Review Category : Health

Your Body: Traumatic Brain Injury Among Children

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

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, happens when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. While you might think it only happens to professional athletes, it can be very common among children going about their day to day lives.

Severe injury can happen with something as common as a parent tripping and falling while holding a child. Children can even suffer TBI as a result of playing around or falling from a bunk bed.

Kids in high chairs aren’t always safe either. High chairs placed too closely to tables allow kids to kick their feet off of the table and push the chair over backwards.

If your child hits their head, this is what you should watch out for: Headache, a change in sleeping patterns and irritability. They can all be signs of TBI in children.

If you suspect a concussion, see your child’s pediatrician immediately.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: Newborns and the Human Touch

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

The human touch could be life saving for an infant.

Skin to skin contact immediately after birth can lower a child’s risk for sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics says not only does it independently lower the risk of SIDS, it also facilitates breastfeeding, which is another protective factor.

The group’s new recommendations also emphasize traditional safe sleep practices, including placing an infant on its back on a separate surface from parents and not crowding the crib with stuffed animals, padding or blankets.

The recommendations for skin to skin contact can be done my mom and dad, and the sleeping recommendations also suggest babies sleep in the same room as parents but in their own crib, not in the grown-ups’ bed.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Baby Girl Born on Side of Highway Amid Thanksgiving Traffic

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A New York couple made an unexpected pit stop on the way to the hospital this Thanksgiving, giving birth to a healthy baby girl on the side of a highway amid the rush of holiday traffic.

Terrice Thomas says she’s heard all those stories about women giving birth on the side of the road, but never expected to be one of them, she told WABC, a local affiliate.

She and the baby’s father, Austin Thomas, were on a highway in Yonkers when she realized the baby just couldn’t wait.

“We pulled over, he called 911, they started to walk him through what to do, and I’m like, ‘I’m here, I’m over here,’ I called out to the dispatcher, ‘I’m here, I’m over here, the baby’s coming,'” Terrice told WABC.

“I saw the baby’s head; the baby’s head was out. So he was saying to me, ‘Listen the baby’s going to be slippery, you got to catch it. Don’t let it fall, you got to catch the baby,'” said Austin.

Terrice gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Taliah in the front seat.

Firefighters arrived on the scene soon after, checked Taliah’s vital signs and cut her umbilical cord.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Woman Starts Foundation to Help Fund Adoptions, Build Families

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — November is National Adoption month, and one woman is helping turn dreams into reality for families looking to adopt for those who don’t have the financial means to do so.

When Becky Snyder Fawcett and her husband were ready to start a family, they were faced with the harsh reality that they would not be able to have children of their own. The couple, eager to find a solution, attempted five rounds of in vitro fertilization, which resulted in three pregnancies and three miscarriages.

“My journey to become a mother was not what I expected it to be,” Fawcett said. “I really didn’t think I would have any problems getting pregnant the old fashion way and having a child.”

After the emotional and financial stresses of their failed attempts at having a child, the two decided to try something else.

“We had just the amount left in our savings that would cover an adoption. And I think during that first meeting with the adoption attorney for Jake’s adoption it just hit me of how lucky I was, how lucky I was to be making these choices on my terms,” Fawcett said.

Fawcett started to wonder how other couples took on the same hurdles and surprises. “I asked the question, ‘What do people do in my shoes if they don’t have this money?’ Because an average adoption costs $40,000 in full and upfront,” she said.

Once the couple adopted their first son Jake, she knew she wanted to do something to help others get a fair shot at adoption.

“We have to do something to help these other families become families and to help these kids get homes,” Fawcett said. “Because the trick of it all is if people can’t afford to adopt children, what happens to these children?”

Fawcett developed her idea into a plan and launched “Help Us Adopt,” an organization that helps give financial assistance to other adoptive parents from all walks of life. “We don’t discriminate. Period,” Fawcett said proudly. “Family is family. You want to adopt a child? You have a valid home study? Come.”

The organization is now in its ninth year and has helped build 179 families, awarding more than $1.5 million dollars in adoption grants to all kinds of families.

“I believe that we have changed the way Americans perceive adoption,” the now mother of two said.

“I have my– these children are my own,” she explained of her son Jake, 10, and daughter Brooke, 7. “It is so funny that I literally have to pinch myself to remind myself at points throughout the day that these children did not come out of my body…They are my children. They are my own. We are a family,” she added. “We just went about it a little different.”

For the mother who at one point thought she may never have a family of her own, she realizes now that her journey is what shaped her vision to help others overcome the trials and tribulations that can come when starting a family.

Fawcett said, “It really is cool that you can take an idea and make it happen…It’s pretty easy to get up and go to work everyday.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Foster Mom Gets Her Thanksgiving Wish to Adopt for the First Time

Courtesy Melissa Birchmore(WEST COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Days before Thanksgiving, one South Carolina woman got her holiday wish to adopt the little girl she fostered and fell in love with.

Melissa Birchmore of West Columbia officially became “mom” to 5-year-old Jeneva on Nov. 21 at Sumter County Family Court.

“It felt like the world was lifted off my shoulders,” Birchmore, 52, told ABC News. “It was a feeling that you can’t describe. [Jeneva] is pretty excited. She understands she is what she calls [herself], ‘my forever girl.’ She came in and she meshed and fit and it’s never been her plan to leave.”

Birchmore has been a foster care mom since 2009, fostering 14 children over the years.

In 2013, Jeneva came into her life. The two immediately developed a special bond, Birchmore said.

“She came in and made herself at home,” she said. “She was meant to belong. She’s very much a girly girl. Even though shes a little bit sassy, she demands that she fits in and be included. She’s very fun-loving. She adapts to whatever her surroundings are.”

Jeneva was a victim of neglect and often “bounced around” under the care of various relatives for years before Birchmore became her foster mother, Birchmore said.

“From the beginning, I loved her and didn’t want her to go anywhere,” she added.

At family court on Monday, Birchmore signed the adoption papers in front of a judge and her loved ones.

The family is hosting Thanksgiving dinner Thursday and Jeneva is excited to celebrate with her new cousins and “cook with mommy,” Birchmore said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: BRCA Gene Mutations

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

A mutation in the BRCA gene is associated with an increased risk of not only breast cancer but also ovarian cancer. And some women freeze their eggs before removing their ovaries as a preventative measure.

But now, there’s also a procedure to help prevent passing that gene to future children. It’s called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.

After a woman undergoes an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, the resulting embryos can be tested for the BRCA gene mutation and the patient can then decide whether or not to implant that embryo.

The growing popularity of BRCA testing has led many young women to talk about their future fertility options. While definitely complex, the good news is that there are more fertility and reproductive health options for women than ever before.

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How Many Calories Americans Will Eat on Thanksgiving

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, football and feasting. The average American will consume a hefty 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving — for dinner alone. Drinks, dessert and appetizers can bring the total calorie count to 4,500, according to the Calorie Control Council, an industry group.

The most delicious Thanksgiving dishes — mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing and pecan pie — are loaded with sugar or fat or both. The Calorie Control Council estimates that 1 cup of mashed potatoes contains 238 calories and 8 grams of fat. A cup of green bean casserole comes in at 143 calories and 8 grams of fat, and a slice of pecan pie adds a whopping 456 calories and 21 grams of fat.

Hunter Lewis, editor of Cooking Light magazine, concedes that Thanksgiving can throw your diet for a loop, but he argued that the spirit of Thanksgiving matters more than the food.

“Be engaged at the table and be grateful and thankful,” he told ABC News. “Enjoy yourself and don’t feel guilty [about the food].”

Lewis, however, warned against indulging after the holiday.

“Don’t let one day of feasting turn into five days,” he said.

For those who refuse to give up their favorite Thanksgiving dishes, Lewis said there are ways to make them more heart healthy. Eliminating sausage from stuffing, which Hunter called a “fat bomb,” cuts down on calories. More worthy fillers include apples, squash and mushrooms, he said. Replacing the butter in mashed potatoes with turkey stock and Greek yogurt provides flavor without clogging arteries. And forgoing baked brie appetizers and cheese platters with fresh seafood, such as shrimp cocktail, allows for more calories later, he said.

Susan Albers, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and the author of “Eating Mindfully” and “50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food,” notes that eating an additional 3,500 calories will lead to a weight gain of 1 pound. Government guidelines on estimated calorie intake vary based on age, gender and physical activity level, but for a woman 26 to 50 years old who engages in moderate physical activity, the recommend daily calorie count is 2,000. For men who engage in moderate exercise and are 26 to 45, the recommended daily caloric intake is 2,600. That number drops to 2,400 for men 46 to 65.

Albers suggests “focusing on favorites” for Thanksgiving dinner and eating mindfully.

“Mindful eating is the opposite of what we traditionally think of on Thanksgiving,” she said. “Consciously choosing what you want to eat, eating it slowly, savoring each bite. It’s not about eating as much as you can. Mindful eating teaches you it’s perfectly fine to have your favorite slice of pie if you make room for it.”

If you eat mindfully, that takes the pressure off losing the extra pounds. According to a Cornell University study published in September in the New England Journal of Medicine, half the weight gained around the holidays can stick around until the summer months or beyond. The average American’s weight rose 0.2 percent during the Thanksgiving holiday, the researchers found. In the 10 days after Christmas, Americans on average weighed 0.4 percent more than they did the 10 days before Christmas.

Eating mindfully matters, but so does moving. Albers advises walking after dinner and even exercising before the turkey is sliced at the dinner table.

“The best advice is prevention,” she said.

Lee Jordan, a certified health coach and senior behavior change specialist with the American Council on Exercise, agrees that exercising pre- and post-Thanksgiving should become a yearly holiday ritual. To burn 1,000 calories, a 185-pound person would need to jog for 90 minutes at 12 mph nonstop for nearly 7.5 miles, according to Jordan. If you’re a walker, prepare to hit the pavement for over 3.5 hours at 3 mph to burn the same number of calories. The ACE has a tool on its website to help individuals calculate how much exercise is needed to burn off calorie amounts.

“Exercising prior will help jump-start metabolism and, more importantly, provides a tangible way for a person to declare to himself or herself that they are committed to their health and wellness,” he told ABC News in an email.

“People tend to significantly overestimate the amount of calories they have burned, [so] if they choose to frame their pre-Thanksgiving exercise as a means to feast and overindulge, they will likely not have a healthy outcome,” he added. “However, when a person chooses to frame the same pre-Thanksgiving exercise not as a tool to rationalize overindulging but rather as an investment in their own joy/wellness, the outcome is usually one of empowerment rather than regret.”

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Safety Experts Warn of Thanksgiving Fire Hazards

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) — An old adage warns people not to play with fire, or but in a dramatic pre-Thanksgiving demonstration Tuesday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission did just that in order to alert Americans to a hazard they could face while celebrating the holiday.

Exhibiting how dangerous Thanksgiving meal preparation becomes when the proper precautions aren’t taken, the CPSC showcased both deep-fryer and stove-top fires in a presentation for reporters.

“Thanksgiving is such a great holiday — it’s exciting, it’s fun. Family is in town, you’re all excited to see each other. But that also leads to distractions,” CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said.

“If people are not paying close attention, we could end up having this,” he added, pointing out the singed residue of the demonstration.

The CPSC reports that 1,400 cooking fires occur each Thanksgiving — three times the national daily average. Deep-fried turkeys can be especially dangerous, with scalding oil and the resulting flames causing 107 incidents, 47 injuries and $5.2 million in property damage since 2004, according to the CPSC.

To protect against such trouble, the CPSC recommends keeping an eye on turkeys as they cook, removing flammable items from fires should they start and smothering stove-top flames rather than trying to extinguish them with water. Fryers should only be used to cook completely thawed turkeys and should be placed outdoors, a safe distance from one’s home.

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Baby’s White Streak in Hair Keeps Family’s 200-Year Heritage Alive

Courtesy Ronda King McCullough (WILMINGTON, N.C.) — One baby is keeping her family’s legacy alive with her streak of white hair.

Ronda King McCullough, of Wilmington, North Carolina, said her granddaughter was born with the unique trait that dates back to the 1800s.

“My older sister, she kept hold of all of the family albums after my mom passed,” King-McCullough, 49, told ABC News. “That’s how we were able to get the dates. My mom had it, her mother had it, her mother, and then a brother and then it goes back from there. When my kids had it I was really astounded by what God had done and then my grandchildren had it, it blew my mind.”

Aaliyah Richardson, born on Nov. 10, is one of five living relatives who has a white streak in her hair, King-McCullough said.

Tina Heyer, King-McCullough’s sister, said it’s exciting that the birthmark has survived so many generations.

“We’ve been getting other calls and emails from families that say they have it. It’s just amazing how many people are coming forward now,” Heyer, 57, said.

Heyer and King-McCullough’s maternal great-great-great-grandmother had a white streak in her hair. Their great-grandmother, Josephine Hankins, also had a streak and it trickled down to King-McCullough who was the only one out of her five siblings to be born with it.

Courtesy Ronda King McCullough

King-McCullough’s two sons, Johnnathun and Zan have it as well.

King-McCullough’s son Antonio was not born with the mark, but her two granddaughters, Layla, 5, and baby Aaliyah were.

King-McCullough said she never learned what the exact technical term was for her family’s special distinction.

“I just never took the time to search it out and I just told my kids, ‘It’s loss of pigmentation,'” she said. “A lot of people definitely think it’s cool and it’s gone viral. Growing up, I didn’t like it. But once I got older, I was able to embrace it.”

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Your Body: Damaged Knee Cartilage

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

Damaged knee cartilage can be extremely painful and, if left untreated, it can spread to involve the bone in the knee joint. That, in turn, can eventually lead to painful and damaging osteoarthritis.

But there could be some hope. Researches in Switzerland performed a small study on 10 patients to see if nasal cartilage may help damaged knees. Results were promising, but preliminary.

Here’s my prescription:

If you’re a fan of jogging, consider running on a treadmill occasionally to lessen the pounding that can come from hitting the pavement.

Make sure your quads and your hips stay strong as well, and consider your knees like tires. They don’t last forever, so protect them as much as possible.

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