Review Category : Health

Doctors Debate If High School Football Should Be Banned Due to Concussion Risks

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — With growing concerns about the long-term effects of concussions due to football, the medical community, especially pediatricians, are grappling with how to turn early scientific studies into real-world advice for parents, coaches and school boards.

In a commentary for the medical journal Pediatrics, physicians from multiple institutions, including the University of North Carolina and Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, debate the merits and drawbacks of advising a ban of high school football.

The commentary focused on exploring the risks of high school football by having three experts give an answer to a hypothetical scenario where a small-town pediatrician has to decide whether to advise cancelling a football program.

Concussions and their possible role in the development of CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has put a spotlight on the dangers of tackle football. In recent years, posthumous examinations of multiple professional football players have revealed the athletes had been suffering from the condition. Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously. However, the life-time risks for an average football player, especially one in high school, remain unclear.

CTE is a degenerative disease that involves a buildup of the abnormal protein called tao, which is also found in dementia patients and is associated with a breakdown of brain tissue. It’s believed to be caused by repetitive trauma to the brain, especially concussions, according to the CTE Center at Boston University, and symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety and progressive dementia.

Dr. Andrew Gregory, an associate professor of Orthopedics and Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said new research and attention on concussions has been important to raise awareness, but that he didn’t want parents to be so afraid that they keep children away from sports in general.

“I do worry about the anxiety in general. … We don’t want the message to be that kids shouldn’t participate in sports because of risk of injury,” Gregory told ABC News Monday. The question is “what can we do to make kids safer?”

In the commentary, Dr. Lewis Margolis, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, argued that current evidence points to football as more dangerous to the brain than other sports and that there is not enough evidence that benefits, including character building and physical fitness, is enough to outweigh the risks.

“High school football players have, by far, the highest risk of concussion of any sport,” Margolis wrote. “In football, the rate of concussion is 60 percent higher than in the second ranking sport, lacrosse.”

Margolis wrote that he was also troubled by the fact that a large percentage of players are African American, and that as a result they “face a disproportionate exposure to the risk of concussions and their consequences.”

He advised that pediatricians should advise “discontinuation of high school football programs” until there is proof that it will not lead to long-term consequences for players.

“At present, there does not seem to be a way to reduce the number of head injuries in high school football,” Margolis wrote. “There is no question that football is deeply imbedded in this community, as in U.S. culture. Our society has, however, researched other harms, such as tobacco use, alcohol-related driving, and obesity-related unhealthy diets and exercise, and successfully changed social norms.”

As a counter argument, Dr. Greg Canty, medical director for the Center for Sports Medicine at the the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, said that the medical community should push to make the sport safe but found there was not enough factual evidence to point to completely banning high school football.

“If we eliminate football, what sport is next and what is our threshold?” Canty asked in the commentary. “Who is going to be responsible for defining ‘safe play?'”

While CTE is often cited as a concern for football players, Canty said the disease has only been found in relatively few players when compared to the millions who have played the sport.

“It has been found in a hundred or so deceased athletes when the sample size of former athletes is in the millions,” Canty noted. “We have no idea how to apply current information about CTE to youth or living athletes. We have concerns, but no definitive answers.”

Canty also pointed out that the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention have reported a “10-fold increase in reported rates of sports-related concussions over the past decade,” but that many in the medical community believe this is due to increased awareness and not increased injury.

If physicians decide to recommend banning football, they may then be forced to look at banning other sports, such as hockey, lacrosse or soccer, which also put players at risk for concussions, Canty said.

“I encourage pediatricians to look for ways to make all sports safer for our patients,” Canty said. “Start by demanding certified athletic trainers at all sporting events. Be a resource for educating your community on sporting topics.”

Dr. Mark Halstead, a sports medicine physician at Washington University, agreed in the commentary with Canty and said there are clear steps schools can take to reduce the risk of dangers from concussion. Among them is teaching key staff members to work with a licensed athletic trainer on site and develop an emergency action plan.

“I am often asked if I would allow either of my 2 sons to play football knowing what I do about concussions. Yes, I would,” Halstead wrote in the commentary, qualifying it would only be in a program where safety was a priority. “I would only let them play in a program that encourages safety and puts an athlete’s health above winning.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Tips to Avoid Catching Infections This Holiday Season

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, millions of Americans will take to the roads and skies to visit family and friends. This can mean exposure to plenty of viral and bacterial pathogens through the air and through physical contact.

Here’s a few tips for avoiding the flu, cold or other infection, while traveling this winter.

Wipe Down Tray Tables and Wash Hands Before Eating

Between the seat belt sign and cramped quarters on an airplane, many passengers may feel they cannot get up to wash their hands before digging in to an in-flight meal. But washing hands is a simple and effective way to avoid infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rather than giving up on hand hygiene completely, airline passengers stuck in their seats can use antibacterial wipes to clean tray tables and use hand sanitizer before eating.

Basic steps like these can make a big difference, according to Dr. Goutham Rao, Chairman of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

“The most common sense thing people can do is wash their hands often,” Rao told ABC News. “When you’re traveling … think how much contact you have with everyone fromm gate agents to certain passengers.”

The CDC recommends either hand washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer with more than 60 percent alcohol to avoid picking up in-flight pathogens.

Get a Flu Shot

Receiving a flu shot at least two weeks in advance of travel gives the body enough time to develop antibodies to fight off the influenza virus, increasing potential protection from the virus, while in the air or around large groups of people.

Rao said the vaccine is especially key for people with compromised immune systems, including children and the elderly, during flu season.

“Peak time is December to March and people do travel a lot and mingle a lot, so the risk of getting the flu is much much higher than if you stayed home,” Rao said.

The CDC recommends that everyone older than 6 months of age receive the influenza vaccine.

Go for a Walk and Take Advantage of a Mini-Spa

Long delays, highway traffic jams or layovers can increase the stress level of any traveler. As stress increases, so do certain hormones that can increase inflammation and possibly diminish the immune system. Since some studies have shown massage can help diminish cortisol levels, stopping by an airport spa for a 10-minute massage can not only reduce tension in your shoulders and also giving your immune system a boost as stress levels go down.

To decrease stress and maintain health, Rao also recommends staying active. This doesn’t have to mean prolonged exercise like a 10-mile run; simply going for a brisk walk can be effective.

“It’s very stressful around the holidays for many people,” said Rao. “It can have an impact on your immune system … It’s important to have outlet for stress and stay active as much as you can.”

Watch the Holiday Cookies

Overindulging during the holiday season may be a time-honored tradition, but Rao said watching portion sizes during the holidays is key to staving off long-term weight gain.

Some people “gain more weight over a two-week period than they do for the rest of the year,” said Rao.

The health impacts of weight gain and obesity may not appear as quickly or as acutely as a case of the flu, but the long-term consequences are numerous, including increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Passenger Gives Birth on Southwest Airlines Flight

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — A passenger gave birth Sunday on an Orlando, Florida-bound Southwest Airlines flight, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Charleston, South Carolina.

Flight 556 was en route from Philadelphia when flight attendants asked for help from any medical personnel aboard the flight. Two doctors and a nurse went to the front row of the plane to help the woman in labor, who was not named, according to fellow passenger Izzy Gould.

Gould, director of content at AL.com, posted a short video on Twitter in which the newborn can be heard crying at the front of the plane.

Gould told ABC News he felt the flight take a sharp turn and then tracked the flight online to see they would be landing in Charleston. He estimated there was a 15- to 20-minute time period from when the plane turned until they were on the ground in Charleston.

The plane was met by rescue crews, who boarded the plane to escort the woman and the baby off it. There was also a male passenger traveling with the mother and baby, according to Gould.

The woman and her baby were “doing well when they left the aircraft,” Southwest Airlines told ABC News in a statement Monday. The airline added it “[did] not have a status on their condition” as of Monday.

Gould said a flight attendant told him the female passenger was 26 weeks pregnant when her water broke on the flight.

Gould called the flight “memorable” in a later tweet and described the Southwest crew and passengers who jumped up to help as “true pros.”

Flight 556 was on the ground in Charleston for around one hour before departing for Orlando, according to Gould. Passengers, including Gould, bound for the flight’s next destination, Birmingham, Alabama, boarded a new plane in Orlando.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: Can Cranberries Actually Help Prevent UTIs?

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

Cranberry products have been widely promoted to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections — or UTIs. The theory is that the active ingredient in cranberry inhibits bacteria from attaching to urinary tract cells therefore preventing them from multiplying and creating an infection. But now, new research from Yale suggests that there is, in fact, no benefit in taking cranberry capsules to reduce an overload of bacteria in the urine.

We likely haven’t heard the last of it either, so here’s my prescription:

If you suffer from frequent UTIs, cranberry juice or capsules can be a part of a preventive routine.

And remember, if you have an actual infection, cranberry alone will not kill the bacteria. You need an antibiotic for a true UTI.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Sherri Papini Will ‘Have to Find a New Normal’ After Abduction, Elizabeth Smart Says

ABC News(SALT LAKE CITY) — Sherri Papini’s astonishing and emotional story of being found on Thanksgiving morning on the side of the road after authorities say she was kidnapped and tormented for three weeks is one that kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart can identify with.

Smart, now 29-years-old, married and an advocate for victims of abuse, was just 14 when she was abducted from her Salt Lake City home and held captive for nine months. Weighing in on Papini’s ordeal, she told ABC News that the California mom will have to create a whole new sense of normal for herself in order to heal.

“It’s really important for people to realize that when a victim comes back, whatever they did, they did to survive,” she said.

Smart explained what kept her going during her own ordeal.

“I found my one thing that I could hold onto no matter what that my captors couldn’t take away or change, was my family,” she said. “And I imagine the same would be true for Sherri. I would imagine that she held onto them. She survived for them.”

Longtime victims’ advocate John Walsh, the former host of “America’s Most Wanted” and co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, also weighed in on the case and the road to recovery.

“It’s a desensitizing, mind-breaking experience,” he said. “People have to be patient. Be patient with these victims because they’ve been through hell.”

Smart had some additional advice.

“I would suggest to Sherri to focus on herself, focus on her family, focus on healing,” she said. “You never go back to normal. You have to find a new normal.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Maksim Chmerkovskiy Says He And Peta Murgatroyd Got ‘Kicked Out’ of Lamaze Class

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Maksim Chmerkovskiy recently admitted that he and his fiancée are — in some ways at least — not doing too well preparing for the arrival of their first child.

The Dancing with the Stars professional dancer said Saturday in a video posted to Instagram that he and Peta Murgatroyd “got kicked out” of a Lamaze class “because Peta was misbehaving and not listening to anything.”

“This baby’s gonna be a disaster,” Chmerkovskiy quipped.

Lamaze is a childbirth practice, and classes are offered around the U.S. to expecting parents.

In a caption for the hilarious video, Chmerkovskiy, 36, added that “Lamaz[e] class went…interesting.”

“@PetaMurgatroyd was the worst student in class, but I don’t blame her cause it was a million hours long and we’ve been shown waaaaaaaay too much stuff!” he continued. “My hair is indicative of the ‘stuff’ we’ve witnessed.”

Chmerkovskiy and Murgatroyd, 30, got engaged on Dec. 5 and announced they were expecting their first child, a baby boy, six months later.

Murgatroyd told People magazine back in June that the pregnancy shouldn’t affect their planned wedding.

“I’ll have the baby in January and then I’ll still have about six months to prepare for the wedding,” she said then.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Texas Woman Delivers Baby While on the Phone with Dispatcher

ABC News(SPRING, Texas) — A 9-1-1 dispatcher in Spring, Texas, helped one expectant mom deliver her baby over the phone this week.

The mother, Kioma, was on her living room floor and feeling contractions while listening to instructions from the dispatcher, Renae Whitehouse.

Whitehouse: Is anyone else with you?
Mom: No.
Whitehouse: You need to feel down there and see if you can feel anything.
Mom: I think I feel the head.

Whitehouse told ABC affiliate KTRK-TV that she did not expect Kioma to deliver the baby before the medic unit got to her house.

“At first I was like, it probably won’t happen before the medic unit gets there,” she said to KTRK-TV. “And then she just had contraction after contraction after contraction. It was like oh this is really happening.”

And then Kennedy Bennet, now 2 days old, arrived just a few minutes before an EMT crew knocked on the door.

“I cried a little bit after it was done. I’m not gonna lie. I was just so happy,” Whitehouse said to KTRK-TV.

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Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Three Things You Didn’t Know About Renowned Sex Therapist Dr. Ruth

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Dr. Ruth doesn’t quit: At 88 years old, the renowned sex therapist is still vocal about her favorite topic — writing books, making appearances and lecturing on what she has coined “sexual literacy.”

Her career began in 1980 with a 15-minute taped radio program called “Sexually Speaking” and just one year later it became a live, two-hour show, giving listeners the opportunity to call-in. The show became a huge success lasting over 10 years and eventually becoming part of a communications network distributing Dr. Ruth’s expertise via television, books, newspapers, games and videos.

She recently sat down with Rebecca Jarvis for an episode of “Real Biz With Rebecca Jarvis” to discuss her journey, from escaping the Holocaust to becoming Dr. Ruth and everything in between. Here are three things you might not know about Ruth Westheimer:

1. She’s a survivor: Born in Germany in 1928, Dr. Ruth was forced to leave her home to escape the Holocaust, being sent to an orphanage in Switzerland when she was only 10 years old.

2. She was a sniper: Only a few years later at the age of 17, Dr. Ruth went to Israel and became a member of the Haganah (a Jewish paramilitary group), fighting for the country’s independence and training as a sniper.

“I was a sniper in the underground in the Haganah in 1948. I’ve never killed anybody,” Dr. Ruth commented. “But I was badly wounded on both legs; that’s not why I’m short — I would’ve been short anyway.”

3. There’s an off-Broadway play about her life: “Becoming Dr. Ruth” opened in October 2013, with actress Debra Jo Rupp (who played Kitty on “That ’70s Show”) starring as Dr. Ruth. The play chronicles her incredible story, while also highlighting her favorite subject with lines scripted straight from Dr. Ruth’s mouth.

“When I came to the country, they told me that I have to take speech lessons, but Debra Jo Rupp, who portrayed me, she had to go to a speech therapist to learn my accent!” Dr. Ruth told Rebecca Jarvis.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Surgeons Start Program in Chicago to Train Bystanders to Treat Shooting Victims

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Ongoing gun violence in Chicago, which has killed hundreds in 2016, has led to calls for action – as well as inspiring two doctors to start a program designed to help save lives in an emergency. The Chicago South Side Trauma First Responders Course focuses on training anyone to be able to give lifesaving treatment to trauma victims.

Started by Dr. Mamta Swaroop, assistant professor of surgery in trauma and critical care at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Dr. Leah Tatebe, a trauma and general surgeon at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in New York, the program was designed to train bystanders to take simple steps that may save lives after a shooting or other violent event before an ambulance even arrives.

Swaroop and Tatebe joined forces with the advocate group Cure Violence to understand how residents in Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods could benefit from basic medical training. As a trauma surgeon, Swaroop said she had seen first-hand the toll shootings have taken on residents in Chicago.

“Last spring there was case after case that I kept seeing of patients who were dying … it came to me that why not have a first responders course that [could] minimize people hemorrhaging out,” said Swaroop. “It wasn’t one particular case … it was watching patients bleeding out and dying in the trauma [department.]”

Swaroop also pointed out that her hospital, which has treated many shooting victims, is about a 15-minute drive from the South Side of Chicago, where much of the violence has occurred. Even if an ambulance responded immediately to help a trauma victim, there would still be that 15-minute drive to the ER for treatment and possibly lifesaving surgery.

“Someone can bleed out their entire blood volume in a couple of minutes,” Swaroop said.

The classes, scheduled to start later this month, were designed after working with the Cure Violence group and other community members to figure out the best way to empower any resident to feel that they can help save a life. The first students are expected to be from local community groups based in neighborhoods that have faced some of the worst gun violence.

“We asked people about what their experiences were with violence and with trauma,” Swaroop said. She said many had experienced violent events without knowing how to respond to traumatic injuries. “The feeling of not knowing what to do … you feel helpless in that situation.”

Swaroop said simply teaching people how to properly apply pressure on a wound or helping open someone’s airway can make a difference. She said that everyone in Chicago should have a basic understanding of what to do in case of an emergency.

“In this day and age you can be anywhere in Chicago and bullets are everywhere. … You can be in the wrong place and the wrong time,” she said. “A bullet does not discriminate one bit.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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All-Female Motorcycle Club Helps Deliver Breast Milk to Babies in Need

Joi-Marie McKenzie/ABC News(NEW YORK) — Babies and in particular ill or premature infants benefit from being fed human breast milk, research shows.

But when mothers can’t produce enough breast milk to feed their ill or premature babies, including those in neonatal intensive care, who can they or their medical providers turn to for help?

In New York, it’s the New York Milk Bank. The organization based north of New York City helps to collect, pasteurize and deliver donated breast milk to hospitals and other providers around the state.

But the center faces a challenge in getting the donated breast milk to various far-flung locations in a cost-effective and timely way.

“We wanted same-day service, and you can’t have same-day service; they just charge a fortune for it,” Julie Bouchet-Horwitz, New York Milk Bank’s executive director told ABC News.

Then she got a novel idea while sitting in traffic.

“I saw motorcycles going in and out of lanes,” she said. “And I thought, ‘What a great idea! That’s fabulous!’ This thought of using motorcyclists was just brewing in my mind.”

Bouchet-Horwitz, who is a nurse practitioner and lactation consultant, wanted to find an all-female organization to help. And after a quick search on Google, she found Siren’s Women’s Motorcycle Club of New York City.

Jen Baquial, the club’s president, told ABC News that when she heard the idea for her organization’s riders to distribute breast milk she “lit up.”

The club, started in 1986, has about 50 members who range in age from 25 to 74 and welcomes women of all ethnicities, backgrounds and sexual orientations.

The organization alternates which of its riders help the New York Milk Bank on any given day. The motorcyclists pick up about 30 pounds of breast milk from different depots around the city, deliver it first to a pasteurizing center and later to hospitals and other locations.

Every rider delivering breast milk is required by the milk bank to have proof of insurance and a valid driver’s license, among other criteria. The milk bank pays for their expenses, including gas and tolls.

Sandra Fleming, a member of the club who is known as “the Road Goddess,” told ABC News on Friday that she had delivered breast milk that morning, before her day job as a social worker.

“It’s giving us a reason — a good reason — to get together,” Fleming, 52, said of she and her fellow club members. “We’re doing something that contributes to women’s causes.”

Fleming said the club is also involved in other charitable work including efforts to address breast cancer and to help homeless girls and teens.

The milk bank’s Bouchet-Horwitz said the partnership with the motorcycle club “just seemed like a great match, to have a group of women [help] … They’ve embraced us and we’ve embraced them.”

She said that in the future she hopes to welcome any riders, “even males,” to help deliver breast milk.

“That’s what I’d love to see,” she said.

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