDS deaths on Jan. 1.

Alcohol consumption is also at an all-time high during the holidays.

The study, conducted by sociologist David Phillips, concluded that alcohol was a risk factor for SIDS, although it is unclear whether alcohol is an independent risk or occurs only in conjunction with other known risks, such as co-sleeping with the baby.

It concludes that alcohol "impairs parental capacity" and therefore can put a child at risk.

Scientists took into account the normal increase in SIDS deaths that are reported during the winter months, probably because of colds and respiratory infections, as well as using coverings in the crib for warmth.

The study looked at 129,090 SIDS cases from 1973 to 2006 and also tracked alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents among the general population. Both were at an all-time high on New Year's Day.

In addition, the study showed another rise in SIDS deaths right after April 20, a day celebrated by pot smokers and after July 4, also a time of heavy alcohol use. Babies of mothers who drink are also twice as likely to die of SIDS, according to the study.

"It's logical that when women are inebriated the attentiveness to the child is going to be reduced and the likelihood of getting a child in the situation where a parent puts them at risk would be there," said Dr. Michael Malloy, a neonatologist at University of Texas Medical Branch.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


No Link Between Maternal Obesity and Child Behavior

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(BRISTOL, England) – A new study claims that the offspring of overweight women are not more prone to behavioral issues such as ADHD as was previously thought.

According to WebMD, researchers at the University of Bristol say they found no substantiated link between maternal pre-pregnancy weight and child behavior, despite initial hints that they may be connected.

“We find little consistent evidence for intrauterine effects of maternal pre-pregnancy overweight on childhood verbal skills, nonverbal skills and behavioral problems,” said researcher Marie-Jo Brion, PhD, of the University of Bristol and colleagues. “Previously reported findings of an association with childhood ADHD and intellectual function is not supported by the present study,” Brion concluded.

The study also showed no link between a father’s weight and cognitive problems in his children. Researchers did point out, however, that obesity in pregnant women can lead to other complications before and after birth.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Coming Soon: Nutrition Labels on Cuts of Meat

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Nutrition labels, like those found on the backs of cereal boxes and canned goods, will soon be required on cuts of meat.

As reported by USA Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to announce the new requirements on Wednesday.  The new labels, which are set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, will list calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein and vitamins for the slabs of beef, poultry, pork and lamb that are most commonly consumed.

By implementing the labels, federal officials hope Americans will become more health conscious and selective when choosing to buy meats.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Snow Shoveling May Put Hearts at Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As Americans living on the Eastern seaboard break out the snow shovels, doctors are telling them to take special care, and have "great respect" for the dangers of blizzard conditions, both during and after the storm.

Doctors say slips and falls are the most common injuries caused by snow and ice seen in the ER, but they also warn of heart dangers that may come with a snowfall.

"The risk of heart attack is increased by the combination of heavy, upper body exertion and cold weather encountered while shoveling snow," said Dr. William Abraham, director of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Ohio State University.  "People, especially those at risk for coronary heart disease, should avoid heavy exertion in cold weather conditions."

There are two major points that can put people at risk for heart problems when it's cold.

"For one, most people don't realize that, when their hands get cold, it causes blood vessels in the heart to constrict and reduce the blood supply to their heart," said Dr. Randy Zusman, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center.

So, if a blood vessel is 20 percent to 30 percent blocked, it can become up to 70 percent to 80 percent blocked due to the constricting walls in the cold weather conditions, said Zusman.

And once the shovel comes out of the garage, things can often get much worse.

"Lifting heavy snow is like heavy weight lifting," said Zusman.  "It puts a strain on the heart, and the blood pressure and heart rate go up in response to it."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Holiday Leftovers: Delicious or Deadly?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After countless hours fussing over a holiday feast, you may see leftovers as liberation from the kitchen. But before you reheat and eat that once-hot turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole or custard pie, you should know that they can make you so sick you might wish you were dead.

Food safety specialists explain that when cooked foods linger more than two hours at room temperature, they can become mess halls for colorless, odorless, tasteless bacteria.

You might suspect such dangers in meat or turkey, and you've probably heard that it's important to separate turkey from the stuffing when storing them. But what might surprise you is that even simple, starchy dishes like mashed potatoes enter a bacterial "danger zone" at temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. At those temperatures, toxic bacteria can quickly multiply, stealing your holiday spirit -- and squashing your appetite.

Given enough warmth, nutrients and moisture, a single bacterium dividing every half-hour can produce 17 million offspring in 12 hours, according to figures cited by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Most Americans Have No Resolution for 2011

Photo Courtesy -- MaristPoll.Marist.Edu(POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.) – A majority of Americans are not planning to make a New Year’s resolution for 2011, according to a recent Marist poll.

Of those polled, 56 percent say they are not likely to set a goal for themselves going into the new year. Forty-four percent say it is possible they will set a resolution.

For those who plan to make a resolution, however, losing weight and quitting smoking are at the top of the list.

Although an equal amount of men and women – 44 percent – say they will make a resolution, the percent does vary by age. Among younger people -- those under 45 -- 58 percent say they plan to make an improvement this year. Only 34 percent of those 45 and older say they will make a resolution.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


‘Anthropomorphism’ Could Ease Cancer Diagnosis

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(CHICAGO) – How doctors describe cancer to patients who have just been diagnosed has a lot to do with how they react to the diagnosis, according to a new study reported by consumer affairs.

By describing cancer using human characteristics and behavior – known as anthropomorphism – patients feel more confident they can beat the disease, according to authors Sara Kim and Ann L. McGill of the University of Chicago.

"The present research shows important downstream consequences of anthropomorphism that go beyond simple liking of products with humanlike physical features," the authors said. The research examines the effect the practice has on an individual’s risk perception.

The authors found that people felt they could better control a disease like skin cancer if it had "humanlike evil intentions to hurt people."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Eleven Years Later, Triplet No. 3 Arrives

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WALSALL, England) -- Ryleigh Shepherd was conceived in 1998, the same year as her 11-year-old twin sisters, but she wasn't born until 2010.

The three girls from Walsall, in Great Britain, who were born more than a decade apart in two different centuries, are actually triplets. All were the product of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and came from the same batch of frozen embryos. Ryleigh came from the same group of embryos that had allowed her parents -- Lisa and Adrian Shepherd -- to give birth to twins Megan and Bethany.

British experts say they know of no other case in which three siblings from the same round of fertility treatment have been born with such an age gap.

How long embryos can be frozen and still viable is still not known, but American fertility experts say they have great confidence in the success of new reproductive techniques.

"It's incredibly common for people to go back a second and third time," said Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association. "There have been recorded cases of kids born far longer apart. This doesn't tip the scales."

Fertility experts estimate that about 400,000 embryos are currently in frozen storage in the U.S., and a more comprehensive survey will be underway in the spring.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Mystery Diagnosis: Albright's Syndrome

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Friendly and playful, Carter Hearn from Lufkin, Texas, may act like a regular, happy-go-lucky little boy, but he suffers from a rare condition that sets him apart from other children. At just four years old, Carter stands at nearly four-feet tall and weighs 90 pounds, just a couple inches shorter, but nearly twice as heavy, as his six-year-old sister, Kaylie.

His mother, Deena Hearn, said she first noticed her son's abnormal growth when he weighed almost 30 pounds as an infant. Concerned about her son's health, Hearn took Carter to doctor after doctor, but she said physicians often accused her of simply over-feeding the boy and told her to "get him on a diet." Aside from his unusual girth, Carter suffered from other health problems, including a heart murmur, difficulty breathing and bone deposits under his skin that his mother said felt like pebbles.

It wasn't until Hearn said she watched a Discovery Health special three years ago on an Australian child who had a chubby round face and looked just like Carter, that the concerned mother thought they might have solved the mystery of Carter's strange condition. A visit to a physician in Dallas confirmed her suspicions.

"Carter has a syndrome called Albright's Hereditary Osteodystrophy," Hearn explained. "He has what's called pseudohypoparathyroidism, Type Ia."

According to the National Institute of Health, pseudohypoparathyroidism, or Albright's for short, is a very rare genetic disorder -- affecting only one in 20,000 people -- in which the body has trouble responding to the parathyroid hormone. People with this disorder produce the right amount of the hormone, but the body is "resistant" to its effect. The mutated genes are passed down through one parent, or occur through a spontaneous mutation of the egg or sperm.

In Carter's case, a Type Ia condition causes short stature, round face and short hand bones. Those common traits are often why many Albright's children can look uncannily similar.

After receiving the diagnosis, Hearn was referred to the Kennedy Krieger Children's Institute in Baltimore to be evaluated by Dr. Emily Germain-Lee, the leading authority on Albright's. According to Dr. Germain-Lee, one of the most promising treatments for Albright's currently is growth hormone therapy, which another of her patients has been undergoing for the past seven years.

Hearn said she is hoping to get her son started on growth hormone treatments in the next couple of years, but in the meantime, she also hoped doctors will become more aware of Carter's condition and properly diagnosis other kids dealing with the same thing.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


New York Blood Center Seeks Blood Donors after 1,000 Blood Donations Lost from Blizzard

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than 1,000 blood donations were lost due to weather-related cancellations prompting the New York Blood Center, which serves more than 20 million people in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and New Jersey, to request that communities donate blood and platelets.

O-negative and O-positive blood types are needed most, but all blood types are encouraged to donate.

"Mother Nature has delivered a hard slap to our blood supply," NYBC Vice President Rob Purvis.  "And the blizzard came on top of lower-than-needed holiday collections, so we're urging our neighbors to step up."

Eligible blood donors were asked to donate Monday and in the coming days, but should visit the New York Blood Center website before leaving home for information about cancellations.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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