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Thursday
Aug152019

Minnesota Dept. of Health says 'severe lung injury' cases might be related to vaping

Paolo_Toffanin/iStock(SAINT PAUL, Minn.) -- The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is asking health care providers to be on alert for lung diseases related to vaping and e-cigarette use among young adults after a Minnesota hospital reported several “severe” cases.

Children’s Minnesota hospital has reported four cases of “severe lung injury” in the Minneapolis area that it says are similar to cases recently reported in Wisconsin and Illinois. The hospital also said it is “too early to say whether they are connected.”

The patients spent several weeks in the hospital and some were admitted to the intensive care unit for symptoms including shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms reported by some patients included headache, dizziness and chest pain.

“We are encouraging providers and parents to be on the lookout for vaping as a cause for unexplained breathing problems and lung injury and disease," said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist and MDH medical director.

“These cases are extremely complex to diagnose, as symptoms can mimic a common infection yet can lead to severe complications and extended hospitalization,” Dr. Emily Chapman, chief medical officer at Children’s Minnesota, added. “Medical attention is essential; respiratory conditions can continue to decline without proper treatment.”

E-cigarette use is “unsafe” for kids, teens and young adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In part, this is because the nicotine present in most of them is addictive and can harm parts of the young adult brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control, all of which are still developing until about age 25, according to the CDC.

E-cigarettes, vapes, e-pipes and other vaping products are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale aerosolized liquid. The aerosol in these products, the MDH says, also contains harmful chemicals like ultrafine particles; oil; heavy metals, like nickel, tin and lead; and other cancer-causing chemicals.

E-cigarette use increased 78% among high school students between 2017 and 2018, according to the CDC. In 2018, more than 3.6 million U.S. youth, including one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students, said that they currently used e-cigarettes, the CDC said.

In December 2018, the surgeon general released an advisory on e-cigarette use, calling it an “epidemic” among youth.

Patients and people with a history of vaping who are experiencing lung symptoms should seek clinical care, the MDH said. Patients and those experiencing symptoms should avoid using e-cigarettes and other vaping products.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug152019

Study: Social media is harmful to teen girls’ mental health

JosuOzkaritz/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Teenage girls are affected by social media use more than boys, with the harmful effects being driven by three factors, according to a new study.

In girls, frequent use of social media harmed their health by leading to inadequate sleep, inadequate physical activity and exposing them to cyberbullying, according to the study published Tuesday in the journal Lancet. The same did not hold true for boys who frequently use social media.

Researchers from University College London tracked the social media use of nearly 13,000 teens in the U.K. from when they were 13 to 16 years old. They also evaluated the teens’ own reports about their well-being, exposure to cyberbullying and time spent sleeping or being physically active.

The study found that 27% of the teens who were frequent users of social media reported high psychological stress. Among the teens who were infrequent users, only 17% reported high psychological stress.

“The culprit appears not to be social media but that they weren’t getting enough sleep and physical activity,” ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said of the study’s findings. “[The sleep aspect] is huge and I can’t overemphasize this.”

Teenagers should get nine to 10 hours of sleep per night, according to Ashton. In addition, it’s important that teens keep their sleep schedules consistent, instead of skimping during the week and trying to make up for it on the weekends.

“There are cardiovascular, heart disease effects, mental health effects to inadequate sleep,” said Ashton, noting that parents and medical providers “need to think of the long game” when it comes to teens and sleep.

The study's authors also recommended including "efforts to prevent or increase resilience to cyberbullying" as an intervention to improve the mental health of teen girls who use social media.

"Cyberbullying" is defined as bullying that takes place over digital devices like cellphones, computers and tablets. It includes sending, posting or sharing negative, harmful, false or mean content about another person, according to stopbullying.gov, a website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The findings appeared to be consistent with research that has focused on U.S. teens.

Last month a study in the U.S. found that girls report three times as much harassment online as boys.

Among middle and high school students, 21% of girls say they have been bullied online or by text messages, compared with less than 7% of boys, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Many social media platforms and schools now have clear ways you can report cyberbullying.

If parents are concerned that their teen is being cyberbullied, the site stopbullying.gov recommends they take time to investigate their child's digital behavior.

First, parents should take notice if their child has had a change in mood or behavior. Next, they can initiate a conversation about what is happening, as well as document what is happening by taking screenshots of online harassment.

Parents can also lead their child on a social media detox. Here's a full guide to follow if you want to try a social media detox with your own family or community.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug142019

Surprise medical bills are on the rise: STUDY

LIgorko/iStockBY: DR. LAITH ALEXANDER

(NEW YORK) -- A new study from Stanford University published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows surprise medical bills – when you visit a hospital and, some time later, get charged a bill – are on the rise.

Dr. Eric Sun, lead author of the study and assistant professor of anesthesiology, pain medicine and health research and policy at Stanford University, and his colleagues used a national database to look at surprise billing from 2010 to 2016, all from one large commercial insurer.

"We looked at situations where people were admitted to an emergency room – where people have less choice of health care provider," Dr. Sun told ABC News. "We also looked at care within in-network hospitals – where receiving a bill would be a surprise because it should be covered by insurance."

If you visited the emergency department in 2010, there was a 32% likelihood you would receive a surprise medical bill. But in 2016, Sun and his team found it rose to just under 43%.

But it's not only that they are becoming more common -- they're becoming more expensive, too. The average cost rose from $220 to $628, the study found.

The situation is just as bad for inpatients. Twenty-six percent received a surprise medical bill in 2010, but 42% received one in 2016. The cost situation was even worse, rising from $804 to $2,040.

These surprise bills come from a variety of sources, but primarily it has to do with insurance coverage, according to the researchers.

"Whenever you get hospital care, the decision to participate in insurance is made independently by every doctor you see," Sun told ABC News.

"If you see an in-network doctor, they agree to an amount that the insurance company pays, but an out-of-network doctor doesn't like that agreement and so they bill more," he said. "That comes as a surprise medical bill, and [it] can even happen at in-network hospitals."

It isn't fully clear why they're on the rise.

"A lot of this is driven by insurers and doctors agreeing an amount to be paid for treatment," Sun said. "The insurers might be putting more pressure on doctors to reduce costs by suggesting an amount the doctor doesn't accept – and so the doctors choose to go out-of-network for additional revenue."

Ambulance services, an often overlooked source of medical costs, resulted in a surprise bill for 86% of ER visits and nearly 82% of hospital admissions.

"It's possible that the coverage of many networks still isn't broad enough," Dr. Robert Steinbrook, editor-at-large at JAMA Internal Medicine, told ABC News.

And as a patient, it can be really hard to avoid these bills. In fact, the situation is often impossible to avoid in the emergency room.

"In these settings, you often can't choose who you're treated by, so surprise bills are very difficult to avoid," Sun said.

For inpatient admissions, Steinbrook has some advice: "If you have a choice of insurers, you should consider the breadth of the network. … If a hospital advertises that all physicians are part of an in-network insurance, you could go there and avoid out-of-network charges."

In terms of what's being done about the surprise bill epidemic, "different states have different laws," Steinbrook said. Some approaches include setting a state-wide payment standard or using arbitration – where a third party resolves disputes between doctors and insurance providers.

"Congress has been debating various bills, but as of now, they haven't enacted anything," Steinbrook told ABC News. "In my view, a federal solution would be better because it would go beyond state boundaries."

In the meantime, surprise medical bills may not be as out-of-the-ordinary as the name suggests. Whether it's an ambulance or a hospital bed, your wallet might need to be braced for a bruising.

Dr. Laith Alexander is an MB/PhD student at the University of Cambridge, U.K., working with ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug142019

What to know about BootySprout, an at-home glute training workout device

BootySprout(NEW YORK) -- Behold the BootySprout -- the at-home, glute-training device that will soon be taking over your Instagram.

The BootySprout is designed to tone your butt by simulating weighted hip thrusts, but without any heavy weights.

Ever since Kim Kardashian's infamous Paper magazine cover in 2014, booty workouts have become all the rage. The $155 BootySprout, which is lightweight and folds up for easy storage, is designed to make them easier to do without leaving your home.

The device is designed and engineered by Michael Ballestero of California, who created it after trying the exercise at the gym and finding it difficult to set up the bench and weights.

"BootySprout is designed to easily and safely perform high resistance hip thrusts in the comfort of your home," Ballestero told ABC News' Good Morning America. "Hip thrusting is a fun exercise, and the results from weight training your booty are amazing."

The patent-pending device is only 22 pounds and can easily be assembled at home.

"BootySprout is very easy to use, no matter where you are in your fitness journey," Ballestero said.

The device can fold up to be stored under a bed or in the closet.

Videos of the workout have already gained viral attention.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug142019

Dog runs in her wheelchair for first time and can’t control her excitement

Instagram: Pigeonpup(NEW YORK) -- After a dog named Pigeon was in a car accident, her rear legs were left paralyzed and her owner abandoned her.

As it happened, the owner of a dog-sitting business in Savannah, Georgia, had just lost a dog who bore a striking similarity to Pigeon. After seeing a picture, she knew it was meant to be.

And now, thanks to an adoring owner and a specially-made wheelchair, Pigeon is living her best life.

“She looked exactly like my dog who had just died and I knew we were meant to be together,” Pigeon's owner, Erin, told ABC News' Good Morning America. “She’s just so capable that you forget that she’s paralyzed."

Erin has a deep love for animals, so she knew she could give Pigeon everything she needed.

But when she took Pigeon home for the first time, she says she could already tell Pigeon was a wild child.

“I remember thinking, 'Wow, this dog has more energy than I’ve ever seen,” she said.

 From the beginning, Pigeon hopped around the house on her front two legs without any assistance.

“She just hit the ground running and was fast, if not faster than the other dogs,” said Erin.

She had the personality of a fighter, and Erin called her “the most inspirational being I have ever been around.”

After an initial surgery to ensure she wouldn’t be in any pain, Pigeon was getting around fine, bouncing her way through life. But Erin wanted to get her a wheelchair so she wouldn’t have to hop and could truly run.

She took her to get fitted for a wheelchair at Eddie’s Wheels, an organization that specializes in making wheelchairs for animals.

What resulted is a moment of complete, unbridled joy. A video of Pigeon running and bouncing the second she got put in her new wheels quickly went viral.

"It's hard to describe her — she's joy personified. Joy and tenacity probably," Erin said. “She’s stronger and more resilient than I’ve ever been and she inspires me every single day. It is difficult to have a bad day around Pigeon.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug132019

FDA warns consumers against drinking Mineral Miracle Solution, says it's 'the same as bleach'

bankrx/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government is urging the public not to drink a solution that has been touted as a treatment for numerous conditions, including autism and cancer, but which it says is akin to drinking bleach.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday warned consumers again -- as it has been since 2010 -- of the “serious and potentially life-threatening side effects” of drinking Miracle Mineral Solution products after "a recent rise in reported health issues."

The products have been promoted on social media as a remedy for treating autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and flu, among other conditions, according to a press release from the FDA.

However, the Miracle Mineral Solution and similar products are not FDA-approved. Ingesting the products “is the same as drinking bleach,” the agency said.

Miracle Mineral Solution products are described online as a liquid that is 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water which should be mixed with a citric acid, such as lemon or lime juice, before drinking, the FDA said.

In many cases, according to the FDA, the sodium chlorite is sold with a citric acid “activator.”

Yet what many consumers may not be aware of is that when the acid is added, the mixture becomes chlorine dioxide -- a powerful bleaching agent, the agency said.

The FDA has received multiple reports of people experiencing severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure, and acute liver failure after drinking the product, according to the press release.

The FDA also noted that it is not aware of any scientific evidence that supports the claimed health benefits of the solution.

The specific products listed in the FDA’s warning were Miracle or Master Mineral Solution, Miracle Mineral Supplement, MMS, Chlorine Dioxide (CD) Protocol, Water Purification Solution (WPS) and other similar products.

“Our top priority is to protect the public from products that place their health at risk, and we will send a strong and clear message that these products have the potential to cause serious harm,” FDA Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a statement.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug132019

New treatments show promise in fight against Ebola

Motortion/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Two of four experimental treatments being tested in the world's second-largest Ebola outbreak will now be offered to all patients after showing promise in saving lives, scientists and health officials announced Monday.

Preliminary findings from a randomized controlled trial that began last November in four Ebola treatment centers in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo indicated that patients receiving either of two therapies, known as REGN-EB3 and mAb114, had a greater chance of survival compared to those receiving two other drugs, known as ZMapp and remdesivir, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is co-sponsoring the clinical study.

After a meeting on Friday to review the initial results, an independent monitoring board recommended all future patients be offered either REGN-EB3 and mAb114, while the other two treatments be stopped.

"It means we do have now what looks like [two] treatments for a disease which, not too long ago, we really had no therapeutic approach at all," Fauci told reporters during a telephone briefing Monday, stressing that more research needs to be done.

Both drugs, which were developed using antibodies from Ebola survivors, proved particularly successful in the early days of infection. Among the patients admitted with low levels of the Ebola virus detected in their blood, researchers found 94% on REGN-EB3 and 89% on mAb114 survived. By contrast, 76% on ZMapp and 67% on remdesivir survived.

"From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable," said Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director general of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's National Institute for Biomedical Research, the study's other co-sponsor.

REGN-EB3 is made by American biotechnology company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and mAb114 was developed by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which licensed production last year to American biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

The trial is being carried out by an international research consortium coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the global health arm of the United Nations, which last month declared the current outbreak a global health emergency.

"Getting people into care more quickly is absolutely vital," Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, said during Monday's telephone briefing. "The fact that we have very clear evidence now on the effectiveness of the drugs, we need to get that message out to communities."

This is the 10th outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the most severe in the country since 1976, when scientists identified the deadly virus near the Ebola River.

The WHO's director-general has described the current outbreak as more complex than the deadlier 2014-2016 outbreak in multiple West African countries due to the region's political instability, attacks on health workers, a highly mobile population and community mistrust and misinformation. It's the first Ebola outbreak in an active war zone.

According to the latest data released by a technical committee running the Ebola response and reporting directly to the Congolese president, a total of 2,816 people have reported symptoms of hemorrhagic fever in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's northeastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri since ‪Aug. 1, 2018. Among those cases, some 2,722 have tested positive for Ebola virus disease, which causes an often-fatal type of hemorrhagic fever and is transmitted through contact with blood or secretions from an infected person.

The ongoing outbreak has a case fatality rate of about 67%. There have been 1,888 deaths so far, including 1,794 people who died from confirmed cases of Ebola. The other deaths are from probable cases, according to the committee.

More than 190,000 people have been vaccinated against Ebola in the current outbreak zone in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, using an experimental vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck that was tested in the West Africa epidemic.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug132019

What to do when you fear a mass shooter, according to security experts

MariuszBlach/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The sound of motorcycles backfiring may not have prompted hundreds of people to flee Times Square two weeks ago, but after a pair of mass shootings a few days earlier, the nation was on edge.

Scares in the wake of the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, have prompted concerns elsewhere, as a masked man who made a public threat in a Houston mall caused people to flee and a man wearing body armor was arrested at a Springfield, Missouri, Walmart when he brought a loaded rifle into the store.

The heightened awareness of threats -- perceived or actual -- shows more than just a tense environment, said John Cohen, a former Homeland Security official and current criminal justice professor who also works as an ABC News consultant.

"People are scared but also people just don't seem confident that the government is doing enough to protect them," Cohen said.

And even in cases where police are on the scene quickly, that doesn't automatically mean that violence will be stopped -- or prevented.

For example, first responders arrived on the scene at the Dayton shooting in less than a minute but nine victims still died and dozens of others were injured.

Even though the stampede in Times Square resulted in several minor injuries after the motorcycles backfired, officials said that the public reacted "correctly" to a perceived threat.

NYPD Chief of Counterterrorism James Waters said the day after the incident that the public did the right thing by choosing to "run and put distance between themselves and those sounds."

"Awareness of the public is something we've been striving to achieve for a very, very long time," Waters said. "People hear those noises, have the psychological concerns of, 'Are we in the middle of an active shooter?' They did exactly what we train them to do: run. If you can run, run. If you can't, hide, and if all else fails fight -- and fight for your life because that's what it will be about."

Waters was referring to the government-backed motto that urges people to "run, hide, fight" when facing an active-shooter event.

Cohen said that he urges everyone, including his own children, to run through a possible worst-case scenario whenever they go somewhere in public.

"Take a moment. Identify where the exits are, and think to yourself 'What would I do if an attack began? Where would I run? Where could I hide? Am I prepared if I need to fight the attacker?" Cohen said.

He likened these mental run-throughs to all of the time that police officers spend practicing at shooting ranges or running through drills.

"When you think about situations you may be confronted with, you begin to prepare your brain to react should you be confronted with that type of situation," Cohen said.

He said that in moments when people "freeze" in stressful situations "that's your brain taking in information and figuring out how you should respond." By running through those worst-case scenarios regularly, Cohen says it will cut down that thinking time because it's something you've trained your brain to anticipate.

In situations like the one in Times Square, Cohen agreed with Waters that if people are running, you too should run, but keep your own situation in mind. "If there's a large crowd running in a certain direction, if you can't keep up with that crowd you want to get out of the way of the crowd," he said.

And if you're left in a situation where hiding is the best option, Cohen said that it's important to not only hide out of sight of the attacker, but behind or underneath something that could stop a bullet. He pointed to the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where some victims hid behind pews in the church when they couldn't flee. In that particular shooting, the suspect walked up the aisles and shot those who hid, Cohen said, pointing out that while the pews may have provided temporary visual hiding, they didn't protect the victims from bullets.

In the end, Cohen stressed that people should trust their instincts: "If you sense that you're in danger, leave. It's fine to be embarrassed later."

"It's still a very slight chance," he added, "but there's a greater chance today than there was 10 years ago that any person may be present at the site of this type of mass shooting. And if that is the case, the likelihood that you will survive is greater if you have prepared."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug132019

This little boy has a disease so rare, it doesn't even have a name

(Photo Courtesy: Carrie Bramlee) Cohen Bramlee has a disase so rare, it's undiagnosed.(NEW YORK) -- Cohen Bramlee has been hospitalized most of his life.

Due to issues with his digestive tract, the 6-year-old cannot consume food the normal way and receives nutrition through a tube.

It's a a disorder so rare, it's undiagnosed.

"It was this journey of trying to figure out, 'Why is he sick? Why is this happening?'" mom Carrie Bramlee, of Ohio, told ABC's Good Morning America. "It was scary, it was frustrating and it was frightening."

Cohen has experienced these health issues since he was 4 months old. According to Bramlee, her child is ahead of science, and had been referred to the Undiagnosed Diseases Network at Duke University.

Cohen is the first human with his disease, but doctors believe there could be more.

"Cohen is a brave and positive person who always does his best with whatever is happening and he encourages everyone around him," said Dr. Stella Davies, director of the bone marrow transplantation and immune deficiency institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Since he was an infant, Cohen has received meals via a feeding tube seven days a week.

Still, Cohen continues to smile through. He loves Star Wars, dinosaurs, Legos, baseball and spending time with his four siblings.

"He just reminds me to find joy in the midst of all this. It's hard for me to stay down because he doesn't. He's outgoing and everybody who meets him falls in love with him," Bramlee said.

Since Cohen's condition is undiagnosed, there is no cure. Doctors hope a bone marrow transplant will be the answer.

Cohen's brother and sisters, Todd Christopher (T.C.), 16, Kayla, 14, Addyson, 11 and Anareese, 8, all were tested to be Cohen's donors, and T.C. and Anareese who were perfect matches.

T.C. will be Cohen's donor since he will be able to donate more cells.

"He told Dr. Davies, 'You can have as many cells as you want. My cells are yours,'" Bramlee said of her eldest son, T.C. "He doesn't even have reservations. He says, 'It's my brother. It's a privilege to save his life.'"

Cohen will soon undergo chemotherapy in preparation for the bone marrow transplant.

The hope, his mother said, is that Cohen will get to eat food for the first time by mouth, without a feeding tube,

"When you're a 6-year-old and everybody around you eats food and you do ... it's social and emotional," Bramlee said. "He starts to comfort us [instead of us comforting him], when we get upset."

"You just can't begin to prepare yourself to hear that your child is the first one ever, with the disease," she added.

The Bramlee family hopes Cohen's story helps others who may have the same illness.



Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug132019

FDA warns consumers not to use 'Miracle Mineral Solution,' calling it similar to drinking bleach

Waldemarus/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning against the use of a product sold online as a medical treatment purporting to treat a number of conditions including HIV/AIDS, cancer and autism.

According to an FDA press release, the products are sold as Miracle or Master Mineral Solution, Miracle Mineral Supplement, MMS, Chlorine Dioxide Protocol or Water Purification System. These products, and other similar products, develop into a dangerous bleach when mixed, causing serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

Miracle Mineral Solution is not approved by the FDA for any use, but have been promoted on social media as a remedy for a number of conditions.

"Consumers should not use these products, and parents should not give these products to their children for any reason," FDA Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. says.

"Our top priority is to protect the public from products that place their health at risk," Sharpless adds. "We will send a strong and clear message that these products have the potential to cause serious harm."

MMS is described as 28 percent sodium chlorite in distilled water. Websites selling the product instruct users to mix the solution with citric acid before drinking. The FDA explains that when the solution mixes with citric acid, it becomes chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent.

There have been multiple reports of consumers experiencing severe vomiting, diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure, dehydration and acute liver failure after drinking these products. Anyone who experienced any ill effects after ingesting MMS should seek immediate medical attention, according to the FDA.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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