<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Health News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usMon, 16 Jan 2017 17:01:49 -0500Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:01:49 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[The Pros and Cons of Marijuana Use]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 20:05:46 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_pot0112_1500x845.jpg Marijuana use may help with chronic pain and nausea, but a new study says there are also negative consequences for young children and those at risk for certain mental illnesses. Experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reviewed all research on marijuana published since 1999 to find who should smoke and who shouldn't. ]]> <![CDATA[Ziploc Freezer Bags Help Premature Babies Stay Warm: Study]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 10:25:35 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NICU+Hypothermia+011117.jpg

For premature babies, getting the slightest chill can increase their chance of life-threatening illnesses.

Nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Texas Health Fort Worth developed a program to keep fragile babies warmer.

It has led to a decrease of very low birth weight babies being admitted to the NICU as hypothermic, and potentially increasing their chance of survival.

Premature infants with admission temperatures below 96.8 degrees are at higher risk of mortality and some morbidities, including late-onset sepsis, intraventricular hemorrhage and oxygen toxicity.

The program involves placing the most fragile premature babies, usually less than 32 weeks gestation and 3.3 pounds, into Ziploc freezer bags.

The team cuts a hole at the top of the bag and slides the baby in head first moments after birth.

"It creates kind of a hot house effect so the babies stay warm. So, as they are rolled into the NICU, their admission temperatures are normal," said Stephanie Eidson, B.S.N., clinical educator.

"It sounds so simple that people might wonder why the focus on temperature is just now being addressed, but the process was actually very involved," said Lindsey Cannon, M.S.N., R.N., NICU manager.

Cannon and Eidson put together a team consisting of Labor & Delivery and NICU nurses and leaders, physicians, respiratory therapists and Operating Room, Engineering and Housekeeping staff to work on what's been called the "Hypothermia Eradication from Admission Temperatures "H.E.A.T." study."

The study resulted in interventions like the use of preheated radiant warmers, thermal mattresses, polypropylene bags and plastic shower caps to prevent infant heat loss upon birth.

Additionally, they increased the room temperature of the delivery room from 74 to 76 degrees, using cooling vests to keep staff comfortable.

Within two years, the percentage of hypothermic infants on NICU admission decreased from 20 to 10 percent, and the percentage of infants with normal temperatures increased from 50 to 70 percent, according to the hospital system.

Christine Evans gave birth to her twins girls at 30 weeks gestation in November.

Emma weighed three pounds and her sister, Abigail, weighed two pounds, 11 ounces.

"We are lucky that I came out okay and that they came out of it OK. The outcome could have been vastly different," Evans said.

Seconds after they were born, both girls were placed into Ziploc freezer bags. Elastic bowl covers were placed on their tiny heads.

"Seeing them in Ziploc bags was very odd. I didn't expect that one," said new father, Jason Evans.

"We could have been at any other hospital and not had the same outcome. We don't know. But we were in the right place at the right time," said Christine Evans.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Asks Vaccination Skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Lead Vaccination Safety Commission]]> Tue, 10 Jan 2017 16:17:26 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/trumpKennedy.jpg

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a vocal vaccination skeptic, said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump has asked him to "chair a commission on vaccination safety and scientific integrity" and that he has accepted.

Both Trump and Kennedy have spread fringe theories linking vaccines to autism in children, an idea that medical experts overwhelmingly reject and have warned is endangering public health by discouraging parents from immunizing their kids.

Trump has tweeted previously that he knew a child who developed autism after receiving immunizations, but he did not provide evidence for that claim.

Scientists have debunked the link between vaccines and autism. But Kennedy, the son of the late U.S. attorney general, believes there is connection and has advocated for parents to be allowed to opt out of vaccinations for their children.



Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday Sweets Recall]]> Tue, 10 Jan 2017 08:46:14 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/holiday+sweets+recall.jpg

Hostess Brands and Palmer Candy Company have recalled holiday-themed sweets over concern the desserts may be contaminated with the harmful Salmonella bacteria.

Hostess Brands recalled its Holiday White Peppermint Hostess Twinkies in response to Blommer Chocolate Company’s recall of its confectionery coating, which contains milk powder ingredients recalled by Valley Milk Products. 

The milk powder ingredients recalled by Valley Milk Products were also in sweets distributed by Palmer Candy Company, which, like Hostess, issued a voluntary recall as a precaution.

Testing has shown no Salmonella in the milk confectionery coating supplied to Hostess and Palmer Candy. No illnesses have been reported.

All affected products were sold to grocery and convenience stores and other distributors nationwide.

A number of candy packages are in the Palmer Candy recall, including chocolate almond bark, Christmas tree pretzels, peanut brittle and holiday gift bowls. For more details about the recall, head to this FDA recall page.

The only Hostess product affected by the recall is the Holiday White Peppermint Hostess Twinkies. For further details about the recall, go to this FDA recall page.

Palmer Candy Company customer service can be reached at 712-258-5543.

Hostess Brands customer service can be reached at 1-800-483-7253.



Photo Credit: Handouts]]>
<![CDATA[Flu Season Hits Hard Nationwide]]> Fri, 06 Jan 2017 22:47:44 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_flu0106_1500x845.jpg Twelve states are reporting widespread flu activity as the United States slide into flu season at the start of the year. The Centers for Disease Control say flu activity is higher this season compared to last year. ]]> <![CDATA[Cancer Deaths Fell 25 Percent Since 1991]]> Fri, 06 Jan 2017 07:47:18 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-495314721-doctor.jpg

Fewer Americans are dying of cancer. The latest numbers from the American Cancer Society show a 25 percent drop in cancer deaths since 1991, the peak year for cancer deaths, NBC News reported.

Cancer rates are holding fairly steady, but better screening and better treatments mean that people who get cancer are living longer, the American Cancer Society says in its annual report. And as fewer and fewer people smoke, cancer death rates follow.

It projects that nearly 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and 600,000 will die of it. 

"The continuing drops in the cancer death rate are a powerful sign of the potential we have to reduce cancer's deadly toll," said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the group.



Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Best Diet to Fight Brain Shrinkage]]> Wed, 04 Jan 2017 17:28:07 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_diets0104_1500x845.jpg What are the best diets to help prevent brain shrinkage? A new study shows specific diets that may help fight brain volume loss as we age, NBC News reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Investigation Into Baby Exposed to Fentanyl]]> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 19:36:11 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Methuenhome.JPG

Police are investigating why a 10-month-old baby stopped breathing twice after being exposed to the opioid fentanyl in Methuen, Massachusetts.

There was drug paraphenalia found in the baby's mother's car, according to police.

Methuen police said they were called to a Treetop Way residence at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday for a report of a baby who was not breathing. 

Upon arrival, emergency personnel immediately began treating the child before transporting her to Lawrence General Hospital, where she stopped breathing twice and had to be revived by hospital staff. The child was later flown to Tufts Medical Center in Boston via MedFlight helicopter and has since been released from the hospital. 

Hospital tests indicated that the baby had fentanyl in her system. The type of drug and amount ingested has not been released. 

The baby lives with her mother and grandparents in Methuen, according to Michael Quinn, an attorney and family friend. 

“There are a lot of questions and they have no answers,” Quinn said. 

Quinn says the mother found the baby unresponsive Saturday after a nap and the grandfather started CPR. 

The baby’s mother has struggled with drugs, but has been clean for several months, according to Quinn. 

“She has no idea how this happened, even before she delivered the baby she was in a program and she has been drug free ever since and that hasn’t changed, she has had negative drug tests the whole time, there hasn’t been anything,” Quinn said. “They are still cooperating with police and whoever wants to talk about it and whatever the investigation shows, they’d like answers as well.” 

"It's disconcerting," Methuen Police Lt. Michael Pappalardo said. "It's heartbreaking, to say the least. It's a 10-month-old baby. It's very difficult to deal with a young child that has become a victim." 

"The opioid epidemic knows no boundaries," added Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni. "We must continue to be vigilant in ensuring that children do not have access to harmful substances and to do everything we can to fight the disease of addiction." 

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid medication that is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. It is often mixed with or substituted for heroin. 

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said his department's focus now is to determine where the drug came from and how it wound up in the baby's system. 

No arrests have been made, but police said charges are still possible.  

The Department of Children and Families is investigating in collaboration with Methuen Police, Massachusetts State Police and the Essex County District Attorney's Office. 

The baby is now in the custody of an aunt. A DCF hearing is scheduled to be held on Tuesday.



Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Prosecutor in Pa. Tackles Heroin Scourge That Claimed Son]]> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 06:33:41 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bruce17.jpg

The phone at Bruce Brandler's home rang at 3:37 a.m. It was the local hospital. His 16-year-old son was there, and he was in really bad shape.

A suspected heroin overdose, the nurse said.

Brandler didn't believe it. Erik had his problems, but heroin? It seemed impossible.

Nearly 10 years later, the nation is gripped by a spiraling crisis of opioid and heroin abuse — and Brandler, a veteran federal prosecutor recently promoted to interim U.S. attorney, suddenly finds himself in a position to do something about the scourge that claimed his youngest son's life.

Until now, he has never publicly discussed Erik's overdose death. It was private and just too painful. But Brandler, now the chief federal law enforcement officer for a sprawling judicial district that covers half of Pennsylvania, said he felt a responsibility that came with his new, higher-profile job.

"It's easier to cope with the passage of time, but it never goes away," Brandler told The Associated Press in an interview. "And, frankly, this whole heroin epidemic has brought it to the forefront."

Deadly heroin overdoses have more than quintupled in the years since Brandler lost his son. The illicit drug, along with highly addictive prescription pain relievers like oxycodone and fentanyl — a substance more powerful than heroin — now rival car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.

Erik's death proved that heroin doesn't discriminate, Brandler said. He urged parents to "open their eyes" to the threat and talk to their kids.

"I want to evaporate the myth that heroin addicts are just homeless derelicts," said Brandler, who, before his son's overdose, held that impression himself. "This epidemic hits everybody, and I think my situation exemplifies that."

The opioid crisis was already taking root when Brandler began having problems with Erik, the youngest of his three children. The teenager's grades dropped, his friends changed and he began keeping irregular hours. Brandler found marijuana in his room and talked to him about it, figuring that was the extent of his drug use.

Then, in spring 2007, Erik overdosed on Ecstasy and had to be treated at a hospital.

"That elevated it to a different level as far as I was concerned, a much more serious level, and I took what I thought were appropriate steps," Brandler said.

He called the police on his son's dealer, who was prosecuted. That summer, Erik completed an intensive treatment program that included frequent drug testing. Brandler thought his son had turned a corner.

He was mistaken.

On the night of Aug. 18, 2007, Erik and an older friend paid $60 for three bags of heroin. After shooting up, Erik passed out. His breathing became labored, his lips pale. But his companions didn't seek medical treatment, not then and not for hours. Finally, around 3 a.m., they dropped him off at the hospital.

At 5:40 a.m., he was pronounced dead.

Five people were charged criminally, including Erik's friend, who received more than five years in prison.

Brandler still doesn't know why his son, who excelled at tennis, went to a good school and had loads of friends, turned to heroin.

"I thought about that, of course, but it's really a waste of energy and emotions to go down that road because I'll never know the answer," Brandler said from his office near the Pennsylvania Capitol, where a framed photo of Erik — strapping, shaggy-haired and swinging a tennis racket — sits on a credenza.

What he can do is join his fellow prosecutors in tackling the problem.

In September, the Justice Department ordered all 93 U.S. attorneys across the country to come up with a strategy for combating overdose deaths from heroin and painkillers. Brandler released his plan, covering 3.2 million people in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, last month. Like others, it focuses on prevention, enforcement and treatment.

He said his office will prioritize opioid cases resulting in death, and aggressively prosecute doctors who overprescribe pain pills.

Additionally, prosecutors will hit the road — bringing physicians, recovering addicts, family members of overdose victims and others with them — to talk to schools and hard-hit communities.

Parents need to know that "if you think it can't happen to you, it can," Brandler said. "If it happened to me as a federal prosecutor, I think it can happen to anyone, and that's really the message I want to get out."

Federal appeals Judge Thomas Vanaskie said it's a message that needs to be heard.

"Education is the most important thing to me," said Vanaskie, who helps run a court program that gets federal convicts back on their feet and who has been working with a former heroin addict who robbed a bank to feed his addiction. "We've got to prevent people from becoming users."

Vanaskie, who has known Brandler for years, commended him for speaking out.

"Hearing it from him becomes so much more powerful," Vanaskie said. "I know it causes great personal pain on his part, but he personalizes, humanizes this matter."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Twins Born in Different Years]]> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 11:34:51 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Sanchez+Twins.jpg

An Arlington family celebrated the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 in an unusual way, with the birth of twin boys in two different years.

Medical City Arlington says Cassandra Martinez was due to deliver her third and fourth babies on Jan. 20, but they came early.

J'aiden Alexander Sanchez was the first to arrive at 11:46 p.m. on Dec. 31 while Jordan Xavier Sanchez arrived at 12:12 a.m. on New Year's Day, making him the first baby born at Medical City Arlington in 2017.

"I definitely was not expecting to spend the holiday in the hospital, but I am glad they're here and healthy," said Cassandra Martinez, the twins' mother.

In addition to having different birthdays, the Sanchez twins are the third set of twins of this generation in their father's family.

The hospital says twin brothers born on different days in different years, may be as rare as a one-in-a-million occurrence, according to some estimates.



Photo Credit: Medical City Arlington]]>
<![CDATA[Single Shot From Doctor May Be Future of HIV Prevention]]> Thu, 29 Dec 2016 00:34:23 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/200429890-001.jpg

The Truvada pill is taken daily to prevent HIV and has been touted as a miracle drug responsible for lowering rates of the virus across the United States. But soon, the daily pill may be overshadowed by an even simpler method — a single flu shot-like injection at the doctor's office, once every two months, NBC News reported. 

The National Institutes of Health announced last week that it was entering the first-ever global clinical trial of an injectable HIV-prevention drug called cabotegravir. The trial is taking place in eight countries across three world regions — the Americas, Africa and Asia — and researchers are enrolling 4,500 gay and bisexual men along with transgender women, pulling from groups with the highest rates of new infections.

"The annual number of new HIV infections among young people, especially young men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men, has been on the rise despite nearly flat HIV incidence among adults worldwide," said Raphael J. Landovitz, the protocol chair for the study. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Catching Up With the Boy Who Had a Double Hand Transplant]]> Thu, 22 Dec 2016 06:52:21 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/handAP_16236722740436.jpg

Just two years ago, Zion Harvey thought he'd never throw a baseball again. 

The young boy had lost both his hands and legs after suffering an infection when he was a toddler. Today, a year and a half after he became the world's first child to have a double hand transplant, he says he's a new person.

NBC News has followed Zion's story each step of the way from his surgery to recovery. All the grueling therapy has paid off, his mother Pattie told NBC News. 

It has been a whirlwind year in the spotlight for 9-year-old Zion. Support has poured in from all corners.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Female Doctors Outperform Male Counterparts: Study]]> Mon, 19 Dec 2016 15:38:21 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-125767555-Doctor-needle.jpg

Patients treated by women doctors are less likely to die of what ails them and less likely to have to return for more treatment, researchers reported Monday.

Yet, as NBC News reports, women doctors on average are paid less than their male counterparts and are less likely to be promoted. According to one study, white male doctors were found to earn an average $250,000 a year, while white female doctors earned an average $163,000 a year.

The researchers said that if all doctors performed as well as the female physicians included in their study, it would save 32,000 lives every year.



Photo Credit: Joe Raedle, Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Engineered Pink Pineapple Safe to Sell: FDA]]> Thu, 15 Dec 2016 06:31:47 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-503869977.jpg

A strain of pineapple genetically engineered to be pink instead of yellow got the go-ahead from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, NBC News reported. 

The pink pineapple, made by Del Monte Fresh Produce, simply has some genes toned down to keep the flesh of the fruit pinker and sweeter, the FDA said. 

"(Del Monte's) new pineapple has been genetically engineered to produce lower levels of the enzymes already in conventional pineapple that convert the pink pigment lycopene to the yellow pigment beta carotene. Lycopene is the pigment that makes tomatoes red and watermelons pink, so it is commonly and safely consumed."

The pineapple will be grown in Costa Rica. The company will label it "extra sweet pink flesh pineapple."



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Chocolate Chip Cookies Sent to 8 States Recalled]]> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 08:47:23 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/chocolate-chip-cookie.jpg

A New York-based, family-owned business is recalling its chocolate chip cookies because they contain milk, which isn't declared on the list of ingredients and can cause serious or life-threatening reactions in people allergic to it. 

Linden Cookies, Inc., says the affected cookies, which include 2 oz. and 1.1 oz Mini Chocolate Chippers along with 1.75 oz three large chocolate chip pack — with sell by dates of Feb 8, 2017, through March 28, 2017, and Dec. 14, 2016, through Feb. 1, 2017 — were distributed to wholesalers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Massachusetts. 

The company, doing business in New York for 75 years, says it has not received any confirmed reports of illness to date and implemented the recall out of an abundance of caution. 

Consumers who purchased the recalled cookies are asked to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions can call Lindens at 845-268-5050 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.



Photo Credit: Gracinda Carvalho / NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Where You Live Determines What Kills You]]> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 11:08:58 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-515791525.jpg

A new analysis by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows a county-by-county breakdown of what kills people in the U.S., NBC News reported.

Drug overdoses shot up 1,000 percent since 1980 in counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, western Pennsylvania and east-central Missouri. Diabetes-related deaths are more prevalent in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Suicides and homicides were most prevalent in the western states.

Meanwhile, heart disease, is particularly high in the southeast of the United States, blamed on poor diet, a lack of exercise and less access to good medical care. 

"We found huge variation in all the leading causes of death," said Dr. Christopher Murray at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Seattle.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Ikon Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fewer Teens Drink or Use Illegal Drugs Now]]> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 06:51:35 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-AB68607.jpg

Fewer American teenagers are using illegal drugs or drinking alcohol, researchers said. 

Rates are at a record low for eighth-graders, the team at the University of Michigan and the National Institutes of Health found, but there's a troubling increase in marijuana use among older teens in some states, NBC News reported.

The survey of 45,473 students in eighth, 10th and 12th grade at 372 public and private schools found 48 percent of 12th graders admit to having used a drug illegally in the past year, compared to 49 percent in 2015 and 54 percent in 2000. 

About a third of 10th graders have used any illicit drug and 17 percent of eighth graders have.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Clinical Lab Hack Exposes Personal Health Info of 34,000]]> Tue, 13 Dec 2016 07:34:47 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Quest+Diagnostics_21789268.jpg

Clinical laboratory services company Quest Diagnostics announced Monday that it is investigating a third-party hack into an internet application on its network. 

The Madison, New Jersey-based Fortune 500 healthcare company said in a press release that on Nov. 26, an unauthorized third party accessed the MyQuest by Care 360 internet application and obtained health information of about 34,000 patients.

In its statement, the company said the data accessed by the third party "included names, dates of birth, lab results and, in some instances, phone numbers."

None of the compromised information included Social Security numbers, credit card, insurance or other financial information, Quest says. The company says it immediately addressed the hack when it was discovered and has notified all affected individuals.

There is an investigation underway, and the company says it is working with a cybersecurity firm to determine the source and cause of the breach.

Anyone with questions on the incident can call Quest Diagnostics at (888) 320-9970 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

]]>
<![CDATA[97-Year-Old Still Running Strong]]> Tue, 13 Dec 2016 10:14:35 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_97yo1212_1920x1080.jpg World War II veteran Albert Booth is still running marathons at age 97 and has no plans of slowing down.

Photo Credit: WGAL-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Murray, President Obama Talk Cubs, Sox at White House]]> Tue, 13 Dec 2016 06:49:43 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/murray+obama.png

A Cubs fan and a Sox fan walk into the Oval Office… to talk about health care?

That’s the theme of a new video tweeted out by the White House Sunday featuring President Barack Obama and Bill Murray.

The video is aimed at reminding Americans that they can sign up for health care for 2017 until Dec. 15. But it also undoubtedly features a little Cubs-Sox fan rivalry.

“Generally, I don’t let Cubs fans into the Oval Office,” Obama says at the beginning of the clip.

But, in typical Murray style, the Cubs fan, decked out in his beloved team’s gear, is quick to respond.

“It’s probably not a coincidence that your popularity is at an all-time high,” Murray says. “So I would just stick with this if I were you. I would just ride this baby.”

He then turns his arm and begins pointing at the Cubs logo stitched on the side of his sweater.

“It’s not going to happen,” Obama replies.

The conversation takes place as the two play a friendly putting game in the office, trying to hit a golf ball into a glass on the ground.

“It’s going to happen long before you make this putt,” Murray says before calmly hitting the ball right into the cup.

Obama, however, struggles to make it.

At one point, Murray bends down to pick up the ball, revealing that he is having knee problems, but he has no health insurance.

“Well, look Bill, you don’t have to go without health insurance because these days days, because of the Affordable Care Act, anybody can get health insurance, and it doesn’t matter if you already have something wrong with you because insurance companies have to take you even if you have a pre-existing condition,” Obama says.

Murray then asks if mental health is covered too and Obama confirms it is.

“Remember to go to healthcare.gov, shop for health care between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15 if you want healthcare by January 2017,” Obama says.

It’s not the first time Murray has brought his Cubs fandom to the White House.

In October, the celebrity fan crashed a White House press briefing to announce that he believed the Cubs would win the World Series. And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.



Photo Credit: White House/Twitter
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<![CDATA[Conjoined Twins Separated After 17-Hour Surgery in California]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:47:57 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/EvaErika.jpg

Erika and Eva Sandoval will be able to share the uncanny connection twins are said to have, but a grueling 17-hour surgery has ensured that they can soon do that safely.

The 2-year-old twins from Antelope, California, were born conjoined, but as of Wednesday were separated by surgeons at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. The surgery began on Tuesday and lasted through early Wednesday, hospital officials said.

The girls are in stable condition, hospital officials said Thursday, although they remain in the intensive care unit. 

Erika and Eva's mother, Aida Sandoval, was overcome with emotion as she spoke to reporters Thursday afternoon. In Spanish, she said that her first words upon seeing the girls emerge from their respective operating rooms were, "You're missing your other part, my daughter. Where is your sister?"

"It still seems very surreal when I see one on one side and the other one on the other side," Aida Sandoval said. "But it brings us all joy to see them, that it happened, that it was a dream come true for everybody." 

Dr. Gary Hartman, a pediatric surgeon who led the medical team that performed the lengthy, complicated procedure, recalled meeting the girls' parents, Aida and Arturo Sandoval in 2014. They had just learned that their twins were conjoined and were experiencing "multiple anomalies," he said.

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"From that moment forward, the goal of the family and of all of the providers here at Packard has been the same goal that we have for all of our children — and that is that we end up with two happy, healthy girls," Hartman said. 

Anyone who met Eva and Erika Sandoval prior to Tuesday's surgery "can testify to the happy part. That is entirely the fault of the Sandovals," he quipped.

"We think that this week we made a big step toward the healthy part," Hartman explained.

Aida Sandoval's pregnancy was overseen by Lucile Packard's perinatal center. She was 32 weeks along when the girls were born via emergency C-section, according to Hartman.

Eva and Erika have spent the first two years of their lives closely monitored by Stanford doctors and others closer to the Sandovals' home in Antelope. 

"They were basically joined at the pericardium – which is the sac that covers the heart – joined at the sternum, joined at the liver, they shared parts of the ... small and large bowel, and they shared most of the pelvic organs," said pediatric surgeon Dr. Matias Bruzoni. "So for us it was a big challenge, but little by little and with the help of a lot of people … we were able to, from the top down, finally separate them."

[[405497506, C]]

On Tuesday, too, Eva and Erika's surgery depended on about 50 experts in pediatric surgery, orthopedics and anesthesiology as well as plastic surgeons, radiologists, urologists, and more.  

Bruzoni said that once the girls were separated, the medical team split into two groups for Eva and Erika's reconstruction phases, which lasted longer than the separation.

"Everyone is very focused on the separation and all the questions are about the separation," Hartman said. But it "doesn’t matter if you get them separated, if you can't get them reconstructed and get them closed."

Hartman admitted that he was extremely concerned about Erika, the smaller twin. "She basically kept getting smaller. The more calories we gave her, the bigger Eva got," he said.

Doctors were worried about her ability to make it through the "stress of the surgery," but Hartman said the girls were reconstructed so well that Erika has already been taken off the ventilator and is recovering faster than Eva.

Hartman joked that he took it upon himself to add levity to the complex surgery.

"I wanted each girl to have half of [their] belly button so for the rest of their life they can look at that half a belly button and think, 'That was where I was connected to my sister,'" he said. "So that's the goofy thing."

The Sandovals knew, going into Tuesday, that Erika and Eva faced an estimated risk of mortality of up to 30 percent, Hartman said  

But Aida and Arturo Sandoval stuck by their decision. 

"Once you see them, you know their personalities are different," Arturo Sandoval said. "They [got to] have their own lives."

To that, Aida Sandoval added that it was difficult to watch one child feel sick and seek rest and sleep while the other was healthy, happy and wanted to play. She recalled one of the girls experiencing pain when plastic surgeons used tissue expanders to stretch their skin, but her sister simply wanted to "crab walk."

Expressing gratitude to the doctors at Stanford for supporting them, Aida Sandoval said that she had heard "how peaceful it was" in the operating rooms during Eva and Erika's separation and reconstruction.

Now, however, the girls' mother is excited to get "more gray hair."

"They always say, 'When you have twins, you're going to go crazy because one's over here, the other's over there," Aida Sandoval said. "I want to go chasing after one that way and then go chasing after the other. That’s something I do look forward to doing."



Photo Credit: David Hodges / DNK Digital]]>
<![CDATA[Grooming Linked to Increased Risk of STIs: Study]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:46:23 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/disposablerazorfeuerherd.jpg

Grooming pubic hair may be linked to an increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, according to a new study.

The study, published in the Sexually Transmitted Infections journal, surveyed 7,580 people between the ages of 18 and 65. The researches asked the participants whether they trimmed or shaved their pubic hair; how often they did so and what tools they used. Researches also asked the participants how many sexual partners they've had and whether they've had a sexually transmitted infection. 

The results showed that participants who trimmed or shaved their pubic hair had a higher rate of contracting an STI, but did not prove a direct correlation between the two.  

Participants who regularly groomed their pubic hair were 80 percent more likely to report contracting an STI than those who never groomed, according to the study. 

The researchers note small tears in the skin created during grooming could allow STI-causing bacteria to infect someone who shaves their private parts. 

But the correlation could also be accounted for if the people who groom tend to have more sexual partners, thus putting them at greater risk of contracting an STI.

The study had other limitations, like not asking participants if they used condoms during sex, Debby Herbenick, an associate professor at Indiana University Bloomington, told Live Science. 



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Biden Emotional at Cancer Funding Bill Partly Named for Son]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 06:34:15 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_16341007670452.jpg

A bipartisan bill to speed government drug approvals and bolster biomedical research cleared its last procedural hurdle in the Senate on Monday in an emotional moment for outgoing Vice President Joe Biden, NBC News reported. 

The overwhelming 85-13 vote put the measure on track for final legislative approval by the Senate as early as Tuesday. President Barack Obama has promised to sign the measure, one of the last for the president and the 114th Congress, whose leaders hope to adjourn by week's end after a two-year session that has seen them clash frequently with the president. 

The bill envisions providing $6.3 billion over the next decade, including $1.8 billion for cancer research. Obama had placed Biden in charge of a "moonshot" to find ways to cure and treat the disease, which killed his son Beau, 46, last year. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sought approval for renaming a portion of the bill after Beau Biden. The Senate agreed, and lawmakers of both parties applauded and lined up to share quiet words and pats on the shoulder with the vice president, who sat teary-eyed in the presiding officer's chair of the chamber where he served as senator for 36 years. A clerk handed Biden a tissue.



Photo Credit: Senate TV via AP]]>