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Wednesday
Aug092017

Parenting techniques even apply to guide dogs, study says

iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Parenting techniques may have long-lasting consequences for behavior -- even when it comes to dogs.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied the early development, parenting and subsequent performance of 98 puppies who underwent guide dog training. Dogs who received more independence and less support from their mothers were more likely to be successful in becoming a guide dog, and they also demonstrated improved problem-solving skills.

In other words, successful guide dogs were more likely to have been brought up by “tough love” moms. The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mom-pup interactions, such as nursing style, grooming and time spent in a nursing box, were used to define how highly involved the puppy’s mothers were. Puppies raised with highly involved mothers were more likely to be released -- or dropped out from the guide dog program -- compared to those with less attentive mothers.

“Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing,” lead study researcher Emily Bray said.

Although the study couldn’t conclusively point to what was driving this effect, “one possibility is that the dogs that are having overbearing or coddling mothers are never given the chance to deal with small challenges on their own, and is detrimental to their later behavior and outcome in their problem-solving," she said.

Another possibility is that the puppies for whom the mothers are always around are also "the most anxious or stressed,” she added.

Veterinarian Dolores Holle is director of canine medicine and surgery at The Seeing Eye Dog, the center where the researchers conducted the experiments.

“What I was happy about was that there is a study being done about early life experiences in dogs,” she said. “If the mom is trying to protect her pups against small challenges, then they will not be suited for the big challenges.”

The study included three breeds: German shepherds, Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers. The puppies were followed from the first weeks of life for several years. Interestingly, Labrador retrievers tended to wash out from the program, while Golden retrievers tended to succeed.

As for whether the findings can be applied to human babies of so-called “helicopter parents,” Bray was hesitant.

“I think people can draw parallels, but I think you also have to be careful because they are different species,” she said.

She added, “The nice thing about dogs is that they are a lot less complicated than humans.”

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Tuesday
Aug082017

Ohio neighborhood celebrates woman's last chemo treatment with surprise parade

Courtesy of Tera Kiser(CINCINNATI) -- When Amy Kleiner walked outside her home in Cincinnati, Ohio, to leave for her final chemo treatment, she was greeted by quite the surprise.

Her neighbor and best friend, Tera Kiser, had arranged a parade to mark the happy occasion.

"I have never been so blown away in all of my life," Kleiner, 45, told ABC News. "I was just in shock. I was so surprised and I was so happy. It was the last one, and I just felt loved.”

Kleiner’s husband, Doug Kleiner, and daughter were in on the surprise. They were thrilled to help make her final treatment sendoff so meaningful, especially since it was the first chemo treatment since March 24 that her Doug could not attend.

“My husband had taken me to every single one of them but he had a work function he couldn’t miss so Amy offered to take me," said Kleiner. "She decorated her van to go to my last hoorah. She called me and said, ‘I’m out in your driveway’ and when I opened my garage door, that’s what I found."

Neighbors, friends and family lined their street with balloons and signs showing their support.

"She’s so selfless and so sweet, I just wanted to make it a big deal for her," said Kiser, 41. "More than anything else, I wanted her to know, ‘You’ve done it, this day is here and now we’re going to put this part of our day behind us and move forward. Let’s just go and get this last one treatment and get you feeling better.'"

Kiser said Kleiner has been a fighter through her breast cancer journey, never once complaining about anything.

"I’ve complained more with just a cold," said Kiser. “Any time someone you love gets diagnosed with something, but especially cancer, you feel so afraid for them. But you see the way she fought through it and said, ‘No, I’m going to get through this and be ok,’ I’m just blessed by her. That’s the truth."

Before the two women got in the decorated van to whisk off to Kleiner’s final treatment at Mercy Health - Anderson Hospital’s oncology group, OHC, she thanked everyone who had come out in the rain on August 4 to celebrate her.

"I got to go hug every single one of them," said Kleiner.

She also released balloons into the sky, one for each of her treatments, to let go of that part of her life.

"I still can’t believe this happened," Kleiner said. "It was definitely something I’ll never forget."


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Tuesday
Aug082017

Kids headed to surgery at Atlanta hospital show off their 'comfort items'

ABCNews.com(ATLANTA) -- Surgery is scary for anyone, but especially for kids.

From Paw Patrol stuffed animals to favorite blankets, the kids headed into surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta showed off the comfort items they had brought with them for the camera. These are the items that help kids feel calm before undergoing surgery and are there when they wake up from anesthesia to provide a sense of normalcy.


"For patients who forget their comfort item, we provide them with one—a teddy bear, blanket or even a light-up wand," Jessica Palumbo Dufur, a child life specialist, wrote on the hospital's blog, where the photos were first featured. "Comfort items are a great coping mechanism for patients on the day of surgery, and provide us an opportunity to give the child a choice in a situation when so much is chosen for them."


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Tuesday
Aug082017

Volunteer knitters needed for purple baby hats

ABCNews.com(OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.) -- Calling all knitters: The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) needs 5,000 purple baby hats by October.

Health officials are teaming up with the the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome. The CLICK campaign, as it's called, refers to the "clicking" sound that knitters make with their needles.

According to the center, the No. 1 trigger for shaking a baby is frustration with crying, which the center refers to as the PURPLE period of crying.

Each letter of the word describes a different scenario that parents may be experiencing with their infant. For example, the letter L stands for long lasting -- babies may cry as much a five hours each day, according to the center's website.

The period of purple crying, the center said, lasts from about 2 weeks of age to 3-4 months. Some babies experience it worse than others and it is often treated as colic.

Amy Terry, adolescent health coordinator with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, told ABC News Oklahoma is one of 16 states participating in the CLICK campaign. It's the fourth year Oklahoma is participating in the campaign.

"The OSDH has requested volunteers in the past but the media response was minimal and last year we fell short of our cap goal," Terry said. "Campaign materials were redesigned for 2017, social media marking efforts were increased, and the public response has been overwhelmingly supportive. We have received calls from people all across the country who are willing to volunteer."

The OSDH will collect caps until Oct. 1 and then distribute them to birthing hospitals and public health units with a copy of the PURPLE program to families with babies born in November and December.

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Tuesday
Aug082017

Your Instagram feed may reveal if you have depression, study finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Your Instagram feed may be better at recognizing signs of depression than your doctor, according to a study from researchers at Harvard University and the University of Vermont.

Researchers used a machine learning computer program to analyze 43,950 Instagram photos from 166 participants. They found that the computer's analysis of Instagram feeds was better at diagnosing depression than a general practitioner.

The study, spearheaded by Andrew G. Reece at Harvard University's Department of Psychology and Chirstopher M. Danforth at the University of Vermont's Computational Story Lab, also found that certain Instagram filters were associated with depression.

People with depression tended to either not use filters, or use to disproportionately favor the "Inkwell" filter -- which makes your photos black-and-white, according to the researchers. Meanwhile, the "Valencia" filter was associated with healthy people.

Depressed Instagram users also tended to receive fewer likes on their posts and make the color scheme of their photos "bluer, grayer, and darker," the researchers wrote in the study.

Another possible identifier of mental illness on Instagram was that depressed people were more likely to post photos with faces, but also with fewer faces per photo, the researchers found.

While your social media feed may be one lens into your mental health, the study did find that general practitioners performed better than the computer program at ruling out depression.


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Monday
Aug072017

'Healthy Living for Summer': Combating cravings

Galia Sotomayor\ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- Physical exercise and mental techniques can help fight unhealthy food cravings, according to some experts. In the sixth episode of ABC News' "Healthy Living for Summer" series, we spoke with Liz Arch, the founder of Primal Yoga, for tips on combating those urges.

"Exercise, as well as activities like yoga and meditation, that help to combat stress are some of the best ways to fight cravings," Arch said.

Below is advice Arch gave ABC News for fighting off those unhealthy cravings when you aren't hungry. Watch the video above for more details.

Quick tips

  • Practice deep breathing and mediation when feeling stressed
  • Do forearm plank, a yoga posture that targets the core
  • If you have been sitting a long time, take a walk or go for a run outside
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water
  • Be mindful when eating

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Monday
Aug072017

Cancer survivors more likely to be prescribed opioids even years later, study finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As if battling cancer wasn't enough, many long-term survivors may eventually find themselves dealing with opioid dependency, according to a new study.

Cancer survivors are substantially more likely to be prescribed opioid painkillers over many years, according to research published Monday in the journal Cancer.

Prescription opioids, which are in the same class as illicit heroin, are often indicated and prescribed for pain during cancer treatment and recovery. However, prescription painkillers are difficult to manage over longer term use. Some patients become dependent and develop a tolerance for the drug, requiring increasing doses to get the same pain-killing effect. Ultimately, too much of an opioid medication at once can affect breathing and cause death.

To find out whether very long-term cancer survivors and those who never had cancer were prescribed opioids differently, researchers at the University of Toronto looked at more than 17,000 adults, which included more than 8,600 adult cancer survivors. They compared the group of cancer survivors to others who had never had cancer, but were the same gender and roughly the same age, and found that the cancer survivors were more likely to be prescribed opioids, even up to 10 or more years following their cancer diagnosis.

Younger cancer survivors, those from rural neighborhoods, and those with lower income and more medical problems had an even higher rates of opioid prescriptions. And while researchers can’t say from this study exactly why cancer survivors tend to be more likely to be prescribed painkillers, they highlight a new area of research that could affect how we treat cancer pain.

It’s an important and surprising finding about cancer survivors, according to lead researcher and author of the paper, Rinku Sutradhar, of the University of Toronto’s Department of Biostatistics.

"We thought opioid prescription rates would be similar because we had no reason to believe it would be higher," she said. Sutradhar added that the findings suggest that those making the transition from cancer patients to cancer survivors should keep their new treatment team informed of their opioid use thus far.

"Once you attain survivorship you’re now receiving care form your primary care doctor rather than the oncologist," she said. "During that switch, it would be advisable to inform your primary care physician about everything you experienced, what opioids you took before."

Other experts in the field agreed that the study touches on an important challenge in treating people with chronic pain.

"This article highlights a dilemma about those long-term survivors who are on chronic opioids, and maybe we should take a harder look at them in terms of pain management," said Dr. Charles Shapiro, director of cancer survivorship at the Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who was not involved with this study. "But we often don’t have the resources to take that harder look."

But, he added, it is important not to discount the usefulness of opioids for helping cancer patients manage serious, sometimes debilitating, pain.

"Cancer patients have pain and they take opioids," he said. “We can’t lose the message that opioids are indicated for that group with chronic pain and they work well."

Managing the dosage of opioid prescriptions as years pass after cancer survival is important.

"These are survivors and, although they may have pain, when you’re this far out, they become more like the general population," Shapiro added.

But for many cancer survivors, the return to normalcy is never quite complete. They are often left to deal with a variety of long-term consequences after cancer treatment, which can affect cognition, the heart, bones and the digestive system. Chemotherapy can leave lasting effects on the body; scars and pain are just a few possible complications after surgical treatment; and the psychological effects that can be difficult for patients and their loved ones.

As the opioid epidemic has swept through the nation over the last several decades, the number of opioids prescribed has been a focus of attention. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day 91 Americans die from a drug overdose. The CDC also estimates that more than half a million people have died of drug overdoses over the last 15 years –- and that the number of opioid deaths in the United States has quadrupled since 1999.

This article was written by Alexa Mieses, M.D., M.P.H., a family medicine resident at Duke University.

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Monday
Aug072017

Formerly paralyzed man trains to compete in Ironman

iStock/Thinkstock(KONA, Hawaii) -- After more than two decades, Rod Hutchins is finally very close to accomplishing his lifelong goal of completing an Ironman, the grueling, non-stop race that includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2-mile run.

But Hutchins was once far from ready to race. Diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome in the 1990s, Hutchins was paralyzed from the waist down, he told ABC affiliate KIFI-TV. The syndrome causes muscle weakness and pain as the body's immune system starts to attack its nervous system.

"Five doctors were put together, and in 9 months, we did nine surgeries," Hutchins told KIFI-TV. "We had both hips replaced, both knees scoped, one knee replaced [and] a hiatal hernia. I ultimately had a spinal stimulator stuck in my back, and all that was due to the virus I had."

After his multiple medical procedures and treatments, Hutchins said he started the long road to recovery and set a goal for himself: to complete the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii.

He reached out to local businesses and trainers to help him get ready to race.

"It's hard to believe how positive he is," Gray Augustus, the owner of Bill’s Bike and Run, who helped Hutchins with this training, told KIFI-TV. "I was taken aback. I was like 'Is this guy for real? Is he legitimately this gung-ho and determined to do it?' because we see a lot of people who are like that."

But Hutchins could barely walk at the time, and everyone knew he needed more than just a positive attitude to accomplish his goal.

So Hutchins started training -- and soon inspired other people along the way.

"It's fun to work with Rod because he wants to just get things done," Mike Taylor, one of his trainers, told KIFI-TV. "When he literally falls off his bike, he gets back up -- blood and all. He keeps going and that's super amazing."

And on Aug. 5, Hutchins proved all that hard work was paying off.

During the Great Snake River Triathlon in Idaho, he crossed the finish line and took third place in his age group. That milestone brought him one step closer to his ultimate goal of completing an Ironman.

The Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, takes place on Oct. 14.

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Monday
Aug072017

Nashville mayor opens up after son's overdose: 'We can never replace our child'

Rick Diamond/Getty Images for T.J. Martell Foundation(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, whose son died of an apparent overdose in July, opened up about his death for the first time on Monday in an emotional news conference, hoping to use the tragedy to raise awareness to the growing opioid epidemic in the U.S.

"I don't want to let his death define his life, but we have to have a frank conversation about how he died," she said about her son, 22-year-old Max Barry. She referred to his past struggles with drugs and his treatment in a rehab program last summer.

In late July, after he died, Barry asked for privacy as she and her husband face life "without his laughter and love."

On Monday, she addressed the issue directly, using her platform to speak out about drug abuse in broader terms. Though she said her son's autopsy was not yet complete, she referred to the nationwide opioid crisis.

"I don't know what combination killed my son," she said, "but drugs did it."

A record breaking 52,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2015, according to a report by the Associated Press, a number that they reported is expected to rise as come data is compiled.

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department will send 12 federal prosecutors to cities battling addiction in an effort to crack down on the health care fraud and opioid scams that they believe are fueling the epidemic.

Barry, through her son's death and platform as a public figure, helped to put a human face on the crisis.

"Our hearts will always be sad and empty because we can never replace our child," Barry said.

She said that police came to her home at 3 a.m. to inform her about her son's death and that she initially thought that an officer died in the line of duty before they told her the news.

"If you see something, have a frank conversation yourself," she said, advising parents who might be in a similar situation on how to tackle the problem.

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Sunday
Aug062017

Loneliness a bigger threat to health, study says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Chronic loneliness and social isolation can increase a person's risk of pre-mature death, according to new research.

Researchers at Brigham Young University studied data from 300,000 individuals and found a 50 percent reduced risk of early death among adults with social connections. In another study, they looked at 3.4 million people, mostly from North America, and found that social isolation had a significant and equal effect on the risk of early death.

Prof. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D., a psychology and neuroscience professor behind the research, wonders if we are facing a "loneliness epidemic."

"The overall effect of this on risks for mortality is comparable with other risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption," she said.

Holt-Lunstad said some people choose a lifestyle of isolation, but loneliness as a risk factor is more subjective.

"It really is more a discrepancy between one's desired level of social connection and one's actual level of social connection," she said.

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