Category Archives: Medicine

Students skipping lunch if targets not met

A girls’ school in England has banned FitBits, fitness trackers and smartwatches over growing concerns that students are counting calories and skipping lunch if they fail to meet their targets.

“Some girls would monitor the number of steps they had taken and the number of calories they had used,” Cindi Pride, deputy head teacher at Stroud High School, told The Telegraph. “If they didn’t feel they had taken enough steps in the morning, they wouldn’t eat lunch.”

Teachers at the school fear that the trackers are effecting the teens’ mental health, and may be contributing to an overall obsession with body image, the news outlet reported.

In a letter to parents, Pride also announced a ban on cellphones over the so-called “FOMO” phenom, which stands for students’ fear of missing out.

“There have been many reports about how excessive use of social media can have a negative impact on mental health, particularly for girls,” Pride told The Telegraph. “And the situation is getting worse. It can have a real impact on self-esteem with people comparing themselves to others.”

The ban, which comes after a survey found that 71 percent of students checked social media constantly, will be put into place in September for the start of the new term.

“This is a good move, which addresses important issues in an appropriate and measured way,” one parent told the news outlet.

Multiple sclerosis during their childbearing years

Women are most likely to develop multiple sclerosis during their childbearing years—after they hit puberty and before menopause. And recent studies show that oral contraceptive use and levels of sex hormones impact a woman’s risk, while women who already have the chronic autoimmune disease are less likely to relapse when they’re pregnant or breastfeeding, reports the International Business Times.

Now research published in the American Academy of Neurology journal Neurology finds that women who nurse their children for a total of at least 15 months are at a lower risk of developing the disease.

In addition to a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, “this is another example of a benefit to the mother from breastfeeding,” the study author says in a news release.

The team surveyed 397 women who’d recently been diagnosed with MS or its precursor, as well as 433 female control subjects matched for both race and age.

Researchers found that women who’d breastfed for at least 15 months were 53% less likely to develop MS or its precursor compared to women who’d nursed for between zero and four months.

The authors stress that they’ve found a link but didn’t establish a cause. They say their findings add to the “evidence that women who are able to breastfeed their infants should be supported in doing so.” (Length of nursing matters in this case, too.)

Avoid these harmful ingredients

Of all the things you have to worry about, you may not even think about the dangers lurking in your——shampoo? It may have many harmful ingredients that you need to avoid. In theory, you should have more concern over what you put in your body. Still, topical beauty products can prove unsafe, and an extensive report made public by the FDA proves the problem.

Reported Health Care Problems

Recently, the FDA released information on adverse reports related to food and beauty products. This data came from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and is extensive since it goes back to 2004. It provides a good basis to further research on the health effects of beauty supplies.

According to Steve Xu, a physician in dermatology at McGaw Medical Center, hair and skincare products topped the list of adverse events in this report.

Unfortunately, products meant for babies and personal cleanliness had the most events of serious injury, including hospitalization and death. This finding shows that beauty products need guidelines to protect consumer safety.

At the same time, reports of adverse situations have actually doubled in the last year. This influx has largely resulted from hair loss and skin irritation complaints about WEN products. WEN manufacturers had been receiving thousands of complaints for their conditioners with only a mere 100 making their way to the FDA.

When the FDA called for WEN customers to file complaints directly to them, thousands came rolling in. According to the WEN products’ marketing agency, there is still no hard evidence that their conditioners cause hair loss.

Are doctors risking patients safety

As much as people would like to wholly trust their doctors, medical errors do occur more often than is comfortable. The numbers indicate that these errors may account for thousands of deaths each year. While we know that doctors’ work proves difficult, are there preventable distractions putting patients’ safety at risk?

According to lead researcher Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, medical errors are rampant in the US. Makary’s data shows the number at 2—3 times higher than previously thought, a whopping 250,000 a year.

In addition, the FDA attests that errors related to medication cost at least 1 life every day and injure over 1 million annually. Regardless of the numbers, doctors and hospitals should put patient safety at the top of their list. In cases of potential risk, they should err on the side of caution every time.


Distracted Surgery

Doctors have a human side, meaning that they will make a mistake at some point. However, patients and concerned loved ones find it alarming when a doctor pulls out his phone during surgery, of all places. Could the distraction of cellular devices be causing many such medical errors?

In Dr. Christopher Spillers’s case, the correlation is likely. His patient, Roseanne Milne, came in for a routine heart procedure but never made it through the surgery.

According to investigations, the doctor used his cell phone to text, call, and surf the Internet over 50 times! Spillers also took a photo of an anesthesia monitor during another occasion and posted it on Facebook.

While the doctor saw no harm in his actions, Milne’s daughter did. According to her, “It was absolutely the worst day of my life. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe I was losing my mother that night.”


Smallpox from scratch in a lab, scientists warn

Scientists have re-created a relative of the smallpox virus in a lab, from scratch.

This virus, called the horsepox virus, is not harmful to humans, but the new findings suggest that it’s possible for people to make the deadly smallpox virus in a lab. That virus was eradicated from the world in 1980, according to the journal Science .

Re-creating the horsepox virus wasn’t a trivial feat, but it did not require extensive resources, either. The researchers ordered the DNA fragments they used to make the virus from a company that makes DNA pieces for researchers, with made-to-order sequences, and sends them through the mail. In total, the project cost $100,000 and took six months, Science reported.

The researchers, from the University of Alberta in Canada, hope their effort could one day lead to a better smallpox vaccine. Although most people no longer receive smallpox vaccination , the shot is sometimes given to people who may be at risk for contracting the disease, such as those who work with smallpox or similar viruses in a lab. A small percentage of those vaccinated with the current vaccine may experience serious, life-threatening side effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Canadian researchers are working with the pharmaceutical company Tonix to develop a smallpox vaccine. In March, Tonix issued a statement announcing that it had used the horsepox virus to develop a potential smallpox vaccine, which showed protective effects in an early study in mice.

Although many researchers assumed it would one day be possible to re-create poxviruses — the family of viruses to which smallpox and horsepox belong — there was still some debate about the issue. David Evans, the lead researcher of the horsepox virus work, told Science that he performed the feat in part to put an end to the debate. “The world just needs to accept the fact that you can do this, and now we have to figure out what is the best strategy for dealing with that,” Evans told Science.

Raise funds for daughter facing incurable genetic disease

A family is in a race against time to save their 6-year-old daughter from a fatal genetic disease that currently has no cure. Mila Makovec, who was diagnosed with Batten disease in December 2016, has already lost her sight and struggles to walk and talk.

“There is no other way to put it – my 6-year-old daughter, Mila, is dying,” Julia Vitarello, Mila’s mother, wrote on the family’s GoFundMe page. “I lie by her side every night when she sleeps and my heart bleeds. My face burns from the tears.”

“Mila could be your child,” she continued. “She splashed in the pool, begged for chocolate ice cream, and sang her favorite songs. She rode bikes. She skied. But at 4 years old, she started to fall over, to bump into things. She pulled books in close, got stuck on words. She was finally diagnosed with Batten Disease, a rare genetic condition that robs normal children of everything. They end up bedridden, on a feeding tube, with seizures, and cognitively impaired. There is no cure.”

Vitarello, her husband, Alek, and Mila’s 3-year-old brother, Azlan, have worked tirelessly to raise awareness and funds for a gene therapy trial that seems promising for Mila and others diagnosed with Batten. Their initial fundraising push helped to fund the work leading up to the trial, but they now need $1 million more by September to get it scheduled.

Fighting for his life after he contracted a strain of E. coli

A Minnesota boy is fighting for his life after he contracted a strain of E. coli — the same one that killed his younger sister earlier this week.

Kade, 5, and Kallan Maresh, 3, of Wright County, were sickened by an infection called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) on July 9, Fox 9 reported. The siblings battled symptoms including non-stop bloody stool and vomiting, eventually leading them into acute kidney failure.

Last week, Kallan, who would have turned 4 years old next month, died when the Shiga toxin from the bacteria attacked the toddler’s kidneys and neurological system.



“Her brain and heart were being damaged,” her parents, Joseph and Tyffani Maresh, wrote on their donation site, CaringBridge. “Our sweet sweet little girl lost the battle.”

“We got to hold her free of tubes and snuggle and kiss her. She is the most amazing little girl in the world. Our hearts are aching with the deepest sadness,” they wrote in the post.


The parents said their son “is still fighting” despite the toxins reaching his neurological system.

“He has had a blood transfusion [and] is on kidney dialysis and may need platelets,” the post read. “He has a long road to recovery and we hope and pray the toxins stay away from his brain and heart and other organ systems.”

Sweeteners may not be risk free

People hoping to lose a few pounds by substituting artificial sweeteners for regular sugar may end up disappointed, suggests a fresh look at past research.

The review of 37 studies suggests the use of so-called non-nutritive sweeteners could be linked to weight gain and other undesirable outcomes like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

“From all that research, there was no consistent evidence of a long term benefit from the sweetener, but there was evidence for weight gain and increased risks of other cardiometabolic outcomes,” said lead author Meghan Azad, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.

Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and stevioside are growing increasingly popular as evidence mounts that sugar is fueling the obesity epidemic, Azad and colleagues write in CMAJ.

The artificial sweeteners are chemically different than sugar. They activate receptors on the tongue that lets the brain know the person is eating or drinking something sweet.

Past research on these sweeteners shows a mixed bag of results, including links to weight gain, as well as links to weight loss, according to the authors of the new review.

For the analysis, they looked through the medical literature for studies examining possible links between artificial sweeteners and weight or health issues like obesity.

The researchers found seven randomized controlled trials, which are considered the gold-standard of medical research. Some of the trials, for example, compared people who drank artificially sweetened beverages to people who drank water. The researchers also found 30 studies that followed people using the sweeteners over time.

Premature newborn battle for lives

A Texas pastor is asking for prayers for his wife who fell critically ill after giving birth to their premature daughter. Daniel Villarreal, who has been keeping supporters updated in a series of Facebook posts, said his wife, Jannelle, had difficulties while recovering from an emergency C-section performed on July 10.

The couple’s daughter, Eden Raine, was born premature at 31 weeks gestation, and placed in the hospital’s NICU. However, Janelle was transferred to Methodist Specialist and Transplant Hospital where doctors diagnosed her with HELLP Syndrome, a severe form of preeclampsia.

“Our doctor just stated, ‘I don’t know if you believe in prayer, but if you do, there’s never been a time to be more focused on praying for two things, your liver and your kidneys,’” he wrote in the post, which was shared 277 times. “Jannelle is fighting for her life. There are two things we want to pray: 1.) For spontaneous liver rupture not to happen 2.) The damage that has happened to kidneys reverses and kidneys return to normal.”

Follow up posts revealed that Eden’s birth came after the couple’s son was born stillborn at 21 weeks last year. Villarreal, who also has a 12-year-old daughter with Jannelle, revealed that doctors tabled the liver transplant for Jannelle after hers began functioning again.

A July 17 request for a “Prayer from every nation” from Villarreal asked supporters to pray for Jannelle’s immune system and internal organs.

The latest update said Villarreal had started spoon-feeding Jannelle as she continued to recover.

“Her kidneys still need to awaken. Her blood still needs to be in order. Her lungs are still weak. We are seeing GREAT progress but last night was long and was a struggle,” he wrote. “We pray for total healing and no long term effects. We need miracles.”

Mexican hospital arrives in US

A baby born three months premature while his parents were on a “babymoon” arrived in the U.S. on Thursday, after a two-day ordeal over payments to the Mexican hospital that he was born in. Beckham Smith-Ralph, who was born on Tuesday, arrived at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis via medical jet after his family’s plea for help sparked an outpouring of support on their GoFundMe page.

“Beckham is getting the proper medical care that he deserves,” Rebecca Ewert, who has been updating the family’s GoFundMe page, wrote on Thursday. “We will be giving the family some space as they come down from this crazy traumatic past 72 hours.”

Beckham’s mother, Michaela Smith, received approval to travel with her partner, Larry Ralph, from her doctor, as her due date was scheduled for Oct. 15, WXIN-TV reported. But while in Cancun, she began to feel ill and went to Hospiten Cancun, where Beckham was born three months premature.

While they paid an initial $9,000 for the first day of care, they claim another $4,000 was billed in various fees, Fox 59 reported. They said within 24 hours, the bill’s total then tripled.

According to the family’s GoFundMe page, the hospital refused to release Beckham until the couple paid $37,000, which did not include a medical flight to the U.S.

“Literally they’re being held hostage down there,” Larry Ralph Sr., had told Fox 59. “We just want to get him somewhere and get him stable. We need to get him in America.”