Review Category : Health

Is It Ever OK to Leave Your Kid in the Car?

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s a decision nearly all parents have faced: leave the kids in the car or take them inside?

And headlines surface every summer about babies who’ve died after being forgotten in a vehicle, reminding parents of the dangers of hot cars and children left behind for too long. But what if it’s just for two minutes, while someone runs into the gas station? What if you’re only a few feet away from the car? What if it’s cold outside?

Whatever the conditions, experts say it’s never OK.

Janette Fennell, founder of the nonprofit KidsAndCars.org, a safety-awareness website, says parents need to know their kids could be easily kidnapped or choke on something when their parents aren’t around.

“Another thing that happens is that kids knock cars into gear and it starts rolling — kids have died this way, and there’s certainly been enough property damage,” said Fennell, whose organization tracks children’s deaths in cars. “There was a case in Virginia last month where a little one was strangled to death by a power window.

“These things happen in a flash. It’s not worth the risk,” she added. “I know we’re busy and I know we’re tired. I have two kids and I know how hard it was to get them in and out, but I also have to admit to myself that if I left them in the car, it would only be for my convenience.”

The speed at which cars overheat makes the situation even more dangerous, New York pediatrician Dr. Dyan Hes said.

“Even if you crack the window,” she said. “Kids can absolutely dehydrate. If it’s over 104 degrees, they can start having seizures.”

And overheating is a risk year-round, not just in the summer.

“We’ve had children die in vehicles when it was 57 degrees outside,” said Fennell, who recently launched a White House petition to prevent heat stroke deaths in vehicles.

“In the first ten minutes, your car’s temperature is going to spike about 20 degrees, on average. Right there, that can be very injurious or even fatal. Little children heat up three to five times faster than an adult; they don’t have the ability to dissipate the heat.”

Different factors affect how quickly a car heats up: the outside color, the interior color, sunroofs, outside temperature, etc. To be safe, just take your child inside with you, Fennell said.

An average of 38 children die in hot cars every year, according to KidsAndCars.org.

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Girl Killed by Brain-Eating Amoeba Loved the Water

Courtesy the Yust Family(SPRING HILL, Kan.) — When Shon Yust looked out at the guests in his backyard Monday night and noticed that no one was in the pool, he thought of his 9-year-old daughter, Hally.

“If Hally was here, I’m almost sure she would have gotten in and everyone would have followed,” said Yust, who lives in Spring Hill, Kansas. “She was always the first one in the pool and the last one out.”

Hally died on July 9 from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an extremely rare but almost invariably fatal brain infection caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which she contracted while playing in the water. The guests in Yust’s backyard had just come from Hally’s memorial service, which drew 1,500 people.

It all happened so fast, Yust said. Hally had been playing in freshwater the previous two weeks. The night of July 5, she got a headache, and the next morning she started throwing up. Emergency room doctors thought it was the flu, but by the morning of July 8, the girl was “delirious,” Yust said.

Hally was brain dead that night.

There have only been 132 other reported cases of Naegleria fowleri infections since 1962, with only a handful occurring each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, about 10 people die in unintentional drownings per day, the agency said.

The amoeba thrives in warm freshwater and enters the brain through the nose. But the Yusts don’t want Hally’s death to keep people from doing what she loved.

“Her being the little athlete that she was, anything in the water, just swimming around, swimming by kids and dunking them, all sorts of different stuff,” said Hally’s 16-year-old brother, Parker.

Though the whole family loved to jet ski together, Hally was especially talented, Yust said. She won an award for most improved skier in her age group last year, and became somewhat well-known in the local jet skiing community after asking a famous jet skier for autographs to help raise funds for a family friend battling cancer.

“We didn’t want people to be fearful of something that’s probably been there for thousands of years,” Yust said. “We saw things starting to spiral into fear. But it’s one thing to lose your daughter, and a whole other thing to lose what our family loves to do.”

Yust said being out on the water is one of the family’s favorite ways to bond, and that Hally wouldn’t want people to live in fear.

“We think that’s what our daughter stood for,” he said.

Though Hally’s mother, Jenny Yust, 44, is struggling to get back into the water, her father and brother went water skiing over the weekend. It was still a little scary, but it was helpful, Shon Yust said.

Hally’s youngest sister, 3-year-old Zoey, doesn’t fully understand what happened.

“She starts crying when mom starts crying,” Yust said. “She’s slowing figuring it out. She said, ‘I want Hally’ yesterday.”

Since Hally’s death, her family learned that she loved to sing and write songs when they found her iPad. She’d recorded a video of herself singing a song she wrote called “Out of the Sky” in a sweet, high voice as she sat on her bunk bed wearing black-rimmed glasses, her wild blonde hair tucked behind her ears.

“We’re the brown bear club, and she was our Snow White,” Yust said of the fact that Hally is the only blonde in a family of brunettes. They also nicknamed her “Bug” because of all the ladybug outfits she wore as a newborn.

The Yusts have established a women’s basketball scholarship at Kansas State University to honor Hally, who wanted to be a college basketball player, or a Harlem Globetrotter, Yust said.

“If you get to see any part of what she was, you’ll find out that she was so full of life,” he said. “She gave us so much that I don’t think we even realized until she’s been gone.”

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America’s Elderly Feel Both Good and Bad About Their Lives

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Regrets? Well, people have more than a few, especially when they get up in years, according to a survey reported in USA Today.

However, the same poll conducted by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today indicates that the young and the old are not that far apart when it comes to their optimism about aging.

For instance, 48 percent of people 60 and older say they have the support of their family and friends, compared to 44 percent of those ages 18-59.

In fact, more older Americans (32 percent) say they’re happy about their living situation than younger Americans (25 percent).

However, slightly more younger respondents expressed optimism when it came to finances and health than the elderly.

As for regrets, which were asked only of people 60 and older, 45 percent said they wished they had saved more money, 36 percent would have taken better care of their health, 21 percent say they should have been closer to their family, and 15 percent wished they had worked longer than they did.

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Social Drinking Helps War Stress

iStock/Thinkstock(HAIFA, Israel) — How are Israelis coping with the latest air war between their country and Hamas militants in Gaza?

A new study by Israeli and U.S. researchers says that bending the old elbow at the local watering hole might help.

According to the report published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal based on previous conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians, social drinking can help people deal with the anxiety of air raids and rockets flying overhead.

While not encouraging drunkenness or alcohol abuse, the researchers contend that liquor increases feelings of happiness that come from hanging out with friends and others close to you.

University of Haifa political scientist Daphna Canetti, who helped conduct the study, remarked, “Our research shows for the first time that drinking can help people get through terrorism-related trauma, like what we’re experiencing in Israel right now.”

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Study Measures Health Lifestyles of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Americans who identify themselves as gay, lesbian and bisexual appear to have unhealthier lifestyles than heterosexuals, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials learned of these disparities in a 2013 National Health Interview Survey, which asked 35,000 people about their sexual orientation.

Ninety-six percent of respondents claimed to be heterosexual, while 1.6 percent identified themselves as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 said they were bisexual.

As for the findings by the CDC, a third of gays and lesbians and four in 10 bisexuals admitted having five or more drinks on at least one day during the past year, compared to 26 percent of “straight” respondents.

The survey also revealed that more gays, lesbians and bisexuals smoke cigarettes than heterosexuals, while bisexuals were more apt to report serious psychological distress in the past 30 days than heterosexuals.

However, the differences in physical activity among the groups was negligible, as were those who reported being in good or excellent health.

Although the researchers warned that the estimates may not be entirely accurate because the sample size of gays, lesbians and bisexuals was relatively small, they did say the data would be helpful in addressing health problems among various groups.

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Organic Food Gets High Marks in New Study

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It turns out that all the hype about organic foods being better for your health may be true after all.

Europeans and U.S. researchers at Newcastle University in Britain analyzed more than 320 studies that compared organic to other crops, and their findings were that foods from organic farming contain more antioxidants and far less pesticide residue.

Chuck Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University who participated in the study, says that he hopes the study will result in the growing of more “nutritionally rich food.”

There are a couple of caveats to the Newcastle study, however. It was funded by the European Union and the Sheepdrove Trust, which promotes organic research. Also, previous studies in Britain and at Stanford University say there was no nutritional difference between organic and conventional crops.

Currently, sales of organic foods in the U.S. are at $35 billion annually.

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Prosthetic Limbs Get Real with Lifelike Features

Dan Brandenburg/E+/Getty Images(DRESDEN, Germany) — A German company has created prosthetic limbs so lifelike that most people have trouble spotting them.

Christoph Braunstamos of Stamos and Braun Prothesenwerk said the company considers each silicone prosthetic a work of art.

“All the work is done individually,” he said. “We try to catch the right colors from the patients and transfer them to the prosthesis.”

Braunstamos said the company works hard to get all the little details right. For instance, they craft fingernails and toenails from acrylic, the same material used in nail salons, so people can paint them.

“That’s often important to women,” he said.

Braunstamos admits that the realistic looking appendages don’t function as well as prosthetics with built-in bionics, but the fingers are flexible enough for someone to play the piano. The artificial arms and feet can also perform basic tasks, he said.

Each prosthetic costs between $2,500 and $8,500, depending on the size and the level of customization. However, in Europe where most of them are sold, the majority of the cost is picked up by insurance, Braunstamos said.

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American Stroke Rates Decline, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Stroke rates among Americans have dropped in the last 20 years, according to a new study, with the number of stroke-related deaths on the decline as well.

Researchers followed 14,357 participants in four different U.S. communities from 1987 to 2011 and found significant stroke decrease in those 65 and older. Still, there was a necessity to lower the number of incidences in younger groups, according to the report.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found a 24 percent overall decline in first-time strokes in the past two decades, along with a 20 percent drop per decade in deaths.

The decreases can be linked to smoking cessation and hypertension medications, researchers concluded.

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Phone App Helps E-Smokers Track Their Habit

Smokio(NEW YORK) — A new app claims to turn your e-smoking device into a smart cigarette.

The free app, by the makers of Smokio Electronic cigarettes, is designed to connect its e-smoking device to any smartphone, allowing the user to keep track of “vaping” activity, the word e-smokers use to describe puffing out vapor on an electronic cigarette.

“This free app tracks where you vape, when you vape and the equivalent consumption of those nasty cigarettes you used to smoke,” a promotional video for the app on the company’s website says.

Smokio CEO and co-founder Alex Prot said the app and e-smoke device combo are meant to motivate smokers to quit the same way fitness trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone motivate exercisers to move.

“The purpose of the app is to help people know how much they’re smoking which is the first step towards cutting back or quitting,” he said.

But that assertion may skim the edges of a Food and Drug Administration rule that forbids sellers from marketing e-cigarettes as a way to kick the habit.

An FDA spokeswoman said that the agency does not comment on specific products but any e-cigarette seller representing their product as a smoking cessation method without FDA approval could be subject to FDA enforcement action. She added that most apps used by consumers for “wellness” purposes are not regulated.

Prot claims that the app takes some of the same information the American Cancer Society uses to encourage people to quit smoking and features it in a series of graphs intended to show health improvements such as the “heart rejuvenation” and “increased lung capacity” that come from smoking fewer cigarettes.

The assertions, however, may be misleading.

“The benefits noted in the app are based on not using any tobacco products,” explained Lee Westmaas, director of Tobacco Control Research for the ACS.

Westmaas added that the potential long-term harms of e-cigs are still unknown.

An estimated 4 million Americans now use e-cigarettes, according to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association.

Prot said that a few thousand people have downloaded the app since it went live last year. The compatible e-smoking device costs around $80.

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Yahoo Japan Will Make Sure Users’ Digital Lives Die When They Do

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Yahoo is offering an appropriately named “Yahoo Ending” service in Japan that will help users “solve problems in the last moments of life,” according to a translated news release.

The service is a bit like a digital undertaker — but with everything prearranged by the person before they die.

It will delete any messages stored in a user’s account and terminate any billing connected to Yahoo. It even allows users to create a memorial tribute site for themselves where they can leave a farewell message for family and friends. The site will only be published once their death is confirmed, according to the company.

Yahoo Ending also allows people to make their own funeral arrangements and offers help for writing a will.

There’s no word yet on whether the service will be introduced outside of Japan.

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