Review Category : Health

Early-Term Induced Labor Rate Drops by 12 Percent

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Between 2006 and 2012, the rate of early-term induced births dropped by 12 percent in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

According to data released by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, between 1990 and 2010, inductions rates had doubled. In the latest data, however, induction in early-term pregnancies — between 35 and 38 weeks — dropped significantly. That drop is likely related to a change in medical practices, as data has shown that children delivered in that stage of pregnancy are often worse off healthwise.

Not all induction rates dropped, however, as the rate of induced labor remained effectively the same for women age 40 and over. There was also no change in the number of pre-term induced labor.

Instead of allowing family and physician schedules to dictate labor, hospitals have begun to employ doctors on shift schedules to prioritize natural delivery.

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CDC: Neither US MERS Patient Spread Disease to Family or Health Care Workers

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday that neither of the two U.S. patients treated for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) spread the disease to any members of their households or to health care workers who treated them.

The CDC confirmed the two cases of MERS in Indiana and Florida in May and determined that the two cases were not connected. Both patients did, however, live and work in Saudi Arabia.

The CDC tested all household members and health care workers for the disease, all of whom tested negative for both active MERS infection and previous infection. “The negative results among the contacts that CDC considered at highest risk for MERS-CoV infection are reassuring,” Dr. David Swerdlow, who is leading the CDC’s MERS response, said.

State and local governments also have reached out to those people who traveled on airplanes or buses with the patients, and none of the travelers who have been tested thus far were found to have the disease.

Still, the CDC recommends that all Americans take preventive actions including frequent hand washing, avoiding touching their faces with unwashed hands, regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces and avoiding contact with people who appear to be sick.

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Georgia Woman Describes Crippling Pain of Chikungunya Virus

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Ashley Manning said she had no idea she was at risk for a new mosquito-borne virus that doctors say has a funny name and “fiercely unpleasant” symptoms.

Manning is one of about a dozen people from Georgia who contracted the chikungungya virus in the Caribbean. She said she used DEET, the recommended mosquito-repellant, but was infected anyway.

“I just thought I wasn’t going to be able to walk, like I was going to constantly to have these pains,” Manning told ABC New affiliate WFTV in Atlanta. “My joints were hurting really bad and I was like getting really out of breath and like having a fever.”

Manning was infected with the virus while working on a mission in Haiti earlier this month. At one point, she had a fever of more than 103 degrees and said she was treated at Northeast Georgia Medical Center with fluids and pain medicine.

The chikungunya virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus began in Africa and Asia, but by 2013, it had spread to the Caribbean. The CDC recommends that those traveling in affected areas use mosquito repellant with DEET and wear long pants and long shirts to avoid being bitten.

Studies from 2006 to 2013 reveal an average of 28 U.S. cases a year, mostly from Americans traveling in Asia, according to the CDC. But the agency has already confirmed 39 cases since June 10, a spokesman told ABC News Tuesday, including cases in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Rhode Island and Minnesota. The spokesman said that those numbers would be updated later Tuesday.

The virus cannot be spread from human-to-human and so far no one has gotten sick from an infected mosquito in the United States, the CDC said.

There is no specific antiviral drug to treat the infection, which must ultimately run its course, according to Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

“The name in African means ‘bent over in pain,’ and it can be quite disagreeable,” he said. “The illness is unpleasant, but not fatal.”

Schaffner said symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, swelling of the joints or a rash can be managed with pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. The illness usually lasts about three to seven days, “and then it’s over, except about 10 percent of the people continue to have joint aches and pains that may go on for several months to a year,” he said.

Dr. Jennifer Halverson, a Minnesota pediatrician who had been working in Haiti, got the disease in April, according to the Star Tribune.

She said that she awoke one night with excruciating joint pain and ended up in the emergency room.

“I’ve broken a bone. I’ve had other medical issues,” she told the newspaper. “I don’t think I’ve ever been in so much pain.”

When Americans are diagnosed, doctors have urged them to “quarantine” themselves in the house for eight days, so that they are not bitten by local mosquitoes, which can then spread the virus to others, according to Schaffner.

“The disease is spread widely in Haiti and the Dominican Republic because they have lots of mosquitoes and people come into contact with them,” he said. “Now, people from the U.S. go to the Caribbean and may become exposed and come home while they are incubating and become ill here.”

Beyond wearing insect repellant, Schaffner advised removing standing water in bird baths and even house gutters, which can harbor mosquitoes.

“I think it’s difficult to establish itself in the United States,” he said of the virus, “because we’re more separate from the mosquitoes than in the Caribbean. We live in an air conditioning environment and sit on porches — but they are screened… There might be bursts of transmission, but it’s not very easy to establish in the United States.”

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Pregnant Elephant Put on Strict Diet, Told to Lose 500 Pounds

moodboard/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — Rarely is it OK to tell an expectant mother to drop pounds before having a baby. However, a pregnant elephant at the Houston Zoo is being asked to shed some major weight, reports ABC News affiliate KTRK.

Tess, a 33-year-old Asian elephant, is being put on a strict diet and exercise regime by the zoo, in hopes of losing a whopping 500 pounds. Tess currently weighs over 7,000 pounds.

The regime outlined by the zoo includes walking up to two miles each day and doing elephant yoga, where she lifts her feet high in the air and holds them there to try to tone up muscles.

Tess is currently nine months pregnant, which is in the early stage for an elephant pregnancy, since a normal elephant pregnancy cycle lasts 22 months.

If Tess remains overweight, there is a risk of the calf getting too big and becoming stuck during birth, according to zoo officials.

Tess underwent the same exercise routine while pregnant three years ago, and gave birth to a calf named Tupelo, who currently weighs 270 pounds. Tess has two other babies — Baylor, also 3, and the newest addition, Duncan, who was born in February last year.

Although 500 pounds might sound like a lot to lose, zoo officials said it is a realistic target considering the expectant mother currently weighs over 7,000 pounds. It is about the same as asking a 200-pound man to lose 12 pounds.

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Five Surprising Influences on Your Weight

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Your whole life you’ve been told that diet and exercise are the keys to a healthy weight. And while that still holds true, “calories in, calories out” is only part of the equation.

Here are five surprising influences that may be tipping the scales in your favor — or not:

Friends and Family

Your expanding waistline is one more thing you can blame on your mom. While you’re at it, blame your best friend and coworkers too. In their new book, Thinfluence, two Harvard experts speculate that your friends, family and environment have just as much influence on your body weight as what you eat and how much you move. Your chances of becoming obese increases by 35 percent if your spouse is obese, 40 percent if your sibling is obese and 57 percent if a close friend is obese. Dr. Walter Willet and Dr. Malissa Wood claim that people and places help inform your behavior to such an extent you don’t even realize you can change them. Take those twice-weekly birthday celebrations at the office, for example. They become so much a part of your life it might never occur to you that they’re sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

Medications

A recent study at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center found that medication may play a part in about 5 percent of obesity cases. That’s not a staggering percentage but with millions of Americans popping prescription pills, it could be that the buttons on their clothing are popping right along with them. Some of the worst offenders, the study found, are drugs used to treat allergies, infections, heart disease, diabetes, depression and cancer — in other words, some of the most commonly used medications. While the reason for medication-induced weight gain isn’t entirely understood, scientists speculate that drugs can cause fluid retention, disrupt the mechanics of metabolism and fat, or mess with the enzymes that drive overeating.

Pollution

More than three dozen environmental chemicals have been identified as “obesogenic.” Studies have linked exposure to pollutants found in some paints, plastics, wallpaper, textiles and floor coverings to weight gain and higher insulin levels. Other persistent environmental baddies — such as insecticide DDT, dioxin and PCBs — have been identified as possible candidates for upping the risk of both obesity and type II diabetes. Why might pollution contribute to weight gain? The chemicals that flood our air, soil and drinking water may somehow affect the bacteria that inhabit our digestive tracts by the millions. Scientists believe these gut bacteria play a key role in weight and insulin control and by changing their composition, it somehow hampers the body’s ability to fight fat.

Sleep

Though studies can only prove an association rather than a direct link, getting too little sleep appears to add up to large weight gains. One review of the sleep habits by Columbia University in New York found those who got by on less than four hours of sleep a night were 73 percent more likely to be obese than people who slumbered seven to nine hours nightly. Even those who caught up to six hours of shuteye nightly were 23 percent more likely to be obese. In some studies, overtired subjects experienced a dramatic drop in leptin, a hormone tied to appetite control and fat storage. Fewer Z’s has also been shown to give rise to insulin sensitivity, a symptom connected with both obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Viruses

In the late 1980s, Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar, a physician and researcher, noticed that chickens infected by a specific virus gained weight even when they didn’t overeat. He and others have since discovered nearly a dozen viruses suspected of porking up various other species including rats, cats, dogs and, yes, pigs. There is some indirect proof that humans may also susceptible to infectobesity. By tracing antibodies, the microscopic calling card all viruses leave behind in the bloodstream of an infected individual, Dhurandhar’s long term studies suggest that people who carry a fat virus gain significantly more weight than the people who remain virus-free. However, it’s doubtful that a virus is a universal excuse for packing on pounds. In studies, only between 5 and 15 percent of subjects test positive for a fat virus.

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Retired Police Officer Reunites with Woman He Helped Deliver 52 Years Ago

Courtesy Glenn Ward(MONCTON, New Brunswick) — A young nurse in Edmonton repaid a decades-old kindness act this month. Terri Ward rushed to the bedside of the man who helped deliver her on the side of a road 52 years ago.

As a young cop out for the first time on patrol car duty, Gordon Cameron was trained to keep his eyes open. A car speeding toward the local hospital, however, was not exactly difficult to spot.

The driver, Glenn Ward, told Cameron that his wife was having a baby in the back seat and immediately left for the hospital to get help.

Cameron stayed behind as the woman gave birth to a baby girl. Recalling the incident to CBC News, Cameron remembered: “I opened up the back door and I heard this lady, laying on her back and saying, ‘Don’t just stand there, hand me my baby.'”

After the roadside delivery, both mother and child were admitted to the hospital. But Cameron did not stick around long enough to find out more about them.

Over the next 50 years, he often wondered what had become of the newborn and where she was now. Hoping to find out, Cameron mined the Edmonton Journal archives and searched Canadian phone books. He made contact with the Wards in 2012 and has stayed in touch with them ever since. Still, it was not until two weeks ago that the retired police officer laid eyes on the now-grown woman once more.

Cameron had returned to Moncton, in New Brunswick, to attend the funeral of three Royal Canadian Mountain Police gunned down on duty on June 4. The somber visit took its emotional and physical toll on the 81-year-old. After collapsing in the crowd due to dehydration, he was rushed into an ambulance.

When she heard of the crisis, Terri Ward, 52, did not hesitate.

“I was on a day off, but I went right up,” she said.

She and her parents met Cameron at the hospital and assured him that he was in good hands. They would know. Ward is a nurse at the hospital.

“My wife and I and our daughter were up to see him every day until he left to go home to fly back to Alberta,” says Glenn Ward, 77. “For my daughter, it meant an awful lot. Terri and him hit it right off.”

Cameron has recovered and has since returned to Edmonton, but Glenn Ward is confident that the two will stay in touch. “Maybe she’ll get out West to see him,” muses Ward. “I think she’d like that.”

Despite the alarming circumstances, Terri Ward is grateful for the unexpected quality time together: “He was only supposed to be in town for a little while, but I guess things have a funny way of turning around.”

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Pediatric Cancer Patients Get Special Graduation Ceremony

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A special class of graduates walked across a stage Friday in blue and white caps and gowns. But they didn’t all go to the same high school. They aren’t even from the same state.

They are Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s graduating class of 2014, and they’re made of up of teens who were treated for pediatric cancers and blood disorders. Some of them were treated as babies and some are still undergoing treatment.

“We triumphed over cancer and ever since then have faced life headstrong, striving to make the best of it, knowing that every second counts,” graduating senior Dominick Sarappa said in his speech to the group.

The Manhattan hospital held its eighth annual Pediatric Convocation Friday for 30 patients and their families to celebrate the milestone with the doctors, nurses and life coaches that saved them from their life-threatening illnesses.

Sarappa underwent a bone marrow transplant during his freshman year of high school, and recalled his first meeting with pediatrics medical director Dr. Farid Boulad. Boulad sat on the floor wearing in a green bowtie and rolling a toy car for a 3-year-old, he remembered.

“What followed changed my life, and I carry it to this day. Dr. Boulad, in his struggle to rise from the ground, smiled, saying, ‘The minute you lose touch with your inner child is the minute you lose all hope,’” Sarappa said.

Sarappa graduated as the senior class president of his high school despite starting off his sophomore year feeling like an outsider.

“We have all been given a second chance at life, some of us a third chance or even more, and that’s why we are here today,” he said. “We are here to celebrate our lives and to look forward to the successful futures that each and every one of us will experience.”

The other speaker, Sydney Sims, was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma when she was 7 years old, and given only 6 weeks to live. But at Sloan Kettering, she was a “human guinea pig” and became the first patient to receive several treatments that eventually rid her body of cancer. She has been cancer-free for five years.

“Ten years ago, thinking that this day might never come makes the journey so much sweeter and gives my family and I so much more to celebrate,” she said. “We must live every day like it is our last, celebrate the little things, do what makes us happy, and follow our dreams. Class of 2014, there is a big world, so go out and explore it!”

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Miranda Lambert’s Do’s and Don’ts for Weight Loss

Larry Busacca/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Miranda Lambert isn’t about to let all the buzz over her newly toned body go to her head.

“I’m recently a size 6, which I’m proud of, but I’ve been a size 8 all these years, and it didn’t hold me back,” the country superstar told the July issue of Glamour. “My weight yo-yos because I like to live. I’m a Cheetos girl. I won’t give up vodka.”

The 30-year-old singer, who recently celebrated her third wedding anniversary with hubby Blake Shelton, believes size shouldn’t define a person.

“If you’ve got a little muffin top, that doesn’t define you. You have so much more to offer: brains, talent, heart. You can spray-tan and suck in the rest. There’s Spanx for that!” she told Glamour. “And Blake? He doesn’t care if my weight changes as long as I stay the same inside.”

Lambert was equally level-headed about her approach to losing weight, which she did by eating more healthfully and exercising.

“I jog. I work out with my trainer. Or I’ll trick myself: I’ll go horseback riding, or Blake and I will go walking in the woods, and it’s like, Uh-oh, I think I accidentally did some cardio!” she told Glamour. “With food — I don’t like vegetables unless there’s ranch or cheese on ‘em. But I drink juice, so I have one vegetable-packed juice in the morning, and I feel like I’ve done my good thing for the day.”

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Another Drawback of Staring at Computer Screens

iStock/Thinkstock(TOKYO) — The results of a Japanese study on staring at computer screens all day won’t bring a tear to your eye — and that’s the problem.

Dr. Yuichi Uchino, an ophthalmologist at the School of Medicine at Keio University in Tokyo, said all that screen watching affects the production of protein MUC5AC that is designed to keep eyes moist.

When there’s less MUC5AC, it creates a condition similar to dry eye disease, an uncomfortable condition that can disrupt vision. As many as five million Americans over 50 are diagnosed with this condition.

Another downside of dry eyes: it tends to make people less productive at work.

Uchino says certain alterations can help continue normal production of MUC5AC. That includes putting the computer at a lower level so the screen tilts upwards.

Other recommendations include staying out of the direct path of air conditioners and also installing a humidifier at the office.

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Caffeine Triggers Different Reactions in Teens

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — There’s yet another difference scientists have discovered between teenage boys and girls and it has to do with a drug they regularly consume. A legal drug, that is: caffeine.

University of Buffalo researcher Jennifer Temple says that until puberty, caffeine, a regular ingredient in soda and energy drinks, appears to affect boys and girls in about the same way.

However, once their bodies start changing, it also changes the way their metabolism reacts to the stimulant, which can have detrimental side-effects if taken in large quantities.

According to her study of 96 adolescents, Temple says that caffeine had a greater effect on a girl’s heart rate and blood pressure than boys.

It’s believed that these enhanced rates are linked to the phases of a girl’s menstrual cycle, that is, a hormonal factor may be responsible.

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