Review Category : Health

Your Body: Facts About Multiple Sclerosis

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Actress Jamie Lynn Sigler, known for her role on The Sopranos, recently revealed she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) when she was just 19 years old. And now, she can’t run or even walk for long periods of time.

So how does the degenerative disease impact people?

MS is an immune condition that affects the central nervous system. It can lead to visual problems, problems thinking, cognitive issues, lack of coordination with motor function, loss of balance, or even numbness and tingling.

It’s important for anyone with any of these symptoms to get a full workup — possibly with a neurologist.

Treatment for MS really centers around managing fatigue, which can be debilitating. Bottom line: By managing the flares and the symptoms, people with MS can live a normal life.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Study Advises Mothers to Give Newborns Vitamin D Supplements

Mayte Torres/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Breastfeeding has long been associated with increased health benefits for babies, as well as for mothers, but a new study points out that even breast milk may have limitations, especially as the infant gets older.

Doctors have long advised breastfeeding women to take vitamin D supplements, since breast milk does not contain high amounts of the nutrient. Vitamin D can be crucial in helping the body absorb calcium, and children with extremely low levels of vitamin D could be at risk of developing rickets or a bowing of the bones.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children take vitamin D supplements for the first year of life, regardless of whether they’re fed formula or breast milk.

But a new study finds that children who are both eating solid food and breastfeeding are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. Published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health, the study looked at 2,508 children in Toronto, Canada.

Researchers found that children who were breast-fed up to 36 months and did not take supplements were more likely to develop vitamin D deficiency even though they had started eating solid foods. Children who were breast-fed up to 24 months had an estimated 16 percent risk of low levels of vitamin D. That number increased to 29 percent when the child breast-fed up to 36 months.

Dr. Sarah Ronis, a pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, said the study could help mothers make important decisions about their diet.

The takeaway from the study is that children who are breast-fed longer without vitamin D supplementation are unlikely to be getting “sufficient intake from other sources,” she told ABC News.

Ronis pointed out that breast milk remains an optimal source of nutrition for newborns and that the World Health Organization advises breastfeeding for up to two years for infants as long as it works for both mother and child. However she explained that they advise all mothers to give infants vitamin D supplements until the child can drink at least 32 ounces of formula or regular milk to get enough vitamin D in their diet.

She pointed out that the study shows how even solid food may not be a sufficient source of vitamin D for breastfeeding children. A deficiency can lead to “fatigue or impaired immune function” in extreme cases, Ronis noted. Some cases have been so severe that the calcium metabolism is thrown off, leading to changes in the bone.

She reiterated that breast milk is still recommended, as long as there are no other complications. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life or longer and “strongly supports breastfeeding,” according to its website.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Mom of Triplets Thanks Delta for Moving Her to First Class to Breast Pump

Jenna(ATLANTA) — An Atlanta mom of 5-month-old triplets who posted on Facebook a photo of herself breast pumping in order to thank flight attendants says she is “completely overwhelmed” by the response.

The photo posted last week by Jenna, who asked that her last name not be used, has been liked more than 50,000 times and generated a conversation with hundreds of comments.

Jenna, who has a two-year-old daughter in addition to her triplets, took a Delta flight from Atlanta to Dallas last week for a solo 24-hour visit with her grandfather.

The stay-at-home mom, who previously worked as a registered nurse, told ABC News that she asked the flight attendants if she could come to their preparation area to use a power source for her breast pump. She was astounded by their reply.

“They said they didn’t actually have an outlet, but that I could sit in the empty first class seat and use that power source since it was more spacious than the coach seat where I was sitting the rest of my flight,” she told ABC News.

Jenna, 31, took to Facebook to thank the two flight attendants, identified as Kaitlin K. and Loretta, by posting a photo of herself pumping and a caption thanking them for making her “role as momma much easier.” Jenna noted the flight attendants also provided her with extra water and snacks while she pumped.

“I was unsure how the experience would be with pumping, which is why I was surprised at how accommodating everyone was,” Jenna said. “Pumping is not as simple or discreet as putting a child to breast.”

“I posted as a thank you for being so supportive and making my pumping sessions more comfortable and convenient than they would have otherwise been,” she added.

Jenna’s post drew the attention of Delta, which asked her in the comments section to send her flight information so they could recognize the employees. A third flight attendant, on Jenna’s return flight to Atlanta, also gave her a first class seat, which Jenna said she told Delta as well.

Delta has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

“Initially, I was completely overwhelmed by the shares and responses to my post but have since embraced the opportunity to advocate for the parent,” Jenna said. “If even one mother is more comfortable feeding her child because of my post, then it makes the overwhelming response worth it.”

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Pope Francis Says Contraception May Be ‘Lesser of Two Evils’ During Zika Virus Outbreak

neneos/iStock Editorial/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) — With the mosquito-borne Zika virus continuing to spread through Central and South America, Pope Francis said Wednesday that contraception could be seen as “the lesser of two evils” if women are concerned about having children with the birth defect microcephaly.

The Zika virus is usually mild, but has been associated with a rise of the alarming birth defect, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain, often leading to significant developmental delays.
The pope compared the situation to a decree issued by Pope Paul VI, which said nuns in Africa could use contraception due to the threat of rape.

“Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” Francis said. “In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also ask doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.”

Francis did say in strong terms that abortion is “an absolute evil” and should not be considered even if there is a risk the infant will be born with microcephaly.

The World Health Organization issued new guidelines Wednesday to guard against the sexual transmission of the Zika virus. The organization advised men and women returning from areas where the transmission of the virus is ongoing to adopt safer sex practices or consider abstinence for at least four weeks. Partners of pregnant women should adopt safer sex practices, including barrier contraception or practice abstinence for the duration of the pregnancy, the WHO recommended.

The virus is most commonly spread from mosquitoes to humans, but it has been documented to spread through sexual contact and blood transfusions.

With the mosquito-borne Zika virus continuing to spread through Central and South America, Pope Francis said Wednesday that contraception could be seen as “the lesser of two evils” if women are concerned about having children with the birth defect microcephaly.

The Zika virus is usually mild, but has been associated with a rise of the alarming birth defect, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain, often leading to significant developmental delays.
The pope compared the situation to a decree issued by Pope Paul VI, which said nuns in Africa could use contraception due to the threat of rape.

“Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” Francis said. “In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also ask doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.”

Francis did say in strong terms that abortion is “an absolute evil” and should not be considered even if there is a risk the infant will be born with microcephaly.

The World Health Organization issued new guidelines Wednesday to guard against the sexual transmission of the Zika virus. The organization advised men and women returning from areas where the transmission of the virus is ongoing to adopt safer sex practices or consider abstinence for at least four weeks. Partners of pregnant women should adopt safer sex practices, including barrier contraception or practice abstinence for the duration of the pregnancy, the WHO recommended.

The virus is most commonly spread from mosquitoes to humans, but it has been documented to spread through sexual contact and blood transfusions.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Cancer-Stricken Teen’s Plea for Rare Bone Marrow Donor Goes Viral

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — A 13-year-old teen’s call for help finding a bone marrow donor has gone viral.

Zara Al Shaikh, of Hampshire, United Kingdom, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 11. She went into remission the following year, but this month her doctors found the cancer had returned. To save her this time, doctors need to find a bone marrow donor, said her father, Dr. Loua Al Shaikh, an intensive care physician and anesthesiologist.

Al Shaikh said his daughter’s doctors explained that her ethnicity — her mom is white and her dad is of Middle Eastern heritage — may make it more difficult to find a donor, which has to match tissue type. Zara is now in a hospital in Hampshire, where she’s undergoing chemotherapy.

“It’s just a few days ago when Zara and I were sitting in hospital and we looked at these social media things online,” Al Shaikh told ABC News, noting he and Zara though that they could “post something out there and someone might grab it.”

Zara started a Twitter account with one of her first tweets asking for people to register as a stem cell or bone marrow donor.

I urgently need a bone marrow transplant. I have a very rare tissue type due to mixed ethnicity (Arabic/British). Pls help me find a match

— Match4Zara (@Match4Z) February 11, 2016

“It just went mad,” Al Shaikh said Tuesday of the post spreading over social media. “It’s gone just absolutely viral.”

The post has been retweeted more than 12,000 times and the hashtag #Match4Zara has gone viral, with many people writing in to ask how they can take join the registry. Al Shaikh said officials at one bone marrow registry told him they had a “twelve fold” increase in the number of people who signed up in a single day, after the tweet went viral.

While Zara is still without a match, Al Shaikh said he’s hopeful because so many people have reached out to join the registry to see if they can help her.

“People are answering the call, so social media is doing its thing,” he told ABC News. “These are regular folk and it makes you believe in humanity.”

Zara is currently undergoing chemotherapy so that doctors can perform a bone marrow transplant once they find a donor.

Despite the illness, Al Shaikh said his daughter is like any other teenager and even used her cancer treatment as an excuse to dye her hair blue.

“Zara, she’s very popular but shy,” Al Shaikh said. “She loves what a 13-year-old loves. She shocked us when she wanted to dye her hair blue. She said, ‘But Daddy, I’m only going to lose it and I love it.'”

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Boy with Rare Condition Asks Internet for Help Finding Lost Dog

Lauren Ducalo(NEW YORK) — A boy with a rare tumor is pleading with the Internet to help find his family’s dog that went missing just days before he went into surgery.

Lauren Ducalo of Staten Island, New York told ABC News that her son Roman, 5, was sad to learn that Charlie, his grandmother’s Maltese, disappeared from her home on Feb. 6.

“It really bothered him that night, he kept waking up every couple of hours asking if Charlie came back,” Ducalo said. “[In the hospital], he said, ‘Grandma’s dog is gone. I have to hurry up with my surgery and help find him.'”

Roman was born with mesenchymal hamartoma of the chest wall, a condition that has resulted in him having an inoperable tumor on his cervical spine.

For the past year, Charlie the dog has been a healing factor for Roman — both physically and mentally, according to his mother.

“My mother had gotten this dog and it was an initial bond between the dog and my son,” Ducalo said. “[Roman] would cry when he’d have to go to therapy, but you put him in the room with the dog, and he’s rolling around the floor. My son didn’t walk until he was 2. It has been a therapy for him. It was Roman being a boy.”

But on Feb. 6, Ducalo said her mother Linda returned home to find that Charlie was gone.

The family is unsure if the dog was physically taken, or if he sneaked out on his own, according to Ducalo.

On Feb. 9, just three days after Charlie disappeared, Roman went through VEPTR surgery to expand the metal rod on his ribs, which helps his breathing.

Since then, he’s been asking for one thing and one thing only: for his buddy Charlie to return.

“He prays daily for Charlie to come back,” Ducalo said. “He doesn’t understand that there’s a big chance that the dog isn’t coming back…after this weekend if we don’t find him, we’ll have to tell him something.”

“This is a family member, this is not just a dog,” she added. “My mother is heartbroken. Things have not went right for my family in a very long time and when my mother found this dog she found company, and my son got attached. [Roman] misses the dog.”

Ducalo said Charlie barks often, jumps like a bunny and was wearing his doggy tags when he went missing.

She said she hopes media exposure helps reunite Roman with Charlie.

The family is offering a $1,000 reward for Charlie’s safe return.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: The End of Stethoscopes?

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

What’s a doctor without his or her trusted stethoscope? A lot of new studies suggest, possibly, a better doctor.

With things like ultrasound and other high tech imaging devices being used more these days, some say the stethoscope is on its way out.

However, the editor in chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology writes that doctors should be better trained in the art of the physical exam — and that means listening closely to the heartbeat.

I grew up watching my dad, who’s a cardiologist, use his stethoscope all the time. As an OB/GYN, my ears aren’t as good as his are, but I still use it.

In my medical opinion, it’s a classic piece of equipment that still has a place.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Formerly Conjoined Texas Twins Celebrate One Year Since Separation

Courtesy Mata Family(NEW YORK) — Formerly conjoined twin girls Adeline and Knatalye Mata were wheeled into an operating room at Texas Children’s Hospital one year ago Wednesday to undergo a highly complicated and risky surgery to separate them.

They were just 10 months old at the time and had spent their entire young lives living face-to-face. They shared a chest wall, diaphragm, intestines, lungs and lining of the heart and pelvis. Their chance of surviving the long surgery was still an unknown at the time.

But now it’s been one year since the surgery and the twins, whose middle names are Faith and Hope, are continuing to beat the odds. Both girls are thriving and will celebrate their 2nd birthdays on April 11.
“The girls are both doing so well,” Dr. Darrell Cass, the lead surgeon on the case and co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center, said in a statement. “Neither have experienced any complications and they are both making steady progress.”

The girls’ mother Elysse Mata said in an interview provided by the hospital that both girls have reached different developmental milestones and are growing into their own personalities.

“Knatayle is trying to walk,” the girls’ father Eric Mata added. “She knocked out crawling so now she’s trying to walk.”

“Addie can’t walk or crawl, we’re working on that,” Mata continued. “But she scoots and she’s also all over the place too.”

“Nightline” was at Texas Children’s Hospital last year as a team of 12 surgeons spent 26 hours performing the separation surgery on Knatalye and Adeline.

Since the surgery, the girls have continued to come to the hospital for procedures and follow-up appointments.

Dr. Cass said the next step will be for Knatalye to undergo an operation on her chest again “to remove the metal struts that were used to stabilize the rib cage and to formally close her chest wall.”

While Adeline’s lungs are improving, Cass said she is still on a ventilator, but they are working on weaning her off it, and she will continue to work on speech and physical therapy.

“A year ago, we were up almost 48 hours and we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Elysse Mata said. “So to be able to look back on that and think, ‘Wow, here they are’ … it’s exciting. You look at them and you wouldn’t know that a year ago they were lying on a hospital bed facing each other, miserable because that’s all they could do, and I’m just excited about the next years.”

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Woman Wins $200 on Lottery Ticket, Uses It to Rent Motel Room for Cold Homeless Man

ABCNews.com(BOSTON) — Sofia Andrade is on disability and she has three young children, so when she won $200 from a scratch-off lottery ticket, she knew the money could help. Then she saw a homeless man out in the cold on one of the most frigid days of the year and she knew it would help him more.

“And I was like ‘Where are you going? Can I buy you a cup of coffee?’” Andrade, 28, told ABC News in a Tuesday interview, of the Saturday encounter in New Bedford, Massachusetts. “I knew when I saw him that I’d been given this money to help him.”

Not only did she buy Glenn Williams that promised cup of coffee, but she also drove him to an area motel where she used her winnings to pay for a three-night stay.

Mahesh Patel, the manager at the Rosewood Motel in East Wareham, told ABC News that he was initially reluctant to rent a room to Williams because he didn’t have any identification. Patel said Andrade told him the man was her uncle and offered her own ID.

Patel said he “made an exception” because of the bitter cold. He said he also gave her a discount on the room — charging her $60 per night instead of the regular $65.

Andrade acknowledged that she did claim Williams was her uncle.

“I did. I did,” she told ABC News. “I could not leave him outside.”

According to AccuWeather.com, the high temperature in New Bedford was 25 degrees on Saturday.
In an interview at the motel with ABC News Boston affiliate WCVB-TV, Williams cried when he described Andrade’s kindness.

“I couldn’t believe there’s somebody like her,” he said. “She deserves a lot of the credit for where I am right now.”

Andrade’s Facebook post about Williams’ plight has gone viral, with many people praising her for her selflessness.

Andrade has set up a Go Fund Me account to collect money for Williams. As of Tuesday night, the fund had raised $13,210, nearly three times the original goal of $5,000.

Some people even went to the motel to try to help Williams. Patel told ABC News that people kept knocking on Williams’ door to offer him items. The attention made the man uncomfortable, Patel said.
Andrade said she moved Williams to another location which she declined to identify, citing the man’s request for privacy.

“He’s still wrapping his head around it,” she said of Williams’ response to the money raised through the fund. “He knows that it’s there and he knows that when he’s ready that money is completely … you know, it’s his. It’s his money.”

Williams told WCVB-TV that he was “overwhelmed” by all the help, which included donations of warm weather wear and even a Valentine’s Day card.

“There’s a lot of good people in this world … and I just want to thank everybody,” he said.

Andrade said she has taken Williams to get official identification as well as health insurance. Eventually, she’ll help him apply for housing.

A friend, Elizabeth Arone, gave Williams a haircut and has been helping her to pick up the donations which have been “pouring in” for Williams, Andrade added.

Saying Williams is “dealing with his own demons,” Andrade said the money would offer him a second chance.

“He’s been given an amazing opportunity to change his life and he doesn’t want to squander it,” she said. “He just doesn’t.”

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WHO Says $56 Million Needed to Combat Zika Virus in Coming Months

auimeesri/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) — The World Health Organization (WHO) say sit will take $56 million to jumpstart a coordinated international response to the Zika virus outbreak.

The WHO also says it plans to tap a newly created emergency contingency fund to pay for the initial efforts.

The plan will focus on “mobilizing and coordinating partners, experts and resources to help countries enhance surveillance of the Zika virus and disorders that could be linked to it, improve vector control, effectively communicate risks, guidance and protection measures, provide medical care to those affected and fast-track research and development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics,” the WHO said in a press release.

Zika is a mosquito-transmitted infection that has been spreading rapidly throughout South America. Zika is believed to be linked to microcephaly, which causes brain damage in infants. WHO officials have declared Zika a public health emergency.

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