ABC - Health News

(U.S. Navy) PFAS-free firefighting foam was tested in late October at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C.(WASHINGTON) -- Testing is still at a small scale, but U.S. Navy researchers are encouraged by their work to develop new firefighting foams that do not contain the "forever chemicals" known as PFAS, that at high levels have been linked to increased health risks, including cancer.

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl, is known as a "forever chemical" because it never degrades and will remain in the soil permanently.

While found in a variety of household products and non-stick surfaces, PFAS compounds are found in large concentrations in the firefighting foams first developed by the U.S. military more than 50 years ago to put out jet-fuel fires at military bases and aboard warships.

Over time, the PFAS in the foam enters the groundwater surrounding some military bases, which affects drinking water.

The Pentagon has made tackling the risks of PFAS contamination at military bases and surrounding communities a top priority.

Part of that effort includes developing a firefighting foam that is PFAS-free but maintains the ability to put out jet fuel fires quickly.

"We have two goals. One is to eliminate PFAS, so we're working with completely fluorine-free materials" Dr. Ramagopal Ananth, a Navy Research Laboratory chemical engineer and principal investigator, told ABC News. The other goal is to "provide the same level of protection to the warfighter."

For the past two years, Ananth and other researchers have been working with silicon as a potential replacement for PFAS in the foams.

"We believe that there are certain aspects of silicon that behave like fluorine, but maybe reduce the toxicity or eliminate it," Ananth said. "And we can maybe get the same results."

The silicon is not only bio-degradable but is also "cannot make any PFAS at all," according to Ananth.

Current foams, known formally as AAAF aqueous film-forming foams, work by covering a burning liquid's film layer preventing fuel vapors from continuing to fuel the fire.

"The foam layer is the key part that we want to mimic," Ananth said.

"Past efforts have really focused on the film-forming aspect of AAAF," Katherine Hinnant, an NRL chemical engineer, told ABC News. "We think that the foam plays a bigger role in this process. So we're choosing to focus on the foam layer and not just the film layer."

"We're very excited to work with different molecules and make different molecules that might incorporate silicon," Hinnant said.

Promising results of the new foam in the test lab led to a larger test in late October at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C.

In that test, a six-foot-wide pool of fuel was set ablaze so a trained firefighter could spray the new foam to see whether it could extinguish the fire.

Video of that test showed that the fires were extinguished completely, though at various timeframes.

Researchers have partnered with universities to study if there are any long-term environmental or health impacts from the use of silicon in the new foams.

Other researchers with military services and commercial partners are also working on other alternatives to PFAS in the firefighting foams.

For now, Navy researchers are encouraged by their results, but they acknowledge a lot more work remains.

"We don't want to be forced into finding an alternative that might be bad for the environment," Hinnant said. "So at this time, we're really just doing the basic research that needs to be done to ensure that the molecules that we're putting out, the things that we say are going to benefit the warfighter are really things that we have data to back up."



"It takes time, but we're very encouraged by it and know that the work that we're doing is really important," she added.

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Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration announced a plan Friday that would require hospitals to disclose negotiated rates with insurance companies in an effort to increase transparency for consumers.

"This will have a tremendous impact on prices," President Donald Trump said Friday.

Under the final rule, hospitals also would be required to publicly show the cost and description of a specific item or service online in an "easily accessible" way.

"Our goal was to give patients the knowledge they need about the real price of health care services. They’ll be able to check them, compare them, go to different locations so they can shop for the highest quality care at the lowest cost," Trump said.

The policy put forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, "will require hospitals to provide patients with clear, accessible information about their ‘standard charges’ for the items and services they provide, including through the use of standardized data elements, making it easier to shop and compare across hospitals, as well as mitigating surprises," HHS said in its announcement.

The rule is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, according to HHS, so hospitals have time to comply with the new policies. And if hospitals fail to comply, they could ultimately face fines.

"President Trump has promised American patients 'A ' healthcare transparency, but right now our system probably deserves an F on transparency," Alex Azar, Health and Human Services secretary, said in a statement.

Calling the policy "revolutionary" for the healthcare system, Azar also said Friday’s announcement "may be a more significant change to American healthcare markets than any other single thing we've done, by shining light on the costs of our shadowy system and finally putting the American patient in control."

The administration also announced a proposed rule on Friday that "would require most employer-based group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group and individual coverage to disclose price and cost-sharing information to participants, beneficiaries and enrollees upfront."

HHS said this proposed rule would allow consumers to compare prices by offering "real-time, personalized access to cost-sharing information."

Additionally, as part of the proposed rule, health care plans would be required to put the "negotiated rates for in-network providers and allowed amounts paid for out-of-network providers" on a public website.

However, opponents of the rules argue they could confuse consumers and ultimately drive up costs.

"Unfortunately, the rules the administration released today will not help consumers better understand what health services will cost them and may not advance the broader goal of lowering health care costs," said Blue Cross Blue Shield Association President and CEO Scott Serota.

Serota added in his statement that "clinicians and medical facilities could see in the negotiated payments a roadmap to bidding up prices rather than lowering rates."

The Trump administration previously pushed to increase transparency in the healthcare industry – in May when HHS also announced that drug makers would be required to disclose their list prices in television advertisements.

"Under the status quo, healthcare prices are about as clear as mud to patients," said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma in a statement.

She later added: "This final rule and the proposed rule will bring forward the transparency we need to finally begin reducing the overall healthcare costs. Today's rules usher in a new era that upends the status quo to empower patients and put them first."

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Dawn Massabni(NEW YORK) -- It was late March in 2017 when Madalyn Massabni flew home from college to spend her 19th birthday with her mother.

Dawn Massabni, a mom of two from Rumson, New Jersey, said she was looking forward to celebrating with Maddy, whose smile could light up a room.

At the time, Maddy was studying fashion at Lynn University in Florida and had dreams of working backstage at runway shows.

"She dressed how she wanted and didn't fear judgement. She did a little modeling and she loved it," Massabni told ABC News' Good Morning America. "She was on the cover of a magazine. And her favorite thing to do was be at the beach -- even in the winter, she'd bundle up.

"She had this contagious laugh, so when she walked in, people would say, 'Oh, Maddy is here,'" Massabni said.

'I miss hearing, "I love you, Mommy"'

On March 27, Maddy's birthday, she and her mother went out to dinner. Massabni said Maddy wasn't feeling well when the two got home. Maddy got sick, but rested in hopes she'd improve.

"I said, 'We'll go to the doctor first thing in the morning,'" Massabni recalled. "The next morning she could hardly respond to me and she couldn't speak. I don't even know if she knew who I was and I called 911 right away."

Massabni said first responders arrived to her home, but at that point, Maddy had experienced a seizure.

"I was holding her and she looked at me and closed her eyes ... I was yelling, 'I love you so much. Please don't leave me,'" Massabni said. "She had a heart attack in my arms and stopped breathing."

Maddy was brought to the hospital, and doctors tried to revive her. The following day, the teen's health took a turn for the worst. Her family made the decision to take off ventilators, and she died on March 30, three days after her 19th birthday.

A tearful Massabni said life hasn't been the same for her and her son, Georgie, since losing Maddy.

"The three of us were very close, extremely close. She would talk to Georgie several times a day. They did everything together," Massabni said. "He had to say goodbye to his sister. I don't know how he graduated, but he did. He went on to grad school and when I asked him, 'Why?' He said, 'I want to make Maddy proud.'"

"It's been torture and hell since the day she left me," she added. "I miss her so much. I miss hearing, 'I love you, Mommy.'"

Maddy had her period over the course of her sudden illness and was using tampons. Her official cause of death was Toxic Shock Syndrome, Massabni said.

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare but serious illness caused by some types of staphylococcus bacteria. Not all TSS cases are linked to tampons, but women who use them are at greater risk. Women who are not menstruating, men and children also may contract TSS due to infections associated with skin or surgical wounds, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told GMA that leaving a tampon in your vagina for too long is a risk factor linked to TSS. In some cases, TSS can result in the amputations of fingers or toes or limbs, or even death.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cases of menstrual and non-menstrual TSS are estimated to be around 0.8 to 3.4 per 100,000 people in the United States. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

"While the mortality rates have decreased over the past two decades, they still vary from 1.8 [to] 12%," the NCBI states on its website. "For those patients who are misdiagnosed or the treatment is delayed, the mortality can exceed 50%. For this reason, healthcare workers should be aware of the disorder and even if they do not manage it, should be able to make a prompt referral."

The ACOG recommends that women should change tampons every four to eight hours.

Dr. Jacques Moritz, medical director of Tia Women's Health Clinic in New York, told GMA that it's also important for women to learn early signs and symptoms of TSS to recognize it as soon as possible.

"The culprit seems to be these super absorbent tampons and it seems to be time-related, meaning the longer it’s in, the more of a chance it happens," said Moritz, adding that there aren't enough reliable studies on TSS in association with tampons. "Bacteria causes it. [If] super absorbent ones are going to stay in longer, the longer you can forget that it is in. And if you don't have leak-throughs, women could forget."

Here are potential symptoms of TSS, according to Moritz and to the ACOG:

• Low blood pressure
• Fever
• A rash on the palms, soles or any place on the body that looks like a sunburn
• Body aches
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Confusion

'It's a horrible death that can be prevented'

Since Maddy's death, Massabni has made it her mission to educate women and girls on TSS and safe tampon use by speaking at schools and universities.

Her 501C3 foundation, Don't Shock Me, was created in honor of Maddy to spread awareness on the infection.

On Nov. 14, Massabni had a meeting with the Food and Drug Administration, to discuss potentially new regulations for tampon manufacturers.

Currently, the FDA's code of federal regulations on user labeling for menstrual tampons states that if TSS risks, warning signs and information on when to seek medical attention is "included in the package insert," then the following alert should appear legibly on the package label:

"Attention: Tampons are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome. TSS is a rare but serious disease that may cause death. Read and save the enclosed information."

Massabni's asking the FDA to include a bigger, bolder warning on every box, along with signs and symptoms of TSS on the inside flap -- not just on the paper insert, which girls probably are tossing in the trash, she said.

"There are [bold] warnings for things like cigarettes, alcohol and drugs -- we want tampons to have those same type of warnings," Massabni said. "It's a horrible death that can be prevented. Families don't recover from this. I want her back."

While there are no specific guidelines, Moritz agrees the following could help prevent TSS while using tampons:

1. Use tampons with lower absorbency
2. When your flow is heavier, change your tampon more often
3. Alternate with menstrual pads
4. Never be ashamed to go to your doctor, emergency room or urgent care center if you're experiencing symptoms, or forgot to remove your tampon, Moritz said.

Massabni is also fighting to have "Maddy's Law" passed in her county, which would mandate students in fifth grade, and higher grades, have information sessions on TSS. She's asking for anyone who's experienced TSS to reach out on dontshockme.org or via email at dontshockme19@aol.com.

"I know Maddy would be really grateful for lives saved," Massabni said. "If she had made it through this, she would've been doing exactly what I'm doing."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Apple(NEW YORK) -- We all want to live healthy lifestyles, and many of us follow along with the latest medical research.

Getting large amounts of people to join research studies, however, can be a different story.

“Clinical trials testing new medications are usually not difficult to enroll and people are generally willing to travel to the researcher’s office multiple times in order to participate,” Dr. David Bernstein, vice chair of medicine for clinical trials at Northwell Health in Manhasset, N.Y., told ABC News.

The types of long-term trials meant to look at large amounts of people, though, “offer no perceived immediate benefit to the participant (and) are more difficult to enroll and potential subjects are less likely make frequent visits to a researcher’s office,” he added.

But what if joining a research study were as easy as downloading an app on your phone? That’s what Apple is doing Thursday with the launch of the Research app, a free application for iPhone and Apple Watch through which users can enroll in large-scale research studies addressing a variety of health topics including women’s health, heart and movement, and hearing.

In an interview with ABC News last week in New York City, Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, told Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief medical correspondent, “If you can take away the friction people will participate. What we are doing is making this a really simple process.”

Bernstein, who is not working with Apple on this launch, says the ability to sign up for studies and participate remotely is a big deal.

“More people will be able to participate and data can be collected 24/7, which will make the conclusions more real," he said.

Anyone with an iPhone in the United States can join these studies by downloading the Research app and consenting to participate. To sign up for the heart and movement study, you also need to own an Apple Watch.

The process is more cumbersome than a typical click of the “I agree” that many of us have become used to. Apple says it wants people to know what they are signing up for, and the research institutions have specific language and agreement protocols to make sure the data is compatible with previous and future research.

Data collected through these studies will be used, not only to generate new knowledge on important health topics, but also to learn more about how people use their iPhones and Apple Watches.

“We want to make sure when we develop technology that we understand how individuals and customers use it, as well as how does the medical community use it,” Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple's vice president of health, told ABC News.

Apple’s launch of the Research app coincides with the publication of results from the Apple Heart Study conducted by Stanford Medicine, supported by Apple, and now published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The Apple Heart Study was the company’s first foray into using its wearable technology for the purpose of large-scale health research, and it hoped to prove that the watch could work to help people.

More than 400,000 voluntarily sign-up over an eight-month period.

The study investigated the ability of the Apple Watch to detect atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that can cause stroke -- and if not treated could lead to death. By the end of the study, about 0.5 percent of participants received an irregular heart rhythm notification; they were all asked to wear an ECG patch to corroborate the findings on the Apple Watch.

Among those who wore and returned the patch, 34 percent were found to have atrial fibrillation. The watch was found to be about 84% accurate at identifying irregular heartbeat.

It’s now a standard feature on the Apple Watch and many people have reported receiving the alert, going to the doctor for confirmation, and getting potentially lifesaving medical treatment.

Dr. Mintu Turakhia, a cardiologist at Stanford University and one of the lead authors on the Apple Heart Study, says: “We’re excited because this lays the foundation for more research in wearable technologies and generates a new way to do clinical research that engages more patients and people.”

As numerous large technology companies, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft move into the healthcare space, the advantages of using smart devices to conduct research are clear. Recruiting and enrolling participants through these devices may generate studies with massive sample sizes that are able to detect small differences between groups.

They may engage populations in clinical research that are traditionally left out of health studies, including women and minorities. It also afford the opportunity for monitoring of certain health indicators on a daily basis.

This can be a big advantage to patients and physicians alike.

One of the studies available to enroll in starting Thursday is the Apple Women’s Health Study, which is being conducted in partnership with the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The purpose of this study is to examine women’s menstrual cycles and their relationship to several health conditions.

“The medical research for women has been an area that has been completely under-served. And it's only very recently that we have equal parity in research studies of women,” says Desai. “So we're really focused on areas -- that we can provide the information to users so they can be more proactive and engage earlier on with a physician.”

Bernstein, meanwhile, says Apple's approach will lead to a "greater variety of data."

"This method of data collection also eliminates the recurring issues of data collection which is dependent upon subjects showing up in a researcher’s office and completing surveys and questionnaires based upon recollection,” he said.

However, there are limitations to this approach to data collection as well. People who own smartphones and smart watches may be wealthier, younger and healthier than the average American.

This was demonstrated to some extent in the Apple Heart Study, in which only 5.9% of the sample was over the age of 65.

Sue Feldman, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Health Services Administration, isn’t involved with the Research app, but says she would like to sign up personally to participate.

She can't, though.

“Yes, this is very innovative. However, being an Android user, there would need to be a serious cost offset to motivate me, and I do not have an iPhone," she said. "I am involved in another study that does not require an iPhone or any Apple platform for data transmission.”

Apple says customer privacy requires them to control the process on their devices.

"As one of its core values, Apple believes that privacy is a fundamental human right. Therefore privacy is built into all products and services from the beginning,” says COO Jeff Williams, who heads the medical initiatives at Apple. "The Research app was carefully created to only share data with the chosen studies when the user approves.

"It also includes a clear enrollment flow with detailed consent that explains how data will be used and allows a user to control the type of data shared with each study,” he added.

Users have control of what data they’re sharing and where it goes and can stop sharing at any time.

“When [you] opt in, one of the things you’ll see is we will never sell your data,” Williams told Ashton.

Apple isn’t talking about future plans besides these three new studies, but Feldman would like to see a study about whether people change their health behaviors when they see their data.

"If you know this is happening, do you change your lifestyle?" she asked.

For those of us checking our step counts or looking to close our rings, that may be an experiment we are already participating in.

For their latest venture into health research, Apple has partnered with both government and academic institutions to carry out the following studies:

The Apple Women’s Health Study


Apple is working with the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study women’s menstrual cycles and their relationship to several health conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), infertility, osteoporosis, and menopause.

The Apple Heart and Movement Study


Apple has partnered with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association to understand how heart rate and movement impact hospitalizations, falls, and cardiovascular health.

The Apple Hearing Study


Apple is collaborating with the University of Michigan on a long-term study of how sound influences hearing over time. Data from both headphone usage and from the Noise app will be used to measure sound exposure and track its impact on hearing. These data will also be shared with the World Health Organization as part of its Make Listening Safe Initiative.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Nicholas Corapi and his supporters at Hopedale Memorial. (Joe Corapi)(UXBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Nicholas Corapi needs a new kidney, and his school is rallying around him while he waits for the perfect match.

The 10-year-old's mom, Kim Corapi, told Good Morning America that when he was born he was in kidney failure, something his parents found out while Nicholas was in still in utero. One of his kidneys was removed, but the other, which was operating at about 20 percent, his mom said, served him well enough -- until recently.

He's been monitored closely throughout the years, getting his blood checked regularly, but in July, his mom said, he just didn't seem himself.

"He was very tired and sleeping all the time," the Uxbridge, Mass., mom said. It turned out his kidney had totally shut down.

Now Nicholas is on dialysis three days each week while waiting for a match. He wakes up at 4:30 a.m. on dialysis days to drive to Boston for his appointments.

One of the things that makes Nicholas' case unique, his mom said, is that he must have an O-type donor, significantly shrinking the pool of possible donors.

His parents have both a Facebook page and a website where people interested in becoming a possible donor can get started. Corapi said any medical procedures for the donor are covered by the family's insurance.

Nicholas, a third grader at Hopedale Memorial, loves school but has to miss it twice a week.

"His teachers even called me over the summer to see how he was doing," his mom said. "It's such a close-knit community, and they treat everyone like family."

So much so that the school came up with a plan to keep Nicolas' spirits up.

"The principal and one of his teachers just wanted to do something to raise awareness [about his need for a kidney]," Corapi said. So they held a kind of pep rally for their "Superhero Nicholas," a moniker born from the boy's love of superheros. The school made T-shirts for his parents from a drawing he'd made.

The kids lined the hallway and made signs and cheered him on, his mom said.

When it came time to walk the hallway, "He didn't even wait for us," Corapi told GMA. "He just flew down the hall."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW HAMPTON, N.Y.) -- The pain of labor is something all moms experience and most moms never forget.

Now hospital labor and delivery rooms are trying to help moms face the pain by turning to a technology used primarily by gamers: virtual reality headsets.

Erin Martucci, a mom of three in New Hampton, N.Y., wore virtual reality headsets while giving birth to her two youngest children.

The 43-year-old had such a quick labor with her first child, a now 4-year-old son named Michael Jr., that she wanted to go drug-free giving birth to her second child, just over one year later.

Martucci said she barely knew about virtual reality, much less the fact that the technology was being used for labor. As her labor progressed, and the pain grew more intense, Martucci's obstetrician offered the option of trying a VR headset.

"[The doctor] came in with the equipment and put it on my head and the scene was a beach and there was also a voice guidance," Martucci said. "The voice guidance and the visual calmed me down and made me know I could get through the labor without drugs."

"When [the doctor] came to take them off I was like, 'What are you doing because I’m using them,'" she recalled. "He said, 'You’re going to push your baby out,' and literally one or two minutes later I pushed the baby out."

Martucci's daughter, Elizabeth, now 3, was born healthy and happy after about four hours of labor. Martucci said she wore the virtual reality headset for about half the labor, or two hours.

Last month, Martucci gave birth to her third child, another daughter whom she and her husband Michael named Catherine.

Martucci again wore a VR headset for about 30 minutes during labor, from the time doctors broke her water to right before Catherine was born.

"You know your body is progressing through labor but it gives you something to concentrate on," Martucci said of the VR technology. "I really focused on what was presented in front of me during contractions and the guidance helped me breathe and stay in control and calm."

The hospital where Martucci gave birth, Greater Hudson Valley Health System in Middletown, New York, declined to comment to ABC News about its VR offering for women in labor.

It is one of only two or three hospitals in the U.S. known to offer VR to women, according to Dr. Melissa Wong, a maternal fetal medicine physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Wong is planning to publish the results of a yearlong study in February. The study, which she led, is the most comprehensive to date on whether VR during labor is a data-proven option that more hospitals should offer.

"Laboring women represent a population that is vulnerable and looking for options for complementary and alternative methods for managing pain," she said. "I wanted to make sure there was data instead of virtual reality being something that was going to be marketed, quite frankly, inappropriately."

Wong said she was motivated to study VR in labor because of growing patient demand for drug-free deliveries and what she described as "indisputable data" showing that VR can help with medical conditions including depression and anxiety as well as acute and chronic pain.

"VR, to me, represents potentially one other method for helping manage pain that would be non-pharmacological for women interested in it," she said. "It doesn’t have to be in lieu of anything and it doesn’t have to replace epidurals for women."

For the study, Wong worked with a California-based VR company that enlisted the help of a doula to create visualizations and guided narration focused on getting pregnant women through contractions and delivery.

It can certainly humble the provider. I don’t think I ever sat as long with women experiencing early labor contractions as I did when conducting our @CedarsSinaiOBG #pregnancy #VR trial. https://t.co/aDCOOh5NGA

— Melissa Wong (@MelissaWongMD) July 18, 2019

Wong studied 40 first-time moms for the trial, checking their vitals and pain levels as they used the VR headset for up to 30 minutes during the labor process.

"If this is proven by data again and again to be beneficial, then it becomes something that women who believe they could benefit from it can use," she said, noting other labor options at Cedars-Sinai include birthing balls, aromatherapy and birthing tubs.

One of the only other studies on VR during labor, released this summer, looked at 27 women using VR headsets with non-pregnancy specific visual and auditory guides.

"Labor is a very specific pain and it's different than other areas of hospital treatment because it can last for hours," said David Frey, a board-certified anesthesiologist and one of the study's co-authors. "VR affects the brain and response in different ways than classic types of distraction because it's more immersive and therefore takes up more attentional resources."

The study's authors concluded that VR is a "potentially effective technique for improving pain and anxiety during labor," but more research needs to be done, notes another co-author, Melissa Bauer, a professor and obstetric anesthesiologist at the University of Michigan, where the study was based.

"This was a pilot study so [women] only used the intervention for 10 minutes," she said. "How to use it is still to be determined, whether you want to use it continuously throughout the labor progress or take it on and off or use as an adjunct therapy or solely by itself."

"Some patients may get bored with it and get fatigue and some patients who are prone to motion sickness may have nausea using it," Bauer said of other possible side effects to be considered.

Bauer points out that the epidural that a majority of women choose to use for pain management during childbirth is also a safety feature for them. If a woman requires an emergency C-section, doctors use the epidural catheter to quickly provide anesthesia.

That would be missing for women who choose a drug-free option like VR.

"Our main goal is to keep the baby and mom safe," Bauer said. "[Doctors] want to see good, strong evidence when they’re going to use something on a pregnant person, which is reasonable."

Bauer and Frey both said they believe the popularity of VR for women in labor will depend on how quickly content makers see the market demand and create the pregnancy-specific content that will be the most beneficial.

They both also noted they hope that female content-makers step in to help fill the void.

"The cost of hardware is decreasing and the level of immersion is increasing and coming in easy mobile packages that would be easy to use and intuitive for first-time users," said Frey. "It really depends on the creation of new content at this point."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



mseidelch/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Despite the pressing health concerns associated with climate change, only about half of 101 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization had national plans in place to address those problems, and fewer than 20% of those plans have been put into action.

In the face of that inaction, climate change continues to wreak havoc on world health, according to a report published Wednesday in The Lancet. Not only was 2018 the fourth-hottest year on record, it was a year of prime weather conditions for disease transmission.

As temperatures continue to increase, so do accompanying health problems, including the risk for infectious diseases and exposure to wildfires.

2018 saw the ideal conditions for the transmission of dengue, a mosquito-transmitted disease, as well as conditions suitable for diarrhoeal disease, a major killer of young children in areas that lack clean drinking water and sufficient sanitation.

At the same time, 152 countries saw a noticeable increase in their population’s exposure to wildfires, and 220 million additional older adults were exposed to heatwaves, compared to baseline levels.

Despite increasing public and political attention, such as heightened interest around school climate strikes, "the world is yet to see a response from governments which matches the scale of the challenge," the report’s authors wrote. "The health implications of this are apparent today and will most certainly worsen without immediate intervention."

The report builds on much of what already know about climate change and related health issues from years past.

Extreme weather, a predicted effect of climate change, is linked to health problems like heat stroke, dehydration, hypothermia and frostbite. Air pollution, which is associated with respiratory illnesses, heart disease, stroke and cancer, kills more than 7 million people around the globe each year, according to the World Health Organization.



And in a world where hurricanes, floods and wildfires are more frequent, political instability and mental health problems can be downstream consequences of catastrophic weather events.

In addition to anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists preterm birth, low birth weight and maternal complications as potential consequences of "intensely stressful" exposure to extreme weather.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Photo Credit: James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(NEW YORK) -- More people in the United States are dying from antibiotic-resistant infections than previously believed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report out on Wednesday.

The latest data in the AR Threats Report showed that antibiotic-resistant fungi and bacteria cause more than 2.8 million infections each year. It also found that there are 35,000 antibiotic-resistant infection deaths each year.

The CDC pointed to "data sources not previously available" for the updated information. The altered figures show nearly twice as many annual deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections than the agency reported in 2013.

Since that time, the CDC says, prevention efforts have reduced deaths by 18 percent. But, according to a press release, "without continued vigilance...this progress may be challenged by the increasing burden of some infections."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(Credit: Rochelle Steffen/Macs Mission) Narwhal, a 10-week-old rescue puppy with an extra tail on his forehead, was found in rural Missouri by Mac's Mission.(JACKSON, Mo.) -- Meet Narwhal, a perfectly healthy rescue puppy with a surprising physical feature that makes him extra special.

The 10-week-old furball who was rescued by Mac's Mission -- a nonprofit dog rescue that predominately helps pups with special needs -- has a small tail-like growth on his forehead.

Founder Rochelle Steffen told ABC News that they found the adorable light brown dog at a dump site in rural Jackson, Missouri, where she said "hundreds" [of dogs] have been dumped.

"He had x-rays and a vet visit yesterday and is a perfectly healthy puppy, with an extra tail on his face," she explained. "There is no medical need to remove it currently and it is a third the size of his actual tail."

The adorable light brown boy with a black nose and big brown eyes is thought to be a Daschund and Beagle mix, Steffen said.

"He is in no pain and plays for hours," she added.

Mac's Mission focuses on helping dogs with deformity, clefts and trauma "since those get euthanized far more than any others and there is a great need to give them a chance," Steffens said. "We give them that chance."

Because the nonprofit life-saving efforts are strictly grassroots through social media, Steffens explained that Narwhal's story getting so much attention has been "majorly epic for so many new folks to find out about our little awesome rescue."

"We really love our little Narwhal and the others he is helping here with the attention!"

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



MarianVejcik/iStock(GENEVA) -- The world's first Ebola vaccine is finally approved, a critical move that opens the door for its use in countries at high risk for the infectious disease.

Just 48 hours after the European Commission granted marketing authorization for the vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Tuesday that it had also pre-qualified the vaccine, meaning it meets the WHO's quality, safety and efficacy standards.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director-general, called the approval "a historic step" toward making sure people who need the vaccine most have access to it.

"Five years ago, we had no vaccine and no therapeutics for Ebola," he said in a statement. "With a pre-qualified vaccine and experimental therapeutics, Ebola is now preventable and treatable."

Ebola, which is spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids from an infected person, is rare, but frequently fatal. Death rates among those who contract Ebola range from 25 percent to 90 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

The vaccine, known as Ervebo, which is manufactured by U.S. drug-maker Merck, is currently being used in a "compassionate use" capacity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the site of an ongoing Ebola outbreak. That outbreak is the second-largest, second-deadliest Ebola outbreak on record.

Since August 2018, more than 3,000 people in DRC have tested positive for Ebola virus, according to Congolese health officials. More than 2,000 people have died from the disease during that time. Over the last year, more than 250,000 have been vaccinated against Ebola in the DRC, using the Merck vaccine.

A second experimental vaccine, produced by Johnson & Johnson, which requires two doses, is expected to be deployed in the 2 million-person city of Goma soon, according to Congolese health officials.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Sergey Mikheev/iStock(HAMILTON, Ohio) -- A Catholic high school in Ohio will drug test all of its student beginning in January 2020.

Stephen T. Badin High School, located in the city of Hamilton, will launch the required testing as part of its health and wellness initiative to keep the campus and students drug free, according to a letter from the school on Tuesday.

"Given the great pressure our students face, now is the time to take an even more aggressive stance against the threat of drug use," the letter read.

The school will only release the results of positive tests to a student, a student's parents or guardians and, depending on the circumstances, medical or counseling personnel for substance abuse screening with the parent's permission.

If a student refuses, the test will be treated as a positive test.

"Every student who attends this school, as well as his/her parent(s) or guardian(s), freely and willingly consent to allow the student to undergo drug testing," according to the letter.

Disciplinary actions will vary depending on if it is a student's first offense, and they have not been caught otherwise with substances on campus, or if there have been multiple offenses.

If more than one offense is registered, it could "jeopardize the student's enrollment at the school and could result in dismissal," according to the letter.

A comprehensive intervention plan will also be developed on a second offense.

Badin High School will let students know what tests, which will be administered by Great Lakes Biomedical, will be conducted and the results.

Each student will be tested at least once annually and may also be tested if "a member of the faculty, staff or administration suspects them of being under the influence of a controlled substance."

Students may be tested at random and there is no maximum number of times a student may be tested, the letter states.

Parents who think their child's test has resulted in a false positive can request an immediate second test.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



ABC(NEW YORK) -- When 20-year-old Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce died unexpectedly in early July, fans were stunned to learn it was from having a seizure in his sleep.

Just four months after his death, his family and friends are coming together for a PSA to shine a light on the condition.

"We don't want anybody to lose their child to anything," Cameron Boyce's father, Victor told ABC News' Good Morning America. "'Cause this feeling is just the worst. And, you know, no parent should have to go through this."

In August, Victor and his wife, Libby, opened up to Good Morning America and revealed that Cameron had epilepsy, a neurological disorder that actively affects about 3.4 million people in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

His mother said that he had his first seizure at the age of 16 1/2.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, a person is diagnosed if they have "two unprovoked seizures (or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more)." It affects men and women of all ages and can be caused by many factors, including trauma to the head, a stroke, a brain tumor, certain infectious diseases or electrolyte abnormalities.

And according to the CDC, around 1 in 1,000 people in the U.S. die every year from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.

"We never felt like it would take his life," Victor said of his son's condition. "We just thought it was something you have to manage."

In their PSA, Victor and Libby are trying to raise awareness -- and raise funds for more research into epilepsy.

"We could have had a lot more education, and people need education," said Libby Boyce. "We're glad that Cameron is bringing this to the world, for people who have epilepsy to go check with their doctor and be more assertive and ask them for information. … It's a very serious disease."

Victor and Libby have teamed up with Sally Schaeffer, the Institute Director for SUDEP, who also lost her 7-year-old daughter five years ago after she suffered a rare form of epilepsy in her sleep.

"I am a mom who lost my little girl, and I'm ... I'm mad," Schaeffer told Good Morning America. "I'm mad and I'm angry 'cause I don't have her here anymore, and I live with that every single day."

Like the Boyces, Schaeffer never imagined losing her daughter to SUDEP.

"There's times I still hold so much guilt that what else could I have done? What else could I have done or should have done?" she said.

So Schaeffer helped bring awareness about the disease through the SUDEP institute. When Schaeffer heard about Cameron's story, it resonated with her and she reached out to the Cameron Boyce Foundation that Victor and Libby began after Cameron's death.

"As I told Victor and Libby when we met, it is so sad why we're all sitting here," Schaeffer said. "But taking Cameron's legacy and bringing this awareness is going to move mountains. I truly believe it's going to move mountains in terms of awareness of epilepsy and definitely SUDEP."

Since Victor and Libby started the Cameron Boyce Foundation in August, they've learned that more people are going to their physician's offices actively seeking education and awareness about epilepsy.

They hope that their new partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute will raise more awareness.

"We want to shine more light on epilepsy, get more funding, get more research, get more people involved," Victor added. "And we hope that Cameron's reach can do that."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Courtesy Romar Lyle(NEW YORK) -- Romar Lyle’s dream job was becoming a police officer, and now thanks to a nearly 200-pound weight loss, his dream has become a reality.

Lyle grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and said he and his friends sometimes would have their possessions stolen.

Whenever that happened, Lyle said he felt "hopeless" and wanted to learn why people do such things. Therefore, he went for a degree in psychology and criminal justice. After graduating, he sought a master’s degree in investigative forensics.

While studying for his master's, he began working as a resident director helping students with mental health incidents, sexual assault and other issues on campus. He began riding along with university police officers and decided he wanted to become an officer after graduating. There was one thing in the way of obtaining his dream job -- his weight. Lyle weighed 405 pounds and knew that would be a problem meeting the physical demands of the job.

“When I was doing my master's I knew I was overweight,” he said. “I knew I needed to lose weight, but it was just so hard.”

In late 2015, Lyle said his supervisor told him about a CrossFit gym he went to that was five minutes from campus and invited him along. Lyle said he had hesitations about going because he felt uncomfortable about his weight. However, he went, but told himself he wouldn’t stick with it.

“I’ll never forget that first workout,” Lyle said. “We had to run 400 meters and instead I just ran 100 meters. By the time it took me to get there the people had already run the 400 meters and were on their way back. I wanted to cry.”

But he got cheers from his gym classmates.

“I remember saying to myself, ‘Wow nobody’s laughing.'" Lyle said. "Everyone was encouraging.”

With the support of his trainers and fellow gym goers, Lyle soon started going to CrossFit every day. The change of lifestyle also brought a change of perspective.

“I kept going, and I started to love it. It wasn’t even about weight loss anymore. I genuinely had fun working out and trying to build a better life,” Lyle said. “Before, I knew I couldn’t work in law enforcement, but the more time went by the more I thought, ‘Wait, this is actually possible.’”

Lyle earned his master's in 2017 and had lost enough weight to get into the police academy. The academy -- seven months of physical and mental training -- proved to be Lyle’s biggest challenge.

“It was so challenging and draining, but I kept trying to push myself each day,” Lyle said. “One of the other recruits said, ‘You motivate me to do this every day.’ It was just having that support to keep going that got me through. Every day is a new day to be a lot healthier for me than that day I was before.”

By the time he graduated from the academy, Lyle had lost 183 pounds.

For anyone who feels their weight is holding them back from their goals, Lyle says it’s all about “baby steps.”

“Start to make different choices and don’t go cold turkey. It’s a small step and eventually it will click. It just gets better and better from there,” Lyle said. “It doesn’t happen all in one day. It’s a lifestyle change. Find people who support you in that change and focus on what you want to do.”

Now weighing just 222 pounds and working as an officer, Lyle says he is “exactly where he needs to be.”

“I’m in a good place where I feel happier and healthier,” Lyle said. “I can’t wait to see where I can go from here.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Molly DeFrank(FRESNO, Calif.) -- When a Fresno, California, mom's children were acting up, she, at first, wasn't quite sure what was behind it.

"Was it sugar or lack of sleep?" Molly DeFrank asked herself.

DeFrank then notice they were particularly grumpy when it came time to turning off their screens. And then one day, it was the final straw.

"I came home and the first thing my son said to me was 'can I play on your phone?'" the mom of five told ABC News' Good Morning America. "That was it."

Over dinner, DeFrank and her husband broke the news to their kids: There would be a 30-day ban on screens.

That was nine months ago.

"What started as a 30-day detox became a complete technology overhaul for our home," she said. "I wish we had done it sooner."

The kids were initially upset by the news. But, they adjusted quickly, DeFrank said.

They built more couch forts and played more LEGOs, she said. They fought less and read more.

At first, DeFrank said, they looked to their parents for entertainment.

"I just thought about what I did during my childhood," she told GMA. "I told them 'go climb a tree or collect bugs. And if you're still bored I have piles of laundry for you to fold.'"

The kids, ages 4 to 10, get along better and DeFrank said she's been able to spot their interests.

"My daughter is just reading non-stop," she said. "And I found out my son loves non-fiction. I never knew that before."

Now, the family will gather to watch a movie once in awhile and the kids have one hour of screen time on Sundays.

DeFrank said it's something she and her husband are continuously evaluating. After all, she doesn't believe technology is bad; far from it.

"We just want to remain in a place where technology works for us," DeFrank said. "And not the other way around."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



peterspiro/iStock(DETROIT) -- A Michigan teen was facing "imminent death" when he received a historic double lung transplant as a result of a vaping-related illness, doctors said.

A Michigan teen was facing "imminent death" when he received a historic double lung transplant as a result of a vaping-related illness, doctors said.

"This teenager faced imminent death had he not received a lung transplant," Hassan Nemeh, surgical director of thoracic organ transplant at Henry Ford Hospital, said at press conference Tuesday. "His lung damage was like nothing I have ever seen, and I’ve been doing lung transplants for 20 years."

Nemeh did not disclose what substance the teen was vaping or for how long, but he said the illness left him with thick, damaged lung tissue that had no chance of healing.

"This is an evil that I haven’t faced before," Nemeh, who helped perform the transplant along with a team of experts in Detroit, said. "The damage that these vapes do to people’s lungs is irreversible. Please think of that -- and tell your children to think of that."

Public health departments in 24 states have confirmed at least 40 deaths linked to vaping and the CDC said it is aware of more than 2,051 probable cases of illness related to vaping. Henry Ford doctors have not been able to pinpoint exactly what's causing the injuries, but the hospital said its firm recommendation is that vaping products should not be used.

The Michigan teen's case began on Sept. 5 when he was admitted to St. John Hospital with symptoms of what appeared to be pneumonia. As his ability to breathe became worse, he was intubated a week later.

He was transferred to Henry Ford in critical condition on Oct. 3 and placed on the organ transplant waiting list on Oct. 8, doctors said. The lung damage due to vaping was so severe -- and he was so close to death -- that he immediately shot to the top of the transplant waiting list, which ultimately led to the successful transplant on Oct. 15.

The hospital did not reveal any information about the identity of the teen or his donor, but said he was taken off the ventilator on Oct. 27 and is now working on walking again and regaining his strength. He was still in the hospital as of Tuesday and is expected to be transferred to a rehabilitation facility soon.

"This is a preventable tragedy and we have so much respect for this family for allowing us to share their pain to prevent the same from happening to others," Nemeh said.

The teen's family, which said he developed the illness at the age of 16, said he was a healthy, active and athletic kid before "the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping" took affect.

"He has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy 16-year old athlete -- attending high school, hanging out with friends, sailing and playing video games -- to waking up intubated and with two new lungs, facing a long and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and mobility, which has been severely impacted," the family said in a statement shared by the hospital. "We are forever grateful to the organ donor and their compassionate family for making the selfless decision to donate the gift of life."



Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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