Courtesy Scott Family(OTTOWA, Ontario) -- Wyatt Scott turned a year old earlier this summer, but he ate his birthday dinner through a tube in his tummy.
It’s been more than four months since the Scott family launched WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com to find out why their baby boy can’t open his mouth, and though they’ve been flooded with emails, their little boy’s condition remains a mystery.
Wyatt’s lockjaw has baffled doctors since he was born in June 2013 in Ottawa, Canada, and though the Scott family has taken him to every specialist imaginable, they can’t figure out the root of the problem, Andrew Scott said. Wyatt spent the first three months of his life in the hospital, and his parents have had to call 911 several times because he's been choking and unable to open his mouth.
So Wyatt's mother, Amy, decided to create a website, WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com last spring in the hopes that someone would recognize the condition and offer a solution.
Wyatt's doctor, Dr. J. P. Vaccani, told ABC News in April that the condition, congenital trismus, is rare and usually the result of a fused joint or extra band of tissue. But Wyatt’s CT and MRI scans appear to be normal.
"It's an unusual situation where he can’t open his mouth, and there’s no kind of obvious reason for it,” Vaccani, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario told ABC News. “Otherwise, he’s a healthy boy."
Andrew Scott said he’s sifted through 500 emails submitted to WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com over the last several months, and compiled a list of the most important ideas to give to Wyatt’s doctors. One letter-writer from Virginia told the Scotts that Wyatt’s story made her cry because her now-14-year-old had similar mysterious symptoms.
“She could have written it herself,” Andrew Scott recalled her saying.
Though the Virginia 14-year-old underwent surgery and therapy, Andrew Scott said Wyatt seems to have something different.
“It’s not just that his mouth doesn’t open,” he said.
Wyatt underwent a study in which doctors X-rayed him while he was feeding to see how the muscles in his mouth and throat worked. They found that he has problems with motor function and swallowing in addition to the lockjaw.
“His blinking is erratic,” Andrew Scott added. “He’ll wink on one side a bunch, then the other side and back and forth.”
Their quest for answers has been slow. A recent muscle biopsy came back negative, and Wyatt is awaiting results of his third genetic test.
Since the website launched, Wyatt had a major health scare: he stole a piece of chicken off his mother’s plate and put it in his mouth, Andrew Scott said. His lips were parted just enough to get it in, but neither of his parents could get it out, so they pulled it out in pieces. They thought it was all gone when Wyatt fell asleep.
Then, Wyatt started choking.
“He almost died,” Andrew Scott said. “I ended up just giving him breath.”
Wyatt “came back” just as ambulances and fire trucks arrived, Andrew Scott said. At the hospital, doctors scoped Wyatt’s lungs, but he was still coughing up chicken pieces several days later.
The emergency forced doctors to use anesthesia to put Wyatt to sleep, which they were too afraid to do before because they feared he would stop breathing. While he was out for the lung scope, the also did a muscle biopsy and put in a G-tube. Now, instead of being fed through a tube in his nose that leads to his stomach, Wyatt can “eat” through a tube in his belly.
Wyatt’s birthday party at the end of June was a pig roast that drew 50 people and included a piñata, goats and a trampoline. Though Wyatt didn’t get any mashed-up pig in his G-tube, Andrew Scott said “maybe next time.” By the end of the party, Wyatt was sound asleep in the grass.
iStock/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) -- Remember the last time you had a bad night’s sleep? If you can’t, it’s possible that your interrupted sleep contributed to your forgetfulness.
Researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine conducted an experiment in which participants recalled details of a simulated burglary. Those deprived of sleep -- from staying awake for 24 hours or even getting five or fewer hours of shut-eye -- were much more likely to experience memory distortion.
While just an experiment, the MSU and UC-Irvine researchers say chronic sleep deprivation could have a dire effect on the criminal justice system, particularly when witnesses are asked to recall specific details about serious cases including murder investigations.
Besides memory distortions, health experts blame lack of sleep on a variety of other conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, not to mention causing vehicular accidents.
Photodisc/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) -- As the late football coach Vince Lombardi often said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”
Lombardi particularly hated to lose, but usually didn’t overreact following a defeat, figuring the formula that generally proved successful shouldn’t be tampered with.
However, some coaches and business executives often make hasty decisions when things don’t go their way, sometimes resulting in more setbacks.
A Brigham Young University study bears this out. Co-author Brennan Platt says that he looked at data from NBA coaching decisions over two decades to determine how personnel was changed following a narrow victory or narrow loss.
Typically, lineups were more often adjusted after defeats than triumphs and that changes that weren’t well-thought-out resulted in at least one more loss per season.
Platt says this kind of thinking has adverse effects in the business world as well, with bosses sometimes overanalyzing an employee’s performance when things didn’t go right. Much of the time, a supervisor doesn’t take into account situations out of someone’s control, which can occasionally be chalked up to just plain bad luck.
iStock/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) -- Does weather have anything to do with lower back pain? Some people will swear it does, often blaming temperature changes, rainstorms, humidity or barometric pressure for their discomfort. But as it happens, they’re wrong, according to researchers from the Sydney Medical School.
To prove their point, they studied the records of close to a thousand people who had gone to see their doctors for pain in the lower back that had developed within the past 24 hours. Each was asked where they lived and exactly at what time their backs began aching.
Then, without the knowledge of the patients or doctors, the researchers crossed-referenced that information with weather data from the days back pain was reported.
The results? There was no pattern to show that rain, humidity or sudden temperature changes affected the back. However, the Sydney researchers did discover something quirky: for whatever reason, there were slightly more reports of back pain whenever higher wind and wind gust speeds occurred.
iStock/Thinkstock(YUMEN, China) -- Parts of a city in northwestern China are in quarantine after a man died from bubonic plague last week, state media reported.
The 38-year-old victim had been in contact with a dead marmot, a type of rodent, according to the Xinhua news agency. Health officials and disease prevention specialists are in Yumen, in China's Gansu Province, to prevent the plague from spreading.
Several parts of the city of more than 100,000 people are reportedly in quarantine, and 151 people who recently had contact with the victim are under isolation, the news agency said. No one has any symptoms of the plague, Xinhua reported.
Some reports claim the victim had chopped the squirrel-like rodent up to feed it to his dog, and later developed a fever. He died in a hospital on July 16.
Bubonic plague usually comes from an infected flea bite, which can live on rodents and other animals, according to the World Health Organization. Without immediate treatment, it is fatal in more than half of cases.
The plague is very rare but still present in mostly rural areas.
iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A deaf toddler who underwent surgery to have a radical auditory device implanted into his brainstem to help him hear is showing vast improvement after undergoing the surgery a second time, his doctors said, giving new hope that the device could one day be a common treatment option for deaf children.
Alex Frederick, a 2-year-old boy from Washington Township, Mich., was just 17 months old when Dr. Daniel Lee from Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and a team of specialists from Massachusetts General Hospital, implanted an Auditory Brainstem Implant or ABI, into Alex's brain last year.
Alex was born with little to no hearing and the ABI acts as a kind of "digital ear." It's made up of a small antenna that is implanted on the brainstem so that it can pick up signals from a tiny microphone worn on the ear and relay them back inside as electrical signals that reach the area of the brain associated with interpreting sound.
An Italian surgeon named Dr. Vittorio Colletti pioneered the use of the device and implanting procedure in children -- previously the device had been used as a common approach for treating adults with brain tumors. The device is currently not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but is undergoing a series of clinical trials to win approval. Alex was selected as a participant in one of these trials last year and Nightline has followed him and his parents on their journey.
Alex's first surgery was a success, but a few weeks ago, the toddler fell and hit his head on a table. The impact broke the speech processor and damaged the surgically implanted plate in his skull that holds the device in place, doctors said.
On July 2, Alex underwent a five-hour "revision" surgery at Massachusetts General to have the entire device re-implanted. His team of doctors successfully replaced the broken ABI with a new one, in the same location on the left side of his brainstem, and Alex seems to be improving quickly.
"The responses looked encouraging. That could be associated with stimulation of the first brainstem implant," Dr. Lee told Nightline. "In order for brain development to continue it needs to be stimulated whether it is through sight or through hearing, through sound. In the case of the ABI, the device is electrically stimulating the path of sound in the brain, which means that the neural network can continue to mature. A mature network of the auditory pathway is associated with better responses."
Alex returned home just four days after the second surgery and his parents remain optimistic.
He is "alert and playing with toys less than 48 hours after surgery completion," Alex's father Phil Frederick told Nightline over email. "Not trying to jinx things but he is healing faster than last time."
"We are just so happy right now and excited things are looking up," he added.
At the time of Alex's first surgery in Nov. 2013, he was the youngest person in the U.S. to receive the ABI device and is one of a very few pediatric patients in the world to undergo ABI revision surgery. Worldwide, about 10 children are known to have had the device re-implanted.
Since the procedure on children is still new, Dr. Lee said he and the rest of Alex's surgical team discussed whether to re-implant Alex's device in the same location, or try to place it around his other ear.
"The decision was not so clear, as far as whether you implant the same ear and encounter scarring, which would make the surgery difficult, or consider doing an ABI on the other ear, which has not been implanted yet," Dr. Lee said. "In the end we decided to attempt replacing the first ABI because it was working well and because the experience of one particular ABI surgeon, Dr. Colletti, was that revising these ABI's is possible if done carefully. We went ahead after much deliberation to do the ABI on the same side."
Alex was born two months prematurely, weighing just four pounds and four ounces at birth. He spent the first month of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit of St. John Hospital in Detroit. Scans later showed that Alex had a heart condition, his vision was compromised and he was deaf.
When Alex was 1, his parents tried for a cochlear implant, a 40-year-old technology that uses electrodes to stimulate auditory nerves. The surgery commenced, but was halted mid-operation when it became evident it would not work due to the irregular structure of Alex's inner ear. The scar from that failure is still evident behind his right ear.
Alex's parents kept looking for an answer, for some other technology that would help their son hear. In the course his research, Phil Frederick learned about Dr. Colletti's approach for placing ABIs in children, and that the device was about to undergo a series of clinical trials in the U.S. to win FDA approval.
After finding out about the ABI surgery, Frederick looked up which U.S. hospitals where hosting the clinical trials and emailed them all individually to get Alex on the list. In August 2013, the family got word there was an opening in a trial being conducted at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, under the direction of Dr. Lee.
"ABI surgery in the child ... who cannot get a cochlear implant can result in meaningful sound awareness and speech perception with time, but it takes work," Dr. Lee told Nightline in a previous interview.
On Oct. 5, 2013, the Fredericks traveled from Michigan to Boston for Alex to undergo the initial surgery, for which Dr. Colletti flew in from Italy to observe. Alex's surgery cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but was paid for by the family's insurance company.
Several weeks after the first surgery, Alex and his family returned to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in November 2013 to have his ABI switched on for the first time. Wires connected the device inside his head to a sound generator controlled from a computer, where a doctor could manipulate the sound level on the device. Nightline was there when the device was first switched on.
Alex's parents decided that they wanted the first sound their son to hear to be his older sisters' voices, so after the device was turned on, Evelyn, 6, and Izabella, 3, started talking, but it didn't elicit a reaction from Alex. Others in the room tried raising the sound level, but still nothing at first.
Then, to everyone's surprise, a doctor in the room slammed her keys into the side of a desk, and Alex turned towards the sound. With that little turn of his head, Alex had made the connection to sound for the first time.
Alex and his parents are eager to get back to the long process of Alex learning what sound actually is and how it has meaning, even meaning as words. They will return to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary next month, where an audiologist will activate the newly implanted device, and the family will continue to travel back and forth to Boston every month, so that doctors can test Alex's hearing response as they fine-tune the software that interacts with the electronics inside his skull.
Since Alex's surgery, Dr. Lee has implanted the device in an 11-month-old girl from Austin, Texas, and on Wednesday, the teams at Massachusetts General and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary will meet again to perform the same surgery on a 15-month-old girl from Oregon.
iStock/Thinkstock(MCMECHAN, W.Va.) -- Medical officials in Ohio and West Virginia are warning patients from a pain management clinic in West Virginia that they need to be tested after the clinic was allegedly caught reusing needles.
Ohio Deputy Health Commissioner Rob Sproul says patients at Valley Pain Management could have been exposed to HIV as well as Hepatitis B and C.
"They need to get in contact with their primary physician," Sproul said. "If they have insurance, go see the doctor and get tested."
The clinic is located in McMechan, West Virginia, near the Ohio border.
Some residents are considering legal action while some are urging a criminal investigation.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study says beef production is much more harmful to the earth than the production of other animal proteins.
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared to pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy, the production of beef is responsible for six times more nitrogen, which pollutes water and comes from the fertilizer used to grow the corn fed to cows.
The author of the study suggests eating other proteins instead.
The beef industry says this a "gross oversimplification" of the beef production process.
iStock/Thinkstock(FORTH WORTH, Texas) -- After the last piece of cake has been eaten and the last remnants of a tan have faded away from the honeymoon, one wedding element is often left hanging in limbo or, at least, in the back of a closet -- the bride's dress.
For those who don't plan to preserve their garment, options for "What to do with it?" can range from resale to recycling. But a Texas nonprofit now offers a dress donation alternative with a higher purpose: "angel gowns," beautiful white burial clothing for stillborn children.
NICU Helping Hands, in Fort Worth, Texas, is an organization offering support to families with premature newborns and stillborns. Their Angel Gowns program, founded by Lisa Stubbs in 2013, collects donated bridal gowns from across the country to be transformed by volunteer seamstresses into tiny precious designs.
"I watched so many families who had lost a baby sorting through donated clothing at the hospital, some of which was appropriate for final burial and pictures, some of it not," said Stubbs. "But what really bothered me was watching them dig through those bins. It just seemed so disrespectful. So I thought we should provide something to families that is respectful, and that would fit their child."
Stubbs' mother and mother-in-law became the first two volunteer seamstresses for NICU Helping Hands, turning a wedding dress into multiple dressing gowns in several sizes.
"Each wedding gown, depending upon the size and the style, will make between 12 and 20 angel gowns," a spokeswoman for NICU Helping Hands told ABC News.
As of March, more than 12,000 angel gowns could be created after the donation of roughly 3,000 wedding dresses from across the nation.
"And the gowns are still coming in," said the spokeswoman. "Thankfully we have a pretty big warehouse space in Fort Worth. Local volunteers can come by to pick up gowns and start sewing, and that's also where volunteer seamstresses around the country get shipped dresses from."
The need is great. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 11 percent of babies are born preterm each year, putting them at higher risk for infant mortality. And the most recent CDC figures indicate that more than 24,000 infant deaths occurred in 2010.
"People don’t like to talk about this. There’s nothing normal about a child dying," said Stubbs. "But what’s also heartwarming about this program is what it has done in bringing a voice to families who have lost a baby across generations. Many of them lost them in the NICU, many in stillbirths, many were early miscarriages, and it’s given so many of them an opportunity to express their grief."
It has also given brides a way to imbue an ephemeral investment with new value.
"After I got married in 2010, I knew I wanted to donate my wedding gown to a worthwhile cause," said Aimee Dars Ellis. "It's taken me almost four years to find a meaningful charity. Right now, I am cleaning my gown and getting ready to send it to NICU Helping Hands."
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency released a food recall warning Tuesday for Sweet 2 Eat brand fruit products imported from California because of concerns about a possible listeria monocytogenes contamination.
The recalled fruits include whole peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots.
The CIFA urges consumers to throw out the potentially contaminated fruit or return it to the store they were purchased from.
If consumers eat fruit contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, they can suffer from symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness.
The Wawona Packing Co. released a statement about the recall, quoting company President Brent Smittcamp as saying, "We are aware of no illnesses related to the consumption of these products, by taking the precautionary step of recalling product, we will minimize even the slightest risk to public health, and that is our priority."
iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Do kids really hate the healthier foods that have been mandated in school lunch programs?
A study out of University of Illinois at Chicago suggests that first lady Michelle Obama may have been on the right track when she pushed for tougher nutrition standards, even as more schools now seem to be resisting the program that covers some 30 million kids.
Administrators from more than 500 elementary schools were asked by researchers how their students reacted to the meals that emphasized more fruits and vegetables and less junk during the 2012-2013 year, when the policy first went into effect.
The result was that over seven in ten agreed or strongly agreed that primary school students liked the lunch choices they were being offered.
According to the survey, the new lunches were better received in larger schools where youngsters qualified for free meals or those at reduced prices, while students in either urban or suburban areas were less apt to turn their noses up at the lunches than youngsters in rural parts of the country.
iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- There are a lot of benefits to a religious upbringing, but one of the unintended consequences is that strong beliefs might make kids more gullible.
In a comparison between children who learn religious stories and those who don't, Boston University researchers say that youngsters who have a deep and abiding faith more often accept fiction as the literal truth.
The researchers made their finding by reading stories considered realistic, religious and fantastical to groups of 5- and 6-year-olds. When it came to non-fictional characters, both religious and secular children were able to correctly answer questions at the same rate.
However, the 79 percent of children who attended church or religious school identified religious characters as real compared to six percent of secular kids. In terms of characters described as magical, 41 percent of children exposed to religious teaching accepted them as real while only 13 percent with no religious teaching believed they existed.
Study author Kathleen Corriveau says religious teachings often require a suspension of disbelief, which is why the churchgoing children might apply these fictional events outside of their faith.
Nonetheless, Corriveau contends this is not necessarily a bad thing because it might make learning counterintuitive phenomena easier for them as well.
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The dangers of smoking during pregnancy have been well documented. One possible side effect is that a cigarette habit might put a child at a greater risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
As a result, physicians have recommended that if a pregnant woman can't quit cold turkey, they switch over to nicotine-replacement products such as patches or gum.
However, a new study out of the University of Denmark suggests that while these products might do less harm to the mother, the nicotine they're ingesting could still boost their child's chances of developing ADHD.
Study author Dr. Jin Liang Zhu says that while no definitive link has been established between nicotine and ADHD, health experts have long believed that cigarette smoking can lead to abnormalities in the fetal brain.
As a result, any woman who smokes is advised to quit if they wish to get pregnant or are pregnant, and to come off nicotine-replacement therapy as quickly as possible.
iStock/Thinkstock(KITSAP COUNTY, Wash.) -- The stomach bug that sickened more than 260 swimmers at a Washington state lake was in fact norovirus, health officials have confirmed.
The contagious virus swept through Horseshoe Lake Park in Kitsap County, Washington, earlier this month, causing cramps, nausea, and diarrhea, according to the local health department.
The park was closed as officials investigated the cause of the outbreak, which was initially dubbed "norovirus-like." It reopened Saturday after water samples from the lake came back negative for the virus.
Norovirus is the sixth-leading cause of recreational water illness in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –- tying with the bacteria E. coli. Each year the virus causes more than 19 million cases of illness, 400,000 emergency room visits, 71,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths, according to the CDC’s website.
The virus spreads through food, liquid, and surfaces that are contaminated with infected feces or vomit, according to the CDC. There's no specific treatment, so the agency recommends staying hydrated for the duration of symptoms, which is usually one to three days.
The CDC recommends the following tips for safe summer swimming:
Avoid getting water up your nose when swimming in warm, freshwater.
Don't swim if you have diarrhea.
Shower with soap before taking a dip.
Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.