Babies at higher risk of heart defects if dad drinks alcohol before conception: Study

iStock(NEW YORK) — Does a dad’s drinking matter as much as a mom’s before conception?

Researchers in China believe that a father’s alcohol intake may actually affect a future child more than a mother’s.

They completed a meta-analysis review of thousands of cases to determine how parental alcohol use prior to conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy affects heart health in a child.

Their results, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, revealed that the risk of heart defects in infants was 44% higher if their fathers drank. They found that this risk was increased by 16% for mothers who drank.

“Binge drinking by would-be parents is a high-risk and dangerous behavior that not only may increase the chance of their baby being born with a heart defect, but also greatly damages their own health,” study author Dr. Jiabi Qin, of Xiangya School of Public Health, Central South University, Changsha, China, said in a statement.

In an interview with ABC News, Qin added, “We think that everyone should know the harm of alcohol consumption.” He said parents should “resolutely avoid alcohol consumption six months or one year before and during pregnancy.”

Many studies have shown alcohol has negative effects on a developing fetus.

“What is of the most interest in this work is the fact that they identify a risk if the father is using alcohol. That is a somewhat novel finding,” says Dr. Robert H. Pass, director of pediatric cardiology at the Mt Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital.

What does this mean for prospective parents?

“I don’t think that from one study that we can definitively make recommendations,” Pass said. “However, this study supports previous studies that alcohol is bad for women who are pregnant.” He added that this study is also “highly suggestive of the father’s effect on fetal outcomes.”

However, Pass was hesitant about changing current medical practices. He said meta-analyses “can sometimes be very helpful, but there are many limitations. Sometimes the data is not 100% accurate.”

Pass believes that more research is needed, especially surrounding a father’s health.

Qin agreed that we need to know more. For example, he thinks we should explore how alcohol use increases heart disease in children. He also acknowledged the limitations associated with a meta-analysis and hopes that future studies will be designed differently in order to further support the results of his research.

Alcohol isn’t the only thing that negatively impacts a father’s impact on his child’s health.

“We know that advanced paternal age is associated with a number of different risks for fetuses,” Pass said.

Dr. Deidre Downs Gunn, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist and medical director of the IVF program at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center said: “In addition to alcohol use, there are a number of factors that can impact sperm quality and reproductive health in men. Smoking, marijuana use, obesity or poor nutrition, certain medications, and especially testosterone use- all of these can affect a man’s ability to have children.”

Overall, this study illustrates the importance of preconception counseling for mothers and fathers.

“This study is an example of why we need to have a conversation about men’s preconception health, not just women’s, to improve the chance of a healthy pregnancy and baby,” Gunn said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles in 13 states: CDC

iStock(NEW YORK) — A salmonella outbreak in 13 states has been linked to pet turtles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Twenty-one people have been infected with the strain of Salmonella Oranienburg, the CDC announced Wednesday. Seven of those cases required hospitalization, but no deaths have been reported.

The CDC linked the outbreak to pet turtles after 12 of the 17 people who fell ill reported contact with the reptiles, according to the CDC.

Even when appearing healthy and clean, turtles can carry salmonella germs in their droppings, which can easily spread to their bodies, tank water and habitats, according to the CDC. People can then get sick after touching a turtle or anything in their habitats.

California had the most reported cases at six, according to the CDC. Other states where multiple cases were reported were Illinois, New York and Washington.

The CDC recommended that those who own or come in contact with pet turtles to always wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling a turtle or cleaning its habitat. The CDC also advised against kissing or snuggling turtles and letting turtles roam freely where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens.

In addition, avoid cleaning a turtle’s habitats, toys or pet supplies in the kitchen or any other location where food is prepared or stored — clean it outside the house when possible, health officials advised.

Symptoms of a salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without needing treatment, according to the CDC.

Children younger than 5 years old and adults 65 and older, as well as those with weakened immune systems, are more likely to experience severe cases of the infection.

Households with members at risk for serious illness should consider a different pet, according to the CDC.

The health agency is continuing to investigate the outbreak.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nurse alleges colleagues misused Benadryl to put patients to sleep: Lawsuit

(WEST ORANGE, N.J.) — A nurse in New Jersey is suing a hospital, claiming that she was taken off the schedule and eventually pushed out of her job on an adult psychiatry unit after she reported to higher-ups that some night-shift nurses were allegedly giving Benadryl to patients to make them sleep and not reporting their actions.

Patricia Moran, a registered nurse for more than 30 years at RWJ Barnabas Health, which owns Monmouth Medical Center, was hired in 1988 and worked on the adult involuntary psychiatric unit at the center.

In March 2019, her civil lawsuit claims, Moran suspected that some overnight nurses were allegedly using Benadryl to make patients drowsy or put them to sleep.

Benadryl, which has a generic name of diphenhydramine, is used to treat allergy symptoms, such as runny noses, sneezing, itchy throats and itchy and watery eyes. Common side effects include sleepiness, fatigue and headaches. Benadryl also markets itself as a sleep aid.

Moran’s complaint, which was filed in Monmouth County Superior Court on Wednesday, said that “on hospital adult units, Benadryl is almost exclusively prescribed to address side effects from psychotropic medication … such as restlessness, muscle cramping and involuntary muscle contractions.”

However, Moran’s complaint said that she believed the medication was allegedly being administered by staff to lighten the workload for the night-shift nurses.

According to her complaint, she learned of the alleged misuse because the machine that dispensed and tracked medications given at the hospital, was not generating reports when Benadryl was being given to the patients.

“This confirmed that nurses were not providing accurate information regarding the use of Benadryl,” the complaint alleges.

Dr. Saumya Bhutani, a resident physician in psychiatry in New York who looked at Moran’s complaint, per ABC News’ request, said that in adult inpatient psychiatric units, however, that Benadryl is used and ordered by physicians not only for side effects of psychiatric medications but also for insomnia and agitation.

“The complaint as it stands is still vague without more information from Moran. Each Pyxis and electronic health record is uniquely different so it’s hard to understand where she saw that Benadryl was being given and where she saw that it wasn’t,” Bhutani said Thursday. “Without hearing from the nurses, doctors and patients, it’s difficult to determine the extent of the misuse. Was the Benadryl ordered for other indications beyond side effects? What were the conversations and interactions between the nurses and patients when the Benadryl was given? What was going on with the patients? Were the day nurses and doctors made aware of what was going on?”

ABC News was not able to reach Moran for comment on her lawsuit.

In a statement to ABC News on Thursday, the medical center said, “Monmouth Medical Center is fully committed to providing a safe environment for our patients, visitors and staff. Per our policy, we are unable to comment on any individual employee or patient matter.”

In her complaint, Moran said that she took her allegations to the hospital’s administrative director of psychiatry, who then went to her direct manager. Moran claims in court documents that her direct supervisor then “retaliated” against her.

“[Moran] was denied time on the schedule, she was provided a bogus evaluation, she was subjected to increased scrutiny, and she was otherwise ostracized from her co-workers,” court papers said.

In March 2019, Moran sent the supervisor a letter, saying, “I find it surprising that I have not been asked about availability, and have no time at all scheduled, although I see other per diems do have time scheduled. I am available any evening 7-11 shift. Pat,” according to the suit.

When she heard nothing back from the supervisor, Moran claimed, she went back to the administrative director of psychiatry to report that she believed she was being “subjected to retaliation as a result of reporting the misuse of medication” and also that her supervisor was “deliberately and maliciously” creating a hostile work environment in hopes that she would either resign or get terminated.

Moran also said that after working with adults for more than 30 years, she was abruptly moved to a pediatric floor. She claims that when she asked for help with an assignment on the pediatric unit, she was given another assignment but also reported to human resources for “refusing” the initial task. She said in court papers that she did not refuse the first assignment.

“[Moran] was further advised that her conduct was a ‘terminable offense’ and that she was not allowed to work until … the matter was investigated by HR. [She] was placed on unpaid leave and remains on unpaid leave as of the filing of the complaint (i.e., from July 2019 through October 2019),” court papers said.

Moran said that she met with human resources in September 2019 and was issued a final warning “with no prior verbal or written warning” despite RWJ’s disciplinary process.

“Even though [Moran] had not received any discipline whatsoever in more than 31 years with the hospital, [she] suddenly found herself under investigation and slated for potential termination,” the complaint said.

Moran said that although she was cleared to return to work on Oct. 7 — after human resources had completed its investigation — her supervisor still “refused” to schedule her for any shifts and claimed that “there was ‘not a need’ for her services.” As of October, she’d been out of work for at least 14 weeks, the complaint said.

Moran is demanding a trial by jury, according to her complaint, which also includes RWJ Barnabas Health, her supervisor and a human resources director as defendants.

“As alleged in the complaint, the hospital turned its back on Ms. Moran and immediately retaliated in an egregious fashion, all because she exposed illicit conduct and sought to uphold the highest standard of care for patients. No employee deserves to be treated in such a manner, let alone someone who has dedicated more than 31 years at this particular hospital,” said Matthew A. Luber, of McOmber & McOmber, who is representing Moran, in a statement to ABC News Thursday. “Ms. Moran looks forward to her day in court.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

People in rural areas face long drives for opioid addiction treatments

iStockBY: DR. SAUMYA BHUTANI

(NEW YORK) — As the U.S. grapples with the opioid epidemic — 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — access to treatments for addiction has perhaps never been so important. But for many in rural areas, those treatments are still hard to come by.

A new study by Yale University, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that drive times to methadone clinics in rural counties is, on average, almost 50 minutes each way.

Dr. Kip Corrington, a physician at Novant Health Northwest Family Medicine in North Carolina, has prescribed methadone, one of the most established treatments for opioid addiction.

“As a society, we need to work on getting rid of the stigma,” he said. “There is a misunderstanding that it’s trading one substance for another, but, in reality, it saves lives. Some of the difficulties people in rural areas face are cost and access. You’re in a difficult financial situation. I’ve had patients travel anywhere from 40 to 80 miles one way.”

Many of these same rural counties have access to primary care health clinics within a 20-minute drive. This raises the question: Should we integrate methadone prescriptions into primary care clinics to better fight the opioid epidemic?

“Methadone is the most studied medication for opioid use disorder, but you have patients who need it tell you, ‘Doc, it takes me forever to get to the office,'” said Dr. Paul Joudrey, lead author of the study and Instructor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine.

Joudrey added that he hopes this research helps “expand geographic access” to treatment.

The study, which examined counties in five states hardest hit by overdose deaths, determined that where some in urban areas could get treatment in eight minutes, in rural counties that averaged 49 minutes.

But to Joudrey, who specializes in addiction medicine, this is not the crux of the study.

“This is not a story about how urban areas have better access to methadone,” he said. “This is really about solving geographic disparities in access to methadone — using existing primary care clinics in rural counties.”

In the rural counties where methadone clinics were about 49 minutes away, primary care facilities were just 17 minutes away.

Primary care clinics in underserved areas that receive federal funding must adhere to specific requirements. So, too, must clinics that dispense methadone, which must be prescribed from U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-certified opioid treatment programs.

As explained on the SAMHSA website, creating an opioid treatment program involves a certification and accreditation process at both the federal and state level. Once an opioid treatment program exists, certification must be renewed every three years. And local zoning guidelines also play a role in where methadone clinics are established.

Joudrey described these requirements as “burdensome restrictions.” In other countries, including Canada and Australia, primary care clinics can be certified to dispense methadone.

“Laws need to be passed to support and incentivize the federally qualified health centers into being capable of dispensing methadone,” he added.

In addition to overcoming regulatory hurdles, methadone clinics still face opposition from potential neighbors.

“There is still a public stigma toward methadone clinics,” Joudrey said.

Some of those opposed to integrating methadone into primary care clinics have expressed concern over patients possibly overdosing on methadone, noting how prescriptions of buprenorphine, another treatment for opioid use disorder, already are available and with fewer restrictions.

“I don’t know if DEA or regulatory agencies will allow methadone in primary care clinics,” Corrington said. “Buprenorphine is a simpler and safer solution that is just as effective.”

Joudrey said, “Buprenorphine is good but does not work for everyone, especially those with more severe opioid use disorder.”

“Methadone overdose is possible,” Joudrey added, “but overdosing on heroin and fentanyl is much more dangerous. Data has shown in other countries that methadone can be prescribed safely this way without risk of overdose.”

Joudrey is passionate about making methadone more accessible. He described how in most clinics, people have to visit six days a week for the first eight weeks to obtain their methadone. After demonstrating that responsibility, people do not have to go as often, but at least once a week. Frequencies vary by state.

“When we want people to recover, we want them to have jobs and live full lives,” Joudrey said. “To have to drive far for methadone while trying to get the rest of your life together is really hard.”

Dr. Saumya Bhutani is a resident in psychiatry in New York working with the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Egypt unveils 3,500-year-old industrial district on west bank of the Nile

iStock(NEW YORK) — Egypt, as part of a larger effort to ramp up tourism, has unveiled a 3,500-year-old industrial area, a first-of-its-kind collection of artifacts, on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor.

The discovery in the Western Valley, also known as the Valley of the Monkeys, dates to the New Kingdom’s 18th Dynasty, approximately 1543–1292 B.C., the antiquities ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, who spearheaded a two-year excavation in the area, said the site includes 30 workshops where funeral furniture for royal tombs was made.

The team also discovered an oven used to produce clay products, a water storage tank, two silver rings and objects used to decorate royal coffins, Hawass said at a press conference in Luxor, according to the statement.

Hawass’ team also uncovered a royal tomb that contained tools used in tomb construction.

A mission launched by Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 19th century discovered a few items at this site, which otherwise remained untapped until a new excavation in 2011. That mission was halted, and Hawass returned to the site in 2017.

Work is currently underway in the Western Valley to find the tombs of Queen Nefertiti and the wife of boy-king Tutankhamun, Hawass added.

In April, archaeologists unveiled an expansive tomb on Luxor’s west bank that also dates to the 18th dynasty, believed to have belonged to a nobleman named Shedsu Djehuty.

The west bank of the Nile in Luxor also is home to the Valley of the Kings, a major site where pharaohs and nobles of the New Kingdom were buried.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Oct 2019

Google brings in ‘Insecure’ creator Issa Rae as their newest celebrity voice for Google Assistant

HBO/Anne Marie Fox(LOS ANGELES) — Get ready: Issa Rae is officially taking over your Google Assistant.

Google announced on Thursday that they have tapped the Insecure star and creator as their newest celebrity voice for their digital helper.

Starting today, Rae’s voice will be available through the Google Assistant app on iOS and Android, as well as on Google Home speakers and various smart displays.

According to the announcement, to get Issa to start talking, all you need to do is simply say, “Hey Google, talk like Issa,” or switch the settings within the mobile app.

There are also specific questions that’ll garner a unique response from the actress. Those questions include: Do I need an umbrella today?; Tell me a secret; What do you think of me?; Give me a quote from Issa Rae; Sing a song; Tell me a joke; or ask, “Mirror talk” or “How do I look?” for “confidence-boosting affirmations.”

For Insecure fans, you can also ask Issa if she loves Daniel or Lawrence more, in which case Issa will offer a specific response.

Rae took to Instagram to share the good news.

“Guess who’s the new voice of the Google Assistant? ME!,” she wrote, sharing a video of her Google promo. “Today I’m taking over the @Google Instagram story. Head over there to see what I can do, or just say, “Hey Google, #TalkLikeIssa” to give it a try. “

Google’s announcement comes after Amazon revealed they had tapped Samuel L. Jackson to be the voice of Alexa.

Unlike Rae, Jackson’s voice app also includes an explicit version, just in case you need a bit more edge.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Oct 2019

Simone Biles wins her 5th all-around World Championships title

iStock(NEW YORK) — American gymnast Simone Biles has made history once again.

The 22-year-old won the individual all-around title at the 22nd World Championships Thursday.

The win is her fifth world all-around title and her 22nd world medal.

Biles scored 58.99 points across the balance beam, floor, vault and uneven bars, beating second-place finisher Tan Xijing of China by 2.1 points. The win broke Biles’ own record for women’s record margin of victory.

The next closest Team USA finisher was 16-year-old Sunisa Lee, who finished in eighth place with 55.63 total points.

Earlier this week Biles and Lee helped lead Team USA to its fifth consecutive world championship title — finishing almost six full points ahead of second-place Russia.

The win gave Biles her 21st world medal and the female record for most world gymnastics championships medals.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist struck not one but two signature moves: the double-double dismount on the balance beam and triple-double on the floor, both of which will be named after Biles.

Both are also performances that the International Gymnast Federation (FIG) even found controversial for the added safety risk.

Before the competition began, controversy ensued when FIG announced that Biles’ beam dismount would be valued as an “H,” when it had been widely expected that a skill of such difficulty would be valued higher, as an “I” or a “J.”

When questioned why FIG decided to give the dismount what was considered to be a lower value, the federation released a statement, essentially calling the skill a safety risk for other gymnasts to attempt.

The backlash from Biles’ camp after FIG’s value was announced was swift, with Biles tweeting out that the ruling was “bulls–t.” Her coach, Cecile Landi, tweeted the decision was “#totalbs.”

USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, also released a statement on Biles’ dismount, saying, “USA Gymnastics respectfully disagrees with the value assigned to the balance beam dismount.”

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Posted On 10 Oct 2019