Health

RapidEye/iStock(PIERRE, S.D.) -- South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem launched a new anti-drugs campaign aimed at tackling methamphetamine use in the state which she described as “growing at an alarming rate.”

The campaign, branded “Meth. We’re on it.” will comprise public service announcements, commercials, billboards and social media ads featuring the “I’m on meth” tagline.

Gov. Noem said the campaign sought to tackle a meth “epidemic” in South Dakota in a Facebook Live appearance to promote the launch of the campaign.

She said that 13 people in South Dakota died last year from meth overdoses and that there were 3,000 arrests tied to meth and its use in the state during the same period.

Noem added that the number of 9th grade-age children in the state who had tried meth was double the national average.

She also said what the campaign tagline was referring to was “that each one of us, no matter who we are, that we’re on the case of meth.”

The campaign however, attracted some comment on social media suggesting users believed the tagline was ambiguous.

“So South Dakota paid $449,000 to a msp marketing agency to tell everyone they’re on meth. not sure about this one,” user @laurenarnold20 wrote on Twitter.

 

so south dakota paid $449,000 to a msp marketing agency to tell everyone they’re on meth. not sure about this one. pic.twitter.com/8Pwc3dhT4m

— soarin’ lauren (@LaurenArnold20) November 18, 2019

 

Another user suggested the campaign sounded more like an advertisement for the drug.

 

Is South Dakota trying to advertise meth? pic.twitter.com/KOTESkbaip

— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) November 18, 2019

 

Gov. Noem addressed the controversy in a tweet herself, saying “the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness.”

 

Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working... #thanks #MethWeAreOnIt

⬇️⬇️⬇️https://t.co/hopPjqa95w

— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) November 18, 2019

 

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monkeybusinessimages/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Peaceful nights are hard to come by for new parents.

It is often an impossible task to soothe restless, crying newborns, but it’s a piece of cake for Cara Dumaplin, the founder and resident nurse of Taking Cara Babies.

After helping parents who were struggling to get their babies to sleep, Dumaplin started Taking Cara Babies in 2013 when she realized that she wanted to help parents on a bigger scale.

As a mother of four herself, Dumaplin also struggled to get her firstborn to sleep as an infant.

"I was exhausted," Dumaplin told ABC News' Good Morning America. "My baby was cranky and my husband was at the end of his rope. And that got me started on this journey to infant sleep. I just wasn’t the mom that I knew I could be."

After months of sleepless nights, Dumaplin was on a mission to find the answers to getting her baby to sleep. She started using evidence-based scientific research and applied them to her daughter’s sleep schedule, and it worked.

Taking Cara Babies has a team of 16 professionals who work to empower parents and families worldwide to get their little ones to sleep with resources like online classes, phone consults, email support, blogs and even social media.

With over 500,000 followers on Instagram, Dumaplin’s baby-sleeping tips online aren’t just helpful for more than half a million parents, they’re changing lives.

Here are some of Dumaplin’s tips for well-rested sleep with a newborn baby:

1. Give your baby a sleep space

Dumaplin’s top tip is to start teaching your baby early to fall asleep on their own. In a safe sleep space, lay your baby in a bassinet or crib with nothing in it. If there’s any loose bedding, toys, stuffed animals or bumpers, get rid of it. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nothing should be in the crib before the age of 12 months.

2. Create a cozy and familiar environment

While adults are most comfortable falling asleep in their own beds, Dumaplin points out that newborn babies were most comfortable when they were in the womb. In order to get them sleeping peacefully, she says to create a familiar environment similar to the womb to remind them of that safe, secure place.

"Think about how nice and secure a womb is -- it’s snug in there," she said. "So that’s why we swaddle babies in the first few weeks and months of life."

Dumaplin also says a sound machine can help replicate the sounds that a baby remembers when they were in the womb.

3. Learn a baby’s sleepy cues

Dumaplin says that in order to get on the same page as your baby, you have to learn their language, and that’s through sleepy cues. She says that when babies start staring off into space or when their eyebrows turn red, it’s a sign that they’re tired.

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kate_sept2004/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Since Marie Kondo released her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, many have followed her KonMari method in the pursuit of a clean home and items that "spark joy."

Now, the queen of tidying up is out with a new children’s book to show others that tidying up is not just an important life skill for adults, but for kids too.

In her new book, Kiki and Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship, Jax teaches Kiki how to tidy up just like Kondo has taught others in her book and Netflix series.

Similar to how Kondo has taught adults, the characters in her new book dump out all their toys and see which ones "spark joy," then categorize and organize them.

While teaching kids the KonMari method -- let alone how to clean -- may sound daunting, kids will find tidying up enjoyable if parents also find it fun.

"I think a very important part of that is how enjoyable the parents seem to be as they’re folding and tidying up," said Kondo. "That’s a big part of how the children are gonna perceive it."

Here are some of Marie Kondo’s tips for tidying up with kids:

1. Set an example

Children learn by example, so first make sure you have completed your own tidying! If you discover something that no longer sparks joy for you, include your children in the process of thanking the item and letting it go.

2. Narrate as you tidy

As you tidy, explain to your children what you’re doing so they can learn from you. Try to convey that tidying up is part of maintaining a comfortable home. If they see their parents tidying regularly with a smile, children will think of tidying as a positive everyday activity.

3. Give everything a home

Children’s toys seem to multiply and quickly become scattered throughout the house. Make sure your children understand where their toys belong. By returning items to their homes, children develop an awareness -- and ultimately, an appreciation -- of what they already possess. Then they can assist you with putting away their own toys.

4. Make tidying playful

Show your children that tidying and playing go together. When children are about 1 year old and begin to walk, encourage them to put their belongings away after play.

5. Respect spatial limitations

Recognizing that space is limited will keep your home from being overtaken by your children’s belongings. Don't get upset with yourself if things don't always look how you want them to.

Courtesy of KonMari Media, Inc.

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Sierra Stragheld(NEW YORK) -- In a time of tremendous grief, one woman chose to help the babies of other moms to honor the one she lost. Sierra Strangfeld made the selfless decision to pump breast milk for donation, even though her baby was gone.

Strangfeld had oped to breastfeed her baby boy, Samuel. But a little more than halfway through her pregnancy, she found out her baby had Trisomy 18, a rare genetic condition that affects about 1 in 6,000 live births.

When it became clear Samuel was not going to survive much longer in utero, Strangfeld had an emergency c-section. He lived for three hours.

"His hands were clenched, his feet were clubbed, he was small," she told ABC News' Good Morning America. "But he was so perfect. He fought so hard to be able to meet us. Our baby boy was put on this Earth for a reason."

Since Strangfeld's daughter was fed from donor milk supplied by her sister-in-law, so she wanted to help other moms now.

"I've always wanted to be able to help another mom in need. Samuel would have had a hefty NICU stay had he survived, so I know we would have had to use donated milk to a point. Now I can be the one helping others," she said.

Strangfeld donated 500 ounces of pumped breast milk.

In a Facebook post, she wrote in part, "And today, his due date, I donated my milk to the NICU milk banks for the first and last time. Walking through the hallways of the hospital was just another step in healing. And I know, (because I felt him), that Samuel was there with me."

The Neillsville, Wisconsin, mom told GMA that "Although some days were terrible, and it would have been easier to just quit, Samuel's the reason I had milk to give. It was one thing physically connecting me to him here on Earth."

Strangfeld and her husband, Lee, hope to one day establish a foundation in their son's name. Right now, "Smiling for Samuel" has a T-shirt campaign to raise awareness of Trisomy 18 and there's a scholarship in his name.

"Pumping is not for the faint of heart. It's hard. Mentally and physically. And it's even harder when you don't actually have a baby," she wrote in her post. "I couldn't save Samuel's life, but maybe I could save another baby's life."

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Adam_Lazar/iStock(CHICAGO) -- A teenage hockey player died suddenly after playing in a game from complications with mononucleosis – an infection he was not even aware that he had.

Gabe Remy’s teammates on the Chicago Fury said that they could see signs he wasn’t feeling well last week but just figured that it was symptoms of the flu or perhaps something similar.

"[He was] hunched over a lot. Feeling really tired, said his stomach was bugging him," teammate Joseph D'Alessandro told ABC News’ Chicago station WLS-TV. "You could tell he was in a lot of pain. He said there was pain in his shoulder blade, he was throwing up out in the locker room."

Remy insisted, however, that he would persevere through the pain and sickness even if he wasn’t feeling well.

"He was excited to play. We love our guys to be aggressive and to go out there and compete hard, and he never had a problem competing," said Al Dorich, head coach of the Chicago Fury.

According to D’Allesandro, Remy played well in his last game. "If it was your first time watching him you wouldn't have known the difference," he said.

Remy took a turn for the worse after the game and reportedly barely made it home. By early Sunday morning he was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to treat a ruptured spleen. He died later that day.

Doctors said his cause of death was complications of mono which neither Remy nor his teammates even knew he had.

Remy had only just graduated from high school this past June and had hopes of trying to pursue a professional hockey career but his sudden death has left his team devastated.

"I kind of, like, expected to come to the rink today and have him here, so. I'm kind of in shock still," said Zack Zeidel, teammate.

"I couldn't even walk toward my stuff," said D'Alessandro. “I kind of just sat there … I think it would have brought him some kind of comfort that he fought through that last game with all the guys that love him, and he loved.”

Dying from mono is extremely rare but complications can happen and lead to an enlarged spleen or massive enlargement of the tonsils and adenoids which can, but very seldomly, lead to death.

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(U.S. Navy) PFAS-free firefighting foam was tested in late October at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C.(WASHINGTON) -- Testing is still at a small scale, but U.S. Navy researchers are encouraged by their work to develop new firefighting foams that do not contain the "forever chemicals" known as PFAS, that at high levels have been linked to increased health risks, including cancer.

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl, is known as a "forever chemical" because it never degrades and will remain in the soil permanently.

While found in a variety of household products and non-stick surfaces, PFAS compounds are found in large concentrations in the firefighting foams first developed by the U.S. military more than 50 years ago to put out jet-fuel fires at military bases and aboard warships.

Over time, the PFAS in the foam enters the groundwater surrounding some military bases, which affects drinking water.

The Pentagon has made tackling the risks of PFAS contamination at military bases and surrounding communities a top priority.

Part of that effort includes developing a firefighting foam that is PFAS-free but maintains the ability to put out jet fuel fires quickly.

"We have two goals. One is to eliminate PFAS, so we're working with completely fluorine-free materials" Dr. Ramagopal Ananth, a Navy Research Laboratory chemical engineer and principal investigator, told ABC News. The other goal is to "provide the same level of protection to the warfighter."

For the past two years, Ananth and other researchers have been working with silicon as a potential replacement for PFAS in the foams.

"We believe that there are certain aspects of silicon that behave like fluorine, but maybe reduce the toxicity or eliminate it," Ananth said. "And we can maybe get the same results."

The silicon is not only bio-degradable but is also "cannot make any PFAS at all," according to Ananth.

Current foams, known formally as AAAF aqueous film-forming foams, work by covering a burning liquid's film layer preventing fuel vapors from continuing to fuel the fire.

"The foam layer is the key part that we want to mimic," Ananth said.

"Past efforts have really focused on the film-forming aspect of AAAF," Katherine Hinnant, an NRL chemical engineer, told ABC News. "We think that the foam plays a bigger role in this process. So we're choosing to focus on the foam layer and not just the film layer."

"We're very excited to work with different molecules and make different molecules that might incorporate silicon," Hinnant said.

Promising results of the new foam in the test lab led to a larger test in late October at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C.

In that test, a six-foot-wide pool of fuel was set ablaze so a trained firefighter could spray the new foam to see whether it could extinguish the fire.

Video of that test showed that the fires were extinguished completely, though at various timeframes.

Researchers have partnered with universities to study if there are any long-term environmental or health impacts from the use of silicon in the new foams.

Other researchers with military services and commercial partners are also working on other alternatives to PFAS in the firefighting foams.

For now, Navy researchers are encouraged by their results, but they acknowledge a lot more work remains.

"We don't want to be forced into finding an alternative that might be bad for the environment," Hinnant said. "So at this time, we're really just doing the basic research that needs to be done to ensure that the molecules that we're putting out, the things that we say are going to benefit the warfighter are really things that we have data to back up."



"It takes time, but we're very encouraged by it and know that the work that we're doing is really important," she added.

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Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration announced a plan Friday that would require hospitals to disclose negotiated rates with insurance companies in an effort to increase transparency for consumers.

"This will have a tremendous impact on prices," President Donald Trump said Friday.

Under the final rule, hospitals also would be required to publicly show the cost and description of a specific item or service online in an "easily accessible" way.

"Our goal was to give patients the knowledge they need about the real price of health care services. They’ll be able to check them, compare them, go to different locations so they can shop for the highest quality care at the lowest cost," Trump said.

The policy put forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, "will require hospitals to provide patients with clear, accessible information about their ‘standard charges’ for the items and services they provide, including through the use of standardized data elements, making it easier to shop and compare across hospitals, as well as mitigating surprises," HHS said in its announcement.

The rule is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, according to HHS, so hospitals have time to comply with the new policies. And if hospitals fail to comply, they could ultimately face fines.

"President Trump has promised American patients 'A ' healthcare transparency, but right now our system probably deserves an F on transparency," Alex Azar, Health and Human Services secretary, said in a statement.

Calling the policy "revolutionary" for the healthcare system, Azar also said Friday’s announcement "may be a more significant change to American healthcare markets than any other single thing we've done, by shining light on the costs of our shadowy system and finally putting the American patient in control."

The administration also announced a proposed rule on Friday that "would require most employer-based group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group and individual coverage to disclose price and cost-sharing information to participants, beneficiaries and enrollees upfront."

HHS said this proposed rule would allow consumers to compare prices by offering "real-time, personalized access to cost-sharing information."

Additionally, as part of the proposed rule, health care plans would be required to put the "negotiated rates for in-network providers and allowed amounts paid for out-of-network providers" on a public website.

However, opponents of the rules argue they could confuse consumers and ultimately drive up costs.

"Unfortunately, the rules the administration released today will not help consumers better understand what health services will cost them and may not advance the broader goal of lowering health care costs," said Blue Cross Blue Shield Association President and CEO Scott Serota.

Serota added in his statement that "clinicians and medical facilities could see in the negotiated payments a roadmap to bidding up prices rather than lowering rates."

The Trump administration previously pushed to increase transparency in the healthcare industry – in May when HHS also announced that drug makers would be required to disclose their list prices in television advertisements.

"Under the status quo, healthcare prices are about as clear as mud to patients," said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma in a statement.

She later added: "This final rule and the proposed rule will bring forward the transparency we need to finally begin reducing the overall healthcare costs. Today's rules usher in a new era that upends the status quo to empower patients and put them first."

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Dawn Massabni(NEW YORK) -- It was late March in 2017 when Madalyn Massabni flew home from college to spend her 19th birthday with her mother.

Dawn Massabni, a mom of two from Rumson, New Jersey, said she was looking forward to celebrating with Maddy, whose smile could light up a room.

At the time, Maddy was studying fashion at Lynn University in Florida and had dreams of working backstage at runway shows.

"She dressed how she wanted and didn't fear judgement. She did a little modeling and she loved it," Massabni told ABC News' Good Morning America. "She was on the cover of a magazine. And her favorite thing to do was be at the beach -- even in the winter, she'd bundle up.

"She had this contagious laugh, so when she walked in, people would say, 'Oh, Maddy is here,'" Massabni said.

'I miss hearing, "I love you, Mommy"'

On March 27, Maddy's birthday, she and her mother went out to dinner. Massabni said Maddy wasn't feeling well when the two got home. Maddy got sick, but rested in hopes she'd improve.

"I said, 'We'll go to the doctor first thing in the morning,'" Massabni recalled. "The next morning she could hardly respond to me and she couldn't speak. I don't even know if she knew who I was and I called 911 right away."

Massabni said first responders arrived to her home, but at that point, Maddy had experienced a seizure.

"I was holding her and she looked at me and closed her eyes ... I was yelling, 'I love you so much. Please don't leave me,'" Massabni said. "She had a heart attack in my arms and stopped breathing."

Maddy was brought to the hospital, and doctors tried to revive her. The following day, the teen's health took a turn for the worst. Her family made the decision to take off ventilators, and she died on March 30, three days after her 19th birthday.

A tearful Massabni said life hasn't been the same for her and her son, Georgie, since losing Maddy.

"The three of us were very close, extremely close. She would talk to Georgie several times a day. They did everything together," Massabni said. "He had to say goodbye to his sister. I don't know how he graduated, but he did. He went on to grad school and when I asked him, 'Why?' He said, 'I want to make Maddy proud.'"

"It's been torture and hell since the day she left me," she added. "I miss her so much. I miss hearing, 'I love you, Mommy.'"

Maddy had her period over the course of her sudden illness and was using tampons. Her official cause of death was Toxic Shock Syndrome, Massabni said.

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare but serious illness caused by some types of staphylococcus bacteria. Not all TSS cases are linked to tampons, but women who use them are at greater risk. Women who are not menstruating, men and children also may contract TSS due to infections associated with skin or surgical wounds, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told GMA that leaving a tampon in your vagina for too long is a risk factor linked to TSS. In some cases, TSS can result in the amputations of fingers or toes or limbs, or even death.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cases of menstrual and non-menstrual TSS are estimated to be around 0.8 to 3.4 per 100,000 people in the United States. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

"While the mortality rates have decreased over the past two decades, they still vary from 1.8 [to] 12%," the NCBI states on its website. "For those patients who are misdiagnosed or the treatment is delayed, the mortality can exceed 50%. For this reason, healthcare workers should be aware of the disorder and even if they do not manage it, should be able to make a prompt referral."

The ACOG recommends that women should change tampons every four to eight hours.

Dr. Jacques Moritz, medical director of Tia Women's Health Clinic in New York, told GMA that it's also important for women to learn early signs and symptoms of TSS to recognize it as soon as possible.

"The culprit seems to be these super absorbent tampons and it seems to be time-related, meaning the longer it’s in, the more of a chance it happens," said Moritz, adding that there aren't enough reliable studies on TSS in association with tampons. "Bacteria causes it. [If] super absorbent ones are going to stay in longer, the longer you can forget that it is in. And if you don't have leak-throughs, women could forget."

Here are potential symptoms of TSS, according to Moritz and to the ACOG:

• Low blood pressure
• Fever
• A rash on the palms, soles or any place on the body that looks like a sunburn
• Body aches
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Confusion

'It's a horrible death that can be prevented'

Since Maddy's death, Massabni has made it her mission to educate women and girls on TSS and safe tampon use by speaking at schools and universities.

Her 501C3 foundation, Don't Shock Me, was created in honor of Maddy to spread awareness on the infection.

On Nov. 14, Massabni had a meeting with the Food and Drug Administration, to discuss potentially new regulations for tampon manufacturers.

Currently, the FDA's code of federal regulations on user labeling for menstrual tampons states that if TSS risks, warning signs and information on when to seek medical attention is "included in the package insert," then the following alert should appear legibly on the package label:

"Attention: Tampons are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome. TSS is a rare but serious disease that may cause death. Read and save the enclosed information."

Massabni's asking the FDA to include a bigger, bolder warning on every box, along with signs and symptoms of TSS on the inside flap -- not just on the paper insert, which girls probably are tossing in the trash, she said.

"There are [bold] warnings for things like cigarettes, alcohol and drugs -- we want tampons to have those same type of warnings," Massabni said. "It's a horrible death that can be prevented. Families don't recover from this. I want her back."

While there are no specific guidelines, Moritz agrees the following could help prevent TSS while using tampons:

1. Use tampons with lower absorbency
2. When your flow is heavier, change your tampon more often
3. Alternate with menstrual pads
4. Never be ashamed to go to your doctor, emergency room or urgent care center if you're experiencing symptoms, or forgot to remove your tampon, Moritz said.

Massabni is also fighting to have "Maddy's Law" passed in her county, which would mandate students in fifth grade, and higher grades, have information sessions on TSS. She's asking for anyone who's experienced TSS to reach out on dontshockme.org or via email at dontshockme19@aol.com.

"I know Maddy would be really grateful for lives saved," Massabni said. "If she had made it through this, she would've been doing exactly what I'm doing."

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Apple(NEW YORK) -- We all want to live healthy lifestyles, and many of us follow along with the latest medical research.

Getting large amounts of people to join research studies, however, can be a different story.

“Clinical trials testing new medications are usually not difficult to enroll and people are generally willing to travel to the researcher’s office multiple times in order to participate,” Dr. David Bernstein, vice chair of medicine for clinical trials at Northwell Health in Manhasset, N.Y., told ABC News.

The types of long-term trials meant to look at large amounts of people, though, “offer no perceived immediate benefit to the participant (and) are more difficult to enroll and potential subjects are less likely make frequent visits to a researcher’s office,” he added.

But what if joining a research study were as easy as downloading an app on your phone? That’s what Apple is doing Thursday with the launch of the Research app, a free application for iPhone and Apple Watch through which users can enroll in large-scale research studies addressing a variety of health topics including women’s health, heart and movement, and hearing.

In an interview with ABC News last week in New York City, Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, told Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief medical correspondent, “If you can take away the friction people will participate. What we are doing is making this a really simple process.”

Bernstein, who is not working with Apple on this launch, says the ability to sign up for studies and participate remotely is a big deal.

“More people will be able to participate and data can be collected 24/7, which will make the conclusions more real," he said.

Anyone with an iPhone in the United States can join these studies by downloading the Research app and consenting to participate. To sign up for the heart and movement study, you also need to own an Apple Watch.

The process is more cumbersome than a typical click of the “I agree” that many of us have become used to. Apple says it wants people to know what they are signing up for, and the research institutions have specific language and agreement protocols to make sure the data is compatible with previous and future research.

Data collected through these studies will be used, not only to generate new knowledge on important health topics, but also to learn more about how people use their iPhones and Apple Watches.

“We want to make sure when we develop technology that we understand how individuals and customers use it, as well as how does the medical community use it,” Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple's vice president of health, told ABC News.

Apple’s launch of the Research app coincides with the publication of results from the Apple Heart Study conducted by Stanford Medicine, supported by Apple, and now published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The Apple Heart Study was the company’s first foray into using its wearable technology for the purpose of large-scale health research, and it hoped to prove that the watch could work to help people.

More than 400,000 voluntarily sign-up over an eight-month period.

The study investigated the ability of the Apple Watch to detect atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that can cause stroke -- and if not treated could lead to death. By the end of the study, about 0.5 percent of participants received an irregular heart rhythm notification; they were all asked to wear an ECG patch to corroborate the findings on the Apple Watch.

Among those who wore and returned the patch, 34 percent were found to have atrial fibrillation. The watch was found to be about 84% accurate at identifying irregular heartbeat.

It’s now a standard feature on the Apple Watch and many people have reported receiving the alert, going to the doctor for confirmation, and getting potentially lifesaving medical treatment.

Dr. Mintu Turakhia, a cardiologist at Stanford University and one of the lead authors on the Apple Heart Study, says: “We’re excited because this lays the foundation for more research in wearable technologies and generates a new way to do clinical research that engages more patients and people.”

As numerous large technology companies, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft move into the healthcare space, the advantages of using smart devices to conduct research are clear. Recruiting and enrolling participants through these devices may generate studies with massive sample sizes that are able to detect small differences between groups.

They may engage populations in clinical research that are traditionally left out of health studies, including women and minorities. It also afford the opportunity for monitoring of certain health indicators on a daily basis.

This can be a big advantage to patients and physicians alike.

One of the studies available to enroll in starting Thursday is the Apple Women’s Health Study, which is being conducted in partnership with the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The purpose of this study is to examine women’s menstrual cycles and their relationship to several health conditions.

“The medical research for women has been an area that has been completely under-served. And it's only very recently that we have equal parity in research studies of women,” says Desai. “So we're really focused on areas -- that we can provide the information to users so they can be more proactive and engage earlier on with a physician.”

Bernstein, meanwhile, says Apple's approach will lead to a "greater variety of data."

"This method of data collection also eliminates the recurring issues of data collection which is dependent upon subjects showing up in a researcher’s office and completing surveys and questionnaires based upon recollection,” he said.

However, there are limitations to this approach to data collection as well. People who own smartphones and smart watches may be wealthier, younger and healthier than the average American.

This was demonstrated to some extent in the Apple Heart Study, in which only 5.9% of the sample was over the age of 65.

Sue Feldman, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Health Services Administration, isn’t involved with the Research app, but says she would like to sign up personally to participate.

She can't, though.

“Yes, this is very innovative. However, being an Android user, there would need to be a serious cost offset to motivate me, and I do not have an iPhone," she said. "I am involved in another study that does not require an iPhone or any Apple platform for data transmission.”

Apple says customer privacy requires them to control the process on their devices.

"As one of its core values, Apple believes that privacy is a fundamental human right. Therefore privacy is built into all products and services from the beginning,” says COO Jeff Williams, who heads the medical initiatives at Apple. "The Research app was carefully created to only share data with the chosen studies when the user approves.

"It also includes a clear enrollment flow with detailed consent that explains how data will be used and allows a user to control the type of data shared with each study,” he added.

Users have control of what data they’re sharing and where it goes and can stop sharing at any time.

“When [you] opt in, one of the things you’ll see is we will never sell your data,” Williams told Ashton.

Apple isn’t talking about future plans besides these three new studies, but Feldman would like to see a study about whether people change their health behaviors when they see their data.

"If you know this is happening, do you change your lifestyle?" she asked.

For those of us checking our step counts or looking to close our rings, that may be an experiment we are already participating in.

For their latest venture into health research, Apple has partnered with both government and academic institutions to carry out the following studies:

The Apple Women’s Health Study


Apple is working with the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study women’s menstrual cycles and their relationship to several health conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), infertility, osteoporosis, and menopause.

The Apple Heart and Movement Study


Apple has partnered with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association to understand how heart rate and movement impact hospitalizations, falls, and cardiovascular health.

The Apple Hearing Study


Apple is collaborating with the University of Michigan on a long-term study of how sound influences hearing over time. Data from both headphone usage and from the Noise app will be used to measure sound exposure and track its impact on hearing. These data will also be shared with the World Health Organization as part of its Make Listening Safe Initiative.

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Nicholas Corapi and his supporters at Hopedale Memorial. (Joe Corapi)(UXBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Nicholas Corapi needs a new kidney, and his school is rallying around him while he waits for the perfect match.

The 10-year-old's mom, Kim Corapi, told Good Morning America that when he was born he was in kidney failure, something his parents found out while Nicholas was in still in utero. One of his kidneys was removed, but the other, which was operating at about 20 percent, his mom said, served him well enough -- until recently.

He's been monitored closely throughout the years, getting his blood checked regularly, but in July, his mom said, he just didn't seem himself.

"He was very tired and sleeping all the time," the Uxbridge, Mass., mom said. It turned out his kidney had totally shut down.

Now Nicholas is on dialysis three days each week while waiting for a match. He wakes up at 4:30 a.m. on dialysis days to drive to Boston for his appointments.

One of the things that makes Nicholas' case unique, his mom said, is that he must have an O-type donor, significantly shrinking the pool of possible donors.

His parents have both a Facebook page and a website where people interested in becoming a possible donor can get started. Corapi said any medical procedures for the donor are covered by the family's insurance.

Nicholas, a third grader at Hopedale Memorial, loves school but has to miss it twice a week.

"His teachers even called me over the summer to see how he was doing," his mom said. "It's such a close-knit community, and they treat everyone like family."

So much so that the school came up with a plan to keep Nicolas' spirits up.

"The principal and one of his teachers just wanted to do something to raise awareness [about his need for a kidney]," Corapi said. So they held a kind of pep rally for their "Superhero Nicholas," a moniker born from the boy's love of superheros. The school made T-shirts for his parents from a drawing he'd made.

The kids lined the hallway and made signs and cheered him on, his mom said.

When it came time to walk the hallway, "He didn't even wait for us," Corapi told GMA. "He just flew down the hall."

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(NEW HAMPTON, N.Y.) -- The pain of labor is something all moms experience and most moms never forget.

Now hospital labor and delivery rooms are trying to help moms face the pain by turning to a technology used primarily by gamers: virtual reality headsets.

Erin Martucci, a mom of three in New Hampton, N.Y., wore virtual reality headsets while giving birth to her two youngest children.

The 43-year-old had such a quick labor with her first child, a now 4-year-old son named Michael Jr., that she wanted to go drug-free giving birth to her second child, just over one year later.

Martucci said she barely knew about virtual reality, much less the fact that the technology was being used for labor. As her labor progressed, and the pain grew more intense, Martucci's obstetrician offered the option of trying a VR headset.

"[The doctor] came in with the equipment and put it on my head and the scene was a beach and there was also a voice guidance," Martucci said. "The voice guidance and the visual calmed me down and made me know I could get through the labor without drugs."

"When [the doctor] came to take them off I was like, 'What are you doing because I’m using them,'" she recalled. "He said, 'You’re going to push your baby out,' and literally one or two minutes later I pushed the baby out."

Martucci's daughter, Elizabeth, now 3, was born healthy and happy after about four hours of labor. Martucci said she wore the virtual reality headset for about half the labor, or two hours.

Last month, Martucci gave birth to her third child, another daughter whom she and her husband Michael named Catherine.

Martucci again wore a VR headset for about 30 minutes during labor, from the time doctors broke her water to right before Catherine was born.

"You know your body is progressing through labor but it gives you something to concentrate on," Martucci said of the VR technology. "I really focused on what was presented in front of me during contractions and the guidance helped me breathe and stay in control and calm."

The hospital where Martucci gave birth, Greater Hudson Valley Health System in Middletown, New York, declined to comment to ABC News about its VR offering for women in labor.

It is one of only two or three hospitals in the U.S. known to offer VR to women, according to Dr. Melissa Wong, a maternal fetal medicine physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Wong is planning to publish the results of a yearlong study in February. The study, which she led, is the most comprehensive to date on whether VR during labor is a data-proven option that more hospitals should offer.

"Laboring women represent a population that is vulnerable and looking for options for complementary and alternative methods for managing pain," she said. "I wanted to make sure there was data instead of virtual reality being something that was going to be marketed, quite frankly, inappropriately."

Wong said she was motivated to study VR in labor because of growing patient demand for drug-free deliveries and what she described as "indisputable data" showing that VR can help with medical conditions including depression and anxiety as well as acute and chronic pain.

"VR, to me, represents potentially one other method for helping manage pain that would be non-pharmacological for women interested in it," she said. "It doesn’t have to be in lieu of anything and it doesn’t have to replace epidurals for women."

For the study, Wong worked with a California-based VR company that enlisted the help of a doula to create visualizations and guided narration focused on getting pregnant women through contractions and delivery.

It can certainly humble the provider. I don’t think I ever sat as long with women experiencing early labor contractions as I did when conducting our @CedarsSinaiOBG #pregnancy #VR trial. https://t.co/aDCOOh5NGA

— Melissa Wong (@MelissaWongMD) July 18, 2019

Wong studied 40 first-time moms for the trial, checking their vitals and pain levels as they used the VR headset for up to 30 minutes during the labor process.

"If this is proven by data again and again to be beneficial, then it becomes something that women who believe they could benefit from it can use," she said, noting other labor options at Cedars-Sinai include birthing balls, aromatherapy and birthing tubs.

One of the only other studies on VR during labor, released this summer, looked at 27 women using VR headsets with non-pregnancy specific visual and auditory guides.

"Labor is a very specific pain and it's different than other areas of hospital treatment because it can last for hours," said David Frey, a board-certified anesthesiologist and one of the study's co-authors. "VR affects the brain and response in different ways than classic types of distraction because it's more immersive and therefore takes up more attentional resources."

The study's authors concluded that VR is a "potentially effective technique for improving pain and anxiety during labor," but more research needs to be done, notes another co-author, Melissa Bauer, a professor and obstetric anesthesiologist at the University of Michigan, where the study was based.

"This was a pilot study so [women] only used the intervention for 10 minutes," she said. "How to use it is still to be determined, whether you want to use it continuously throughout the labor progress or take it on and off or use as an adjunct therapy or solely by itself."

"Some patients may get bored with it and get fatigue and some patients who are prone to motion sickness may have nausea using it," Bauer said of other possible side effects to be considered.

Bauer points out that the epidural that a majority of women choose to use for pain management during childbirth is also a safety feature for them. If a woman requires an emergency C-section, doctors use the epidural catheter to quickly provide anesthesia.

That would be missing for women who choose a drug-free option like VR.

"Our main goal is to keep the baby and mom safe," Bauer said. "[Doctors] want to see good, strong evidence when they’re going to use something on a pregnant person, which is reasonable."

Bauer and Frey both said they believe the popularity of VR for women in labor will depend on how quickly content makers see the market demand and create the pregnancy-specific content that will be the most beneficial.

They both also noted they hope that female content-makers step in to help fill the void.

"The cost of hardware is decreasing and the level of immersion is increasing and coming in easy mobile packages that would be easy to use and intuitive for first-time users," said Frey. "It really depends on the creation of new content at this point."

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mseidelch/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Despite the pressing health concerns associated with climate change, only about half of 101 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization had national plans in place to address those problems, and fewer than 20% of those plans have been put into action.

In the face of that inaction, climate change continues to wreak havoc on world health, according to a report published Wednesday in The Lancet. Not only was 2018 the fourth-hottest year on record, it was a year of prime weather conditions for disease transmission.

As temperatures continue to increase, so do accompanying health problems, including the risk for infectious diseases and exposure to wildfires.

2018 saw the ideal conditions for the transmission of dengue, a mosquito-transmitted disease, as well as conditions suitable for diarrhoeal disease, a major killer of young children in areas that lack clean drinking water and sufficient sanitation.

At the same time, 152 countries saw a noticeable increase in their population’s exposure to wildfires, and 220 million additional older adults were exposed to heatwaves, compared to baseline levels.

Despite increasing public and political attention, such as heightened interest around school climate strikes, "the world is yet to see a response from governments which matches the scale of the challenge," the report’s authors wrote. "The health implications of this are apparent today and will most certainly worsen without immediate intervention."

The report builds on much of what already know about climate change and related health issues from years past.

Extreme weather, a predicted effect of climate change, is linked to health problems like heat stroke, dehydration, hypothermia and frostbite. Air pollution, which is associated with respiratory illnesses, heart disease, stroke and cancer, kills more than 7 million people around the globe each year, according to the World Health Organization.



And in a world where hurricanes, floods and wildfires are more frequent, political instability and mental health problems can be downstream consequences of catastrophic weather events.

In addition to anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists preterm birth, low birth weight and maternal complications as potential consequences of "intensely stressful" exposure to extreme weather.

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Photo Credit: James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(NEW YORK) -- More people in the United States are dying from antibiotic-resistant infections than previously believed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report out on Wednesday.

The latest data in the AR Threats Report showed that antibiotic-resistant fungi and bacteria cause more than 2.8 million infections each year. It also found that there are 35,000 antibiotic-resistant infection deaths each year.

The CDC pointed to "data sources not previously available" for the updated information. The altered figures show nearly twice as many annual deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections than the agency reported in 2013.

Since that time, the CDC says, prevention efforts have reduced deaths by 18 percent. But, according to a press release, "without continued vigilance...this progress may be challenged by the increasing burden of some infections."

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(Credit: Rochelle Steffen/Macs Mission) Narwhal, a 10-week-old rescue puppy with an extra tail on his forehead, was found in rural Missouri by Mac's Mission.(JACKSON, Mo.) -- Meet Narwhal, a perfectly healthy rescue puppy with a surprising physical feature that makes him extra special.

The 10-week-old furball who was rescued by Mac's Mission -- a nonprofit dog rescue that predominately helps pups with special needs -- has a small tail-like growth on his forehead.

Founder Rochelle Steffen told ABC News that they found the adorable light brown dog at a dump site in rural Jackson, Missouri, where she said "hundreds" [of dogs] have been dumped.

"He had x-rays and a vet visit yesterday and is a perfectly healthy puppy, with an extra tail on his face," she explained. "There is no medical need to remove it currently and it is a third the size of his actual tail."

The adorable light brown boy with a black nose and big brown eyes is thought to be a Daschund and Beagle mix, Steffen said.

"He is in no pain and plays for hours," she added.

Mac's Mission focuses on helping dogs with deformity, clefts and trauma "since those get euthanized far more than any others and there is a great need to give them a chance," Steffens said. "We give them that chance."

Because the nonprofit life-saving efforts are strictly grassroots through social media, Steffens explained that Narwhal's story getting so much attention has been "majorly epic for so many new folks to find out about our little awesome rescue."

"We really love our little Narwhal and the others he is helping here with the attention!"

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MarianVejcik/iStock(GENEVA) -- The world's first Ebola vaccine is finally approved, a critical move that opens the door for its use in countries at high risk for the infectious disease.

Just 48 hours after the European Commission granted marketing authorization for the vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Tuesday that it had also pre-qualified the vaccine, meaning it meets the WHO's quality, safety and efficacy standards.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director-general, called the approval "a historic step" toward making sure people who need the vaccine most have access to it.

"Five years ago, we had no vaccine and no therapeutics for Ebola," he said in a statement. "With a pre-qualified vaccine and experimental therapeutics, Ebola is now preventable and treatable."

Ebola, which is spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids from an infected person, is rare, but frequently fatal. Death rates among those who contract Ebola range from 25 percent to 90 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

The vaccine, known as Ervebo, which is manufactured by U.S. drug-maker Merck, is currently being used in a "compassionate use" capacity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the site of an ongoing Ebola outbreak. That outbreak is the second-largest, second-deadliest Ebola outbreak on record.

Since August 2018, more than 3,000 people in DRC have tested positive for Ebola virus, according to Congolese health officials. More than 2,000 people have died from the disease during that time. Over the last year, more than 250,000 have been vaccinated against Ebola in the DRC, using the Merck vaccine.

A second experimental vaccine, produced by Johnson & Johnson, which requires two doses, is expected to be deployed in the 2 million-person city of Goma soon, according to Congolese health officials.

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