Mom Fights Cervical Cancer and Accusation That She Killed Her Daughter

Photo Courtesy -- WTVD(APEX, NC) -- A woman who served a year in prison after pleading guilty to killing her frail infant has angered police by now denying she is guilty, and claiming she only pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter so she could get out of jail and treat her cervical cancer.

The statements, by 24-year-old Nicole Richards, have prompted police in Apex, N.C., to speak out.

"I am just shocked by her at this point, after having pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter, to reach out to this lengths to try to make the point that she didn't do anything inappropriate," said Apex Police Chief Jack Lewis.

"It appears to me she has desires of being seen as a victim," said Lewis. "She is not a victim."

"The victim is Autumn, who was 100 percent dependent on others to care for her," the chief said. "And the standard that you would expect somebody to meet with a child who has health issues is far higher than what took place."

Autumn was born last year two months premature. She had health problems throughout her short life, including a heart condition and hyperthyroidism.

Richards was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2009 after authorities said she put Autumn to sleep face down, despite knowing the potential risk that could cause to her breathing.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


3D Mammogram on the Brink of FDA Approval 

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(BOSTON, Mass.) -- A new three-dimensional mammogram device has cleared another hurdle towards approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to manufacturer Hologic, the device can more precisely detect breast lesions and reduce the number of follow-up breast cancer screenings when used in conjunction with conventional digital mammograms.

"This is a major advance that we have been working on for years," said Dr. Daniel Kopans, director of the breast imaging center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, which holds the patent to the device. "It will aid in detecting more cancers earlier, and reduce the false positive callbacks."

The FDA panel that reviewed the device sent Hologic an initial letter accepting the device into its next phase for review. And while experts agreed more precise methods of detecting breast cancer are necessary, many said there's not yet enough evidence to show whether the new device can save lives.

"The real issue here is not which test can find the most cancers, it's about which test can find the right cancers," said Dr. Gilbert Welch, professor of medicine and community and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H. "Just because you find more and more, more of what you're finding might not be important."

Welsh said he worried earlier detection of benign masses that might not develop into cancer could result in unnecessary treatment in otherwise healthy women.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Bowen Hammitt's Small Heart Is a Big Inspiration for His Family

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- Bowen Matthew Hammitt came into this world on Sept. 9, at 9 pounds, 7 ounces, with a wisp of light brown hair and a heart condition that threatened his survival.

"When he came out, I thought he would look different," says his mother, Sarah Hammitt, 31. "[But] he looked totally fine. So it was hard to see a baby that looked so beautiful and know that his insides weren't perfect. I kind of felt like, This isn't real. It couldn't be.'"

Bowen was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a rare congenital defect in which the left side of the heart is dangerously underdeveloped. In babies with HLHS, the left side of the heart cannot pump blood, so the right side must supply both the lungs and the body. Without surgical intervention, the condition is fatal.

"Any parent would say that watching your child go through something like that is much worse than going through it yourself," says Bowen's father, Matt Hammitt, 31. "You want to take their place, but you can't. That's been the most difficult part for me."

On September 13th, four days after Bowen was born, he underwent his first open-heart surgery at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The procedure successfully inserted a shunt into his heart and, after several hours at Bowen's bedside in intensive care, Sarah and Matt finally felt confident enough to go next door to their hotel room for some rest. A couple of hours later, the phone rang. "Two-thirteen a.m. I will never forget that time," says Matt.

Bowen's heart had stopped beating, and by the time the Hammitts reached the hospital, doctors and nurses were frantically trying to save his life. After about forty minutes, Sarah and Matt were losing hope. "They took us into another room," says Matt, "and we thought for sure he was gone." Sarah recalls she began to wonder how it was going to feel to be a mother who had lost a child. "We were just waiting for them to call out the time [of death]," she remembers. "I kept looking at the clock and, 'ok, when are they going to say it? Just say it.'"

Fortunately, the medical staff was eventually able to revive Bowen. "We were so confused," recalls Matt. "We didn't understand that after that long that they could stabilize a child on life support. [But] we found out his heart was beating, his lungs were working."

Throughout their difficult ordeal, the Hammitts have been sharing their experiences on a website they call "Bowen's Heart." What started as a place to keep friends and family up to date on Bowen's health, soon began to attract thousands of visitors who regularly check in to share stories and offer encouragement to the Hammitts and to each other. "We started discovering so much and experiencing so much growth through all of this that we just wanted to share that with people and show that, in a really dark time of life, there is hope," explains Matt. "All the good that has come out of it has been pretty amazing."

Sarah Hammitt says the blog also serves as a place to give meaning to Bowen's life. "We're not guaranteed any amount of time," she says. "So we were immediately giving him a place and a purpose."

"We wanted his life to make a difference," adds Matt, "no matter how long or short it would be."

Bowen spent the first ten weeks of his life in the hospital. But finally -- just in time for Thanksgiving -- Bowen was well enough to go home to Perrysburg, Ohio. Dressed in a black and grey striped outfit and clutching a stuffed alligator, Bowen got a standing ovation from the nursing staff as his parents carried him out to the car. Matt held Sarah closely, comforting her as her eyes filled with tears.

When their silver SUV pulled into the driveway an hour later, Bowen's big sisters, Emmy and Claire, were waiting outside, each with a teddy bear to present to their brother for his homecoming.

Bowen's second surgery is scheduled for February.


Study Brings New Reasons to Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- HealthDay News reports that consuming high amounts of alpha-carotene, a lesser-known "cousin" to the antioxidant beta-carotene, in fruits and vegetables can lower risks of dying from all causes.

These nutrients, typically found in the bright red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are converted by the body into vitamin A.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over a period of 14 years, most people -- regardless of lifestyle or habits -- had fewer life-limiting health issues as blood concentrations of alpha-carotene increased.  Researchers said the effect was dramatic, with risks declining from 39 to 23 percent as alpha-carotene levels climbed.

"This study does continue to prove the point there's a lot of things in food -- mainly in fruits and vegetables that are orange or kind of red in color -- that are good for us," said registered dietitian Lona Sandon, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Optimism and an Open Mind Are the New Keys to Successful Aging, Study Says

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Researchers say that optimism, an open mind and a will to live are the keys to successful aging, according to a report in USA Today.

Study results presented at a meeting of the Gerontological Society of America linked psychological factors to the health and well-being of subjects ages 65-94. 

"We see less decline, maybe even growth" among older people who possess character traits such as persistence and optimism, said Daniela Jopp of Fordham University.

Jay Firman, president of the National Council on Aging, noted that this mindset would be particularly vital for Baby Boomers to thrive as they continue to face changes that come with aging. 

"A lot of people will get depressed when they give up careers.  They will have to find a new sense of self-worth," said Firman.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


FTC Asked to Investigate Faulty Online Health Marketing

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – The Federal Trade Commission has been called on to investigate potentially illegal marketing practices that target a growing number of Americans seeking medical information and treatment online.

In a complaint filed with the FTC, the Center for Digital Democracy, U.S. PIRG, Consumer Watchdog and the World Privacy Forum called on the commission to protect consumers from insecurely providing personal data when looking for health information and services on the Internet.

The filing has asked that the FDA, which has been pressured to expand the rights of health marketers online, await a study and report from the FTC before taking any action.

At issue are the types of online targeting techniques and methods used by advertisers and what type of personal data is being collected through those methods.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


What Scent Arouses Men Most? The Proof Is in the Pie

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Women know the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but new research indicates the way to a man's bedroom is through pumpkin pie.

Staffers at Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Center tested 40 aromas on men ages 18 to 64 to determine which one aroused them the most, and the smell of pumpkin pie beat even women's fragrances.

"The number-one odor that enhanced penile blood flow was a combination of lavender and pumpkin pie." said the center's director, Dr. Alan Hirsch.

Hirsch says pumpkin pie was the single strongest stimulant of the 40 tested.

Dr. Hirsch says every food odor tested aroused the male participants.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Preemptive Use of HIV Therapy May Prevent Virus Transmission

Photo Courtesy - Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images(WALTHAM, Mass.) -- Antiretroviral drugs given as treatment of HIV/AIDS could prevent HIV infection if taken before exposure to the virus, according to a new study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study offered the first indication of an oral method to prevent the spread of HIV among those at high risk.

"We've known for some time that correct and consistent condom use is the best way to prevent transmission," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, an arm of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, which partly funded the study. "We have had frustration all along in behavior modification programs -- getting people to use condoms, getting people to reduce the number of sexual partners."

Surpisingly, study participants who used the new oral method, called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, reported a higher compliance with other HIV prevention methods such as condom use, and also reported a decrease in the number of sexual partners, Fauci said.

The study, called iPrEx, which began in June 2007, followed 2,499 men and transgendered women from six countries, including the U.S., who engaged in sexual intercourse with other men and were categorized as high risk for HIV infection.  Participants were randomized to either receive a combination antiretroviral drug commonly known as Truvada or a placebo.

Participants assigned to Truvada who reported taking the pills about half of the time they were prescribed had about a 50 percent lower risk of HIV infection.  Those who reported taking the medication about 90 percent of the time had a 73 percent lower risk of infection.

Although the study was limited to one type of high-risk group, other PrEP studies are looking at other groups at risk for transmission, including heterosexual couples and intravenous drug users. Researchers also plan to conduct a follow up study to iPrEx beginning 2011.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


AHA: Deaths Caused by Congenital Heart Defects Continue to Decline

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Congenital heart defects were the underlying cause of 27,960 deaths in the U.S., based on data from death certificates.

But new research findings say the U.S. death rate from congenital heart defects dropped 24 percent from 1999 to 2006, according to a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers in the study found it difficult to determine the reason for the decline, but suspect the advancements in technology and better medical care for infants and children with heart defects may play a role.

The report stated that most deaths (48 percent) caused by congenital heart defects were among infants and children.  As more children survive into adulthood with these heart defects, they are often switching from pediatric cardiologists to adult specialists.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Defibrillators Can Be Recycled after Resterilizaton, Researchers Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Researchers have recently discovered that implantable cardioverter defibrillators can be removed from patients no longer needing them and reimplanted into other patients, provided that they have sufficient battery life, according to MedPage Today.

A recent test resulted in a 35-percent success rate in the procedure, reported Dr. Behzad Pavri of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia at an American Heart Association meeting.

To date, infectious complications from the procedure, which requires that patient data be erased from the devices before sterilization and repackaging, have not been reported. 

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