Review Category : Health

Pokemon GO Linked to Distracted Driving, Study Suggests

Chesnot/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Pokemon GO players have been on the hunt for months to “catch ’em all,” but in a study published Friday, health experts are warning that being immersed in an augmented reality game can be a danger when people are behind the wheel.

After the Pokemon GO game was released earlier this year, researchers from multiple institutions, including Johns Hopkins University and San Diego State University, decided to launch a study to see if these players continue to play the game even when they’re behind the wheel.

In the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers used social media and news reports to determine if Pokemon GO was distracting drivers behind the wheel.

During a 10-day period, researchers obtained 345,433 tweets that contained the words “Pokemon” and “driving,” “drives,” “drive” or “car.” They then took a random sample of 4,000 tweets to examine for their findings. They also searched the internet for stories about drivers crashing while using Pokemon GO. Researchers found that 18 percent of the tweets studied from the sample indicated a person was playing while also driving their car, with one text reading “omg[sic] I’m catching Pokemon and driving.” They also found that approximately one third of the texts indicated that a driver, passenger or pedestrian was distracted by the game.

The game prohibits a player from collecting Pokemon at speeds above 10 mph, but you can search for the Pokemon at any speed. So, a player could find a Pokemon in a car and then slow down or stop to catch it.

“The car has become the place to play, [a] car makes it easier, faster and completely unexpected,” John Ayers, the lead author of the study and a research professor at San Diego State University, told ABC News Friday. “This is very different from a phone call and text messages. With Pokemon Go, you have to be immersed in the screen.”

Reducing distracted driving has been a major goal of the U.S. Department of Transportation. In 2014, there were 3,179 deaths associated with distracted driving crashes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The department has held two driving summits since 2009 and has banned texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers.

There were 14 crashes attributed to Pokemon GO, according to the study, which used a Google search of news reports during the 10-day period from which the tweets were sampled.

Niantic, the company that makes the game, said the game is not meant to be played while driving.

“We take player safety seriously and want everybody to have a fantastic time exploring while safely playing Pokémon GO. Pokémon GO is not meant to be played while driving,” a spokeswoman told ABC News Friday. “We warn users in the app not to play the game while driving, and, when players are traveling too fast to be on foot, we require that users confirm that they are not driving, in order to proceed. We urge everyone to avoid distracted driving with any involved activity on mobile phones, whether it’s playing a game, texting, reading, or anything else.”

The authors of the study said they were also concerned that if a passenger were playing the game that it could also influence the driver’s actions, by asking them to “chase” Pokemon.

“This game is just the beginning of these types of apps that mix reality and fantasy,” Linda Hill, a professor at the School of Medicine at University of California San Diego, told ABC News Friday. “The idea that people think it is safe [for] passengers to tell the driver to chase Pokemon, it tells us about the current attitude towards distracted driving.”

While the study is preliminary and need further surveillance, the researchers say the game points to a potential threat for an increase in distracted driving.

“Considering that people had to tweet or be tweeted about to be captured in our study, we are likely underestimating distractions linked to Pokemon GO,” Eric Leas, co-author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego University, said in a statement Friday. “Yet, in just 10 days our findings suggest there were more than 110,000 cases of potentially distracted drivers or pedestrians, and 14 accidents, giving a clear justification for a public health response.”

The researchers said developers can make games like Pokemon GO safer for the road by making them inaccessible both during a drive and immediately after. Additionally, they suggest augmented reality games should be disabled near roadways and parking lots to protect pedestrians.

“It is in the public interest to address augmented reality games before social norms develop that encourage unsafe practices,” the authors said in the study.

The study noted that one of the researchers is a paid employee of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and that some of the funding came from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Zika Zone Expanded in Miami Beach, Officials Say

ABCNews.com(MIAMI) — The Zika virus transmission zone in Miami Beach has been expanded to an area including the famed Fontainebleau Hotel, Florida governor Rick Scott announced Friday night.

The zone in the city was expanded to a new area stretching from 8th Street to 63rd Street — for a total area of around 4.5 miles where officials believe Zika transmission is occurring.

The Florida Department of Health says five people — two males and three females — in the expanded area have experienced symptoms within a month of each other.

“One of these cases has already been announced by DOH earlier this week and was under a normal investigation process,” the announcement said Friday. “The investigations of the other four were completed today.”

“Aggressive mosquito control efforts” were taking place in the expanded area, which has experienced 35 non-travel related Zika cases. There have been 93 non-travel cases in Florida.

“While we’ve learned that we’re expanding the impacted area in Miami Beach, the good news is that we expect to lift the zone in Wynwood on Monday because of our aggressive mosquito control measures, outreach to the community, education efforts and the vigilant actions of the residents and businesses in Wynwood,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott blasted Congress for inaction on funding and said he authorized $10 million in additional funds to fight Zika.

He also renewed calls for the federal government to give more lab staff, 10,000 Zika prevention kits and a plan on how Florida can work with FEMA to fight the mosquito-borne disease.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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School Sex Education Around the Globe is Out of Touch With Teens, Study Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Sexuality is a common human trait, but the ways that schools teach about sex varies radically around the globe, from comprehensive sex education in progressive countries like the Netherlands and Sweden to abstinence-only programs in some parts of the United States.

Recent data suggests, however, that schools in many nations are falling short in educating young people effectively about sex and relationships. Students and young adults in different countries express frustration at school-based sex education programs, according to a new review published earlier this week in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed 48 studies conducted from 1990 to 2015 that reported on young people’s impressions of school-based sexual education for the review, which is titled, “What do young people think about their school-based sex and relationship education? A qualitative synthesis of young people’s views and experiences.”

The review looks at surveys of students aged 4 to 19; youth age 19 and under not necessarily in school; and young adults reflecting on their schooling. They were from 10 countries around the globe — the United Kingdom, Ireland, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Iran, Brazil and Sweden.

Consistent themes arose from the surveys, including that young people regard current teachings as negative about sexuality and biased based on gender and toward heterosexuality.

Pandora Pound, lead author of the review and a research fellow at the University of Bristol’s School of Social and Community Medicine in the United Kingdom, told ABC News, “Although we knew that young people were dissatisfied with their [school-based sex education], the reasons for their dissatisfaction were less clear … We were surprised that young people’s views were so consistent across all the different countries [over] 25 years.”

One common theme to emerge is that many teens want teachers to acknowledge that sexuality can be an uncomfortable or embarrassing topic for instruction and can’t be taught like other subjects or with a disapproving tone. Many teens surveyed indicated they dislike having sex education taught by their regular teachers “due to blurred boundaries, lack of anonymity, embarrassment and poor training,” the study said.

“Young people report feeling vulnerable in [sex and relationship education], with young men anxious to conceal sexual ignorance and young women risking sexual harassment if they participate,” the authors wrote in their summary of results. “Schools appear to have difficulty accepting that some young people are sexually active, leading to [sex education] that is out of touch with many young people’s lives.”

None of this surprises Barbara Velategui, a veteran health educator who taught at Newport High School in Bellevue, Washington, for 41 years before retiring.

“[Sexual] health education in the academic setting is very much like the ugly stepchild,” Velategui told ABC News. “[Schools] do it if the state requires it, but it’s delivered like a core subject, and it doesn’t work.”

Velategui started teaching sex education in 1974 with a brief lesson that was part of a wedding-planning course called “Two for Tomorrow.” Young men did not enroll in the course. Over the course of four decades, she noticed a palpable shift in her students’ desire to actively learn about and take command of their sexual health.

“The biggest change I’ve seen in my career is kids’ comfort level with [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer issues] … I don’t think sexuality education can be taught without it because otherwise there are too many kids you leave out,” she said.

The study found that schools struggling to recognize that some students are already engaging in sexual practices often fail to provide practical information such as on the pros and cons of different contraceptives, health services available for students who become pregnant or contract sexually transmitted diseases, and how to handle the intense emotions that may arise in a sexual relationship.

In the U.S., 24 states and the District of Columbia require public schools to teach sex education, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The content varies widely among states from an abstinence-only approach to a comprehensive review, and only 20 of these states mandate that information taught to students be “medically accurate,” according to the conference.

When Washington State mandated in 1993 that all students in grades 5 through 12 receive education about HIV, Velategui created a peer-led program called AIDS Student Peer Educators at Newport High School (ASPEN). Students with a passion for social justice, medicine, and peer counseling were trained to deliver 90-minute interactive presentations to their classmates about sexual health, including how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, choose contraceptives and access community resources.

Over the next 21 years, the peer education program was regularly asked to present at the other area high schools and was recognized by the World Affairs Council as an effective model, which drew attention from international health education groups.

“There are teachers around the country who want to teach this sensitive topic but aren’t getting the backing they need from their school districts,” Velategui said.

For many U.S. teens, school is the primary source of sexual health information. Health experts generally agree that classroom-based sexual education is a tremendous opportunity to safeguard and empower the next generation to make informed decisions about their physical and emotional health. However, this study warns that unless instructors adapt their curriculum to the lives of today’s teens, young people will continue to disengage.

“While it is important to get the content of sexual and relationship education right, it’s also vitally important to get the right people to deliver [it],” said Pound.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Cancer Death Rate Falls Among Children, CDC Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Children and adolescents are now far less likely to die of cancer than they were in the past, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers studied the cancer death rate for children and teens from 1999 to 2014 and found a decline of about 20 percent. Declines in deaths from cancer were seen for all age groups (1-4, 5-9, 10-14, and 15-19) with percentages ranging from 14 percent to 26 percent.

The rate fell similarly for both white and black children, as well as male and female children, though the cancer death rate is still 30 percent higher for boys than girls.

Brain cancer has now replaced leukemia as the leading cause of death among children, a shift thought to be due to significant advances in leukemia treatment.

The findings from this study continue a longer decline, as cancer death rates among children have been falling since the mid-1970s.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: What to Know When Laying Your Baby Down to Sleep

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

Some parents may be placing their babies at increased risks of dying by putting them to sleep in ways that may be dangerous.

A recent study looked at parents and found that even know the parents knew they were being recorded in the experiment, more than 9 out of 10 babies were placed in sleep environments with non-recommended, potentially hazardous items that increased the risk of suffocation. These items included pillows, loose bedding and stuffed animals.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Resist the temptation of letting your baby sleep in your bed. Babies have been smothered and crushed by adults rolling over on them.
  • Place no toys or blankets in a crib with an infant.
  • Always remember the saying, “Back to sleep.” Placing babies on their backs is the safest sleeping position.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Cancer-Stricken Teacher Serenaded by 400 Students Dies

Courtesy Drew Maddux(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Ben Ellis, the cancer-stricken teacher who was serenaded by hundreds of his students, has died, school officials said Friday.

The Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, where Ellis worked, told ABC News that Ellis died in the early morning hours Friday.

“Ben was a gift to us all in the most unassuming and life-giving way,” headmaster Nate Morrow said in a statement.

“He left these words for us, spoken over the students at his house, and I share them with you to guide us now,” Morrow said. “He [Ellis] said, ‘I love you. I believe now, more than ever, that God is good, and that He is with us. I am full of hope, peace, and joy. I wish all this for you. Look to Jesus to know, to believe, and to be filled.’”

Ellis taught Latin and the Bible since 2008. Last year, Ellis was diagnosed with cancer and began chemotherapy treatments, but that didn’t stop him from showing up for his students.

He is survived by his wife Shelley and his five children, who all attend Christ Presbyterian Academy.

On Sept. 7, more than 400 faculty members and students, grades 9 through 12, sang outside the home of Ellis to show support during his year-long fight with an aggressive cancer.

For 30 minutes, they played instruments and sang.

On Sept. 13, Ellis, his students, his daughter and headmaster Morrow appeared on ABC News’ Good Morning America to share the story.

Ellis revealed how grateful he was for his students’ serenade surprise.

“In that moment, I felt like I was not alone,” he said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Inside Clinton and Trump’s Health History Disclosures

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have released new information about the state of their health after facing growing pressure to be open about their physical well-being.

Each candidate has released two letters from their respective doctors since the start of the campaign. Here’s a look at the details that have provided:

Overall Stats

Both candidates have blood pressure and cholesterol levels within a normal range, according to the letters.

Clinton does not smoke, drinks occasionally, eats a healthy diet and exercises regularly, according to her doctor. Her weight was not released. She has undergone routine screenings including a mammogram, breast ultrasound, full cardiac evaluation based on family history, gynecologic exam and coronary calcium levels, and found to have normal results for all tests.

Her heart rate was also found to be in a normal range.

Her doctor declared her to be in “excellent physical condition and fit to serve as President of the United States.”

Trump does not smoke or drink, weighs 236 pounds and is 6-foot-3, giving him a body mass index of 29.5, his letter states. While this BMI would be considered overweight, it is not considered to be obese, which is a BMI of 30.

Trump has routine physicals and had a routine colonoscopy in 2013 which was found to be normal, his doctor said in the note. His testosterone level, blood sugar level, liver and thyroid function and coronary calcium level was also found to be in a normal range.

He also had an echocardiogram in 2014 and chest X-ray in 2016, but it is not clear why these screenings were performed. The results of these tests were within the normal range.

His doctor wrote in the earlier letter that Trump “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

Family History

Clinton’s father died in his 80’s following a stroke. Her mother died in her 90’s from congestive heart failure and Clinton has a brother with premature heart disease.

Trump’s letter mentioned that his family does not have a history of heart disease or cancer and that his parents lived to be in their “late 80s and 90s.” However, in the past, Trump has talked about his brother’s battle with alcoholism and his father being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his 80’s. These conditions were not mentioned in his doctor’s letter.

Current Conditions

Clinton has hypothyriodism, meaning her thyroid is under active, and seasonal allergies. She takes medication to treat both of these conditions. Earlier this year, she developed an ear infection that was treated with antibiotics and steroids.

She was diagnosed last Friday with bacterial pneumonia and is currently on an antibiotic course, according to her doctor.

Trump is overweight but has not released other current health conditions.

Past Conditions

During her time as secretary of state, Clinton suffered a concussion after fainting from a virus that left her dehydrated, and subsequently was found to have developed a blood clot on further examination. Clinton was treated with blood thinners and subsequent concussion symptoms dissipated within a few months of her injury.

She previously had a blood clot in 1998 and continues to take an anticoagulant.

Trump’s doctor mentions he had surgery for appendicitis at age 11.

His doctor’s letter does not mention any issues with his feet, which Trump pointed to as the reason why he was able to receive a deferment from the draft during the Vietnam War.

Earlier in the campaign, Trump spoke about how “a foot thing” prevented him from serving, and it has been reported by The New York Times that he had developed bone spurs in his heels.

Medications

Clinton takes medication for hypothyroidism, antihistamines and the blood-thinner coumadin. She also takes Vitamin B12.

Trump takes a statin, used to lower levels of cholesterol, and a baby aspirin.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Community Wears Socks on Their Hands to Support Baby Born with Skin Disease

Courtesy Liz Cadmus(HAUPPAUGE, N.Y.) — In a heartfelt gesture, one high school football team had their community “rocking socks” last week in support of a local baby with a rare skin disorder.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” Liz Cadmus of Hauppauge, New York, told ABC News. “We’re very, very blessed. It makes us believe in the fact that everything happens for a reason. Makenzie, she’s done so much to bring our family together and really to bring the community together.”

Makenzie Cadmus, 6 months, was born with recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) — a disease that causes her skin to be very fragile, blister and slough off her body, her mom said.

To ease her pain, Makenzie wears bandages on her hands and feet. Because she had a tendency to throw her bandages off, Cadmus began covering them with socks.

“One of the nurses suggested using socks as retention bandages,” Cadmus said. “So that’s where the socks came from. She was ‘the girl with the socks’ in the ward. It became a fashion statement.”

Mackenzie’s condition is incurable. Her one chance at a cure is an experimental bone transplant procedure to alter her DNA makeup, Cadmus said.

“My husband said, ‘Think about how many people we’ve talked to that have no idea what [RDEB] is,” Cadmus added. “Because they don’t know, there’s not a lot of funding to promote further research and because of that, it affects the ability to find a cure.”

In an effort to raise awareness and medical funds for their daughter, Liz Cadmus and her husband, Nick Cadmus, started an organization called Rock the Socks.

On Sept. 9, the football team at Hauppauge High School hosted a Rock the Socks event, and friends, family and students all wore on their hands socks that were sold at $3 per pair.

The community raised $5,000 to be put toward Makenzie’s medical needs.

Assistant football coach Craig Cardillo told ABC News that his team’s players and staffers hosted the fundraiser after Nick Cadmus shared details of his baby’s illness with them.

“Nick came in two weeks prior to that first game,” Cardillo said. “They were really inspired by how much pain Makenzie is in on a daily basis but can still keep a smile on her face. They went over and told [Nick] they hoped they could get the win for Makenzie and her family.”

The Eagles won 13 to 12 that day.

The Cadmus family is hosting three additional Rock the Socks events this year, including a Socktoberfest in upstate New York.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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President Obama’s Former Doctor: Independent Physicians Should Examine Candidates

monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Now that both candidates’ personal doctors have released their reports, Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein talked to the guy who did the same for then-Senator Obama when he was the Democratic nominee in 2008.

Dr. David Scheiner, President Obama’s personal doctor for more than 22 years, said the system is biased and objective doctors should examine the candidates.

Scheiner told ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast that candidates should be examined by independent doctors, not their personal physicians. He said a candidates’ long-time doctors might not feel comfortable honestly assessing the health of their patients publicly.

“I think it would have been very difficult for me to put something out that was really harmful in terms of his status. I don’t know if I would have done that or not,” Scheiner said.

“I would like to think I have more integrity, that I would have been honest about that,” he added. “But it is a terrible position to be put in. And because it is such a terrible position I think the whole thing has to change.”

As it turned out, he said Obama’s health was excellent, so he didn’t face that conflict.

Talking to ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and political director Rick Klein, he said that the military does physical and neuro-psychological evaluations of their personnel and that candidates for president should be subject to the same scrutiny.

As for the current candidates, Scheiner, who is a professor of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he would want to know more about both candidates’ health than has already been released.

Conceding that Hillary Clinton has released more health information than Donald Trump, he still wanted to see her lying and standing blood pressure readings, since she has fainted several times. He thought she should have a neuro- psychological exam to see if her 2012concussion caused more damage than is known.

As for Trump, Scheiner wanted to see x-rays of his feet confirming the bone spurs that got him deferred from the Vietnam War and he suggested he should have a neuro-psychological exam, as well. From what he has heard so far, Scheiner said there may be evidence of a personality disorder. “That warrants an evaluation, the kind of statements he makes.” He says there might be medical issues behind the behavioral issues he sees.

He said if he were Donald Trump’s doctor he would mention his “jelly belly” and “pat him on the tummy.”

Scheiner wrote an opinion article for the Washington Post earlier this month explaining why the public needs more health information about the candidates.

This episode of ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast is available on iTunes.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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If You Snooze … You Win? New Study Suggests ‘Short Sleepers’ Have Daytime Dysfunction

by DR. SHAILJA MEHTA

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — While some people claim they function perfectly on less than six hours of sleep, researchers have found that may not actually be the case.

A new study published Thursday in Brain and Behavior looked at patterns in the brain of chronically sleep-deprived people and found they may not be aware how impaired they are when the sun is up.

Researchers from the University of Utah looked at scans of 839 patients in a functional MRI who admitted to chronic sleep deprivation, meaning they consistently slept less than six hours a night.

The researchers examined the wakefulness of “short sleepers” who reported daytime dysfunction and those who claimed they had no dysfunction. By putting the subjects in a functional MRI, they found signs that are consistent with diminished wakefulness.

Study co-author Paula Williams, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Utah, said that once in an MRI, many of these short sleepers soon started to transition to sleep.

“We saw evidence that even among people to who claim that they don’t have daytime drowsiness or effects of sleep deprivation, when you remove outside stimulation, they are stuck in [the MRI] and there is nothing to do,” she told ABC News today. “They may still lose wakefulness and perhaps very quickly.”

To identify transition to from wakefulness to sleep, researchers have used a distinct neural sign that is seen by combining electroencephalography (EEF) and resting fMRI. This “signature” has been explained by previous researchers as blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) and it lights up in what is known as the sensory areas of the brain — primarily visual, motor and primary auditory. When it lights up certain areas of the brain, it signals a subject is starting to fall asleep.

Researchers found that when compared to conventional sleepers who get more than seven hours of shut eye, the short sleepers exhibited diminished wakefulness. By putting the subjects in a functional MRI, they found signs that were consistent with impaired wakefulness.

The research builds on previous work about “short sleepers” and how quickly they can transition from wakefulness to sleep. A 2014 study found that one-third of “short sleepers” fell asleep in just three minutes when placed in an MRI.

As a result, the researchers theorize that those who claim to be bright eyed and bushy-tailed while getting little sleep may actually have a false perception of how awake and aware they are.

“This is tantalizing, but there is a lot of research that needs to be done,” Williams said.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 sleep 7 to 9 hours a day. The Centers for Disease Control reports that about one in three adults are not getting the recommended amount of sleep.

Scientific evidence suggests that not getting the recommended daily hours of sleep is associated with mood disturbances, weight gain, and even an increased in all-cause mortality.

Shailja Mehta is an Obstetrics and Gynecology resident at The Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. She is a medical resident in the ABC News Medical Unit.

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