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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that the prevention of childhood obesity should start before the age of 2.

In their updated recommendations, presented as part of a report on parents' impact on obesity prevention, the nation’s top pediatricians’ group advises mothers to keep a healthy weight during pregnancy, avoid smoking even before pregnancy and to breastfeed.

After birth, recommendations include transitioning children to healthy foods, adequate sleep, active play and eliminating sedentary entertainment like watching TV. The AAP already recommends no TVs in children’s bedrooms at any age.

The AAP points to the best evidence to date, which suggests that “fetal life and the first two years of life may be critical for the programming of obesity and related behaviors.”

Also, early habits might have long-term consequences for later preferences of activities and foods, which contribute to obesity development.

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Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Before you hit the beach this week, the Red Cross would like you to donate some blood.

A recent survey of its regular blood and platelet donors found that more than 40 percent of Red Cross supporters plan to be away over the next two weeks in celebration of the 4th of July holiday. That, combined with fewer blood drives being scheduled due to planned vacations, could potentially contribute to a summer shortage, according to the organization.

"Adding blood or platelet donation to a vacation to-do list can mean so much to patients and their families," Donna M. Morrissey, director of national partnerships at American Red Cross Biomedical Services said in a statement. "It's a simple act, taking as little as an hour, but can touch many lives."

In addition to helping one's community, donors who schedule an appointment between July 2 and July 6 will receive a Red Cross embroidered baseball cap, while supplies last.

More information is available via the free Blood Donor App, redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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Francois Durand/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Singer Avril Lavigne said she’s seeing progress in her treatment for Lyme disease, which struck her last year while she was on tour.

Her treatment regimen has included multiple antibiotics and ample rest.

“I'm about halfway through my treatment,” the Canadian singer said in an interview with ABC News’ Jesse Palmer. "I'm doing a lot better. Seeing a lot of progress. ... I'm just really grateful to know that, like, I will make [a] 100 percent recovery."

Lavigne, 30, said trying to get a diagnosis was the worst time of her life.

“I literally became bedridden last October,” the “Complicated” singer said, adding that she saw multiple specialists who failed to get to the root of the problem. “They would pull up their computer and be like, ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome.’ Or, ‘Why don't you try to get out of bed, Avril, and just go play the piano?’ It's like, ‘Are you depressed?’”

Lavigne said she would wake up with night sweats and felt as though she had the flu.

“This went on and off for a month,” she said. "And I saw my doctor right away, got blood tests, got swabbed, and they didn't really know what was wrong with me."

It wasn’t until two months into the symptoms that she said she suspected Lyme disease.

“I started going to other doctors and, like, specifically telling them and asking, like, ‘I have Lyme disease. I know I do. Can you check me?’” she said. "Then I finally figured out, 'Find a Lyme specialist.'"

"And the thing is, when you're a specialist, you also really know the disease inside and out and you can diagnose their symptoms," Lavigne said.

After getting the diagnosis of Lyme disease, which Lavigne believes she got from a tick bite last spring, the singer was bedridden for five months in her Ontario home.

Lavigne, who is married to Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger, said her family and fans have helped her through her ordeal.

Many fans, she said, made videos and sent her letters and posters and other items to show their support.

“I sat there in my bed and I watched the videos and, like, did exactly what I'm doing now. I cried through the whole thing,” she said, laughing. “Honestly, I felt very, very loved. And it sounds silly saying it, but I really truly did feel my fans through the process.”

She took the opportunity to share encouragement to others with Lyme disease.

“There is hope. Lyme disease does exist. And you can get better,” she said.

She called this period her “second shot at life,” adding: “I really just want to go out there and truly do what I love. So I'm so excited for life after this.”

Lavigne is set to perform her song, “Fly,” on July 25 at the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games next month in Los Angeles.

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

Listen up makeup mavens: Feeling beautiful is definitely important, but not at the expense of your well-being.

Did you know that something like your mascara could be a hub for health hazards?

While it might be one of the must-haves in your makeup kit, mascara might actually be a must-go when it comes to your health.

Most mascaras contain harmful chemicals that are meant for good but could be bad.

For example, aluminum powder is used to add color but it's considered more dangerous than mercury. Another ingredient, retinal acetate, could lead to mutations in your genes.

Consider a better alternative: Natural mascara. It provides all the beauty-building effects with almost none of the health hazards.

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iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — Police in Dallas have yanked a phony dentist and an alleged female accomplice off the street, after one of Mario Sabillon-Mejia's alleged "patients" tipped off the authorities.

ABC News station WFAA-TV reports the bust came after Erika Martinez told authorities she was hospitalized for infections following a house call the suspects made to her home.

She claimed she had been suffering from toothaches, and found Sabillion-Mejia through a Facebook friend, thinking he was an actual dentist.

Martinez reportedly paid 500 dollars for an initial exam at her home, and agreed to pay him additional thousand more -- 500 for five extractions, and another 500 bucks for a follow-up examination.  

The woman claims Sabillion-Mejia gave her some kind of drug, then pulled her teeth out "by force," holding her down on her couch against her will, and leaving her bleeding profusely and in pain.

The 33-year-old fake dentist, and his 41-year-old female associate, Tiffany Gonzalez, were arrested Wednesday afternoon, and slapped with multiple charges of practicing medicine without a license and possessing dangerous drugs.

Cops believe the Honduran -- who is being held on an immigration hold -- likely "practiced" on dozens of other victims who have yet to come forward.   

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ElizabethHoffmann/iStock/ThinkStock(VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.) -- A string of shark bites off the coasts of the Carolinas recently have beach town officials across the country trying to figure out the best ways to prevent shark attacks.

Sharks are looking for food, but they're not looking to humans as a food source, according to Beth Firchau of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.

Experts recommend swimming in groups and going in the water during the time lifeguards are on duty. "Try and avoid dawn and dusk, those are what I call sort of the ocean's rush hour where critters are looking for their dinners, their breakfasts," says Firchau.

Firchau also points out, "when we go into the ocean it's not like going into your neighbor's or your grandma's swimming pool. It takes a lot of respect to go into the ocean because you are going into a wild environment."

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Voyagerix/iStock/Thinkstock(NORFOLK, Va.) -- A teenage boy has been upgraded from critical to serious condition after he was bitten by a shark off the North Carolina coast Saturday, a hospital official said.

The teen was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, after he was attacked Saturday afternoon near Waves in Dare County, part of the Outer Banks.

The teenager, who has not been identified, is 18 years old, Carol Via Flynn of Sentara Healthcare told ABC News on Sunday, though the National Park Service previously reported the victim's age as 17.

The attack came a day after a 47-year-old man was bitten by a shark while swimming at a beach in Avon, North Carolina.

Four other attacks were reported along North Carolina’s coastline this month. A 13-year-old girl was bitten in the foot at Ocean Isle on June 11. Hunter Treschl, 16, lost his arm in an attack on June 14 at Oak Island, and Kiersten Yow, 12, was bitten in the arm and leg less than 90 minutes before Treschl’s attack. An 8-year-old boy was bitten on Wednesday at Surf City.

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herjua/iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- The Hawaii State Department of Health is taking new action to reduce new cases of HIV throughout the state by use of medication.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a prescription HIV medication that can be prescribed to uninfected individuals who are at high risk for HIV infection to prevent them from becoming infected.

PrEP is marketed under the trade name Truvada.

“PrEP is high-impact HIV prevention. Never before has there been a medication that can help prevent HIV infection,” said Peter Whiticar, Chief of the STD AIDS Prevention Branch of the Hawaii State Department of Health in a statement. “It’s important to not only care for our ohana who are living with HIV, but also to help prevent transmission to others. PrEP provides another viable means of prevention.”

In July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a once-daily pill, marketed under the trade name Truvada, after extensive research in adults supported its use as PrEP. Truvada’s effectiveness to prevent HIV compared with no treatment was found to be up to 92 percent in studies, provided the medication was taken daily. Its effectiveness dropped substantially when the medication was not taken daily.

Condoms should be used with PrEP to be totally safe.

Between 2008 and 2012, there were 456 new HIV cases diagnosed in Hawaii: 77 percent on Oahu and the remainder on the neighbor islands.

Approximately 85 percent of HIV cases in Hawaii occur in men. By the end of 2011, there was an estimated 2,200 persons living with HIV in Hawaii.

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Tracy Fox/iStock/Thinkstock(AVON, N.C.) -- A teen was hospitalized after being bitten by a shark off of North Carolina’s coast Saturday, the state’s sixth shark attack this month, authorities said.

The 17-year-old male was swimming at 4 p.m. near Waves in Dare County, part of the Outer Banks when he was attacked – suffering injuries to his right calf, buttocks and both hands, the National Park Service said in a press release.

No other swimmers were injured.

The teen was treated at the scene and then airlifted to Norfolk, Virginia for further care, authorities said.

Saturday’s attack comes one day after a 47-year-old man was bitten by a shark while swimming at a beach in Avon.

Four other attacks were reported along North Carolina’s coastline this month. A 13-year-old girl was bitten in the foot at Ocean Isle on June 11. Hunter Treschl, 16, lost his arm in an attack on June 14 at Oak Island, and Kiersten Yow, 12, was bitten in the arm and leg less than 90 minutes before Treschl’s attack. An 8-year-old boy was bitten on Wednesday at Surf City.

Dr. Alistair Dove at the Georgia Aquarium says that calling the incidents shark "attacks" is not fair, as that word implies malicious intent. Instead, he says, these are cases of mistaken identity.


"It's really just a case of prey confusion. They don't know what you are," Dove told ABC News.

"There are things you can do like not splashing around as aggressively," Dove said, about avoiding sharks when in coastal water. "Going into water in groups is very helpful and avoiding dusk which is a time when sharks tend to be a little bit more active."

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iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- In the same week as the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage, researchers have launched a study and iPhone app that may help the world learn more about LGBTQ health.

Researchers at University of California, San Francisco have launched a study called PRIDE or Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality where they hope people will participate in the "first large-scale, long-term health study of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ), or another sexual or gender minority."

The study revolves around an iPhone app where LGBTQ participants can answer questions and input information about their health. Users can also answer the brief health questionnaire through a survey online. According to the researchers, the questionnaire only takes 30 minutes once per year.

The researchers say the goal of the study is to "improve the health of LGBTQ people." The researchers also say the study in time will be able to look at a number of health concerns in the LGBTQ community such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, depression, and obesity.

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Carlsberg(NEW YORK) -- Beer bros rejoice: you can now get more brew in your life.

Carlsberg has launched a beauty series for men that includes shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. Each product in the line contains nearly 17 ounces of real Carlsberg beer.

“The beer is freeze-dried into a powder, and then mixed with organic ingredients in order to create a unique series of products,” Carlsberg brewmaster Erik Lund said in a statement.

A lot of the compounds in beer are good for the skin, according to Carlsberg’s director of research strategy Zoran Gojkovic.

“You have proteins, you have fibers, you have vitamins. Yeast, for example, it’s a big source of vitamin B,” Gojkovic said. “When you put that in the shampoo or whatever beauty series, it’s actually very good compounds for your skin.”

Carlsberg maintains that the main ingredients in a Carlsberg lager -- barley, hops and yeast -- are rich in vitamin B and silicium, which are “said to have beautifying properties for both hair and skin.”

But Dr. Barney J. Kenet, a dermatologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, was skeptical of the beauty claims.

“Their comments that the hops, yeast, B vitamins and silicium are nourishing to the skin is not really relevant to common sense," he said.

"First of all, skin does not receive its nourishment from the outside. So those added ingredients aren’t nutritive per se. Your vitamin B and silicium comes from diet. The likelihood of adding them to your skin cream for any specific benefit doesn’t make a lot of common sense,” he said. “So it’s a great gimmick. I smiled. I liked it. I might even have it in my house for fun. But I seriously doubt I’d buy a second bottle.”

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pashapixel/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A hardy parasite has led federal health officials to warn pool goers to be careful in the water this summer.

Outbreaks related to pools, hot tubs and other recreational uses of water can be dangerous, and according to a new report released on Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 90 outbreaks between 2011 to 2012 resulted in 1,788 illnesses, 95 hospitalizations and one death.

A major cause of the outbreaks in treated water, including hot tubs and pools, is a hardy parasite called Cryptosporidium, which is encased in a tough shell and causes acute gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea.

Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC's Healthy Swimming Program, said the parasite is particularity troubling due to how long it can live in treated water.

"It can survive for 10 days," Hlavasa told ABC News, noting that other bacteria including E. coli are killed in minutes to hours in a treated pool.

"With these outbreaks, we see they disproportionately affect young children," Hlavasa said. "They’re the ones who can go to a pool and young children tend to carry lots of germs."

The parasite can be cleared from the body in about two to three weeks, Hlavasa said, but in a person with a weakened immune system the condition may become chronic or even fatal.

Because of gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, "you’re losing so much and your body isn’t able to absorb nutrients," Hlavasa said.

To stay safe, pool goers should look to see if their pool's most recent inspection was posted through their local health department or even look into buying their own chlorine tests that can be used to test if the water is properly treated.

"If you’re worried about the restaurant's [ratings] ... it’s the same thing with pools you’re putting your body in that water," Hlavasa said.

More information on water safety can be found at here.

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Rhett Krawitt made his adorable plea to keep unvaccinated kids out of schools, as California considers state legislation to abolish personal-belief exemptions. KGO-TV.(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A controversial California bill to end personal-belief exemptions for students who are unvaccinated has been helped by one very important, yet pint-size supporter.

Rhett Krawitt, 7, became one of the faces for the new bill aimed at raising vaccination rates by ending personal-belief exemptions for students at California schools. He gave multiple speeches on vaccines, even though he usually needed a chair to reach the podium microphone.

Rhett told ABC News that the bill overcoming a major hurdle by passing the California State Assembly was “exciting.”

“Vaccines save lives,” he told reporters before taking a petition to end personal-belief exemptions with 30,000 signatures to California Gov. Jerry Brown’s office earlier this week.

"My name is Rhett and I give a damn!" he said at the end of his speech.

For the last six months, Rhett and his family in Corte Madera, California, worked to highlight the importance of vaccines by telling Rhett’s story.

For three-and-half years Rhett remained extremely vulnerable to common diseases as his immune system was ravaged by leukemia treatments. After finishing his treatment, he was finally able to be vaccinated this year although he won’t be fully up to date till later this year due to the vaccine schedule he’s on.

Rhett’s father, Carl Krawitt, said he never expected for Rhett or his family to be advocates but said he was “proud” to have been involved with helping get the bill through the legislature.

“At the time we were a little overwhelmed,” by media attention, said Krawitt. “But when I stepped back, we had an opportunity to tell our story.”

Krawitt said he remembered when Rhett was getting leukemia treatment in 2010 there were a few weeks when babies with whooping cough filled the pediatric oncology floor because there was no room for them on other floors.

“That didn’t have to happen," Krawitt said. "It’s because people don’t vaccinate."

While vaccination levels remain high over all, pockets of unvaccinated people -- including in relatively well-to-do communities -- have contributed to outbreaks of disease, including measles and whooping cough in recent years.

Rhett attends school in Marin County in California, where just over 84 percent of kindergartners are fully vaccinated, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The bill to ban personal exemptions is expected to pass the state senate, which passed an earlier version of the bill. After that vote, Gov. Brown will have 12 days to sign the bill into state law.


ABC US News | World News

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A potentially deadly bacteria made headlines again this week after a Florida man reportedly died from an infection related to vibrio vulnificus, sometimes referred to as a "flesh-eating" bacteria.

But state health officials balked at attributing the death to "flesh-eating" bacteria, causing some confusion. Officials explained that the man did die of an infection related to vibrio vulnificus, but it did not lead to necrotizing fasciitis -- the medical term for a "flesh-eating" infection.

It turns out that vibrio vulnificus is one of many kinds of bacteria that can lead to necrotizing fasciitis -- a dangerous infection in which the fascia or “cellophane” like wrapper around the muscles becomes infected, which can result in a patient needing amputation to survive.

For those concerned about the infection, experts said there a steps people can take to reduce the risk and specific signs that should prompt you to seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, they pointed out the infection is still very rare.

Many kinds of bacteria can lead to necrotizing fasciitis, including Streptococcus (group A strep), Klebsiella, Clostridium, and E. coli, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said it’s a good idea to stay out of the ocean, river or community pool if you have an open wound, due to how much bacteria may be in the water, especially if the water is warm.

Additionally, make sure to keep wounds -- even smaller injuries like blisters -- clean and protected as they heal, the CDC advises. Those with lowered immune systems from cancer treatment, diabetes or kidney problems should especially be on guard because the bacteria may be able to spread before the immune system can fend them off.

“If there is a theme here, it’s wounds that are less slicing wounds and less abrasive wounds and rather more puncture wounds,” Schaffner said of the types of wounds that are more likely to lead to necrotizing fasciitis. “They’re the ones that provide a track beneath the skin into the deeper layers.”

Schaffner explained that the reason the disease is so frightening is that the infection can start off with subtle symptoms before doctors realize how serious the infection is. Classically, the disease starts when the fascia, the membrane covering muscles, is infected. But the fascia is so thin and spread so far over the muscles that an infection can be hard to spot and treat.

“You can think of cellophane-like cover of the muscle,” Schaffner explained of the fascia. “Necrotizing fasciitis slides along that sheath in a horizontal fashion and may not be evident on the surface.”

The main symptom is intense pain that doesn’t seem to match the severity of the wound, Schaffner said.

For example, a simple bug bite or small cut could lead to a large infection under the surface but may not appear red or swollen during examination. If doctors are concerned about necrotizing fasciitis, they can order an x-ray or CT scan to aid the diagnosis, Schaffner said.

“Below the surface of skin you might see gas or air, from metabolism of bacteria or [you] might see altered anatomy indicating something is going on at deeper layers at muscle or fascia,” Schaffner explained.

Treatment can include antibiotics and surgery. In rare cases if the infection has spread to the muscle, amputation may be needed to stop the disease.

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Pixelistanbul/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Several studies in the past have linked the risk of developing autism spectrum disorder with the possibility of birth by cesarean section – a link that has appeared to be further supported by a steady rise in the rates of both cesarean sections and ASD diagnosis over the last 20 years.

Now, Swedish researchers who looked at more than 2 million babies born in Sweden between 1982 and 2010 found that this link is likely just coincidental, and that there is no strong evidence that cesarean sections lead to autism, according to the study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

While researchers did confirm previous findings that children born by cesarean section were 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ASD, they also note that the same association between cesarean births and ASD did not exist when siblings were compared.

This suggests that this association is much more likely to be due to genetic or environmental factors that increase the likelihood of both cesarean sections and ASD.

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