<![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-usTue, 25 Oct 2016 13:34:02 -0400Tue, 25 Oct 2016 13:34:02 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[New Guidelines To Prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Released]]> Mon, 24 Oct 2016 20:18:46 -0400 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 11:35:11 -0400 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 15:32:41 -0400 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 11:46:47 -0400 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 15:21:49 -0400 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 09:12:23 -0400 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 14:42:53 -0400 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 10:04:38 -0400 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 15:48:27 -0400 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 12:36:41 -0400 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 10:50:29 -0400 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 14:51:42 -0400 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 12:18:58 -0400 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 11:18:44 -0400 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]]>
<![CDATA[Study Says No, You Can't Live Forever]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 19:11:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_95101701406Jeanne-Calment.jpg

If you wanted to live until, say, the year 2140, don't get your hopes up. A new study from the Einstein College of Medicine found that human beings' maximum lifespan is about 115 years, NBC News reported.

Jan Vijg, a genetics professor who was an author of the study, said his team looked through global databases on lifespans and found improvements in mortality peak at the age group of about 100 years.

"We show that improvements in survival with age tend to decline after age 100, and that the age at death of the world's oldest person has not increased since the 1990s. Our results strongly suggest that the maximum lifespan of humans is fixed and subject to natural constraints," the study said.

While the idea that humans cannot live forever isn't new, it wasn't always easy to back it up with evidence. But with countries keeping better records, Vijg said it's easier to find data to back it up.

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Did Hospital Charge Couple for Holding Their Baby?]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 16:01:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/SKIN-TO-SKIN-4P-VO---00-00-39-15_21059698.jpg

A Utah couple was confused after receiving a $39.95 charge for "skin-to-skin contact" on a bill from their hospital after the birth of their child. Though it first seemed like a charge for holding the baby, the hospital told NBC's "Today" show the charge was to cover the cost of having an additional caregiver in the operating room.

The hospital issued a statement, saying they can't comment on a specific bill without consent from the patient due to privacy laws but added that, "in general, Utah Valley Hospital is an advocate for skin-to-skin contact between a mother and newborn directly after birth."

"In the case of a c-section, where the bedside caregiver is occupied caring for the mother during surgery, an additional nurse is brought into the OR to allow the infant to remain in the OR suite with the mother," the statement said. "This is to ensure both patients remain safe. There is an additional charge associated with bringing an extra caregiver into the OR. The charge is not for holding the baby, but for the additional caregiver needed to maintain the highest levels of patient safety."

Photo Credit: NewsChannel
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<![CDATA[Foods to Avoid Before Bed]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 13:04:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_nightfoods1004_1920x1080.jpg Having these late-night snacks can have a huge impact on sleep quality.]]> <![CDATA[Mysterious Polio-Like Illness Paralyzing US Kids]]> Mon, 03 Oct 2016 21:36:19 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/carter_4_d469880f8dc2035fcfb6cdc6b59d3b54.nbcnews-ux-600-480.jpg

Three-year-old Carter Roberts was playful, healthy and active until he became one of over four dozen people in the United States diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, NBC News reported. 

He was unable to move his arms or legs, and "doctors were working really hard to try and figure out what was going on," said his mother, Robin Roberts.

The mysterious muscle weakness, similar to polio, appears to be on the rise this year.

As of August 2016 there have been 50 cases of confirmed AFM across 24 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday, more than double 2015, when 21 cases for the whole year were reported.

Photo Credit: Robin Roberts via NBC News
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<![CDATA[CDC Warns Against Traveling to Asia as Zika Spreads There]]> Mon, 03 Oct 2016 06:49:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/184*120/Mosquito+Illnesses+Fort+Worth.jpg

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning pregnant women to stay away from 11 Southeast Asian countries where Zika is spreading, NBC News reported.

Thailand has been included on the list, where officials on Friday reported the first confirmed cases of birth defects linked to the virus. The other countries are Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), and Vietnam.

Pregnant women should not travel to any area with a Zika travel notice and should consider postponing non-essential travel to the 11 countries in Southeast Asia listed in the newly issued considerations," the CDC advised on Thursday.

Photo Credit: Alice Barr]]>
<![CDATA[Experts Looked Inside Mylan's Upgraded EpiPen]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:34:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/epipen-julie-brown-injectors-nbc-news.jpg

With Congress trying to figure out Mylan's business model for the EpiPen, a medical technologies expert and a Seattle doctor have been physically taking apart the auto-injectors to find out exactly how the device has changed since Mylan acquired it, NBC News reported.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch testified last week that it invested more than $1 billion enhancing the product, which is one of the reason the Epipen's price has risen from $100 to $600.

After a Seattle doctor cut open EpiPens from before and after Mylan's upgrades, NBC News sent versions of the epinephrine auto-injectors to a medical technology consulting firm. Despite seeing safety and graphics upgrades, both found the devices shared a similar "core."

After NBC News sent the firm's results to Mylan, a spokesman for the drugmaker said it was "not familiar with the research referenced in your email" but contended that "anyone who has used the product knows, the epinephrine auto-injector we have in the market today is substantially different than the one we acquired."

Photo Credit: James Cheng / for NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Doctors Warn Zika Could Spread in Sweat and Tears]]> Thu, 29 Sep 2016 20:27:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_16201766112052-zika-utah-mosquito.jpg

Doctors who treated a strange case of Zika say sweat and tears may be able to transmit the virus, NBC News reports.

A team at the University of Utah School of Medicine said their case, of a man who infected his adult son with Zika before he died, leaves no other alternatives than those two routes, according to their study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The 73-year-old patient died in July, and he hadn't been very sick before he caught the virus and developed muscle aches, diarrhea and other symptoms. He became the first person in an American state to die of Zika.

Investigators spent weeks trying to figure out how his 38-year-old son, who hadn't traveled to a place where Zika spreads, got infected, eventually determining that "infectious levels of virus may have been present in sweat or tears," which the son touched without gloves during his father's illness.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Over 600K Vets May Be Uninsured in 2017]]> Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:55:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DOC_GettyImages-539738467.jpg

More than 600,000 U.S. military veterans will go without health insurance in 2017 if 19 states fail to expand their Medicaid programs, according to the Urban Institute.

The report found that many veterans fall into the “Medicaid gap” -- not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, but making too much to qualify for federal subsidies stipulated in the Affordable Care Act. Some uninsured veterans may be able to obtain VA care, but not all of them choose it or meet the eligibility requirements. 

Thirty-two states have expanded their Medicaid programs since Obamacare passed in 2010, and 20 million more Americans have health insurance than did six years ago. Many Republican-controlled states refused to do it, leaving many of their residents in what's now called the "Medicaid gap."

Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[3D-Printed Artificial Bones Could Help Heal Injuries]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 22:49:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/3d-skull-H.jpg

A new type of artificial bone shaped with a 3-D printer can repair deformed bones and help heal some spine, skull and jaw injuries, researchers say in a new report printed in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

When the bone material was tested in a monkey, the bone fused to the animal’s skull and new blood vessels grew into it, NBC News reports.

“Within four weeks, the implant had fully integrated, fully vascularized with the monkey’s own skull,” researcher Adam Jakus said. “And there is actually evidence of new bone formation.”

The hyper-elastic bone can be shaped with a 3-D printer to customize individual implants. Scientists hope to be able to test the implants in humans within the next five years.

Photo Credit: Adam E. Jakus, PhD]]>
<![CDATA[9 Out of 10 People Breathe Polluted Air: WHO]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 10:43:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_484690709547.jpg

Nine out of ten people worldwide live in areas where air pollution exceeds guidelines, the World Health Organization said. The pollution puts these people at higher risk for heart disease, strokes and cancer. 

"Air pollution continues take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations — women, children and the older adults," Flavia Bustreo, assistant director general at the WHO said in a news release, NBC News reported. 

The new WHO air quality monitor shows that 92 percent of people live in places with dirty air. Approximately three million deaths each year are linked to outdoor air pollution. About 90 percent of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Aetna to Make Apple Watch Available to Customers]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:46:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_16229419820877.jpg

Aetna announced that it will be making Apple Watches available for large employers and individual customers during open enrollment season.

The health care services company said the new initiative will revolutionize the customer's experience by, "combining the power of iOS apps and the unmatched user experience of Apple products including Apple Watch, iPhone and iPad with Aetna’s analytics-based wellness and care management programs."

Aetna said it will be the first major health care company to subsidize the cost of Apple Watches for customers by offering monthly payroll deductions. The Hartford-based company serves an estimated 45.3 million and will provide free Apple Watches to 50,000 of its employees. 

Apple will work with Aeton to create "deeply intergrated" health apps that will allow customers to manager their health, Aetna said.

“This is only the beginning - we look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days,” said Mark Bertolini, Aetna Chairman and CEO.

Aetna's new health apps will offer features, such as:

  • Care management and wellness, to help guide consumers through health events like a new diagnosis or prescription medication with user-driven support from nurses and people with similar conditions.
  • Medication adherence, to help consumers remember to take their medications, easily order refills and connect with their doctor if they need a different treatment through their Apple Watch or iPhone.
  • Integration with Apple Wallet, allowing consumers to check their deductible and pay a bill.
  • Personalized health plan on-boarding, information, messaging and decision support to help Aetna members understand and make the most of their benefits.
The solutions will be available early 2017.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[A Rare Bipartisan Agreement Reached, Briefly, on Abortion]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 18:45:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CONGRESS_GettyImages-2062515.jpg

Abortion rights advocates and opponents in Congress reached a rare bipartisan consensus at a Friday hearing: Both sides agreed on the effectiveness of a ban on federal abortion funding.

Known as the Hyde Amendment, the 40-year-old law restricting federal funding for abortions has shown to be effective in curbing the number of abortions performed, both sides agreed. For anti-abortion Republicans, the policy’s functionality proves its success. But for abortion rights supporters, it’s a sign that women are simply being denied health care, NBC News reported.

Rep. Trent Franks said the fact that abortion hasn’t become a major issue in this general election campaign is disappointing.

“The American people deserve to know where the candidates stand, in the most important election this century and in the last century,” he said. Franks presided over the House judiciary subcommittee hearing Friday morning.

Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Says More Can Be Done to Make EpiPens More Affordable]]> Thu, 22 Sep 2016 10:46:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/EPIPIC09212016.jpg

Parents whose children require EpiPens are demanding that more be done as the company’s top leaders faced tough questioning on Capitol Hill amid skyrocketing costs.

“I am definitely not happy about their response,” Jill Negro, of Wallingford, said.

Her two young sons have potentially severe allergies and require EpiPens and Negro said it feels like Mylan Pharmaceuticals is taking advantage of her family.

On Wednesday, she watched as the drug maker’s CEO defended a 400 percent jump in the price of EpiPens in the last decade.

The lifesaving drug now sells for $600 per pack.

"Recent price increases have not yielded the revenue to Mylan that many assume,” Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, said.

Bresch pointed out that most people do not directly pay the full retail price.

Negro said she’s urged to have three packs per child and they all have to be replaced every year at a total cost of around $4,000.

“They’re forcing us to make a difficult choice. Do we pay thousands of dollars we can’t afford or do we go without lifesaving medication? And obviously I’m not willing to do that,” Negro said.

Mylan’s recently introduced $300 rebate does not go far enough to fix the problem, she said and worries that offer might run out.

She thinks more competition and a change of heart might be the real solution.

“Do they really need that much of a profit? I’d like to see them lower the price across the board,” Negro said.

Her family has already dipped into its savings and retirement money to help pay for the EpiPens and worries about what to do next time.

And the family’s pharmacy now reports the price of the drug has now gone up again to more than $700 a pack.

<![CDATA[Drug-Resistant Superbugs a 'Fundamental Threat': WHO]]> Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:06:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/superbugmcr%281%29.jpg

While antibiotics were once hailed as miracle drugs, they've been abused and overused so much that they are now often powerless against fast-evolving bacteria. That bacterial evolution is far outpacing humans’ ability to research and develop new drugs effective enough to fight those infection-causing “superbugs,” NBC News reports.

"If antibiotics were telephones, we would still be calling each other using clunky rotary dials and copper lines," said Stefano Bertuzzi, CEO of the American Society for Microbiology.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the U.S. alone, more than two million people are infected by drug-resistant germs each year, and 23,000 die of their infections. Globally, the death toll from antibiotic-resistant microbes is 700,000 per year.

"Antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental threat to human health, development and security," Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the United Nations' World Health Organization, said Wednesday while opening a U.N. meeting on the problem of superbugs.

"We are running out of time," she added.

Photo Credit: Walter Reed Army Institute for Research]]>
<![CDATA[Fitness Trackers No Guarantee for Weight Loss]]> Wed, 21 Sep 2016 11:13:47 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_fitnesstrackers0920_1920x1080.jpg A new study suggests wearing a fitness tracker to tally the number of steps you take in a day doesn't necessarily mean the numbers on the scale will come down. The University of Pittsburgh recruited more than 400 overweight and obese young adults. They all went on a low-calorie diet, exercised and had counseling and support. Half were given activity monitors, worn on the upper arm, that measured energy expenditure. The theory was the devices would lead to greater weight loss. The strategy didn't work.

Photo Credit: NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Smoking Leaves DNA Damage Years After Quitting: Study]]> Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:13:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/smoking-stock-generic-73160938.jpg

Most — but not all — DNA damage from smoking fades over time, and the genetic changes occur in clear patterns, researchers reported in an American Heart Association journal Tuesday, according to NBC News.

The researchers examined 16,000 people who'd given blood samples before, and found that most damage faded by about five years after a person quit smoking. But smoking-related changes in 19 genes lasted 30 years, and may persist forever.

"Our study has found compelling evidence that smoking has a long-lasting impact on our molecular machinery, an impact that can last more than 30 years," said Roby Joehanes, of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School.

The researchers said those 19 genes could be used to see who is at risk of smoking-related diseases or as targets for drugs to treat cigarette smoke damage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Listeria Fears Spur Whole Wheat Eggo Recall]]> Tue, 20 Sep 2016 11:18:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kellogg-eggo-recall-.jpg

Kellogg is recalling about 10,000 cases of Eggo Nutri-Grain whole wheat waffles over the possibility they were contaminated with Listeria bacteria.

No illnesses have been reported in connection with the products, Kellogg said in a Monday news release, but Listeria monocytogenes can cause infections in young children and others with weakened immune systems, like the frail or elderly.

The recalled waffles can be identified by looking for UPC code 38000 40370, dated better if before used by Nov. 21 and 22, 2017.

They were distributed in the following 25 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Anyone who purchased the product can receive a full recall by calling 1-800-962-1413 or visiting https://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/contact-us.html, Kellogg said.

Photo Credit: Kellogg Company]]>