<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Health News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Sat, 26 Jul 2014 06:13:20 -0700 Sat, 26 Jul 2014 06:13:20 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Vaccines for Children Ahead of New School Year]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:01:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/new+measles+photo.jpg

As a new report from the Center for Disease Control found more parents are getting their children vaccinated, here is what parents should know about vaccines and exams while the new school year approaches.

Needed vaccines:

  • Polio: Three to four doses
  • DTP: Three to five doses
  • Booster shot: One dose after age 7
  • MMR: One to two doses
  • Hepatitis B: Three doses after age 4
  • Varicella (chickenpox): One dose
  • HPV: Before sexually active, no later than 14
  • Meningitis: College age

Tuberculosis: Testing sometimes necessary

Needed exams:

  • First general exam: 18 months 90 days after entering school
  • Vision, hearing and dental exams
  • Developmental exams and cholesterol testing
  • Sugar test
  • Blood and urine test
  • Blood pressure test


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Preparing for Surgery With 3-D Printing]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:20:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bone-3d-printing.jpg

What if your Orthopedic Surgeon could make a copy of your damaged bone and practice your surgery before heading to the operating room? It sounds like science fiction, but it's actually a new trend in medicine. Doctors are now using 3-D printing to create plastic models of their patient's damaged bones and body parts.

Dr. Russell Petrie, an Orthopedic Surgeon with Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Orange County, is using the technique to better prepare for his complex surgical cases.

"Rather than just looking at something on a CT scan, 3-D printing gives us the ability to hold something in our hand and physically practice on an anatomy that is specific to the person," said Petrie.

Petrie doesn't simply study the plastic replica, he practices the surgery on the model prior to operating on the patient. This allows him to create a plan of attack that may improve safety and the results for patients. He says the technique has helped him with difficult shoulder surgeries.

"You mess this up as a surgeon and their shoulder is messed up for life," Petrie said. "For me, (that is) the whole driving factor behind taking the time to go through all of this."

The process begins with a CT scan. It provides the doctor with a three-dimensional image of the damaged bone. That image is then sent to a 3-D printing company where they covert the data into a plastic replica using a high-tech 3-D printing system. In less than a day, the model is delivered to the doctor. He can then study the actual anatomy of his patient and better plan his surgical approach.

"I think it's going to be common place to some extent. It by no means needs to be in every single case but for the complex cases, it's extremely helpful," said Petrie.

No everyone agrees. Some medical experts say printing plastic models does little to improve outcomes or safety. But insurance companies are starting to pay attention and they could eventually cover the cost of having the models produced. If that happens, 3-D printing would become commonplace for many medical specialties.

<![CDATA[Chikungunya: What You Need to Know]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 03:40:24 -0700 Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/tlmd_virus_mortales_03.jpg

A person caught the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya in the United States this month, health officials say — marking the first time mosquitoes in the U.S. are believed to have spread it.

Other cases of the illness, which is relatively new to the Americas, have been reported in travelers returning home to FloridaNew YorkTexas and elsewhere, often after trips to the Caribbean.

Here is some key information about chikungunya and the virus that causes it.

How do you get chikungunya? Mosquitoes transmit the virus between people. The two species usually responsible, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, bite mostly during the day. In the U.S., they are found in the Southeast and in some parts of the Southwest, though Aedes albopictus also is found up through the Mid-Atlantic and in the lower Midwest.

What are the symptoms? The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, often in the hands and feet; also possible are muscle aches, headaches, joint swelling and a rash. Symptoms, which can be severe, usually begin three to seven days after a person is bitten. Most people feel better within a week, and death is rare, though joint pain can persist.

How do you treat chikungunya? There is no specific treatment and no vaccine. Medicines like ibuprofen, naproxen, paracetamol and acetaminophen can relieve fever and pain, though.

How do you avoid getting chikungunya? To protect yourself, try to avoid being bitten. Use air conditioning or window screens. Use insect repellant, and if possible, wear long sleeves and pants. Get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes can breed.

Who is most at risk for a severe case? Newborns exposed during delivery, people 65 and older and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease are at the highest risk.

What does the name mean? It is derived from a word in the Kimakonde language, spoken in southern Tanzania, where the virus was first detected. It means to become contorted or bent, describing the stooped appearance of someone suffering from joint pain.

Where has it been reported? Outbreaks have occured in Africa, Asia and Europe and on the islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The first case transmitted in the Americas was reported in the Caribbean in late 2013.

How do you pronounce chikungunya? Like this: chik-en-gun-ye.

Source: Centers for Disease and Prevention, World Health Organization

Photo Credit: wikicommons]]>
<![CDATA[Babies Get Herpes After Ritual: DOH]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 02:10:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_Circumcision0906_722x406_2119014932.jpg

Two more infants were diagnosed with herpes in New York this month after undergoing ritual Jewish circumcisions, the Health Department says.

In both cases, the infant boys were born to mothers with full-term pregnancies and normal deliveries. They were circumcised using the direct oral suction technique practiced by some Orthodox Jews eight days after their birth, and developed lesions on their genitals shortly thereafter, the Health Department said.

Their conditions Wednesday weren't immediately clear.

NYC to Require Consent for Oral Suction Ritual

There have been 16 confirmed cases of herpes since 2000 in newborn boys after circumcisions that likely involved direct oral suction, including three in 2014, according to the Health Department. 

Two of the infants died and at least two others suffered brain damage.

During the ancient ritual, the person performing the circumcision attempts to cleanse the wound by sucking blood from the cut and spitting it aside. Authorities say the saliva contact could give the infant herpes, which is harmless in adults but could kill newborns.

In 2012, the Board of Health voted unanimously to require anyone performing circumcisions that involve oral suction to obtain written consent from a parent or guardian. The consent form delineates the potential health risks outlined by the Health Department. 

A group of Orthodox rabbis sued in an attempt to block the regulation, but a judge sided with the city.

The parents have to sign a form acknowledging that the city Health Department advises against the practice because of risks of herpes and other infections.

<![CDATA[Fruit Sold at Trader Joe's, Costco Recalled]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:02:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/07-21-2014-peaches-recall.jpg

If you love stone fruits, there's a new recall you should know about.

Wawona Packing Company, based in California's Central Valley, is recalling white and yellow peaches, white and yellow nectarines, and plum varieties.

The whole fruits were all packed between June 1 and July 12, and shipped to Trader Joe’s and Costco stores.

The concern is the fruit could be contaminated with listeria. The bacteria can cause dangerous, flu-like symptoms. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are especially susceptible.

More information – including a list of the specific products recalled – is available on the FDA website.

Photo Credit: FDA]]>
<![CDATA[Braces Options Grow for Special Needs Children]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:58:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/special+needs+braces+crop+84.JPG

For the parents of children with disabilities who need braces, finding an orthodontist who understands their child’s special needs can be challenging.

Because these children often have hypersensitivity to sensation and pain and have difficulty sitting still, some parents may choose to ignore their child's dental issues over fears the process will be too difficult and anxiety-ridden.

But there can be consequences to not fixing a child’s crooked teeth, as they may make eating difficult and can result in food being stuck inside the mouth. This can lead to decay and gum disease and also negatively impact a child’s self-esteem.

Parents should know options are available for special needs children.

A growing number of dentists and orthodontists are modifying their practices to help children with special needs including Orange County Orthodontic Specialist Dr. Ken Fischer, who has a practice in Villa Park catered special needs patients.

"We make them comfortable in the position they're in," said Fischer. "And we do our work to their comfort level, not necessarily ours."

Fischer will often substitute the metal braces with a plastic alternative.

"Metal braces will be uncomfortable and unmanageable for their special needs kids," Fischer said. "The plastic trays are nothing more than a very thin layer of plastic encasing a tooth. It’s smooth. It’s comfortable."

The plastic trays move the teeth a little bit at a time. They can be removed for cleaning and are replaced every 10 to 14 days with a new version. Most treatments can take one to two years.

Fischer has also made his office wheelchair accessible and gives his patients the option to stay in their wheelchairs when they’re visiting the office. He doesn’t penalize parents for missed office visits and has replaced the traditional gooey molds used to make impressions with an all-digital system.

"I want more people to adopt a treatment protocol for these kids and (more parents) to know that successful treatment can be accomplished," Fischer said.

<![CDATA[Study Reveals Risks of Niacin]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 23:26:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/4685186871.jpg

While many believe niacin may increase good cholesterol and reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke, a new study found that niacin may increase other serious risks.

The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine observed 25,000 heart disease patients and found that niacin may increase their risk of diabetes, aches, bleeding and death.

"For every 200 patients we treat with niacin, it’s possible that we may be causing one excess death related to the drug," cardiologist Donald Lloyd-Jones said. "And that for me, level of toxicity, that’s just not acceptable."

Niacin is available in prescription form and over the counter.

"The fact that you can buy it over the counter doesn’t mean that it’s something you should go do without discussing it with your physician," said Dr. David Frid, of the Cleveland Clinic.

The study was conducted by MERCK, a pharmaceutical company that manufactures a statin.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA County Adopts Laura's Law for Mental Health Treatment]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 23:28:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/LLBrain.JPG

For the daughter of woman who suffered from mental illness, the unanimous approval of Laura's Law is a blessing.

Laura's Law, passed in 2002 by the state and adopted by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, allows for family members to seek court ordered treatment for mentally ill people who are repeatedly jailed or hospitalized.

Sylvia Thompson said her family would have benefitted from Laura's Law.

"I grew up in a combat zone," Thompson said. "When mental illness strikes a family it's like a hand grenade is thrown into it."

But her mother would not acknowledge that she suffered from mental illness and never sought the help she needed, Thompson said.

"It was very chaotic growing up there was a lot of hospitalization, a lot of suicide attempts, a lot of homelessness."

Her mom's mental illness was something that wasn't visible on the surface, Thompson said. Her mother was gifted, spoke several languages and was a concert pianist.

If Laura's Law had been an option, Thompson said her family would have benefitted from it.

"My sadness is that we were all robbed of who she could have been," Thompson said.

Individual counties have the authority to adopt the California law named for 19-year-old Laura Wilcox, a mental health worker fatally shot by a client outside a clinic in 2001.

Nevada County, where Wilcox lived, was the first to implement the law.

San Francisco and Orange counties have more recently adopted Laura's Law.

"This is a path to recovery," Supervisor Michael Antonovich said.

Advocates for the mentally ill were split.

Brittney Weissman, executive director of the Los Angeles County Council of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told the board she supported adoption of Laura's Law, which she called "a bridge to recovery for mental illness."

Weissman cited results under Kendra's Law, a similar measure implemented in New York State, saying it resulted in 77 percent fewer psychiatric hospitalizations, 83 percent fewer arrests, 87 percent fewer incarcerations and a 74 reduction in homelessness for those treated.

"It disrupts the revolving door of repeated jailings, hospitalizations and homelessness," she said.

Catherine Bond of the Los Angeles County Client Coalition disagreed, saying the statistics applied to a small number of patients.

"This is a law that does not have the kind of statistics that people are claiming for it," Bond told the board. "The percentages sound impressive, but the numbers of people who are being treated are very small."

City News Service contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[New Bed Designed to Help Premature Babies]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 07:49:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/premature-birth-lifestart-b.jpg

A premature baby was resuscitated in San Diego last week using a new, specialized bed designed just for preemies.

Averi Snyder was born four weeks early and not breathing. Her umbilical cord was tied in a knot.

Mom Kim Snyder said the doctor didn't immediately alert her to the dangers but dad Shane Snyder said he saw the whole thing.

Seconds after she was delivered, Averi was placed into a special bed so that the team of doctors at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital could pump oxygen into her lungs while she was still attached to her mother's umbilical cord.

Within the first minute, Averi began to “pink up."

“[I was] mesmerized by what was going on and how everything took place and how fast they had her breathing,” Shane said. “It was pretty amazing.”

Kim was able to see Averi and kiss her before the staff took the newborn to the NICU.

The Snyders are one of the first families in the U.S. to use the new LifeStart resuscitation bed.

It's designed to delay umbilical cord clamping for the sickest or most premature babies, allowing them to receive blood and other fluids from mom.

It's a modern twist to an old concept that Snyder wishes was around when she delivered her first child.

“It's amazing and it’s lucky,” she said. “Our first child could've really benefitted from it. I hope that other parents get to experience it."

Sharp Mary Birch Hospital rolled out the equipment just last week becoming the first American hospital to put them in use.

Neonatologist Anup Katheria, M.D. said the beds are part of a research study focusing on pre-term births, or those babies delivered before 40 weeks.

The idea is that if doctors can start giving a distressed baby some oxygen at birth, they can take advantage of the first minute of life outside the womb and improve the infant’s outcome.

“Once the baby begins breathing in that first minute, the blood can naturally flow into the lungs allowing more stabilization to occur,” he said.

Umbilical cord blood is full of stem cells, oxygen carrying blood cells and white blood cells that help fight infections.

The fluids also help improve the baby's heart functions and reduce the child’s need for oxygen and blood transfusions.

The beds are placed beside the mother during delivery.

Each bed has a heated pad that mimics skin-to-skin warmth and allows the infant to be warmed from above and below.

So far, 10 babies have been treated using the four beds currently in use at the hospital.

As for Averi, she was still in the hospital Monday and progressing every day.

Her parents hope to take her home from the hospital on Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Telecare Approach Lowers Risk of Rx Addiction: Study ]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:28:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Hydrocodone-fda-generic.jpg

People with chronic pain may increase their use of pain medication if they have trouble reaching their health care providers, but a new telecare approach for pain management could reduce the use of pain prescription drugs in the United States.

A study published in the July 16 Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 250 veterans with chronic pain.

Half of the veterans received usual care from their primary physician, while the other half received help from nurses to manage their pain and medication via internet and telephone.

In addition to accessibility, nurses offered counseling to help reduce the dosage of pain medication with hopes of getting the patients off the medication altogether.

"Nearly twice as many that had the telecare intervention got better in terms of their pain over the course of the year," said Dr. Kurt Kroenke from the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, one of the study's authors. "On the other hand, twice as many people in the control, usual care group got worse during the course of the year."

The purpose of the telecare approach is to enhance communication between the patient and the health care provider in hopes of improving patient pain management. That reduces the likelihood of patients abusing pain medication and accidentally overdosing.

Many patients were also able to reduce their dosage of pain medicines or stop taking them altogether.

"I want to be able to control my pain, because that's the key to a happy future," patient Don Curtis said.

Dr. Bruce's advice: The VA in San Diego and Westwood are using these programs, and other hospitals may soon follow suit. If you have pain, talk to your doctor about creating email and phone programs so the doctors and staff are easier to reach.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Two LA Hospitals Make Best Hospital List]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:07:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ucla+medical+center.JPG

UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center made the list of the country's 17 best hospitals, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. 

UCLA Medical Center was ranked fifth, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center came in twelfth, tied with the University of Pittburgh Medical Center.  Children's Hospital Los Angeles was also ranked fifth on the U.S. News list of 10 best children's hospitals.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, topped the adult hospitals list, which was published Tuesday. Nearly 5,000 hospitals and medical centers were ranked, according to U.S. News. Only New York, Boston and Los Angeles notched more than one facility on the best-of list.

The rankings were based mainly on objective data, such as patient survival rates and nurse staffing, U.S. News said.

Hospitals earned a spot on the Honor Roll if they had very high scores in at least six of 16 specialties, ranging from cancer to urology.

Rankings could differ within the specialties. For example, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York was first for cancer treatment; Cleveland Clinic for cardiology and heart surgery.

UCLA Medical Center, which was also named the best hospital in California, was ranked nationally in 15 adult specialties and 8 pediatric ones. Cedars-Sinai was ranked nationally in 12 adult specialties.

U.S. News also ranked nearly 600 other hospitals on a list of best regional hospitals.

<![CDATA[Uninsured in California Drops by Half]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:31:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/doctor-health-generic-1200-021.jpg

Since Americans began enrolling in health care programs under the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of uninsured people in California has dropped by half, according to a new survey.

The survey was conducted from April to June and found that 11 percent of Californians were uninsured.

From July 2013 to September 2013, before the first open healthcare enrollment period began, 22 percent of Californians were uninsured.

This is significantly higher than the national drop in the uninsured rate, which went from 20 percent to 15 percent.

California was the first state to develop its own health care marketplace when the Affordable Care Act was rolled out last year, and it has also expanded Medicaid eligibility. The survey found California has pursued an "aggressive" campaign to enroll people, with awareness of the marketplace going up from 42 percent to 75 percent in the state.

Nationally, about 9.5 million adults have become insured since the first open enrollment period, which began in October 2013 and lasted through March. More than half of the newly insured are between the ages of 19 and 34.

The survey was published Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that conducts research on health care issues.

The next open enrollment period for health insurance begins Nov. 15.

<![CDATA[New Procedure May Help With Obesity Disease]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 21:54:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+health+medical+doctor+01.jpg

Some men and women have trouble losing weight no matter how much they diet and exercise. In some cases, it may be a fat-storage disease called lipidema.

Seventeen million women suffer from lipidema, a disease that causes disproportionate fat accumulation in the legs, abdomen and arms.

"Diet and exercise doesn't help," said Jasna Tursic, who was diagnosed with the disease a few years ago.

Another woman who with lipidema, Lisa Maria Jones, said she has struggled with her weight.

"I started dieting," she recalled. "I went on this ridiculously low-calorie diet and I was not successful." 

Both local women were treated recently for the problem with a new procedure that combines multiple techniques.

“This is not easy, typical liposuction surgery,” said Dr. David Amron, a cosmetic surgeon based in Beverly Hills at Spalding Drive Plastic Surgery, who performed both surgeries. “These are very difficult areas to do. Many (are) areas that surgeons typically will avoid unless they have a lot of experience.”

Amron does the procedure in four steps.

First, he injects numbing medicine to the affected areas. Then, he uses an ultrasound and a laser to loosen and remove some of the fat tissue. That is followed by what Amron calls "debulking" - liposuction to remove the heaviest fat.

He then does a laser procedure for additional skin tightening. The entire process takes two-and-a-half hours.

Jasna said she saw immediate changes.

“It wasn’t painful. Recovery was very quick and results were great,” she said. "I feel amazing. (It) changed my life in so many ways."

Dr Bruce says: “Since obesity is a medical problem, this treatment may sometimes be covered by insurance. Any woman or man who is having trouble losing weight should visit a specialist to see if this is a problem."

<![CDATA[High-Tech System Detects Skin Cancer Without Biopsy ]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 08:30:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/skin+cancer+detection+camera+79.JPG

If you live in sunny Southern California and are at risk for skin cancer, there's a new way to check without undergoing a painful biopsy. 

A new technology called VivaScan allows doctors to diagnose skin cancer using a camera, laser and a high tech microscope.

Conventional tests require doctors to surgically remove part of the skin tissue to determine whether or not the patient has skin cancer.

“But (the) majority of these spots when you go to your doctor and have it biopsied they come back benign,” said Dr. Babar Rao the director of NIDI Skin in Beverly Hills.

Rao can look at the image of the skin cells from the microscope and instantaneously tell the patient right then and there if the mole is cancerous. This then avoids any unnecessary surgical procedures and eliminates any patient anxiety or pain. Patients don’t have to wait a week or two to find out the results. 

This avoids unnecessary surgical procedures and eliminates patient anxiety and pain. Patients don’t have to wait a week or two to find out the results, but instead find out right away.

“Patients love it,” Rao said. “With time, people will realize that this is a good first step before we start cutting these moles.”

The test is not currently covered by insurance and costs around $250.

Dr. Bruce's advice: Preventing skin cancer should be the goal. Use sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection. But remember, sunscreen takes 15 to 20 minutes to be absorbed, so put it on before you head outside.

<![CDATA[Breakthrough May Revive Reading Vision]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 19:57:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/eyelens3.JPG

Reading vision can worsen with age, but a breakthrough two-step lens procedure could potentially cure the often inevitable vision problem.

The lens is part of an FDA study taking place in Southern California with Dr. Kerry Assil leading the study in his Beverly Hills office.

While nearsightedness or farsightedness can be cured by Lasik surgery, presbyopia requires a change in the eye’s lens.

NBC4 spoke to the first woman to get the procedure, who cannot be named because she is part of the FDA study.

"Within a few hours, I was already starting to be able to see without glasses," she said.

The entire procedure was done in two steps.

In the first step, Assil uses a laser to create a tunnel in the cornea to serve as a pocket for the lens. In the second step, he inserts the lens and places it on top of the cornea.

"At times it was a little bit painful," the woman said. "But it was a very short surgery."

"To date of all the procedures that I’ve performed to try and compensate for presbyopia," Assil said. "This has been the one treatment that seems to work the best."

The procedure is still experimental and is still being studied, but it may lead the way in reading vision restoration.

<![CDATA["Insane" Lines for Medical Marijuana Farmers Market]]> Sat, 05 Jul 2014 03:56:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/mm+farmers+market+noon.jpg

A large number of people were spending their Fourth of July in line to a unique kind of farmers market in Boyle Heights. The featured product: medical marijuana.

The lines were outside the door to the 20 to 30 medical marijuana growers inside the Boyle Heights California Heritage Market on Friday. Some people reported waiting up to an hour-and-a-half to get in.

Paizely Bradbury, the executive director of the farmers market, said she has been monitoring the line all morning long.

"I've been walking up and down the line. It's insane,” Bradbury said. “You are dealing with the growers themselves and you are going to get pretty much 70 percent off than a dispensary."

A grower, identifying himself only as Keith, said the response to the market has been tremendous so far on the first of a three-day event.

“So far this is crazy because nobody has seen the likes of this,” he said. “Neither farmers or people buying."

Membership and access to the market is free only to medical marijuana license holders, and organizers said ID’s were being checked before anyone entered.

Organizers said there is a possibility that the farmers market will be a weekly fixture if all goes well with the opening.


<![CDATA[Novel Pacemaker Could Make MRI a Safe Option]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 06:30:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+health+medical+doctor+01.jpg

MRI scans save lives by detecting diseases and identifying injuries, but for millions of people with pacemakers these important tests have been off limits.

The magnet and radio frequency from the MRI damages conventional pacemakers, making it potentially dangerous for patients and sometimes impossible for doctors to read results.

That is why Dr. Raymond Schaerf of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank is participating in a clinical study to test a new MRI-friendly pacemaker called the Accent, offering the device as an option to his patients. It is the first pacemaker in the U.S. that can scan any part of the body.

“There are various parts of the body that are very dependent upon on a good MRI to tell us what to do,” Schaerf said. “What we find is that of all people that get pacemakers or defibrillators, within 3 to 5 years, 70 percent of them can benefit with getting an MRI done.”

That could make it easier for doctors to diagnose and treat an illness or injury in their patients.

The Accent works alongside a wireless device used by the doctor. Before the patient gets an MRI, the device notifies the doctor if the pacemaker is safe to go through the scan. The doctor can also use the device to turn the pacemaker off temporarily, if necessary, or keep it on during the procedure.

The Accent is still in the first phase of testing, but Schaerf expects it to be widely available in the coming years.  

<![CDATA[First Rabid Skunk in L.A. County Found Since 1979]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 06:24:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/b739c542aca0484f8e3eb191ec6fd77f.jpg

A skunk in Long Beach tested positive for rabies in the first confirmed case in Los Angeles County since 1979, city officials said.

The skunk was tested after it was reported to Long Beach Animal Care Services on Thursday exhibiting erratic behavior, officials said.

Officials said they are not aware of any human contact with the skunk.

Any mammal can be infected by rabies, but in California the disease is most commonly found in bats, skunks and foxes, officials said.

Humans can contract the disease through bites or saliva from an infected animal.

"Residents need to avoid any contact with wildlife and ensure their domestic pets are vaccinated for rabies to avoid the disease being passed to humans," said Dr. Mitchell Kushner, a city health officer.

According to authorities symptoms of rabid skunks include crusty eyes and noses, disorientation and staggering. Other signs of rabies include excessive salivation and aggressive behavior.

Rabies is a viral infection that leads to encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, along with the more well-known symptoms of paralysis, spasms and the inability to drink water.

Symptoms for the disease usually present themselves one to three months after infection, but after they do, the disease is nearly always fatal.

City officials advised citizens to vaccinate and leash their pets and avoid contact with wild animals.

In addition, officials said that people should not touch injured or sick animals and instead report them to appropriate authorities.

If an animal bite does happen, authorities said to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.

The World Health Organization says while roughly 55,000 people worldwide die of rabies annually, this is generally centered in Asia and Africa. In the United States, only one or two rabies deaths per year are reported.

The CDC attributes this to the nearly 100 percent effectiveness of the rabies vaccine when administered promptly after infection.


<![CDATA[Medical Marijuana Farmers Market to Debut]]> Sat, 28 Jun 2014 19:09:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/medical+marijuana+stock+cannabis.jpg

For some Los Angeles residents, the 4th of July weekend will be a chance to stock up on marijuana.

Patients eligible to use medical marijuana will be able to buy the drug directly from growers at a pot-centric farmers market. The California Heritage Market, which will feature 50 vendors, is open to any card-carrying medical marijuana patient in California.

“It will provide patients access to growers face to face,” said executive director Paizley Bradbury.

The market will be held in an enclosed outdoor area at West Coast Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary in Boyle Heights. Bradbury said organizers will check ID to verify that shoppers can buy marijuana before allowing them to enter.

The vendors have also been screened to ensure the market doesn’t “just let anybody come off the street.”

“A lot of people have been contacting me and saying, how are you doing this?” Bradbury said. “This is the legal way. This is what the laws are allowing us to do.”

Bradbury said the West Coast Collective decided to host the market out of frustration that the medical marijuana industry, especially in Los Angeles, has strayed from its original purpose of providing medicine to patients.

“Dispensary owners purchase medicine from growers and have created this market where their patients have no idea where their medicine is coming from,” she said.

She added that the city needs to do more to regulate growers and dispensaries, which she said often raise prices and give false information to patients. The farmers market, she said, will bring medical marijuana “back to its roots.”

A website for the event says the market "virtually guarantees that fresh medicine will be abundant and affordable."affordable.

The market, which also features food and games, will be held on July 4, 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the West Coast Collective. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Newport Beach "Superstar" in Environmental Report]]> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 10:48:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/beach23.JPG

Newport Beach is a superstar, according to a national health report released Wednesday.

The Orange County beach was among 35 popular beaches across 14 states that consistently met water quality safety thresholds, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The beaches met national water quality benchmarks 98 percent of the time over the past five years.

"That makes me very happy because we come here every summer," Arizona resident Melissa Abney said about Newport Beach in north Orange County.

But it was a different story in Malibu. The report calls the area just east of the pier "a repeat offender."

Officials say the problem is caused by runoff from a nearby lagoon and constant septic problems.

"It's the wet weather conditions when we get these rains that none of the systems we've put in place work," said Surfrider Foundation Environmental Director Chad Nelsen.

Septic tanks that leak year around, combined with weather and storm runoff, contribute to the contamination, officials said.

"Most of our beaches are pretty clean during dry weather conditions," Nelsen said.

The Nation's 35 "Superstar" Beaches

  • Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach in Baldwin County
  • Alabama: Gulf State Park Pavilion in Baldwin County
  • Alabama: Dauphin Island Public Beach
  • California: Newport Beach in Orange County (1 of 3 monitored sections)
  • Newport Beach - 38th Street
  • Delaware: Dewey Beach-Swedes in Sussex County
  • Florida: Bowman’s Beach in Lee County
  • Florida: Coquina Beach South in Manatee County
  • Florida: Fort Desoto North Beach in Pinellas County
  • Georgia: Tybee Island North in Chatham County
  • Hawaii: Hapuna Beach St. Rec. Area in Big Island
  • Hawaii: Po’ipu Beach Park in Kauai
  • Hawaii: Wailea Beach Park in Maui
  • Massachusetts: Singing Beach in Essex County
  • Maryland: Point Lookout State Park in St Mary's County
  • Maryland: Assateague State Park in Worcester County
  • North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Main St. and Sunset Blvd. in Brunswick County
  • North Carolina: Beach at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Dare County
  • North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Salisbury Street in Wrightsville Beach in New Hanover
  • North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Ocean Blvd. and Crews Ave. in Topsail Beach in Pender County
  • New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park in Rockingham County
  • New Hampshire: Wallis Sands Beach at Wallis Rd. in Rockingham County
  • New Hampshire: Wallis Sands State Park in Rockingham County
  • New Jersey: Washington (Margate) in Atlantic County
  • New Jersey: 40th St. (Avalon) in Cape May County
  • New Jersey: 40th St. (Sea Isle City) in Cape May County
  • New Jersey: Stone Harbor at 96th St. in Cape May County
  • New Jersey: Upper Township at Webster Rd. in Cape May County
  • New Jersey: Wildwood Crest at Orchid in Cape May County
  • New Jersey: Broadway (Pt. Pleasant Beach) in Ocean County
  • New York: Long Beach City in Nassau County
  • Virginia: Virginia Beach at 28th St. in Virginia Beach County
  • Virginia: Virginia Beach at 45th St in Virginia Beach County
  • Virginia: Back Bay Beach in Virginia Beach County
  • Virginia: Virginia Beach - Little Island Beach North in Virginia Beach County
  • Washington: Westhaven State Park, South Jetty in Grays Harbor

The Nation's 17 "Repeat Offenders"

Over the last five years of this report, sections of 17 U.S. beaches have stood out as having persistent contamination problems, with water samples failing to meet public health benchmarks more than 25 percent of the time each year from 2009 to 2013:

  • California: Malibu Pier, 50 yards east of the pier, in Los Angeles County
  • Indiana: Jeorse Park Beach in Lake County (both monitored sections):
  • Lake Jeorse Park Beach I
  • Lake Jeorse Park Beach II
  • Massachusetts: Cockle Cove Creek in Barnstable County
  • Maine: Goodies Beach in Knox County
  • New Jersey: Beachwood Beach in Ocean County
  • New York: Main Street Beach in Chautauqua County
  • New York: Wright Park – East in Chautauqua County
  • New York: Ontario Beach in Monroe County
  • Ohio: Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula County
  • Ohio: Arcadia Beach in Cuyahoga County
  • Ohio: Euclid State Park in Cuyahoga County
  • Ohio: Noble Beach in Cuyahoga County
  • Ohio: Sims Beach in Cuyahoga County
  • Ohio: Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County
  • Ohio: Edson Creek in Erie County
  • Wisconsin: South Shore Beach in Milwaukee County
<![CDATA[Concern Grows Over Spread of Painful Mosquito Virus]]> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 10:11:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/mosquitocrop23tr.JPG

Health officials are on alert for a debilitating virus that could spread around Southern California and potentially infect thousands of people.

Chikungunya is a virus carried by the Asian tiger mosquito and has been spreading rapidly in the Caribbean.

One mosquito breed that can transmit the virus is already present in the Southland.

Now, officials are concerned that someone infected with chikungunya will return to the United States, get bit by an Asian tiger mosquito and spread the virus.

"It’s not really a matter of if chikungunya will be imported into the United States," said Kelly Middleton, the director of community affairs for the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District. "It’s more a matter of when."

About 60 percent to 80 percent of people who get infected by the mosquito will show symptoms, which include severe headaches, fever and very significant joint pain.

Although the virus is rarely fatal, some symptoms can last for months.

The CDC reported at least 56 cases of chikungunya in the United States, including one in California, all of whom were bitten while traveling to the Caribbean.

Vector control officials are hoping to contain the insect before an outbreak occurs. West Nile virus, another mosquito-borne virus, is also present in Southern California.

Residents can take steps to reduce the chance of Asian tiger mosquitoes breeding in their backyards:

  • Dump and drain all standing water around the home
  • Remove all water dishes from beneath potted plants
  • Empty bird baths and small fountains completely or clean them thoroughly every three days
  • If you have a pond, ask your district's vector control office for free mosquitofish
  • Throw away trash in the yard, including wrappers and bags
  • Properly maintain swimming pools, wading pools and spas

Asian tiger mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters. If you notice any mosquito activity in your area, contact vector control immediately.

Dr. Bruce’s advice: There is no need to panic, but we should take precautions. Remember to keep your home and your body mosquito-free to protect yourself from West Nile virus and chikungunya.

<![CDATA[Woman Credits 3-D Mammogram With Saving Her Life ]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 23:46:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/3dmammogram.JPG

A new method of testing may have saved a woman's life from cancer.

Jennifer Hoeft was diagnosed with breast cancer last March. The 3-D mammography found an 8 millimeter tumor in her breast.

"I truly, truly believe that the 3-D mammogram is what caught my cancer early," Hoeft said.

The Journal of the American Medical Association released a study confirming that adding 3-D technology to the standard digital mammogram increases cancer detection and decreases recall rates.

Dr. Sarah Friedewald worked on the study along with other co-authors. They examined both 2-D and 3-D mammograms from more than 450,000 patients across the country.

"We found invasive cancers, the ones that potentially kill people, more frequently in women who had the 3-D mammogram versus the women who just had the 2-D mammogram," Friedewald said.

Mammograms with 2-D technology have been criticized for being inaccurate, having sometimes produced false positives that suggest a woman has cancer when she actually does not. That can lead to unnecessary biopsies and over-diagnosis of cancer.

For Hoeft, she believes 3-D technology saved her life.

"Life is short," she said. "My life’s going to be long and full."

Dr. Bruce's advice: Further studies are needed to determine who can benefit the most from the 3-D technology. However, if you undergo a 2-D mammogram that looks suspicious or just isn’t clear, ask your doctor to add 3-D tests. Finding out if you have breast cancer early on could potentially save your life.

<![CDATA[Medical Implant Helps Addicts Recover ]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 21:54:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/addictionimplantcrop.JPG

Child star Jeremy Miller was an addict until he discovered a new implantable drug that promised to put an end to his alcohol addiction.

Miller, known for his role as Ben Seaver in the popular 1980s sitcom "Growing Pains," started drinking alcohol when he was 19 years old.

“It became an all day, everyday thing,” Miller said. “It was four or five drinks a day, but it kept on like that for 15 years.”

On the verge of losing his family, Miller knew he couldn’t live that way, so he turned to Start Fresh Recovery for help.

Start Fresh Recovery uses an implantable form of the drug Naltrexone to reduce and eliminate cravings for drugs or alcohol.

Although a pill form of the drug has been available for 20 years, it hasn’t been as effective.

“They think, ‘I don’t need this. I’m doing so well.’ And they will stop taking it,” said Dr. George Fallieras, medical director of Start Fresh Discovery.

But using an implantable form of the drug completely removes that variable of compliance.

The procedure takes about 20 minutes, and once it’s implanted in the abdomen, it slowly dissolves and releases medication over a period of six to eight months.

The patient receives a very low, yet effective dose that helps eliminate the urge to drink or use drugs.

Addicts then have the opportunity to fully participate in their recovery program without experiencing any withdrawals.

“They are not ravaged by this craving,” Fallieras said.

Start Fresh Recovery helped Miller put an end to his addiction. He has been sober for two years now.

“That craving is not there and life is coming together,” Miller said. “Sobriety is an incredible feeling.”

Dr. Bruce’s advice: Although the medication helps, it’s only one part of the program. Patients still need to commit to counseling and changing their behavior to recover successfully.

<![CDATA[EPA Official to Tour Malibu Schools]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 13:56:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/01-malibuhigh.jpg

A member of the United States Environmental Protection Agency arrived Friday morning to visit with Malibu school officials at the request of parents who have expressed concerns about toxic substances at campuses.

A closed-door meeting involving the direction of the Region 9 USEPA, parents and members of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District was scheduled for Friday. Parents have said they are concerned about testing and remediation measures at Malibu middle and high schools and nearby Juan Cabrillo Elementary School.

The meeting is expected to focus on enforcement of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, a federal law that regulates testing and restrictions on certain chemicals. No cameras were allowed on the tour or at the meeting.

Concerns were raised early last year after three teachers at the school were diagnosed with thyroid cancer, prompting staff, parents and students to demand testing for carcinogens.

Preliminary environmental tests done on the school in October ruled out mold as a health hazard. But parents and educators demanded more comprehensive tests, including on campus soil, to determine whether contaminants caused the illnesses.

In November, tests of carcinogen levels at Malibu High School revealed that some caulk samples contained PCB levels above legal limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency, officials said. The majority of the samples came back with levels below regulatory limits, but a "few" of the samples showed results higher than the EPA standard, according to the Santa Monica Malibu Environment Task Force.

Malibu Unites, a group pushing for additional tests, contends the EPA refused to approved the school district's preliminary testing plan. In a response to those claims, the company hired to conduct tests indicated tests would begin this month.

"We understand that Environ and the SMMUSD will begin to implement the testing plan at the Malibu High School and Juan Cabrillo on June 16, 2014," according to the letter from Environ sent to the school district.

It was not immediately clear whether the tests have been conducted, but signs on campus indicate that soil tests are being performed.

<![CDATA[SoCal Region Ranks #1 as Worst Place for Skin: Study]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 07:42:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/155366999.jpg

A “wrinkle ranking” study has identified a Southern California region as the nation’s worst place for your skin.

The Inland Empire – specifically, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ontario – was ranked number one due to "constant sun and high unemployment rates," according to the study.

The Wrinkle Ranking Study, sponsored by RoC Skincare and Sperling’s Best Places, takes into account how lifestyle, environment, commute time and stress levels influence skin’s risk of damage.

Riverside residents are exposed to above average amounts of sunlight, pollution and dry weather, spend a higher than average amount of time commuting and of the 50 cities in the study, had the second-highest unemployment rate at 11 percent.

The Los Angeles, Long Beach and Glendale ranked 16th due to the study’s highest levels of particulate pollution, a longer than average commute time, high stress and a high unemployment. Unlike the Inland Empire, however, residents in the LA region “showed a commitment to a healthy diet,” as residents consume 13 percent more servings of fruits and vegetables than average. Los Angeles residents are also 27 percent less likely to smoke, according to the study.

The Top 20 U.S. Cities Where Residents are Most at Risk for Skin Damage

  1. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
  2. New York, NY
  3. Philadelphia, PA
  4. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA
  5. Baltimore-Towson, MD
  6. Denver-Aurora, CO
  7. Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL
  8. Newark, NJ-PA
  9. St. Louis, MO-IL
  10. Orlando-Kissimmee, FL
  11. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  12. Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN
  13. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
  14. Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL
  15. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX
  16. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA
  17. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC
  18. Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX
  19. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
  20. Warren, MI


Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Prescription Drug Abuse Up Among 50+ Group]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 23:20:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/medications.jpg

Prescription drug abuse among people over 50 years of age has increased by nearly 46 percent, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

One addict who spoke to NBC4 cautioned others against anti-anxiety medications.

John, who asked to go only by his first name, is a senior dealing with addiction. He has taken Xanax for 10 years.

"I finally found a site on the Internet where I could get them, and that's when I started taking six to eight per day," John said.

John said he lost his family, job and financial stability because of his addiction.

"...You're all happy until you realize you're addicted and it's too late."

John, now living with his sister, has been clean for five weeks. He still deals with his addiction and experiences tremors and nervousness.

“I’m sure the pharmacist asked me if I had any questions about this drug, and I’m sure I said no,” John said. “Had I said yes, what are the consequences, maybe I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you today.”

Dr. Bruce’s advice: Ask about side effects and dangers. When it comes to anxiety and pain drugs, realize that taking it too often causes you to build up tolerance. Take them rarely if possible. If you or someone you know has memory problems or other symptoms, know that it could be the drugs and seek help.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New App Helps Screen For Vision Loss in Children]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 08:50:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/eyeball1.jpg

A new app available to pediatricians can screen children as young as six months old for any vision problems that could lead to permanent vision loss.

It’s called "Go Check Kids" and can determine if a child has nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or lazy eye.

Amblyopia - often called lazy eye - is the number one cause of permanent vision loss in children. If it’s not identified and the eye shuts off for a long enough period of time, the child could lose their vision in that eye.

Traditionally, pediatricians use an eye chart to find these risk factors; however, it can only be used when the patient is 3 or 4 years old and can cooperate with the doctor.

Dottie Tripp used the app on her 18 month old son Jack because she had lazy eye herself as a child

"I don’t want him experiencing all the things I experienced," she said.

However with the Go Check Kids app, Jack can be tested for lazy eye. Unlike with an eye chart, Jack doesn’t have to know how to read. All he has to do is sit still for two seconds.

"You can actually just take a picture of the child’s eyes and as early as six months of age pick up the same risk factors as you would with an eye chart," said Dr. Suzy McNulty.

It works by using something similar to the red eye effect in photos.

"The camera flash passes into the eye through the pupil reflecting off the back of the eyeball and then out again, allowing the camera to record detailed images of the inside of the child’s eyes," said NBC4’s Dr. Bruce Hensel.

This result is a photo with a crescent shape on either the right or the left side of the eye. It’s then measured by an ophthalmologist who determines if the child has nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or lazy eye.

"This tool actually gives us a lot earlier detection," McNulty said. "And the other key to this is the earlier the detection the better the treatment for prevention."

Although the photo screening app is a reliable tool, it’s still only used for the initial screening. An eye specialist still needs to officially diagnose and treat the problem.

Dottie Tripp said it provided peace of mind.

"Knowing that I’m doing something to help prevent that in him that’s my job as his mom," she said.

Dr. Bruce’s advice: "Don’t wait. Have your pediatrician check your child’s vision in the first year of life and ask if this app or any other device might lead to early diagnosis and cure."

Photo Credit: flickr.com, no3rdw]]>
<![CDATA[Gwynn Death a Reminder of the Hazards of Smokeless Tobacco]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 21:41:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-genericsla-nbc4-logo-2.jpg

Tony Gwynn, Hall of Famer and San Diego Padres legend, attributed his long battle with salivary gland cancer to years of chewing tobacco. He passed away Monday morning surrounded by his family. He was 54.

Although smokeless tobacco isn’t as common as it used to be, there are still 9 million Americans using the dangerous substance.

When users chew on smokeless tobacco, they place it in their mouth between their cheek and gum sometimes using so much that their cheek begins to bulge.

“Many people chew on smokeless tobacco thinking that it’s less dangerous than cigarettes since it doesn’t contain smoke or carbon monoxide," says Dr. Bruce. "However, smokeless tobacco actually contains other chemicals including nicotine which directly irritates the lining of the mouth and throat. “

Chewing smokeless tobacco increases the risk of mouth, tongue, cheek, gum, throat and stomach cancer, and it also increases the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes.

It can also lead to nicotine addiction, which eventually could lead to smoking. There’s also an increased risk that could end with gum infections, cavities, loss of teeth and bad breath.

Dr. Bruce’s advice is simple: “Don’t fool yourself into thinking smokeless tobacco is safe. It is not. If you use it, quitting is the best way to protect yourself. If you don’t use it, don’t start.”

<![CDATA[Whooping Cough Reaches Epidemic Proportions]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 10:42:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/whooping+cough+vaccine.jpg

The number of whooping cough cases in California has officially reached epidemic proportions, the California Department of Public Health reported.

Whooping cough, known to doctors as pertussis, has experienced a resurgence this year with more than 3,400 new cases reported between Jan. 1 and June 10, according a statement released by the department.

The department said whooping cough is cyclical, peaking every three to five years. The last big spike in cases was in 2010.

Los Angeles County has experienced about 350 new cases so far this year with Long Beach being hit especially hard. The city has seen more than 90 new infections, making up nearly 20 cases per 100,000 people.

Pertussis is a highly infectious bacterial disease that can be spread by coughing. Symptoms of the disease vary by age group.

Adults can find themselves beset with respiratory problems that can last for weeks, while infants who are too young to be vaccinated are in danger of serious illness or death. The common name for the disease comes from the “whooping” sound children can make when experiencing the violent coughing attacks associated with the disease.

Infants may not have typical pertussis symptoms and may have no apparent cough. Parents describe episodes in which the infant’s face turns red or purple.

The organization said two-thirds of pertussis hospitalizations have been in children aged 4 months or younger. Two infant deaths have been reported.

“Preventing severe disease and death in infants is our highest priority,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the department, in the statement. “We urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated. We also urge parents to vaccinate infants as soon as possible.”

The Tdap vaccine, which also guards against tetanus and diphtheria, can be administered to pregnant women to protect infants who are too young to be vaccinated.

In addition, the department said infants should be vaccinated as soon as possible, which can be as early as 6 weeks of age.

Older children and adults are also recommended to be vaccinated especially if they are regularly around newborn babies.

While Chapman said vaccination does not offer lifetime immunity, he stressed that it was still the best defense against the potentially fatal disease.

Photo Credit: NBCNewYork]]>
<![CDATA[The Health Benefits of Drinking Wine Explained]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 09:48:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/edtAP1011180117961.jpg After a long day, a glass of wine may help ease some tension. But did you know it could also help your health? One glass of red wine could actually improve your memory.

<![CDATA[New Technology Could Painlessly Reduce Scarring]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:18:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+health+medical+doctor+01.jpg

Doctors are using a new technology to minimize the visibility of scars after surgical procedures by simply applying an advanced bandage-type adhesive to the wound.

Embrace Advanced Scar Therapy works by relieving the skin tension created during the natural healing process of scars, leaving a less visible mark on the skin.

“Scars like to open and spread. This keeps it together. By keeping it from spreading, it’s going to heal in a nice thin straight line scar,” said Dr. Payman Daneilepour, a plastic surgeon who has used the bandage on his patients.

Caitlin Aiello developed a scar from an emergency C-section.

“I really hated it,” Aiello said of the scarring. “It was really ugly and sort of purple and raised.”

Mark Morgan had the same problem after having a tummy tuck.

“When it healed, the scar was very wide,” Morgan said.

Both used a variety of creams and pills to shrink their scars, but said nothing worked until they used this technology.

“I’m so happy,” Aiello said.  “I really thought it was something I’d have to live with forever, and now I know I don’t.”

Morgan seconded her review.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “I can’t believe the difference.”

Doctors say the bandage can be used right after surgery or within year after the scar has formed.

“They can be good for any type of scar, whether it’s arm lifts or even developing,” Dr. John Layke, another plastic surgeon who has used the bandage, said. “The company’s developing dressings that could even be for the common cut along the face.”

Dr. Bruce said this is not the only choice for scar revision.

“It may be the least painful and least risky when compared to other options. If undergoing surgery, remember to ask about creams to use before and after to reduce the risk of scarring." 

<![CDATA[Black Women More Likely to Die From Breast Cancer: Study]]> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 02:56:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/breastcancerscreening1.JPG

A new initiative was rolled out Wednesday to help decrease breast cancer among African American women, who are more likely to die from the disease than Caucasian women in Los Angeles and nationwide.

Susan G. Komen California kicked off the program to raise awareness about the higher mortality rate among black women -- despite the fact that Caucasian women are more likely to contract the cancer.

African American women in Los Angeles are 70 percent more likely to die from breast cancer, a rate that far exceeds the nationwide average of 41 percent, according to the organization.

“It has to be a team effort, a community effort, to make changes in the black community,” said Dr. Robina Smith, a breast surgeon at St. Jude Medical Center.

At the time of the Susan G. Komen's 1982 creation, the breast cancer mortality rate was the same for black women and white women.

"I had one young lady who said she was just afraid to go have a mammogram because the machines would hurt," survivor Jackie Coco said. "I said, ‘Well sometimes you get your heart broken too and that hurts.'"

Access to care and lack of follow-up care are major contributing factors to the higher mortality rate in black women, according to the organization. Race is not a risk factor for breast cancer, but rates differ among ethnic groups.

A mobile mammogram screening service vehicle in Los Angeles communities may help more women detect breast cancer.

“Let's say the closest place to get treatment is Pasadena for me with my Affordable Care Act,” Smith said. “To go get treated and I live in Inglewood, and I don't have a car, there's no bus, no convenient way of getting there.”

Susan G. Komen California attributes the trend to social, cultural, financial and geographic barriers and plans to examine the issues deterring black women from getting proper care as part of its new two-year Circle of Promise statewide initiative.

As ambassadors for the Susan G. Komen organization, survivors are committed to spreading the word about treatment.

“I am a nine-year breast cancer survivor, and at the time, I didn't know where to go or who to talk to regarding my issue or what I had,” Coco said.

For black women diagnosed between 2002 and 2008, they were 78 percent less likely to survive the cancer, compared to white women who had a 90 percent survival rate, according to the organization.

Women who lack health care coverage are 30 to 50 percent more likely to die from the cancer and less likely to receive breast-conserving surgery.

<![CDATA[Retinal Implant Gives Woman Chance to See Again]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 19:11:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/retinal-system.jpg

After being legally blind for more than 30 years, Lisa Kulik can see again with the help of a retinal prosthetic chip implanted on her eye that’s linked to an external camera mounted on a pair of her glasses.

Suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, Kulik lost all of her sight leaving her with only a little bit of light sensation in each eye.

The two-part device known as the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System implant gives Kulik a second chance to see again.

Dr. Lisa Olmos De Koo, an ophthalmologist at the Keck School of Medicine at USC, attached the first part of the device, a chip implanted to Kulik’s retina, replacing the part that was damaged by her disease. The second part of the device is then mounted on a pair of special glasses capturing images before sending it wirelessly to the implant in her eye.

When the implant receives the images, Kulik can see spots of light and can even tell the difference between shapes and sizes. Over time she will be able to see large objects.

“Well it’s literally like seeing a child learn how to walk and then run. So the brain has to start to relearn this type of visual information,” said Dr. Mark Humayun, a pioneer of the technology.

Although Kulik won’t be able to read a book or distinguish facial features, she’s just happy that she won’t have to rely on someone all the time.

Kulik is the first person in the west coast to have a bionic eye implanted commercially.

“I think it’s a miracle," Kulik said with a smile. "I knew one day it was going to happen, and I’m just so excited that it’s finally here.” 

<![CDATA[Medical Pot Bill Inspired by Girl]]> Sun, 08 Jun 2014 17:57:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP204780883216.jpg

On good days when her epileptic seizures aren't severe, RayAnn Moseley laughs, sings, dances, swims and practices with the children's choir at her church. She easily brings smiles to the people around her.

On bad days, the 11-year-old wakes up in bloody sheets or lies down on the school floor and says nothing all day. When her seizures become particularly intense, she is rushed to the hospital.

The images of those extremes collected in a collage helped persuade Florida lawmakers to support a bill that will soon allow parents to treat their epileptic children with marijuana that has a low amount of THC, the chemical that causes intoxication. What seemed improbable a few months ago is now about to become a law with the help of a severely epileptic girl whose story melted hearts.

"When we first started this, people were like, 'Are you crazy? It's never going to pass,'" said RayAnn's father, Peyton Moseley, who along with his wife, Holley, met with dozens of lawmakers showing them the photos of RayAnn. "They could see the difference when she's having good days as opposed to when she's having bad days. It helped to really put a face on it."

Even Gov. Rick Scott, who has firmly opposed medical marijuana, welcomed RayAnn into his office, hugged her and assured her parents he would sign the bill.

Once Scott signs the bill, which passed the Legislature overwhelmingly on the last day of this year's legislative session, strains of marijuana with low amounts of THC and high amounts of cannabidiol, or CBD, which is used to treat seizures, will be legal in Florida for certain medical conditions.

Still, a handful of House members raised concerns, including a lack of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the drug's use and the possibility that the bill will open the door for wider spread use of marijuana.

"This could be the rifle shot that starts a massive avalanche," Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said after the vote. "When I look at that I simply can't pull the trigger."

The journey to passage began late last year when the Moseleys traveled from the Pensacola area to Colorado and talked to parents of epileptic children whose seizures have been reduced or eliminated after treating them with oil from a marijuana strain known as "Charlotte's Web," named for the epileptic girl it originally helped in 2012. They also talked to the Stanley brothers, marijuana growers who developed the strain, which is legal in Colorado.

That's when they decided to seek the treatment's legalization in Florida, teaming up with two lobbyists and a publicist who donated their time. Simultaneously, conservative Panhandle Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was being pressured by a Democratic colleague to support the idea of legalizing Charlotte's Web. He was skeptical, but willing to listen. He set up a phone call with the Stanley brothers, who told him about the Moseleys.

"I was not on fire for the issue until I got to meet the Moseleys," Gaetz said. "Sharing the Moseleys' story lit a fire in me that I couldn't find a way to put out until passing this bill."

Part of that story is how RayAnn came into the Moseleys' lives. RayAnn's birth mother was a prostitute and drug user. She often didn't get the medication doctors prescribed to treat the seizures that have tormented her since birth. The state took custody of RayAnn when she was 2, but it's not easy finding foster parents for a child with cerebral palsy and intractable epilepsy. They placed her at a hospital where Holly Moseley, a pediatric nurse, saw her in a crib covered with netting.

"We just connected. You just can't help but fall in love with those blue eyes," Moseley said. "You could just see inside of her that need for love."

Three days later, Moseley was off but couldn't help thinking about RayAnn stuck in a crib that looked like a cage. Christmas was approaching and she got permission to have RayAnn join her family for the holidays.

"She laughed the whole night - there was just a big smile on her face," Moseley said. Right after Christmas, the Moseleys hired a lawyer and started a three-year fight to adopt RayAnn, whose birth mother resisted giving her up. The same month Moseley gave birth to her first of two biological children, RayAnn became the couple's adoptive daughter.

"On the good days, it's fabulous," said her teacher, Angela Pettus. "She is just so much fun, she is such a joy. She keeps us laughing, she keeps us entertained."

But on the bad days she can be angry and frustrated either by the side effects of her medications or when her seizures increase in intensity.

"She will go through spurts of extreme growth where she's getting things, things are starting to click. She's doing great, she's reading, she's comprehending, she's doing math," Pettus said. "Then she'll go through a period of seizures and she'll lose a lot of it and we're back to square one again. It's hard to watch that in a child."

"There's just a lot of intelligence in there, that if they could get her seizures under control and they could get her leveled out, her doors could be wide open," Pettus said.

RayAnn's cerebral palsy affects her ability to speak and, while her parents understand her, most people have a difficult time communicating with her. The Moseleys hope that could change with help from Charlotte's Web.

"In the state of Colorado we do know that 85 percent of children who are using non-euphoric marijuana to control seizures and spasms have seen a 50 to 100 percent reduction in those seizures," Gaetz said.

"I imagine that there's this whole other inner being in RayAnn that hasn't come out yet that wants to come out, that just hasn't physically been able to come out. I just look really look forward to meeting her for the first time pharmaceutical free," Peyton Moseley said. "I don't think God has brought us this far for it not to work."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Formerly Conjoined Twins to Go Home]]> Sun, 08 Jun 2014 03:56:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ezell+Twins+06.JPG

The formerly-conjoined Ezell twins are sharing an exciting milestone -- they'll soon be headed home for good.

Mom Jenni Ezell said Emmett and Owen are going home on Wednesday.

The babies were once conjoined breast bone to belly button, but a Dallas doctor was able to surgically separate them at Medical City Children's Hospital last August.

The boys are currently at Our Children's House at Baylor for rehab, but mom said the twins are strong and even breathing on their own.

The twins left Medical City in April for the inpatient rehabilitation center.

Photo Credit: Ezell Family/Medical City Children's Hospital]]>