New marijuana-based pharmaceutical drug approved by FDA


(NEW YORK) -- Epidiolex, a medication formulated from a cannabidiol (CBD) substance derived from the marijuana plant was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for children and adults over the age of 2. It treats Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), two rare epilepsy disorders that primarily affect children.

What is Epidiolex?

Epidiolex is an oral liquid-based drug made from the cannabidiol (CBD) portion of cannabis. Compared to the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) portion, CBD is not psychoactive, so taking this drug would not result in a high for the user.

CBD acts on different parts of the nervous system compared with THC. According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), THC and CBD both may be useful for nausea caused by cancer treatments. Neither marijuana-derived substances, however, have been medically approved since they both fall under the Schedule 1 drug classification, WHICH IS TK, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Why was it approved?

The drug was approved by the FDA on Monday after a review of four large studies that looked at Epidiolex for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome in both adults and children.

The first major study looked at the effect of Epidiolex for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in May. In the study, the researchers enrolled 225 patients, ages 2 to 55 (all of whom had two or more seizures per day) to two different doses of Epidiolex or a placebo that contained no medicine. The trial lasted 14 weeks. The average seizure frequency dropped by 41.9 percent in the higher dose group and by 37.2 percent in the lower dose group and was down 17.2 percent in the placebo group (an inactive placebo often has a medicinal effect).

“We knew about the potential for CBD in seizure treatment for years, so we expected a response. Yet we were surprised at how robust the response was in this study,” Dr. Anup Patel, a pediatric neurologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio and one of the lead authors of the study, told ABC News.

The second major study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in May, and it looked at the effect of Epidiolex for Dravet syndrome. Researchers enrolled 120 children and young adults to compare Epidiolex to standard anti-epileptic treatment. After 14 weeks, the average seizure frequency dropped by at least half in 43 percent of people who took Epidiolex and 5 percent of the people taking the medication became seizure-free.

Both Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome are diagnosed by a clinical exam and EEG by a doctor, ideally a doctor who specializes in brain conditions for children, known as a pediatric neurologist. Dravet Syndrome is confirmed with a genetic test.

What are the side effects of this medication?

In the trial, the main side effect was liver toxicity, which appeared as increased liver enzymes.

“Others may have felt more sedated, nauseous or experienced diarrhea or vomiting, but these were not life-limiting symptoms,” Patel told ABC News.

Dr. Nicholas Chadi, a pediatrician completing his fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital in pediatric and adolescent addictions, points to the limited research on CBD side effects in general.

“Only recently have we been able to separate CBD from THC, and to create substances with very high CBD content,” Chadi told ABC news. “So we don’t really know much about the effect of CBD on the developing brain or whether it could be addictive in the long run.”

Chadi noted there's significant research on the negative implications of THC, which is what produces the high in “weed” and affects the developing brain.

“There is some research that indicates that CBD specifically could interact with other medications such as statins, and increases the amount of those medications in the blood,” Chadi said.

When can parents of children with LGS or Dravet syndrome access Epidiolex?

The medication needs to go through several more steps before it's available as a prescription. First, the DEA will be moving towards de-listing CBD as a Schedule 1 drug. The pharmaceutical manufacturer behind the drug, GW Pharmaceuticals, is negotiating prices with health insurance companies. The process is expected to take 90 days, according to the FDA media briefing on Monday. ABC News also confirmed this expected timeline with Christy Curran, spokesperson for GW Pharmaceuticals.

“We don’t expect to know the price until the fall, but over the coming weeks, we’ll work with setting a price with the insurance providers. We expect it to be covered by most insurers,” Justin Gover, the chief executive officer of GW Pharmaceuticals, told ABC News.

Can it be used for other epilepsy conditions in children and adults?

Not currently.

“The [pharmaceutical company] is also looking for other disease states for which the drug can help, but we don’t yet know what these are,” Patel told ABC News, adding that FDA approval means that it will be easier for the drug to be studied by other groups.

What should parents be aware of now?

All parents should be aware of unregulated CBD products on the market, an issue raised by both the FDA and Patel.

“We get at least one inquiry a day from patients either using, or considering using, CBD that they ordered online. The problem is these substances are not regulated, so it’s hard to know how to dose them. They may also be contaminated with other things, so the safety, particularly for children, is concerning,” Patel told ABC News.

“Patients should be having conversations with their physicians about these products,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., cautioned. “As to whether this product provides them with the treatment they are looking for. These products haven’t been tested for safety and effectiveness.”

Overall, the approval is great news for parents of children suffering from Dravet syndrome or LGS, even if it will take at least three months before the medication hits pharmacy shelves.

“We are encouraging our patients to wait and explain to them why it’s a better way to go instead of using things that aren’t studied or tested," Patel said. "There is light at the end of our tunnel and soon we hope physicians can prescribe the medication for all patients in need."

Amitha Kalaichandran is a pediatrics resident at the University of Ottawa working in the ABC News Medical Unit in New York.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Flight attendants may have increased risk for certain cancers: Study


(NEW YORK) -- Working at 36,000 feet may come with a medical issue: flight attendants could be at an increased cancer risk compared to those of us who don’t fly as often, a new study finds.

This study surveyed more than 5,300 flight attendants (80% were female), and compared them to around 2,700 people who had similar income and educational status but worked on the ground, as part of the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study.

The survey used validated questions from the Job Content Questionnaire and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Of those surveyed, 91% were current flight attendants and 9% were former flight attendants.

Why are cancer rates higher in flight attendants?

This group of workers hasn’t been studied much, despite having clear factors related to increased cancer risk: they are exposed to radiation from the upper atmosphere, constant disruptions in their sleep-wake cycle, and contact with cabin chemicals like pesticides and flame retardants.

One of the most unusual risks is cosmic ionizing radiation (radiation from outer space that penetrates airplanes). During their in-flight time in the upper atmosphere, they aren’t shielded from that radiation by 35,000 feet of air, as they are on the ground. Ionizing radiation is particularly damaging to DNA, and damaged DNA can cause cancer.

There is sparse literature on this topic, and future research is needed to evaluate the association between in-flight exposures and cancer among the cabin crew, monitoring their exposure to ionizing radiation, and figuring out ways to minimize this exposure.

Which cancer risks are increased in flight attendants?

Female flight attendants had a higher prevalence of every cancer, especially breast cancer and skin cancer – including melanoma (the deadliest skin cancer) and other non-melanoma types of skin cancers, such as basal cell and squamous cell. This news stands out partly because flight attendants avoid many other common risk factors for cancer, like smoking and obesity.

"Our findings of higher rates of several cancers among flight attendants is striking given the low rates of overweight and smoking in our study population, which highlights the question of what can be done to minimize the adverse exposures and cancers common among cabin crew," said Irina Mordukhovich, lead author and a research associate at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The amount of time in the air clearly matters; working for five years as a flight attendant increased the risk of non-melanoma skin cancers, but was not significantly associated with breast cancer or melanoma skin cancers.

What were limitations of this study?

This study is limited in a few ways: it used self-reported health information and only evaluates one point in time. Flight attendants were recruited, then people volunteered to answer surveys (that’s called selection bias – those with cancer or without cancer may have been more likely to want to participate).

It is also possible that some of these cancers occurred earlier in life, unrelated to their occupation, since they didn’t ask when the cancers occurred.

The study cannot say that being a flight attendant “causes” cancer; it can only make an observation that they seem linked.

How can cancer risks be minimized in flight attendants?

The US, according to the study authors, needs to catch up to the European Union (EU), which employs protections for their flight attendants. It requires airlines to monitor radiation dose (especially for pregnant attendants), organizes schedules to reduce radiation exposure, and informs workers of current studies.

What about customers who are frequent fliers?

Dr. Mordukhovich knows of no studies about cancer risk in frequent fliers, but they are at risk of being exposed to ionizing radiation and possible shifts in their sleep-wake cycles. 30 flight hours of exposure to ionizing radiation would equal one chest x-ray, but they spend much less time in the air than a flight crew.

As airline policy changes work to catch up with research, flight attendant and frequent fliers can take steps now to help protect themselves from possible cancer-causing agents. Wearing sunscreen while aboard a plane, sleeping on a normal sleep schedule on days not flying, exercising, and eating healthy foods all will help.

Dr. Karine Tawagi is an Internal Medicine resident in Ann Arbor, Michigan working in the ABC News Medical Unit. Petrina Craine is an emergency medicine resident physician in Oakland, California working in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Cannabis dispensaries boycott 'Permit Patty' after she threatened to call cops on child

Obtained by ABC News(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A San Francisco woman caught on video threatening to call the police on an 8-year-old African American girl is now facing a boycott of her cannabis business.

Multiple marijuana dispensaries in the Bay Area have publicly denounced Alison Ettel, the founder of cannabis company TreatWell, after she was captured on video confronting her neighbor, Jordan, 8, for selling bottled water. The video was taken by the girl's mother, Erin Austin.

The story went viral on Saturday after Austin filmed the exchange, saying she feared the situation might be racially motivated. Jordan is biracial and Ettel is white.

"Calling the police on any person of color these days is an issue. They come, they shoot first and they ask questions later," Austin told "Good Morning America" Monday. "Knowing that and knowing everything that's going on in the media, why would you call the police on a child of color?"

Ettel did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment via email, voicemail and text message.

But she has publicly denied accusations of racism and has said she has gotten death threats since the video was posted. Ettel said her complaint stemmed from the fact that she was working from home and the noise bothered her.

"I tried to be polite but I was stern," Ettel told NBC News’ "Today" in an interview. "And I said, 'Please, I'm trying to work. You're screaming. You're yelling, and people have open windows. It's a hot day. Can you please keep it down?'"

She also released a statement expressing regret for her actions.

"I have no problem with enterprising young women. I want to support that little girl. It was all the mother and just about being quiet," Ettel's statement read. "I had been putting up with this for hours, and I just snapped."

As for calling the cops, Ettel claimed after the fact that she was only pretending to call. A spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department, Robert Rueca, confirmed to ABC News that "there is no complaint nor do we have any record as to whether she called."

"I completely regret that I handled that so poorly," Ettel said. "It was completely stress-related, and I should have never confronted her. That was a mistake, a complete mistake."

Despite the apologies, both Ettel and TreatWell are facing a boycott and backlash.

One dispensary, Berkeley Patients Group, posted on its Facebook page that it will "no longer carry" TreatWell's tinctures, concentrated medicinal extracts in bottles with rubber droppers. TreatWell makes cannabis products for people and pets.

Instead, Berkeley Patients Group vowed to donate profits "from their "remaining inventory to Cinnamongirl Inc, an Oakland-based mentoring organization for ambitious girls of color."

Oakland, California-based Magnolia Wellness also called out Ettel's "tone-deafness" and announced it would end its relationship with TreatWell.

"Treatwell has been one of the top sellers at Magnolia for some time," read a statement posted on their Facebook page. "A decision was made to immediately stop selling this product. We are going to replace it with some equally effective tinctures."

San Francisco-based SPARC dispensaries also stated publicly that they are done doing business with TreatWell.

"Effective immediately, we have ceased our relationship with Treatwell and will no longer sell their products," the dispensary tweeted on Monday.

The video was posted on social media by Jordan's aunt on Saturday with the hashtag: "#PermitPatty" -- a clear nod to a similar situation back in April where a white woman in Oakland, California called the police on a black family barbecuing legally in a public park. That woman was dubbed #BbqBecky.

In the few seconds of footage, Austin speaks into the phone as she walks up to Ettel, who can be seen holding her cell phone and squatting behind a cement wall.

"She's calling the police on a little 8-year-old girl selling water," Austin is heard saying as nears Ettel. "You can hide all you want -- the whole world is gonna see you, boo."

Ettel stands up and talks into the phone saying, "Yeah, illegally selling water without a permit."

Austin counters, "On my property."

Ettel responds, "It's not your property."

On "GMA" Monday, Jordan said that she hoped to sell enough water bottles to fund a trip to Disneyland.

The girl said that she and her mom had been pulling bottles from a cooler nearby for about 15 minutes when Ettel approached, "saying she was trying to work and we were being too loud."

"I did not want to see the police because I was scared," Jordan told "GMA."

She said the incident changed the way she views her neighbor.

Jordan said that she is convinced that Ettel, who is white, was motivated by greed and racism "because I think she doesn’t care about people's skin colors, because she doesn't care about people's lives except for hers."

The fallout since the video surfaced and spread like wildfire online has also found critics chiming in on TreatWell's Yelp! page.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Music education could help children improve their language skills



(NEW YORK) -- While many people often consider music a universal language, a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study done in Beijing shows that it may help with spoken language as well.

Kindergarten students who took piano lessons showed increased capabilities to distinguish pitch and understand spoken words -- and it showed up on their brain scans, according to the study's findings.

Researchers from the International Data Group (IDG)/McGovern Institute at Beijing Normal University wanted to compare the effects of music education on reading versus standard reading training. The reading training included an interactive reading experience, in which the teacher read words aloud from enlarged texts, and the students read along with the teacher.

"If children who received music training did as well or better than children who received additional academic instruction, that could be a justification for why schools might want to continue to fund music,” Robert Desimone, Ph.D., senior author of the research article and director of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, explained.

A group of 74 Mandarin-speaking children, ages 4 to 5, were randomly assigned to three smaller groups. One group got piano training, the second group was trained in reading, and a third control group received no extra training at all. Piano training included 45-minute piano sessions three times a week.

After six months of piano lessons, researchers found that the students were better at differentiating between spoken words and vowel sounds. The group with reading training had similar results. However, the difference between these two groups came in “consonant-based word discrimination.” The piano lessons group did better; this correlated to the group’s response to differences in musical pitch, which was observed immediately after the children heard a pair of notes in a sound-proof room and were then asked to differentiate between pitches.

While the study involved a small sample size and the differences in performance between the piano lesson and reading groups weren't found in all studied areas, the researchers say that the findings were still significant when looking at language study.

"The children didn't differ in the more broad cognitive measures,” Desimone said, “but they did show some improvements in word discrimination, particularly for consonants. The piano group showed the best improvement there.”

Additionally, the brain activity of the students was measured with electroencephalography (EEG), a measurement of the electrical activity of the brain. The EEG showed stronger responses when piano students listened to a series of tones with different pitches.

The results of this study give a boost to the idea of music training in kindergarten students as a method of enhancing the way brain cells and neurons process and respond to pitch.

Although there were improved language processing and auditory word discrimination in the children who took piano lessons, all three experimental groups had similar outcomes in overall cognition measures, which included IQ, working memory, and attentiveness.

Desimone explained the potential benefits of this study.

"There are positive benefits to piano education in young kids, and it looks like for recognizing differences between sounds including speech sounds, it's better than extra reading," he said. "That means schools could invest in music and there will be [a] generalization to speech sounds. It's not worse than giving [an] extra reading to the kids, which is probably what many schools are tempted to do -- get rid of the arts education and just have more reading."

Denise Powell is an MD Candidate and student from Jackson, Mississippi, working in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Harvard law grad talks childbirth, raising her daughter at school YORK) -- Lawyer Briana Williams will never forget the panic she felt when she went into labor during final exams at Harvard Law School.

“I didn't want like, my water to break in class or something!” Williams, 24, told "The View" co-host Sara Haines Monday. “That would be really embarrassing!”

She started experiencing contractions while completing her family law exam. At first she wasn't sure what they were.

“I was like, let me go and get checked,” Briana said she remembered thinking. “The doctor said I was dilated, I was in labor — and I was like, ‘I have a final exam to do!’”

Williams had a friend bring her laptop and bag to the hospital. She asked for an epidural right away.

“I just finished it right there!” Williams said of her exam.

“Really, I just realized I would have to get it done,” she said. “I didn't want to wait until after the baby was there, because I want to spend my time bonding and ... learning how to be a new mom.”

After Evelyn was born, Williams reorganized her schedule to maximize the time they had together. She spent afternoons with her and the rest of the night studying, once Evelyn was asleep.

No amount of scheduling, however, could have made this journey easy for the new mom.

“Some days I was so mentally and emotionally fatigued that I did not leave my bed,” Williams wrote in her viral Instagram post.

She also revealed that she struggled with finding reliable child care — on top of her academic work.

“It was not atypical to see me rushing through Wasserstein to the Dean of Students’ office with Evelyn in her carriage, asking DOS can they keep her for a few until class was over,” Williams wrote. “If not, she’d just have to come with me to class. Evie attended classes often.”

Williams graduated from Harvard on May 24 and received her J.D. But Williams wanted the other part of her story to be told, too.

“It's hard to be completely transparent through a roll of photographs that are supposed to show your greatest moments,” Williams said of her Instagram post. “I just wanted to be a little bit vulnerable and show people like, no -- I'm showing graduation photos but there's a story behind it.”

Williams wrote powerfully about rising above the odds she faced by being admitted to Harvard Law School, becoming a single mom and finishing her degree.

“Evelyn- they said that because of you I wouldn’t be able to do this,” Williams wrote. “Just know that I did this BECAUSE OF YOU. Thank you for giving me the strength and courage to be invincible.”

Williams has one message for mothers: “You don't have to choose to be your best at one thing and sacrifice the other… You don't have to choose to be a great mother or a great can do both!”

“Just try to balance your time and understand there will be things that you're sacrificing, there will be things that you might give up on either side, but if you work hard ... you can do it — just push through,” Williams said.

She now lives in Los Angeles, and is working in the litigation department of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


A new a melatonin-fueled drink promises to help you sleep

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You can buy drinks with caffeine to rev you up, and now you can also buy a drink with melatonin that says it will help you sleep.

Som Sleep is making a splash in the wellness market as a drink that promises to promote relaxation and help maintain a normal sleep cycle.

Whether a melatonin-fueled drink is safe and necessary is debatable, according to a registered dietitian consulted by "Good Morning America."

An 8-ounce can of Som Sleep, which comes in regular and sugar-free versions, contains not just melatonin but also magnesium, vitamin B6, GABA and L-theanine.

The idea for the drink, the company's co-founder, John Shegerian, said, came when he almost crashed his car into oncoming traffic when he "nodded off" behind the wheel. The product launched in January and is now sold in national retailers like GNC.

"A sleep supplement only works if people use it. That's why we created Som Sleep to fit better sleep seamlessly into everyone's lifestyle," Shegerian told ABC News in a statement. "Our 8.1-ounce can is a format people are very familiar with -- it's simple, easy to consume, and you don't need instructions on how to pop open a can. I think that's one of the many reasons we're seeing such great feedback and adoption thus far. Plus, many Americans are chronically dehydrated, which leads to fragmented sleep, so our liquid format helps address that issue also."

Shegerian uses "healthy" buzzwords to describe the product, adding, "To top it off, Som is drug-free, non-habit-forming, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, NSF Certified for Sport ... and the list goes on!"

An eight-ounce can of Som Sleep contains 357 milligrams of a blend of L-theanine, GABA and melatonin and 40 milligrams of magnesium, according to the label.

If you believe the more than 200 mostly positive reviews on Amazon, Som Sleep has earned a four of out five-star rating on the e-commerce giant’s website.

But do you need to spend $9.99, the price of a 4-pack of Som on Amazon, for a good night’s sleep? And are any melatonin supplements a good choice for a good night’s rest?

We asked Maya Feller, a New York-based registered dietitian, for her take.

Can Som Sleep's ingredients help with sleep?

"There is research that has found that each of these supplements can improve either the quality or duration of sleep," Feller said, referring to melatonin, magnesium, vitamin B6, GABA and L-theanine.

But there's a big caveat, one that comes with all supplements not required to be tested for effectiveness by any government agency.

"The big takeaway is, before starting to take it, because it is a supplement, talk to your healthcare provider," Feller said.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in sleep. Melatonin production and release in the brain rises in the evening and falls in the morning, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Short-acting, over-the-counter melatonin does not appear to have clinically meaningful benefits on sleep, research shows.

Do people in their 20s and 30s need a melatonin supplement?

Probably not, Feller said.

"Before you start a supplement, look at your sleep hygiene," she said. "Are you engaging in behavior that is stimulating right before going to bed? Are you watching TV right before you go to bed, are you drinking alcohol, are you smoking cigarettes, are you exercising really closely before going to bed?"

She continued, "I would try to modify those behaviors before taking a supplement."

What can I do besides take supplements for sleep?

In addition to skipping stimulants like alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes before bed, Feller also recommends avoiding eating a large meal close to bedtime.

If your own remedies do not work, talk to your primary care physician, Feller advised.

"If people are looking to [supplements] because they want to improve their sleep, and there's a problem, they should consider getting help," she said. "Sleep is incredibly important."

Some foods, including tart cherries, orange bell peppers and tomatoes, have also been shown to have some possibly helpful levels of melatonin.

Are there side effects of melatonin?

The hormone, which is usually taken as a supplement in pill form, was associated with a potential risk for depression as well as adverse cardiovascular effects, including arrhythmias, according to Dr. Dima Qato, who led a newly-released study that found the use of so-called "alternative" supplements in kids and teens doubled between 2003 and 2014.

Side effects of melatonin are uncommon but can include nausea, drowsiness, headache or dizziness, according to the NIH. There is also not much research on the longterm effects of taking the hormone as a supplement.

Why is sleep so important?

Sleep has effects not just on brain function, but on your diet too.

"Sleep is one of those topics where everyone says, 'Oh, I'm so tired,' but over time, not being well rested is detrimental," Feller said. "When the brain is tired, it wants more refined carbohydrates because it's a faster source of energy."

She added: "People who sleep consistently and engage in relaxation before bed and don't have the TV on, they tend to engage in better health choices all around, which in turn influences things like cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes."

What is good sleep hygiene?

Advice from the experts: Low light in the evening will help trigger your own natural melatonin.

A nighttime routine and not using the bed as a place to read, play video games or finish up work are all marks of good sleep hygiene.

If you've been lying awake for more than about 20 minutes, get up and read in a chair or another room with a dim light. The idea is to make sure that your mind sees the bed as a cue for relaxation and sleep.

And how long should you sleep for? There is no "magic number" for the number of hours you should be sleeping each night, according to Feller.

The goal, she said, is finding what works for you and consistently going to bed around the same time each night and waking up the same time each morning.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Texas mom breaks down as her 1-year-old hears for the first time

Cook Childrens(AMARILLO, Texas) -- A Texas mother burst into tears when she saw her 1-year-old daughter could hear sound for the first time.

The little girl was born unable to hear and doctors implanted a hearing device in May, but they did not activate it until this week.

Cook Children’s Hospital in Amarillo, Texas, released a video of the emotional moment when mother Anna Esler saw her daughter Ayla's reaction to having the cochlear implants turned on for the first time. The toddler is seen excitedly bopping up and down in her mother’s lap and touching her ear while her mother starts crying behind her.

“When I saw her happy and dancing and responding to sound for the first time in her life I just lost it because we’ve been waiting a long time for that,” Anna Esler told Fox 4 News.

Ayla’s father Will Esler said that they weren’t sure how they would react – or how Ayla would react.

“Like Anna, I was excited and scared and nervous and hopeful all at the same time,” Will Esler said in a statement provided to Cook Childrens Hospital. “I thought she would probably cry and scream when her CIs were activated—and she did do that later when it became overwhelming—but to see her hearing sound and enjoying it was just incredible.”

The moving scene took place on June 19, and it came after months of research into possible solutions.

“Being deaf isn’t bad, it’s just different, and so we had spent a lot of time preparing ourselves for what life would be like without Ayla hearing,” the couple said in the statement. “We had to let go of some things, like her knowing the sound of our voices, the sound of music, the sound of laughter. We had to prepare ourselves to see her enjoy those things in a different way, through the vibration of them, to ‘hear’ with her eyes.”

“When we found out that cochlear implants were an option for her, sound became a reality for her again, and we are so grateful for that,” they said.

Ayla had the four-hour implant surgery in late May, and audiologist Lisa Christensen said that doctors try to have patients receive the implants at as young an age as possible to avoid delays in speech development, language and learning.

“If we can make that happen right around six moth of age then those kids don’t show sign of speech, language or learning delayed,” Christensen told ABC News. “They can compete with all the other normally hearing peers.”

The journey isn’t over for Ayla, however, as all children that go through such an implant surgery will have to undergo specialized speech therapy called auditory therapy and their families are also trained to teach their kids to speak by talking through things instead of just taking actions.

“They spend a lot of time educating the family on talking to the child,” she said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Husband's daily rituals to care for wife with dementia will melt your heart

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Mary Jane Gacono suffers from dementia, but her husband and daughter have developed routines to try to help jog her fading memory.

"Mary will say, 'There's a picture, who's that? Who is that?' and it's one of our children," her husband, Carl Gacono, told ABC News. "She all of a sudden doesn't recognize some very close family members."

Carl, 88, and Mary Jane, 86, have been married nearly 70 years -- since 1950 -- and together have six children, 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Their daughter, Becky Gacono, 55, has spent time trying to help her mother remember the past, such as by reminding her of how she first met her husband. "Throwing a snowball," she told her mother.

"Oh yeah. Oh yes! Oh yes, yes," Mary Jane exclaimed.

Doctors suggested Carl come up with a routine to help stimulate his wife's memory. He reminds her daily of the same things so that she can more easily make associations.

"I always tell her she has two earrings, she has two necklaces, and she has a watch and a separate bracelet on there. So I say she has '2, 2, and 2,'" he explained. "Tomorrow she might say, 'Where’s my third necklace?' And I would say to her -- 'it’s 2, 2, 2. Remember?'"

Their daughter writes about her parents’ journey, sharing photos, updates and even a glimpse into what their life was like "BD," before dementia, as Becky details on a designated Facebook page, called "Our journey through our mom's dementia."

Becky said her parents and family have found truth in an age-old adage; laughter is the best medicine.

"We just noticed that, if we were happy, she was happier," Becky said. "She actually feels better when we’re enjoying each other -- she doesn’t know us by name anymore, and that’s OK. But she does know that we're people she loves and that's enough for all of us."

According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, which is the most common form of dementia, and that number increases every year.

Despite any difficulties, Carl said he is still thankful every day for his time with Mary Jane.

"I wouldn’t trade the experience I’ve had taking care of my wife, OK. I’d like to think she wouldn’t trade the experience of having [and] taking care of me," he reasoned. "We’ve had a great relationship. We’ve known each other for 70 years. We’ve been married for 67, I’d marry her for another 67 tomorrow."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


'Dancing doctor' accused of filming music videos during surgeries says she was being 'safe,' patients consented

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- A Georgia doctor, whose medical license was suspended after she was accused by patients of recording music videos during surgeries without their consent, says she was “safe” and the patients in her videos had agreed to participate.

“The videos were pre-consented, staged, and done at a safe interval,” Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte told ABC News in an exclusive interview. “Many [of the videos], most of them [were recorded] after the fact, during recovery, which was planned by me and the patient. So I would like everyone to understand that.”

Watch the full interview on "Good Morning America" FRIDAY, June 22 at 7 a.m. ET.

The state medical board suspended Davis-Boutte's license this month after it said the board-certified dermatologist’s actions were "a threat to the public health, safety and welfare," according to ABC News' Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV.

The state medical board suspended Davis-Boutte's license this month after it said the board-certified dermatologist’s actions were "a threat to the public health, safety and welfare," according to ABC News' Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV.

In multiple videos obtained by ABC News, Davis-Boutte and her staff could be seen singing and dancing as she operates on patients. The videos were posted to YouTube but have since been deleted.

As a physician in the state of Georgia, Davis-Boutte had been allowed to perform surgeries in her office-based setting.

Davis-Boutte is being sued by several patients who allege that their liposuctions and lifts went terribly wrong, according to WSB-TV. In her interview with ABC News, she declined to comment on specifics regarding lawsuits.

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There’s a new mosquito-borne virus in town, and you may have it

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Another disease to blame on mosquitos, in addition to Zika, dengue, chikungunya? The list of viruses infecting humans through pesky mosquito bites continues to increase: Keystone virus has joined the ranks.

What is Keystone virus? It’s from a family of viruses known as the Bunyaviridae group. These viruses have been associated with encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that can be fatal.

Where does it come from? The virus was first isolated in 1964 in samples from mosquitoes in Keystone, Florida. Little is known about it, except that is has been found in animals like white-tailed deer, raccoons, and squirrels. Though it was discovered in Florida, the virus has been found in coastal regions as far away as Texas.

How does it make people sick? A recent case report described a boy with signs and symptoms of an infection; he had Keystone virus in his tissue samples. Until then, it has not been known to make humans sick. It’s not the first infection, since people who live in an area where the mosquito and virus are more prevalent have been found to have antibodies against the virus in their blood. That means people have been exposed to and infected with the virus, but no one seems to have previously reported getting sick from it. And no live virus had been found in humans until now. The virus is spread by Aedes atlanticus, a mosquito common in Florida and similar to Aedes aegypti, a mosquito known to spread viruses like dengue, Zika, and chikungunya.

How does a person know if they have it? Experts agree it most likely has some nonspecific signs and symptoms that are similar to other viral infections. The patient in the first reported human case had a fever and rash, which are common in viral infections. More research is warranted to see if there are any unique features of this disease in humans. Further details are unknown, but it is not currently viewed as life-threatening.

How is it treated and tested? There is no current test, vaccine, or antiviral treatment for the virus. Further details about its transmission, who is at risk of getting it, its short and long-term effects on humans, and its severity still need to be further studied.

How is it prevented? If you can’t fight the virus, fight the bite. It’s recommended, especially this summer, to prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellent, staying in air-conditioned areas, wearing long-sleeved, loose-fitting clothes when outside, and using insect screens in windows, dormers, and vents. Communities should also continue mosquito control programs to prevent breeding and to kill mosquitoes.

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