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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Tuesday
Aug062013

Top 20 Party Schools; Top 20 Sober Schools

David K Purdy/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The University of Iowa is the top party school in the country, according to the latest Princeton Review rankings.  The Hawkeyes unseated last year’s party champ, West Virginia University, which fell to fourth place.

The University of Iowa is also ranked number one in the “Lots of Hard Liquor” category, fourth the categories “Students Study the Least” and “Lots of Beer," and ranked seven in “Students Pack the Stadiums.”  It's number 18 in “Lots of Greek Life.”

The rankings are part of the Princeton Review’s 2014 edition of The Best 378 Colleges.

University of Iowa spokesman Tom Moore responded to the rankings in a statement, saying the school is “continuing to work to change the culture on our campus by educating students to only consume alcohol in a legal, safe and responsible manner, and those efforts are achieving results.”

Moore says the university is taking a proactive approach to reducing high-risk drinking.

The Princeton rankings are based on surveys of 126,000 college students during the 2012-13 and/or the previous two school years.  An average of 333 students per campus participated in the surveys.  The students were asked 80 questions about administration, the student body, academics and the general lifestyle around campus.

Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, is ranked the top sober school in the country.

The top 20 party schools, according to the Princeton Review:

  1. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
  2. University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif.
  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Ill.
  4. West Virginia University, Morgantown W. Va.
  5. Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y.
  6. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
  7. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
  8. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis.
  9. Penn State University, University Park, Pa.
  10. Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.
  11. University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
  12. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.
  13. DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind.
  14. University of Mississippi, University, Miss.
  15. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
  16. Miami University of Ohio, Oxford, Ohio
  17. University of Maryland, College Park, Md.
  18. Tulane University, New Orleans, La.
  19. University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt.
  20. University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore.

The top 20 sober schools, according to the Princeton Review:

  1. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
  2. Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.
  3. College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo.
  4. Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Calif.
  5. U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
  6. Grove City College, Grove City, Pa.
  7. Wesleyan College, Macon, Ga.
  8. U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn.
  9. U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.
  10. Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  11. City University of New York-Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  12. City University of New York-City College, New York City
  13. City University of New York-Queens College, Flushing, N.Y.
  14. Mills College, Oakland, Calif.
  15. Agnes Scott College, Atlanta/Decatur, Ga.
  16. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Needham, Mass.
  17. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.
  18. Simmons College, Boston
  19. Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.
  20. Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug062013

Smoking Can Be All in the Family

AbleStock.com/Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If no one in your immediate family ever smoked, there's a good chance your kids won't pick up the habit either.

However, findings out of Purdue University seem to confirm previous studies that point to several factors that get kids hooked on cigarettes and that mainly comes from a household where smoking is prevalent.

Lead researcher Mike Vuolo and an assistant looked into the smoking habits of high school freshman and followed them for 23 years until they became parents themselves.

Essentially, when a parent smokes, the older sibling tends to smoke, which is often picked up by younger brothers or sisters.

There's also a genetic component involved in the findings as even if a parent had smoked and quit before a child was born, that youngster may be more likely to smoke than if their parent was a non-smoker from the onset.

While the study showed an association between having parents or siblings who smoke and smoking yourself, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug062013

Soda, Sports Drinks May Be Culprit in Childhood Obesity 

Sarah Kell/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Preschoolers who are allowed to drink sugar-filled beverages instead of milk and other low-calorie drinks have higher odds of obesity, researchers at UVA and Columbia University say.

The researchers studied what 9,600 preschoolers, ages 2 to 5, were drinking over a five-year period. They then surveyed the parents of these kids when they were ages 9 months, 2, 4 and 5 years.

What they found was that kids who regularly drank soda, sports drinks and fruit drinks that were not 100 percent fruit juice were 1.4 times as likely to be obese. The preschoolers who consumed more sugary beverages on a regular basis also had higher body mass indices (BMI) -- the measurement used for obesity -- and greater increases in weight over time. The researchers also noted that children who drank more sugary beverages also drank less milk and were prone to watching more television.

These kids, they concluded, can benefit from interventions focused on decreasing sugary drink consumption, and this can help to decrease their odds of being obese.

While the researchers can't say with certainty that sugary beverages are directly causing obesity in children, a link has been shown in previous research. This study's findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, are helpful particularly because obesity and sugary drink consumption in children ages 2-5 have not been studied exclusively.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug052013

Performance-Enhancing Drugs: A Cheat Sheet

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Since steroids hit the U.S. sports scene more than 50 years ago, athletes have found new ways to get faster and stronger -- and to avoid getting caught.

From growth hormones to blood transfusions, here's a list of the substances and procedures athletes are trying, how they work and the health risks they carry.

*Sources: The World Anti-Doping Agency, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the National Institutes of Health.


Anabolic Steroids


How They Work

Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone. The drugs promote muscle growth, not to mention signs of male puberty, from body hair to voice changes.

The Health Risks

Steroids disrupt the normal production of hormones, prompting shrinking of the testes and breast development in men. More serious side effects include heart attacks and cancer.

How Often They're Used

Anabolic steroids are the most commonly reported banned substance, accounting for 50.6 percent of incidents reported to the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2012.

Hormones and Growth Factors


How They Work

Testosterone isn't the only naturally-occurring substance exploited for its performance-enhancing effects.

The hormone erythropoietin, dubbed EPO, boosts the production of red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to muscles. And insulin-like growth factor (IGF) and human growth hormone (HGH) are thought to increase muscle strength and speed the recovery from injury.

The Health Risks

EPO's blood-thickening effects raise the risk of heart disease and stroke. And growth factors can raise the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and pain in the muscles and joints.

How Often They're Used

Peptide hormones and growth factors accounted for 4 percent of all WADA incident reports in 2012.

Beta-2 Agonists

How They Work

Asthma drugs such as Clenbuterol that open up the airways are sometimes used by nonasthmatic athletes to boost lung function. But the jury's out on whether the drugs, dubbed beta-2 agonists, actually enhance performance, with some studies suggesting a slight advantage while others failed to find a benefit.

The Health Risks


Side effects of the drugs range from headache and insomnia to tremors and muscle cramps. They're also considered habit-forming and can cause increases in heart rate and blood pressure.

How Often They're Used


Beta-2 agonists accounted for 2.9 percent of all WADA incident reports in 2012.

Metabolic Modulators

How They Work

Drugs that alter the amounts of circulating hormones like estrogen aren't themselves performance-enhancing. Rather, they're used to fight the unwanted side effects of steroids, such as male breasts and testicular atrophy.

The Health Risks

One of the so-called metabolic modulators, the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, has been linked to blood clots and certain cancers.

How Often They're Used

Metabolic modulators accounted for 1.6 percent of all WADA incident reports in 2012.

Diuretics

How They Work


Drugs designed to make you pee are sometime used by athletes to mask the use of performance-enhancing drugs that can be easily detected in urine.

The Health Risks

Diuretics can trigger electrolyte imbalances and lead to dehydration, which can cause low blood pressure and blood clots.

How Often They're Used


Diuretics accounted for 7.2 percent of all WADA incident reports in 2012.

Blood Manipulation

How It Works


Just as EPO can be used to boost the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, blood transfusions can directly inject an extra dose of oxygen-rich red blood cells into the blood stream.

Synthetic versions of the iron-based molecule that tethers oxygen to the blood cells, hemoglobin, are also used as a performance-enhancing drug.

The Health Risks

Blood transfusions carry the risk of infection, and abnormally high red blood cell counts can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Synthetic oxygen carriers can also raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

How Often It's Used

Blood manipulation accounted for 0.2 percent of all WADA incident reports in 2012 – a single case.

Stimulants


How They Work


Substances such as caffeine and the ADHD drug methylphenidate can increase energy and alertness, as well as blood flow to muscles. They also decrease fatigue.

The Health Risks

Stimulant drugs can cause abnormal heart rhythms and palpitations, tremors and insomnia. Certain drugs, like cocaine, are also addictive and can be deadly in high doses.

How Often They're Used


Stimulants are the second-most reported banned substance behind steroids, accounting for 15.5 percent of all WADA incident reports in 2012.

Narcotics

How They Work


Narcotic drugs that block pain like morphine and oxycodone can help athletes compete through injuries.

The Health Risks

The powerful painkillers can slow the heart rate as well as breathing. They can also lead to addiction.

How Often They're Used


Narcotics accounted for 0.6 percent of all WADA incident reports in 2012.

Cannabinoids

How They Work

Marijuana can actually inhibit athletic performance by reducing cardiac output and reaction time. But it also works to reduce anxiety, which might be why cannabinoids are the third-most commonly reported class of drugs in competitive sport.

The Health Risks

Cannabinoids can cause restlessness and panic attacks in high doses.

How Often They're Used


Narcotics accounted for 9 percent of all WADA incident reports in 2012.

Glucocorticosteroids

How They Work

Glucocorticosteroid injections can help suppress inflammation, helping athletes get back on their feet after joint and tendon injuries.

The Health Risks

The drugs can cause pain and infection at the injection site.

How Often They're Used

Narcotics accounted for 8 percent of all WADA incident reports in 2012.

Beta-Blockers

How They Work

Blood pressure-reducing beta-blockers are banned from sports like darts and golf because of their anti-anxiety effects.

The Health Risks

The drugs can cause headaches and dizziness but are generally considered quite safe.

How Often They're Used


Beta-Blockers accounted for 0.3 percent of all WADA incident reports in 2012.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug052013

Billionaire Twins Discuss Childhood of Abuse

American tobacco heiress Doris Duke. -- New York Times Co./Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Child abuse isn't pretty, no matter how much money you have.

Twins Georgia and Walker "Patterson" Inman III, now 15, are set to inherit $1 billion when they are 21. But in the meantime, the two, who are the only surviving heirs of Doris Duke, have been to hell and back, according to an interview in the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine, "Poorest Rich Kids in the World.''

The teens described a life of plenty in their 10,000-square-foot Wyoming mountain retreat and a South Carolina plantation -- a pet lion cub, diamonds for show-and-tell and snorkeling in Fiji.

But juxtaposed against that was a slavelike childhood, being locked in a basement filled with feces and scalded by boiling baths.

They were terrified most of the time, "dead bolted" in their rooms at night where they had to relieve themselves in the corner, according to the interview. They were raised by various nannies and subjected to the explosive nature of their father.

"I never asked to be born into any of this," Georgia told Rolling Stone. "Sometimes I wish I was never born."

Their father, Duke's nephew Walker Patterson Inman Jr., was a heroin addict who got custody of the children when he divorced their mother when they were 2. Racking up five wives, he lived on an estimated $90,000 monthly inheritance.

Walker Jr. died of a methadone overdose in 2010. It was then that the twins moved in with their mother, a former model and his third wife, Daisha Inman, according to the magazine.

ABC News emailed and called Inman, 53, at her Park City, Utah, home, but no one responded.

The family had a few brushes with authorities, and several calls to social services stopped dead in their tracks. Once, police were called to a diner after Inman Jr. slapped his daughter "so hard, diners feared for her life," according to Rolling Stone. The twins were at one point sent to a mental hospital for three months.

What was most striking was that by and large, few people intervened to help the children.

"Absolutely, money does not protect you from abuse -- in fact, it seems like a lot of people were worried about reporting this potentially because of their money," said Jamie M. Howard, director of the stress and resilience program at the New York-based Child Mind Institute.

"It's really disheartening that people didn't reach out to child protective services," she said. "People don't realize you can make anonymous reports without fear of retribution....There were a lot of staff who were paid high salaries and could have felt threatened to lose their incomes."

Both children reported that they had considered suicide and suffered from anorexia.

In the interview, Georgia said of her wealth, "People can look at this as a blessing all day long, but it's blood money."

Some might argue that is a fitting description of the family fortune, culled from the Lucky Strike cigarette brand. Duke became the "richest little girl in the world," when she inherited $100 million in 1947, the only child of tobacco tycoon James Buchanan "Buck" Duke.

But the 6-foot-tall glamour queen went on to do good works, donating much to North Carolina's Duke University, which had been named for her tobacco-growing ancestors, and the Duke Energy Corporation. Her Doris Duke Charitable Foundation gives away hundreds of millions of dollars, championing good causes around the world.

Walker Inman Jr. was taken in by Duke, his father's half-sister, when he was 13. His father, an alcoholic, died when he was 2; his mother died when he was 6.

But Duke, known for her sexual escapades, was a half-hearted guardian and stripped Inman of executor powers, giving them to her butler. She gave almost all of her fortune to charity, leaving her disgruntled nephew only $7 million.

But Walker Jr.'s children also inherited money through their grandmother, who was Doris Duke's mother, and his father, Duke's half-brother.

Judy Kuriansky, a psychologist at Columbia University's Teachers College, didn't treat the Inman twins, but suggests dysfunction begets dysfunction.

"This is a generational problem escalated over time," said Kuriansky. "Their father is really passing on his own abuse from a generation before and so these kids, in a sense, have very little chance."

"When you think about this family, it seems almost like the problems with Michael Jackson's kids," she said. "They were so sequestered and treated so strangely and brought up so separate from society....This family is the Michael Jackson situation times a hundred."

The twins were recently suspended from a private school in Utah for about $25,000 in unpaid tuition and late fees, according to Forbes magazine. Their mother is involved in a legal battle with Citibank and JP Morgan over the handling of the children's trust funds.

Court filings, according to Forbes, show outlandish requests for cash: $6,000 for a Halloween party, $1,000 per month for her children to eat out, especially at Starbucks. The monthly allotment for the twins is $16,000, which Daisha Inman claims is far less than the $180,000 a month their father spent before he died.

The twins told Rolling Stone that when they were 12, their father's fifth wife, Daralee, crashed into a tree, drunk at 7:30 a.m. when she was driving them to school. They were shaken, but uninjured.

At the same time, isolated from society, the teens said in the interview that they had never heard of the game musical chairs and still believed in Santa Claus.

"Dear Santa, I know I haven't been good, but if you do come all I want is to say hi to you in person," Patterson recently wrote, according to Rolling Stone.

According to Forbes, when the children were returned to Daisha Inman in 2010, they began "intensive" counseling to "rekindle their relationship" with their mother.

Psychologist Howard, who has not treated the Inman twins, said that the magazine interview may have been a first step for the twins in an attempt to rebuild their lives in therapy.

"This kind of longstanding and chronic and severe trauma and abuse and neglect definitely disrupts a typical child's development," she said.

"Typical tasks are harder to achieve," said Howard. "One of the first is the infant or toddler's secure attachment to the caregiver, relying on someone to meet their needs. That's how we develop the capacity to trust each other."

She said it is plausible that 15-year-olds could still believe in Santa because of disruptions in cognitive development, as well as isolation.

"Magical thinking can persist in a kid who has experienced long-term abuse," said Howard. "They are living in their imagination as an escape."

The twins may have been lucky, at least, to have each other. "It may have been the social support," she said. "Going through this alone is harder than with someone else....A child alone [blames himself and] thinks he is really bad. A child with someone else thinks, 'Dad didn't want us.' It's less personal."

It's never too late to address the traumatic effects of abuse and there are good treatments to increase the capacity to trust, ease anxieties and to regulate emotions, according to Howard.

"Telling their story is one of the parts of trauma treatment," said Howard.

She said the Rolling Stone interview is a strong reminder to people to "do the right thing and make a phone call if kids are living in horrible conditions."

"My hope is that they come out of this," said Howard. "It could be a step in therapy, and hope they are protected and have the privacy to develop the appropriate narrative for themselves."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug052013

Cleveland Kidnap Victims Step Out, but Experts Advise Caution

Angelo Merendino/Getty Images(CLEVELAND) -- Former Cleveland captives Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus have been increasingly visible in recent weeks, after lying low in the immediate aftermath of their escape and rescue three months ago.

Experts say the public appearances might be signs of resilience and recovery, but also urge caution for the women and those around them.

"They've already experienced what we call abnormal circumstances that were negative so now it's sort of out of the pot and into the frying pan," a Drexel University youth counselor in Philadelphia with an expertise in foster care and trauma, told ABC News. "Now they're dealing with abnormal experiences that may be positive, but they're still for the average person abnormal."

DeJesus, 23, rode on a vehicle Sunday as part of Cleveland's 45th annual Puerto Rican Parade and waving a Puerto Rican flag.

The day before, Knight, 32, visited with Travel Channel star Andrew Zimmern, who hosts the show Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern. He was in Cleveland visiting a number of foodie hotspots.

Zimmern posted two photos on Instagram of himself and Knight, whom he called "one of my heroes" and "an inspiration."

He also wrote that "food is her first love..[sic]and her future!" He noted that avocado is her favorite ingredient and Latin flavors are "her go-to."

In an email Monday to ABC News, Zimmern said, "Michelle's visit with us was personal and reflects her passion for life, for food and her desire to move on, pursuing the things she loves doing. Beyond that her story is hers to share. From my own perspective, meeting her and sharing a meal was extraordinary. She is a strong young woman who impressed me very much."

Berry, 27, made an on-stage appearance at a music festival in July that garnered a lot of attention. Knight and DeJesus both separately visited Seymour Avenue last week, the street where they were held captive for a decade.

"Going to the house and walking away could have been very powerful because for 10 years, they couldn't walk away and now they can," Therese Rando, a clinical psychologist at the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Loss in Warwick, Rhode Island, told ABC News.

Rando, who has not had any contact with or treated any of the Cleveland women, emphasized that coping and recovery are individualized processes.

"The old axiom really applies here that one man's meat is another man's poison," she said. "Unlike if we were talking about how does a bone heal after it's been broken, when you're talking about the human psyche, the heart, the spirit, it is very different. There's not just one way it can go to heal."

Rando pointed to similar cases including Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard and Shawn Hornbeck who largely retreated into their families. Dugard who was found in 2009, went into hiding with her two children and made her first major public appearance in 2012.

"It does on the surface appear to be much different from some of the other individuals who have been held captive that we have looked at in the national spotlight, but that doesn't mean it's good or bad. It's just different," Rando said.

She added that it is important to consider when the women were taken and at what point they were in their lives. Instagram, for example, wasn't around when Dugard and the others were rescued and the millennials were all robbed of most of their adolescence.

The three women might feel the need to go to public events to show themselves and others that they are taking back control of their lives and moving on, Rando said.

"We shouldn't be surprised if perhaps at some time they wouldn't feel as joyous as they do now and that doesn't mean that they're doing anything wrong now," she said. "It's just speaking to the fact that when you recover from a traumatic event, it's two steps forward, one step back."

"You have to have a process perspective; this is going to unfold and twist and turn and have a great deal of movement and fluidity," Rando said. "It will take a while to get all the pieces so that they can bend their minds around them and work through and move forward with this having happened to them."

Drexel youth counselor Williams, who has also not been in contact with or treated any of the Cleveland women, has been uneasy with some of the exposure.

"It's really hard to say there's a certain, specific way that people need to behave," Williams said. "Having said that, I'm somewhat concerned about the level of exposure. I'm not sure how healthy that is."

He said the attention and sudden celebrity could lead the women into thinking that everything is OK when it might not be and possibly even leave them confused when the limelight wanes.

Williams said it is easy for anyone to get caught up in fame and that the people around Knight, Berry and DeJesus need to have their best interests at heart and provide grounding in order to "ensure optimum psychological and emotional development."

"It would be hard for me to believe, as a mental health professional, that that grounding is there and that somehow in a few months they've been rehabilitated and they are strong enough to deal with this onslaught of attention that it feels like people are pushing them into," he said.

"What's most important now is just that they get healthy, that they get grounded, that they feel safe," Williams said. "Because without that foundation, then things fall apart."

The women's captor, Ariel Castro, was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years by an Ohio judge on Aug. 1. Berry and DeJesus made statements through family members and attorneys, but Knight appeared in court to make her statement.

"You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back. As for the 11 years in hell, now your hell is just beginning," Knight told the courtroom.  "I will overcome all this that happened but you will face hell for eternity. From this moment on, I will not let you define me or effect who I am. I will live on."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug052013

Pedestrian Death Surge Spurs DOT Safety Grants

Andrew Bret Wallis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A rise in the number of pedestrians involved in deadly traffic accidents has pushed the Department of Transportation to offer $2 million in grants for use in safety education and enforcement to those cities with the highest number of fatalities.

“When people think about safety they usually think about roads and trains and planes and buses. And very often they leave out the one method of transportation we all share,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Monday. “Whether you drive or fly or take a train or ride a boat or use Metro, everyone in America is a pedestrian.”

Foxx made the announcement at a busy intersection near DOT’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, frequented by heavy foot-traffic. The setting displayed the point as a number of pedestrians jaywalked behind him during the press conference.

Eligible cities have to the end of August to apply for the funding, which would be split among six winners. The grants can be used for any number initiatives at the locality’s discretion. For example, a city may choose to upgrade their crosswalks or other infrastructure.

The announcement dovetailed with the launch of a new federal website, “Everyone is a Pedestrian,” which outlines safety and enforcement tips for communities.

Over 4,000 pedestrians were killed in 2011 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an 8 percent increase since 2009, and one of the few areas of road safety to worsen in terms of raw numbers. Foxx cited increased usage of mobile devices as a main cause of concern for both drivers and those on foot.

“A lot of times people will be wearing their earphones and headphones and you can get an accident that way,” he said. “There are both structural challenges, behavioral challenges to dealing with this issue.”

“Distracted driving, distracted walking, if that can be a phrase, we’ve got to encourage people to have an awareness that this problem is a real problem effecting our country and that their behaviors as they are driving or walking can impact our ability to keep people safe,” Foxx continued.

The exact number of pedestrian fatalities related to distractions is difficult to track. But for a benchmark, in 2010 over 400,000 were injured motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers, or roughly 1 in 5 for every accident in the United States, according to the NHTSA.

Alcohol was also fingered as a culprit. Roughly half of all fatal pedestrian accidents saw either the walker or driver with a blood alcohol content over .08, the limit in every state.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug052013

High Heels for Girls Trend Raises Concerns

Han Myung-Gu/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- High heels used to be worn exclusively by adult fashionistas, but thanks to pint-sized celebrities such as Suri Cruise, heels and wedges are now being sported by girls as young as 3 years old.

Rusty Katz is the manager of children’s shoes at Lester’s, a chain of children’s department stores in New York. He says he can’t keep wedge and kitten heels for little girls in stock because they’re so popular.  “Girls love shoes,” Katz said.

ABC’s Good Morning America caught up with Katz when he showed Sara Berman and her 8-year-old daughter, Talia, some Steve Madden wedges. He called them fall’s hottest trend.

Roughly half the styles in Steve Madden Kids’ spring/summer collection have an elevated sole, and the shoes are in great demand at Gap Kids and Target stores nationwide.

Within minutes of trying the style, Talia declared her love for the wedges, which make her stand two inches taller. “They make me feel tall,” she said.

Talia’s mother, Sara, admitted that she had mixed feelings about the shoes, and she’s not alone in feeling conflicted.

The trend concerns many others, who believe that heels -- even if they’re just an inch or two high -- sexualize little girls.

“The fact is that the word sexy does not and should never apply to children,” said Dr. Logan Levkoff, an adolescent health expert.

Podiatrists worry that high heels pose health dangers for anyone, especially children.  “It can affect their balance [and] their tendon development,” said Dr. Rock Positano, a New York City-based podiatrist.

Talia doesn’t have a problem walking or jumping in her heels.

Her mother says that while she wishes she could stave off her daughter’s desire for high heels for a few more years, she believes that the trend is a sign of the times.

“Well, as long as it’s just a treat, to be able to put on as a special occasion, it’s not as if they’re wearing it every day,” she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug052013

Hacker's Mysterious Death Prompts Concerns About Pacemakers

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The mysterious death of a San Francisco "ethical hacker," who was set to give a speech on infiltrating wireless implantable medical devices, has caused speculation that he was the victim of a targeted attack, and raised alarm about the safety of devices such as pacemakers.

Professional hacker Barnaby Jack, who famously demonstrated how to make ATMs spit out cash, was set to reveal the secrets of how implantable medical devices -- specifically pacemakers -- can be hacked, in a talk scheduled for last Thursday at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

"He was able to remotely exploit them, and this talk was really dedicated to how the manufacturers could improve the security of the device," IOactive CEO Jennifer Steffens said.

But his girlfriend found the 35-year-old dead in his San Francisco home on July 25.  The cause of death is still under investigation, according to the San Francisco coroner's office.

Police say they have ruled out foul play, but the cause of death might not be determined by the medical examiner for another month.

Jack dedicated his career to exposing the vulnerabilities hackers can exploit.  The title of his scheduled talk at the Black Hat security conference was "Implantable Medical Devices: Hacking Humans," and he planned to discuss how these devices "operate and communicate, and the security shortcomings of the current protocols," according to the Black Hat website.

"He wanted to know, how could that stuff down there fail, and especially how it could fail if there were some not nice people out there trying to make it crash," security researcher Dan Kaminsky said.

Jack's research into the possibility of hacking medical devices is reminiscent of the plot twist in the end of the second season of the Emmy-award winning series Homeland, in which the fictional vice president was killed when his pacemaker was hacked by terrorists.

That scene got people wondering whether it is possible to hack implantable medical devices.  In an interview with Bloomberg News before his death, Jack said that the answer is yes.

"Once I took a look, I was actually shocked to see how many vulnerabilities existed," Jack said.

The Food and Drug Administration said in a statement that there is no cause for alarm for the nearly three million Americans who have pacemakers.

"[The FDA] is not aware of any patient injuries or deaths associated with these incidents, nor do we have any indication that any specific devices or systems in clinical use have been purposely targeted at this time," the regulatory agency said.

Meanwhile, questions -- and even conspiracy theories -- are swirling around the web regarding Jacks' untimely death, with some even blaming the U.S. government.

"This is an industry where a lot of money and danger is at stake," ABC News consultant and former FBI Agent Brad Garrett said.  "The work he was doing certainly put him at some risk."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug052013

Young Swine Flu Survivor Gets Kidney from Mom

Mayo Clinic(NEW YORK) -- A 9-year-old boy whose tiny body was ravaged by swine flu during the 2009 outbreak is recovering from a much-needed but once-impossible kidney transplant.

Robert "Boo" Maddox had the transplant on July 30 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., nearly four years after contracting the H1N1 virus that killed an estimated 1,282 U.S. children.

The seven-hour surgery swapped Boo's failing kidneys for a healthy kidney from his mom, Renee, who stayed by her son's hospital bedside for 501 days in the peak of the pandemic.

"We've had nowhere to turn but look up," said Boo's dad, Robert Maddox IV, crediting the family's faith in God for Boo's survival.  "People say every day, 'I don't know how y'all do this.'  But the beauty is we don't do it alone."

Boo's battle with swine flu has been fraught with complications.  The virus, which sickened an estimated 60 million Americans, wreaked havoc on the young boy's lungs, heart, pancreas, spleen and kidneys, which could no longer filter his blood.

To simplify thrice-weekly dialysis treatments, Boo had surgery to fuse a vein and artery in his arm -- a procedure known as an arteriovenous fistula.  But the engorged vessel caused a dangerous blood pressure spike in Boo's lungs, making a lifesaving kidney transplant out of reach.

"He was told by many doctors that he was not a candidate for a transplant," said Dr. Mikel Prieto, the Mayo surgeon whose bold plan to reverse the fistula made the surgery possible.  "I talked to his dad and said, 'I think maybe we can fix this.'"

Prieto admits it was "a risky move," calling the fistula Boo's "only lifeline for dialysis."

"It was scary in the sense of 'I hope I'm right,'" said Prieto, explaining that Boo would die without dialysis if the move backfired.  "It was bold, but it needed to be done to fix this problem."

The plan worked, and the blood pressure in Boo's lungs quickly dropped to a healthy level that qualified him for a kidney transplant.  More good news followed when both the boy's parents turned out to be good candidate donors.

"We were both matches, but I'd had kidney stones and was a little overweight, so they chose her," said Robert Maddox, explaining how his wife and the mother of his five children agreed without hesitation.  "She never flinched, never questioned it."

The marathon surgery was successful, with Boo's frail body accepting the donated kidney.  But a blood clot caused yet another scare for the Maddox family.

"He had to go back on the ventilator," said Robert Maddox, explaining how a hematoma hidden on the back of the organ landed Boo back in intensive care.  "But he's doing good now, talking to us."

Boo's mom is also recovering well from the surgery.

"We've been to school," Robert Maddox said of the family's four-year journey.  "We've been to school on learning how wonderful life is and how each and every day is so important."

Getting stronger every day, Boo looks forward to eating "absolutely everything" after months of being fed through a tube, according to his dad.

"He watches the Food Channel every single day," he said, noting that Boo's favorite show is the Food Network's Dinners, Drive-ins and Dives.  "He wrote down every place they've ever been and decided he's going."

The kidney transplant also means Boo could soon go to school for the first time since kindergarten, his dad said.

"He's never been to school except for about two months," he said, explaining how Boo got sick in November of his first school year.  "But he's sharp as a tack, taught himself to spell and write.  I taught him to count money and tell time in an hour."

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