Review Category : Health

Tweens and Technology: What Parents Should Know About Apps

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Apps keep kids engaged and social but authorities warn that some features of those apps could put teens at risk.

The family of Gia Scavo Abgarian — one of three young women killed last December in a Philadelphia car crash — believes the filter that allows you to clock your speed on the Snapchat app played a role in her death.

“One friend said she was snapchatting all night,” Abgarian’s uncle, Jimmy Abgarian, said of his niece, who was a passenger. “In the car they were showing their speed, how fast they were going.”

Snapchat — an app in which videos and messages quickly disappear – told ABC News it takes distracted driving “seriously.”

“Our hearts go out to these three women and their friends and family,” a Snapchat spokesman told ABC News in response to the Abgarian family. “We work hard to keep our community safe and take distracted driving seriously, including a ‘Do NOT Snap and Drive’ warning message when this Geofilter is first accessed.”

Pamela Casey, the district attorney in Blount County, Alabama, has been outspoken about the dangers of social media.

“There is a lot of good that can come with social media but there is a lot of bad,” Casey said. “We have children being killed across the country by people who are luring them through social media.”

Casey did, however, call the app Kik “the devil.”

Kik is a messenger app that allows users to be anonymous. It made headlines in February when 13-year-old Nicole Lovell was murdered in Virginia. Police say she met the suspects involved in her murder on Kik.

“We have zero tolerance for any behavior that potentially affects the safety of our users. As well as our 24/7 support team, we offer blocking and reporting tools to allow users to flag unwanted content or contact,” Kik said in a statement to ABC News. “We are also reviewing all aspects of safety across the company in an effort to further improve the experience of our users, and to further address the concerns of parents. We continue to cooperate with law enforcement as needed anywhere in the world.”

Omegle — another app gaining attention from law enforcement — puts two users in an anonymous chat room. On the app’s own front page is the warning, “Predators have been known to use Omegle so be careful.”

Police in New Mexico are now investigating the case of a stranger who allegedly targeted a 13-year-old girl on the app. The girl’s mother, Kelly Kolody, told local ABC affiliate KOAT-TV her daughter received inappropriate messages and threats within minutes of using the app.

“First it was very innocent then all of a sudden the person on the other end started becoming vulgar,” Kolody said.

Omegle did not respond to multiple requests for comment from ABC News. The app explains on its homepage to users that, “The people you encounter on Omegle may not behave appropriately and they are solely responsible for their own behavior.”

Casey tells parents that their kids’ phones expose them to the world.

“By giving your child a phone you are opening a door to the world and inviting them into your home,” she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Weight Watchers Members Bare All in Magazine

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The new issue of Weight Watchers magazine will feature real women opening up and baring it all for the first time.

“Numbers weren’t the biggest thing to me,” Tracey Steckmeister, one of the 11 Weight Watchers members featured in the 14-page “I Am Beautiful” photo spread, told ABC News. “Being comfortable in my own skin was the most important part of this journey.”

The women in the new issue have each lost anywhere from 12 to 87 pounds. They shed the pounds the way Weight Watchers recommends — gradually.

“I am my biggest cheerleader and I always tell people to love themselves,” said Steckmeister, who has shed 41 pounds. “I embrace every day that I’m in this body.”

“Some days I fall off the wagon, but I tell myself that I am worthy and I get myself back on,” the 27-year-old said. “I know that this is the path for me.”

The women also said they have valued the input of Oprah Winfrey, one of Weight Watchers’ most famous members who has been public with her recent weight loss success. Last year, Winfrey bought a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers and joined its board of directors.

“To have her input of this and realize we are all in this together,” said Steckmeister.

Weight Watchers is not the first company, with its new issue, to champion real women and real bodies. In 2004, Dove had women strip down, showcasing a non-stereotypical ad with different body types.

“The more we can embrace our strengths the more we can embrace who we are and then we can show other women they can embrace themselves just the way they are,” Dr. Robyn Silverman, a New Jersey-based body image expert, told ABC News.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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How to Detect a Lie: The Art and Science of Reading People

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A ripple of tension flits across a politician’s face during a national debate. The captain’s eyes betray fear as his team’s lead dwindles. Lovers search each other’s faces anxiously, trying to decipher grievances bubbling beneath the surface.

We read facial cues all day, every day, whether consciously or not. But some individuals have made the art and science of “reading people” their profession.

“Faces are a key way to read individuals,” said facial coding expert Dan Hill. “If you’ve been on the planet for more than a few minutes, you realize people are not terribly straightforward, and that actions really do speak louder than words.”

In honor of April Fools’ Day, ABC News’ HealthLab is investigating the science behind lies and deception with an all-day live-stream event, featuring everyone from neuroscientists to private investigators and a physician-magician. When it comes to detecting lies, you’ll hear mixed opinions on whether poker faces or polygraphs actually work.

But the experts seem to agree on one thing: context matters.

Written All Over Your Face

Psychologist Paul Ekman, famous for pioneering the field of “facial action coding,” has tested the notion that there are universal expressions — like a wrinkled nose for disgust, or a coiled, tensed brow for anger — that accompany emotions regardless of culture or geography.

Dan Hill, who studied under Ekman, explained that most people can indeed spot core emotions — like happiness, surprise, fear or sadness — based on facial cues.

But both Hill and Marc Salem, another facial coding expert who performs as an illusionist, emphasized that no matter how innate or universal, every behavioral cue must be understood in context.

“It’s like the letters of the alphabet,” Salem explained. “The squiggles on the paper only make sense in relation to other things.”

When someone is crossing their arms, he elaborated, it could mean that they’re anxious, uncomfortable and lying to your face. Or, it could just mean that they’re cold.

“The signals that people are giving off are always misread,” he said. “It’s any wonder that we understand each other at all.”

He also noted that the form of communication we use the most — nonverbal — is the type we are least formally taught to use and recognize. But in his career as a researcher of human behavior, Salem has nailed down a few key strategies, particularly for detecting lies.

“I try to look for inconsistencies in the way people deliver a message,” he said. “It’s a packet of signals that come together, and whether those signals break the norm for that person.”

Salem has applied his skills to weeding out biased jurors, designing television content for Sesame Street, and even detecting lies in his own children.

“They want to test me all the time,” he said. “I ask them where they were last night. … You have to choose your battles.”

Out of Context

Some professionals rely on more than just their own skills to detect lies: they bring in equipment, like a polygraph machine. When technology gets involved, context and behavior patterns become especially important.

According to polygraph expert Ralph Nieves, polygraph test results do not meet the “Daubert standard” of evidence for federal court cases, meaning the scientific data is not sufficient to make it admissible evidence. But the federal government still uses polygraphs in a number of circumstances, and several state courts use polygraph evidence as well.

Polygraphs detect a range of physiological metrics — breathing, heart rate, sweat, muscle contractions, and blood flow, among others. Nieves, a retired detective who does federal defense work with polygraphs, explained that he needs to spend some time with a person before attaching them to a polygraph in order to effectively read their responses. It is only in the context of their normal behavior that he can detect aberrations, he said.

Another important factor is that the subject must fear the consequences of lying for the test to pick up any relevant signals.

Blake Eastman, who founded poker school “School of Cards” in New York, noted that a person’s whole behavioral history must be taken into account in trying to “read” them at a given moment. This is the problem, he continued, with technology claiming to detect lies: machines can’t quite keep such a wide lens. At least, not yet.

“Lying is not binary,” Eastman said. “The polygraph is a tool, but it’s part of a larger skill set.”

Magic and Medicine

Eastman is an expert at reading poker faces, but he also recently became fascinated with another application of the craft: the ability of doctors to read and respond to their patients.

“Medicine has a systematic framework for everything,” he said. “But none for communication. It’s not something that is optimized, evaluated, or improved in the same way.”

Pediatrician Dr. Lalit Chawla also believes in establishing a good rapport with his young patients, to earn their trust and make their time in the hospital less traumatic.

He has even used one of the only forms of deception that humans enjoy to his advantage to do so: magic.

Chawla, who was a professional illusionist before going to medical school, remembers the first time he realized magic could be a useful tool with his patients.

He was a medical student, and his attending physician told him that the young patient they were about to see was extremely shy — it had taken years to gain her trust, he said, and he thought it best if Chawla try and remain “invisible.”

As soon as they entered, the attending physician got called out of the room, leaving Chawla alone with the patient. The silence was uncomfortable, so Chawla turned to his old friend — magic. He pulled a coin out of his pocket, made it vanish, and then reappear. The patient was delighted.

“She gave me a hug and said ‘bye magic doctor,’ when I left,” he said. The other doctor was floored.

“Magic keeps the humor and the joy and basically makes the clinical setting a happier, more promising place,” Chawla said. Kids are very suspicious of doctors, but “once you do a magic trick they think, ‘Oh, this is a fun guy.’ They see you as a friend.”

As a performer, he said, you also learn to read an audience — a skill that transfers well to the clinical setting.

“Doctors are always looking for little cues from their patients,” he said.

For better or for worse, Chawla said that his youngest patients are the least prone to deception.

“I think lying is something people kind of learn later in life,” he said.

So, is there a secret to detecting lies and reading people? No. But as with learning to perform magic, practice can help.

As we become more aware, we can better assess the “ploys” others are using to “deceive or convince us — and what strategies we have to understand and decode them,” said Salem. It may be frustrating, but it’s what makes us human, he added.

“One thing that separates us from animals is that we’re always making meaning out of things,” he said.

Good luck staying a step ahead of the lies and trickery this April Fools’ Day — and don’t forget to tune in to Lie-Day Friday, streaming live beginning at noon Friday.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Study: Drinking Coffee Slashes Colorectal Cancer Risk

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — If the mere thought of work isn’t already enough to have you reaching for a cuppa joe, consider a new study that reveals drinking coffee — even decaf — can greatly cut your risk of colorectal cancer.

According to researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, a study of more than 5,100 people proved that drinking coffee boosted your chances of not being diagnosed with the deadly disease — “and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk,” according to the senior author of the study, Stephen Gruber, MD, PhD, MPH.

The study examined the health habits of the more than 5,000 men and women who had recently been diagnosed with colorectal cancer — and 4,000 who didn’t have the disease as a control group. When weeding through factors including drinking, smoking, the subjects’ diet, and other markers, the researchers determined that those who drank one to two servings of coffee per day saw their risk for the disease cut by more than a quarter.

Those who drank more could see their risk slashed by half.

What’s more, it didn’t matter whether they drank decaf or caffeinated joe, the scientists discovered to their surprise. “This indicates that caffeine alone is not responsible for coffee’s protective properties,” Gruber noted.

The beverage contains antioxidants and other components that could do the trick, however.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Dad Lets ‘Gender-Creative’ Son Do His Makeup

Raising My Rainbow(NEW YORK) — A California father-son duo are shattering gender stereotypes, one makeover at a time.

Matt and Lori Duron go above and beyond to support their 9-year-old son C.J.’s self-described “gender-creative” identity. The parents have been chronicling their journey of raising a gender-nonconforming son on their blog, “Raising My Rainbow,” and in a recent post titled “Real Dads Let Their Sons Do Their Makeup,” Matt explains why he allows C.J. to give him a makeover whenever he asks.

“A couple of years ago, C.J. asked if I would allow him to do my makeup. Of course I said yes. Why wouldn’t I,” Matt wrote. “Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of something that brings joy to my son’s life?”

Matt, 39, explained that for him, it’s the father-son bonding part of the makeup sessions that matters the most.

“My son doing my makeup is the same as a dad throwing a football with his son,” Matt continued. “It’s not about what you are doing together; it’s about doing it together.”

Lori, 38, told ABC News that while she writes a majority of the posts on the website, she felt that it was important for Matt to share his story on the blog because Matt, who she refers to as a “guy’s guy,” gets out of his comfort zone in order to support their son.

“This is all about C.J. — not about us,” Lori said.

Lori explained that when she and Matt first noticed C.J.’s preference for dresses and makeup, they originally thought that their youngest son might be gay. However, C.J. made it clear to his parents that he was dealing with a gender issue, not a sexuality issue.

Lori began writing her blog in 2011 in an effort to engage with the gender-nonconforming community and share her family’s story as well.

“We were looking for other families to connect to because we were trying to figure out how to deal with C.J., and so I started [my blog] to be the thing that I was looking for,” Lori said.

Lori noted that while she and her husband support C.J.’s gender-creative identity, the biggest challenge that they’ve faced comes from parents and other adults who don’t understand.

“Kids kind of just accept it, ask a question or two or move on once they have an answer, but adults can be really tough to deal with,” Lori said. “They have these beliefs and views that interfere with accepting C.J. as being gender nonconforming.”

Lori noted that through writing her blog and her book of the same name, she’s found a way to make a difference in the gender-creative community and is excited to continue sharing her family’s journey.

“I used to say that I was reluctant advocate but now I’ve removed the word reluctant,” Lori said. “Now I feel like I have a purpose.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Six-Year-Old Has Sweet Reaction to Learning Dad is Transgender

Shalee Olivia Ellis/Facebook(NEW YORK) — An adorable 6-year-old girl named Layla is warming hearts on social media with her sweet reaction to finding out her dad is transgender.

Shalee Olivia Ellis, Layla’s mom, said that she had been explaining Mallory Ellis’ transition to her daughter in the car earlier this year. She started filming halfway through the conversation after seeing her enthusiasm.

In the video, when Shalee asks her 6-year-old how she feels about Daddy being a “she” now, little Layla replies with delight, “Good!”

Later on in the video, Shalee tells Layla that “Daddy’s still going to be the same person, and still going to be your daddy forever.”

In response, the 6-year-old puts her thumb up and smiles wide.

“Daddy, I love you so much!” Layla exclaims. “Even though you’re a ‘her,’ I still love you.”

Mallory told ABC News that when she first saw the video, she “teared up” and was overwhelmed with joy.

“I hadn’t yet come out publicly and to see that response, I was just so happy,” she said. “I feel so proud of my wife and children for being such great people.”

The video was taken earlier in January, shortly after Mallory came out as a transgender to Shalee, the family told ABC News. But it was posted to Facebook last week after Shalee bought a new phone.

The couple from Port Royal, Pennsylvania has been married for three years. Mallory had identified as a man named Landon until around Christmas of last year, she said.

Mallory explained she “had always felt like a girl” as a kid, but “suppressed it.”

Shalee said that Mallory’s “gender identity had no bearing” on her love for Mallory. When she saw Mallory look at herself in the mirror with makeup and girl’s clothes for the first time, she was happy to see her “finally free.”

“Mallory accepted me when I came out as pan-sexual to her and told her I was attracted to all sorts of people, when we first started dating,” Shalee said. “She really helped be embrace my sexuality. Now I feel it’s come full circle. Here I am helping her embrace her true gender identity now.”

Shalee added that she hopes the video helps fight transphobia and shows people that hate is taught. “Children are loving and compassionate naturally.”

“I feel so strongly about our marriage together and our family,” she said. “You know, I’ve always said, you’re either by our side or in our way. We are always going to rise up and be happy and be with each other.”

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Seven-Year-Old Calls 911, Saves Her Father’s Life

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A 7-year-old in Maryland is hailed a local hero after she called 911 to help her diabetic father, who fell unconscious.

Jenna Viloria of Gaithersburg, Maryland was awarded an “Everyday Hero” Award yesterday by the Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein.

After his blood sugar dropped to dangerously low levels on February 28, Jenna’s father, Giovanni Viloria, lost consciousness. Jenna was the only one home at the time. The precocious first grader called 911, gave the dispatcher her full address, and stayed on the line until the paramedics arrived.

“She is our poster child for how to make the right call,” Beth Anne Nesselt of the Montgomery County Fire Department told ABC News. “Her actions clearly saved her father’s life. She even got to the point where she was counting respirations with dispatchers while she waited for paramedics to arrive.”

Nesselt says 911 calls from children are extremely rare.

Jenna received her award yesterday, although the incident was in February, because she did not want to miss a day of school.

“She is a very diligent student, and she made a request,” Nesselt said. “Because she didn’t want to miss school, she requested that the ceremony take place during spring break.”

Michele Viloria, Jenna’s mother, told ABC News how proud she was of her daughter. She works 30 minutes away from home and was panicking as she drove home from work that day.

“When I got home the minute that I open the door Jenna came to me,” Viloria said. The little girl asked, “Mom are you mad because I called 911?”

She assured her daughter, ‘No, Jenna, I am proud.'”

Giovanni Viloria has since made a full recovery.

Young Jenna told ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. that this was the first time she has saved someone’s life and that it was her first award.

Michele Viloria said her daughter is receiving plenty of praise, like being called a superhero. But Jenna’s response is, “Mom, I can’t fly, I don’t have any powers.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Texas Toddler Reportedly Dies After Going to Dentist, Health Officials Launch Investigation

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — Health authorities have launched an investigation after a Texas toddler died from complications related to dental work.

Daisy Lynn Torres, who was 14 months old, died on Tuesday after going to Austin Children’s Dentistry for a procedure, according to ABC affiliate KVUE-TV. A fundraising page set up for the family reported that Daisy went to the dentist to have a cavity filled and was put under anesthesia. It goes on to say that she quit breathing and was rushed by ambulance to a hospital, where she passed away.

According to KVUE, the toddler was rushed to the North Austin Medical Center after suffering complications from the procedure and was pronounced dead that day.

A spokeswoman for the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners confirmed to ABC News that the board was investigating a patient death at the Austin Children’s Dentistry. Any patient death related to dental treatment is investigated, the board said.

Austin Children’s Dentistry did not immediately respond to a request by ABC News for comment. A spokeswoman for the dental office told KVUE that these types of procedures are handled all the time and that the clinic is heartbroken by the events.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. This is a tragedy, and we’re just waiting to learn more information from the medical examiner’s office,” Sarah Marshall, spokeswoman for Austin Children’s Dentistry, told KVUE. “We want to keep the privacy of the family, legal privacy, and just respectful privacy of the family.”

The family of the toddler released a statement saying the girl was “healthy” when she went in for a procedure.

“Daisy was a happy, healthy, baby. She was playing with the family on Easter. She went to the dentist and didn’t come home,” the family said in a statement to KVUE.

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Family Asks for Birthday Cards for Boy Who Survived Brain Cancer

Courtesy Crisandra Green(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) — A Colorado family of a boy who survived brain cancer is hoping people around the world will send him birthday cards.

Logan Green, 6, received “get well” cards from his kindergarten class after his brain surgery on March 17.

“We gave him those cards two hours after he got out of surgery,” Logan’s mom, Crisandra Green of Colorado Springs, told ABC News Thursday. “When we saw how big of a smile it put on his face we thought, ‘What can we do for his birthday?’ We wanted to do something special that didn’t take all his energy.”

Green, 30, a mom of five, said Logan was diagnosed with a brain tumor in June 2014 after collapsing in the house.

“[Doctors] said nothing could be done and the tumor was in his brain stem and we needed to say our goodbyes,” she recalled.

After the Greens were encouraged to get a second opinion, Logan was later taken to Phoenix Children’s hospital where doctors removed Logan’s tumor and he was “completely cancer free,” Green said.

“The doctors were amazing and there was finally hope for us,” she said.

Despite having to learn walking, talking and swallowing again, Logan eventually healed.

But one month ago, Logan had a stroke and was diagnosed with Moyamoya — a disorder caused by blocked arteries in the brain.

Warren Selman, director of the Neurologist Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said that Moyamoya can sometimes result from receiving necessary therapeutic radiation.

“Moyamoya is the narrowing of the blood vessels so that can lead to one or two problems,” Selmen told ABC News. “It can either lead to small vessels rupturing, causing the stroke, or not enough blood supply–leading to the stroke. Either way, they can lead to strokes and those strokes can lead to the focus of the seizures.”

Green said Logan had a second surgery two weeks ago to fix the blood vessels in his brain.

“He did really well except the next day he had a pretty big stroke,” Green said. “He lost his vision that day for a little while but gained it back completely. Other than that, he has to take it easy right now.”

Logan was in the hospital for five days and is now at home recovering.

In an effort to keep him smiling, the Green family has put a call on Logan’s Facebook page, “Prayers for Logan,” for people across the globe to send him cards for his 7th birthday on April 5.

“Logan is hilarious, he always has everybody laughing,” Green said of her son. “He has been through more than most people do in their whole lives. He’s truly a superhero. Funny enough, my husband named him Logan after ‘Wolverine,’ and we always joke that he has those powers. We want him to be able to look back on this, read these cards, and see his scars and be proud. He is just so inspiring, it’s unbelievable.”

Logan’s already received over 100 cards, Green said.

Cards for Logan’s birthday can be mailed to: 3472 Research PKWY Suite 104-571, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80920.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Conjoined Sisters Fused at Waist to Be Separated Next Month

iStock/Thinkstock(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) — Doctors at a Texas hospital are mapping out a plan to separate conjoined infant sisters who are fused at the waist.

Ximena and Scarlett Hernandez-Torres are scheduled to undergo surgery next month to be separated. The conjoined sisters were born with a third identical triplet sister Catalina, who was not conjoined. The 10-month-old sisters were first detected to be conjoined when their mother, Silvia Hernandez, was just three months pregnant. She told ABC News that the girls have already shown different personalities even though they are not even a year old.

“Scarlett likes to dance, sing and she smiles a lot,” Silvia Hernandez said through an interpreter Thursday. “Ximena is most of the time sleeping but she smiles a lot.”

The girls are conjoined at their waist and share a colon and bladder, according to the Driscoll Children’s Hospital. The operation to separate them is expected to take 12 to 18 hours with specialists from urology, plastic surgery and orthopedics there to help the girls remain healthy.

“A dedicated team of specialists has been working for months to prepare for this complex surgery,” said Dr. Haroon Patel, pediatric surgeon at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, in a statement to ABC News Thursday. “This is an extremely challenging operation, but we look forward to a successful outcome.”

A special scanner called a “Spy Camera” will be used to help doctors understand the complicated blood flow in the girls and to help them stay healthy during the long ordeal. A 3-D model from a specialized MRI will also be used to help doctors map out exactly how to perform the surgery.

“The babies have been doing very well as we’ve focused on getting them healthy for this complex procedure,” said Dr. Miguel DeLeon, medical director of Driscoll’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, in a statement to ABC News. “Each member of our team has a well-defined role, and our ultimate goal is to give these two girls the opportunity to live healthy, normal lives.”

Hernandez said she’s hopeful for the surgery but still has reservations.

“I have fear of what could happen,” she said. “I do have to believe in God’s will and that everything will be fine and he will be there in the day of the surgery and he will make a miracle with them.”

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