iStock/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) — In a study just published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine have discovered that pregnant women who get the flu vaccine significantly reduce the risk for their baby to get the illness.
According to the scientists, infants 6 months and younger whose mothers were vaccinated when pregnant had a 70 percent reduction in confirmed flu cases and an 80 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations compared with babies whose moms skipped the shot.
What's more, the study showed that 97 percent of laboratory-confirmed flu cases occurred in infants whose mothers' weren't immunized.
"Babies cannot be immunized during their first six months, so they must rely on others for protection from the flu during that time," according to Julie H. Shakib, D.O., M.S., M.P.H., the University of Utah's assistant professor of pediatrics. "When pregnant women get the flu vaccine there are clear benefits for their infants."
Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Weight loss remains a big priority for millions of Americans but permanently dropping pounds has proved difficult in spite of a huge weight-loss industry. A new study now shows how dropping large amounts of weight can still lead to long-term issues for patients as their metabolism may slow dramatically.
All except one of 14 contestants had slowed metabolic rates after losing weight, the study found. The researchers followed the contestants six years after their time on the show and found that all except one regained significant amounts of weight.
Out of the 14 contestants, 13 regained weight within 6 years and four are even heavier than they were before the competition began. Only one contestant, Erinn Egbert, sustained weight loss despite having a slower metabolism. She burned 552 less calories than what would be expected for another woman her size, the study found. There was only one contestant, Rudy Pauls, who had an improved metabolism but he underwent weight-loss surgery after the show to reduce the size of his stomach.
While the authors said further research is needed, the study points out how difficult it can be to achieve long-term weight loss.
"Long-term weight loss requires vigilant combat against persistent metabolic adaptation that acts to proportionally counter ongoing efforts to reduce body weight," the authors concluded.
Producers of The Biggest Loser told ABC News they are evaluating the study findings.
"We have comprehensive procedures and support systems in place which we routinely re-evaluate to ensure all contestants receive the best care possible," the producers said in a statement. "The lead medical doctor on the show, who has worked with the National Institutes of Health on initiatives in the past relating to The Biggest Loser, has been made aware of this most recent study and is in the process of evaluating its findings."
Experts said the study could be important by showing those struggling with losing weight how much of weight loss is physiological and not just a matter of "willpower."
Dr. Holly Lofton, assistant professor of medicine and the director of medical weight management program at NYU Langone Medical Center, said the study will also help draw attention to the guilt of weight gain. She said her patients often feel a sense of shame if they start to regain the weight or use weight-loss aids.
"Hunger is not a sign of poor willpower and it’s not a sign of you be cheating," Lofton told ABC News. "There’s a lot of shame and guilt at the idea that they may not be able to keep the weight off on their own without medications or devices or surgery, because that is what the environment has taught us."
Lofton said she has always told her patients they will not be able to eat as much as a person of the same weight who was not formerly obese, and that she's gratified that the study has underlined her past recommendations.
"We tell the patient you’re not going to be able to eat normally," she said. "It does surprise a lot of people, 'I have to eat that little!'"
Lofton said she thought the study can help people understand more about the difficulty of losing weight.
"I don’t think it’s good news for a person trying to lose weight but it does bring to light that those who can’t maintain weight loss ... there’s a reason," Lofton said.
Dr. Bartolome Burguera, an endocrinologist and director of Obesity Programs at Cleveland Clinic, said the study wasn't surprising but that it was important to highlight how difficult weight loss can be in the long term.
"When you try to lose weight with a very significant effort in general you cannot keep that level of change in your lifestyle," Burguera told ABC News. "Your brain wants you get back to what you did before."
Burguera pointed out that while doctors view obesity as a chronic disease, many patients feel shame for not overcoming their weight gain on their own.
"Losing weight you have to go slowly and you have to make sure you improve your nutrition and become more physically active," Burguera said. "You should not feel guilt if you gain weight. It’s like feeling guilt if you have diabetes or have cancer," or any other chronic disease.
FDA(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched a $35.7 million anti-tobacco campaign Monday focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young adults.
The new campaign, “This Free Life,” includes four videos that aim to prevent and reduce smoking among LGBT 18- to 24-year-olds, who are about twice as likely to use tobacco as other people their age, according to Kathy Crosby, director of the Office of Health Communication and Education in the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
“This is the biggest LGBT health initiative that’s ever existed," said Doctor Scout, director of LGBT HealthLink, who was consulted by the FDA in making the ads. A lot of tobacco control has not focused on LGBT people, "despite our huge smoking rate," he said.
Paid for using funds collected from the tobacco industry, the videos prominently feature coming-out stories, famous drag queens, and chance romantic encounters at parties. Instead of focusing solely on the health impacts of smoking, the videos highlight how smoking may affect how one looks and smells.
“It’s a rather sophisticated combination,” said Dr. Robert Jackler, principal investigator of the group known as Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising. “It's really about the eyes meeting across the bar floor, and will tobacco use tip the scale away from [a new relationship]?”
LGBT people are thought to smoke more often than their peers because of increased stress and the sense of community many find in bars and clubs, where smoking ads and promotions are common, according to Scout.
Tobacco companies have long targeted LGBT communities. Most famously, in documents that were made public in the 1990s as the result of anti-tobacco litigation, tobacco company R.J. Reynolds was found to have targeted one of their campaigns, “Project SCUM,” at gay men and homeless people. SCUM stood for “Subculture Urban Marketing.”
What Jackler said he finds particularly interesting, however, is how “This Free Life” uses tobacco companies’ own advertising language against them.
“Freedom-based advertising is huge in the tobacco world,” he said, referring in particular to new electronic cigarette ads, which claim to give users the freedom to smoke wherever they please and without health repercussions.
Using the slogan, “Freedom to be, tobacco-free,” the FDA’s campaign appeals to ideas of freedom and individuality that are “very resonant” with the LGBT community, according to Jackler. At the same time, he warns they may have missed the mark in a campaign that he saw largely as one focused on prevention, not quitting.
According to Crosby, the campaign decided to focus on the 18-to-24 demographic primarily because the average age of coming out is around 18 years old.
“By the age of 18, most people who start smoking already have,” Jackler said. “They do so as an act of adolescent rebellion, they get hooked on the nicotine, and they have a lifetime of tobacco use because it’s so addictive.”
The FDA has aimed separate tobacco prevention campaigns at youths under 18, such as “The Real Cost,” which premiered in February 2014.
“This Free Life” launches online Monday in 12 markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. According to Crosby, these cities were selected based on LGBT population, prevalence of tobacco use, and availability and cost-effectiveness of LGBT-targeted media. In late May, the campaign will begin to target LGBT events, such as Pride and club events.
The FDA will continue to evaluate how the ads increase awareness and change viewers' attitudes and beliefs about tobacco use. They may consider developing new messages based on real-time feedback, Crosby said.
The FDA spent roughly two years putting together this campaign with Rescue, a behavior change marketing company, after receiving the authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009.
“It’s been coming to a boil for a long time,” Scout said.
Digital Vision/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Are first class cabins on airplanes causing "air rage?"
Air travel seems to become more grueling every year, with delayed flights and cramped seating. One study finds that there might be another factor for your frustration in flight: a first-class cabin.
Researchers from the University of Toronto examined how having a first-class cabin on board and having passengers walk through that cabin was associated with an increase of "air rage" incidents, where passengers become unruly or abusive. The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences medical journal.
Researchers examined more than 1,500 flights and found that having to walk through a first-class cabin meant a flight was 11 times more likely to have an “air rage” incident. By looking at other models on how delayed flights impacted behavior on board, they found that merely having a first-class cabin on board meant the odds of having an “air rage” incident was the same as if the flight had been delayed for nine and half hours.
Lead author Katherine DeCelles, associate professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto, said the researchers theorize that it’s the repeated mentions of first-class cabin in coach that can make passengers more frustrated.
“When they close the curtains between the cabins or they remind economy passengers to not go into forward cabin” or bathroom, DeCelles told ABC News, “it reminds people that they’ve paid hundreds of dollars for this experience,” and are still denied amenities.
DeCelles said she remembered her own frustrating experience flying coach on a plane when the first-class cabin got freshly baked cookies.
“They were baking cookies in the first class cabin and it’s like they will never have that in economy,” Decelle said.
E. Scott Geller, professor of psychology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said the frustrations of air travel have increased in recent decades and that there are common sense solutions to diminish frustration.
Geller, who was not involved in this study, said a "simple fix" would be to allow passengers to board in the middle of the plane so they don’t walk past first class and allowing faster boarding by having people in the back of the plane board first to relieve frustration.
Economy-class passengers can feel frustration when an airline makes them wait as first-class passengers boarded and got a free drink.
For passengers stuck in coach and facing their own feelings of “air rage,” simply talking to others may help diminish these feelings, he said.
“You can say, ‘Oh, that jerk,’ or you can say ‘I don’t know them,’” Geller said. He pointed out stewing because someone takes over an arm rest won’t help you enjoy your flight. Instead, simply ask them politely if they can move or compromise, he suggested.
“People are nice if you allow them to be nice,” Geller said.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you reduce your calorie intake, does it make you more irritable or more upbeat?
Past research has suggested a link between calorie restriction and a lower risk of chronic disease – even in those who are not obese. But some people worry that eating less may lead to negative side effects like irritability.
A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that these fears may be unfounded – and reducing your calories may actually make you more upbeat.
Researchers took 218 adults who were mainly white women with body mass indices of 22-28 (that’s normal weight to overweight) and randomly assigned them to either eat normally or to reduce their calories by 25 percent for two years. They used questionnaires to measure the subjects’ mood, quality of life, sleep and sexual function during this time period.
The people who underwent calorie restriction not only lost 16.7 pounds (compared to 0.88 pounds in the control group), but they also had significantly improved mood, reduced tension, improved general health and sexual drive, and better sleep quality.
Since calorie restriction had some positive effects and no negative health effects, the researchers suggest that this amount of calorie restriction is likely to provide some improvement even for healthy adults.
iStock/Thinkstock(OKEECHOBEE, Fla.) -- A Florida woman who was blind for 21 years because of a car accident has mysteriously regained her sight.
Mary Ann Franco, a great-grandmother of two, needed spinal surgery recently after she injured her neck from a fall at home. When she woke up in the hospital, she said to the nurse, according to ABC News affiliate WPBF-TV:
“Lady, you with all that purple on you, give me something for pain."
She said her niece asked her, “What did you say, Mary?’”
And that’s when she realized she could see again... in color. Before her car accident, Franco said she was color-blind, but isn't anymore.
“Out the window, I could see the trees,” she told WPBF-TV. “I could see the houses and stuff.”
Her neurosurgeon, Dr. John Afshar, believes the car accident may have kinked an artery in her spine, restricting blood flow to the part of her brain that controls vision. He told WPBF-TV he may have unwittingly unkinked the artery when he performed her spinal surgery.
“It really is truly a miracle,” Dr. Afshar said to WPBF-TV. “I’ve never seen it, never heard of it.”
Franco called it an act of God.
“I believe he just went ahead and give it to me, he give me back my sight,” Franco said to WPBF-TV. “I really believe this with all my heart.”
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City has gone to the dogs -- literally.
Inside Terminal Four is a 70-square-foot pet bathroom, complete with green turf and a red fire hydrant. The room is marked with a paw print so travelers won't get confused with other airport bathrooms. The specially-designed room for Fido also comes with dog waste bags and a hose to clean the area.
Soon, many more airports will follow suit. In the meantime, check out these airports which already have pet comfort and owner convenience in mind:
Washington Dulles International Airport
At this Washington, D.C.-area airport, service animals or pets can use several areas before security checkpoints and after. Pet relief areas are marked for convenience and contain doggie waste bags and baskets.
Chicago O'Hare International Airport
This airport's two-by-four-foot indoor pet relief area opened in 2015 and, like JFK, comes complete with green artificial turf, mini fire hydrants, doggie waste bags and a hose. It also has a sprinkler system to help drain liquid waste. The room is also wheelchair accessible.
This airport has several indoor and outdoor pet relief areas. Inside, there are five places dogs can relieve themselves: outside of Concourse B, two areas near the Main Terminal and two more near Baggage Claim.
iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Playgrounds aren't always fun and games according to a new study. Researchers found that children are increasingly being diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after a run-in with playground equipment.
Researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control looked at injury rates for kids under 14 from 2005 to 2013 and determined that there was a significant increase in children going to the emergency room for traumatic brain injuries. Boys accounted for 58.6 percent of the TBIs identified while 50.6 percent of children between the ages of five and nine had injuries, according to a study published Monday in the Pediatrics medical journal.
Most playground-related TBIs were associated with monkey bars and swings, according to researchers.
The authors theorize that the rise in injuries can be attributable to two reasons: increased playground time for kids and increased awareness among parents and doctors about the dangers of head injuries.
"It is also plausible that heightened public awareness of TBI and concussions has prompted parents to seek medical care for their children in the event of a head injury, when previously they would not have done so," the authors wrote.
The authors stress that most children do not have long-lasting injuries, with the overwhelming majority of these pediatric patients, 95.6 percent, were treated and released from the hospital without further care.
The authors did, however, suggest steps that could help lower TBI rates.
"Improvements in playground environmental safety that also address design, surfacing, and maintenance can help accomplish this," the study authors said.
Dr. Oscar Guillamondegui, director of the Vanderbilt Multidisciplinary Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the study wasn't particularly surprising but it could be useful for health officials.
"It brings up some really important points…kids are still getting hurt," said Guillamondegui. "We have no baseline to determine what the rate of dramatic brain injury is…[this] gives us a number to focus on."
Guillamondegui said the increased rate of traumatic brain injury may just be the start of understanding the long-term impacts of these injuries, which can put people at increased risk for anxiety, depression and various cognitive disorders years later.
"Most people are still not attuned to the fact that something major could have occurred, they shake it off and don’t go to ER…those are the unseen trauma," he said.
Dr. Jerri Rose, a pediatric emergency room physician at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said concerned caregivers should take children to the emergency room if they had a head injury. The warning signs of a serious head injury include persistent vomiting, lethargy, change of behavior or loss of consciousness.
"Many of those children turn out to be ultimately fine, it would be best to consult with physician," said Rose.
"I think it’s an important study that the numbers are increasing, I’d still applaud kids for being healthy and active," she added. Children should play "on safe equipment" as "they’re being supervised."
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every bride wants to look and feel amazing on their special day.
Fitness expert Nikki Kimbrough joined Good Morning America's "Wide World of Weddings" to share some great high-intensity interval training workouts that will lengthen and define those arms, sculpt your shoulders and back, tighten and lift those glutes, take in your waist and burn pounds.
In addition to providing an outlet to channel the stress of planning your big day and kicking married life off on a healthier and happier foot, you’re developing a consistent fitness routine that gives you a beautiful glow inside and out. You’re going into the next chapter of your life feeling the best version of yourself.
Kimbrough says she always tells her clients it’s all about nutrition, strength training and cardio. She explains everything you need to know about strength and cardio with high-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short. HIIT workouts incorporate intense periods of work with short recovery segments. These workouts help you give maximum intensity while still maintaining great form that will strengthen, lengthen, sculpt and burn fat even after you’ve left the gym.
Crazy 8's Workout
Description: You perform series of exercises in a row eight times, then you repeat and see how many rounds you get in within four minutes.
Focus: Total body and cardio
Crazy 8's Circuits
First circuit, with no weights:
Focus: Total body warm up
Jumping jacks x8
Push ups x8
The goal is to get in three to four rounds in four minutes. Then rest one minute.
Second circuit, beginners use 5-pound to 8-pound weights. Intermediate/advanced use 10-pound to 15-pound weights.
iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Are lax fireworks laws causing more injuries for children?
Changes to U.S. fireworks laws have made it easier for younger children to purchase fireworks. A new study, presented at the 2016 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in Baltimore, had researchers examine the effects these changes have had on injuries in children.
Looking at a nationwide data sample from 2006-2012, researchers found that the number of child injuries requiring medical attention increased modestly. However, the number of injuries serious enough to require admission to the hospital as opposed to just being managed in the emergency department increased substantially, from 28.9 percent in 2006 to 50 percent in 2012.
Additionally, the mean length of hospital stay increased from 3.12 days in 2006 to 7.35 days in 2012 and the mean age of the children sustaining fireworks injuries went down from 12.1 years in 2006 to 11.4 years old in 2012.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Are taxis safe enough for children?
Researchers presenting at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting found that a majority of children are not properly restrained in taxis, even though motor vehicle collisions are the number one cause of death among children in the United States.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends child safety seats or belt positioning booster seats until a child attains a height of 4 foot 9 inches, a standard enforced by law in all states. Taxis are notably exempt from these regulations, however.
Researchers stationed at 11 locations in the New York metro area observed that only 11 percent of small children were properly restrained, with most of these being infants in infant carriers. A survey of taxi companies in the area (researchers placing anonymous calls to companies) showed that only 39 percent reported having child safety seats available for riders. Most cited health code restrictions, allergies and hygiene for not providing these seats.
The researchers said they worry that the millions of city children who are riding unrestrained in taxis are at additional risk for significant injury or death. The group called upon new laws and regulations to protect our smallest passengers.
The study, not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, was observational and researchers recorded people getting into and out of cabs. Researchers observed 609 taxis and evaluated 116 children, meaning the results cannot necessarily be generalized.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wisconsin health officials are investigating if a suspected case of the rare bacterial infection called Elizabethkingia at a children's hospital could be related to an ongoing outbreak that has infected at least 61 people in three states.
The newest suspected case at the Wisconsin Children's Hospital was diagnosed in an infant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, according to hospital officials. The bacterial infection has infected 59 people from Wisconsin alone, of which 18 people have died, according to health officials. Two other fatal cases were reported in Michigan and Illinois, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A sample from the infected patient has been sent to the state health department to determine whether this is the same strain of the virus that has infected dozens of others.
"There is no indication of serious infection in that child and the patient’s family is aware," hospitals officials said in a statement on Thursday. "A sample of the organism has been provided to the State Health Department and CDC."
Elizabethkingia results from bacteria that is naturally occurring in soil, river water and reservoirs, and normally affects those with compromised immune systems. There are different strains of the bacteria, which can cause meningitis in infants and respiratory infections in people with compromised immune systems.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, said it's unusual that disease detectives at the CDC and local health departments have been unable to locate the source of the outbreak.
"It frustrates them and surprises us all," Schaffner told ABC News. "It’s such a distinctive organism. ... This is a much larger challenge than first was assumed."
Past outbreaks have been linked to people with compromised immune systems being exposed in a health care center through an infected piece of equipment, Schaffner said, but so far there's no indication that is what happened in this outbreak.
If the infant has the same strain as the other people in the outbreak, it may help investigators crack the source of the bacteria, Schaffner said. Genetic testing of the bacteria will allow investigators to determine if it's related to the same disease strain that infected others in the outbreak.
"That, from the point of view of the investigation, could be an enormous gift," he said. "The infant's environment is extremely circumscribed and investigators can go and work with that family to literally, hour-by-hour, go over that infant's activities and life."
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The reasons some people are more at risk for developing dementia came into clearer focus today thanks to a new study that suggests a link between depression and dementia.
Researchers from Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands found that older people who developed increasingly worse depression were more likely to develop dementia, according to a study published today in the Lancet medical journal.
Researchers examined 3,325 people older than 55, who had been followed as part of a population study since 1990. They measured the level of depressive symptoms and then checked to see whether those with signs of depression went on to develop dementia. They found that 21 percent of people whose depressive symptoms increased over time ended up being diagnosed with dementia. By comparison, only 10 percent of people with "low symptoms of depression" developed dementia.
The researchers explained that signs of depression may be an early signal that dementia is developing in the brain before the telltale signs of memory loss appear later on. They point out previous studies have suggested psychological changes can lead to depression, including one study that found that atrophy of the brain may trigger depression.
Additionally, inflammation in the brain is seen in episodes of depression and cognitive decline and may also be key to understanding this link.
"Depressive symptoms that gradually increase over time appear to better predict dementia later in life than other trajectories of depressive symptoms …," said Dr. M. Arfan Ikram, co-author of the study and epidemiologist at the Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands, in a statement today. "There are a number of potential explanations, including that depression and dementia may both be symptoms of a common underlying cause, or that increasing depressive symptoms are on the starting end of a dementia continuum in older adults."
Ikram said there should be more studies to fully understand the association.
In a published comment accompanying the study, Dr. Simone Reppermund of the Department of Developmental Disability and Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, said research still needed to be done to understand the "underlying mechanisms" of depression and dementia.
"The questions are if, and how, the presence of depression modifies the risk for dementia," Reppermund said. "The study … provides an answer to the first question: Depression, especially steadily increasing depressive symptoms, seems to increase the risk for dementia. However, the question of how the presence of depressive symptoms modifies the risk of dementia still remains."
Experts said the study joins a growing body of evidence finding that depression and dementia seem to have some overlapping aspects.
Dr. Philipp Dines of the Geriatric Psychiatry Department at University Hospitals in Cleveland said the study highlights how complex dementia symptoms can be and how they affect so much more than just cognition.
“It shows that these neurocognitive degenerative illnesses are complex entities that involve multiple aspects of brain function,” Dines said. “It’s not just cognitive pieces, it also affects the whole make up of who we are.”