Review Category : Health

Task Force: Doctors Should Stop Screening for Thyroid Problems

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Unless there are symptoms of thyroid problems, the nation’s top advisory panel for doctors is now urging doctors to stop routine checking of thyroid hormone levels.

The United States Preventative Services Task Force made the recommendation on Monday in a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The recommendation comes at a time when thyroid hormone prescriptions are on the rise.

The study’s researchers caution against possible potential harm of false-positive results, over-diagnosing and over-treating when it’s not truly needed.

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Study: Smoking Near Children Increases Their Heart Disease Risk as Adults

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Children exposed to their parents’ secondhand smoke are at double the risk of developing heart disease later in life, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at nearly 2,500 children over 26 years in a study published Monday in the journal Circulation.

Children who were exposed to one or both parents’ cigarette smoke were at significantly higher risk of having carotid atherosclerotic plaque, which is plaque in the arteries in the neck, as adults.

Researchers also found higher rates of problems of children with smoking mothers than fathers alone.

Parents who practiced “good smoking hygiene,” such as not smoking in the vicinity of the child, increased the risk for their offspring, but significantly less than those who had “poor smoking hygiene,” according to researchers.

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Professional Chefs Can Help Your Child Eat Better at School

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Only about one in five children in America eats their recommended five to nine servings daily, but a new study by Harvard researchers shows that having schools collaborate with chefs could make that change.

The researchers studied the eating habits of elementary and middle school students in Massachusetts, and found that even if a chef spent only three months at a school to help improve the quality and taste of food, it had an impact that lasted for the next seven months.

The authors of the study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, also tried other tactics, such as repositioning fruits to the beginning of the lunch line and making the signs promoting fruits and vegetables more noticeable.

Neither of the tactics made the children eat more fruits or vegetables, according to researchers.

The authors propose that school lunches badly need a fix that professional chefs just may be able to serve up.

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Amy’s Kitchen Recalls Possibly Tainted Food Over Contamination Fears

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Amy’s Kitchen, a best-selling natural and organic food brand, announced a voluntary recall of more than 73,000 cases of its products over worries of possible listeria contamination, the company said in a statement Monday.

“This recall is based on a recall notice from one of Amy’s organic spinach suppliers that Amy’s may have received organic spinach with the possible presence of Listeria monocytogenes,” the company said is a statement to ABC News, also noting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not ask for the recall but was aware of it.

Listeria is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, said Kirsten Larson, manager of the food safety program for the Association of Public Health Laboratories. Symptoms include high fever, headache and abdominal distress, she said.

The Listeria bacteria is responsible for more than 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths each year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infection can also cause miscarriage and still births among pregnant women.

“The riskiest foods for infection include deli meats, unpasteurized dairy products, produce and prepared foods,” Larson said.

The Amy’s Kitchen statement said the company is not aware of any illness or complaints related to the recalled products, which include lasagnas, pizza and enchiladas that contain the potentially contaminated spinach.

“Out of an abundance of caution, however, Amy’s Kitchen is recalling these products based on the recall notice we received from our supplier,” the statement read.

You can find a full list of recalled products here.

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Expert Tips for the Right and Wrong Ways to Cheat on Your Diet

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Winter’s gone, but those five extra pounds remain.

Dieting is on the minds of many as bathing suit season looms. But the thought of giving up your favorite high-calorie foods until the winter solstice isn’t any fun — and it turns out that you may not have to. Cheating, it seems, in an important part of diet success…if you do it right.

“Cheating is a part of every diet,” said Chazz Weaver, a Los Angeles-based trainer and weight-loss counselor, and the founder of, a streaming health and fitness video network.

“If used strategically, cheat meals can actually be a helpful tool to keep you focused,” Weaver added. “If done wrong, you risk derailing your entire diet for good.”

Here are Weaver’s dos and don’ts when it comes to cheating on your diet:

  • Do cheat at night. When people cheat in the morning or afternoon, it’s harder for them to stay on their scheduled meal plan. Cheating at the end of the day reduces the risk of cheating again later.
  • Do schedule your cheat. Skipping your cheat meal could backfire, causing you to become ridiculously hungry, stimulating an all-day binge.
  • Do know your tolerance. If you find that your cheat meals are becoming entire cheat days or if you’re having regular cravings that are becoming unmanageable, it’s a good time to reassess the calorie intake in your diet. You may need to increase it.
  • Don’t cheat with the foods that made you fat. If you crave certain foods and keep giving into those cravings, you’ll only make them stronger. Avoid the foods that made you overweight and the craving will diminish over time.
  • Don’t binge. Cheating and binging are not the same thing. I cannot stress enough that a cheat meal is to satisfy your taste buds while increasing your calories from your scheduled diet meals. It’s not for binging.
  • Don’t feel guilty. Let’s say you do gorge during your cheat meal. Do not get depressed and think you’re a failure. We all make mistakes. The idea is to get over it and get right back on the wagon.
  • Don’t make cheat meals your life. Remember why you’re dieting, to live a healthier lifestyle. The natural process of creating a healthier lifestyle gets pushed aside if you focus too much on your cheat meals.

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30,000 Die Yearly from Brain Aneurysm Rupture

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For over 14 years, Lisa Colagrossi was a fixture of New York television news. Last week, she died of a brain aneurysm at the age of 49.

Colagrossi is one of an estimated 30,000 people in the U.S. who experience a rupture of a brain aneurysm, a bulging, weak area in the wall of an artery, according to the National Institutes of Health. Aneurysms typically form at the branches in the brain’s arteries where blood vessels are the weakest. The most common breaks occur at the base of the brain.

Approximately 40 to 50 percent of brain aneurysm ruptures are fatal, said Dr. M. Shazam Hussain, a neurologist with the Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute.

“Many die before they make it to the hospital,” Hussain said. “Of those who survive, a third will go home, a third will have a disability and a third will die in the hospital.”

About 5 percent of people have a brain aneurysm, Hussain said. Fortunately, only about one in 10,000 of them will rupture and the vast majority of people with the condition live long, health lives, he added.

“The majority of time there are no symptoms leading up to the rupture until right before the bleed,” Hussain said.

When there are symptoms, Hussain describes them as “stroke-like,” including severe headache, difficulty speaking, weakness, vomiting and loss of consciousness.

Colagrossi, who collapsed while returning from a television shoot, was the typical age for a rupture Hussain said.

“You can see them in people as young as 18 but the average age is between 50 and 60,” he said.

The best way to save someone’s life when they’ve had a rupture of a brain aneurysm is to seek medical attention as soon as possible so they can be stabilized and treated, Hussain advised. Staying healthy, treating high blood pressure and avoiding tobacco is the best way to avoid one in the first place, he said.

Someone with a history of brain aneurysm ruptures should talk to their doctor about the possibility of getting a brain scan, Hussain said. If one is discovered, doctors will often recommend regular monitoring but in high-risk cases they may be treated, he said.

Colagrossi joined ABC’s New York station WABC-TV days after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. She is survived by her husband Todd, and their two sons, Davis and Evan.

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How a Boy Survived Nearly Two Hours Without a Pulse

iStock/Thinkstock(MIFFLINBURG, Pa.) — A 22-month-old toddler was revived after falling into a frigid creek near his home and undergoing 101 minutes of CPR — a recovery that one doctor said may have been made possible by a type of “suspended animation.”

Gardell Martin was pulled from a nearly frozen creek March 11 after going missing for approximately 20 minutes, said his mother, Rose Martin. The toddler had been playing outdoors with his older brother near their home in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, when he fell into the fast-moving water.

By the time a neighbor found Gardell, the boy was face-up in the water and was not responsive, his mother said.

Emergency crews started CPR, which continued as the boy was flown to Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, where he was rushed to the critical care department, according to ABC News affiliate WNEP-TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“A couple things were in his favor,” Rose Martin told ABC News. “The cold water helped preserve his organs and his brain.”

A hospital official confirmed that Gardell’s body temperature was a frigid 77 degrees when he arrived for care. As CPR continued, doctors worked to warm the boy up and see if his heart could get started. After 101 minutes of continuous CPR, doctors found a tentative pulse.

“In my 23 years, I have not seen an hour-and-41-minutes comeback to this degree of neurological recovery,” said Dr. Frank Maffei, a pediatric critical care doctor at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania. “That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because people are trained.”

Dr. Alexandre Rotta, chief of pediatric critical care medicine at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, said the case clearly demonstrates how, in rare cases, hypothermia can lead to a kind of “suspended animation” that can protect the body when the heart stops.

“Hypothermia has been known for years to slow down metabolism,” said Rotta, who said at around 77 degrees a body needs only 30 percent of its normal oxygen intake, which can help preserve the organs.

In a normal case of cardiac arrest, a patient can have irreversible brain damage after three to five minutes of oxygen deprivation, Rotta said. However, a person who has had his or her internal temperature lowered to less than 82 degrees Fahrenheit needs just 30 percent of normal oxygen consumption, meaning doctors can have more time to resuscitate the patient before they have permanent brain or organ damage, according to Rotta.

“At 28 degrees Celsius [82 degrees Fahrenheit], [you] can safely arrest someone for 20 minutes,” Rotta said. “There was a saying … that you’re not dead until you’re warm and dead.”

Rotta said children are better able to be revived in such circumstances because they will cool down faster than adults and they also have slightly better rates of being revived following cardiac arrest.

“Most likely, [Gardell] was trying to swim or trying to hold on to something. His body started to cool down and it became very cold, and then he arrested because of his hypothermia,” said Rotta. “It has a better prognosis.”

However, Rotta said, these cases are extremely rare and he, himself, has seen only one case of a child coming back after being found in cold water in cardiac arrest.

“These cases are out there, but it requires tremendous [luck] your way,” he said.

Gardell’s mother told ABC News the family is just happy to have the toddler back at home and “pretty much back to normal” after his ordeal. She said his relatives feel his survival was “an act of God.”

“I feel like we’re trying to get back to normal life and everyone is trying to get back to normal,” said Martin. “He’s smothered with love. We can’t give him enough attention right now.”

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Safety Experts Criticize CDC’s Safety Practices

Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(NEW YORK) — A report released earlier this week on the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from the CDC’s own safety experts expresses concern that the agency is “on the way to losing credibility.”

The report offers more than a dozen recommendation for CDC improvement, including improvements to training, leadership, safety and encouraging staff to report accidents. “The CDC must not see itself as ‘special,’ the report states. “The internal controls and rules that the rest of the world works under also apply to CDC.”

The report highlights “inadequate” laboratory safety training, insufficient resources and a lack of leadership.

“The CDC is an incredibly capable organization and its value in promoting the health of our society cannot be lost,” the experts noted.

A statement posted to the CDC’s website alongside the report says that the agency “concurs with these recommendations, has made progress towards implementing them and will soon report on that progress.”

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Infant with Rare Disorder Saved After Lab-Tech Braves Boston Snow

Charlene Hills(BOSTON) — A lab technician may have saved a Massachusetts newborn’s life by braving deep snow to ensure routine lab tests were screened on time.

One of the tests revealed a rare genetic disorder that could have led to liver failure or death if Juliana Salvi had remained on the normal newborn diet of milk or formula.

Juliana was born the Sunday before Boston had a near-record snowfall on Jan. 27. The infant’s mother, Charlene Salvi, said she noticed the infant was lethargic and slightly jaundiced but didn’t think it was out of the ordinary.

“By the time we got home from that, we got an urgent call from both pediatrician and state lab trying to get a hold of us,” Salvi said. “She had one of the 30 disorders on newborn screening.”

If the lab hadn’t taken extra initiative, the test results would have been delayed because a historic snowstorm that blanketed the Boston area in feet of snow stopped the UPS delivery normally used to move lab samples.

Melody Rush, a lab technician, said the lab’s director asked for volunteers to pick up tests by hand and deliver them when officials realized UPS wouldn’t be running. Rush and other colleagues had to venture onto streets either by car or public transportation soon after a historic snow storm.

“We were able to go out and bring [tests from] 25 hospitals back and test them,” said Rush.

Juliana’s test samples were among those for 30 different babies that Rush picked up. Testing at the lab soon revealed Juliana has a dangerous metabolic disorder called galactosemia.

The genetic disorder means that Juliana lacks enzymes to fully break down a sugar in milk called galactose. The disorder is not just a milk allergy and can be life-threatening. The version of galactosemia Juliana was diagnosed with appears in about one out of every 60,000 births and will result in severe liver damage or death if the diet is not changed.

Juliana’s mother said she noticed her daughter seemed lethargic and slightly jaundiced, but she assumed that was just because she was a newborn. Because Juliana’s test was picked up, Salvi and her husband had calls on their answering machine when they arrived home alerting them that Juliana had the dangerous disorder.

“I just started crying. You don’t think you’re going to get a call that your child has one of the rare disorders,” said Salvi.

By the time Salvi and her husband rushed back to the hospital, Juliana’s health had already started to deteriorate.

“She was in crisis,” said Salvi, who said her symptoms were similar to sepsis. “She was in NICU and special care for two and half weeks and [we] removed milk source and got her on correct formula.”

After Juliana started to recover, Salvi said her doctor told her that because Rush and other lab technicians braved the New England weather, the newborn’s lab tests were done on time.

“There’s a few disorders like my child’s and it needs to be treated immediately,” Salvi said. “They couldn’t wait to get those labs.”

Rush said she was amazed to find out the following day that one of the samples she picked up tested positive for galactosemia. According to the director of Rush’s lab, the results are so rare that the last time a similar test came through the lab was 18 months ago.

“It was a nice feeling that I had made a difference in that baby’s life,” said Rush. “It was just luck of the draw. I just happened to find that needle in the haystack.”

Salvi was so grateful to the lab technicians, and especially Rush, that she took Juliana over to the lab for a visit. While Juliana will face additional issues because of the disorder, changing her diet meant her life was saved.

“I’m so thankful,” said Salvi, [for] the fact that they picked it up that day.”

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Why Some Parents Are Thinking Twice About Over-‘Sharenting’ Online

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Watch it, mom and dad.

A rise in over-“sharenting,” that’s parents who post nonstop about their children, is chipping away at the privacy of a younger generation, according to a survey from the University of Michigan.

“By the time children are old enough to use social media themselves many already have a digital identity created for them by their parents,” Sarah Clark, associate research scientist in the University of Michigan’s Department of Pediatrics, said in a statement.

Jennifer Collins of Houlton, Maine, identifies with the more than one half of mothers and one-third of fathers who told researchers they discuss parenting on social media.

Collins’ blog, Graceful Mess, is hosted by the Bangor Daily News. She also has an Instagram account, Twitter feed and Facebook page devoted to the antics of her 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son.

She told ABC News she’s “seriously re-thinking” her approach after her daughter saw a photo she posted on Facebook and asked why she has to share “everything.”

“Mom, do you really have to share everything that happens in our lives on Facebook?” Collins said her daughter asked.

“There have been times she has gone to school and people know about her weekend before she had the chance to share her story,” she said. “As they get older they realize they don’t even have the chance to tell the story.”

Collins said she has no plans to stop being a “mom blogger” but will be more careful about the personal stories she chooses to tell, especially as his daughter gets older.

“Recently I felt the need to rein that in a bit because it is their story to tell,” she said.

While there are pitfalls to sharing certain information online, there are also plenty of reasons how it can help parents to share common experiences.

The University of Michigan survey covered parents of children ages 0 to 4 years old. It found that 28 percent of parents discussed how to get their children to sleep, while 26 percent discussed eating tips and 19 percent asked other parents for advice on discipline.

“It’s relatable,” Collins said of the reason why she joined the blogging community five years ago. “I didn’t want to feel like I was the only one experiencing or going through a problem.”

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