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Friday
Aug092019

Exercise during pregnancy helps not just mom but baby too, study finds

Eva-Katalin/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Women who exercise while pregnant are not only helping themselves, but their babies too, according to a new study.

Newborns whose moms exercised during pregnancy may have improved heart health and reached movement milestones earlier than other babies, according to researchers at East Carolina State University.

The researchers compared the outcomes of 1-month-old babies from a group of 71 pregnant women who were randomly assigned to exercise or not exercise during their pregnancy. The women who exercised performed 50 minutes of moderate-intensity, supervised aerobic exercise, three times per week.

The researchers found that exercising during pregnancy resulted in babies who are more adept at movement, and possibly more likely to be active as they grow older throughout their lives.

“Because physical activity is a modifiable risk factor of childhood obesity, these findings suggest that exercise during pregnancy may potentially reduce childhood risk of obesity,” the researchers wrote in their study, published in August issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Exercise during pregnancy is already known to have benefits for moms that include stress relief, a lower risk of gestational diabetes, fewer c-sections and reduced risk of gestational diabetes.

Exercising before birth can also help with labor, research has shown. A study published last year found that women who exercise just three times per week during pregnancy have a shorter labor.

"I always say pregnancy, labor and delivery, they’re athletic events. We should train for them," said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OBGYN.

Here are five questions answered about exercising during pregnancy:

1. How often do pregnant women need to exercise?

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.

2. What types of workouts are good for pregnant women?

ACOG recommends women stay active with walking, swimming and water workouts, stationary bicycling and modified yoga and Pilates during pregnancy.

Women who were already runners may be able to keep running and jogging during their pregnancy, but should check with their healthcare provider first.

3. Are there any specific workouts to avoid?

Stay away from any sports or specific exercises that could harm yourself and the fetus if you fall, according to Ashton, who cites activities like skydiving, scuba diving and skiing.

ACOG recommends staying away from contact sports and sports that put you at risk of getting hit in the abdomen, like soccer and basketball, and "hot yoga” or “hot Pilates,” which may cause you to become overheated.

4. Are there are any reasons to not exercise during pregnancy?

Every woman should consult with their midwife or obstetrician on the types and amount of exercise they should do while pregnant.

Women who are at high risk for pre-term labor or who have severe anemia, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy, cervical insufficiency and certain types of heart and lung diseases should not exercise while pregnant, according to ACOG.

5. Are there precautions pregnant women should take during workouts?

Pregnant women should avoid standing still or lying flat on your backs as much as possible during exercise, according to ACOG.

ACOG also recommends drinking lots of water before, during and after a workout to stay hydrated, and wearing loose-fitting clothing and not exercising in heat to avoid becoming overheated.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug092019

Husband and wife duo buy car to drive vets, children to doctor free of charge

Pamela Barry(GETTYSBURG, Pa.) -- A couple in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is hoping to make life a little easier for some special citizens in their town.

Pamela and Steve Barry bought a new car to help young cancer patients and veterans get free rides to the hospital.

The couple bought a Chevy Equinox with their own money earlier this year and worked with local artist Marvis Greene to decorate it.

From Captain America and famed Navy SEAL Chris Kyle to local children who passed from cancer, the vehicle is an homage to fictional and everyday superheroes.

"We just really wanted to help critically ill children and wounded warriors," Pamela Barry told ABC News' Good Morning America.

The small business owner and her husband also host an annual benefit called the Gettysburg Battlefield Bash, where they unveiled the vehicle on July 27.

"Hundreds of people were clapping," Pamela Barry said.

The car model's name, "Equinox," is fitting the couple said, because the definition worked well for their mission: the start of a new era and sign of hope for the future.

Although they have yet to have any rides, the couple are eager to start their service, in which they will personally shuttle people around to treatment centers and hospitals.

The Barrys want their "Equinox" to offer "hope and healing" to anyone who needs it in their community and "empower each other" to help those who need it.

"We want to be a small part in making people's lives better," Pamela Barry said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug082019

FDA investigating 127 reports of seizures, other neurological symptoms after vaping

danchooalex/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating 127 reports of people suffering seizures or other neurological symptoms after using e-cigarettes, the agency announced Wednesday.

It remains unclear whether there's a direct link between vaping and the reported cases of neurological events.

"Although we still don't have enough information to determine if e-cigarettes are causing these reported incidents, we believe it's critical to keep the public updated on the information we've received based on the agency's initial request for reports earlier this year," Dr. Ned Sharpless, the acting FDA commissioner, said in a statement Wednesday. "We appreciate the public response to our initial call for reports, and we strongly encourage the public to submit new or follow-up reports with as much detail as possible."

In April, the FDA announced that it had received 35 reports of seizures after vaping, especially among youth and young adults.

"We know that nicotine isn’t a harmless substance, especially in the developing brains of our youth," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the then-FDA commissioner, and Dr. Amy Abernethy, the agency's deputy commissioner, said in a joint statement at the time. "But we’ve also been clear that, even for adults, e-cigarettes are not risk free."

"Seizures or convulsions are known potential side effects of nicotine poisoning," they added, "and have been reported in scientific literature in relation to intentional or accidental swallowing of nicotine-containing e-liquids."

The FDA has received 92 new reports since then.

All of the reported cases occurred between 2010 and 2019. Some people reported experiencing other serious neurological symptoms such as fainting or tremors, which may or may not be related to the seizures, according to the agency.

"Additional reports or more detailed information about these incidents are vital to help inform our analysis and may help us identify common risk factors and determine whether any specific e-cigarette product attributes, such as nicotine content or formulation, may be more likely to contribute to seizures," Sharpless said. "It is imperative that health care professionals, consumers, parents, teachers and other concerned adults, as well as youth and young adult users, report detailed information about any past or future incidents of seizures following e-cigarette use to the FDA. We're committed to monitoring this issue closely and taking additional steps as necessary to protect the public, especially our nation's youth, from the dangers of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug082019

How period tracking can help you

FitrWoman/Orreco(NEW YORK) -- In the weeks leading up to the U.S. women's national soccer team winning its fourth World Cup, the team's players were tracking not only their diets and workouts but also their period cycles.

Dawn Scott, high performance coach for both the USWNT and the National Women's Soccer League, credited the breakthrough use of period tracking as one of the strategies the team "deployed that helped us win."

Period tracking -- knowing the time of your menstrual cycle as well as the symptoms -- is a tool that all women, not just professional athletes, can benefit from, experts have said.

"It's important to realize as women we do have ups and downs and there are hormones that are predominant in our cycles, and it’s different for every woman," said Dr. Rashmi Kudesia, a board-certified OBGYN at Houston IVF in Texas. "When you think about how many things you plan ahead for, it totally makes sense to know your body."

Kudesia noted the majority of her patients do not track their periods and the majority of those who do are tracking to know their ovulation in order to get pregnant.

Period tracking like the USWNT players did, though, is more about improving your everyday life than seeking a big goal like pregnancy. It can help women know when they'll have the most energy, what week they should keep their evenings free in order to have downtime and when they should plan their hardest workouts, according to both Kudesia and Dr. Georgie Bruinvels, the U.K.-based research scientist who created a period tracking app used by the USWNT.

"People say, 'I definitely know my mood changes,' or, 'Sometimes I just wake up and I’m so hungry,' but they haven’t had a way to relate that to their natural physiology," Bruinvels told ABC News' Good Morning America. "What I've found is women wanted to be informed and know their own bodies."

The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of a woman's period up to the first day of her next period. A normal, regular cycle comes every 21 to 35 days, according to Kudesia.

Changing hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) throughout the cycle can cause symptoms like depression and anxiety, asthma, cramping, bloating and gas, in addition to bleeding, according to the U.S. Office on Women's Health.

Bruinvels' app, FitrWoman, breaks the menstrual cycle down into four phases.

Phase one is the bleeding phase of menstruation, when a woman is on her period and bleeding.

Phase two lasts for six to 10 days after that, while phase three starts just after a woman's body ovulates, when progesterone and estrogen levels are high.

Phase four goes back to pre-menstruation, when a woman's hormones decline as she prepares for phase one again.

Bruinvels and her team at Orreco, the sports performance company behind the free FitrWoman app, used research-based evidence to match symptoms and solutions with each phase.

The USWNT, for example, had posters throughout their lodging during the month-long World Cup in France reminding them of the different phases and how to treat themselves accordingly, according to Scott.

Phase one, when you're on your period, is a time to eat fibrous carbs, like whole grains, and avoid foods high in saturated fats and food that are inflammatory, like fast food, according to Bruinvels.

In phase two, the increase in estrogen can boost a women's mood and leave her feeling more energized. In this phase it's best to have a healthy, balanced diet, but there is not a major need to avoid any foods.

When it comes to strength and conditioning, research has shown that a body's ability to adapt and respond is better in these first two phases, so they are a great time to do a high-intensity workout like a circuit class, according to Bruinvels.

When progesterone and estrogen levels are high in phase three, some feel their mood can be altered and a woman's appetite may increase and she may feel more fatigued.

In this phase, Bruinvels recommends eating healthy fats like avocados and nuts and eating mini-meals throughout the day versus three meals and two snacks. Foods that are processed and high in sugar are best to be avoided, as well as caffeine.

In the pre-menstrual phase, phase four, it's best to prioritize foods rich in nutrients and fiber, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Foods to avoid during this phase include processed meats and fast food.

"You should be working with your hormones, not fighting them," Bruinvels said. "Women have just accepted that they’re going to feel pain and feel like rubbish at some point, and we should start challenging that expectation."

"[My research] makes me excited because though people get bad symptoms, you can do so much about it," she added.

Both Bruinvels and Kudesia stress how individualized menstrual cycles are for each women, which makes tracking your cycle all the more important, so you know what symptoms to expect and how to treat them.

Kudesia pointed out that women should not add another stress to their lives by being concerned about tracking every detail of their period, though. While professional athletes and high-powered executives may need to function to a degree that rigorous tracking is required, for the average woman, it's about being aware and being kind to your body.

"My hope is it gives women a push to be aware of what their symptoms are and plan ahead and intervene so we’re not just struggling through them every month," she said. "Think of it as a smart self-care approach that takes into account your physiology."

Kudesia also noted that period tracking is not something that would be effective for women on hormonal birth control, as their hormones are regulated by the birth control pills.

Regardless of how in-depth their period tracking is, Kudesia wants women to know that their menstrual cycle and the hormones that go with it are not a punchline about bad moods and bleeding, but one of the most critical parts of their well-being.

"I think for so long people have treated the concepts of period as something dirty or as a joke," she said. "But for women, the menstrual cycle is the fifth vital sign and is just as important to your health as your heart rate, blood pressure, pulse and body temperature."

Bruinvels said she hopes the spotlight the USWNT's World Cup win has put on period tracking makes women realize that menstruation is more about hormonal changes in their bodies than it is about bleeding.

"There’s a taboo around periods because people think about it only when they’re menstruating and bleeding, but hormone fluctuation is the root of all of it," she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug082019

Ohio family's lawsuit alleges mom's embryo was fertilized with sperm of a stranger

ktsimage/iStock(DELAWARE, Ohio) -- An Ohio family announced a lawsuit Wednesday, claiming a stranger’s sperm was used to create an embryo when a couple underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 1994.

According to the complaint, Joseph Cartellone, of Delaware, Ohio, alleges he discovered earlier this year that he is not the biological father of his 24-year-old daughter, Rebecca, with his wife, Jennifer.

The family claims they made the discovery after Rebecca gave them at-home DNA kits last Christmas. They allege they received the results in late January and almost immediately noticed something was off.

"When we looked at the results, what we immediately noticed was that that there were no traces of Italian DNA in [Rebecca's results] at all," Cartellone told ABC News' Good Morning America Wednesday. "And her DNA matched my wife’s pretty closely."

Cartellone said he called the maker of the DNA kit thinking there had been a mistake, but after they walked him through the process, he believed the test was accurate. According to the lawsuit, he and Rebecca later underwent a legal paternity test that confirmed he is not her biological father.

"My disbelief turned quickly to shock and then ultimately to anger that this could possibly be the case," Cartellone said.

The Cartellone family used the results of the DNA test to trace Rebecca's biological father to a “handful of individuals,” one of whom worked at Christ Hospital, which is named defendant in the lawsuit, one of the family’s attorneys, Joseph Peiffer, said at a news conference Wednesday.

In addition to Christ Hospital, the lawsuit was also filed against the Institute for Reproductive Health and Ovation Fertility in Cincinnati.

“While we are evaluating the allegations surrounding events alleged to have occurred in the early 1990’s, it is The Christ Hospital Health Network’s practice to not publicly comment on pending litigation,” the health network told ABC News in a statement.

The Institute for Reproductive Health and Ovation Fertility did not immediately reply to ABC News’ request for comment.

Cartellone says this has all been "extremely difficult" for his family.

Rebecca, who lives in Dublin, Ohio, is the couple's only child. She is experiencing "significant emotional distress and confusion regarding her own identity," according to Cartellone.

"My wife Jennifer is still in shock," he said at the news conference about the allegations in the lawsuit. "She has to deal with the fact that this clinic … fertilized her eggs with a complete stranger’s sperm and placed them in her body."

"She’s also faced with a difficult series of emotional challenges and questions," he added. "She is profoundly disappointed that she no longer can give birth to a child with both of our genetics."

According to the complaint, in addition to not knowing the identity of his daughter's biological father, Cartellone does not know if his sperm was potentially used to create embryos with another woman's eggs.

"One of the things we really want to find out through our lawsuit is what happened," said Adam Wolf, another attorney for the family. "Right now we have no idea."

The Cartellones' lawsuit, filed in Hamilton County, Ohio, comes just weeks after a couple in California sued a Los Angeles fertility center after they say they went court to get custody of their baby from a woman across the country who had unwittingly given birth to a child using their embryo as a result of the facility’s error.

A different California fertility center, this one in San Francisco, faced class-action lawsuits last year from people who say their embryos were destroyed by a freezer tank failure at the clinic.

The Cartellones are asking in their lawsuit for compensatory damages with interest, and for the defendants to provide the identity and medical history of Rebecca’s biological father.

Cartellone and his attorneys said Wednesday they also want their lawsuit to spark change in the fertility industry.

"We keep asking, ‘Why hasn’t someone done something about this already?’ We’re talking about the creation of life," Cartellone said. "There need to be stronger oversight and controls put in place."

"These clinics need to be held accountable and they need to suffer real consequences for their actions," he added. "We’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that this doesn’t happen again to anyone else."

Cartellone said he wants other parents and parents-to-be to learn from his family's ordeal and go into the fertility process with their "eyes wide open."

"I would strongly urge them to have their eyes wide open and understand something we did not at the time, which is that this is an industry that has a lot of issues and errors and mistakes, and even some intentional," he said, noting that parents should demand to have DNA tests done on fertilized embryos "before they are implanted in the mother-to-be."

"They need to do as much research as they can and I would highly recommend they get as much transparency as they can into the process," Cartellone added. "And not just blindly trust that the experts are doing what needs to be done always."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug082019

Identical twins get near-identical breast cancer diagnoses just weeks apart

Metta Siebert(NEW YORK) -- Hanna Thompson and Metta Siebert are 35-year-old identical twins who attended college together and now talk daily, even though they live thousands of miles apart.

Earlier this year, the sisters were each diagnosed with breast cancer. Their diagnoses came within just weeks of each other.

“It was a one two punch to say the least,” Siebert told ABC News' Good Morning America. “I remember it was a Friday night [when I heard] and I was in my kitchen and I just kind of slumped on the floor and stayed there for 30 minutes.”

“You only have so much in your mental reservoir and that day it got pretty depleted,” she said.

Siebert, a nurse practitioner in Kansas, was diagnosed first, in June. She felt a lump on her left breast while she was in the shower and went to the doctor.

“The entire process from feeling the lump to starting chemotherapy was about one month,” she said.

Siebert’s diagnosis got Thompson, an attorney in California, thinking more about a lump she felt in her right breast while breastfeeding her now-15-month-old son prior to Metta’s diagnosis.

“I thought it was a clogged duct and wasn’t too concerned, but after Metta was diagnosed I saw my doctor and they sent me to get a mammogram and then a biopsy on the same day,” she said. “About a month later I had my first chemo.”

Both sisters have Stage 2A breast cancer. They are both currently undergoing chemotherapy, although different types.

Both sisters also plan to have a double mastectomy after finishing chemotherapy. They both found out after their diagnoses that they carry the BRCA2 gene, which greatly increases their risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

“Now with the BRCA2 gene [our diagnoses] make more sense but at the time it was very much surprising and debilitating,” said Siebert, mother of a 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.

Siebert's and Thompson's doctors both say the fact that they both got breast cancer is not unusual because they carry the BRCA2 gene. The sisters also have a family history of breast cancer.

What is more unusual, though, is the fact that they were diagnosed so close together.

"It is quite extraordinary I think for them to be diagnosed within weeks of each other," said Dr. Michelle Melisko, an oncologist at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, who is treating Thompson. "But being identical twins, they share the BRCA gene and that gene is what’s really responsible for them developing this pre-menopausal breast cancer."

Siebert's oncologist, Dr. Gregory Crane of the University of Kansas Cancer Center, also described the timing of the sisters' diagnoses as "a bit atypical."

He, like Melisko, pointed out though that Thompson and Siebert followed a similar pattern for lots of families that have multiple people with cancer, where one person's diagnosis motivates other family members to get cancer screenings.

"I’ve treated moms and daughters with breast cancer, usually where a mom is diagnosed and then a daughter goes and gets screened and is diagnosed," Crane said.

Siebert and Thompson said their already-close bond was forged even stronger by cancer. Though they texted daily before breast cancer, they now talk and text multiple times a day to share support and tips on everything from treatment plans to the best techniques to use to shave their heads.

"We’re talking all the time," said Thompson. "Metta is being hit hard by her chemo so I’m there to discuss it and offer options from my doctors and just commiserate."

"I think that it just bonds you in a whole other way that you didn’t think you were going to be bonded in or ever wanted to be bonded in," said Siebert. "If there's one shimmer of light in this terribleness it’s that at least I have my sister with me."

The sisters have started a GoFundMe account to help cover the costs of treatment and missed work, especially as they prepare for their double mastectomies ahead.

Siebert and Thompson said they have learned that "cancer does not discriminate," as they were both in great health and led healthy lives before their diagnoses. Thompson won a silver medal in fencing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

They also want people to learn from their experience and get screened for the BRCA gene mutation if they have a strong family history of breast cancer.

"It can save your life," said Siebert.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug072019

Hotel visitor contracts Legionnaires' and dies

Sean Pavone/iStock(ATLANTA) -- One person has died from the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Cameo Garrett, one of the 12 lab-confirmed cases of the disease, died of coronary artery atherosclerosis aggravated by Legionella in July, the medical examiner’s office in DeKalb County confirmed to ABC News.

There are now 61 probable cases of Legionnaires' disease among the people who stayed at or visited the Sheraton, the Georgia Department of Public health said in a statement.

The hotel has since closed and will remain closed until at least August 11, according to the general manager of the Sheraton Atlanta, Ken Peduzzi.

“Sheraton Atlanta continues to work closely with public health officials and environmental experts to determine if the hotel is the source of the outbreak,” Peduzzi said. “The health and safety of our employees and guests is our top priority.”

The Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) and the Fulton County Board of Health will both oversee safety testing and sampling being conducted by out an outside contractor, according to a GDPH spokesperson.

Legionnaires is a disease that causes severe lung inflammation and is usually caused by infection. It is often contracted by people inhaling the bacteria.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug072019

Nonprofit provides adoptive parents with 'hair care education'

Jerry Jorgenson(CHICAGO) -- Adoptive parents face unique joys and challenges, but for those who become parents to a child of a different race, there's even one more that they may not have anticipated.

Hair.

Jerry and Sarah Jorgenson are adoptive parents to three children. The oldest is 5-year-old Alia.

"She's biracial and Hispanic," Sarah Jorgenson told "Good Morning America." "For the first five years of my daughter's life I struggled with her hair and not for lack of trying. My African-American friends gave advice, my Hispanic friends too, but it just wasn't clicking."

Enter Styles for Kids, a non-profit organization that "provides high-quality, compassionate hair care education and services for African-American kids in foster care and transracial adoptive families," according to its web site. It was founded by Tamekia Swint, who Sarah Jorgenson credits with opening her eyes beyond her daughter's safety and physical needs.

"I wondered if I was doing a good job of protecting her emotionally," Jorgenson said once she found out about Swint's mission.

Swint got the idea for Styles for Kids when she was teaching a braiding class on a mission trip to Poland.

"One of the girls said, 'I always dreamed of having my hair like this.' And that really touched me," Jorgenson said. "I wondered how many other girls were dreaming. maybe there was something bigger."

The initial hair lessons with Swint, she said, gave her an "aha" moment.

"She made me a better mom, equipping me in a way I just wasn't before," Jorgenson said. "I don't think she realized that when she was showing me how to do a twist for the hundredth time."

These days it's Jerry who does the majority of the hour-long trips to Chicago with Alia to learn more about how to style her hair.

"I wasn't prepared for the emotional piece of it," he told "GMA." "We make a day of it, go out to dinner. and talk. It's a new way to love my daughter."

The desire to do right by Alia and her hair has deep roots.

Jerry Jorgenson said that Alia's birth mother -- also the birth mother to their 17-month-old son -- also is biracial and was made fun of for her hair as a child.

"Initially, she didn't want white adoptive parents because of the hair issue," he said. "That was a huge motivator for us."

"Hair is a big deal," said Swint. "It can make the difference between feeling really good about yourself and bad about yourself."

Alia, her dad said, definitely feels good about her hair.

"She shows her hair off, " he said. "She has a way of moving her head to say 'look at my hair. 'I’ve noticed she’s more confident and she looks like she feels beautiful."Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug072019

Denise Richards treats enlarged thyroid after fans noticed it on TV: Here's what to know about thyroid conditions

FatCamera/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Denise Richards is thanking fans for alerting her to a potential medical scare.

Richards, 48, shared on Instagram that fans told her she had an enlarged thyroid after watching her appearance on a recent reunion episode of the reality TV show.

“You were right, it was something I ignored until pointed out,” Richards captioned her post.

The mom-of-three went on to say that she has since eliminated gluten from her diet, which she says has helped her condition.

“I thank all of you who sent me messages,” Richards wrote, adding the hashtag #selfcare.

Richards is not alone as a woman facing a thyroid issue. One in eight women will develop thyroid problems during her lifetime, according to the U.S. Office on Women's Health.

Here is what to know about the thyroid and it's particular impact on women.

What is the thyroid?


The thyroid is a small and butterfly-shaped gland found at the base of the neck that is the "major hormonal regulator" for the entire body, according to ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

The thyroid hormone that the gland produces regulates the metabolism and affects everything from body temperature to how fast a person burns calories and how fast their heart beats, according to the Office on Women's Health.

Problems occur if the thyroid makes too much hormone or not enough.

How do thyroid issues impact women?


In women, thyroid diseases can affect menstruation because the thyroid helps control the menstrual cycle.

Thyroid disease can cause your periods to stop for several months or longer, or make periods very light, heavy or irregular, according to the Office on Women's Health.

Because thyroid disease affects the menstrual cycle, it also affects ovulation and can make it harder to get pregnant.

During pregnancy, thyroid hormone levels sometimes need to be carefully monitored and adjusted based on the patient's history and the provider's suspicion for thyroid disease. The American College of Obstetrics-Gynecology (ACOG) recommends against routine screening for thyroid disease in pregnancy. Providers may choose to screen based on the patient's history and symptoms.

After pregnancy, some women have abnormal levels of thyroid hormone for a year or more, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Who is most at risk for thyroid disease?


Thyroid problems are most likely to occur in women or in people over age 60. Having a family history of thyroid disorders also increases the risk, according to the NIH.

The women most at risk include those who have had a thyroid problem, who have had surgery or radiotherapy affecting the thyroid gland or who have a condition such as goiter, anemia, or type 1 diabetes, according to the Office on Women's Health.

What are the types of thyroid disease?


Nearly 1 in 20 Americans ages 12 and older has an under-active thyroid, or hypothyroidism, which can cause many body functions to slow down.

Around 1 in 100 people have an over-active thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, according to NIH.

Sometimes a thyroid can become enlarged for benign reasons and is temporary, according to Ashton. In other cases, an enlarged thyroid can be a sign that it is under-active or over-active, or there's an infection or cancer, she noted.

How is thyroid disease diagnosed?


Blood tests can help to confirm a diagnosis of a thyroid disease, though thyroid issues can be hard to detect.

Symptoms of a problem with the thyroid can include everything from weight loss or gain to fatigue.

Thyroid problems are often caused by autoimmune disorders, according to the NIH. One type of autoimmune disorder, Graves’ disease, can cause the thyroid to be over-active, while another, Hashimoto’s disease, can make the thyroid under-active.

How is thyroid disease treated?


Most cases of thyroid disease can be treated with medication.

Richards' option of going gluten-free to help her thyroid is supported by only limited and anecdotal data, experts say.

"Going gluten-free or changing your diet in any way can help you feel better, and as long as it does no harm, medically I’m all for it," said Ashton. "But if you have a significant thyroid condition, that needs traditional medical management, sometimes with an endocrinologist."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug062019

Moms turn to Facebook to donate breast milk. How safe is it?

NegMarDesign/iStock(NEW YORK) -- When Tiffany Riedel had a surplus of milk from breastfeeding her daughter Kinsley, now 1, she did not have to look far to find a fellow mom who wanted the milk for her own child.

Riedel, who lives in Michigan, turned to a breast milk donation group she found on Facebook.

"I donated about 1,500 ounces to four different moms," Riedel told Good Morning America. "They each came to my house to pick it up."

Riedel is part of a new wave of moms who have discovered the ability of social media to connect mothers who have a surplus of breast milk to other moms who cannot or do not want to breastfeed their child -- or those that can but need a bigger supply.

"This has been occurring since the beginning of time," Diane Spatz, director of the lactation program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said of moms sharing breast milk. "Hundreds of years ago when there wasn’t formula and they couldn't breastfeed, they went to another friend or neighbor or family member and that person fed the baby."

"But until recently milk sharing hasn’t even been something that was talked about," she added. "It was like put in a closet and locked away."

The Mothers' Milk Bank that Spatz leads at CHOP is part of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, an organization that voluntarily oversees nonprofit milk banks in the U.S. that supply donated breast milk to babies who are medically in need. There are only 27 HMBANA-endorsed milk banks across the U.S.

Because milk banks first give donated milk to babies who are critically in need -- and because the screening process milk banks use makes it cost-prohibitive for most families -- many people turn to Facebook, family and friends for help.

"Parents with healthy kids don’t really have an option other than to feed their baby formula or access milk some other way," said Spatz. "And people understand that human milk really is a lifesaving medical intervention that helps babies grow and thrive."

A search on Facebook for breast milk donation groups brings up dozens of options with thousands of members. Conversations about donated breast milk also start in Facebook support groups for moms who are breastfeeding.

That is how Kristen Stojakovic, 34, of Pittsburgh, ended up donating 600 ounces of breast milk she pumped for her 6-month-old son, Slater, to a stranger who lives more than an hour away.

"A mom posted to see if anyone had extra for her adopted 7-month-old-son," said Stojakovic. "I already knew I wanted to donate because I had a lot of breast milk and my freezer was full and I saw her post and thought, 'Well this is a great opportunity."

"It’s definitely like a sisterhood," she said of the chains of donations. "I think when you start being able to help not only your own child but also someone else's, you feel really proud and want to be able to help."

Stojakovic followed what experts say are best practices for both the donors of breast milk and the parents who accept it.

She voluntarily disclosed all of her medical information, shared where she stores her breast milk, and shared details about her lifestyle, like being a non-smoker. She also checked via the Facebook group to make sure the mom was a "legitimate person in need."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends against feeding babies' breast milk acquired online or through an individual, according to guidelines on its website.

Parents who have consulted with a healthcare provider and decided to feed their baby with donated human milk should only "use milk from a source that has screened its milk donors and taken other precautions to ensure the safety of its milk," according to the FDA.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, followed thereafter by breastfeeding plus other appropriate, nutritious foods, citing a body of evidence that shows breast milk is nutritionally, economically and ecologically superior to formula or other breast milk substitutes.

The AAP also advises parents against using "Internet-based or informal human milk sharing," explaining that those sources of breast milk "carry the risk of bacterial or viral contamination, or exposure to medications, drugs, herbs or other substances"

Spatz said it's critically important that families who do choose to get donated breast milk know how to access it in the safest way possible.

"I think how families have to think about it is, in everything we do in our life we should be making a risk-benefit analysis," she said. "Everyone is making on a daily basis decisions about their health and lifestyle, and providing a baby with human milk is no different."

"Most health professionals are going to say, 'Don’t milk share. It’s risky. Don't do it,'" Spatz added. "But if a woman really thinks human milk is important for their child, they’re going to do it because they’ve done their homework."

Spatz's No. 1 tip for parents is to not purchase donated breast milk online.

"If you’re giving someone money, that person may be motivated differently because they’re getting money," she said. "You want someone who is doing this altruistically because they want to help you."

Her second tip is for parents to feel empowered to ask their donor about her health history, including her medical labs, medication use, history of alcohol and drug use and lifestyle. That conversation should also include asking the mom how she stores her milk and making sure she safely cleans and sanitizes her breast pump.

"Most breastfeeding mothers are not going to be engaging in behaviors that are not safe for their own child, but it's still important for families who want milk to be having these open and honest conversations," she said.

Research shows that donated breast milk is not a direct equivalent of a mom's own breast milk, but it is better than formula for babies, according to Spatz.

Moms produce breast milk with antibodies that are a direct response to their baby's needs at that moment. The composition of a mom's breast milk also changes as the child grows older, so breast milk donated by the mom of a 1-year-old may not meet the nutrient needs of a newborn who is being fed donated breast milk.

"For the first two weeks [after giving birth] the mother’s job is just to eat, sleep and breastfeed so she gets the right supply," she said. "We really need to absolve moms of all other responsibilities but making milk for the baby."

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