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Is Blood Type an Indicator of Future Memory Problems?

Is Blood Type an Indicator of Future Memory Problems?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Can blood type be a factor in determining your risk for dementia?

A new study published in the journal Neurology finds that people with blood type AB appear to have an increased risk for memory problems as they age.

Over a period of three years, individuals with AB type blood, which represents about four percent of the population, were almost twice as likely to display memory problems as those with type O blood, the most common blood group.

The researchers gave memory and thinking skills tests to more than 30,000 people over the age of 45 and re-tested them again three years later.  Out of the group, 495 participants scored low enough to indicate some sort of memory or thinking impairment.  When their blood types were compared to the blood types of 587 participants who achieved satisfactory cognitive scores, the researchers found those with AB blood types were 82 percent more likely to have impaired thinking skills than those with type O blood.

Dr. Mary Cushman, a professor of hematology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the study’s senior researcher, says the results are not surprising.  Cushman says they already know that having blood type AB can affect blood-clotting characteristics and risk of blood vessel-related conditions.  Cushman says her group also learned earlier this year that the AB blood type was connected to a higher risk of stroke.

But don’t panic if you have AB blood. Dr. Terence Quinn, a clinical lecturer in stroke and geriatric medicine at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, says other circumstances play a bigger role in a person’s risk of developing memory and thinking problems.

“If you were to do the same study and look at smoking, lack of exercise, obesity and other lifestyle factors, the risk of dementia is much, much higher,” says Quinn.

“People who are worried about dementia, whether they have that blood group or not, should look at making those lifestyle changes,” adds Quinn.

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Peer Pressure Makes Healthcare Workers Better Hand Washers

Peer Pressure Makes Healthcare Workers Better Hand Washers

iStock/Thinkstock(IOWA CITY, Iowa) — Healthcare workers, more than any other group, know that clean hands go a long way to prevent the spread of infection, but a new study finds that hand hygiene amongst that group is rather low, but peer pressure helps improve the practice.

Researchers at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine studied hand hygiene compliance and opportunities, as well as the location and proximity of every healthcare worker in the intensive care unit of the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics during a 10-day period for 24 hours a day.

After recording more than 47,000 hand hygiene opportunities, the estimated hand hygiene rate was seven percent higher when healthcare workers were in close proximity to peers as compared to when healthcare workers were alone — 28 percent vs. 21 percent.

“Social network effects, or peer effects, have been associated with smoking, obesity, happiness and worker productivity. As we found, this influence extends to hand hygiene compliance, too,” said Philip Polgreen, MD, an author of the study.

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A Good Night’s Sleep Means Less Sick Time

A Good Night’s Sleep Means Less Sick Time

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — In addition to not feeling tired in the morning, a new study finds getting a good night’s sleep means you’re less likely to take time off from work due to illness.

A study published in the September issue of Sleep followed 3,700 people in Finland, ages 30 to 64, for an average of seven years and found those who slept between seven and eight hours a night had the lowest percentage of taking time off from work due to sickness.

According to the study, those who slept less than six hours were much more likely to have taken off work due to illness.

Surprisingly, those who slept more than nine hours a night were just as likely to miss work due to illness as those who got less than six hours of shut-eye.

The researchers say the ideal amount of sleep for women is seven hours, 38 minutes, and seven hours, 46 minutes for men.

Tea Lallukka, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, said in a news release that “those sleeping five hours or less, or 10 hours or more, were absent from work every year for 4.6 to 8.9 days more, as compared to those with the optimal sleep length.”

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Enterovirus 68 Now in 27 States

Enterovirus 68 Now in 27 States

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A mysterious virus, enterovirus 68, is striking children and spreading fast across the country. Twenty-seven states are confirmed or suspected of having cases of the virus.

ABC chief health and medical editor Doctor Richard Besser says the illness starts off like a cold, but parents need to be aware if their child develops breathing difficulties or a reluctance to eat.

Dr. Besser says the danger signs include wheezing and difficulty speaking or eating. 

“If you look at your child’s belly and there’s inpulling with every breath, or blueness around the lips, those are signs your child may not be getting enough air,” Dr. Besser warns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 104 confirmed enterovirus cases in 10 states, but public health officials may never know the true scope of the outbreak because the CDC doesn’t require hospitals and labs to report enterovirus 68.

Dr. Besser says if a child has a cold “and it’s acting like every other cold, there’s nothing to worry about.”

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“The View’s” Rosie O’Donnell Reveals Downside of 50-Pound Weight Loss

“The View’s” Rosie O’Donnell Reveals Downside of 50-Pound Weight Loss

Lou Rocco/ABC(NEW YORK) — Rosie O’Donnell is back hosting The View after more than seven years since she left the show following the 2007 season.

On Monday’s season premiere, O’Donnell was all jokes with the rest of the panel — Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace — and even kidding with the crowd between commercial breaks. You could just see the excitement on the host’s face during the show.

O’Donnell, 52, is also 50-plus pounds lighter and a happily married woman. O’Donnell tied the knot for the second time to Michelle Rounds in 2012 and recently adopted a baby girl Dakota, in addition to her other children from her first marriage.

“I feel good. I wouldn’t have said yes to coming back if I didn’t,” she told ABC News backstage after the show. “They asked me a year ago, ‘Would you consider [coming back]?’ …The concept of being able to do this show in a way that celebrates and elevates women is hard for me to resist.”

O’Donnell had a procedure known as a vertical gastric sleeve, which she said has less complications that gastric bypass. Now, O’Donnell can’t eat as much and doesn’t want to, but getting used to her new body isn’t all positive, she said.

“The fact that I look so different has been difficult and unexpected,” she said. “Everyone assumes that obese people would just be jumping for joy that they were healthier and thinner and able to fit into store-bought sizes, we don’t have to go to the plus store. But it’s also filled with a lot of emotional turbulence, you wouldn’t expect.”

O’Donnell added that she is addressing the change in the right ways and getting support from other people in similar situations.

“I have a group that I go to, where women talk about how they feel,” she said. “A lot of marriages break up once one person gets healthy. Luckily, my wife is very healthy, always been healthy, loves me and encourages me to be healthy.”

In fact, O’Donnell’s health — especially after a heart attack at 50 years old — is something her wife makes her take seriously.

“When we decided to get married, she said, ‘But I want 40 more years and I don’t want you to die on me, so you need to do something for your health,'” she added.

But O’Donnell didn’t take her wife’s request seriously until Rounds got cancer.

“The stress of that as well as being as big as I was, as well as being so depleted in every way, I had a massive heart attack,” she said of the 2012 scare that almost took her life. “So, since then, I can’t ignore it anymore. It’s not like I don’t want the cupcake that I saw, I just know that that’s not a good choice.”

O’Donnell also touched on how she “wasn’t in the best place” last time she hosted the show, since she was going through a divorce from ex Kelli Carpenter in 2007.

“When you are getting a divorce and you have children involved and you are two people who are intelligent and love your children and each other and know it’s not going to work, it takes a long time,” she explained. “So, I was in the midst of that and wasn’t in the best place. Now Kelli is happily married. …I’m happily married, I have a new baby, which for me is better than any Prozac.”

The host, who was welcomed back to the show via a standing ovation on Monday, said her baby has only kept her up two nights in the past year and a half, which worries O’Donnell, because her wife thinks that’s normal.

“She keeps going, ‘We should have another one!'” she said, laughing. “So, I’m happy, I’m in a good place.”

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Hospital Says US Ebola Patient Continues to Improve

Hospital Says US Ebola Patient Continues to Improve

VILevi/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) — Dr. Rick Sacra, the American patient being treated for Ebola at the Nebraska Medical Center, continues to improve, the hospital says.

In a Monday press release, the hospital says that staff members are seeking ways to entertain Sacra while he remains in the Biocontainment Unit. Sacra’s wife says that a chess board and a supply of books have been given to her husband. “Someone also brought in a Nerf hoop, which Rick discovered he might need a lot more practice with,” Debbie Sacra said.

According to the release, Sacra still tires easily, but is, “becoming sharper [mentally] every day.” Sacra has held conversations with his pastor from his hometown and a former colleague from Liberia.

Doctors say they “continue to be pleased” with Sacra’s progress.

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CDC: Number of Deaths Linked to Prescription Painkillers Has Quadrupled Since 1999

CDC: Number of Deaths Linked to Prescription Painkillers Has Quadrupled Since 1999

Alex459/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  released new figures on Tuesday showing that the number of deaths caused by opioid prescription painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, are significantly higher than in years past.

According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the number of deaths caused by prescription painkillers has climbed from 4,263 in 1999 to almost 19,000 in 2011. Poisoning was the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S., of which 90 percent were related to drugs.

Those between the ages of 55 and 65 had the highest rate of death related to drugs.

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Respiratory Virus, Enterovirus D68, Likely Infected Thousands

Respiratory Virus, Enterovirus D68, Likely Infected Thousands

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The respiratory virus that’s been sweeping the nation and sending asthmatic children to the hospital may have only been officially reported in 97 children, but experts say that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Dr. Claudia Hoyen said the virus, called enterovirus D68, probably affected thousands of children — and that’s just in Cleveland, where she works. The virus has been reported in 21 states, according to state health departments.

At UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, about 20 children normally go to the intensive care unit each month with respiratory symptoms, said Hoyen, who heads the hospital’s pediatric infection control program. But for the last two months, the hospital’s intensive care unit has treated 80 children per month, she said.

“That’s fourfold over what we would normally get,” Hoyen said.

The rare enterovirus starts out like the common cold but can quickly turn more serious — especially in children with asthma. Enteroviruses often appear in the summer and fall, but an outbreak like this hasn’t occurred since the 1960s, Hoyen said.

Although UH has not yet determined how many cases of enterovirus D68 it treated this summer, Hoyen said she can extrapolate the number of extra ICU patients over two months to guess how many children had less-severe cases, too.

“My guess is that this is probably in the thousands, because a lot of the kids probably had infections and their parents just thought it was a little cough,” she said. “They weren’t sick enough to seek actual medical attention.”

Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t require hospitals and labs to report enterovirus D68, public health officials may never know the true scope of the outbreak, said ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser.

“So although the CDC is reporting 97 confirmed enterovirus cases, this number does not in any way reflect the true number of people who are infected or sick,” Besser said, adding that most local health departments have no way of testing for the virus and no reason to do so because there is no cure available. “My advice: forget about this number. Look to your health department.”

Besser said parents should simply ask their doctors whether enterovirus D68 is in their town and be vigilant if it is.

“If your child has any difficulty breathing (wheezing, difficulty speaking or eating, belly pulling in with breaths, blueness around the lips) see a doctor right away,” he said.

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Pennsylvania Sisters Give Birth 22 Hours Apart

Pennsylvania Sisters Give Birth 22 Hours Apart

Courtesy Brigid Bink(NEW YORK) — Two Pennsylvania sisters who found out they were pregnant just days apart and shared the same due date say they think their sons will be “best buds” after being born just 22 hours apart.

The two boys, Jack Bink and Owen Whitaker, will celebrate different birthdays — Jack on Sept. 10 and Owen on Sept. 11 — but that is about the only thing that marks a difference in the way they entered the world.

Jack’s mom, Brigid Bink, 31, of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, announced to her family just after Christmas last year that she and her husband, Lee, were expecting their first child, and the first grandchild on both sides.

Three days later, Bink was in her kitchen cooking when her sister, Owen’s mom, Emily Whitaker, 27, knocked on her door and told her that she had taken a pregnancy test and she and her husband, Colin, were pregnant too.

“She said, ‘You’re never going to believe this,’” Bink recalled to ABC News. “She was in disbelief.”

The sisters, who live 10 minutes apart, then found out they shared the same due date, Sept. 15.

Whitaker, a teacher, and Bink, who works in marketing, went through their pregnancies together, sharing the bad, like surprising side effects, and the good, such as maternity clothing sales.

“It was so nice to be able to pick up the phone and call her and say, ‘Did this happen to you?’ or, ‘Is this normal?’ or, ‘I found this great maternity dress on sale,’” Bink said.

Their closeness remained through the end of their pregnancies, when they each went into labor almost exactly one day apart, and both a few days ahead of their due date.

“I went into labor Tuesday night around 11:30 p.m., and she went in the next day at almost the same time,” Bink said. “We were down the hall from each other and the nurses would come in and give us reports on each other.”

After Bink delivered her son, Jack, at 7:34 a.m., on Sept. 10, she got updates via text from her brother-in-law on her sister’s status.

Though the sisters had shared everything together during their nine months of pregnancy, they got one last surprise when Whitaker gave birth at 5:30 a.m. the next morning and discovered she, too, had a boy, Owen.

“Neither of us knew the sex of our baby,” Bink said. “She called me in the morning and we were both hysterical. We thought one of us would have a boy and one would have a girl.”

“When we found out they were both boys, you just keep thinking of the future and them going to school together and playing together,” she said. “I just think they’re going to be best buds.”

Now the sisters, whose birth story was first reported by ABC News affiliate WPVI, are both home from the hospital and sharing their sons’ futures together.

“Our sons share a pediatrician and both went today,” Bink said. “The babies are happy and healthy and we both just feel very lucky.”

Also on top of the world are Bink and Whitaker’s parents, who, in the span of 22 hours, welcomed their first and second grandchildren into the world, and the sisters’ two other siblings, a younger brother and a younger sister.

“I’ve never seen them more happy,” Bink said. “The whole thing has just been surreal.”

“It’s been a great bonding experience for our whole family,” she said.

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Finding Balance: Seven Expert Tips for Working Parents

Finding Balance: Seven Expert Tips for Working Parents

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Frazzled. Exhausted. Guilt-ridden. These are just a few phrases many working parents use to describe themselves.

When every day seems like a struggle, when it feels like you can barely breathe, when you’re literally running from one place to another, it’s time to slow down and give yourself a break.

Tuesday is National Working Parents Day and while the origin of the day is unknown, HolidayInsights.com calls it a day to give “recognition to moms and dads who work hard to provide for their children. Every day dad, and often mom, go off to work. They work hard to earn money to make ends meet. They work hard to be able to afford the extras that kids want and need. This includes things like school trips, funding the proms, athletics, music, dance classes, clubs, and much, much more.”

“If you’re a working parent, then I don’t need to tell you that it can be tough, you live it every day,” said Nancy Aragon, assistant professor at Argosy University Online Programs’ College of Behavioral Sciences. “Even so, there is some good news to celebrate on the work-life balance front.”

Here are her seven top tips for finding that elusive “balance”:

1) Take advantage of work places that are becoming more employee-centric.

Employers are beginning to recognize that their employees’ well-being and happiness is directly associated with a better bottom line. This represents expanded opportunities for work-life balance options such as flexible work schedules, telecommuting (even part-time), job-sharing, and wellness initiatives. Talk with your manager or HR representative to learn more about your organization’s policies. Often, organizations have great policies and resources but don’t communicate them very effectively with employees. So, take the initiative and ask. Even if there aren’t any official work-life policies in your workplace, managers are often very willing to work out custom schedules and options with individual employees.

2) You have a purpose-filled life, so use it.

Work-life balance has traditionally been viewed through the lens of scarcity and inherent conflict. Involvement in work must mean lack of involvement in family and vice-versa. Happily, this is not necessarily true. More recent research suggests that there are benefits and synergy gained from being involved in work, family and community. So, take a moment to reframe the way you think about your various work and family obligations. Your life overflows with purpose. That is a cause for celebration. Not really feeling the love yet? Here is a counter-intuitive suggestion that works — volunteer more. Volunteer in community activities such as at your children’s schools or the local animal shelter or whatever you are passionate about in your community. The research backs up this counter-intuitive suggestion — the more you do, the happier you feel and the more satisfied you are with your work-life balance. But wait, there is even more good news. Many employers have policies to encourage community involvement among their employees by allowing employees to volunteer during paid work time. Look into it with your company. If your employer doesn’t have this type of policy yet, it could be time to suggest it.

3) Technology: Learn when to set boundaries.

No doubt about it: Technology has improved the quality of our daily lives. Too much of a good thing isn’t good though, particularly when it comes to technology encroaching on work-life balance. Try setting technology boundaries for yourself and your family. Set boundaries for when you will accept work calls or emails and when you won’t. Set boundaries with your family regarding technology-free together time too.

4) To laugh or cry: The choice is yours.

Laughter is great medicine. That old truth is extremely applicable to working parents seeking balance. When the hair-pulling, frustrating details of work-life balance assaults you, step back and try to view your circumstances as if it were a scene in your favorite comedy movie. We love being an audience member watching this kind of drama unravel, so why not love it from center-stage too? You can’t always change your circumstances, but you certainly can change how you react to them.

5) Delegate and combine family time.

Any time can be family time — cooking meals, cleaning house, doing homework or yard work are great examples of potential family time opportunities. Family time doesn’t have to be a scarce and precious commodity carved out after all other work is done. Bring the family to the daily routine chores and delegate responsibilities. Even young children can help, with a little planning, oversight and creativity. You might just be amazed at how much family time you actually have while also getting necessary tasks accomplished. Dinner preparation can be a family affair instead of just one more thing for an exhausted parent to take care of. This is also a great way to help teach your children life skills and model the idea that a good work ethic can be fun and rewarding.

6) Celebrate mini-wins every day.

I am a big believer in daily to-do lists. Setting aside a few minutes first thing in the morning to jot down my daily to-do’s has become one of my cherished “me-time” rituals. Not only does it help ensure that I don’t forget an important task, committee meeting, or orthodontist appointment, it gives me the opportunity to celebrate little mini-wins every day. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from checking off an accomplished task, no matter how small or mundane. Keeping a daily to-do list is a good time management tip in general when it comes to work-life balance, but it also represents an opportunity to start celebrating mini-wins all day, every day, one check mark at a time.

7) Mind-readers in your life? Not mine — let’s talk.

Don’t assume that your family, friends, coworkers or boss understand your point of view. This type of assumption can lead to a slippery slope of thinking that can pick up negative momentum alarmingly quickly for an exhausted working parent. The thinking might go something like this: “I obviously need a little help here. Anyone can see that! Since she/he/they aren’t offering to help, it must mean they don’t care. This is so unfair, why am I always the one to make sure things are taken care of. It sure would be nice to be appreciated every now and then.” These unspoken thoughts have a way of boiling over and spewing out in an angry hot mess that leaves the recipients of your vent dazed and confused and you looking a bit unbalanced. Chances are pretty good that people in your life don’t intuitively know your thoughts and needs. So tell them by communicating in a non-defensive manner. Similarly, be willing to listen to their lived experience and point of view too — you might be surprised by what you hear from your children, partner, co-workers and friends.

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Ten-Year-Old, Double-Leg Amputee Back on Football Field

Ten-Year-Old, Double-Leg Amputee Back on Football Field

Courtesy Jackson Family(SHERMANS DALE, Pa.) — Deven Jackson is a 10-year-old boy with an incredible love for football, but a near-death experience nearly put his passion on hold forever.

Two years ago, the boy from Shermans Dale, Pennsylvania, got sick. When David and Michelle Jackson rushed their son to the hospital, they got a terrifying diagnosis: Deven had meningitis.

“He was in kidney failure,” his mother said. “They didn’t know if he was going to make it.”

Doctors gave Deven a 10 percent chance of survival and he pulled through, but the infections in his legs left them no choice but to amputate both lower legs.

“Like it was really scary, like I didn’t really want to lose my legs,” Deven said in an interview with football player and ABC News’ Good Morning America contributor Tim Tebow.

Deven got better and did well with prosthetic legs, but in order for him to think about football, he needed blades to run. He got them when someone who no longer needed blades donated them to Deven.

He’s now back on the football field.

David Jackson said the first time his son put on his blades “he said he loved the way the wind felt in his face for the first time again, and that was pretty impressive coming out of a 9-year-old boy.”

Tebow asked Jackson how that made him feel and he replied: “I almost bawled like a baby.”

Deven said things went well when he got back onto the practice field.

“The first time we had our scrimmage, coach came over and said, ‘Do you want to get out?’ and I said, ‘No, I want to keep playing,’” the boy said.

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Despite Warnings, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed in Kids

Despite Warnings, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed in Kids

iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — Despite warnings from public health experts that overprescribing antibiotics could lead to difficult-to-treat “superbugs,” doctors are prescribing antibiotics to children about twice as often as they are actually needed, a new study found.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital examined past studies between 2001 and 2011 to see how doctors treated common childhood respiratory infections, conditions including sore throats, ear infections and sinusitis. They found that although only 27.4 percent of the infections were caused by bacteria and could therefore be treated with an antibiotic, a whopping 57 percent of them were actually treated with antibiotics.

That amounts to 11.4 million unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics per year, researchers say. Antibiotics are no good against viral infections and have only been shown to work against bacterial infections.

Lead study author Dr. Matthew Kronman, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said the results are disheartening, particularly because his team found no appreciable change in prescribing rates over 10 years.

“Whatever we are doing now, it isn’t working,” he said. “We need to come up with new strategies to understand why this…exists.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the top pediatrician’s group in the United States, has periodically issued guidelines on the use of antibiotics in kids, notably in 2001 for sinusitis and 2004 for ear infections. But the demands of parents, as well as difficulties doctors face in quickly distinguishing between viral and bacterial infections, still fuels the trend.

Experts not involved with the research said their big fear is that they will eventually have no treatment options for superbugs.  An estimated 2 million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant organisms, resulting in 23,000 deaths each year, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

But there are other reasons that antibiotics should only be used when they’re needed.

“For some infections, like acute bronchitis, pharyngitis with a negative strep test, and URI, we know that antibiotics do not help you get better faster and are not needed,” said Dr. Mark Ebell, a family medicine physician and professor at the University of Georgia College of Public Health in Athens. “Even sinusitis and [ear infections] may be caused by viruses and often resolve without antibiotics.”

Ebell added that antibiotics can also hurt kids in other ways, such as causing nausea and vomiting. Antibiotics can also upset the delicate balance of gut bacteria, leading to diarrhea. In rare cases, they can lead to a debilitating allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.

When antibiotics are necessary, however, they can be lifesaving. Patients with more severe symptoms — such as pain, worsening symptom  or high fever — are more likely to benefit from an antibiotic, Ebell said.

Doctor’s Take

Doctors overprescribe antibiotics for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the difficulty in determining the exact nature of an infection when they see it.

“In several situations, the diagnosis is not very clear cut,” said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, and professor at the University of Florida, who was not involved with the research.

All the more reason, doctors say, that parents should be aware of what to do if their child has a runny nose or a sore throat. For patients with the common cold, the best defense is to drink plenty of fluids, get rest and use over-the-counter medications for symptomatic control. Antibiotics should not be taken for mild to moderate sinus infections, unless symptoms last longer than seven days or worsen after clinical improvement, according the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Of course, parents should never hesitate to call their pediatrician or family physician with questions at the first sign of illness. But even then, it is good to ask questions as to the necessity of antibiotics.

“It’s OK to ask your physician, ‘Why are you prescribing an antibiotic for my son-daughter?’” Kronman  of Seattle Children’s Hospital said. “Have a discussion with your physician. Is an antibiotic really needed for this cold or are there other things we can try?”

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A Virus Can Spread Like Wildfire in Any Indoor Setting

A Virus Can Spread Like Wildfire in Any Indoor Setting

iStock/Thinkstock(TUSCON, Ariz.) — Germ-a-phobes of the world unite. Your anxiety appears to be well-founded. At least that’s what a new study suggests. 

The study measured just how quickly viruses were spread in a work setting despite people’s best efforts to isolate themselves from sneezing and coughing co-workers.

To demonstrate how avoiding germs may be a losing battle, study researcher Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, placed a harmless virus on a few surfaces inside an office building, hotel rooms and a health care facility.

Later in the day, Gerba’s team sampled between 60 and 100 surfaces in each of the buildings that were contaminated with bacteriophage MS-2.

The result was that the virus was found on 40 to 60 percent of light switches, door knobs, tabletops and various other surfaces within two-to-four hours.

What Gerba was trying to prove was how a far more dangerous infectious agent, such as norovirus, can move swiftly through just about any place where people congregate.

So is it really a losing battle? Not entirely, according to Gerba, who says that disinfecting wipes and diligent hand cleaning reduces the spread of viruses by as much as 80 to 99 percent.

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Once Abused, College Women Susceptible to More Attacks

Once Abused, College Women Susceptible to More Attacks

iStock/Thinkstock(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — The controversy surrounding former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice has focused more attention on domestic violence, otherwise known as intimate partner violence.

Even before the Rice incident became a huge national story, Dr. Kathleen Parks of the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions conducted a five-year study on coeds who were physically or sexually abused and whether the experience caused them to drink more and as a result, increased their risk of future abuse.

Parks said that of the nearly one thousand college-aged women who suffered intimate partner violence, many were victimized the next year and often turned to alcohol as a way to cope.

However, the study determined that drinking did not make a woman more susceptible to be attacked again but rather, it was her experience of being previously abused that was the greater indicator of future assaults.

Yet, even though something terrible happened to them at least once, Parks says that most of the women managed to escape the pattern of victimization as time went by.

According to the UB study, “The year prior to and the first year of college may be a critical period for intervening to reduce risk for severe victimization.”

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Stress Can Make a Mess of Your Life

Stress Can Make a Mess of Your Life

iStock/Thinkstock(CORVALLIS, Ore.) — Everyone’s got to shuck their mortal coil at some point but perhaps there are ways of delaying the inevitable.

One option, at least for men, is to try and eliminate stress from their lives. An Oregon State University study contends that high stress will shave years off an older man’s life compared to their peers who aren’t as bothered by everyday hassles or traumatic life events like job loss or divorce.

Interestingly enough, Carolyn Aldwin, who heads OSU’s Center for Healthy Aging Research, says that these two types of stressors aren’t necessarily related, that is, a man who experienced some major bad luck in his life may nonetheless be able to easily handle everyday annoyances.

In her study, Aldwin looked at life events and daily hassles that caused stress to 1,300 men over 16 years and then followed them for another five. During that period, 43 percent had passed away.

It soon became clear that men who experienced fewer traumatic life events and better managed the stress of everyday life had a far lower mortality rate than men who reported higher numbers of stressful life events and regularly lost their cool at stuff they often couldn’t control.

As Aldwin explains, “It’s not the number of hassles that does you in, it’s the perception of them being a big deal that causes problems.” Her advice? “Don’t make mountains out of molehills.”

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Spleen Chip Developed to Treat Life-Threatening Infections

Spleen Chip Developed to Treat Life-Threatening Infections

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Scientists at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute created a spleen-like device on a tiny chip to filter fungi and toxins from patients’ blood.

The “biospleen” is meant to treat sepsis, a life-threatening condition in which germs and bacteria enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation throughout the body. The illness claims at least 8 million lives around the world each year, according to researchers.

“Even with the best current treatments, sepsis patients are dying in intensive care units at least 30 percent of the time,” said Mike Super, Ph.D., Senior Staff Scientist at the Wyss Institute. “We need a new approach.”

The device is able to clean human blood tested in the laboratory, as well as increase survival in animals with infected blood. The biospleen’s test results were published Sunday in Nature Medicine.

The chip filters live and dead pathogens, along with dangerous toxins in the blood using tiny magnetic beads coated with an engineered version of a natural immune system protein, mannose binding lectin.

In their trials, scientists were able to effectly remove more than 90 percent of pathogens from human blood at a rate of about a half to one liter per hour. Researchers say many of the biospleens can be linked together to reach levels required for dialysis-like rates.

“Sepsis is a major medical threat, which is increasing because of antibiotic resistance. We’re excited by the biospleen because it potentially provides a way to treat patients quickly without having to wait days to identify the source of infection, and it works equally well with antibiotic-resistant organisms,” said lead scientist and Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber.

“We hope to move this towards human testing to advancing to large animal studies as quickly as possible.”

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Respiratory Virus Spreads to the Northeast

Respiratory Virus Spreads to the Northeast

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Enterovirus D68, the respiratory illness suspected of hospitalizing hundreds of children across the nation, has now spread to the Northeast and is likely to hit the whole country, according to experts.

Connecticut and New York are the latest states to report cases of the rapidly spreading virus that has targeted young children, especially those with asthma, in 21 states.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health received reports “from two hospitals in different parts of the state of clusters of severe respiratory illness among young children that could be due to enterovirus D68,” the agency said in a statement.

Connecticut is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the cases.

The New York State Department of Health has also confirmed more than a dozen cases of enterovirus D68 in children living in the state’s capital and central regions, officials said.

The CDC has not confirmed New York’s cases.

As of Saturday, enterovirus D68 had spread to 21 states across the Midwest and East Coast, with confirmed cases spanning from New Mexico to Montana to Delaware.

The virus is likely to continue spreading, ABC News’ Dr. Richard Besser said Sunday morning.

“It’s very hard for a virus to be limited by borders,” Besser said. “I expect that it’s going to hit the whole country.”

Enterovirus D68 comes from a family of viruses that can cause cold-like symptoms, typically during the month of September.

Besser warned parents to watch out for symptoms of coughs and wheezing among their children, especially if their children are asthmatic.

“The best approach for prevention is what we talk about all the time for respiratory infections, colds, and flus and that’s really good hand washing,” Besser said.

There have been no reported cases of adults contracting the virus.

Adults may already have built an immunity towards the virus from previous infections, or may just get a milder version of the disease, Besser said.

Children who contract enterovirus D68 first suffer from what appears to be a common cold, with symptoms including a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing, according to Besser.

The symptoms then escalate to difficulty breathing. Besser said parents should look out for their children exhibiting signs of wheezing, difficulty eating or speaking, and blueness around the lips.

Doctors have found a way to treat the symptoms, helping kids breath more easily so they can get through the virus, Besser said.

“It’s the same medicine that’s used for children who have asthma,” he said. “But when I was in the emergency room this week in St. Louis, they were giving it to children who didn’t have asthma, and you could just see them turn around. Their airways would open up — some of them could leave the emergency room. Some had to stay, but the medicine helps a lot.”

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Adrian Peterson Case Brings Scrutiny to Child Spanking

Adrian Peterson Case Brings Scrutiny to Child Spanking

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The pending child abuse case against Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson has brought spanking, a common form of child discipline used by parents, back into public scrutiny.

“By the the time they reach adolescence, 85 percent of the nation’s children will have been, at one point or another, spanked,” Dr. Alan Kazdin, a psychologist at Yale University told ABC News. The figure comes from a 2003 study in which Kazdin investigated the use of spanking in disciplining children.

Between 70 percent and 90 percent of Americans admit to using some form of physical force when disciplining their kids, according to Southern Methodist University psychology professor George Holden.

“Physical punishment is extremely common for young children,” Holden told ABC News. “It’s very common in the United States.”

Kazdin’s 2003 study defines spanking as “hitting a child with an open hand on the buttocks or extremities with the intent to discipline without leaving a bruise or causing physical harm.”

But while spanking is prevalent, it is ineffective, Kazdin said.

“You don’t need spanking to change behavior,” Kazdin said. “It is not effective at all. It increases aggression in children, has emotional consequences.”
The line between spanking and more serious physical abuse is often muddled by theoretical and practical definitions, Kazdin said.

His study defines physical abuse as “corporal punishment that is harsh and excessive, involves the use of objects … is directed to other parts of the body than the extremities, and causes or has the potential to cause physical harm.”

Kazdin notes that parents can sometimes use objects in what would routinely be considered a spanking.

In the case of Adrian Peterson, the NFL player used a switch, or a tree branch, to spank his son, his lawyer said in a statement to ESPN.com.

“He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas,” the statement read. “Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.”

Peterson was booked and charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child, a felony, in Montgomery County, Texas, on Saturday morning. He was released after posting $15,000 bond.

Texas law defines child abuse as “an act or omission that endangers or impairs a child’s physical, mental or emotional health and development,” according to Texas’ Family Code.

But the state makes an exception for “reasonable discipline” by the child’s parent or guardian.

“Corporal punishment is not in itself abusive under the law,” according to a statement from the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Physical discipline, like a spanking, would only become abusive if “observable and material impairment occurs as a result,” according to the statement.

Parents in every state can legally hit their child as long as the force is “reasonable.”

Coporal punishment is also allowed in schools in 19 states, including Texas, according to the Center for Effective Discipline.

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Lawmakers Seek Update from Obama Administration on Ebola Outbreak

Lawmakers Seek Update from Obama Administration on Ebola Outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Committee leaders in Washington are seeking answers from the Obama administration regarding the global outbreak of the Ebola virus, calling for more information on preparedness and response efforts at home and abroad.

“While U.S. public health officials have offered assurances — both publicly and during briefings with committee staff — that the Ebola outbreak can be controlled, they are expressing increasingly dire warnings about its growth and the need for quick, decisive action,” a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell reads.

Energy & Commerce Committee leaders say they are looking to understand what has led up to increased warnings and are searching for more on current screening protocols, as well as those for containment and post-recovery. Lawmakers are also requesting information on the amount of federal funds spent on the effort, along with the risk Ebola poses to the U.S.

“Congress is greatly concerned about the ongoing Ebola outbreak and monitoring the situation closely. We must be diligent in our work to protect the public health and safety of all Americans and ensure we take the steps necessary to avoid a disastrous global outbreak,” Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said.

Other members who signed the letter included Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), Vice Chairman of the Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees Michael C. Burgess (R-TX), and full committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

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The Secret to a Lasting Marriage Is a Wife’s Happiness, Study Says

The Secret to a Lasting Marriage Is a Wife’s Happiness, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers are backing up the old adage, “Happy wife, happy life,” with a new study that says a wife’s happiness is more crucial than the husband’s in maintaining a lasting marriage.

The more content the wife is, the happier the husband will be with his life, no matter his feelings on the union, according to researchers at Rutgers University and the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

“I think it comes down to the fact that when a wife is satisfied with the marriage she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which has a positive effect on his life,” said Deborah Carr, a professor at Rutgers’ Department of Sociology, School of Arts and Science.

“Men tend to be less vocal about their relationships and their level of marital unhappiness might not be translated to their wives.”

The study analyzed the feelings of both spouses to determine a marriages’ influence on adults’ psychological well-being, asking questions on whether partners appreciates each other, gets on one another’s nerves, or understand each other.

Researchers examined nearly 400 couples who participated in a national study of income, health, and disability in 2009. On average, couples were married for 39 years.

While husbands rated their marriage slightly more positive than their wives, both usually said their general life satisfaction was high. Still, researchers found that wives became less happy if their spouses were sick, while husbands’ happiness levels did not change if the roles were reversed.

The study’s lead authors said results showed the impact marriage quality bears on health and well-being as couples age.

“The quality of a marriage is important because it provides a buffer against the health-depleting effects of later life stressors and helps couples manage difficult decisions regarding health and medical decision making,” Carr added.

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