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Many Americans Shop to Improve Their Mood

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’re having a bad day, that’s good news for retailers.  A new survey finds 51.8 percent of Americans shop and spend money to improve their mood, and more than half of them admit they prefer to get their “retail therapy” fix online.

The survey of 1,000 adults by Ebates.com, an online shopping website, finds women are much more likely than men to shop and spend money to improve their mood: 63.9 percent vs. 39.2 percent.

Additional findings:

  •     18.9 percent of Americans engage in retail therapy to improve their mood after a tough day at work.
  •     14.6 percent shop after receiving bad news.
  •     12.2 percent buy something after having a fight with a significant other.
  •     When women engage in retail therapy, the number one item they shop for is clothes, followed by food, shoes, accessories and books/magazines.
  • For men, the number one mood-improvement purchase is food, followed by electronics, music/movies, clothes and games/toys.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Herpes Strikes Two More Infants After Ritual Circumcision

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two infants in the last three months in New York City's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community have been infected with herpes following a ritual circumcision, according to the health department. The boys were not identified.

In the most controversial part of this version of the Jewish ritual, known as metzitzah b'peh, the mouth of the practitioner, or mohel, comes in direct contact with the circumcision wound.

One of the two infected babies developed a fever and lesion on its scrotum seven days after the circumcision, and tests for HSV-1 were positive, according to the health department.

Last year, the New York City Board of Health voted to require parents to sign a written consent that warns them of the risks of this practice. None of the parents of the two boys who were recently infected signed the form, according Jay Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Varma said it was "too early to tell" if the babies will suffer long-term health consequences from the infection.

Since 2000, there have been 13 cases of herpes associated with the ritual, including two deaths and two other babies with brain damage.

Neonatal herpes infections can cause death or disability among infants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"First, these are serious infections in newborns and second, there is no safe way an individual can perform oral suction on an open wound," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University. "Third, these terrible infections are completely preventable. They should not occur in the 21st century with our scientific knowledge."

Some rabbis told ABC News last year that they opposed on religious grounds the law requiring parents to sign a waiver, insisting it has been performed "tens of thousands of times a year" worldwide. They say safeguarding the life of a child is one of the religion's highest principles.

"This is the government forcing a rabbi practicing a religious ritual to tell his congregants it could hurt their child," Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of the Hasidic United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg, told ABC News. "If, God forbid, there was a danger, we would be the first to stop the practice."

In January, a federal judge ruled against the group's legal maneuver to block the city policy.

"As enacted, the regulation does no more than ensure that parents can make an informed decision whether to grant or deny such consent," Judge Nami Reice Buchwald said at the time, according to the New York Daily News.

Some estimate that 70 percent of the general population is infected with the Type 1 herpes I (HSV-1), which can be transmitted from the mouth to the child, causing painful ulcers. It is different from Type 2 or genital herpes (HSV-2), which is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause deadly infections of the brain when a newborn passes through an infected birth canal.

"A herpes infection in a newborn baby has the risk of leading to severe illness and death," said Varma. "The reason is that the baby doesn't have the same fully developed immune system as an adult. Instead of staying in the genital area, it extends throughout different organs in the body."

The health department had issued alerts about the two latest cases -- one in January and one in March -- to urge all medical providers and laboratory staff to inquire about "direct oral suction" during a circumcision when evaluating newborn males for sepsis and to consider herpes.

The more than 5,000-year-old religious practice of circumcision is performed during a Jewish religious ceremony known as the bris, which is observed by Jews of all denominations around the world.

The modern Jewish community uses a sterile aspiration device or pipette to clean the wound in a circumcision. About two-thirds of boys born in New York City's Hasidic communities are circumcised in the oral suction manner, according to Rabbi David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Look-Alike Dolls for Kids with Down Syndrome

Courtesy Karen Scott(ROBINSON TOWNSHIP, Pa.) -- A Pennsylvania mother has made it her goal to create dolls with which children of various disabilities can identify.

Connie Feda, 49, of Robinson Township, Pa., started Dolls for Downs in 2010, which has 16 dolls available for kids with Down syndrome.

“This would all be Hannah’s idea,” Feda said of her own daughter, 13. “When she was about 9, she was flipping through a catalog, she saw a doll that looked like her sister.  She said, ‘No doll looks like me.’”

The search for a doll Hannah could enjoy was unsuccessful. “All the dolls were not attractive at all,” Feda said. “They didn’t look like her.”

Dolls for Downs was Feda’s alternative to the only “outdated” dolls available for children with Down syndrome. “I knew I couldn’t be the only mom who felt this way,” Feda said.

“All these moms said, ‘If you find out, let me know. I would like to get that for my daughter.’”

Feda exchanged design ideas with Karen Scott, a doll sculptor from Michigan, for six months before Hannah finally had a doll that resembled her.

The dolls’ design is also geared toward developing the motor skills for a child with Down syndrome.  The boy and girl dolls, each costing $75, come with large buttons and heavy zippers to help translate those skills from the doll to the child’s actual clothing.

“The hair designed for brushing was important to us,” Feda said. “We incorporated those skills into the dolls as much as possible.”

Dolls can even include scars from surgery, which many children with Down syndrome, including Hannah, have had.

Feda has since been inundated with calls from several parents and organizations asking for dolls for other disabilities.  Dolls for Downs will soon include dolls for children with autism, wheelchairs or dwarfism.

What makes Dolls for Downs‘ doll unique is Feda’s personal understanding of children with disabilities.  “They’re age appropriate,” Feda, a mother of six, said. “A lot of times kids with intellectual disabilities are given baby toys.  It’s condescending. It doesn’t mean their understanding of what they are is younger.”

Feda, with the support of her family and encouragement she has received from throughout the world, is working to change that standard.

“We’re trying to say, ‘Look, none of us are the same. No one aspect of what you are or who you are defines who you are as a person,’” Feda said. “In general, people with disabilities are dismissed and their personhood is diminished because people don’t look at them as a person first.”

Eventually, Feda would like to establish a company with the ability to employ as many people with intellectual disabilities as possible in whatever capacities they could work.  “I look at my Hannah,” she said. “There’s nothing she’d rather do than help you with what you’re doing.”

Now Hannah, and many other children with disabilities, can play with dolls to which they can relate.

“There’s so many kids out there, and we’d like to do as many as we can,” Feda said.

“Play is what a kid does all day long, so if you can, make that play better.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Bird Flu Deaths Prompt Shanghai Poultry Slaughter

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- The new bird flu strain in China has killed a sixth person and sickened eight others, officials announced on Friday.

The same day, a Shanghai market where the virus was detected in pigeons halted live bird sales and slaughtered all poultry.

More than 20,500 chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons were slaughtered, according to the Xinhua News Agency.  The market is the first to temporarily close because of the outbreak.

“The key to control the number of H7N9 patients depends on whether the virus can spread among human beings,” said Wu Fan, director of the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control & Prevention, at a press conference, according to Xinhua.  “So far we haven’t found any cases that show this kind of virus can spread from people to people.”

American scientists are working on a vaccine for the new bird flu, H7N9, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The agency is also assessing the need for new tests to detect the virus, which experts say has mutated to infect mammals.

“All of these actions are routine preparedness measures taken whenever a new novel influenza virus is detected in humans,” the CDC said on its website Thursday.

This is the first time avian influenza A viruses, also known as H7N9, have been detected in humans, according to the CDC.  

”This is an evolving situation and there is still much to learn,” according to the agency.

The fifth victim of H7N9, a 48-year-old man from Shanghai, is believed to have had direct contact with fowl.  His was the sixth confirmed bird flu case -- and fourth death -- in Shanghai, according Xinhua.  The remaining cases were in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui.

The World Health Organization said the cases are not linked, but more than 400 close contacts of the infected patients are being monitored as a precaution.

“At this time there is no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission,” the agency said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


What Is Clean Eating?

Noel Hendrickson/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Clean eating is a term that’s tagged in tweets and blogs, posted on Instagram and Facebook, and seen on television screens.  But what is it exactly?  A diet?  A lifestyle?

The truth is, it’s a very simple concept.

“In some ways clean eating is what eating was always about,” said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

“Food that’s clean is food that’s for the most part real food and not encumbered with things that compromise health: artificial flavorings, artificial colorings, sugar substitutes,” said Katz.

The clean eating rule of thumb is: The shorter the ingredient list, the better.  No specific food is off-limits as long as it’s a real, honest-to-goodness food.  In other words, this isn’t a “diet” that bans bread or sacrifices sugar.

“I don’t think sugar makes food unclean.  Pure fruits are not unclean foods.  You can add sugar to foods, and it can be clean. … It’s not about banishing any particular type of ingredient,” said Katz.  "It needs to be a holistic concept.  There’s a real danger in placing it on just one ingredient.”

Chef Ric Orlando, a pioneer of clean eating and the author of We Want Clean Food, takes a more organic, local approach to clean eating.  He recommends local foods because they have less impact on the environment.

Clean eating for Orlando doesn’t limit protein or fried foods.  Natural chicken, sustainable seafood, grass-fed cow’s milk are some meat options, and he suggests frying with non-genetically modified oils.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Judge Orders FDA to Lift Age Restrictions on Morning-After Pill

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A federal judge in New York on Friday ordered the Food and Drug Administration to lift longstanding restrictions on emergency contraception.

Plan B, commonly known as the morning-after pill, has been proven safe and effective for all ages.  Therefore, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman says, it should be available over the counter for all ages.

Currently, emergency contraception is available over the counter for women 17 and older; girls 16 and younger need a prescription.

In his ruling, Korman was careful to steer clear of issues involving teen sex and abortion.  He said he made the decision based solely on the pill’s safety.

“The standards are the same for aspirin and for contraceptives,” Korman wrote in his ruling.  “I decide this case based only on my understanding of the applicable standard.”

Responding to the judge's decision, Nancy Northup, the president and CEO for the Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said "science has finally prevailed over politics."

"This landmark court decision has struck a huge blow to the deep-seated discrimination that has for too long denied women access to a full range of safe and effective birth control methods," Northup said.

"Women all over the country will no longer face arbitrary delays and barriers just to get emergency contraception.  It’s a true victory for all women, especially young women, women without government-issued identification, and those who live in areas with limited pharmacy hours," she continued.

When reached by ABC News, the FDA said this is an ongoing legal matter and did not comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Caffeine Gum Rattles Nerves of Health Experts

Wrigley(NEW YORK) -- A cup of coffee or tea is a crucial morning ritual for many Americans.  But now a new line of caffeinated gum is promising to sooth commuters on the run and raising concerns among health experts about the proliferation of such products.

Last month, Wrigley announced it was introducing a caffeine-infused gum called Alert Energy Gum. With 40 mg of caffeine in every stick of gum, the Alert Energy Gum has the same amount of caffeine as approximately half a cup of coffee.

“This is something [consumers] can take with them and something that’s a little bit discrete,” said Jennifer Jackson-Luth, a Wrigley spokeswoman.  “It can fit in their pocket.”

In recent years, caffeine has appeared in a wide array of products, from lollipops to bottled water to shower soap.  However, the rise of highly caffeinated products has raised concerns about the health risks, especially in energy drinks where caffeine doses can reach up to hundreds of milligrams per can.

Earlier this month, a group of 18 doctors and public health experts petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to protect children and teens from highly caffeinated energy drinks, writing that, “Youth with higher caffeine intake commonly report troubling neurological symptoms, including nervousness, anxiety, jitteriness, and headache.”

Dr. Donna Seger, executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center and professor of Clinical Medicine at Vanderbilt University, says 40 mg of caffeine per stick of gum is unlikely to sicken a teenager or adult, but a toddler could be affected if they manage to sneak a few too many sticks.

“The nervous system isn’t developed till you’re in your twenties,” said Seger.  “All of these stimulants can [affect an underdeveloped system.]”

Wrigley warns that the gum is not intended for children or those sensitive to caffeine and will be marketed to those over the age of 25.

As more caffeinated products come on the market, Seger says she expects that more people could become caffeine-dependent and need a little extra jolt of energy to get through the day.

“If that [it] is a positive experience and you feel like it’s something you want,” said Seger of the caffeinated gum.  “You’re going to use it more and more frequently.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Four Worst Things You Can Do to Your Hair

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Most women only think of wrinkles when they get older, but most don’t take into consideration the role everyday activities play in damaging their hair. 

Beauty expert Gretta Monahan of Angelo David Salon in New York City shared these four common beauty habits you should avoid for healthy hair:

1.  Take down the turban.

One of the most damaging things you can do is put your hair up after you shower.  “When your hair is wet, that’s when it’s at its weakest point,” she says.

2.  Loosen up that ponytail.

“Putting the hair in a ponytail, clips, headbands.  Any time we are moving the hair in the opposite direction that it grows, we’re risking snapping or stretching the hair,” Monahan says.

3.  Keep your cool.

Try to avoid using heating tools like straighteners and curling irons every day.  Monahan recommends using restorative oils.  “As part of the drying process I would spray it on and really get that high shine process back to my hair… it also provides a protective element when I’m drying or straightening,” she says.

4.  Part ways.

Believe it or not, just switching up the way you part your hair can decrease stress on the follicles.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


US Developing Bird Flu Vaccine as Death Toll in China Rises to 5

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- American scientists are working on a bird flu vaccine amid an outbreak in China that has sickened 14 people and killed 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency is also assessing the need for new tests to detect the virus, which experts say has mutated to infect mammals.

“All of these actions are routine preparedness measures taken whenever a new novel influenza virus is detected in humans,” the CDC said on its website Thursday.

This is the first time avian influenza A viruses, also known as H7N9, have been detected in humans, according to the CDC.

“This is an evolving situation and there is still much to learn,” the agency said.

The latest victim of H7N9, a 48-year-old man from Shanghai, is believed to have had direct contact with fowl. His was the sixth confirmed case of bird flu in Shanghai, adding to four in Jiangsu, three in Zhejiang and one in Anhui, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The World Health Organization said the cases are not linked, but more than 400 close contacts of the infected patients are being monitored as a precaution.

“At this time there is no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission,” the agency said.

ABC News’ chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said the move by U.S. health officials to ready a vaccine and diagnostic test is a crucial step in preventing an outbreak.

“Whenever there is a new strain of influenza identified that can cause disease in humans, certain steps are taken as part of preparedness,” he said. “A rapid response requires early preparedness.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Rutgers' Mike Rice Rage: Bad Behavior or a Mental Disorder?

Al Bello/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Throwing balls, kicking players, shouting gay slurs -- all of these outbursts caught on videotape of Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice reveal the abusive nature of uncontrollable anger.

Rice was fired this week, and faculty and alumni have been in an uproar. But was his angry performance during a men's basketball team practice last year just bad boy behavior or something more diagnosable?

"There is a misconception that getting anger out helps you calm down, but ironically, it makes you more angry," said Camp Hill, Pa., psychologist Pauline Wallin, author of the 2004 book Taming Your Inner Brat.

"The angrier you get, it gets increasingly harder as you are pumping more adrenaline, and there is more energy to discharge. Yelling and screaming don't get you calmer, they rile you up."

The university's reputation is still stinging from the 2010 suicide of gay student Tyler Clemente, whose roommate had secretly videotaped the freshman having sex and was convicted of a hate crime.

On Thursday, a group of 13 faculty and alumni demanded that university president Robert Barchi resign, because it took months for him to take action.

Barchi first viewed the video in November and sent Rice to anger management counseling. He fired the coach on April 3, when the video again resurfaced.

Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie weighed in on Rice, applauding the firing in the New York Times: "The way these young men were treated by the head coach was completely unacceptable and violates the trust parents put in Rutgers University."

Experts say the most common form of aggressive anger is rage, which is a psychological and physiological response to a stressor event. A person can lose his or her capacity for rational thought. The capacity for rage often begins early in life and continues through adulthood.

A person in rage may also experience tunnel vision, muffled hearing, increased heart rate and hyperventilation. The large amounts of adrenaline and oxygen in the bloodstream may cause a person's extremities to shake.

Psychiatrists say the most extreme form of rage is intermittent explosive disorder, or IED. "It's somebody who really lacks control and is way over the top," said Wallin, who did not speculate on why Rice behaved as he did.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the disorder, which is listed in the DSM-V, involves repeated episodes of "impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts in which you react grossly out of proportion to the situation."

Recurrent, problematic, impulsive aggression affects 5 to 7 percent of the population, but many Americans do not seek treatment, according to a study published by the American Medical Association.

Research shows that chemical abnormalities are associated with this disorder. People with IED can suddenly explode without provocation.

Examples can include road rage, domestic abuse, throwing or breaking objects, or other temper tantrums. Those affected may attack others, cause bodily injury and property damage. They may also hurt themselves. Later, when they have calmed down, they can feel remorse, regret or shame. Effective treatments can include antidepressants and cognitive behavior therapy.

Wallin admits she is not an expert in IED, but she has witnessed plenty of anger, including physical fights, at sporting events like hockey.

"They are yelling at each other, sitting down and getting rough with each other and all excited with the adrenaline," she said. "The reason they have no control is they are really hyped up. Even the fans love to see the fights."

Experts caution that IED goes outside the bounds of normal anger and is considered an impulse disorder.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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