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Schoolkids Need to Be Extra Cautious in September


iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The end of summer means the start of school, and September is when most younger children head back to class. While it’s an exciting time, Safe Kids Worldwide reports it’s also the month that the most children are struck by automobiles, largely because of distractions.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center experts recommend a variety of precautions that parents can undertake to help ensure their youngsters’ safety.

First and foremost, children need to be taught to make eye contact with motorists before stepping off the curb, while also turning off all digital devices. If the kids have cellphones, they should only use them in an area away from traffic.

Another important reminder for parents whose children might be old enough to walk to school themselves is to go over a safe route that has crossing guards at every intersection. Even then, children should also be versed on all pedestrian safety rules.

Motorists are cautioned as well to slow down before reaching all stop signs, crosswalks and intersections, while remembering that cars stopping inside crosswalks may force kids into danger zones.

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Healthier Hearts Found in Tight-Knit Neighborhoods


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’ve lived in a neighborhood for a while, chances are that you take your neighbors for granted. Well, you shouldn’t, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, because the folks from your community may be helping your heart health.

Researchers surveyed more than 5,000 volunteers in the U.S. who reported no health problems, asking them a variety of questions over four years about their relationships with their neighbors.

During that time period, 148 people reported suffering a heart attack. Using the information collected from the survey, the researchers determined that those participants who reported positive experiences with neighbors were 17 percent less likely to have a heart attack than those who didn’t feel as friendly or trusting of others.

The study seems to dispel other findings that have shown people put their health at risk by living in neighborhoods where there is a preponderance of fast food restaurants, violence, drug use and noise.

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Certain Seniors Advised Against Cancer Screenings


TongRo Images/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- Cancer screenings can help people detect early signs of the disease or put their minds at ease if no trace of cancer is found.

However, Dr. Ronald Chen, a radiation oncologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says in a new study that too often elderly patients are screened for certain cancers that are of little consequence to them if they are only expected to live up to ten more years.

In particular, the aged are tested for prostate, breast, cervical and colon cancer, which are certainly serious but not so much as a person nears the end of life.

Chen and other cancer experts say quality of life may be adversely affected through biopsies and treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

According to Chen, both patients and physicians may have to be educated about the pros and cons of cancer screening.

Dr. Cary Gross, who wrote an accompanying editorial to Chen’s study, contends, “People should ask about their probability of dying from cancer if they are screened, compared to if they are not screened. Also, they should ask about which type of test is best for them, and why the doctor recommends it.”

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Report: Big Drop in Teen Pregnancy Rate


Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Teen pregnancies continue to drop, with the latest figures from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) showing that the teen pregnancy rate is less than half of what it was in 1991.

In 2013, the NCHS says that there were just 26.6 births per 1,000 teens, 9.5 percent lower than the 2013 figure. That drop-off is the second-largest one-year dip in teen pregnancies since 1945.

The National Vital Statistics Report released recently indicated that teen pregnancies are lowest in the Northeast and highest in the South.

Still, however, the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. continues to outpace that of other developed nations. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the latest data indicates just 21.8 births per 1,000 teens.

The NCHS warns that teen pregnancies bring heightened risk of low birth-weight and premature birth, which are linked to a number of health complications."

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California Patient Being Tested for Ebola


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A patient in California is being tested for Ebola on Tuesday.

According to a statement from Dr. Stephen Parodi, Infectious Diseases Specialist and Director of Hospital Operations at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, the patient, "may have been exposed to the Ebola virus."

The statement does not provide any identifying information about the patient, their recent travels or their symptoms.

The hospital says it is acting cautiously to protect its other patients and its staff, even though the patient has not been confirmed to have Ebola. The patient is reportedly being isolated in a specially-equipped negative pressure room, and hospital staff in contact with the patient are using personal protective equipment.

Doctors and infectious disease experts at the hospital are also working with local and state public health agencies to monitor the latest developments and share information on the case.

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Study: Couples Who Wait Longer to Have Sex, Live Together, More Likely to Report Higher Marriage Quality


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Virginia finds that survey subjects who waited longer to have sex with their significant other were more likely to have a higher quality marriage.

The study, conducted as part of the National Marriage Project, found that nearly one-third of respondents said that their relationship with their eventual spouse began as "a hook-up." The researchers did not define "hooking up," rather, allowing the respondents to do so themselves. However, those respondents who said their relationship began as a "hook-up" were less likely to have a higher quality marriage. Of those who said their relationship began that way, only 36 percent ranked in the top 40 percent of overall respondents for marriage quality. Forty-two percent of those who said their relationship did not begin as a hook-up placed in the top 40 percent of marriage quality.

Researchers also said that the longer into their relationship that couples waited to have sex, the more likely they were to see higher levels of marital quality.

A larger gap in marriage quality, however, was seen when looking at responses to whether or not respondents and their spouse had lived together before making the commitment to get married. According to the research, just 31 percent of those who cohabited before having plans to marry ranked in the top 40 percent of overall marriage quality. However, 43 percent of respondents who had waited until after making plans to marry one another ranked in that same upper class of marriage quality.

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Brita Recalls Children's Water Bottles Due to Safety Concerns


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Consumers are being urged to stop using Brita hard-sided water filter bottles for children after the Consumer Product Safety Commission said that the lid can break into pieces with sharp points.

According to the CPSC, about 242,500 of the bottles have been recalled, including four different styles. Among the recalled products are versions featuring Dora the Explorer on a violet bottle, Hello Kitty on a pink bottle, SpongeBob Square Pants on a blue bottle and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on a green bottle.

Brita has reportedly received at least 35 reports of the lids breaking or cracking, which poses a threat to children drinking from the bottle. No injuries have been reported, however.

Consumers are asked to stop using the bottles and contact Brita to receive a pre-paid shipping package to return the bottle. Customers will receive a full refund.

The bottles were sold at a number of retailers, including Target and Walmart stores and online on Amazon.com between June 2013 and July 2014.

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Experts Blast Rob Schneider's Parkinson's Drug Twitter Rant


Vince Bucci/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Comedian Rob Schneider’s Twitter rant blaming Parkinson’s drugs for Robin Williams’ death has highlighted the delicate balance between the risks and benefits of the prescription drugs millions of people take every day.

In a series of tweets Monday, Schneider blasted the “evil pharmaceutical industry” for admitting that “100,000 people in the USA die a year from prescription drugs,” some of which list suicide as a side effect.

But Parkinson’s disease experts say Schneider is out of line.

“Suicide is of no more concern in patients with Parkinson’s versus those who don’t have Parkinson’s,” said Dr. Irene Richard, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center and a science adviser to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

In fact, a 2008 Howard University study found that people with Parkinson’s are 10 times less likely to commit suicide than the average person. Williams' widow revealed after the comedian's death that Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition of the nervous system marked by tremors and general difficulty with movement. It attacks the nerve cells that produce neurotransmitters associated with mood and, along with the shock of the diagnosis, can lead to depression, studies suggest.

More than 50 percent of people who receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis develop clinical depression, according to Parkinson's Disease Foundation. The foundation notes that about 30 percent of patients reported being depressed even before their diagnosis and that antidepressants are often an effective treatment. Parkinson’s medications like pramiprexole even have an antidepressant effect, according to the foundation.

However, some Parkinson’s drugs do list an increased risk of suicide as a possible side effect.

For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that patients taking either levodopa or SINEMET, two drugs commonly used to treat Parkinson’s, “should be observed carefully for the development of depression with concomitant suicidal tendencies.”

Some Parkinson’s drugs have also been shown to increase impulsive behaviors that can lead to out-of-control gambling, sex addiction and other compulsive disorders. But Richard, who studies Parkinson’s related depression, cautioned against linking impulsiveness to suicidal tendencies.

The only Parkinson’s treatment that has an outright possible association with increased suicide risk is deep brain stimulation, Richard noted, a surgery where electrodes are implanted in the brain to control its electrical activity. Any candidate for such an operation would be carefully screened for history of depression and other mood disorders, Richard said.

Several prescription medications list suicide as a possible side effect -- a labeling requirement based on safety data, patient reports and other relevant information, according to the FDA.

“It is limited to those events for which there is some basis to believe there is a causal relationship between occurrence of an adverse event and the use of a drug,” FDA spokeswoman Sandy Walsh told ABC News.

The agency is currently examining concerns about suicidal tendencies linked to a diverse list of medications, including some for asthma and controlling seizures, and even one for quitting smoking. All antidepressants in the United States carry a warning that they are associated with an increased suicide risk in adults aged 18 to 24 during initial treatment, according to the National Institutes of Health.

So long as their depression is properly managed, James Beck, vice president of scientific affairs for the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, said that suicide shouldn’t be a primary worry for the majority of Parkinson’s patients. He added that if Schneider did not know the specifics of Williams’ treatment, then his tweets were ill-informed and irresponsible.

“Williams had a lot of issues and it’s hard to say what was going through is mind,” said Davis, who was not involved in Williams’ care. “I don’t think you can blame his suicide on one particular thing.”

Schneider’s spokesman told ABC News that the comedian, who was a longtime friend of Williams’, would not be commenting any further.

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How Children Are Struggling Through Ferguson Unrest


Fuse/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- As the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, continue, some children in the community have shown signs of anxiety and stress -- such as nightmares -- as inflamed tensions between local authorities and residents continue for a ninth day.

Angela Tate, a counselor and director of the region’s Behavioral Health Response, said her 14-year-old daughter keeps asking over and over what exactly is going on.

“Her questions [are], ‘How long is this going on.’ She wants to go back to school,” Tate said. “Her questions haven’t been the deeper-thought level questions. It’s been more on the surface is what happens first and what happens next.”

Tate’s daughter is just one of 11,000 students in the Ferguson-Florissant school district who remain unable to go to school because of the protests. The district has postponed school twice since the protests began, meaning thousands of children have been left without their normal day-to-day routine.

The delayed school date is more than a minor annoyance because it can create more stress for young students already living through a stressful and new event, some experts say.

Dr. Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University, said an everyday routine is key to keeping down stress levels.

"Routines and rituals help keep a lid on anxiety,” Kazdin said. “You can’t reason a person out of these things.”

Tate said her daughter didn’t talk too much about her fears surrounding the situation, until a window was broken at a store next to Tate’s husband’s barber shop.

"'Is Daddy’s shop still safe?'" Tate recalled her daughter asking. "We have responded to her by watching the news reports together but not too much because that can become overwhelming. We can watch it once a night and try to talk to the facts."

Tate said her goal has been to support her daughter but also be transparent with her if she does not know the answer to a question and to be clear it is ok to feel scared, afraid or unsettled.

“We talk about normalizing these emotions and the effects of this type of trauma,” Tate said.

Kazdin said monitoring how much children -- both teens and younger ones -- are exposed to events, either on TV or in person, is key in helping them feel safe and calm.

“Many children during September 11 [terrorist acts] had post-traumatic stress symptoms and it was perplexing,” Kazdin said. “They had no contact with September 11[events.] It turns out it was related to the amount of TV they watched [of events.]”

Carolyn Landis, a psychiatrist and professor of pediatrics at the UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, said parents can frame the scary events happening outside in a more positive manner to make children feel safe and secure.

“They can be anxious about going back to school and now there is unrest,” Landis said. “Definitely with younger children [parents should] be very careful about having a TV on because [of] nightmares. What they’re exposed to is what they’re going to be dreaming about, try to be as positive as possible.”

Gayle Babcock of the Ferguson Youth Initiative said she has heard from parents that young children have been unable to sleep after seeing or hearing violence in their neighborhood or on the television.

“As an adult I’m traumatized; most of the kids are [too,]” said Babcock, who works mainly with teenagers in the area as part of a traveling youth center. “The kids are saying the police need to talk to youth and need to hear them. The youth are not bad just because they’re teenagers.”

Both Tate and Babcock are working to provide young people and children in the community with access to counselors or other resources so that they don’t feel overwhelmed. Tate has been going to rallies with other counselors to talk to families or teens.

The St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund is planning to send an additional 25 counselors to the school district when classes start, effectively doubling the amount of counselors available to students.

While younger children may be without a clear schedule because of the protests, older teens have had the opportunity to participate in large daily protests likely for the first time.

Amy Hunter, director of Racial Justice at the YWCA in St. Louis, said she has talked to many of the younger protesters, some of whom are the same age as her teenage children. She said she has found signs of hopefulness among the protesters, in addition to their anger over the death of Michael Brown.

“For many of the young people it’s one of the first times to have their voice and have their voice heard,” Hunter said. “This is how social movements change forever. I think a lot of the older middle-aged people are encouraging them to have their voices heard in a nonviolent way.”

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Impact of Ebola Outbreak Grows with Reports of New Cases


Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Ebola outbreak continues to spread with an additional 113 cases reported over two days.

The virus has killed at least 1,229 and sickened 1,011 more, according to numbers released Tuesday by the World Health Organization.

The outbreak is already the deadliest on record and has shown no signs of slowing. About 44.2 percent of all Ebola deaths since the virus was discovered in 1976 have occurred since March 2014, according to WHO data.

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#LikeaBoy Social Media Campaign Celebrates Boys' Sensitive Sides


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With 47 million clicks and counting, the "Like a Girl" advertisement campaign from Always is sparking a national conversation on female empowerment and self-esteem.

Now, a gender twist is taking the conversation even further.

Ilana Wiles, creator of the MommyShorts.com blog, loved the ad's message so much she asked her readers to submit photos of their daughters doing "all the amazing things our daughters do," she explained, along with the hashtag #LikeAGirl.

But then something unexpected happened.

"It was my readers who started posting pictures of their sons doing so-called feminine things," Wiles of New York City, recalled.

Soon her blog was flooded with pictures of little boys proudly displaying their feminine side, from putting on polish to playing with dolls, all with the defiant hashtag #LikeABoy.

"We would never want someone to tell our girls that they can't do the same thing boys can do," said Ericka Souter, editor at TheStir.com. "But when it comes to boys, we limit them to what we think are the right things for little boys to do and the right ways for little boys to act and we have to ask, 'Is that really fair?'"

Heather Castic, a mom from North Carolina, posted a picture of her 2-year-old twin boys "playing princess" with their 4-year-old sister.

"That's what my boys do," Castic explained. "They emulate their sister and it was actually very refreshing to see other people out there with boys doing things just like my boys do because sometimes you question if it's normal."

She says her boys, who love dinosaurs as much as tea parties, are helping to redefine what it means to be "like a boy."

"I really think the hashtag should have been #LikeAKid because it's what kids do," Castic said. "They're just using their imagination. They're at an age of innocence. They're just having fun.

Added Wiles: " Housework and childcare isn't girly. It is what makes a good man and a strong family. Every little boy should be handed a doll and a toy vacuum."


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Startling Viral Video Shows Effects of Sun on Skin


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Photographer Thomas Leveritt is hoping his video will help shed light on the importance of sunscreen and it seems to be having an effect.

The video, which has been licensed by ABC News, shows how skin appears when viewed under ultraviolet lights. The difference is like night and day.

People of diverse races are seen approaching the camera and then standing to be viewed. Many of them gasp to see the appearance of their skin under the UV light, which shows the appearance of the skin beyond what can be seen by the naked eye.

Also compelling is what happens when people apply sunscreen to their faces. The portion of skin that’s covered by the lotion appears under the UV as solid black streaks. Levitt says this shows that sunscreen can indeed block UV rays.

“I think what’s interesting about the UV camera is that it shows you exactly how effective sunscreen can be,” he said in a Skype interview with ABC News. “People are so used to being told about certain product’s scientific quality, but when they’re finally shown, it’s a much more deep and emotional impact.”

The video was published to YouTube on Aug. 12. As of Monday night, it had been viewed more than 9 million times.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the publication JAMA Dermatology.

Dr. Doris Day, a New York City dermatologist, said people need to be “sun smart.”

“We know that skin cancer can happen in every skin type…everyone should have their skin checked at least once a year. And if you have a lot of spots check more often,” she said. “Studies show that if you use sunscreen everyday all year round, that you lower your risk of skin cancer and aging by 20 percent.”


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Study Says New Moms Need to Take Care of Their Health


iStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Women who are thinking about having a child should take heed of a new study out of the University of Minnesota.

Based on research conducted on 2,400 women who gave birth around the nation in 2011 and 2012, it was found that a third of the new moms were in poor health.

What's more, women with health issues were also 30 percent less likely to breastfeed than those in better condition. Breastfeeding has been shown to provide numerous benefits to babies and infants.

According to Dr. Katy Kozhimannil, the study's lead author, new moms with health problems that include obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes tend to be non-white, lower income, unmarried without support and receiving medical care funded by the state.

Of the women in this category who try to breastfeed, Kozhimannil says that many just give up and resort to expensive formulas.

She says her study is hopefully a wake-up call to the medical community at-large to go beyond just counseling women with special needs about the importance of breastfeeding and staying in better health.

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Public Perception of Jobs Also Influences Views on Parenting


Fuse/Thinkstock(IOWA CITY, Iowa) -- Your job may be holding you back from being as good a parent as you can possibly be. Or at least, that's what some people think.

That's the finding of University of Iowa researchers, who say that the public's views of particular workers perceived as aggressive, weak, or impersonal may needlessly add more stress.

Researcher Mark Walker says the study conducted with co-author Mary Noonan shows "the cultural meanings of a person's occupational and parental identities could impact the psychological well-being of working parents."

Essentially, the low opinion people have of certain workers make them feel they won't be good parents either.

Those occupations include attorney, salesperson, laborer, receptionist, police officer or politician.

However, teachers, doctors, registered nurses, principals and professors are viewed more favorably by the public, and therefore are seen as better parents.

One solution, according to Walker, is if employers in certain "stress" fields could potentially provide more targeted mental health resources for those in "at risk" occupations.

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Owners, Employees of California Slaughterhouse Charged for Distributing 'Adulterated' Meat


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The United States Attorney for the Northern District of California announced an indictment against one of two owners -- and two employees -- of the now-defunct Rancho Feeding Corporation, a Petaluma, California slaughterhouse.

According to the indictment, Jesse Amaral Jr., 76, a co-owner of the slaughterhouse, and employees Eugene Corda, 65, and Felix Cabrera, 55, allegedly conspired to distribute, "adulterated, misbranded and uninspected meat." Documents released by the U.S. Attorney's Office indicate that between 2012 and Jan. 2014, Amaral told Cabrera to "process" cattle that had been condemned by a United States Department of Agriculture veterinarian. Cabrera then instructed employees to remove stamps from cattle carcasses that read "USDA Condemned" and distribute over 100 condemned cattle.

Additionally, Amaral and co-owner Robert Singleton, 77, are accused of instructing employees to circumvent standard inspection procedures. That action allegedly led to the distribution of approximately 79 diseased cattle.

Amaral is also accused of fraudulently charging farmers "handling fees" based on lies regarding the distribution of their cattle which had either died or been deemed condemned, despite the fact that the cattle had been sold for human consumption anyway.

The illegal actions reportedly led to the recall of over eight million pounds of beef products in February.

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