Is Blood Type an Indicator of Future Memory Problems?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Can blood type be a factor in determining your risk for dementia?

A new study published in the journal Neurology finds that people with blood type AB appear to have an increased risk for memory problems as they age.

Over a period of three years, individuals with AB type blood, which represents about four percent of the population, were almost twice as likely to display memory problems as those with type O blood, the most common blood group.

The researchers gave memory and thinking skills tests to more than 30,000 people over the age of 45 and re-tested them again three years later.  Out of the group, 495 participants scored low enough to indicate some sort of memory or thinking impairment.  When their blood types were compared to the blood types of 587 participants who achieved satisfactory cognitive scores, the researchers found those with AB blood types were 82 percent more likely to have impaired thinking skills than those with type O blood.

Dr. Mary Cushman, a professor of hematology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the study's senior researcher, says the results are not surprising.  Cushman says they already know that having blood type AB can affect blood-clotting characteristics and risk of blood vessel-related conditions.  Cushman says her group also learned earlier this year that the AB blood type was connected to a higher risk of stroke.

But don't panic if you have AB blood. Dr. Terence Quinn, a clinical lecturer in stroke and geriatric medicine at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, says other circumstances play a bigger role in a person's risk of developing memory and thinking problems.

"If you were to do the same study and look at smoking, lack of exercise, obesity and other lifestyle factors, the risk of dementia is much, much higher," says Quinn.

"People who are worried about dementia, whether they have that blood group or not, should look at making those lifestyle changes," adds Quinn.

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Peer Pressure Makes Healthcare Workers Better Hand Washers

iStock/Thinkstock(IOWA CITY, Iowa) -- Healthcare workers, more than any other group, know that clean hands go a long way to prevent the spread of infection, but a new study finds that hand hygiene amongst that group is rather low, but peer pressure helps improve the practice.

Researchers at the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine studied hand hygiene compliance and opportunities, as well as the location and proximity of every healthcare worker in the intensive care unit of the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics during a 10-day period for 24 hours a day.

After recording more than 47,000 hand hygiene opportunities, the estimated hand hygiene rate was seven percent higher when healthcare workers were in close proximity to peers as compared to when healthcare workers were alone -- 28 percent vs. 21 percent.

"Social network effects, or peer effects, have been associated with smoking, obesity, happiness and worker productivity. As we found, this influence extends to hand hygiene compliance, too," said Philip Polgreen, MD, an author of the study.

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A Good Night’s Sleep Means Less Sick Time

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In addition to not feeling tired in the morning, a new study finds getting a good night’s sleep means you’re less likely to take time off from work due to illness.

A study published in the September issue of Sleep followed 3,700 people in Finland, ages 30 to 64, for an average of seven years and found those who slept between seven and eight hours a night had the lowest percentage of taking time off from work due to sickness.

According to the study, those who slept less than six hours were much more likely to have taken off work due to illness.

Surprisingly, those who slept more than nine hours a night were just as likely to miss work due to illness as those who got less than six hours of shut-eye.

The researchers say the ideal amount of sleep for women is seven hours, 38 minutes, and seven hours, 46 minutes for men.

Tea Lallukka, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, said in a news release that “those sleeping five hours or less, or 10 hours or more, were absent from work every year for 4.6 to 8.9 days more, as compared to those with the optimal sleep length."

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Enterovirus 68 Now in 27 States

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A mysterious virus, enterovirus 68, is striking children and spreading fast across the country. Twenty-seven states are confirmed or suspected of having cases of the virus.

ABC chief health and medical editor Doctor Richard Besser says the illness starts off like a cold, but parents need to be aware if their child develops breathing difficulties or a reluctance to eat.

Dr. Besser says the danger signs include wheezing and difficulty speaking or eating. 

“If you look at your child's belly and there's inpulling with every breath, or blueness around the lips, those are signs your child may not be getting enough air,” Dr. Besser warns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 104 confirmed enterovirus cases in 10 states, but public health officials may never know the true scope of the outbreak because the CDC doesn’t require hospitals and labs to report enterovirus 68.

Dr. Besser says if a child has a cold “and it's acting like every other cold, there's nothing to worry about.”

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"The View's" Rosie O'Donnell Reveals Downside of 50-Pound Weight Loss

Lou Rocco/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Rosie O'Donnell is back hosting The View after more than seven years since she left the show following the 2007 season.

On Monday's season premiere, O'Donnell was all jokes with the rest of the panel -- Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace -- and even kidding with the crowd between commercial breaks. You could just see the excitement on the host's face during the show.

O'Donnell, 52, is also 50-plus pounds lighter and a happily married woman. O'Donnell tied the knot for the second time to Michelle Rounds in 2012 and recently adopted a baby girl Dakota, in addition to her other children from her first marriage.

"I feel good. I wouldn't have said yes to coming back if I didn't," she told ABC News backstage after the show. "They asked me a year ago, 'Would you consider [coming back]?' ...The concept of being able to do this show in a way that celebrates and elevates women is hard for me to resist."

O'Donnell had a procedure known as a vertical gastric sleeve, which she said has less complications that gastric bypass. Now, O'Donnell can't eat as much and doesn't want to, but getting used to her new body isn't all positive, she said.

"The fact that I look so different has been difficult and unexpected," she said. "Everyone assumes that obese people would just be jumping for joy that they were healthier and thinner and able to fit into store-bought sizes, we don't have to go to the plus store. But it's also filled with a lot of emotional turbulence, you wouldn't expect."

O'Donnell added that she is addressing the change in the right ways and getting support from other people in similar situations.

"I have a group that I go to, where women talk about how they feel," she said. "A lot of marriages break up once one person gets healthy. Luckily, my wife is very healthy, always been healthy, loves me and encourages me to be healthy."

In fact, O'Donnell's health -- especially after a heart attack at 50 years old -- is something her wife makes her take seriously.

"When we decided to get married, she said, 'But I want 40 more years and I don't want you to die on me, so you need to do something for your health,'" she added.

But O'Donnell didn't take her wife's request seriously until Rounds got cancer.

"The stress of that as well as being as big as I was, as well as being so depleted in every way, I had a massive heart attack," she said of the 2012 scare that almost took her life. "So, since then, I can't ignore it anymore. It's not like I don't want the cupcake that I saw, I just know that that's not a good choice."

O'Donnell also touched on how she "wasn't in the best place" last time she hosted the show, since she was going through a divorce from ex Kelli Carpenter in 2007.

"When you are getting a divorce and you have children involved and you are two people who are intelligent and love your children and each other and know it's not going to work, it takes a long time," she explained. "So, I was in the midst of that and wasn't in the best place. Now Kelli is happily married. ...I'm happily married, I have a new baby, which for me is better than any Prozac."

The host, who was welcomed back to the show via a standing ovation on Monday, said her baby has only kept her up two nights in the past year and a half, which worries O'Donnell, because her wife thinks that's normal.

"She keeps going, 'We should have another one!'" she said, laughing. "So, I'm happy, I'm in a good place."

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President Obama to Unveil Expanded Ebola Response

Bumbasor/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama plans to unveil Tuesday an expanded U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the worst outbreak of the disease in history.

Obama, who has called the outbreak a national security priority, will outline new steps to address the crisis during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

According to senior administration officials, the ramped up military effort centers on command and control, logistics, training and engineering support.

They new steps include:

  • Creating a joint force command headquarters in Monrovia, Liberia. By end of the week, the U.S. will have a general officer in place to lead the effort, known as "Operation United Assistance."
  • Providing engineers to build treatment units -- up to 17 separate facilities with 100 beds each.
  • Training support for health care workers, up to 500 health care workers per week, for as long as needed (although budgeting plans for a six-month period). Training will come from U.S. military medical personnel. The administration hopes to have force on the ground in a couple of weeks. After this scaling up is done, the expectation is for there to be up to 3,000 Defense Department personnel on the ground in support of the joint force command.
  • Working to boost a messaging campaign to train households on how to protect themselves and help family members that may present symptoms. To pay for the mission, the administration is asking for $88 million be added to the CR; $175 million has already been dedicated. The Defense Department has requested the reprogramming of $500 million in unobligated funds to be put towards the Ebola response.

As of Sept. 16, there were 4,985 probable, confirmed and suspected cases in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with 2,461 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

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Hospital Says US Ebola Patient Continues to Improve

VILevi/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Dr. Rick Sacra, the American patient being treated for Ebola at the Nebraska Medical Center, continues to improve, the hospital says.

In a Monday press release, the hospital says that staff members are seeking ways to entertain Sacra while he remains in the Biocontainment Unit. Sacra's wife says that a chess board and a supply of books have been given to her husband. "Someone also brought in a Nerf hoop, which Rick discovered he might need a lot more practice with," Debbie Sacra said.

According to the release, Sacra still tires easily, but is, "becoming sharper [mentally] every day." Sacra has held conversations with his pastor from his hometown and a former colleague from Liberia.

Doctors say they "continue to be pleased" with Sacra's progress.

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CDC: Number of Deaths Linked to Prescription Painkillers Has Quadrupled Since 1999

Alex459/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  released new figures on Tuesday showing that the number of deaths caused by opioid prescription painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, are significantly higher than in years past.

According to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, the number of deaths caused by prescription painkillers has climbed from 4,263 in 1999 to almost 19,000 in 2011. Poisoning was the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S., of which 90 percent were related to drugs.

Those between the ages of 55 and 65 had the highest rate of death related to drugs.

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Respiratory Virus, Enterovirus D68, Likely Infected Thousands

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The respiratory virus that’s been sweeping the nation and sending asthmatic children to the hospital may have only been officially reported in 97 children, but experts say that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Dr. Claudia Hoyen said the virus, called enterovirus D68, probably affected thousands of children -- and that’s just in Cleveland, where she works. The virus has been reported in 21 states, according to state health departments.

At UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, about 20 children normally go to the intensive care unit each month with respiratory symptoms, said Hoyen, who heads the hospital’s pediatric infection control program. But for the last two months, the hospital’s intensive care unit has treated 80 children per month, she said.

“That’s fourfold over what we would normally get,” Hoyen said.

The rare enterovirus starts out like the common cold but can quickly turn more serious -- especially in children with asthma. Enteroviruses often appear in the summer and fall, but an outbreak like this hasn’t occurred since the 1960s, Hoyen said.

Although UH has not yet determined how many cases of enterovirus D68 it treated this summer, Hoyen said she can extrapolate the number of extra ICU patients over two months to guess how many children had less-severe cases, too.

“My guess is that this is probably in the thousands, because a lot of the kids probably had infections and their parents just thought it was a little cough,” she said. “They weren’t sick enough to seek actual medical attention.”

Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t require hospitals and labs to report enterovirus D68, public health officials may never know the true scope of the outbreak, said ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser.

“So although the CDC is reporting 97 confirmed enterovirus cases, this number does not in any way reflect the true number of people who are infected or sick,” Besser said, adding that most local health departments have no way of testing for the virus and no reason to do so because there is no cure available. “My advice: forget about this number. Look to your health department.”

Besser said parents should simply ask their doctors whether enterovirus D68 is in their town and be vigilant if it is.

“If your child has any difficulty breathing (wheezing, difficulty speaking or eating, belly pulling in with breaths, blueness around the lips) see a doctor right away,” he said.

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Pennsylvania Sisters Give Birth 22 Hours Apart

Courtesy Brigid Bink(NEW YORK) -- Two Pennsylvania sisters who found out they were pregnant just days apart and shared the same due date say they think their sons will be “best buds” after being born just 22 hours apart.

The two boys, Jack Bink and Owen Whitaker, will celebrate different birthdays -- Jack on Sept. 10 and Owen on Sept. 11 -- but that is about the only thing that marks a difference in the way they entered the world.

Jack’s mom, Brigid Bink, 31, of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, announced to her family just after Christmas last year that she and her husband, Lee, were expecting their first child, and the first grandchild on both sides.

Three days later, Bink was in her kitchen cooking when her sister, Owen’s mom, Emily Whitaker, 27, knocked on her door and told her that she had taken a pregnancy test and she and her husband, Colin, were pregnant too.

“She said, ‘You’re never going to believe this,’” Bink recalled to ABC News. “She was in disbelief.”

The sisters, who live 10 minutes apart, then found out they shared the same due date, Sept. 15.

Whitaker, a teacher, and Bink, who works in marketing, went through their pregnancies together, sharing the bad, like surprising side effects, and the good, such as maternity clothing sales.

“It was so nice to be able to pick up the phone and call her and say, ‘Did this happen to you?’ or, ‘Is this normal?’ or, ‘I found this great maternity dress on sale,’” Bink said.

Their closeness remained through the end of their pregnancies, when they each went into labor almost exactly one day apart, and both a few days ahead of their due date.

“I went into labor Tuesday night around 11:30 p.m., and she went in the next day at almost the same time,” Bink said. “We were down the hall from each other and the nurses would come in and give us reports on each other.”

After Bink delivered her son, Jack, at 7:34 a.m., on Sept. 10, she got updates via text from her brother-in-law on her sister’s status.

Though the sisters had shared everything together during their nine months of pregnancy, they got one last surprise when Whitaker gave birth at 5:30 a.m. the next morning and discovered she, too, had a boy, Owen.

“Neither of us knew the sex of our baby,” Bink said. “She called me in the morning and we were both hysterical. We thought one of us would have a boy and one would have a girl.”

“When we found out they were both boys, you just keep thinking of the future and them going to school together and playing together,” she said. “I just think they’re going to be best buds.”

Now the sisters, whose birth story was first reported by ABC News affiliate WPVI, are both home from the hospital and sharing their sons’ futures together.

“Our sons share a pediatrician and both went today,” Bink said. “The babies are happy and healthy and we both just feel very lucky.”

Also on top of the world are Bink and Whitaker’s parents, who, in the span of 22 hours, welcomed their first and second grandchildren into the world, and the sisters’ two other siblings, a younger brother and a younger sister.

“I’ve never seen them more happy,” Bink said. “The whole thing has just been surreal.”

“It’s been a great bonding experience for our whole family,” she said.

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