<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Health News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usMon, 05 Dec 2016 05:43:10 -0500Mon, 05 Dec 2016 05:43:10 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[In 2015, Health Spending Surges in the U.S. ]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 20:00:42 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/170*120/AP_16320836144895-doctor.jpg

In 2015, Americans spent $3.2 trillion on medical expenses, up by 5.8 percent since 2014, NBC News reported.

Experts say there are also indications that health spending increased because people sought medical treatment for diseases they previously ignored because of lack of resources, according to a report released Friday by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Spending on prescription drugs also surged last year, with a nine percent increase since 2014.

"Recent rapid growth was due to increased spending for new medicines (particularly for specialty drugs such as those used to treat hepatitis C), price growth in existing brand-name drugs, increased spending on generics, and a decrease in the number of expensive blockbuster drugs whose patents expired," the CMS report read.



Photo Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Shkreli Belittles Students Who Recreated His $750 Drug]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 11:56:52 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/shkreli.jpg

Martin Shkreli, the infamous former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who hiked the price on a live-saving drug from $13.50 to $750, is making news again. This time, it's for belittling a group of Australian students who replicated the active ingredient in his anti-parasitic medication for just $20, CNN reported.

The drug, Daraprim, is used to treat people with malaria. It is also used for those with weakened immune systems, such as chemotherapy and HIV patients. The group of 17-year-olds recreated the active ingredient in Daraprim, pyrimethamine, in a Sydney Grammar School chemistry lab.

But the 33-year-old so-called “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli was not impressed. He slammed the students’ achievement on Twitter and Periscope.

“These kids who ‘made Daraprim’ reminds me of Ahmed who ‘made the clock,” he tweeted. “Dumb journalists want a feel good story.”

The students worked with scientists from the University of Sydney under the direction of Dr. Alice Williamson and Associate Professor Matthew Todd.

"There were definitely a few obstacles along the way," said Brandon Lee, a Sydney student who took part in the research. "We had to try a lot of different reactions with a lot of different chemicals. But eventually we got there -- it took a bit over a year."  

Daraprim is named on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. They produced about $110,000 worth of the replica, according to Turing’s prices, which are inflated 5000 percent. However, they could not sell it due to FDA regulations and Turing’s marketing rights to the drug.

Shkreli also expressed frustration at “the inability for people to understand how drugs come to be made” as social media users tweeted snarky responses to him. He replied to dozens of tweets, mentioning his patent and the complexities that he believes are being overlooked in the students' replication.

“Labor and equipment costs? Didn’t know you could get physical chemists to work for free?” he wrote. “I should use high school kids to make my medicines!”

And Shkreli had a final, Walter White-esque response to the “Breaking Good” project.

“And never, ever compare your cook game to mine,” he tweeted. “Highest yield, best purity, most scale. I have the synthesis game on lock.”

Shkreli was arrested in December 2015 on allegations of securities fraud. He pleaded not guilty during his hearing in July. His trial date has been set for June 26, 2017.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[World AIDS Day 2016: Activists Urge Testing, Education]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:52:53 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_405806892642.jpg

Dec. 1 marks World AIDS Day. It's a time to remember over 35 million people who have died from the disease since the early-1980s and show support for those who are struggling with it now. It's also a chance for health organizations and charities to raise awareness about testing and treatment.

In the United Kingdom, activists are spreading the message that HIV stigma is “not retro, just wrong.” The U.S. World AIDS Day theme for 2016 is “Leadership. Commitment. Impact,” and the United Nations launched the “Hands up for #HIVprevention” awareness campaign, emphasizing the importance of protecting at-risk demographics like young women and girls. 

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Across the globe, approximately 34 million people suffer from HIV/AIDS, including more than 1.2 million who live in the United States. 

A red ribbon is a universal symbol of support and solidarity for those living with HIV or AIDS. Here's how organizations are raising awareness and money to help combat AIDS: 

World Health Organization
For World AIDS Day, the UN agency is advocating that health organizations should make self-testing equipment more readily available. About 14 million people around the world don’t know they have the disease -- one in eight AIDS survivors in the U.S. goes undiagnosed.

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Self-testing allows individuals to check their HIV/AIDS status. If they do get a positive test result, they can then explore much-needed medical resources that will improve their standard of living and protect others from infection.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are two types of self-HIV tests: the Home Access HIV-1 Test System and the OraQuick In-home HIV test. You can buy a self-testing kit at drug stores like Walgreens and Rite Aid. 

(RED)
When U2’s Bono and activist Bobby Shriver founded (RED) in 2006, they were bent on eradicating HIV/AIDS in Africa. Since then, they’ve raised $365 million for grants to provide survivors with anti-retroviral treatments that can cost as little as 30 cents a day, but that still aren’t accessible to about 18 million people suffering from the disease.

This World AIDS Day, (RED) has partnered with companies to raise money for the Global Fund to Help Fight AIDS. For every handcrafted holiday drink purchased today, Starbucks will donate 25 cents to the cause. Profits from 20 Apple games sold on the iTunes app store are also going toward AIDS prevention, and New Yorkers can swing by the (BANK OF AMERICA)RED pop-up in Bryant Park to buy holiday gifts through Dec. 4.

According to (RED)’s website, “Bank of America will donate $1 for every purchase made with a Bank of America card using Apple Pay, up to $1M” beginning on Dec. 1. This contribution will be doubled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has promised to match the money raised by (RED) this year, up to $78 million.

AIDS.gov
This World AIDS Day, the website’s team is asking Americans to educate themselves about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and how it manifests in the U.S. They’ve put together a resource page for readers to peruse, including links to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a timeline of HIV/AIDS, and information about the Affordable Care Act, which has provided coverage to survivors who couldn’t find insurance before because of their pre-existing condition.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Texas Has Its First Local Zika Case]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 21:22:57 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-543392276-Mosquito.jpg

The first case of locally transmitted Zika virus in Texas has been reported in the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas Department of State Health Services reports.

“We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw a Zika case spread by a mosquito in Texas,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. 

The patient is a Cameron County resident who is not pregnant and who was confirmed last week by lab test to have been infected. She reported no recent travel to Mexico or anywhere else with ongoing Zika virus transmission and no other risk factors.

Laboratory testing found genetic material from the Zika virus in the patient’s urine, but a blood test was negative, indicating that the virus can no longer be spread from her by a mosquito.

Through last week, Texas has had 257 confirmed cases of Zika virus disease. Until now, all cases in the state had been associated with travel, including two infants born to women who had traveled during their pregnancy and two people who had sexual contact with infected travelers.

There are no other cases of suspected local transmission at this time, but health officials continue to conduct disease surveillance activities as part of the state's ongoing Zika response.

Cameron County, DSHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working together to investigate and respond to the case. Further investigation will be necessary to attempt to pinpoint how and where the infection occurred, and health officials are also responding in a number of other ways.

DSHS has activated the State Medical Operations Center to support the response and is providing expertise, personnel and equipment for activities from disease investigation to mosquito surveillance to public education.

Cameron County and the City of Brownsville, with help from DSHS, have conducted an environmental assessment at the patient’s home and have been trapping and testing mosquitoes to learn more about activity in the area.

The samples collected will be tested at the DSHS laboratory in Austin.

Brownsville has recently sprayed for mosquitoes in the area and will continue to take action to reduce the mosquito population.

Health workers from Cameron County and DSHS will be going door to door in the area around where the case lived beginning this evening to educate the public about Zika, help people reduce potential mosquito breeding habitat on their property, and collect voluntary urine samples to determine whether other infections are present.

Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, though sexual transmission can occur.

The four most common symptoms are fever, itchy rash, joint pain and eye redness.

While symptoms are usually minor, Zika can also cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, and other poor birth outcomes in some women infected during pregnancy.



Photo Credit: Kevin Frayer, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Millions May Be Misdiagnosed as Allergic to Penicillin]]> Fri, 25 Nov 2016 23:41:18 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/pennicillin.jpg

Some 90 percent of those diagnosed with a penicillin allergy can actually tolerate the antibiotics, according to a study presented recently at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

In a finding that many doctors may not be aware of, an estimated 25 to 50 million Americans who may have been told they had the allergy could have been initially misdiagnosed or grown out of it, NBC News reported.

The solution for many is a simple two-step test, followed, as needed, by a low-dose oral penicillin, taken under a doctor's observation.

"The whole process takes about three hours and then we can say they're free to take penicillin in the future," said Dr. Elizabeth Phillips, a professor at Vanderbilt University.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Heinz Voluntarily Recalls Pork Gravy After Labeling Issue]]> Tue, 22 Nov 2016 11:57:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/gravy-sm-1.jpg

Heinz is voluntarily recalling about 500 cases of its HomeStyle Bistro Au Jus Gravy because some jars have been mislabeled as Heinz Pork Gravy without mentioning it contains milk and soy.

The labeling issue could present a health risk for people with allergies or sensitivity to milk or soy who consume the gravy. There have been no consumer reports of illness related to this product, according to the FDA recall notice.

Recalled jars can be identified with UPC 013000798907. They wre distributed to retailers across the United States.

“We deeply regret this situation and apologize to any consumers we have disappointed,” Heinz said in a statement about the recall.

The statement recommended consumers return or exchange the product. They can contact the company directly for a full refund by calling 866-572-3808 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET.

The 12 oz jars of Heinz HomeStyle Gravy Bistro Au Jus is the only Heinz product being recalled. No other size or flavor has been mislabeled.



Photo Credit: FDA]]>
<![CDATA[Dementia Rates Might Be Declining, New Study Finds]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2016 22:40:53 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_460730682850-Alzheimers-poster.jpg

Rates of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia appear to have fallen considerably since 2000, and better education may be partly responsible, researchers reported Monday.

Better treatment for diabetes and cardiovascular disease may also be helping, the researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, NBC News reported.

Dr. Kenneth Langa of the University of Michigan and colleagues studied records from 21,000 people with an average age of 75. 

Their study showed the rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in adults aged 65 and up dropped to about 9 percent in 2012 from nearly 12 percent in 2000, continuing a decline noted in earlier research.



Photo Credit: Scott Eisen, AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Sabra Recalls Hummus Products Over Listeria Concerns]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2016 07:31:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/sabra-hummus.jpg

Sabra Dipping Company has issued a voluntary recall for a variety of its hummus products after Listeria monocytogenes was found at the Colonial Heights, Virginia-based company's manufacturing facility.

The recall affects hummus products that were made before Nov. 8, 2016, and sold across the United States and Canada at supermarkets and other stores.

Listeria monocytogenes was not found in tested finished product. Sabra said Saturday that its recall was issued out of an abundance of caution.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The species of bacteria can result in stillbirths or miscarriages among pregnant women.

Healthy people may experience short-term symptoms including high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

The recalled products include a range across Sabra's line like hummus with red pepper, garlic, lemon, spinach and artichoke, and more.

Sabra products not included in the recall are: Sabra Organic Hummus, Sabra Salsa, Sabra Guacamole and Sabra Greek Yogurt Dips.

Consumers with a "best before" date up through Jan. 23, 2017, on the lid of these hummus items should discard the product:

 

  • Sabra Hummus Caramelized Onion 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 7OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 17OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 30OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 5LB – 6ct
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 2OZ – 48ct: 3 x (16 x 2oz)
  • Sabra Hummus Classic with pretzels 4.56OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Garlic 7OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Garlic 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Garlic 17OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Garlic 32OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Garlic 30OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Garlic with pretzels 4.56OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Jalapeno 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Olive 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Pine Nut 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Pine Nut 7OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Pine Nut 17OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Pine Nut 32OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 7OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 17OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 32OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 30OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 5LB – 6ct
  • Sabra Hummus Red Pepper with pretzels 4.56OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Supremely Spicy 7OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Supremely Spicy 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Supremely Spicy 17OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Spinach & Artichoke 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Sun Dried Tomato 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Spinach & Artichoke 32OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Spinach & Artichoke 17OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Pine Nut 17OZ – 6ct
  • Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 17OZ – 6ct
  • Sabra Hummus Basil-Pesto 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Tuscan Herb Garden 32OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 32OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Classic with pretzels 4.56OZ – 8ct
  • Sabra Hummus Garlic 23.5OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 17OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Bold & Spicy with tortilla chips 4.56OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Garlic 17OZ – 6ct
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 2OZ – 6 x 2oz (12 x 6pks)
  • Sabra Hummus Lemon 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 2OZ – 6 x 2oz (12 x 6pks)
  • Sabra Hummus Tuscan Herb Garden 17OZ
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 2OZ – 16 x 2oz – 12 ct
  • Sabra Hummus Classic 2OZ – 12 x 2oz – 12 ct
  • Sabra Hummus SF Rosemary/Sea Salt 10OZ
  • Sabra Spreads Spicy Chili 8.5OZ – 8ct
  • Sabra Spreads Garlic Herb 8.5OZ – 8ct
  • Sabra Spreads Honey Mustard 8.5OZ – 8ct
  • Sabra Spreads Salt & Pepper 8.5OZ – 8ct
  • Sabra Hummus Taco 10OZ
  • Sabra Hummus 3 Pepper Chili 10OZ

Consumers can reach Sabra Consumer Relations at 1-866-265-6761 for from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET or visit www.sabrahummusrecall.com for information on being reimbursed. 

For more information, click here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Insulin Prices Double Since 2012]]> Thu, 17 Nov 2016 10:15:30 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Insulin_Prices_Increase.jpg Increases in insulin prices and a lack of generic options are forcing diabetic Americans to cut back on prescribed doses to stretch out their medication.

Photo Credit: KING]]>
<![CDATA[Major Grated Cheese Brands Hit by Nationwide Recall]]> Wed, 16 Nov 2016 15:19:30 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/cento+4c+cheese+recall.jpg

Fears of salmonella contamination have led to the recall of major grated cheese brands nationwide. 

4C Food Corp. has voluntarily recalled its 4C Grated Cheese, Homestyle Grated Cheese and Cento Grated Cheese brands over concern the cheeses may contain Salmonella.

4C Food Corp. said that none of the other food or cheese products it produces are affected by the recall.

No illnesses have been reported but 4C Food Corp. is voluntarily recalling the products out of an abundance of caution after FDA testing revealed the cheeses may be at risk.

The recall includes the following products, which were packed in 6-ounce vacuum-sealed glass jars with “best by” dates between November 12, 2016 and November 12, 2018.

4C All Natural Parmesan Grated Cheese (UPC 41387-33126) 
4C All Natural Parmesan/Romano Grated Cheese (UPC 41387-37126) 
4C All Natural 100% Imported Italian Pecorino Romano Cheese (UPC 41387-77126) 
4C HomeStyle All Natural Parmesan Grated Cheese (UPC 41387-32790) 
4C HomeStyle All Natural Parmesan/Romano Grated Cheese (UPC 41387-11627) 
4C HomeStyle All Natural 100% Imported Italian Pecorino Romano Cheese (UPC 41387-12302)  
Cento Parmesan Grated Cheese (UPC 70796-90502) 
Cento Romano Grated Cheese (UPC 70796-90501)  

Consumers with questions can contact 4C Foods Corp. at 866-969-1920.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses.

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<![CDATA[Women Anxious About Future of Contraception Under Trump]]> Mon, 14 Nov 2016 06:59:10 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-566440215.jpg

More women are asking Planned Parenthood workers about access to birth control and other health care since Donald Trump was elected president, according to the organization's chief medical officer. 

Some women have taken to social media to discuss their concerns about the prospect of affordable access to women’s health care diminishing, with one long-lasting form of birth control called an IUD apparently attracting extra attention. 

Trump has promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as one of his first acts in office, which could mean the end of free, FDA-approved contraception, including birth control pills, diaphragms, IUDs and emergency contraception like Plan B. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday, Trump said he would consider keeping at least two parts of President Barack Obama's signature health care law: a ban on insurers denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and a provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents' plans. 

“Since the election, we have seen an uptick in questions about access to health care, birth control, and the Affordable Care Act,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood. “While we truly hope that birth control methods will be available, accessible and affordable to all women under the Trump administration, we understand people’s real concerns about losing access to birth control, which is basic health care for women.”

There is a real possibility that health care cuts could come in the months after Trump is inaugurated in January, according to Cindy Pearson, the 19-year executive director of National Women's Health Network.

"It's not an irrational fear," Pearson said. "It's a fear that stems from people who will soon be in charge of Congress and the White House. We're very concerned since Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence have supported policies that would leave women in difficult situations."

NBC has reached out Trump's campaign for comment. 

In an appearance on CNN's "State of the Nation" Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan would not answer a question about whether or not new health care legislation would include contraceptive coverage. 

"I’m not going to get into all the nitty-gritty details of these things," Ryan told host Jake Tapper. 

When Tapper pressed Ryan on the issue, the speaker responded: "I’m not going to get into ― I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about legislation that hasn’t even been drafted yet."

Trump has expressed different positions on women's health issues. He voiced disapproval for abortions during the campaign, even telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in March that women who get abortions should be “punished,” though he later backtracked on that statement. As for birth control, Trump said on "The Dr. Oz Show" in September that women shouldn't need a prescription to have access to it. 

There is one safe and effective form of birth control that can last for four years, when another president may be elected, and some women appear to be discussing it. 

The IUD, short for intrauterine device, is a T-shaped object inserted in a woman's uterus, where it can stay for years. It is 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancies — more than condoms, though IUDs do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Hormonal IUDs can last for about 3 to 6 years on average, while non-hormonal IUDs can last for up to 12 years, according to Planned Parenthood.

IUDs have offered a unique appeal for their longevity. Google searches for the term were four times their average on Wednesday night, after Trump was projected to win the presidency.

And women on Twitter have suggested that others get IUDs to last through a Trump presidency.

Kristyn Brandi, MD, OB/GYN and family planning specialist at Boston Medical Center and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health called the Affordable Care Act a "game-changer" for helping women afford contraception.

“We don't really know what will happen with the new administration," she said. "I have heard of several women that are concerned about either access to IUDs or replacing existing ones. We have already seen patients who are seeking contraception based on concerns about what will happen to reproductive health and the Affordable Care Act."

The talk of IUDs may have been prompted by an article in The Daily Beast last week. 

"What Donald Trump has promised to do—and what Mike Pence has actually done during his tenure as governor of Indiana—is to make birth control a lot more difficult for women to access,” Erin Gloria Ryan wrote, advocating that women consider getting an IUD in case Trump were elected.

IUDs are the third most popular form of contraception, according to Planned Parenthood, behind condoms and birth control pills, and they were already becoming more popular. The organization has seen a 91 percent increase in IUD users in the last five years alone.

McDonald-Mosley said Planned Parenthood expects that trend to continue in coming years. 

Democrats have long supported Planned Parenthood, but Republicans have fought in recent years to restrict funding to the organization. Since Trump was elected president, the organization has made it clear that they are there to stay. 

"We now face a very different future, and there is uncertainty ahead," their website read after the race was called. "But one thing is for sure: We will never back down, and Planned Parenthood will never stop providing the care patients need."

Pearson and the NWHN are preparing to "fight like crazy" to stop potential health care cuts, she said.

--Suzanne Ciechalski contributed to this story



Photo Credit: UIG via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[FDA Steps Up Warnings About Testosterone Use]]> Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:38:50 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_16159721727583-fda-generic.jpg

The FDA announced Tuesday that it is increasing warnings against testosterone and other steroids, NBC News reported.

In addition to existing concerns about personality changes and other health issues, the drugs can be easily abused, according to the FDA.

"Reported serious adverse outcomes include heart attack, heart failure, stroke, depression, hostility, aggression, liver toxicity and male infertility," the FDA said in a statement. "Individuals abusing high doses of testosterone have also reported withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, decreased libido and insomnia."

Testosterone, which is used to fight the effects of aging, has been heavily criticized by the FDA. It is currently a $2 billion industry with men purchasing gels, pills and injections. 



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[New Guidelines To Prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Released]]> Mon, 24 Oct 2016 19:18:46 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*122/GettyImages-73781080.jpg

Infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents for at least the first six months of their lives to minimize the risk of sleep-related deaths, according to new guidelines from U.S. pediatricians, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Reuters reported. 

Ideally, babies should stay in their parents' room at night for a full year, according to recommendations released today by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Babies shouldn't share a bed with parents, however, because that increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the guidelines stress. The safest spot for infant sleep is on a firm surface such as a crib or bassinet without any soft bedding, bumpers or pillows.

Sleeping in the same room, but not in the same bed, may reduce babies' risk of SIDS by up to 50 percent, said Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, a co-author of the AAP guidelines and pediatrics researcher at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden, New Jersey.

"Bed-sharing is potentially hazardous for SIDS, and this is most important for infants under four months of age and those who were premature or low birth weight," Feldman-Winter added by email.

The new guidelines also encourage skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after birth to help prevent SIDS.

With cesarean deliveries, mothers can do this with their babies as soon as they are awake and alert after surgery and, in the meantime, fathers or other caregivers can provide skin-to-skin contact to newborns.

Breastfeeding can also help prevent SIDS, but mothers still shouldn't sleep with babies in their beds to make nursing more convenient in the middle of the night, according to the guidelines, published in Pediatrics.

SIDS has become much less common in recent decades as doctors have urged parents to put infants to sleep on their backs without pillows or other soft bedding and toys that could pose a suffocation risk. But it still remains a leading cause of infant mortality, killing about 3,500 babies a year in the U.S. alone, according to the AAP.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Infants, Parents Should Share Room: New Guidelines]]> Mon, 24 Oct 2016 10:35:11 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_sleepstandards1024_1920x1080.jpg The American Academy of Pediatrics has released updated guidelines for new parents on infant sleep safety. Experts say room sharing could reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half and recommend babies sleep in a crib or bassinet in the parent's bedroom for at least the first six months and up to age 1. ]]> <![CDATA[Pediatrics Group Lifts 'No Screens Under 2' Rule]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 14:32:41 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-135280995.jpg

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new screen media guidelines for parents with infants and young children, amending its previous recommendation that outright banned screens for children under the age of two.

In its policy statement released Friday, the AAP says it’s OK for children under the age of 18 months to Skype or Face Time with grandma and grandpa, and for older children and teens to do some of their socializing, learning and playing online – as long as they put down their devices long enough to sleep, exercise, eat, and engage in rich offline lives. 

The nation's leading group of pediatricians recommends children under 18 months, with the exception of video chatting, should avoid screens. Children between 18 months and 24 months should only be introduced to digital media that is high-quality and parents should watch it with their children in order to help them process what they’re seeing.

For children ages 2-5, digital media use should be limited to one hour a day. The guidelines again recommend high-quality, education media suited for children, such as Sesame Street and PBS.

Overall, parents should avoid using media to calm a child or replace physical activity. Parents are also recommended by the AAP to have media-free time with their children and media-free zones in the house. Parents should also have conversations with children about online safety and respecting people both on and offline.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Advice: Parents Should Share Screentime with Kids]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:46:47 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_mediakids1020_1920x1080.jpg Instead of playing a constant game of keep-away, parents are now encouraged to join the fun. Updated guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on kids' media usage represents a shift to making moms and dads "media mentors." Previously the influential group of pediatricians suggested no media before age 2. Now they say there's evidence toddlers as young as 18 months could learn and benefit from some forms of technology, as long as parents are there to guide them and the technology is not overly stimulating.

Photo Credit: NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Woman With Cancer: '#JuJuOnThatChemo']]> Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:21:49 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/chemo-dance-101916.PNG

A Texas woman is not letting cancer and chemo get her down. Ana-Alecia Ayala, who’s battling a rare form of uterine sarcoma, has joined the viral dance craze — and has a heartwarming message to share.

In a social media post shared Tuesday, Ayala, in her hospital gown and medical tubes attached to her, dances to "JuJu On That Beat" with her friend Danielle Andrus during a chemotherapy session at Baylor T. Boone Pickens Cancer Hospital in Dallas.

"We want to show the world that dancing and laughter is the best medicine," wrote Ayala, who's from Dallas. "#JustForFun #ChemoSucks #CancerAwareness #JuJuOnThatBeat #JuJuOnThatChemo."

Ayala, who has rhabdomyosarcoma, has had two surgeries for tumor removal and port placement since she was diagnosed in December 2015. She has been in chemo since January, according to her GoFundMe.



Photo Credit: Ana-Alecia Ayala]]>
<![CDATA[Mom's Update on Conjoined Twins]]> Tue, 18 Oct 2016 08:12:23 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/conjoined+twins+gofundme+thumb.png

Nicole McDonald has reluctantly documented her family's experience as her twin sons who were attached at the head faced their most difficult surgery yet last week. But if supporters of her family read anything she hopes, it's her message to them and the doctors who saved her children. 

In a lengthy and emotional Facebook update on Saturday, the Illinois mother shared that as she and her husband "emerged from the depths of the hospital" in New York City last week, they were forced to face the fact that their family's private battle has quickly become a national story. 

"For those of you who don't know us, it might be interesting to note that we do not have TV or Internet access at home," she wrote. "We don't get to watch the news on a regular basis and we have literally spent the last 36 hours at the boys' bedside or waiting for updates from the doctors in the Caregiver Support Center at Montefiore."

McDonald's 13-month old sons, Jadon and Anias, were separated following 16 hours of surgery at Montefiore Medical Center. 

McDonald noted that at first, she didn't want to take her family's unique situation public, but agreed because they wanted to help show the medical miracle that would soon separate her sons. 

"Our biggest desire was to show how brilliant the team at Montefiore has been and to give the hospital the credit it deserves," she wrote. "The real heroes of this story are the people who have put countless hours, days and months into the success of today."

McDonald had been sharing updates on the surgery as the boys returned to their room one by one. 

Hours later, McDonald wrote that the brothers had been "finally reunited."

"How surreal. I now realize that I always saw you as separate because seeing you like this is really nothing different to me," McDonald wrote. "When I stand at your bedside, Jadon, it's almost as if Anias is still there. Anias, when I leaned over you I protected my hair from Jadon. But the view is still the same. This is how I always saw you. I love you so much. Now it's time to step forward into the new chapter of our life. I'm ready to fight and I know you are too."

McDonald earlier described the atmosphere as "one of celebration mixed with uncertainty." She says Jadon did better than Anias during the procedure, adding that doctors predict he may not be able to move part of his body at first. 

"When they told me they were wheeling Jadon up first, it took me a second to comprehend," she wrote. "I actually asked why they rearranged the room because I hadn't really internalized the idea that there would be 2 beds in here."

McDonald and her husband first found out they were having twins during a routine ultrasound when she was 17 weeks pregnant. But hours after learning the big news, the couple was called back for a repeat ultrasound, a call she said is "every pregnant mother's nightmare."

"It was on that day, in that dark room, that our whole life changed," McDonald wrote in a GoFundMe page for the family. "I was informed that I was pregnant with craniopagus twins, which in normal language means twins who are joined at the head. I was given the option on many occasions to abort my precious babies. I kindly declined. I had heard their heart beats...they spent their life listening to mine. It was my job as their mother to give them life and I decided that I would give everything up, if need be, to do so. Miracles happen...and there is one (really, two :)) unfolding before our very eyes."

McDonald went into labor on Sept. 9, 2015 and an emergency c-section was performed at Rush University Medical Center. 

The boys were named Jadon and Anias. 

While the babies started having some health problems shortly after birth, things quickly "went downhill" for the McDonald family.

"Anias started having trouble breathing," McDonald wrote. "Because of the way he was positioned in my belly, his chin was against his chest and his jaw couldn't grow. His airway was also constricted. As he required more oxygen for day to day life, his breathing got worse and worse, until eventually he was back on oxygen."

Months later, the couple met with a specialist in hopes of successfully separating the twins. Fast forward to October, the babies have undergone their final surgery, but their most difficult. 

The family's GoFundMe page had raised $161,161 as of Friday, exceeding their goal of $100,000 to aid with the babies' medical care. 

McDonald thanked those who helped her family during the trying time, saying "each and every one of you is a hero in your own way."

"The people who literally lift us up and carry us when we feel like we just can't take another step. We are so blessed to have so much support in our corner," she wrote. 

Most recently, McDonald said the boys are stable, but "there are some things happening that I can't really find the words to explain or allow myself to dwell on."

"Every thing changes from hour to hour and we just have to remember that the brain responds in crazy ways when it's been cut through," she wrote. "We still cannot hold the boys because they are intubated so we sit at their bedside and hold their hands, give them massages and kiss their faces. When I have a better understanding of their actual status, I will do my best to update. Thank you so much for your heartfelt support."


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<![CDATA[Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Rates, Report Finds]]> Fri, 14 Oct 2016 13:42:53 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/strides6-PIC_0.jpg

Despite innovative technology for detection and treatment of breast cancer, black women continue to have the highest rate of mortality, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed.

The report released on Thursday found that black and white women now have roughly similar incidences of breast cancer. For black women, this is bad news; for the past 40 years, they have had the lowest prevalence of breast cancer. That health advantage has disappeared, with increased incidences of cancer.

In addition to increased frequency of breast cancer, the death rate is higher for black women than white women by about 40 percent. White women are seeing a faster decrease in mortality.

The CDC report noted that the prevalence of cancer for white women has steadily decreased, and increased for black women, especially for those 60-79 years old. These trends are unique to black women; overall, the trends for the last few decades have shown less incidence and mortality from breast cancer.

While the relationship between obesity and breast cancer is unknown, the incidence of both have increased in black populations, according to the report. Increased physical activity and healthy diet to maintain a healthy weight may help in subsiding the incidence of breast cancer, the report says.

But above all, the report suggested that if care for all women was equal, there might be less exaggerated differences between black and white women.

“Measures to ensure access to quality care and the best-available treatments for all women diagnosed with breast cancer can help address these racial disparities,” it said.



Photo Credit: NBC7]]>
<![CDATA[Moms Find Worms in Baby Formula]]> Wed, 12 Oct 2016 09:04:38 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_maggotformula1011_1500x845.jpg A first-time mom says she found worms in a bottle of Similac baby formula that she fed her son. "Two ounces down I noticed the worms," said Taylor Seyler from Missouri. "Took it from his mouth, went and put a napkin over the faucet and we poured it down the drain and we saw the maggots on it." Her story isn't a unique one; another mother says she had a similar experience with Nutramigen formula. Manufacturers say contamination likely occurred after the packaging was opened. ]]> <![CDATA[4 Qualities Explain Why Big Cities Are Healthier: Survey]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2016 14:48:27 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/StretchMcDonalds.jpg

The American cities with the healthiest, happiest residents are Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., according to a new survey that scored communities on important health measures, NBC News reported.

While they may not shriek "healthy living," they all have lots of sidewalks, parks and good public transportation, a report from Gallup and Healthways found. The four key components the group identified are walkability, easy biking, parks and public transit.

"Residents in these top five communities have, on average, significantly lower rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression compared with those in the five lowest-ranked active living communities," the groups said in a statement, adding to a large body of research that's found that access to green spaces, lowered stress and other factors translate into lower rates of disease and longer lives.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[College Students Say 'Drunkorexia' Is More Than Buzzword]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2016 11:36:41 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-113218959beer.jpg

Despite attempts to curb students’ consumption of alcohol, binge-drinking is becoming the norm on college campuses, NBC News reported.

A group of young people spoke about the trend, called “drunkorexia," for "Today" show's Campus Undercovered series. According to the students interviewed, the habit altered their way of life, even leading to extended hospitalization, for one student.

A study from the University of Houston found that of 1,200 students surveyed, up to 80 percent altered their diet by restricting calories, overexercising, purging or using laxatives while also binge drinking.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Aurora Creative]]>
<![CDATA[Cartels Selling Deadly Fentanyl Disguised as Other Drugs]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2016 09:50:29 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/fentanyl+10-09.PNG

The Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration are warning people who illegally buy drugs and painkillers on the street or in Tijuana, Mexico, that drug cartels are selling lethal doses of fentanyl disguised as counterfeit OxyContin pills and street heroin.

The cartels are substituting fentanyl for heroin because they can produce it more cheaply and is much stronger and more deadly than the pharmaceutical fentanyl that a doctor would prescribe.

Authorities confiscated over 70 pounds of fentanyl and 6,000 counterfeit pills in September alone.

Just a small amount of the drug can be deadly — even for law enforcement confiscating it at the border. Two New Jersey police officers nearly fatally collapsed just from sealing a bag they had seized.

“It just really felt like that was it,” one of the New Jersey officers said. “It felt like I was dying. If I could imagine or describe a feeling where your body is just completely shutting down and preparing to stop living, that's the feeling I felt.”

The DOJ and DEA say just a few grains of fentanyl as small as a grain of salt can be lethal.

12 people died and more than 50 people overdosed in Sacramento recently when they used fentanyl, thinking it was OxyContin.

“I see this as an experienced prosecutor as like a death sentence for someone who thinks that they're buying oxy but really they are buying fentanyl because it's cheaper,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson said.

“It’s extremely profitable for the cartels. They aren’t having to wait for harvest. They aren’t having to harvest the poppy plants. They’re not having to manufacture that paste into heroin. They are literally just getting a chemical from China,” DEA spokeswoman Amy Roderick told NBC 7.

The cartels purchase fentanyl chemicals in China, mix them with a few other chemicals in places like Sinaloa in Mexico and smuggle most of the country’s supply through our borders.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Breast Cancer Treatment Costs Vary Wildly, Study Finds]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2016 13:51:42 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/2092862-cancer-treatment-generic.jpg

A new study has found that breast cancer patients, insurance companies and government health plans are needlessly paying $1 billion to treat the disease, NBC News reported.

The cost of cancer treatment varies wildly, with no apparent rhyme or reason, Dr. Sharon Giordano and colleagues at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reported Monday in the journal Cancer.

Expenses across a single class of drugs varied by as much as $46,000, according to the study, which reviewed four years of insurance claims filed by more than 14,000 breast cancer patients. And swapping one treatment for a less toxic alternative cut both the side effects and the costs.

Giordano told NBC News that the idea for the study came when a patient was reluctant to order a test confirming her cancer was gone: "She shared with me that she was still on a payment plan, still trying to pay off the debt from her breast cancer treatment five years earlier."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kid-Friendly Cannabis?]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2016 11:18:58 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2016-10-10-at-11.37.36-AM.jpg Tampa, Florida's, first Family Medical Cannabis Clinic is now offering a non-euphoric strain of marijuana as a treatment option for children and adults with chronic seizures and muscle spasms.

Photo Credit: WFLA ]]>
<![CDATA['Lunchables' Recalled in 2 States Due to Misbranding, Undeclared Allergens]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2016 10:18:44 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/lunchables-recall.jpg

The Kraft Heinz Company is recalling 959 pounds of some "Lunchables" packaged lunch products in two states due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Kraft Heinz announced the recall Sunday of Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers because they contain known allergens wheat and soy, which are not listed on the product label.

The recalled items were produced Sept. 21, 2016, and sold in Utah and California. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 3.4-oz. boxes containing four-compartment plastic trays of “Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Stackers,” with a “USE BY” date of 25 DEC 2016 and production times ranging from 9:13 to 10:00 stamped on the side of the plastic container.

Authorities said the problem was discovered Oct. 6, 2016, when the firm received a consumer complaint.

No illnesses or adverse reactions related to this recall have been confirmed.

Consumers who have purchased this product are urged to throw them away or returned them to the place of purchase. Anyone with questions about the recall can call the Kraft Heinz Consumer Relations Center at 800-573-3877.



Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service]]>