Review Category : Health

Syrian Red Crescent Evacuates Conjoined Twins to Damascus Hospital

SYRedCrescent/Twitter(NEW YORK) — The Syrian Arab Red Crescent has evacuated conjoined twins, who are in need of surgery, from the Syrian town of Ghouta to a hospital in Damascus.

The organization posted photos of the twins, Nawras and Moaz, being cared for by doctors in an ambulance. In one photo, one baby cries as his heart rate is monitored with a stethoscope.

Syrian doctors had appealed for help from the World Health Organization, saying the babies would die if they were unable to undergo surgery, the BBC reported.

The twins, born last month in Douma, are conjoined at the chest with protruding intestines, according to the BBC. They traveled to Damascus with their mother and aunt and are said to be in good health.

It has been difficult for humanitarian aid to reach Douma, just north of Damascus, because of heavy fighting and prolonged shelling since the war began, the BBC reported.

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Your Body: Tips for Kid Safety in Public Places

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

Parents, by and large, watch their kids like hawks in public places. But things happen and big crowds at popular summer places like theme parks and state fairs can mean that a child can get lost in the time it takes to reach for your camera.

A police department in California is getting big praise on social media for a super simple child safety tip they posted recently. They suggest that parents write their phone number on the child’s wrist and cover it with a liquid bandage in case the child is lost or separated from them.

My prescription: If possible, assign one adult per child on outings with big crowds. And lastly, have identification on your child just in case.

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Three New Locally Transmitted Zika Virus Cases Reported in Florida

iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Three additional people have been reported to have contracted the Zika virus in ongoing outbreak centered in northern Miami, bringing the total number of those infected to 25, the Florida Health Department said today.

This outbreak is the first in which Zika virus infections have been linked to infected mosquitoes in the continental U.S.

The news of the additional cases came hours after Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced that mosquito control activities have reduced the size of the area where Zika transmission is ongoing in Florida.

Four square blocks in the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami have been cleared and therefore the size of the area where Zika transmission is believed to be ongoing has been reduced, officials from the governor’s office and the Florida Department of Health said earlier today. Health officials now believe all Zika virus transmission is occurring within an area less than a square mile in northern Miami.

The health department had previously mapped a square-mile area where it suspected the Zika virus was being transmitted via infected mosquitoes.

“We believe active transmissions of Zika are still only occurring in an area in Miami that is less than one square mile,” Scott said in a statement today. “Last week, we were able to clear a 10-block portion of the area and today, it’s great to announce that we are able to clear an additional four blocks. This means the area where we believe active transmissions are occurring in the state is significantly reducing.”

Scott said that he is also authorizing an additional $18 million to help state and local officials conduct mosquito control activities to bring down the mosquito population and reduce the chance of Zika infection. He also lambasted Congress and the Obama administration for not providing more support to fight the outbreak.

“I still have outstanding requests that I put into the Obama Administration that I am waiting on and I am disappointed that Congress has not come back to work to deal with this national issue,” he said in a statement. “The president and Congress must work together to get to a solution for all the families across our nation.”

President Obama has requested $1.9 billion in Zika funding, but Congress has yet to pass a bill with anything near that amount. The Senate passed a $1.1 billion deal in June, but the House’s approval of its own $1.1 billion in funding was filibustered by Democrats, who argued that they were left out of negotiations on the bill, and that the measure would take funds away from other health programs and bar any availability of funds for birth control.

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First of Its Kind Study of ‘Sexual Minority’ Youth Finds Them at Risk of Violence

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — “Sexual minority” youth — defined as gay, lesbian and bisexual or not sure — experience substantially higher levels of physical and sexual violence and bullying than their heterosexual peers, according to a new report released today from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a first of its kind study, researchers looked at national data to understand the issues faced by an estimated 1.3 million sexual minority youth and called for “accelerated action to protect the health and well-being of these young people.”

“This is not only the first time in the nation, this is the first time in the world this kind of study has been conducted,” lead researcher Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the CDC, told ABC News.

The study provides the first national estimates of the percentage of high school students who are sexual minorities, defined as gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure. Of the 15,624 participants, two percent identified as gay or lesbian, six percent identified as bisexual and 3.2 percent were not sure of their sexual identity.

Public health officials and other community members will now have data they can use to gain insight into the challenges of these students and help safeguard them from harm, the CDC said.

“If nations are judged by the health and well-being of their children, then what we have here is unacceptable,” Mermin stated. “It is something we should act upon rapidly.”

The risk of experiencing physical or sexual violence was notably increased for the lesbian, gay and bisexual high school students surveyed. These teens were three times more likely than heterosexual teens to report being physically forced to have sexual intercourse (17.8 percent lesbian/gay/bisexual vs. 5.4 percent heterosexual) and more than twice as likely to experience sexual dating violence (22.7 percent vs. 9.1 percent) and physical dating violence (17.5 percent vs. 8.3 percent).

In addition to facing increased threat of violence, the group also reported high rates of suicidal thoughts or feelings of hopelessness.

“A combination of complex factors can place young people at high risk for suicide, depression, addiction, poor academic performance, and other severe consequences,” the study said. “Data demonstrate that LGB students may be at substantial risk for these serious outcomes.”

The report found more than 40 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual teens have reported seriously considering suicide, with 29 percent saying they have attempted it in the past 12 months.

Additionally, 60 percent of these teens reported being so sad or hopeless they stopped doing their usual activities, which is one sign of depression. Furthermore, lesbian, gay or bisexual students are also five times more likely than other students to report using illegal drugs.

The information gathered through these surveys could be a jumping off point to understand why sexual minority youth face increased sexual assault, dating violence and other mistreatment, Dr. Debra E. Houry, Director, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC added.

“This data is heartbreaking,” she said. “I’m a mom and when you see this, you want to do something.”

“When you look at the data, you don’t see the whys,” acknowledges Houry, “and that’s something to think about.”

In light of what these findings do illuminate, Houry recommends an holistic approach to caring for the students. Factors that can help protect them include family support, improving stress-coping skills, access to mental health service and fostering social bonds or “connectedness.”

One expert hoped that the data would spur a movement to address the risks these teens face and what communities can do to help them.

“Some of the things we already suspected,” David Bond, a licensed social worker and vice president of programs at Trevor Project, a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth said. “But the most important thing about this is it helps to spark a national conversation about genuine public health issues.”

He mentioned mental health and community resources for teens in crisis, such as his organization’s Trevor Project Lifeline and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The findings of this study are based on the national 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which was conducted among representative samples of students in grades 9-12 from public and private schools across all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), which monitors priority health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading cause of health issues among young adults, included two new questions about sexual minority status in its standard YRBS questionnaire for the first time.

Investigators acknowledge several limitations to this study. The data apply only to youth who are enrolled in school and, therefore, may not capture the entire population of lesbian, gay or bisexual youth in the United States. Researchers also did not formulate questions about transgender identity for this study. Moreover, students might not have known their sexual identity, or might not have been willing to disclose it on a questionnaire.

The CDC researchers plan to continue to survey and study interventions to combat the public health issues raised in this study.

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Feds Use Funds for Medicaid, Children’s Services to Avoid Delaying Zika Vaccine Research

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Federal health officials have been forced to take $81 million in funds from various government programs, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Administration for Children and Families, in order to avoid delaying research on Zika vaccines, according to a letter from U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

Burwell has pledged the money to help keep research for a potential vaccine for the Zika virus on schedule, according to a letter to members of Congress.

Burwell announced that $34 million will be transferred within the National Institutes of Health and another $47 million will be given to Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) so that neither has to delay research into Zika vaccines.

The funds allocated for the NIH will come “exclusively from other NIH accounts,” including research into health issues like diabetes and cancer to keep that trial on schedule.

“The failure to pass a Zika emergency supplemental has forced the Administration to choose between delaying critical vaccine development work and raiding other worthy government programs to temporarily avoid these delays,” Burwell wrote.

The BARDA funds are being transferred from HHS agencies such as the Administration for Children and Families as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The National Institutes of Health launched a trial for a possible Zika vaccine earlier this month. Burwell wrote that re-purposing funds will mean removing needed resources from other health programs and that additional funds are needed to get other potential Zika vaccines into testing.

“However, there are no additional resources for the other three lead vaccine candidates that NIH is working to develop,” Burwell said in the letter. “NIH currently lacks sufficient funds to support diagnostics, and other activities critical to the Zika research response.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said recently that researchers will need at least $33 million to start phase II of the Zika vaccine clinical trial on time.

President Obama has requested $1.9 billion in Zika funding, but Congress has yet to approve anything near that amount. The Senate passed a $1.1 billion deal in June, but the House’s approval of its own $1.1 billion in funding was filibustered by Democrats, who argued that they were left out of negotiations on the bill, and that the measure would take funds away from other health programs and bar any availability of funds for birth control.

Burwell said reappropriating the funds was a short-term solution, noting that “with the actions described above, we have exhausted our ability to even provide short-term financing to help fight Zika.”

She pointed out that when Congress returns from its summer recess, it will have “less than one month to provide resources to avoid a scenario where agencies on the front lines of the Zika response have to severely curtail many of their critical efforts.”

At least 1,825 people in the continental U.S. and and additional 5,548 people in U.S. territories have been diagnosed with the Zika virus, according to health authorities. In Miami, the first-ever outbreak of locally transmitted virus via mosquitoes has infected 22 people. In Puerto Rico, local transmission has infected thousands.

The NIH has asked for $196 million in additional resources for the 2017 fiscal year and BARDA estimates it will need $342 million in additional funding next year to continue to fight Zika.

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California Inmates Help Train Puppies to Become Service Dogs

Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, Inc.(SAN DIEGO) — Inmates at two prisons in California are helping train puppies to become service dogs for wounded veterans and people with autism.

The group of inmates are part of a program called POOCH, which stands for Prisoners Overcoming Obstacles and Creating Hope, according to Stephanie Santos, training director for Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, Inc. (TLCAD).

TLCAD started its pilot program at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, where three of four dogs successfully graduated, Santos told ABC News.

The three newly certified service pups are now in the process of being placed with clients — including an active Marine and a facility that serves people with learning disabilities.

A POOCH program has also been launched at the Mule Creek State Prison in Northern California in the city of Ione, Santos said.

There, a group of inmates are currently training and living with three puppies, only 9 to 10 weeks of age, she said.

“You can tell that the mood on the yard instantly changes when the dogs are there,” Santos said. “When the puppies first came to Mule Creek, the inmates were so concerned for the puppies that they insisted on carrying them so they couldn’t burn their paws on the ground. It was so sweet.”

Inmates involved in the program are taught how to use positive reinforcement methods to train the puppies, she said.

“Positive reinforcement has been really nice for the inmates in terms of its rehabilitative aspects,” Santos explained. “It teaches the inmates empathy and the difference between teaching and commanding.”

One inmate told Santos that he hadn’t pet a dog in over 40 years, she said, explaining that dogs bring a lot of healing to prisoners in the yards.

“These dogs are helping heal the inmates, and in turn, these inmates are helping train dogs who will then make a difference in the lives of the people who need them,” Santos said.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which operates Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility and Mule Creek State Prison, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for additional comment.

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Zika-Affected Area Now Smaller, Says Florida Health Department

iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Mosquito control activities have reduced the size of the area where Zika transmission is ongoing in Florida, according to Gov. Rick Scott.

Officials from the governor’s office and the Florida Department of Health reported that no new Zika infections were occurring in four square blocks in the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami.

The health department had previously mapped a square-mile area where it suspected the Zika virus was being transmitted via infected mosquitoes. The outbreak has caused at least 22 infections in Southern Florida since last month.

“We believe active transmissions of Zika are still only occurring in an area in Miami that is less than one square mile,” Scott said in a statement Thursday. “Last week, we were able to clear a 10-block portion of the area and today, it’s great to announce that we are able to clear an additional four blocks. This means the area where we believe active transmissions are occurring in the state is significantly reducing.”

The Zika outbreak centered in Miami is the first time the virus has been spread via infected mosquitoes within the continental U.S.

Scott said that he is also authorizing an additional $18 million to help state and local officials conduct mosquito control activities to bring down the mosquito population and reduce the chance of Zika infection. He also lambasted Congress and the Obama administration for not providing more support to fight the outbreak.

“I still have outstanding requests that I put into the Obama Administration that I am waiting on and I am disappointed that Congress has not come back to work to deal with this national issue,” he said in a statement. “The president and Congress must work together to get to a solution for all the families across our nation.”

President Obama has requested $1.9 billion in Zika funding, but Congress has passed no bills with anything near that amount. The Senate passed a $1.1 billion deal in June, but the House’s approval of its own $1.1 billion in funding was filibustered by Democrats, who argued that they were left out of negotiations on the bill, and that the measure would take funds away from other health programs and bar any availability of funds for birth control.

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Virtual Reality and Exoskeleton Help Paraplegics Partially Recover: Study

Duke University(NEW YORK) — Virtual reality may mostly be used for gaming or entertainment, but researchers have discovered a stunning side-effect that suggests it may help restore feeling and movement in patients with seemingly irreversible spinal cord injuries, a new study shows.

Researchers at Duke University were able to return some muscle movement and sensation in paraplegic patients after simultaneously using virtual reality and brain-controlled robotics to attempt an experimental rehab therapy, according to a small study published Thursday in Scientific Reports by Nature.

“Linking brains to machines directly and providing feedback, we may have created a potential rehab therapy,” said Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, co-author of the study and the founder of the Center for Neuroengineering at Duke University and Duke School of Medicine professor in neuroscience.

Researchers used virtual reality and robotic exoskeletons to help train patients to use their thoughts to move. Patients first trained using the virtual reality to mimic walking through an avatar.

The device used is called Brain-Machine Interface, a computer system that records brain signals from human thoughts. The computer translates the recordings into commands to output devices. Patients had to imagine themselves making lower limb movements and then electrical signals from the brain were translated to the computer and moved each patients’ avatar on the virtual reality screen. As their digital counterpart took a step, the patient felt the thud of the foot in their arm via an electrical signal.

After that initial training, patients then used the same technique while wearing a robotic exoskeleton. The device allowed the patient to “walk” with the help of the machinery as they controlled the machine with their mind.

However, the most thrilling aspect of the study was completely unexpected. After using the exoskeleton, some patients started to regain some sensation and some muscle movement on their own.

“Everybody was stunned to see the footage of these movements,” Nicolelis said. The patients “could see how science could help.”

One patient, previously unable to stand due to a spinal cord injury, became capable of walking using a walker, braces and the assistance of a therapist, according to the study. This was all the more surprising because of the severity of the patients’ injuries.

The eight patients in the study had been clinically diagnosed with a spinal cord injury at least one year prior to the study. Seven patients had a complete injury as classified by the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale, and one patient had an incomplete injury.

Both researchers and patients were overwhelmed by the unexpected results seen in all eight patients.

Researchers theorize that their intense training protocol may trigger an “awakening” of the surviving nerves that remain intact below the spinal cord injury level but are dormant.

“I am very hopeful that we will be able to share these details with spinal rehab centers around the world,” Nicolelis said. “If it works with spinal cord injuries, it may work with other injuries such as stroke.”

Researchers continue to see improvements in functional recovery in patients who have continued training after the first 12 months, Nicolelis said. More research will be needed to confirm these results from the small study and to better understand the mechanism that may have allowed these patients to recover some movement and sensation below their spinal injury.

Alexandra Bennewith, vice president of government relations at the nonprofit United Spinal Cord Injury Association, said the technology sounded “amazing” but that it needed to be proven to help people on a larger scale.

“I hope that the study shows that is it has long-lasting effects that can be broadened to more individuals,” she said. “There is a such a clamoring need for new trials, new innovations, new technologies. … People are willing to try things if it will help them gain more functional ability.”

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“Good Morning America” Co-Anchor Lara Spencer Opens Up About Hip Replacement

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Good Morning America co-anchor Lara Spencer was starting to feel the aches and pains that are common after decades of active living.

“I love sports, I love being active, I love challenging myself,” said Spencer, 47. “I was a jock growing up from the time I could walk.”

Spencer’s nagging pain in her right hip, however, led to a surprising diagnosis. Spencer, who was a competitive diver at Penn State and now plays tennis, was told by her doctor she needs a hip replacement.

“It was so upsetting,” Spencer said of the diagnosis. “I waited for a long time before I did anything about it or told anyone because it sounds like it’s an old person’s problem and I just couldn’t believe it.”

Spencer’s physician, Dr. Peter Moley, told ABC News that around 10 percent of all hip replacements are done on patients in Spencer’s age group, under 50 years old. Spencer also has hip dysplasia in the soon-to-be-replaced hip, which made her cartilage more likely to wear down earlier in life.

“So that’s a huge amount of patients in that age group we don’t really hear about as much,” said Moley, a physiatrist at the hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Spencer said she has accepted that the wear and tear to her hip came from being a “great athlete.” She said she is now focusing on getting in the best shape she can so she can have the best recovery possible.

“I was like, okay, I’m going to approach this like any other sport in my life,” she said. “I’m going to kill it.”

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Eating Like an Olympian: The Diets of the World’s Greatest Athletes

iStock/Thinkstock(RIO DE JANEIRO) — To be an Olympian, you need to eat more than just the breakfast of champions. You need to eat like a champion for every meal, but the number of calories ingested by the world’s top athletes can vary widely.

Take a look at the different foods and caloric intakes that fuel these competitors.

Kerri Walsh Jennings:

Before Walsh Jennings took to the sand to face the Swiss in the Volleyball Match, she likely turned to her old standby of almond butter and honey sandwiches.

Usain Bolt:

For Bolt, his go-to is chicken nuggets and wings — in the morning. It’s a good thing there is a 24-hour McDonald’s in the Olympic Village, which is free for athletes. And his secret ingredient to success is reportedly yams. His total daily calories total 5,500.

Gabby Douglas:

America’s gymnastics darling considers almonds and dark chocolate her indulgences. Otherwise, she tends to stick to lean proteins and vegetables for a grand total of 2,000 calories a day. In contrast to Bolt, this is much more aligned to health officials’ recommended caloric intake of 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.

Ryan Lochte:

It’s swimmers who take the gold in caloric intake. Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte clocks in between 7,000 and 8,000 calories and is known to post his culinary delights to social media. For Lochte, the week before competition means a week of pasta. Lochte’s chef, who also cooks for Lebron James, provides a wide assortment of pasta shapes for him, Bon Appetit magazine reported. His cheat days are every Friday, according to Bon Appetit, when his meal of choice is a no-brainer: Domino’s pizza and wings.

Katie Ledecky:

Gold medalist Ledecky keeps her dietary regimen pretty simple, telling CBS News in September that she eats “Whatever my mom makes me.”

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