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Monday
Dec152014

Study Examines Male ‘Idiotic Risk’

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Ask any woman -- she’ll tell you that most men are idiots.

A new study examined “Idiotic Risk,” which is defined as senseless risk where the payoff is negligible and the outcome is disastrous and often fatal.

The researchers looked at the individuals who had received the so-called “Darwin Award,” a dubious honor that is given to those individuals who injured themselves or died while taking an unnecessary and often idiotic risk.

Out of the 318 individuals who were given the Darwin Award, 282 recipients were male, while 36 were female.

The researchers calculated that guys comprised 88.7 percent of Darwin Award winners.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal’s Christmas issue, which tends to be tongue-in-cheek with reports of scientific scrutiny being applied to less-than-serious subjects.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec142014

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby Diagnosed with Mumps

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images(PITTSBURGH) -- Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has tested positive for mumps.

The National Hockey League team announced on its website Sunday that Crosby has been diagnosed with the viral illness.

"Crosby will continue to be monitored daily, but specialists believe he should be through the infectious period by Monday," the Penguins said on its site. "He will not play in Monday’s home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning."

Crosby joins the ranks of nearly two dozen NHL players who have tested positive for mumps in recent weeks, according to local reports. Players for the Anaheim Ducks, the Minnesota Wild, the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils have been affected.

Mumps is a viral illness that effects the salivary glands. Symptoms include swollen glands, fever and fatigue, and although complications are rare, they can be serious, according to the Mayo Clinic. Those include encephalitis and inflammation of the testicles.

Although mumps was once common in the United States, most Americans are immunized against it via the MMR vaccine while toddlers. But the vaccine's protection weakens over time.

Dr. William Schaffner, who has not treated these hockey players but is chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said this outbreak reminds him of mumps outbreaks that occur at small colleges because those affected are young adults, including some from foreign countries that don't have the United States' "comprehensive" mumps vaccination program. And the players are in close contact.

"What you have in a traveling team that plays together and practices together -- sit on airplanes together -- is prolonged close contact," Schaffner said. "If somebody is sick, they need to stop playing, traveling. This virus can spread even before you become sick."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec142014

Mother's Intuition Leads to Rare Diagnosis for Son

Courtesy Whitnie Strauss(NEW YORK) -- When Whitnie Strauss saw her toddler son almost drunkenly stumble around the backyard -- just the latest in a list of strange symptoms -- she said she realized she'd had enough.

Reid, then 2 and a half years old, had already been to 20 doctors, but no one could figure out what was wrong with him, and some sent her home without any answers at all, Strauss said. It wasn't just an allergy, autism, a seizure disorder, a gastrointestinal problem or an immunodeficiency. There had to be something else.

"I just think it's so important not to give up, not to stop looking just because you've had door after door slamming in your face," she said.

So that day, she packed Reid up in the car and drove the more than two hours from outside Austin, Texas, to Houston. She said she knew she couldn't get an appointment at Texas Children's Hospital, but she could take him to the emergency room. And if they saw him, maybe they could solve the puzzle.

"This is drastic. You can say I'm 'that mom' if you want," Strauss said. "This is all I know to do."

They spent two "surreal" days at the hospital, where a team of more than a dozen doctors and medical fellows peppered them with questions, she said, adding that it reminded her of an episode of House. Reid's ailment was still a mystery when they left, but one of the doctors told her that Dr. Michelle Holick, a pediatric neurologist there, wanted to solve the mystery.

"I wanted somebody to treat him as Reid and listen to his whole story, and they did," Strauss said. "They're not just going to stick a label on your child and send you on your way."

After several rounds of tests, Holick found an abnormality related to Reid's creatine, an acid the body makes to help provide energy to other cells, Holick told ABC News. Strauss did her own research and learned that of the three known creatine disorders, two were treatable.

But Strauss remembers the day Holick broke the news that Reid had the third kind: creatine transporter deficiency. Although creatine provides most of Reid's body with energy, he lacks the ability to get the energy-providing acid to his brain. And there's no treatment.

"You're hearing this terrible news, the worst news of my life," Strauss said. "But this weight is lifted because finally that burden of looking and trying to understand what's going on has been lifted."

Now 4 years old, Reid is a happy, "feisty" little boy, but he'll only have limited speech, his mother said. Still, he's learning to push buttons and point.

Creatine transporter deficiency is so rare that there isn't a lot of data on children older than Reid, but Holick said he's "leveling out."

"At this point, there's no expectation of going downward," she said, adding that Reid is still an active child who loves to run around the room.

Strauss said Reid understands instructions, but that doesn't mean he'll listen.

"Sometimes, he'll lay down on the floor and just giggle, 'No, sorry. Not gonna do that today,'" Strauss said. "He tries to be the boss of you."

Reid tries to avoid clothes whenever he can, so Strauss sewed special buttons to hold his shirts and pants together to keep him from disrobing.

The Strauss family is also trying to incorporate picture cards into his routine to help him communicate.

"Listen to your instincts and that gut feeling. Parents know," she said. "For us, it took 20 different doctors before we stumbled upon the one at Texas Children's, who for whatever reason dug deeper than all the others. ... You never know when you're going to open the door and your Dr. Holick will be standing there."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec132014

Always Hungry Girl Gets 'Childhood' Back After Weight Loss Surgery

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center(CINCINNATI) — A Texas girl who couldn't stop eating has lost more than 50 pounds after undergoing gastrectomy surgery at age 12.

Alexis Shapiro ballooned from just 50 pounds to more than 200 pounds after undergoing surgery to remove a benign brain tumor left her with a rare condition called hypothalamic obesity, which caused her to always feel hungry.

Before surgery, Alexis Shapiro weighed just over 51 pounds. (Courtesy Jennifer Shapiro)

Her family turned to surgical options after trying to control her ballooning weight with exercise and diet plan.

Earlier this year Alexis became one of the youngest people in the U.S. to undergo a sleeve gastrectomy surgery.

The surgery was supposed to be a full gastric bypass, but because Alexis' liver was enlarged, doctors in the operating room decided to try a gastric sleeve, which reduced Alexis' stomach to just 25 percent of its original size.

Seven months after the surgery, Alexis' mother said that her daughter's health has improved remarkably and that she has her "childhood" back.

In a post on the Cincinnati Children's Hospital website, Jenny Shapiro said her daughter lost at least 55 pounds and no longer needed to take medication for her type 2 diabetes.

"She has had zero hospital stays related to hypothalamic obesity, which is a record since her brain surgery three years ago," Shapiro wrote.

The 2011 surgery removed the tumor but damaged parts of Alexis' brain, including the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, which affect how her body perceives signals from her digestive system.

"We've also seen wonderful growth in Alexis' independence, strength and stamina," said Shapiro. "She loves her school work and even recently joined an after-school club. I'm so happy to be able to see her get back parts of her childhood that she once enjoyed so much but had lost while she was so sick."

In a statement posted to a Facebook documenting Alexis' recovery, Jenny Shapiro said her daughter still struggles with her engery but manages to walk a half mile to school every weekday.

"She likes learning!" Shapiro wrote. "She is still scared to try new things that she couldn't do while she was much heavier, but we are trying."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec122014

First Child's Death From Liquid Nicotine Reported as 'Vaping' Gains Popularity

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A toddler from upstate New York may have been the first child to die from poisoning by liquid nicotine, the substance used in e-cigarettes, in the U.S., concerning health officials as e-cigarettes continue to rise in popularity.

Police reported that the 1-year-old child died after ingesting liquid nicotine at a home in Fort Plain, New York, on Tuesday. The child was found unresponsive and rushed to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Fort Plain police released a statement saying the death is believed to be a “tragic accident.” They declined to say whether the liquid nicotine was associated with an e-cigarette.

But health officials are concerned if steps aren’t taken to protect children, they could see more fatal accidents similar to this one.

The rise of e-cigarettes and “vaping” in recent years has also meant a rise in the purchase of liquid nicotine. Coming in flavors like cotton candy or gummy bear, health officials say that the brightly colored liquid could appeal to young children.

"One teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness, often requiring trips to the emergency department," the American Association of Poison Control centers in a statement Friday. "Despite the dangers these products pose to children, there are currently no standards set in place that require child-proof packaging."

In November the American Association of Poison Control Centers announced that the number of dangerous "exposures" to liquid nicotine has skyrocketed in recent years with 3,638 exposures as of Nov. 30. An exposure means coming into contact with liquid nicotine through ingestion, inhalation or by absorbing the substance through the skin.

The number is more than double the 1,543 exposures reported in 2013 and exponentially higher than in 2011 when 271 exposures were reported.

Before this week, the only confirmed death related to liquid nicotine happened in 2012 when a man injected himself with the substance, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Dr. Donna Seger, director of the poison control center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said her center has started to get more calls about exposure to e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine.

“They’re not that difficult to get into,” Seger said of the vials that contain the nicotine. “The issue is once the exposure occurs, it could be bad.”

Seger said just a small amount of nicotine can cause dangerous symptoms in children, including seizures.

Phil Daman, president of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, said he was “saddened to hear the terrible news.”

“[We] want to always be mindful to put safe products on the market,” said Daman, who said the trade association recommends childproofing products to “err on the side of caution.”

Daman questioned if the child could have gotten a hold of a high-grade liquid nicotine that could be a much higher concentration than what is in many common e-cigarette products. Because e-cigarettes are not federally regulated there is a wide-range of liquid that could be purchased to use in e-cigarette products, ranging from potent high grade liquid nicotine to material that has an extremely small amount of nicotine.

In April the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention warned they were seeing an increase of calls to poison control centers for liquid nicotine exposure and children were becoming sick after ingesting, inhaling or absorbing the chemical through their skin. The most common symptoms were vomiting, nausea or eye irritation.

“Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in April. “E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children.”

To combat these cases of increased exposure some state lawmakers have introduced bills that would require e-cigarette companies to put child-resistant caps on bottles of liquid nicotine.

In New York State, a bill passed earlier in the year that would require child resistant containers for liquid nicotine. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to sign the bill in the next few weeks, according to ABC News affiliate WABC-TV.

At least one e-cigarette retailer, Vapor World, changed their packaging this year so that bottles of liquid nicotine are more child resistant.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec122014

Holiday Travel: Should Fido Stay or Go?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to pet parenting and holiday travel plans, there are two camps that owners fall into: those that bring their four-legged friends everywhere and those that decide it's best for their furry pal to stay behind.

Both choices have pluses and minuses. But either way, before you leave, there are certain steps experts recommend to ensure that Fido has a stress-free season as well.

"Pet parents are always mindful of the comfort and well-being of their furry kids, so it makes sense that they would factor them into their travel plans," said TripsWithPets.com founder and president, Kim Salerno.

Salerno's sentiments echo the results of a recent, albeit unscientific, online poll conducted by TripIt in which 77 percent of pet owners surveyed said "their pets will influence their holiday travel plans."

But "influence" needn't turn into "control." Instead, experts recommend matching your plans to your pooch's behavior.

"The health and well being of pets should be the primary concern," according to Salerno. "Not every pet makes a good travel companion. Pets who are sick, temperamental, anxious, or poorly socialized are probably best left at home. However, if pets are easygoing, great around people, and cope well with new places and situations -- bring them along."

With that in mind, here are a few best practices animal experts suggest you follow if ...

...You can't bear to leave Spot behind.


"First aid kits, medicine, car safety devices and crates are all must-haves when traveling with pets," note the experts at TripsWithPets.

It is equally important to keep important documents, such as current health certificates, on hand. Most airlines require such papers to fly with a pet.

Staying at a pet-friendly hotel? Consider where the room is located on the property and whether any ambient noises will cause your pooch or kitty distress. You may be able to request another space.

If staying with a friend or family member, keep in mind that their house rules for pets may not be the same as you own. When in doubt, always ask whether your pet is allowed on couches, beds and even certain rooms of the house.

...Your furball doesn't do well on the road.


Whether you are having a pet sitter come to your house, home-boarding elsewhere in the neighborhood, or taking your pet to an overnight facility, Nicole Ellis, a spokesperson for DogVacay, recommends making sure all of their regular care items are available to them and the caretaker.

"Some dogs get an upset stomach if you change their brand of doggie chow, so be sure to have plenty of your dog’s usual food for his stay," Ellis said. "It's also always a good idea to keep more than one leash available -- a short leash and one that has an extendable line for areas where your dog might want to get some exercise."

Ellis also suggests leaving something of your own behind.

"An old t-shirt that smells like you can also make for a great cuddle toy for your dog while you are apart!" she said.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec122014

E-Cigarettes Remain Available to More Than 16 Million American Children

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than 16 million American children live in states where they can legally purchase electronic cigarettes, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, despite the fact that those products may well be unsafe.

"We know e-cigarettes are not safe for youth," Tim McAfee director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health says. "While [electronic nicotine delivery systems] may have the potential to benefit established adult smokers if used as a complete substitute for all smoked tobacco products, [they] should not be used by youth and adult non-tobacco users because of the harmful effects of nicotine and other risk exposures, as well as the risk for progression to other forms of tobacco use."

The National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 4.5 percent of all high school students and 1.1 percent of middle school students used e-cigarettes within the 30 days prior to being surveyed in 2013. Ten states and the District of Columbia do not ban the sales of e-cigarettes to minors, with 16 million children under the age of 18 living in those states.

Additionally, 26 states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting smoking in restaurants, worksites and bars -- but only three of those states, New Jersey, North Dakota and Utah, prohibit used of electronic nicotine delivery systems indoors.

"ENDS aerosol is not harmless water vapor; it can contain nicotine and other toxins," Brian King, Ph. D., senior scientific advisor in the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health said. "Exposure to nicotine can harm adolescent brain development and can be toxic to fetuses."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec122014

Why Jahi McMath's Family Still Has Hope a Year Later

The McMath Family / Facebook(NEW YORK) -- A year after the tonsil surgery complication that led doctors to declare then-13-year-old Jahi McMath brain dead, she is still on a ventilator, "alive and well," her family wrote on its public Facebook page.

McMath's family successfully fought a legal battle to keep her on life support after doctors at the Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland, California, said the hospital could no longer care for her because she was brain dead. Since then, the family has argued that she is not brain dead and may recover.

"Today marks one year [since] this tragedy happened at the Children's Hospital Oakland, and we want to thank God for keeping Jahi ALIVE and WELL against all odds," the family wrote on the Keep Jahi McMath on Life Support Facebook page.

The teen was undergoing tonsil surgery when she had significant blood loss and went into cardiac arrest on Dec. 9, 2013. She was declared brain dead, but the family sued to keep her on life support. She eventually was moved to a long-term care facility in New Jersey.

The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, which has supported McMath's family throughout the ordeal, said in October that the teen was "showing signs that may prove the hospital designation wrong." McMath's mother, Nailah Winkfield, has said her daughter responds to verbal commands.

Schiavo's case sparked a national debate in the 1990s and 2000s, when doctors, lawyers and family members battled for more than a decade over whether to remove Schiavo's feeding tube and let her die. Shortly after the Supreme Court refused to hear Schiavo’s case in 2005, a judge ordered that her feeding tube be removed. Despite more legal back-and-forth over the next two weeks, she died on March 31, 2005.

This week, the McMath family gave a special thanks to their attorney, Christopher Dolan, for fighting for Jahi as if she was his child.

"Without him, they would have killed, Jahi," the family wrote on Facebook.

McMath's relatives also thanked their other supporters.

"Thank you to all who respected and still respect our choice to save Jahi," they wrote. "Jahi's life IS worth the fight. Jahi McMath is ALIVE and doing well because of you. God bless you."

The Benioff Children's Hospital said in a statement to ABC News that its heart continues to go out to the family.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec122014

Latest Data Shows over 18,000 Cases, 6,000 Deaths from Ebola in West Africa

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The latest data from the World Health Organization shows that the number of cases of Ebola in West Africa has surpassed 18,000, and the number of deaths is well over 6,000.

The latest release includes data from Guinea and Sierra Leone through Wednesday and from Liberia through Sunday.

Sierra Leone, which earlier this week overtook Liberia for the largest number of cases of Ebola, extended that gap in recent days. More than 8,000 cases of Ebola have now been reported in Sierra Leone, compared to 7,765 in Liberia.

Liberia has still reported the most deaths from the disease, 3,222 in total, compared to 1,899 in Sierra Leone and 1,462 in Guinea.

The three nations are the most severely impacted by the ongoing Ebola outbreak. The WHO notes that Mali is also involved in the outbreak, with seven confirmed cases and one probable case of the disease. Six Ebola patients have died in Mali.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec122014

Why to Hope Your Surgeon Is Grooving to the Bee Gees, Not House of Pain

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" is maybe not the best song for your surgeon to play while he's standing over you in the operating room, scalpel in hand, according to a tongue-in-cheek editorial in the British Medical Journal's December issue.

"Stayin' Alive" topped the list of the best songs for surgery compiled by surgeons at the University Hospital of Wales for the journal's annual, lighthearted Christmas issue.

"Though a great suggestion for the patient, operating team members should resist the urge to emulate John Travolta's expansive dance routine," surgical registrar Dave Bosanquet and his co-author wrote of the song.

They added that if the patient goes into cardiac arrest on the table, the disco beat is actually the perfect rhythm for chest compressions.

The Bee Gees' hit was followed by Sade's "Smooth Operator" and Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart," which was "ideal for cardiac surgery."

Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" was recommended for patients to listen to while they await epidural anesthetics, but the authors warned to "avoid repeated exposure as lyrics may cause dangerous introspection."

"You can have a lighthearted environment even in someplace as serious as a[n operating] theater," Bosanquet said, adding that operating rooms inherit old CD players and speaker systems that doctors can use to connect their phones and play music.

About 80 percent of the people in operating rooms found that playing music during surgery helped reduce anxiety, improve efficiency and foster team communication, according to Bosanquet's research. He noted that when patients were awake during procedures, studies have shown that hearing tunes actually has pain-relieving effects.

But not all songs belong in the OR. In addition to avoiding "Another One Bites the Dust," the surgeons advised against REM's "Everybody Hurts," because "no patient appreciates receiving such a repetitive reminder."

Radiohead's "Knives Out" and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Scar Tissue" were also no-nos.

"Knives Out" was "not only likely to increase patient anxiety, but will bring melancholy to the theatre," they wrote. "Staff may question the meaninglessness of existence."

Bosanquet and his team advised against anything by the hip-hop trio House of Pain, which is "likely to increase analgesic requirements."

But House of Pain also had an upside, they wrote: "The single 'Jump Around' may shorten operative time considerably."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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