Review Category : Health

Daughter’s Rare Diseases Sparks Inspiration for Photographer

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Holly Spring, a New Zealand photographer, says she was inspired by her daughter Violet to create a photo series showing her daughter living without limitations, despite her illnesses.

Spring’s daughter was born with multiple ailments including Hirschsprung’s Disease, a blockage of the large intestine and Symbrachydactyly, a limb abnormality.

Spring says the series was designed to show her daughter that she “can live a life without obstacles.”

Spring has received awards in her native New Zealand for her images of Violet. “She can do whatever she wants to do and be whoever she wants to be,” she said of her daughter.

View the full photo series here.

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Pregnant Teen with Zika Opens Up About ‘Heartbreaking’ News

ABC News(HARTFORD, Conn.) — A pregnant 17-year-old from Connecticut has tested positive for the Zika virus, telling ABC News the news is “heartbreaking,” as scientists continue to study the link between the Zika virus and severe birth defects.

Sara Mujica said she believes she was infected in February while visiting her fiance in Honduras. She started showing symptoms of the virus just days after learning she was pregnant.

“I had a fever,” she told ABC News. “And the rashes were just growing throughout my body.”

Fever and rashes are two of Zika’s most common signs and symptoms.

Mujica then traveled to Connecticut and rushed to get tested. With the results weeks away, she went back to Honduras to be with her fiance.

Then, her mother called “crying hysterically,” Mujica told ABC News. “She was like, ‘your bloodwork got back and you were positive for Zika.'”

“It’s really heartbreaking knowing that I got Zika,” she said.

“It was such hard news to take in all at once,” she said. “My first thought was, ‘What am I going to do?’ And I asked my mom, ‘What am I going to do?’ I still don’t know if I should do an abortion or take what God gave me.

“It’s a hard decision when something so tragic happens,” she said.

Zika is primarily spread through mosquito bites.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health, says that the Zika virus itself is usually mild — but it is very dangerous for pregnant women and their fetuses, due to the risk that the babies will be born with a brain development defect known as microcephaly.

While so far there have been no locally transmitted Zika cases in the continental United States, Mujica is now one of 44 pregnant women in the U.S. who have tested positive for Zika after traveling outside the country.

The Connecticut Department of Health said in a statement to ABC News, “We have been preparing for months both to address positive cases and put measures in place to help prevent mosquito-related transmission.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Tom Skinner told ABC News this week that its focus is “on pregnant women and making sure they’re not exposed to the virus.”

“We want them to avoid traveling to countries with Zika and make sure they know about prevention of mosquito bites,” Skinner said.

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Blogger Writes About How She’s Coping Without Her Mother on Mother’s Day

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — While many people have already purchased presents or made brunch reservations to celebrate their mother on Sunday, some will find the Mother’s Day holiday very tough to endure.

Ty Alexander is one of those people. The Brooklyn-based blogger lost her mother Yolanda Brown in 2013 after she had been diagnosed with stage four lymphoma. Alexander, 39, has been documenting her grieving process on social media and recently opened up on her blog about how she plans to get through Mother’s Day.

“Through my grieving process,” she wrote, “I realized that I had to re-imagine the love my mother and I had shared.”

It’s one of the many coping mechanisms Alexander said she will try this Sunday. Another is staying away from social media, she told ABC News.

“Sunday I will not be on the Internet,” she said. “I will take a hibernation from social media and just spend time with my family because it can kind of put you in a bad head space because other people can spend time with their mom and you’re not.”

Alexander added that blogging itself helps.

“I try to journal every day just to get my feelings out,” she said. “But I can also go back and look at the progress that I’ve made because when it first happened I was like, ‘Woe is me, I’ll never be right again.’ Looking back on it three years later, it’s amazing to see … the progress that I’ve made.”

On her blog, Alexander also shared that she plans to surround herself with family this holiday, more notably her aunt, who she says has become a second mother to her.

“My Aunt Katy has been instrumental in my grieving process, specifically getting past the hurt that I felt on Mother’s Day,” Alexander wrote. “Through my Aunt Katy, I was able to see the love that I still had here. Because of her love for me, she picked up all those broken pieces from the void of my mother.”

Sonya Frazier, a licensed mental health counselor, told ABC News that the coping strategies that Alexander will employ — such as staying connected to a support circle and writing down positive memories — can work for those who may find Mother’s Day difficult.

She also suggested: “Do something in honor of your late mother to celebrate her life. Don’t focus on the loss, but the celebration of life and the impact that she’s left on you and the greater community.”

Frazier said activities could include donating to a charity that she would support, planting her favorite flower, dining at her favorite place to eat, releasing a balloon in the air or anything “active or symbolic that will represent her.”

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Service Dog Stars in Middle School Yearbook Alongside Proud Owner

Courtesy Lori Ware(NEW YORK) — This is perhaps one of the most paw-dorable yearbook pictures ever.

Take a look at Presley, a 5-year-old service dog in West Monroe, Louisiana, who’s been going to school every day with her owner, Seph Ware, for the past two years.

Seph, 14, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive genetic muscle disorder that causes a loss of muscle function, so Presley tags along to help him with daily activities at school like picking things up off the floor, opening and closing doors and turning the lights on and off.

As a tribute to Presley’s loyalty, Good Hope Middle School decided to include her in the yearbook right alongside her proud owner.

“It was my son’s turn to take his photo and they said, ‘Hey how do you feel about us taking a photo of Presley?’ and he was like, ‘Sure,’” Seph’s mom, Lori Ware, told ABC News. “Presley, since the day we met her, will carry her leash in her mouth. We just say she likes to walk herself, so it’s no surprise she’s got it in the photo, too.”

Needless to say, Presley struck a perfect pose, which is now going viral after the photo was posted to Facebook.

“This whole thing has just been crazy,” Lori said of the attention the pup’s picture has gotten. “But Seph’s loving it. He is very social and he’s very animated and so he thinks it’s just great. It’s his 15 minutes of fame.”

And boy are they famous. Students at school are even asking for the dynamic duo’s autographs.

“All the kids are now asking him for Presley’s autograph,” said Lori. “So he signs his name in the yearbook and he draws a paw print for Presley. One little girl even brought an ink pad trying to get Presley’s actual paw print.”

Presley and Seph have been best buds from the moment they were paired up at the non-profit organization called Canine Assistants located in Alpharetta, Georgia.

“They are amazing. They give these dogs for free to people with disabilities,” Lori explained. “[Presley] came to us when she was 18 months old. You go for two weeks to learn how to work with the dogs. And the dogs choose their owners. It’s all about the bond.”

After days of careful observation, it seems the boy and his sweet dog were absolutely meant to be.

“Presley came over and laid her head in Seph’s lap and said, ‘This is my boy.’ It’s an amazing experience,” said Lori.

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Family Removed From Allegiant Air Flight Over Son’s Peanut Allergy

iStock/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) — A California man said he and his family recently felt “discriminated against” after they were asked to leave an Allegiant Air flight because of their son’s severe peanut allergy.

Kyson Dana, 28, told ABC News the incident happened on Monday when he, his wife Sara Dana and their 1-year-old son Theo boarded an Allegiant Air plane at Provo Municipal Airport in Utah that was headed to San Francisco.

As they were boarding, Sara, 28, told a flight attendant Theo had a severe peanut allergy and asked if “they could make any small accommodations such as not serving peanuts during the flight,” Kyson said. He added that he and his wife carried an EpiPen just in case of an emergency and reiterated that “the airline wasn’t accountable for anything that could happen.”

Allegiant says on its website that the airline “does not guarantee an allergen-free flight” but that it “will attempt to re-seat a passenger affected by an allergy in an effort to minimize the passenger’s exposure to the allergen.”

Though one flight attendant “was very rude” and urged the family not to fly, a second flight attendant was “nice and helpful” and actually asked people to avoid eating peanuts, according to Kyson.

But a third flight attendant said the pilot wanted them “removed from the plane,” Kyson said. He and his wife were “rushed out” and a request to speak to the pilot was refused, Kyson noted.

Though Allegiant offered to book another flight for the family, it was scheduled to leave five days later, Kyson said. However, an airport employee who “felt bad” for the family, “pulled some strings” and got them onto an American Airlines flight the same day free of charge, Kyson said.

Allegiant has since sent the family an apology email that Kyson forwarded to ABC News Friday.

“On behalf of the entire Allegiant team, please allow me to offer my sincere apology for the inconveniences this incident has caused for you and your family,” the email read. “We regret that you were denied boarding due to any misunderstanding regarding the severity of your child’s peanut allergy. I realize that medical issues can be highly challenging. We just wanted to make sure you arrived home safely.”

Allegiant also sent the following statement to ABC News: “Upon boarding flight 1005 on May 2, 2016, the Dana family indicated to our flight crew that their son had a severe peanut allergy. The flight crew then contacted a third party organization that advises Allegiant and other carriers when making decisions about the safety of passengers with potential medical issues onboard an aircraft. The third party organization, which includes on-call medical doctors available to provide guidance, advised that the family not fly on that specific flight. Allegiant provided the family with airline tickets on another carrier, and they arrived at their destination later that night.”

Kyson said he hopes his family’s story will help start a larger discussion about how airlines treat people with allergies.

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Lil’ Kim Instagram Photos Fuel Debate on Society’s Ideal Beauty Standard

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Lil’ Kim, the self-proclaimed “Queen Bee” of rap, has been turning heads since she stepped onto the music scene.

With her colorful wigs, explicit lyrics and eye popping music videos, the rap star’s vibrant personality and physical appearance largely define her persona.

And the rapper is once again making waves with a series of photos she recently posted on Instagram to show off a new look.

In the posts, many are saying Lil’ Kim appears virtually unrecognizable compared to what she looked like in photos from the 1990s. Along with her wavy blonde hair, they are commenting that her facial structure seems visibly different, and that her nose looks thinner and her skin lighter.

The post sparked an online firestorm, with some speculating whether the image was all due to make up and camera filters, while others are convinced that she chemically lightened her skin tone.

Lil’ Kim has not yet commented on the issue and has not responded to requests for comment on whether she radically changed her appearance from ABC News’ Nightline.

However, her photos have sparked a discussion about society’s view of ideal beauty and whether women of color are under pressure to conform.

According to Minnesota photographer Patience Zalanga, Lil’ Kim’s new look aligns with what she calls “the Hollywood standard of beauty” which is, as she explains, “lighter skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, slender.”

“As a little girl, I was also one of the black kids that wanted to have lighter skin, so the transformation of Lil’ Kim is really just — it’s extreme. But it’s not a phenomenon,” Zalanga said.

In fact, Lil’ Kim herself admitted to insecurities about her looks in an interview with Newsweek from 2000, saying, “I have low self-esteem. I always have. Guys have always cheated on me with women who were European looking … really beautiful women that left me thinking, ‘How can I compete with that?’ Being a regular black girl wasn’t good enough.”

Critics say the beauty industry is capitalizing on the idea that some young women of color are unhappy in their own skin, thus fueling a multi-million dollar skin bleaching business in the U.S.

“Black women and women of color are always aspiring to get as close to white as possible to fit within those beauty standards,” Zalanga said.

Beauty vlogger Jasmine Rose told Nightline that she experimented with bleaching her skin in high school due to acne scaring.

Rose said she would “bleach the spots and then I was like, ‘Well if I bleach the spots, what happens if I bleach my face?’ I got compliments from folks saying, ‘Oh your skin looks brighter,’ and that was kind of motivation for me to continue doing it.”

She added that she stopped using the creams after she got to college and now loves her natural complexion.

Zalanga said she also tried bleaching her skin. “I did maybe in sixth grade. And it was like really terrible because every time you put it on you recognized that you don’t like something of yourself which is my skin color,” she said. “And so it was really heartbreaking but also just damaging to my self-esteem because I wanted to be something that I was not.”

Over-the-counter skin-bleaching products are intended for small areas to treat minor discolorations, and dermatologists warn that using them more broadly can thin the skin and become dangerous.

Dr. Mohiba Tareen says the over-the-counter products used for skin lightening “can contain toxic chemicals that can be really harmful and cause skin cancer and even internal cancers.”

Tareen said she has fielded many requests from patients wanting full body depigmentation. In those instances, she said that she refers patients to psychologist to discuss underlying reasons for their requests.

The appeal of skin bleaching products is not just in the U.S., Tareen said.

“It’s inundated in Indian society that … all these things can be done at a young age to lighten the skin tone,” Tareen said.

In fact, the World Health Organization reported in 2011 that 77 percent of women in Nigeria used skin-lightening products regularly, as did 40 percent of women in China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Korea.

This worldwide complexion complex has led many to sympathize with Lil’ Kim.

“What’s more important is to address the bigger issue and that’s how white supremacy is still pervasive,” Zalanga said.

Though more darker-complexioned women are surfacing as icons of beauty in Hollywood, light-skinned women continue to dominate on red carpets and magazine covers. And some magazines have received accusations of digitally lightening skin tones on celebrities with darker complexions, like Lupita Nyong’o, Gabourey Sidibe and Kerry Washington.

Often, the quest to achieve beauty ideals goes far beyond changing skin complexion. Altering physical appearance by means of plastic surgery to achieve beauty ideals is something Kendra Elia is all too familiar with.

Elia has sought out the perfect face for years, undergoing four rhinoplasties. “If the makeup’s not changing and not helping, maybe it’s my nose … I’m willing to change what I don’t think looks good,” Elia told Nightline in a 2014 interview.

Worried that with each procedure her daughter was erasing her ethnicity, Elia’s mother Sylvia Barnett told Nightline, “I’m proud of my blackness, always been that way and I don’t want to change a thing … I always thought [Elia] was pretty … She was fine the way she was.”

At the time of her fourth procedure on her nose, Elia said she hoped it would be her last. But more than a year later, Elia said she is merely content with her nose.

“I’m more satisfied than I was with the previous surgeries,” Elia said. “I’m not 100 percent satisfied, but I’m more so along the lines of 85 to 90 percent.”

She said if she had the money, she’d have even more work done, but she still insists it’s not about losing her ethnicity.

While the speculation on whether or not Lil’ Kim changed her appearance will continue, some hope the conversation on beauty does as well.

“If you still don’t get why Lil’ Kim having lighter skin, blond hair and blue eyes is a big deal … then you are maybe part of the default. And I think that’s an important thing to raise,” said Zalanga.

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Hospital Distributes Baby Boxes to Help Reduce Infant Mortality Rates

iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) — Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia has started an initiative to help reduce infant mortality rates. The hospital is providing each new mother who delivers at the hospital with a baby box, which is a functioning bassinet complete with a sheet and mattress.

“We weren’t sure how people were going to react to putting their babies in a box, but it’s been an overwhelmingly positive response,” Dr. Megan Heere, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, told ABC News Friday.

The hospital began distributing the boxes on Tuesday, which also come with essential baby supplies, all free of charge. The hospital received private grants and the hospital also covered half the cost. Each box costs approximately $80 to $100.

“We are currently funded for approximately 3,000 boxes, which is about a year’s worth of births,” Heere said, adding that Temple is the first hospital in the country to do it on this large of a scale. The hospital has already distributed 40 boxes.

The project is a joint initiative between Temple pediatrics and Temple’s maternity nurses.

According to Jennifer Rodriguez, director of nursing services at Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the U.S., with 10.5 deaths for every 1,000 live births. The national average is 5.2 deaths for 1,000 live births.

“Suffocation is the leading cause of infant deaths,” Rodriguez told ABC News Friday. The baby boxes are a safe sleeping environment that prevents parents from having their children sleep in the same bed as them, Rodriguez said.

The boxes are also firm, which helps prevent sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), keeping a baby lying flat on their back when sleeping and away from other stuffed animals and objects that could strangle or suffocate the baby.

The idea for the boxes came from a Finnish model that has been in place since the 1937. “I think it’s great that we were able to bring something from Europe here to an academic medical center and do studies on it,” Rodriguez said.

In addition to the safe environment for babies to sleep in, the box provides parents with useful information on everything from fire safety in homes to feeding tips — provided not only by the hospital, but also by the Philadelphia Fire and Police Departments — to create a safe environment for the babies to grow up in.

“We’re giving as much education and backup for them,” Rodriguez said.

“The main hallmark of the program is the education,” Heere said, adding that the initiative allows the hospital to keep in contact with parents even after they are discharged to help answer any questions or concerns.

Heere said they hope to extend the program to other hospitals, but their first goal is to see infant mortality rates drop.

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Munchkin Recalls 180,000 Pacifiers Over Choking Hazard

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(NEW YORK) — Check your diaper bags– a new recall has 180,000 pacifiers being pulled from shelves because of a choking hazard.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Munchkin, Inc. is recalling its “LatchTM lightweight pacifiers and clips” sold as a set because “the clip cover can detach from the pacifier’s clip, posing a choking hazard for young children.”

“Epoxy coating on the clip can weaken in certain environmental conditions and detach posing a choking hazard to small children,” said a statement on Munchkin’s website. “There have been no reported injuries, but the product is being voluntarily recalled in an abundance of caution. The LatchTM Pacifier & Clip meet all regulatory requirements.”

The CPSC said there were at least 10 reported cases where the clip cover detached from the pacifier clip.

The product was sold at a variety of retailers including Babies R Us, Target, and Wal-Mart, from March 2014 through March 2016 for between $11 and $15.

If you purchased the product, CPSC advises customers to keep the pacifier away from children and contact Munchkin for a free replacement Lightweight Pacifier pack.

“Consumers, who are not satisfied with the offer, will be able to receive a refund upon receipt of the entire product set,” said Munchkin.

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Baby See, Baby Do? Maybe Not From Birth, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Is your baby really imitating you when you play peek-a-boo? Researchers now say there is no evidence that young infants are capable of imitation.

Copycat behavior is one of the most commonly noted characteristics of human children and it’s a way that young kids learn how to act, speak, and behave. But new research published in Current Biology from the University of Queensland in Australia has demonstrated that imitation may not be a behavior that is innate.

In their study, the most comprehensive longitudinal study of neonatal imitation to date, researchers showed 106 newborns in Australia a variety of gestures four times, at different ages, and found that these babies were just as likely to produce matching as non-matching actions in response.

These results challenge claims that imitation is an innate human capacity evident at birth.

Infants are still definitely imitators – but not until around 6-8 months. In other words, imitation may involve learning rather than just instinct.

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Study Finds Mom’s (Over)eating for Two Can Increase Childhood Obesity Chances

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A mother-to-be’s blood sugar levels and weight gain during pregnancy may have more of an impact on childhood obesity than we previously thought, according to a new report.

Past research tells us that large babies born to mothers who either had diabetic pregnancies or gained “too much” weight were at higher risk of being overweight or obese in childhood. But what about normal weight babies with the same risk factors?

Researchers looked back at 24,141 normal weight babies born between 1995 and 2003, then checked their heights and weights during the first 10 years of life. Moms who had either high blood sugar in pregnancy or excessive weight gain (more than 40 pounds) increased the risk of childhood obesity. This effect held even when they controlled for mom’s pre-pregnancy weight, showing the issue wasn’t just that overweight moms give birth to kids who grow to be overweight.

Notably, breast feeding was protective against childhood obesity, although the researchers only had breast versus bottle data on 302 of the mothers who were part of the study.

The study’s findings were published in Maternal and Child Health Journal.

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