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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The deafening crack of thunder or the startling burst of M-80s is enough to turn some dogs into scaredy-cats.

The New York Times reports that, according to some estimates, 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety. Animal shelters say that July 5 is the busiest day for taking in runaway dogs.

Dr. Melissa Bain, an associate professor of clinical animal behavior at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine says that noise anxiety for dogs is very serious: “It’s a true panic disorder with a complete flight response.”

The Food and Drug Administration approved a drug to combat canine noise aversion that became available this month. The drug is called Sileo and inhibits norepinephrine, a brain chemical associated with anxiety and fear response.

Sileo is a flavorless gel that is squeezed between a dog’s cheek and gum using a syringe and absorbed in 30 minutes. It's a micro-amount of a drug already approved for minor vet procedures.

Orion, a Finnish company, developed Sileo and tested it on several hundred afflicted dogs during two years of New Year’s fireworks. Three-fourths of the owners rated the dogs’ response as good to excellent. The drug lasts for several hours. A syringe costs about $30 and doses are designated by the weight of the dog. Side effects?  In some dogs, vomiting.

“I’m not naïve enough to think this is the miracle cure,” said Dr. Emily Levine, a veterinary behaviorist in Fairfield, N.J. Yet she thinks it might be a worthy option.

However, most vets say the ideal solution is catching the response early and gently desensitizing the dog with recordings of the offending noises, plus positive conditioning.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The first big holiday weekend of the summer is almost here, meaning lots of us will be headed for the local swimming pool, lake or the beach for some fun.  The American Red Cross is offering these important swimming safety tips for kids and adults:

  •     Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  •     Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  •     Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  •     Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  •     Maintain constant supervision.
  •     Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
  •     If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  •     Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  •     If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  •     Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  •     Know how and when to call 911 or the local emergency number.
  •     Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
  •     Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
  •     Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.

For more information, visit the Red Cross website or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Americans overwhelmingly support plans to spend nearly $2 billion to prevent the spread of the Zika virus, but don't feel the issue is urgent. One in three is worried about contracting the virus, one in four is taking steps to avoid exposure –- and most are confident that the federal government can respond effectively to an outbreak.

Seventy-three percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll favor the spending level proposed by the Obama administration, but many fewer, 46 percent, say Congress should approve it immediately; an additional 24 percent think approval should be contingent on budget offsets to be agreed by the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress. Two in 10 surveyed in the poll, produced by Langer Research Associates, oppose the spending.

See PDF with full results here.

A third of Americans are worried that they or someone in their immediate family will contract Zika, which is spread primarily by mosquitoes and can cause serious illness and birth defects. This concern has some influence on funding preferences: Among those who were more worried, 51 percent want immediate funding approval vs. 40 percent among those who were not worried at all.

Views on the Zika Virus


The level of concern about being infected with Zika is somewhat lower than it was for other epidemics tested in previous ABC/Post polls. Worries about Ebola, the H1N1 swine flu, bird flu and the SARS virus peaked at 43, 52, 41 and 38 percent, respectively.

Concern might increase if more Americans become infected, as occurred with swine flu. At the same time, those experiences –- in which feared epidemics did not occur -– may contribute both to diminished worry and to confidence in the government’s response.

As things stand, about one in four adults –- 27 percent -– report taking steps to try to limit their exposure to Zika (rising to 37 percent of those who are personally concerned about infection). Among those taking action, using bug spray is the top volunteered response to what they’re doing, mentioned by half. Just fewer than a quarter say they’re staying indoors or draining standing water, and slightly more than one in 10 are trying to avoid areas with mosquitoes or are making sure that clothing covers their skin.

As percentages of the full population, these are small numbers –- from a high of 13 percent using bug spray to the single digits for all other mentions.

The public’s wait-and-see approach is consistent with confidence in the federal government’s capacity to prevent an outbreak; similar to past infectious disease threats, two-thirds are at least somewhat confident of an effective response, though only two in 10 are highly confident. Just one in 10 are not at all confident in the federal’s government’s ability to contain the disease. Sensibly, those who are not confident in the government are substantially more likely to be taking their own steps to avoid infection.

This relatively high confidence also relates to support for the administration’s spending plan –- 12 points higher among those who are confident in the government. This group also is 8 points more likely to support immediate approval of the funding request.

Groups


Confidence in the government’s response varies predictably along political lines, but consistently reaches majorities across key demographic groups. It peaks at more than seven in 10 among those 18-29, college graduates, those in higher-income households, urban residents and Democrats. It’s somewhat lower among others, strong conservatives and rural residents in particular (52 and 56 percent confident, respectively).

Consonant with the possible path of the disease, concern peaks at four in 10 among Gulf Coast state residents, compared with 36 percent of those in Atlantic coast states from South Carolina to New York and 29 percent of those living elsewhere. Gulf Coast residents also are more likely than others to say they’ve taken action to prevent the spread of the disease, though there’s little difference in support for the administration’s plan.

Though women are no more personally worried about Zika than men, they are more likely to have taken precautions, 31 to 23 percent. The lower rate of action by men is driven by men age 18-35, who are also substantially less worried than older men and all women about the disease. Only 14 percent in this group have done anything to prevent contracting Zika, about half the rate of others; they’re also 15 points less likely than their female counterparts to be worried about it personally.

Zika Views by Groups


In other groups, compared with whites, nonwhites are substantially more worried about Zika ( 17 points) and to say they’ve taken preventative action ( 12), as well as slightly more apt to support immediate funding approval ( 8). Democrats are also more worried ( 10) and more supportive of immediate Zika funding ( 23) than are Republicans. Finally, those without a college degree are 16 points more likely to say they’re concerned personally about the disease – but also 10 points less likely than those with a college degree to support swift funding approval.

Methodology


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone June 20-23, 2016, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Owen Suskind’s world came to a halt in 1993. The toddler stopped talking, showing affection and engaging in the world around him.

His parents Ron and Cornelia Suskind took him to a doctor and heard a shattering diagnosis: regressive autism.

“We just froze,” Ron Suskind told Nightline. “The doctor started to explain, ‘OK, this is going to change your life. He may never get his speech back. Many of the kids don’t.’”

Ron Suskind, an award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter, said that around this time his son “started to vanish.”

“He couldn’t look at you,” Ron said. “He walked around like someone with their eyes closed.”

At age 4, Owen’s language became gibberish and his frustration grew, but he found comfort in animated movies. Then one day, there was a breakthrough. Ron said Owen had been watching “The Little Mermaid” and started saying what sounded like, “Jucervus, Jucervus.”

“Cornelia thought he wanted more juice,” Ron Suskind said. “So she gives him the juice. He knocks the cup over."

That's when Ron said they realized he was referring to the movie. "He rewinds it the second time. Then the third time, and Cornelia [says], ‘It’s not juice.’”

Owen was fixated on a pivotal scene in the movie when Ursula the sea witch says to Ariel, “Just your voice.”

“I grab Owen and say, ‘Just your voice!’ and he looks at me for the first time in a year and says, ‘Jucervus,’” Ron said. “Pandemonium broke out in the bedroom.’”

The family discovered Owen had memorized every line from every Disney movie and eventually realized that by speaking dialogue in those characters’ voices, they could communicate with their son. Ron first started talking to his son with an Iago puppet, the parrot from the movie, “Aladdin.”

The Suskinds spent the next several years immersing themselves in Owen’s world. Now 20 years later, Owen and his family are sharing their hard-won journey in a new documentary, “Life, Animated,” the same title of Ron Suskind’s 2014 book about their experience. "Life, Animated" is opening in theaters on Friday.

“We were living a kind of double life,” Ron said. “I'm interviewing presidents, and at night, we're animated characters.”

For Owen, watching those movies made him feel like he was in a better, safe place.

“The world was so noisy coming at him, overwhelming him,” Ron added. “The movies were the one thing that didn’t change.”

Dr. Rebecca Landa has spent 20 years working with children who have autism and said it’s important to pay close attention to what the child is trying to express. She said one of the things that can happen with these animated movies is that children will learn parts of the script.

“They can't put together the words from scratch to express their idea," she said. "So they’re borrowing from the movie."

Beyond the storylines, Owen, now 25 years old, said he feels a kinship with certain animated characters.

“The sidekicks,” he said. “They're so fun-loving and entertaining and also help the heroes fulfill their destiny.”

In fact, Owen compares people in his life to sidekicks from Disney movies. He said he sees his father as Merlin from “The Sword and the Stone” and his mother as Mrs. Potts from “The Beauty and the Beast.” The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

Owen is just one of many with autism who are drawn to animated stories. Colleen Sottilare said her 22-year-old son Jonathan finds great comfort in these movies, especially “Toy Story.”

“His mood changes if it comes on, he’ll just stop and watch it, and calm down,” Sottilare said. “So I think it really has just a really calming influence on him.”

The animation connection has offered Owen a way to make friends. He even started a Disney club at his school, where he said they discuss the films and how they relate to their lives.

“They start to talk and they're speaking the language of Disney to each other,” his father Ron said. “It's like magic.”

Embracing their son’s complex world led Ron and Cornelia Suskind to see the world differently.

“We saw there are many affinities,” Ron said. “The kids who are Harry Potter kids and Star Wars kids -- they use these passions as code breakers to crack the codes of themselves, their place in the world, their identity.”

It’s a lesson for parents of children with autism who worry that their kids are too obsessed with certain subjects, Landa said, and that can be a good thing.

“If you take those interests but you just wiggle a little further away from them, slowly but surely, you can bring in new experiences for children,” she said.

One of those new experiences is real-life interaction with an animated character. On a recent trip to New York City, Owen got to meet Jonathan Freeman, who voiced the evil villain Jafar in the animated movie, “Aladdin,” and now plays the character in the Broadway show version. At the New York premiere of “Life, Animated,” Owen had a sing-a-long with award-winning composer Alan Menken, who wrote many of his favorite Disney movie tunes.

Today, Owen is working and living on his own.

“He changed, but he didn't become less," Ron Suskind said. "We just needed to learn who he was.”

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The Gompf Family(TAMPA, Fla.) -- A Florida family has posted a billboard to draw attention to the dangers of the "brain-eating" amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, for people swimming in local lakes, ponds and streams.

The Gompf family posted a billboard in Tampa in honor of their son, Phillip Gompf, who died from meningitis caused by Naegleria fowleri in 2009. It's part of a campaign on water safety the family started in 2014.

"We can't bring back our child. Protect yours, with nose clips," the billboard reads next to a family picture with Phillip missing.

The boy's mother, Dr. Sandra Gompf, said in a video on the family's website that he contracted the infection after he went swimming in a lake. His first symptom was a headache that appeared five days later, the following morning Phillip's parents had difficulty waking him up.

They rushed him to the pediatric ER.

"He was found pretty quickly to have severe meningitis sand three days later he was gone," Gompf said in a video posted on the website to draw attention to the issue.

Both of Phillip's parents are doctors who specialize in serious infections. They are now posting the billboard and starting an online campaign to help protect other children.

"It's 99 percent fatal, but it's 100 percent preventable," Gompf says in a video. "You just need to keep water out of the nose."

There are zero to eight infections in this country from parasitic amoebas each year, and nearly all are fatal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advises people to take steps to avoid getting water up their nose in freshwater lakes and streams. Swimmers can keep their head above water, use a nose clip or hold their nose shut when underwater.

"If I could tell you one thing that Phillip would want you to know is to enjoy nature but to remember that natural bodies of water are alive," she said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers are learning more about the Zika virus and how it affects the development of infants in utero -- and what they're learning is painting a grim portrait of the destructive nature of the infection for the fetus.

Two studies published Wednesday in the medical journal The Lancet shed new light on the effects of the virus.

In one study, researchers from multiple institutions, including the Brazilian Ministry of Health, examined children who had been born to mothers with suspected Zika virus infections. The virus has been found to cause microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head. However, researchers found of the approximately 1,500 births they studied, about 20 percent of the babies born with Zika virus had normal head circumferences. This means these infants may have developmental delays or other defects even though they do not have microcephaly.

The other study published by researchers from multiple institutions, including the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examined the ways the virus affects brain tissue. They looked at brains of three infants who died after being born with Zika-related microcephaly and also at fetal tissue from two pregnancies that ended in miscarriage related to Zika infection.

By looking at the tissue, researchers found evidence of body deformities, cell death and abnormal calcium deposits in brain tissue related to the viral infection.

The researchers hope to be able to better understand how the virus attacks the developing brain through these studies.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News that the study findings show how much researchers are playing catch-up with this disease.

"I’m afraid the more we learn the nastier the Zika virus is," Schaffner said. "It’s quite evident that the Zika virus, if it gets into a pregnant woman, can get into the placenta and into the baby and it gets right into the brain cells."

Schaffner said other birth defects, including those that affect sight and hearing, often appear if brain development is affected in utero.

"Some of the babies will have blindness and hearing defects," if their brain development is impacted, Schaffner explained. "Some of the babies who appear normal at birth on follow-up can be found tragically later to have limitations of brain function, vision and hearing."

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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

When you send your child off to college, you expect them to get a good education and life experience -- not the mumps.

The contagious illness is the result of a virus that causes painful swelling of the salivary glands. College students are particularly at risk. The mumps virus is spread through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat.

Although most people are vaccinated against mumps at a young age, the vaccine does not provide full protection. Two doses of the vaccine are approximately 88 percent effective in preventing mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, tiredness, muscle aches and swollen salivary glands. In rare cases, severe complications, including meningitis or inflammation of the ovaries or testicles, can occur.

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A 25-year-old teacher lost 115 pounds in one year by relying on Instagram to publicly share her progress.

Laura Micetich said she struggled with her weight since childhood but it was during college that the 6-foot-tall woman’s weight spiraled out of control.

“I had finished college, I was going into my teaching degree [and] I stepped on a scale and I was over 300 pounds,” Micetich told ABC News.

When, at age 23, Micetich developed hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone, she decided to take action.

Micetich changed her diet and began working out, documenting it all on Instagram. She said she lost 40 pounds in the first month alone.

“Instagram gave me this place where I could post my pictures and be accountable to myself but also I was accountable to that 12-year-old who didn't feel good about her body and suddenly could feel good about her body just by an adult telling her everything was okay,” she said.

Micetich’s diet today consists of eggs and oatmeal for breakfast and meals full of protein, such as fresh tuna, and vegetables like oven-baked broccoli. She also works out six days per week.

By sharing her story in pictures and posts on Instagram, Micetich became an inspiration to not just herself but her followers too.

“People were going to my pictures and saying, ‘How did you do this?’ and ‘Can you give me information?’” she said. “And I'd say, ‘Yeah shoot me an email,’ and I'd send them as much information as I could.”

Micetich’s message to others is that hard work pays off.

“It's about proving to yourself that you want that change enough to wait for it and work for it and when it gets there, then you appreciate it,” she said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — They might be pretty to look at, but the handheld fireworks known as sparklers people love on the 4th of July can be dangerous.

The Chicago Tribune reports that sparklers accounted for more than 12 percent of fireworks injuries from June 23 to July 20, 2015, based on information from the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal's Division of Fire Prevention.

Of the 7,000 fireworks-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, sparklers accounted for an estimated 19 percent from June 20 to July 20, 2014.  But those numbers skyrocket when it comes to kids: the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics for children under five, sparklers accounted for 61 percent of the total estimated injuries.

MaryLynn Jacobs, vice president of operations at ATI Physical Therapy, said people are naïve about the dangers of sparklers, which burn at around 2,000 degrees -- that's hot enough to melt some metals.

Jacobs doesn't recommend having fireworks at home for safety reasons. "Being a mother of three, I would just ask [people] please to watch from afar. Let's go to a fireworks display.”

Jacobs says large bubble wands and pinwheels that aren’t fireworks are good substitutes for children.

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Nicole Nichols(RICHLAND, Miss.) -- A Mississippi state representative suggested to a mother that she buy her family's own diabetes medication when she wrote to him asking for support after she started to experience difficulties in getting assistance from Medicaid.

Richland resident Nicole Nichols wrote to the Mississippi House of Representatives Monday morning to voice her concern that children with Type 1 Diabetes "aren't getting the necessary diabetes supplies and meds they need to stay healthy."

"We have recently begun having a lot of problems with Medicaid/CHIPS coverage of the essential diabetes supplies needed, not only to keep our kids healthy, but to literally keep them alive," Nichols wrote to Mississippi lawmakers. "No parents should have to fight for so long for their child's essential medical supplies and medical needs when it's explicitly stated as a covered benefit."

Later that day, Mississippi State Rep. Jeffrey Guice, R-Ocean Springs, replied, "I am sorry for your problem. Have you thought about buying the supplies with money that you earn?"

The mother of two, whose 8-year-old daughter Bella has Type 1 Diabetes, told ABC News she has been filled with "silent fury" since she received Guice's response. Two other state representatives responded to her email as well, but Guice's was the only negative one, she said.

Nichols posted the exchange to a Facebook page Living in the World of Test Strips, which provides community support for parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes. This morning, she attended a special session at the Mississippi State Capitol, where Guice was in attendance, and spoke to several reporters about the problems she's been experiencing. A few legislators even offered their support, telling her to call their office if she continues to encounters problems with obtaining her daughter's medication.

Nichols responded to Guice by detailing how much each portion of her daughter's medication costs, which amounts to about $2,500 a month, she said. Guice responded by merely asking if insulin was covered by Medicaid, Nichols said.

Despite Guice's comment, Nichols said she is focusing on "the kids" and "getting them what they need to get healthy." She said she aims to raise awareness and be an advocate for several other families of children with Type 1 Diabetes who are having the same problem.

"I will gladly use his mistake to get the kids what they need," she said, adding that she's been experiencing the problem since April.

A representative for Guice did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Nichols' husband also has Type 1 Diabetes, but he has not had any problems receiving medication, which is covered by his insurance through his employer, Nichols said.

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Gillian Mohney/ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Gay rights groups and members of Congress called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reverse the guideline that bars gay and bisexual men from donating blood unless they abstain from sex for one year.

Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, whose district includes Orlando, said not allowing many gay and bisexual men to donate blood is discriminatory during a call with reporters Tuesday, adding that the ban should be lifted to "treat all people equally." He pointed out that in times of crisis, such as the June 12 shooting at the Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people, people want to give back to the community.

"We had two blocks that had to be cordoned off of people anxious to give blood that day, in the rain," Grayson said, referring to the day after the Orlando nightclub shooting. "Recognition of the impulse we all feel in times of tragedy, to help. No one should be turned away under those circumstances."

Grayson also said new testing could be done to more accurately test for HIV.

Rep. Jared Polis, who represents Colorado's 2nd district, called on the FDA to update its blood donor regulations to focus on behavior rather than sexual orientation.

"Gender of one’s partner has nothing to do with whether one is engaged in risky behavior or not," he said Tuesday. “Nothing [is] inherently different about the blood of gay or bisexual Americans."

The congressmen were joined by the LGBTQ rights groups National Gay Blood Drive, Equality Federation and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. In December, the FDA changed its guidelines to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they abstain from having sex with a man for one year. Prior to December, gay and bisexual men were barred from donating blood for life.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A billion-dollar bill to help address the Zika virus crisis fell apart on the Senate floor Tuesday over perennial partisan squabbles -- namely, about whether to devote funding to the family planning organization Planned Parenthood.

Democrats blamed Republicans for using the bill to “whack” the organization, while Republicans say the bill includes plenty of funding, allocated in the most effective way, to target those most affected by the Zika virus, including those seeking contraceptive services.

Both statements are disputed by the opposing side, but the fact is that the bill failed to receive the 60 votes necessary to advance, largely over disagreements about a portion of the money that amounted to less than 9 percent of its total funding.

The Zika bill also contains provisions related to the environment and the display of Confederate flags that Democrats find objectionable. In addition to the policy specifics, Democrats also object to the fact that the House Republicans revised and passed the conference report on a party-line vote in the dead of night last week amid the protests of House Democrats who were staging an unrelated sit-in on gun safety.

But no provision got more public push-back from Democrats than the lack of direct funding to Planned Parenthood.

Just before the 52-48 vote on the Zika bill, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer assailed his Republican colleagues for blocking funding specifically to the organization.

“Republicans can't miss a chance to whack Planned Parenthood, even if their services are exactly what can help prevent the spread of this debilitating virus,” said Schumer, the likely incoming Senate Democratic leader.

The White House threatened on Monday to veto the bill, citing its inadequate funding overall and claiming it would “block” access to contraception.

“The bill includes an ideological rider blocking access to contraception for women in the United States, including women in Puerto Rico, even though this is a sexually transmitted disease,” White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said.

While the bill doesn’t directly provide funds for private family planning organizations, Republican Senate aides note that it does contain $95 million for public health departments, hospitals and public health plan reimbursement through what’s known as a Social Services Block Grant (SSBG).

Republicans say this grant allows each state and territory the maximum flexibility to deliver the funding wherever it is most needed. Of the funding, $40 million also goes specifically to 20 community health centers throughout Puerto Rico, where the virus is expected to have the biggest impact.

They also note that the SSBG funding would be available to a network of 13 federally funded family planning clinics throughout Puerto Rico called PREVEN, which among other services provide contraception, and that Planned Parenthood providers and patients can still get Medicaid reimbursements for Zika care.

“If Planned Parenthood wants to accept your Medicaid, you can absolutely get a reimbursement through them,” a Senate Republican aide said. Democrats and Planned Parenthood argue that using the SSBG to fund Zika efforts in this bill, which is the final product of a reconciling or “conference” between House and Senate versions, is not the most effective way to target funds, as Republicans claim.

A Senate Democratic aide said the initial Senate version of the bill, which had bipartisan support, contained a more workable proposal: funding health care services through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program called the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant Program, which the aide said more directly assists women and babies, the populations most affected by Zika infection.

“You would think that in response to a virus that primarily impacts women’s health that has a lot to do with pregnancy, and contraception is uniquely equipped to prevent, then you’d want to invest in organizations that are really good at providing that kind of care,” the aide added.

The aide also noted that the bill makes access to contraceptives more difficult for women, especially in Puerto Rico, because the Senate bill structures its SSBG funds to exclude private health care agencies like Planned Parenthood.

“Eligible providers could only be public health departments, hospitals and entities reimbursed by public health plans. This would make access to contraceptive and prenatal services more difficult, especially for women in Puerto Rico.”

In response to that criticism, Stephen Worley, a spokesman for Senate Appropriations Committee Republicans, said, “Democrats should be more concerned with the outcome than whether or not their preferred programs are funded.”

But Senate Democrats also acknowledge that the current bill doesn’t “block” access to contraception, which is what the White House claimed Monday. Rather, Democrats object to the bill’s lack of additional funding specifically for Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics.

“Obviously there’s no rule in this legislation that says you can’t get care for Zika as an individual if you go into a clinic. But there’s no supplemental funding to address the additional need that goes to providers who are uniquely equipped to support this kind of response,” the aide said.

Planned Parenthood also slammed the bill in a statement, saying it “exclude[d] the International Planned Parenthood Federation Puerto Rican member association, Profamilias, from the Zika response.” Profamilia appears to have seven facilities around the island.

After the bill failed Tuesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would address the issue again sometime after the Fourth of July weekend. But time is running out for the body, with only two weeks of the legislative session left before it leaves for the rest of the summer.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Following the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando earlier this month, the national conversation has once again turned to the link between gun violence and mental health. But would improving mental health care in the U.S. have a major impact on gun crimes?

In the second episode of ABC News Pulse Check, two experts -- one in gun violence, the other in mental health -- challenge headlines suggesting that an overhaul of the mental health system would address widespread gun violence and other violent behavior.

“If we were to eliminate the risk associated with mental illness, about 96 percent of the violent behavior out there would still be there,” said Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, a leading gun violence researcher at Duke University.

Ron Honberg, senior policy adviser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, welcomes the call to improve the mental health system but thinks that overstating the link between mental illness and gun violence only adds to the stigma of people with mental health issues.

“Most people with mental illnesses are not violent,” Honberg noted. “And most struggle, oftentimes silently, because of the stigma.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Annual pelvic exams -- often an uncomfortable part of a woman's visit to the gynecologist's office -- may no longer be recommended for all women, according to new guidelines by a federal task force.

The United States Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF), the expert committee that advises U.S. doctors on all matters concerning preventive medicine, says there is “not enough evidence” for or against pelvic exams in women without any pelvic symptoms.

The committee conducted a full review of all studies to date pertaining to screening pelvic exams. USPSTF did not find any studies that directly showed improved quality of life or lifesaving events due to pelvic exams.

The pelvic exam includes visual and physical components that can be performed by providers for screening purposes. The USPSTF has already established recommendations for screening pelvic exams for specific diseases such as cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. Until now, there were no prior recommendations for screening pelvic exams for women without symptoms.

Interestingly, the USPSTF said 68 percent of U.S. obstetrician-gynecologists it surveyed routinely perform a pelvic examination, and 78 percent of all surveyed physicians (including family/general practitioners and internists) believe that pelvic examinations are a useful screening test for gynecologic cancers. Some organizations such as the American College of Physicians and American Academy of Family Physicians have recommended against screening pelvic exams.

However, other organizations such as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), still recommend yearly pelvic exams for women over the age of 21.

“In addition to the screenings, evaluations and counseling that clinicians can provide, the annual well-woman visit is an opportunity for the patient and her ob-gyn to discuss whether a pelvic examination is appropriate for her," Dr. Thomas Gellhaus, president of ACOG, said in a statement.

Gellhaus recommends that patients and physicians communicate and discuss concerns together regarding pelvic examinations.

Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, said the pelvic exam is an extremely useful diagnostic tool.

"Pelvic exam is used to educate and empower women about their gynecological health," she told ABC News Tuesday. "Women usually understand the value of [screening pelvic exams]."

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Rose Bennett(PEMBROKE PINES, Fla.) -- A 1-year-old boy in Pembroke Pines, Florida can't stop hugging a bag of diapers -- because he's convinced he is the baby on the bag, his mom Rose Bennett told ABC News.

"He said, 'Ben!'" she recalled. "[I said,] 'No, Ben that's not you!' He said, 'Ben!' And then he hugged it. It was just too cute."

The Internet seems to agree. After Bennett, 21, snapped photos of her son hugging the diapers, the images went viral with more than 12,000 sharing it on Twitter.

Bennett explained that she normally doesn't buy the type of diapers her "really intelligent" son has fallen in love with. But since the store ran out of Ben's size, "I grabbed a size 5."

Rose Bennett

"There’s not a brown child on the packaging on the size 4, but on this size there is," she explained.

Bennett said she loves the fact that her son can see images of himself even at such a young age.

Rose Bennett

"Representation really does matter in the media and in packaging for children apparently," she said. "[The pampers] are not marketed towards me. I’m not looking at the child on the package. I’m looking at the price, but Ben cares. It’s the first time he's looked at the package and knows it’s a baby."

"I think it’s great," Bennett added. "I’d like him to see more figures that look like himself."

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