Category Archives: Health

A new study says it may be possible

Good news for those making plans for their 110th birthday: The human lifespan is perhaps far more robust than previously thought. The Guardianreports that new research disputes a high-profile claim last year that the human lifespan has maxed out at 114.9 years.

In an extraordinary scientific feud, five research teams banded together to trash that conclusion, publishing their findings in the journal Nature, which is where the original study appeared.

Author Jim Vaupel, a specialist in aging at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, tells the paper there’s no evidence for an upper limit on human longevity.

And if there were, he adds, “it is above 120, perhaps much above—and perhaps there is not a limit at all.” Vaupel calls the original study led by geneticist Jan Vijg of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York “the worst piece of research I’ve ever read” in Nature, adding that he was “outraged” that the journal would publish “such a travesty.” Vijg, who’s standing his ground, had used existing data to show that after a period of steadily rising longevity, humans appeared to hit a ceiling of 115 in the mid-’90s.

But the new papers pooh-pooh the plateau prediction and, in a sci-fi twist, suggest humans could be blowing out 150 candles by the year 2300. Vijg suggests his nitpicky critics didn’t read his work properly, and perhaps have issues with their own mortality.

“When you look at these super-old people, there are not many of them,” he says. “That’s kind of the point, isn’t it?” (A rare aging disease killed the 2nd oldest patient to have it.)

What to know about the parasite found in Florida

A “rat lungworm” parasite has been found in multiple Florida counties, according to University of Florida researchers.

Why should you worry? Escargot lovers may become infected with the parasite if they eat raw or undercooked snails.

Here’s what you should know about the parasitic roundworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, and how it can be avoided.

Where is the parasite found?

Its adult form is found just in rodents, and sickened rats can pass larvae of the parasite in feces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says online.

How are snails, slugs and humans infected?

Snails and slugs become infected when they ingest the larvae. Humans consuming raw or undercooked infected snails and slugs may end up with rat lungworm, the agency warns. Eating raw or undercooked freshwater shrimp, crabs or frogs infected with larvae may also be an issue.


Another way people can be infected is if raw produce contains a snail or slug, the CDC says. It’s important to note that if someone’s infected, they cannot transmit the parasite to somebody else.

Where have there been cases in the U.S.?

Humans were infected in Hawaii, Louisiana and Texas, University of Florida researchers say. Most recently, researchers found rats and snails that tested positive for the parasite in five Florida counties: Alachua, Hillsborough, Leon, St. Johns and Orange. Earlier studies found the parasite in the southern part of the Sunshine State.

What sort of preventative measures can I take?

Skip eating raw or undercooked snails and slugs, and make sure to wash your hands and sport gloves if you’re handling them, according to the CDC.

Doctors left camera in body after transplant surgery

A woman is suing the hospital where she underwent a kidney and pancreatic transplant after surgeons allegedly left a camera used during the procedure inside of her torso. Lacrystal Lockett, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, is suing Emory University Hospital for negligence, The Atlanta Constitution-Journal reported.


While the surgery took place on Dec. 14, 2014, the camera wasn’t discovered until an exam that took place the following June, the lawsuit claims. Lockett was then forced to undergo another procedure to remove it.


“As a result of Defendants’ negligence, Plantiff Lacrystal Lockett suffered undue hardship through additional surgical procedures and has incurred medical expenses as well as significant pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, and lost wages,” the lawsuit alleges, according to the report.


The lawsuit lists Dr. Paul Lu Tso and his assistants Drs. Ronald Parsons and Denise J. Lo. The hospital did not respond to The Atlanta Constitution-Journal’s request for comment.

US fertility rate hits historic low

New data released Friday revealed the number of women giving birth in the United States has hit a historic low, causing some to fear that the country is heading toward a “national emergency.”

The number of births compared to the year before fell 1 percent, bringing the fertility rate in the U.S. to 62 births per 1,000 women between the ages 15 and 44, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s provisional 2016 population data.

The study found teenage girls and women in their 20s were having fewer babies compared to before. The birthrate among women in their 30s and 40s showed an increase, though not enough to prevent an overall decline.


The historic low has some experts fearing the nation is heading toward a “national emergency,” causing economic and cultural turmoil, The Washington Post reported.

Experts, however, have an optimistic view of the future despite the low birthrates.

Donna M. Strobino, a professor of population, family and reproductive health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the newspaper that millennials are the ones to be watching. Some believe millennial women are postponing parenthood, but others believe most are choosing to skip having children altogether.


Strobino said teens having fewer babies is a positive trend.

“What this is is a trend of women becoming more educated and more mature. I’m not sure that’s bad,” Strobino said.

The U.S. also still has higher fertility rates compared to other developed countries. There’s also more births compared to deaths.

Overall, the historic low shouldn’t alarm people. Demographer William Frey told The Washington Post that when the economy takes an uphill turn, people will start having more children.

Autistic sons drowning death at amusement park

A Pennsylvania family whose autistic son drowned at a popular amusement park last summer is suing, claiming that the staff was unprepared and slow to respond to the emergency.

In their wrongful death lawsuit, Mohamad and Fadma Boudriss, whose son Yassin was found floating in three feet of water at Knoebels Amusement Resort, claim an individual was performing CPR and requested an automated external defibrillator (AED) three times, but none was provided, WITF reported.


Yassin was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, with a county coroner ruling the cause of death to be drowning with autism a contributing factor, WITF reported. Montour County Coroner Scott Lynn said the boy showed no signs of distress, but that he should have been able to stand in the three feet of water.

At the time, Knoebels released a statement on its Facebook page indicating that a lifeguard had discovered Yassin unresponsive and administered CPR.


“A young boy was found unresponsive by a lifeguard who immediately initiated emergency care,” the statement read, in part, according to PEOPLE. “The Knoebel family and team members had been hoping and praying for the best possible outcome, but are saddened to have learned from local authorities that the young boy has passed away. Please join us in keeping the boy’s family in your prayers.”

However, the lawsuit claims lifeguards were not properly trained or supervised and failed to observe patrons in the pool. It also claims no lifeguards assisted in resuscitation efforts. The family is seeking over $50,000 in damages, WITF reported.

Baby lose fight to keep him on life support

The mother and father of a brain-damaged 11-month-old baby on Friday were sitting bedside with the boy after losing a legal battle that would have kept the boy on life support.

The Wall Street Journal reported that doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, who are caring for Charlie Gard received permission from a court to discontinue life support.

The boy’s parents objected to the decision and wanted to take him to the U.S. for an unproven, experimental therapy.

Charlie suffers from a rare genetic condition and brain damage. He is unable to breathe unaided. Earlier in the day, parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates said they had expected the hospital to end life support for Charlie on Friday.

But hours later, the hospital said in a statement that “together with Charlie’s parents we are putting plans in place for his care and to give them more time together as a family.”

Hospital officials also asked that the family and hospital staff be given “space and privacy at this distressing time.”

It’s not clear how long life support will be continued for Charlie.

On Tuesday, the parents lost a bid to take Charlie to the U.S. for trial therapy when the European Court of Human Rights sided with earlier rulings that continued treatment would cause “significant harm” and that life support should end. Specialists have said the proposed therapy wouldn’t help Charlie.

Charlie was born in August. The Journal reported that he was diagnosed with infantile-onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.

“His brain, muscle and ability to breathe are all severely affected. In addition, he has congenital deafness and a severe epilepsy disorder,” a professor who specializes in mitochondrial diseases told the U.K. High Court that heard the case.

The appeal was the last legal option in the couple’s four-month battle. After the final ruling, the hospital said there would be “no rush” to make any changes in Charlie’s medical care.

His parents had complained that the hospital wouldn’t allow Charlie to be brought home to die. The boy’s parents have released a video saying “we’re not allowed to choose if our son lives and we’re not allowed to choose when or where Charlie dies.”

Memory in people with cognitive decline

A brain training computer game developed by British neuroscientists has been shown to improve the memory of patients in the very earliest stages of dementia and could help such patients avert some symptoms of cognitive decline.

Researchers who developed the “game show”-like app and tested its effects on cognition and motivation in a small trial found that patients who played the game over a period of a month had around a 40 percent improvement in their memory scores.

“We hope to extend these findings in future studies of healthy ageing and mild Alzheimer’s disease,” said George Savulich, who led the study at Cambridge University.


Dementia is a huge global health problem. The World Health Organization says some 47.5 million people had dementia in 2015, and that number is rising rapidly as life expectancy increases and societies age.

The condition is incurable and there are few drugs that can alleviate the symptoms – which include declining memory, thinking, behavior, navigational and spatial skills and the gradual loss of ability to perform everyday tasks.

Publishing his results in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, Savulich said that as well as improving their memory scores in the game, patients who played it retained more complex visual information than those who didn’t.


Independent experts said the study’s findings were encouraging, but that the app needed be tested against other forms of brain training in trials involving more people.

“While this type of brain training will not ultimately be able to prevent or cure memory diseases like dementia, (it is) a promising way to improve early memory symptoms of the disease,” said Tara Spires-Jones of the University of Edinburgh.

Breast feeding ups risk of severe dental cavities

Breast-feeding at age 2 or older increases a child’s risk of severe dental caries by the time they’re 5, independently of how much sugar they get from foods, researchers say.

To investigate the effect of prolonged breastfeeding on children’s teeth, Karen Glazer Peres of the University of Adelaide in Australia and colleagues analyzed data on 1,129 children born in 2004 in Pelotas, Brazil, a community with a public fluoridated water supply.

Breas-tfeeding information was collected at birth and when children were 3 months, 1 year and 2 years old. Sugar consumption data was collected at ages 2, 4 and 5.


By age 5, nearly 24 percent of children had severe early childhood caries, which researchers defined as six or more decayed, missing or filled tooth surfaces, according to the report in the journal Pediatrics. Close to half of children had at least one tooth surface affected.

Children who had breast-fed for at least two years, which was close to one-quarter of the group, had a higher number of teeth that were decayed, missing or had a filling. Their risk of having severe early childhood caries was also 2.4 times higher compared with those who were only breastfed up to 1 year of age. Breast-feeding for 13 months to 23 months had no effect on dental caries.

To collect data on sugar consumption, the team used a list of food items or food groups consumed the day prior to a clinic visit. At age 2, groups were categorized as “low sugar consumption,” meaning zero or less than twice daily, and “high sugar consumption,” meaning two or more times daily.

But sugar consumption was only associated with a greater risk of having severe early childhood dental caries when children who consumed the highest amount were compared with children who consumed the least.

Subsequent analyses of prolonged breast-feeding, taking into account the pattern of sugar consumption throughout the child’s life course, showed that prolonged breastfeeding was an independent risk for severe caries and decayed, missing or filled teeth, the authors note.

“Breast-feeding is the unquestioned optimal source of infant nutrition. Dental care providers should encourage mothers to breastfeed and, likewise, advise them on the risk,” Glazer Peres told Reuters Health by email.

“General recommendations such as drinking fluoridated water as well as cleaning a child’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste before going to bed may help to prevent dental caries,” she said. “These approaches are in line with most of the guidelines for practice and policy recommendations worldwide.”

“There is no question that babies who breast-feed for a longer time than recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry or the American Academy of Pediatrics have an increased cavity rate,” noted Dr. Robert Morgan, chief of dentistry at Children’s Health in Dallas, Texas, who was not involved in the study.


“The issue is not entirely related to breast feeding. Babies who sleep with a bottle of milk or take a sippy cup of milk throughout the day or night also have an increased incidence of caries,” he said by email.

“The real correlation of breast-feeding is perhaps the number of exposures to food and drink that a child has during the day and night due to the ease of access to mom,” he explained.

“We know that after a baby eats or drinks there is a rise in bacteria and a rise in decay potential for approximately 20 minutes, (after which) bacterial growth and concurrent acid production decreases, as does the decay potential. Therefore, we recommend toddlers eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with perhaps a mid-morning snack and a mid-afternoon snack. If a parent brushes (the child’s teeth) after breakfast and dinner there are only three exposures to increased decay rate times,” Morgan said.

Girl who died after contracting E. coli

The family of one of two children who died after contracting an E. coli infection said the 6-year-old had recently been cleaning debris in their housing complex yard. Gabriella Fullerton, of Hildale, Utah, became sick shortly after coming in contact with dogs who had been around discarded dirty diapers in the yard, Fox 13 reported.

Fullerton and a close male friend, whose name and age have not been revealed, both died after becoming sick at around the same time. Fullerton’s mother, whose name was not disclosed, was also sickened after cleaning the yard, but has recovered, Fox 13 reported. Fullerton died of kidney failure as a result of the E. coli infection.


“Our entire family and all of our friends are completely devastated at the loss of our little Gabriella,” the Fullerton family said in a statement, according to Fox 13. “The family would like to thank everyone for the prayers, love, support, and donations from everyone. While we are grieving this tremendous loss we are trying to make sure this does not happen to another child. Our hearts are also with the other child’s family.”

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department has been investigating the outbreak, but said the greater community is at little to no risk of being affected. A spokesman told Fox 13 that water samples in the area confirmed that it was not the source of E. coli contamination.


“We’re looking at either exposure to an infected animal or to contaminated food, like food poisoning,” David Heaton, the department’s spokesman, told Fox 13.

E. coli can cause intestinal infections resulting in diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some severe cases may cause patients to suffer from bloody diarrhea, dehydration or kidney failure. Individuals with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, young children and older adults are most at-risk for complications related to an E. coli infection.

How The Prosthetic limbs offering pets

A 7-year-old German shepherd dog named Star has some new pep in her step. She lost part of her right hind leg at birth, leaving her unable to walk comfortably. Then two months ago she was fitted with a customized prosthetic leg. Star’s owner, Elaine Diasparra, says the difference has been drastic.

“She’s amazing and she can actually go for walks now,” she said.

Star is one of a growing number of injured dogs whose owners are turning to human-like prosthetics and orthotics to improve their quality of life.

“In the last decade I would say there’s been an explosion, at least in my practice,” said Dr. Leilani Alvarez, who specializes in sports medicine and rehabilitation at the Animal Medical Center. She fits at least one dog a month with assisted devices.


“[Previously] when there would be an injury like Star had, the knee-jerk reaction is ‘Let’s amputate,’ because they say ‘dogs do great on three legs,’ But that’s not really true,” Dr. Alvarez said. “Dogs really struggle as they get older, particularly a German shepherd. So being able to retain a limb and allow them to walk on that limb can be the difference between them living through the end of their life expectancy to them having to be euthanized.”

A lot of time and technology goes into making devices like Star’s. Hers was made by OrthoPets in Colorado, one of the biggest manufacturers of animal prostheses and orthotics in the country.

“We have about 20 different devices that we can fabricate,” said OrthoPets founder Amy Kaufmann. The procedure is multi-step and involves advanced computer scanning and 3D printing.

“During that 3D carving machine we’re actually carving out an exact replica of the patient’s limb and then we go through the process of fabricating that custom-made device,” Kaufmann said.


OrthoPets has worked on more than 13,000 animals from 35 different countries since 2003. And not just dogs; peacocks and llamas are among the animals they’ve built devices for.

“Anywhere from as small as a mouse up to a 2,000-pound horse,” Kaufman said.

Their business goes beyond artificial limbs to high-tech orthotic braces.

The company created what is called a stifle brace for Fievel, a black Lab mix who suffers from a painful torn ACL. He’d been doing physical therapy at Water for Dogs in TriBeCa, where veterinary medical director Dr. Jonathan Block decided to fit him for the brace.