Review Category : Health

All Concussions Carry Long-Term Risk

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Any kind of concussion, no matter how minor, can have serious ramifications despite the speed of recovery, according to a new study.

It’s not just severe traumatic brain injuries that affect thinking skills over a period of time, says researcher Andrew Blamire from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, but even concussions considered mild or moderate.

Blamire and his colleagues compared the differences between healthy people and those with mild or moderate concussions by examining brain imaging studies and thinking tests, noting that injured people scored 25 percent lower than those absent any brain trauma.

While the scores appeared to even out a year later, the researchers still found evidence of brain damage on imaging tests of the concussion victims.

The study concluded it’s an important finding since nine out of ten concussions are considered mild or moderate.

Dr. Michael O’Brien, director of the sports concussion clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, who was not part of the study, adds that people who’ve suffered any sort of brain trauma should be made aware of the structural damage a year after a concussion since it might explain continued difficulties in school performance, physical performance and even social issues.

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Candace Cameron Bure Draws Criticism for Attempting Cleanse

ABC/Lou Rocco(LOS ANGELES) — Candace Cameron Bure took some heat from her fans this past Monday after announcing on Facebook that she was kicking off a five-day cleanse.

The recent Dancing with the Stars contestant posted a status that read, “After a very indulgent week in Napa, I’m excited to kick off my 5 day cleanse…Shakes for breakfast & lunch, sensible snacks & a light veggie dinner!”

The post got a mixed reaction from fans, some of whom warned Bure of possible health risks associated with the cleansing fad.

The former Full House actress responded a little later with a follow-up post clarifying her earlier one.

“After reading your comments,” Bure wrote, “let me expand! I’m excited to start my 5 day cleanse not to lose weight but to get my body back on track, ridding all the toxins and unhealthy stuff I’ve put in it the last few months.”

Bure, 38, went on to explain, “Since being off Dancing With The Stars, my body has struggled to find its balance after having danced up to 8 hours a day and eating so clean.” She added that, “After going back to my normal eating habits as well as extended over indulgent summertime vacation eating and normal exercise routine, my body has endured some confusion causing some minor health issues.”

Candace insists the Paleta cleanse, which she’s following, includes “real food,” and she included a link to the company’s website.

Bure ends the post by declaring, “If you still comment about how unhealthy I am for doing a cleanse or that I don’t need to lose weight, I’ll know that you never read any of this and I won’t bother answering any comments below of that nature.”

The second post received a much better response, earning twice as many “likes” from fans.

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Exclusive: Feds Struggling to Cope with Medical ‘Breakdown’ at the Border

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The federal government is so overwhelmed by the current tide of migrants crossing the border it can’t provide basic medical screening to all of the children before transporting them — often by air — to longer-term holding facilities across the country, ABC News has learned.

The director of refugee health in the federal Health and Human Services Department “has identified a breakdown of the medical screening processes at the Nogales, Arizona, facility,” according to an internal Department of Defense memo reviewed by ABC News.

Inside the government, officials are sounding alarms, fearing that they and their teams who come in contact with the sick children face potential exposure to infectious diseases from chicken pox to influenza, including rare cases of H1N1, more commonly called swine flu.

Two unaccompanied children were flown from Nogales to California despite having 101-degree fevers and flu-like symptoms, according to the Department of Defense memo. Those children had to be hospitalized.

The memo said pointedly that officials in charge of moving the immigrants from Border Patrol processing centers to Health and Human Services facilities are “putting sick [fevers and coughing] unaccompanied children on airplanes inbound for [Naval Base Ventura County] in addition to the chicken pox and coxsackie virus cases.”

The document said three other kids were in the ICU at local hospitals in California, and two of them were diagnosed with strep pneumonia.

Less than a week later, that same Ventura Naval Base suffered an outbreak of pneumonia and influenza among the unaccompanied minors inside the shelter.

“Preliminary reports indicate that several unaccompanied minors in the shelter had become ill with what appears to be pneumonia and influenza,” according to a statement from the Administration for Children and Families at Health and Human Services.

HHS told ABC News the children were supposed to be screened for sickness before leaving the Border Patrol screening centers.

“When the children arrive at U.S. border stations,” the ACF statement read, “they are screened for health problems and given medical treatment if needed.”

But, according to the memo ABC News reviewed, “Curi Kim [the HHS director of the Division of Refugee Health] has identified a breakdown of the medical screening processes at the Nogales, Arizona, facility. The [unaccompanied children] were initially screened and cleared upon entry into that facility with no fever or significant symptoms. They were not however re-screened and cleared for travel and placement at a temporary shelter.”

While confirming to ABC News the outbreak occurred, HHS would not respond to inquiries about the DOD memo showing sick children were knowingly sent to Naval Base Ventura prior to the outbreak.

“My biggest concerns are with the health of these children,” said Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor. “They are victims going through incredibly stressful circumstances and some will have health issues that need to be treated. Some come from countries that don’t vaccinate against pneumonia or meningitis. They need those vaccines. Some come from countries where it is flu season. They need that vaccine, too. The big health risks are among these children, not to our communities.”

Once kids are in HHS custody they receive exams and vaccinations, and are screened for tuberculosis, according to ACF, but more serious illnesses such as meningitis and polio are of little concern for causing an outbreak.

“Children from this region of the world participate in comprehensive childhood vaccination programs, similar to the United States, and are generally well protected from most vaccine-preventable diseases,” ACF said in a statement.

Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras each have rates of vaccination against preventable illnesses such as polio, tuberculosis, measles and pertussis consistent with the United States, according to the World Health Organization.

During congressional testimony the first week of July, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said: “We’ve already had one confirmed case of H1N1 in Texas, and have been informed by our federal partners of two additional cases of type A influenza that are likely to be H1N1, in addition to reports of other illnesses at other detention facilities.”

The Texas Department of Health confirmed to ABC News that there have been three flu cases, one confirmed H1N1 and two others being flu type A, or presumptive H1N1.

According to the CDC, between April 12, 2009 and April 10, 2010, the height of swine flu in the U.S., approximately 60.8 million cases occurred, with 12,469 deaths.

The CDC website stated: The H1N1 virus that caused that pandemic is now a regular human flu virus and continues to circulate seasonally worldwide.

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CDC Director Admits to Safety Issues at Labs

Mandel Ngan//AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden faced tough questions from lawmakers Wednesday on safety lapses at agency labs.

Members of Congress grilled Frieden about lax storage and the exposure of lab workers to potentially lethal anthrax samples being kept in Ziplock bags.

Following questions from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and others, Frieden said the agency “missed the broader pattern” and made little excuses for past incidents.

Murphy noted that since 2007, there have been 17 reports of a CDC worker being potentially exposed to a select agent or toxin, while Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) claimed there were four reports in the past decade where dangerous pathogens were shipped offsite inappropriately.

“Our investigation has uncovered this is not CDC’s first wake-up call,” Murphy said. “Despite the number of red flags, these incidents keep happening… These practices put the health of the American public at risk. It is sloppy, and it is inexcusable.”

In response, Frieden outlined steps to improve lab safety culture, including the closing of two laboratories involved in the incidents and the appointment of Dr. Michael Bell as the official in charge of agency safety.

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FDA: More than 300 Vials with Dengue, Influenza Found in Storage Room

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hours after the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came under Congress’ fire for lax storage and the exposure of lab workers to potentially lethal samples, officials released an update Wednesday on more than 300 vials of smallpox and dengue discovered in a storage unit.

Biological samples were found in a cold storage area on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration labs on July 1, containing a total of 327 “carefully packaged” vials labeled with biological agents including influenza, Q fever, and Rickettsia.

FDA employees turned the items over to safety officials, who destroyed some and transported others to the CDC’s high-containment facility. An investigation is continuing into the origin of the samples, but officials believe the vials were collected between 1946 and 1964.

There was no evidence that anyone was exposed to the agents, CDC representatives said in a statement.

“Overlooking such a sample collection is clearly unacceptable,” the agency said. “The FDA has already taken steps to ensure that similar material is not present in its other cold storage areas by initiating a thorough review of all common cold storage spaces.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Girl Killed by Brain-Eating Amoeba Loved the Water

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

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

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

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

Hally was brain dead that night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Social Drinking Helps War Stress

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

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

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

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

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

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Study Measures Health Lifestyles of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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