Heli-yoga takes yoga to new heights in Las Vegas

moodboard/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- There's rooftop yoga and hot yoga and nude yoga.

There's even goat yoga.

But if you're looking for the kind of yoga that will not only bring you inner peace but make your Instagram followers turn green with envy, look no further than heli-yoga.

It's a new Las Vegas experience from Maverick Helicopters. The company will transport guests from the Strip to the highest point in the Valley of Fire for a 75-minute yoga class led by Dray Gardner of Silent Savasana.

Up to six people can charter the chopper for the $3,500 experience. Requests must be made well in advance as the company has to clear the flight and landing with the state park.

Maverick pilot Riley Troy told ABC News their clients are the type of people who are not only looking to stay health-conscious on vacation, but who want to experience "the latest and greatest Las Vegas has to offer."

Yogis wear headphones during the class. Gardner, the instructor, said this eliminates noise pollution and the interaction becomes solely between the instructor and student.

His company, he said, "always tries to take yoga places it should not be." The company is the same one behind Vegas's Yoga in the Sky experience, where students take a class on the city's High Roller observation wheel.

Part of the reason to offer yoga in such unusual places is to "open the eyes" of people who might not otherwise be drawn to the practice. "I teach to the kindergartner, but if there's a PhD in the class, we tailor it to them too."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Despite vaccination success, US still faces outbreaks

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This week, the World Health Organization kicks off World Immunization Week "to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease."

In the U.S., overall vaccination compliance remains high for many childhood immunizations, with at least 90 percent of children getting the recommended vaccinations on time for measles/mumps/rubella, polio and chickenpox, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the CDC found other vaccination rates fell below its target for what's known as herd immunity, or a population's resistance to the spread of a disease that results when a high percentage of individuals are immune. This included below than ideal vaccination rates for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (80 percent), hepatitis B (89 percent), and the gastrointestinal disease rotavirus (68 percent).

In recent years, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles or pertussis have made headlines, revealing how pockets of unvaccinated or undervaccinated people may still present a problem.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been documenting outbreaks -- here's a look at some past and current outbreaks, and how health officials are responding.


In the last year, there has been a huge upswing in the number of mumps cases in the U.S. In 2016, there were multiple outbreaks of the mumps resulting in 5,748 total reported cases in the U.S. Comparatively, there were just 229 cases in 2015. Washington state has had 771 mumps cases since the start of an outbreak last October.

Earlier this month, Texas reported an outbreak of mumps that infected 221, the highest number since 1994, when 234 cases were reported, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said in an earlier interview that the recent mumps outbreaks appear to be occurring in populations with high vaccination rates.

"Although people are vaccinated, after about 15 years, there is some waning of immunity and if you get a strong exposure that exposure can overcome that diminished protection and you'll get a case of mumps," said Schaffner.

The CDC has confirmed that its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is reviewing vaccinations for mumps and considering recommending a booster shot during an outbreak.


There have been multiple measles outbreaks in recent years that have infected hundreds in Ohio, California and Minnesota, according to the AAP. On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported at least 20 children under the age of 5 have been infected with the virus. Currently, 16 of these children have been confirmed to be unvaccinated against the virus.

Once a measles outbreak starts in an area with low vaccinations, it can be difficult to control, according to the CDC. Measles is one of the most infectious viruses in existence. It will infect 90 percent of susceptible people if they are exposed. The airborne virus can also remain in the air for hours, infecting people if they are in the same vicinity as someone who is ill, according to the CDC.

The measles virus was declared eradicated from the U.S. in 2000 and reached an all-time low with just 37 cases in 2004.


Whooping cough or pertussis has been significantly reduced by vaccines but continues to occur, since the vaccine's effectiveness decreases over time. Approximately four years after getting a vaccine for whooping cough, just three or four out of 10 people are protected against the virus, according to the CDC.

The CDC reports that there are between 10,000 to 40,000 cases of pertussis every year and up to 20 deaths.

In California, a massive outbreak of pertussis infected 9,934 in 2014. Just two years earlier, Washington state reported 2,530 cases, according to the AAP.

California gets tough about vaccinations

There has been some good news on the vaccination front. This month, California reported that the vaccination rate for kindergarteners had hit "a new high" rising from 93 to 96 percent after the state government made it tougher for parents to opt out of vaccination compliance.

Art Caplan, head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine at the Langone Medical Center, said the state of vaccination success in the U.S. is "mixed" but that California has been a bright spot.

"They've done an amazing job and one that might inspire other states in getting better reduction in the measles," Caplan said, who co-authored the book "Vaccination Ethics and Policy."

In Marin County, where much of the pertussis outbreak had spread in 2014, the vaccination rate has climbed dramatically from 77.9 percent of kindergarteners being in compliance to 93.2 percent today.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Malaria patients number more than 1,000 in US hospitals each year

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Malaria may seem like a disease from bygone days to many people in the United States.

But a new study published Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene finds that, every year, more than a thousand patients are hospitalized in the U.S. for malaria infections -- virtually all contracted in other countries -- with some turning deadly.

While malaria used to be endemic in the U.S., the disease, which is usually spread through infected mosquitoes, was effectively eradicated in the states by the 1950's, according to the study authors.

However, malaria is still a massive health problem worldwide with 212 million cases reported globally each year, causing approximately 429,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. People who travel outside the U.S. remain susceptible to the disease.

"The number of imported malaria cases has steadily increased in the United States," the study authors wrote. "Similar to other countries that eliminated malaria, this increase has mostly occurred among returned travelers, as well as among foreign visitors and immigrants from malaria-endemic countries."

Malaria is a parasitic disease primarily spread by mosquitoes to humans. Symptoms may appear vague at first including fever, chills and other flu-like symptoms. If untreated, the disease can be fatal. Those traveling to areas where the disease is endemic are at higher risk, though they can take prophylactic medication to reduce the chances of infection.

To understand how people in the U.S. are affected by malaria, researchers from various institutions including the University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studied national patient data. They found an average of 1,469 annual hospitalizations for malaria in the U.S. between 2000 to 2014.

Researchers found that between 2000 to 2014 there were 22,029 total malaria-related hospitalizations; 4,823 of the cases were designated as "severe," with 182 deaths reported. They used hospital discharge data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Nationwide Inpatient Sample, which contains about 20 percent of hospital discharge records nationwide.

This group of malaria patients often required multiple days in the hospital. They spent 4.36 days, on average, with a mean bill of $25,789 for all hospitalizations. Men accounted for about 60 percent of these malaria cases and more than than half, 52.5 percent, were black. The highest number of cases -- a combined 71 percent -- were reported in the southern and northeast regions of the U.S.

The actual number of malaria cases may be higher, since some people may not come to the hospital for treatment. The authors estimate an average of 2,128 people may have malaria each year in the U.S.

High numbers of imported malaria increase the chance of a local outbreak, as well. Between 1957 and 2015 there have been "63 outbreaks of locally transmitted mosquito-borne malaria," according to the CDC.

"There are elements of this that are perhaps surprising," said Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical School. "Over 22,000 admissions for malaria in hospitals in the U.S. ... I wouldn't have thought it was that large."

Because many doctors learn about malaria in medical school, but rarely see live cases, Schaffner said, diagnosing the disease at an early stage can be difficult. Patients coming into the ER for treatment may be "the first case they've ever seen."

And though few people contract malaria within the U.S., the study authors note that remains a challenge for treatment.

"Despite the reduction of malaria incidence in developing countries, malaria continues to be an important public health problem in the United States," the authors said. "Despite its elimination in the early 1950s, and the disease burden remains substantial."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


2-year-old with heart defect accompanies teen to high school prom

ABC News(MILFORD, Va.) -- A toddler danced the night away Friday after attending a teen's high school prom.

Taylor Schafer, 17, a student at Caroline High School in Milford, Virginia, invited Finn Blumenthal, 2, to accompany her to the dance. Finn was born with a congenital heart defect, which causes life-threatening medical challenges.

When Finn was born, he survived 10 surgeries, including three procedures on his heart, mom Kelly Blumenthal of Fredericksburg, Virginia, told ABC News in February.

"When you're presented with a medically challenged child that has an uncertain future, you feel kind of robbed, especially of certain life experiences and milestones ... but he has gone to prom and had a great night," Blumenthal told ABC News today.

"That's something that as a parent, brings a lot of joy. Him being able to look back at photos and look back at the happy night, that's all because of Taylor."

Blumenthal met Taylor in October through a mutual acquaintance.

"He had so many limits on what he was allowed to do in the past and seeing him overcome those limits [is] wonderful," Taylor told ABC News in February.

At the time, Blumenthal called Taylor’s gesture "a dream come true."

She said, "The fact that I can check this off the list no matter what is a relief. I can't repay her for that."

On the special night last week, Finn wore his black tuxedo and gave a corsage to Taylor. He got to ride in the limo to the prom, danced to his favorite song, "Rawr" by Katy Perry, and was even crowned "prom prince," Blumenthal said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Serena Williams pens letter to future baby: 'You taught me the true meaning of serenity and peace'

Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last week, and the soon-to-be mom already has sweet words for her future child.

"My dearest baby, you gave me the strength I didn’t know I had," the 35-year-old tennis superstar wrote in the caption of an Instagram post. "You taught me the true meaning of serenity and peace. I can't wait to meet you. I can't wait for you to join the players' box next year."

The post also coincided with the birthday of Williams' fiance, Alexis Ohanian, who is the co-founder of Reddit.

Williams concluded the sweet note with her new signature: "Your Mommy."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Girl born without a left hand receives 3D-printed prosthetic to play violin

iStock/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) — A 10-year-old girl’s musical dreams have come true thanks to university students and cutting-edge technology.

Isabella Cabrera of Virginia was born without a left hand. On Thursday, she received a custom-made prosthesis created by five bioengineering students at George Mason University so that she could play the violin.

“I think it’s going to help me by having more control with the strings and the notes,” Cabrera told ABC affiliate WJLA-TV.

The process of creating the hand began last fall and included 100 hours of design and testing. The prosthesis was completed using a 3-D printer.

Yassar Al-Hindi, who helped create Cabrera's prosthesis, put it simply: “Making an impact on someone’s life — it’s just a very good feeling.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Three takeaways from Facebook COO's new book on grief

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg was on vacation in Mexico in 2015 with her husband and friends when her husband, tech executive Dave Goldberg, passed away unexpectedly of a cardiac arrhythmia.

Sandberg, 47, was left as a single mother of her two children with Goldberg. She writes about recovering from the tragedy and working through the grief in her new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.

The book -- which Sandberg co-wrote with her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania -- takes its name from a moment when Sandberg was grappling with not having Goldberg on hand to attend a father-child event with one of their children.

A friend, Sandberg writes in the book, told her, "Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the s--- out of option B.”

Here are three takeaways from Option B on grief and recovering from tragedy:

1. What you should (and shouldn’t) say to someone who is grieving

Sandberg writes that after Goldberg's death she discovered she was "sometimes the friend who avoided painful conversations" because she worried about upsetting the person who was hurt.

"Losing Dave taught me how ludicrous that was," Sandberg wrote, adding that she often "felt invisible" herself after Goldberg's death and was "shocked" by friends who did not ask how she was doing.

“The elephant is always there. By ignoring it, those who are grieving isolate themselves and those who could offer comfort create distance instead," Sandberg wrote. "Both sides need to reach out. Speaking with empathy and honesty is a good place to start. You can’t make the elephant go away. But you can say, ‘I see it. I see you’re suffering. And I care about you.'"

Sandberg also said she eventually found the courage to explain that it was more helpful if people asked her the more specific question of how she was feeling today, in the moment.

"I did what proved so difficult to do with friends and colleagues face to face: I described how a casual greeting like 'How are you?' hurt because it didn’t acknowledge that anything out of the ordinary had happened," she wrote. "I pointed out that if people instead asked, 'How are you today?' it showed that they were aware that I was struggling to get through each day."

2. Empathy is nice but encouragement is better

Sandberg draws upon her own experience of returning to work at Facebook to explain how she actually lost self-confidence when colleagues stepped in to pick up the slack for her.

"As people saw me stumble at work, some of them tried to help by reducing pressure. When I messed up or was unable to contribute, they waved it off, saying, 'How could you keep anything straight with all you’re going through?,'" she wrote. "In the past, I had said similar things to colleagues who were struggling, but when people said it to me, I discovered that this expression of sympathy actually diminished my self-confidence even more. What helped was hearing, 'Really, I thought you made a good point in that meeting and helped us make a better decision.' Bless you. Empathy was nice, but encouragement was better."

3. Encourage resilience by avoiding the three P's

Sandberg highlights the work of psychologist Martin Seligman who identified three P's that can stunt someone’s recovery.

  • Personalization: The belief that we are at fault.
  • Pervasiveness: The belief that an event will affect all areas of our life.
  • Permanence: The belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever.

"The hardest of the 3 P’s for me to process was permanence," Sandberg wrote about her own grief. "For months, no matter what I did, I felt like the crushing anguish would always be there … When we’re suffering, we tend to project it out indefinitely … People also overestimated the negative impact of other stressful events.”

Speaking of the resilience that can emerge from moving past the three P's, Sandberg said it is what allows you to "breathe again."

"Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning into the suck," she wrote. "It comes from analyzing how we process grief and from simply accepting that grief ... And in those moments that we’re able to summon our resilience, we realize that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.”

Sheryl Sandberg is a member of the board for Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Jessica Seinfeld opens up about cooking for her family, new book "Food Swings"

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Author Jessica Seinfeld opened up about her new cookbook, Food Swings, in an interview with ABC News' Good Morning America, and shared the special recipe that she made for her husband, Jerry Seinfeld, on their very first date.

"I created this book with the concept of when you live in virtue you need some vice and when you live in vice, you can definitely use some virtue," Jessica Seinfeld told ABC News of the book that features more than 125 recipes on either side of the food spectrum -- from super healthy to super indulgent.

Seinfeld added that learning how to balance different tastes and wants is something she does constantly as she searches for dishes that will please her husband and three kids.

"People ask me all the time, 'What's your favorite recipe in the book?'" Seinfeld said. "I'm like, 'Anything that my family likes and I get no complaints about.'"

Seinfeld shared her healthy, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free chili recipe on GMA.

She added that she has to make the vegetarian chili "hearty" because her husband would not eat if it were "wimpy."

One tip Seinfeld has for cooks is to keep your kitchen super organized as you cook, and one way she recommends staying organized is by pre-chopping all of your ingredients before cooking.

Another tip she shared was to load up healthy dishes with a lot of spices in order to give them more of a flavor boost.

"It's a great way to make simple things feel more sophisticated," Seinfeld said. "So if you're a beginner cook, I’m like, 'Use a ton of spices.'"

Seinfeld said that her children do not often help her out in the kitchen because "they're not into it."

"I am such a control freak that I don't really love cooking with them anyway," the mother of three joked. "I know you're not supposed to say that."

When she is not cooking for her own family, Seinfeld is committed to helping out other families in need by donating vital baby supplies, such as diapers and strollers, through her charity, the Good Plus Foundation.

Seinfeld also shared her recipe for Chicken Parmesan on GMA, which she said she cooked for her husband on their first date.

"When Jerry asked me on our first date, he said, 'Where do you want to go for dinner tonight?' and I said 'Oh, I am so happy to cook. I'll make Chicken Parmesan,'" Seinfeld said. "And so our first date was around this dish."

Food Swings will be in bookstores nationwide Tuesday.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Your Body: Taking acetaminophen while pregnant

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

If you're pregnant and you’ve got a headache, or maybe your back hurts, should you reach for some Tylenol? And does it matter what trimester you’re in?

Studies have shown that children whose mothers took acetaminophen -- the key ingredient in Tylenol -- during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing behavioral problems than those whose mothers did not.

The risk was greatest when the drug was taken during the third trimester. But the data here is not conclusive.

During pregnancy, it is standard practice to air on the side of caution -- this means not taking a medication unless absolutely necessary and approved by your obstetrician or midwife. However, sometimes it’s not only indicated but important for pregnant women to take medication. It comes down to risk versus benefit.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Richard Simmons 'in good spirits' after returning home from hospitalization 

Jason Kempin/Getty Images for EGPAF(LOS ANGELES) -- Richard Simmons is back home recovering after three days at Cedars Sinai Medical Center battling severe indigestion.

Simmons took to social media thanking hospital staff and law enforcement, writing “They make you feel good even though you’re in the hospital for feeling bad.”

He offered further praise of his medical caregivers, emergency responders and the U.S. military, saying, “They were so helpful and kind as I returned home. Let’s take a minute and all be thankful for medical professionals, police, firefighters and our brave military forces here and around the world. They risk so much every day to make us well and keep us protected. God Bless all of them.”

Michael Catalano, Simmons' longtime manager, confirmed to ABC News that Simmons returned home sooner than expected Thursday afternoon. “Richard is happy to be back home and thankful to everyone who has reached out. Richard is in good spirits.”

Last week, Catalano released a statement to ABC News saying, "After a few days of battling severe indigestion and discomfort while eating, we agreed it was best for him to seek treatment.”

Simmons, 68, who over the past few years has vanished from the public eye, signed a business deal for "merchandising, endorsements and licensing opportunities," Catalano announced earlier this month.

Catalano told ABC News on April 6 that Simmons pursued the deal.

The new venture comes on the heels of questions in recent years about Simmons' health, as were put forward in a viral podcast on the fitness icon's disappearance from public view, titled "Missing Richard Simmons."

Catalano commented on his client's relatively low profile, telling ABC News that Simmons just wants a break from fame. Catalano's comments echoed what Simmons told "Entertainment Tonight" last year.

"No one should be worried about me," Simmons said. "It was time for me to take some time to be by myself."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News Radio