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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Tuesday
Jul222014

The Possible Downside of Too Much Religious Training

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- There are a lot of benefits to a religious upbringing, but one of the unintended consequences is that strong beliefs might make kids more gullible.

In a comparison between children who learn religious stories and those who don't, Boston University researchers say that youngsters who have a deep and abiding faith more often accept fiction as the literal truth.

The researchers made their finding by reading stories considered realistic, religious and fantastical to groups of 5- and 6-year-olds. When it came to non-fictional characters, both religious and secular children were able to correctly answer questions at the same rate.

However, the 79 percent of children who attended church or religious school identified religious characters as real compared to six percent of secular kids. In terms of characters described as magical, 41 percent of children exposed to religious teaching accepted them as real while only 13 percent with no religious teaching believed they existed.

Study author Kathleen Corriveau says religious teachings often require a suspension of disbelief, which is why the churchgoing children might apply these fictional events outside of their faith.

Nonetheless, Corriveau contends this is not necessarily a bad thing because it might make learning counterintuitive phenomena easier for them as well.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul222014

Pregnant Smokers Could Put Children at Greater Risk for ADHD

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The dangers of smoking during pregnancy have been well documented. One possible side effect is that a cigarette habit might put a child at a greater risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

As a result, physicians have recommended that if a pregnant woman can't quit cold turkey, they switch over to nicotine-replacement products such as patches or gum.

However, a new study out of the University of Denmark suggests that while these products might do less harm to the mother, the nicotine they're ingesting could still boost their child's chances of developing ADHD.

Study author Dr. Jin Liang Zhu says that while no definitive link has been established between nicotine and ADHD, health experts have long believed that cigarette smoking can lead to abnormalities in the fetal brain.

As a result, any woman who smokes is advised to quit if they wish to get pregnant or are pregnant, and to come off nicotine-replacement therapy as quickly as possible.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul212014

Norovirus Named in Washington Lake Outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(KITSAP COUNTY, Wash.) -- The stomach bug that sickened more than 260 swimmers at a Washington state lake was in fact norovirus, health officials have confirmed.

The contagious virus swept through Horseshoe Lake Park in Kitsap County, Washington, earlier this month, causing cramps, nausea, and diarrhea, according to the local health department.

The park was closed as officials investigated the cause of the outbreak, which was initially dubbed "norovirus-like." It reopened Saturday after water samples from the lake came back negative for the virus.

The same virus sickened more than 100 people at Idaho’s Eagle Island State Park last week, according to the local health department.

Norovirus is the sixth-leading cause of recreational water illness in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –- tying with the bacteria E. coli. Each year the virus causes more than 19 million cases of illness, 400,000 emergency room visits, 71,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths, according to the CDC’s website.

The virus spreads through food, liquid, and surfaces that are contaminated with infected feces or vomit, according to the CDC. There's no specific treatment, so the agency recommends staying hydrated for the duration of symptoms, which is usually one to three days.

The CDC recommends the following tips for safe summer swimming:

  • Avoid getting water up your nose when swimming in warm, freshwater.
  • Don't swim if you have diarrhea.
  • Shower with soap before taking a dip.
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.
  • Don't swallow the water.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul212014

Can Any Animal Be a Therapy Animal?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Dogs once cornered the market on being therapy pets, but now bunnies, pigs -- even llamas -- are making their way into the laps and hearts of people with a range of conditions. But experts say some animals are more therapeutic than others.

“While we know that a wide variety of animals can be wonderful companions or pets, not every animal is suited to therapy work,” said Glen Miller, a spokesman for Pet Partners, a national nonprofit organization that trains and registers therapy animals.

Therapy pets can include “dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, rats, miniature pigs, llamas, alpacas, horses, donkeys and mini-horses,” as long as they’re at least a year old and have lived with their owner for six months, according to Pet Partners. Though the organization registers “birds,” it does not register ducks, Miller said.

Pet Partners does not allow exotic or wild animals, either.

“We know many people have wonderful experiences with these animals as pets, but without research documenting their behavior over time, we cannot evaluate their predictability and reaction to stress,” the organization’s website reads.

Unlike service animals, therapy animals don’t help their owners perform tasks and are therefore not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Though there are no national requirements to register therapy animals, most hospitals only allow ones that have been trained, aren’t easily stressed and are covered by an insurance policy.

Read about some traditional and not-so-traditional bedside creatures below:

Ducks

Darin Welker’s village in Ohio banned residents from keeping fowl in 2010, but the former member of the National Guard insists that his 14 ducks are therapy animals. They motivate him to get out of the house to take care of them, he said.

"They're quite a relaxing animal, and they help comfort me in different situations," Welker told the Conshohocken Tribune, holding one of the ducks like a baby. "[Watching them] keeps you entertained for hours at a time."

Welker served in Iraq in 2005 and returned home with a back injury that required surgery as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, according to the Tribune. He’s had the ducks in his fenced-in yard since March and will argue his case for keeping them Wednesday or face a $150 fine.

Bunnies


Nutmeg and Clovis are the 4-and-a-half-year-old therapy bunnies that live on the 13th floor of NYU Langone Medical Center.

“We’ve seen patients that literally had no affect smile,” said Gwenn Fried, manager of horticultural therapy services at NYU Langone. “Their whole demeanor changes.”

Sometimes doctors recommend the rabbits, and sometimes, the patients ask to see them, Fried said.

Llamas

There’s nothing like a “kiss” -- basically a soft, furry lip bump -- from a 300-pound llama to brighten your mood.

Lori Gregory volunteers her llama, Rojo, through MTN Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas, taking him to visit hospice patients and children who have mental and emotional problems.

“He has eyes the size of golf balls,” said Gregory, 57, of Vancouver, Washington. “People just stand there and look into their eyes. It’s pretty wonderful to be able to do that with a large animal that doesn’t ask anything.”

Though she can’t personally detect a change in the patients Rojo meets, she said nurses often tell her their most introverted patients become animated around the llamas.

Dogs

Dogs are the only type of therapy animal allowed to see patients at the Mayo Clinic, according to the Rochester, Minnesota hospital’s animal therapy coordinator, Jessica Borg. She said dogs attend group sessions and sometimes meet one-on-one with patients.

“Having the dog there almost takes the tension out of the room,” she said. “It’s pretty common that patients will tear up because they’re so excited, so thankful for getting five or 25 minutes of time just snuggling, hanging out with the pet.”

Borg said some patients who are unwilling to get out of bed for physical therapy jump up when she’s walking by with a dog, eager for a cuddle.

“Seeing the dog and being with the dog can change their spirits within five seconds of contact time,” she said.

Five golden retrievers were a big help after the Boston Marathon bombings last year, when they visited victims in nearby hospitals as well as shaken residents on the streets. The pups were part of Lutheran Church Charities' K-9 Comfort Dogs, which has 60 dogs that travel the country to help patients in need.

Horses

Former Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Lyndon Ortiz helped start a veteran’s program Heavenly Hooves, a volunteer group that provides equine-assisted therapy.

Ortiz, who suffered from PTSD after being hit with an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2005, started as a volunteer for the group and encouraged fellow veterans to join him. He said it helped him get back to civilian life as he wanted to live it.

“I’ve seen hope in some of the guys,” Ortiz said. “Some of them were stuck at home not doing anything just stuck in those four walls and now they look forward for Tuesdays when they’re riding horses.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul212014

Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes Are Biting into Summer Fun

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You’ve probably heard of the West Nile virus -- a rare but deadly infection transmitted by mosquitoes. But what about chikungunya and eastern equine encephalitis?

All three mosquito-borne diseases are here in the U.S., and depending on where you live, you might be at risk.

Read on to learn more about the viruses and find out whether mosquitoes in your state are carrying them:

West Nile Virus

What It Looks Like

Most people who contract the virus show no symptoms at all, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But one in five people infected will develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, and one in 100 will experience brain swelling or meningitis, which can be deadly. Symptoms can take up to two weeks to appear and last “for weeks or months,” according to the CDC.

Where It Is

Fourteen states have reported West Nile infections so far this year -- Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. Another 13 have mosquitoes, birds and other animals carrying the virus, including Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming.

Chikungunya Virus

What It Looks Like

Most people who contract the virus develop symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle and joint pain or a rash within a week of the offending mosquito bite, according to the CDC. They usually feel better in a week, but joint pain can persist for months, the agency said, adding that the infection is rarely fatal but sometimes disabling.

Where It Is

Thirty states plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have reported chikungunya infections so far this year, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. However, only two cases in the continental U.S. -- both in Florida -- were acquired locally. The rest were acquired outside the country, according to the CDC.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus

What It Looks Like

The virus, dubbed EEE, causes fever, chills and body aches within a week after the offending mosquito bite. Some people recover after two weeks, while others go on to develop an encephalitic form of the disease, which can cause headache, irritability, convulsions and even coma, according to the CDC. Roughly a third of those infected die, the agency said, and many who survive are left with brain damage, personality disorders, seizures and paralysis.

Where It Is

Mosquitoes carrying EEE were recently detected in Massachusetts, according to the state’s Department of Health. No human cases have been reported in 2014, but six Massachusetts residents died from the infection between 2004 and 2006, according to state data.

In the last 50 years, EEE infections have also been reported in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, according to the CDC.

How to Protect Yourself


Since there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for West Nile, chikungunya or EEE, the CDC recommends the following tips to prevent infections:

  • Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535. Some oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol products also provide protection.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors and avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn -- peak mosquito biting hours.
  • Mosquito-proof your home with screens and regularly remove standing water from birdbaths, gutters, pool covers and pet water dishes.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul212014

Woman Takes Selfies to Overcome Struggle with Hair-Pulling Disorder

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Selfies are all the rage, but one young woman has had the tenacity to take one of herself every single day for more than six years. However, the reason she’s been so consistent is not one you’d typically expect.

Rebecca Brown, 21, of Essex, England, has taken a picture of herself every day -- from age 14 to 21 -- putting them together in a video montage all to bravely share her battle with depression and her struggle with trichotillomania disorder, the compulsion to pull out one’s own hair.

She says the video project, which has received more than 5.5 million views on YouTube since it was originally posted on June 8, has immensely helped her deal with overcoming the disorder.

“It’s been pretty scary for me in the last year because I’ve seen myself come out of that darkness,” Brown told ABC News Monday. “Because when I was completely consumed in depression all I could see was black and white. Everything around me was dark, and I honestly didn’t believe there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Whereas now, I’ve seen myself get better. I’ve seen my smile come back. I feel like there is a light.”

Brown says there was no particular trigger that caused her to have trichotillomania disorder.

“For me, I’ve always been depressed but there’s been no pinpoint trauma. It just reached a head,” she explained.

The hair-pulling disorder has even affected celebrities like Katy Perry, Charlize Theron and Justin Timberlake.

At certain points in the video you can see where Brown resorted to shaving her head and wearing wigs to help deal with the battle, but now she’s doing great and hopes her project will help spread awareness of the disease.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul212014

Study: Annual HIV Infection Rate Dropped by 33 Percent in a Decade

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study indicates that the annual number of HIV diagnoses dropped by 33 percent between 2002 and 2011.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed data from the National HIV Surveillance System and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2002, the study found that the rate of HIV diagnosis in the U.S. was 24.1 cases per 100,000 population. That figure fell to 16.1 cases per 100,000 population by 2011.

It was not clear what caused the decrease in HIV diagnoses. The figures only correlate to newly-diagnosed HIV cases each year, not to the overall HIV population.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul212014

Researchers Say Better Schools May Be Remedy for Kids in Poverty

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that higher quality schooling has a significant impact on the ability of children in poverty to improve their academic performance and avoid risky behaviors.

According to the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers at UCLA selected 900 economically disadvantaged students, 500 from a charter high school and 400 from a public school, to compare their academic achievement through graduation. They determined that 91 percent of students who attended charter school graduated, compared to just 76 percent in public school.

The students who were given the opportunity to attend charter school were less likely to skip classes, and performed better in standardized testing in both math and English. Researchers also noted that while students at the charter school or the public school both engaged in risky behaviors -- including drugs, alcohol and risky sex -- the students in the charter school were less likely to engage in multiple of those behaviors simultaneously.

The data suggests that given the opportunity to attend better schools, disadvantaged students may be able to improve their school performance, researchers say.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul212014

Meditation May Reduce Stress in Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities

amana images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Mothers of children with developmental disabilities may be able to reduce their increased stress, anxiety and depression by learning to meditate.

According a study published in the journal Pediatrics, mothers of children with autism or other neuro-developmental conditions who received "Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction," a program that included breathing, meditation and movement techniques, saw greater improvement in depression, anxiety, sleep and life satisfaction.

Researchers selected 243 mothers of children with developmental disabilities and assigned half of them to receive the stress reduction regimen, and the other half to receive "Positive Adult Development." The latter plan involved training with peer mentors to develop coping strategies.

While both programs were linked to reduced stress, researchers say the program that included breathing and meditation lessons was more effective. The study highlights the effectiveness of "mindfulness" in coping with stress, but also notes that peer mentoring can improve the lives of parents as well.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul212014

Eyes Up Here for Love, Elsewhere for Lust

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Where the eyes wander is the best way of knowing whether a person feels love or lust.

That's the upshot of a study out of the University of Geneva, although its conclusion doesn’t seem all that startling.

Lead author Stephanie Cacioppo and her husband, John Cacioppo from the University of Chicago, examined how male and female students looked at one another, and their finding was that when the eyes focus on the face, it's more indicative of romantic love.

However, if the eyes target other parts of the human anatomy, it's a surer sign that they're more interested in sex.

So why is this important? As Stephanie Cacioppo explains, "By identifying eye patterns that are specific to love-related stimuli, the study may contribute to the development of a biomarker that differentiates feelings of romantic love versus sexual desire."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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