Unvaccinated Clusters Leave Communities Vulnerable to Illness, Research Shows

Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) — A study of vaccination rates among children in northern California showed that there are "clusters" where parents aren't vaccinating their children -- and they're at risk for catching preventable diseases.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente studied records of more than 150,000 children in the Bay Area from birth to age 3, and identified five clusters where children were under-immunized, meaning their parents either refused to vaccinate them or they missed one or more vaccines. The percentage of under-immunized children in these often well-educated clusters was between 18 percent and 23 percent. Outside them, only 11 percent of the children were under-immunized.

ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser said not only does this put the unvaccinated children at risk for getting illnesses such as whooping cough, but it puts those around them at risk because vaccines aren't "100 percent protective." The measles vaccine, for instance, is 95 percent protective.

"The more children you're around who didn't get vaccinated, the more likely you are to be exposed to that and get the disease even if you were vaccinated," he said Tuesday on ABC News' Good Morning America.

Host Lara Spencer asked him what he would say to parents who think there are "just too many vaccines."

"As a pediatrician, I've seen so many of these diseases cause suffering in children," Besser said. "And every time we get a new vaccine, I think it's a wonderful thing."

He stressed the importance of getting vaccines on time and using online tools to find out vaccination rates in their schools. If they can send their child to a school with higher vaccination rates, they should, he said.

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Sleep-Deprived Teens More Likely to Binge Drink

iStock/Thinkstock(POCATELLO, Idaho) — There have been plenty of studies about why teens should get eight-to-ten hours of sleep each night but research out of Idaho State University brings up a new reason: it could keep them from becoming problem drinkers.

Maria Wong, a psychologist at Idaho State University, says that youngsters aged 14-to-16 who don't get the recommended amount of sleep were one-and-a-half times more likely to binge drink than their better-rested peers.

Furthermore, the study of 6,500 adolescents discovered that teens with sleeping issues were 14 percent more likely to drive while impaired and ten percent more likely to do the same when they reached college age.

Wong said sleep problems aren't the sole determinant of alcohol abuse but they can predict later issues with alcohol.

On a positive note, Wong said every additional hour of sleep is accompanied by a ten percent decrease in binge drinking.

It's estimated that close to half of teens fall short of getting eight-to-ten hours of shuteye each night.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Nice Kids Are Made, Not Born

iStock/Thinkstock(STANFORD, Calif.) — Nobody’s a natural born nice guy.

Stanford University researchers say in order for altruism to flourish in a child, it needs to be cultivated. Parents shouldn’t expect that their children will grow up to be nice people without some nurturing, according to Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor of psychology.

Together with partner Rodolfo Cortes, Dweck sought to punch holes in a previous experiment in which 18-month old toddlers supposedly went out of their way to help without adult prompting.

Using one- and two-year-olds, one group, that mirrored the 2006 study, had an adult and child rolling a ball to each other while talking. At some point, the adult knocked over an object in hopes the tyke would pick it up. In group two, the adult and child played ball separately while an object was knocked over.

The result was that three times as many kids picked up the object in the reciprocal play group, suggesting that children need social skills and interaction to develop a sense of altruism.

That’s not to say that some kids can’t be nice without prompting but both Dweck and Cortes say that the chances of raising more empathetic children increase substantially through cooperative learning exercises.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Mom Arrested for Allegedly Putting Substance in Her Child's IV

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office(KERMIT, W.Va.) — A woman has been arrested for allegedly putting something in her child's intravenous line at Cincinnati Children's hospital, records show.

Candida "Candy" Fluty, 35, of Kermit, West Virginia, was arrested on charges of child endangerment and felonious assault over the weekend, according to inmate records.

She "knowingly injected a substance into the victim's peripheral IV line" in a hospital room, the arrest report reads.

The municipal county court complaint states that the victim was under 18 years old and Fluty was the child's mother. It says the complaint is based on Fluty's statements and video evidence from Jan. 16. It was unclear from the court documents what the substance was.

The Cincinnati police department told ABC News it could not release any additional information until the grand jury hears the case next week.

Fluty's lawyer, Elizabeth Zucker, declined comment to ABC News. Fluty was scheduled to appear in court Monday.

Fluty was being held on $50,000 bond, according to ABC's Cincinnati affiliate WCPO.

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When Men Outnumber Women, Long-Term Relationships Thrive

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) — Single women who prefer situations when they’re outnumbered by men will probably like the results of a study from the University of Utah.

It seems that men are more apt to commit themselves to long-term relationships when they’re in the majority.

University of Utah anthropologist Ryan Schacht studied 13,000 Makushi people in Guyana where there were more men than women.

Schacht’s chief finding was that the men of the tribe went out of their way to settle down because women were essentially valued resources.

What he was surprised to learn was that there were no males fighting other males for women, like Popeye and Bluto competing for Olive Oyl, nor was than any increase in sexually-transmitted diseases.

While sex was naturally an important consideration, men seem to look at the bigger picture in that “partner availability matters, socioeconomic status matters, the quality of available mates matters,” Schacht said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


How Georgia Teen Was Saved from Blindness

Courtesy Olivia Eafano(NEW YORK) -- Olivia Eafano was watching television when suddenly, she couldn’t see the screen. Then just 5 years old, the Georgia teen recalled feeling terrified.

“Mom, I can’t see!” she called to her mother who was in the next room.

Eafano’s mother rushed her to the hospital where doctors diagnosed Eafano with two eye conditions: uveitis, an inflammation of the middle part of the eye, and glaucoma, a potentially blinding disease.

Thus began Eafano’s quest to find proper treatment for her serious eye conditions.

“Glaucoma are a group of diseases where there is progressive damage to the optic nerve, which is the pathway that takes vision from the eye back to the brain,” explains Dr. Jeffrey Schultz, director of the glaucoma service at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. “It is usually but not always associated with increased pressure in the eye.”

Although often thought of as a disease of aging, glaucoma can strike in very young children, causing headaches, blurry vision and enlarged eyes. Up to 2 percent of the population lives with glaucoma, according to the National Eye Health Education Program. Of those, up to 2 percent are children.

Many don’t realize they are affected until they lose sight in one of their eyes, warned Dr. Stephen Foster, the president and CEO of the Massachusetts Eye Research & Surgery Institution and the doctor who ultimately wound up treating Eafano.

“People generally lose their peripheral vision first, and then the damage slowly marches centrally," he said. “It’s often called the ‘sneaky thief’ of vision because many people have no symptoms until it reaches the central vision.”

At that point, the disease has progressed to a late stage, and the damage is severe and usually irreversible, he added. But with early detection and the right treatment, a patient’s sight can be partially or completely restored.

Schultz recommended that every child have a full eye exam starting at age 2 and then every year thereafter. Since a high percentage of glaucoma is hereditary, knowing family history for eye disease is also important.

Fortunately, in Eafano’s case, the disease was caught and treated in its early stages. Under Foster’s guidance, Eafano has undergone a series of treatments to slow down the damage in her eyes, including medication and four surgeries. Now at age 16, she is in remission with 20/30 vision when wearing her glasses.

Eafano says battling glaucoma has changed her outlook in life. She is extremely grateful for the simple gift of sight. On a recent trip to New York City, she reflected on what it would be like if she couldn’t see.

“I wouldn’t be able to see the lights on Broadway or notes on a piece of music -- any of the beautiful things I could take for granted,” she said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Kids Lose Taste for Milk When There's No Chocolate Milk in School

Fuse/Getty Images(SASKATOON, Saskatchewan) — To a lot of kids, chocolate milk is like the nectar of the gods. That’s why when Canadian researchers tested fate, they wound up with a mini-rebellion on their hands.

With the emphasis on healthier alternatives at school to combat childhood obesity, University of Saskatchewan researchers decided to eliminate chocolate milk in several elementary schools to determine if children would choose white milk instead.

In two words, they didn’t. Clearly, the school children were so upset by the abrupt absence of one of their favorite drinks that total milk intake dropped by a whopping 50 percent.

Even worse, there was no suitable food or beverage available at these schools that gave youngsters the same amount of calcium they need to build strong bones.

This put health experts in a quandary: while flavored drinks with higher sugar content had certain obvious drawbacks, they have yet to decide whether putting chocolate milk back in schools, due to its calcium content, is the lesser of two evils.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


When You Quit Worrying About Sleep, You Might Get More of It 

BernardaSv/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Are you frequently worried that you don’t get enough sleep?

A major reason for all that worrying may be due to the fact you’re not getting enough sleep.

Confused? Binghamton University psychologist Jacob A. Nota explains that a lack of sleep affects the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is associated with attention. As a result, when people are tired, they tend to worry more.

Nota figured this out by surveying undergrads about their sleep habits and invariably, those who spent less time in bed turned out to be the biggest worriers.

The researcher says that it can turn into a vicious circle -- that is, people who sleep less, worry more and because they worry more, it causes them to sleep less.

Experts on sleep deprivation recommend that one way to possibly overcome fatigue and worry is by getting the most difficult tasks of the day out of the way first, while you feel more energetic and alert.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Say Happy Birthday to Facebook's Oldest Member

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Edythe Kirchmaier, Facebook's oldest registered user, turns 107 on Tuesday.

Kirchmaier earned the distinction of being the social networking site's oldest member when her friends at the medical aid charity Direct Relief signed her up for an account on her 105th birthday. It took the site's engineers a month to verify her age and fix a glitch, something they'd never had to do before, Direct Relief's spokeswoman Kerri Murray said.

Last year, she was designated the site’s second-oldest user after 114-year-old Anna Stoehr of Plainview, Minnesota, signed up for an account. Sadly, Stoehr passed away last month.

Born in 1908, 49 years before the Internet was invented, Kirchmaier said she embraces social media because it allows her to check in daily with friends and family. She's also used her status to raise awareness for causes she believes in, such as Direct Relief.

“The biggest change I've seen during my lifetime has to do with the way we communicate with one another,” Kirchmaier told ABC News. “It's just incredible how technology is helping us connect with others throughout the world.”

The centenarian said she cherishes her Facebook relationships but still believes in the power of the pen. Every Tuesday for the past 42 years, she's headed to Direct Relief's headquarters in Santa Barbara, California, to hand-write thank-you letters to the charity's donors.

Kirchmaier said she drove herself to the office up until last year. But after 88 years with a perfect driving record she no longer gets behind the wheel due to health reasons. Instead, her 100-year-old friend Gina Vera now chauffeurs her to appointments.

Kirchmaier said she is awed by the power of social media. Though the only other social app she uses is Words with Friends, she has more than 55,000 followers on her personal Facebook page. The fan page Direct Relief set up for her two years ago has nearly 130,000 likes.

Users can go to the page to donate to the charity and sign up for volunteer opportunities. Or just to wish her a very happy birthday.

“People have sent such thoughtful notes, particularly around my birthdays,” she said.

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Pizza Wreaking Havoc on Kids' Diets, Research Shows

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Pizza may be the cheap, easy meal parents know their kids will actually eat, but it may be doing more harm than good, new research shows.

A new study published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics shows that pizza helps contribute to a higher overall calorie intake for children on days they eat it. On those days, it accounts for more than 20 percent of their daily calorie intake and increased the amount of saturated fat and salt in children's diets.

Pizza "plays a major role" in weight gain among children, nutritionist Rachel Beller said on ABC News' Good Morning America.

"We are just having too much of some of the wrong ingredients," she said. "Pizza can be great if it is done right with the right ingredients. It just deserves an upgrade."

She suggested making pizza at home with veggies and a thinner, whole grain crust. Beller also recommended opting for low sodium sauce and all natural cheese.

The researchers studied data from children and adolescents up to 19 years old, and also compared pizza to sugary drinks.

"These observations emphasize that pizza, like sugary drinks, may be a significant contributor to excess caloric intake and obesity, and should become a target for counseling for the prevention and treatment of obesity in pediatric practice," they wrote in the study.

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