<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Health News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:21:58 -0700 Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:21:58 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Tips for Coping With Spring's "Intense" Allergy Season]]> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:04:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/allergy-season-168997935.jpg

While people across much of the country are looking forward to milder spring temps following a winter that saw record cold and snow, experts warn the seasonal shift could bring bad news for allergy sufferers.

Allergists say the majority of the country can expect higher pollen this year thanks to the bitter winter, leading to an uptick in allergy-related symptoms.

A delayed pollination season nationwide has prompted the prediction.

In the Midwest, trees that were supposed to pollinate during January to mid February, during sporadic periods of warmth, were just starting that process in March, according to Warren Filley, a board-certified allergist/immunologist at Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic. The result, Filley said, is an increase in pollen being released at once. A similar trend is being seen in the snow-battered Northeast.

“We’re looking at a compressed spring pollination season,"  Aidan Long, director of Allergy and Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said. "It should be very intense but pass quickly.”

Here are some tips on how to cope with pollen-related allergies in the spring:

  • First, make sure that you take you take your allergy medication before your symptoms start. As Filley put it, "There’s an Oklahoma saying, ‘Don’t close the barn door after the horse is gone."
  • Avoid being outside during peak hours of pollen — from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., and a second surge after 4 p.m. — recommends Donald Dvorin, a board-certified allergist and pollen counter from the National Allergy Bureau and partner at the Asthma Center.
  • When in the car, make sure to turn your air conditioner on and avoid rolling down your windows, in order to allow for better ventilation. Cabin filters should be maintained to reduce exposure.
  • Take your shoes off before you go into your house, to make sure you don’t track pollen in. After you come inside, make sure to wash your clothes and take a shower. Wash your hair, too, as it can hold a lot of pollen, according to Dr. Jim Sublett of president of American Association. Let someone who is not allergic to pollen vacuum the house, and let the dust settle for 30 minutes before coming back into the house, as Filley warns.
  • When mowing the lawn or working in the garden, wear a mask, gloves, and goggles. Try to avoid gardening on windy days.

To track pollen levels in your area click here



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[WATCH: New Anti-Smoking Ads Highlight Pain, Suffering]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:51:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/smoking-stock-generic-73160938.jpg

Smokers are once again sharing their gruesome stories of pain and suffering to motivate cigarette-puffing peers to quit.

“If I’d had a crystal ball many years ago, I would never have put that first cigarette in my mouth," one woman who is losing vision due to macular degeneration says in a new video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cautionary tales are part of a national tobacco education campaign from the CDC, Tips From Former Smokers, which first launched in March 2012. The often cringe-worthy advertisements, on television, radio, billboards, online and in theaters, magazines and newspapers, feature former smokers sharing their painful stories of smoking-related illnesses, the agency said in a release.

In one video, a woman lies on her hospital bed, and in raspy voice, says how she developed throat cancer at the age of 40. In another, a man, with a hole in his neck, informs viewers to stand away from the showerhead. And another woman, sitting at her kitchen table, advises to suction out her tube before eating.

The ads will also highlight how quitting smoking can benefit loved ones, and the importance of quitting completely, not just cutting down on smoking.

“These former smokers are helping save tens of thousands of lives by sharing their powerful stories of how smoking has affected them,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, said in a statement. “These new real-life ads will help smokers quit, adding years to their lives and life to their years.”

Since 2012, Tips has helped millions of smokers try to quit, the CDC reports. When the CDC’s 2014 campaign aired, nearly 80 percent more people called the national quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, for free help. Over 500,000 additional calls to the toll-free hotline have been made since 2012.

“All the Tips ad participants are heroes,” said Tim McAfee, senior medical officer in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “By courageously sharing their painful personal stories, they’re inspiring millions of Americans to make the life-saving decision to quit smoking.”

Smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, the CDC reports, and remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the country. For every American who dies from smoking-related illnesses, nearly 30 more suffer from at least one smoking-related illness.



Photo Credit: FILE/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Is Angelina Jolie's Choice Right for Other Women?]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 22:32:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/OVARY_EXPLAINER-_HENSEL_web_1200x675_417735235844.jpg Angelina Jolie's decision to share her experience of having her ovaries removed to lower her cancer tisk has sparked a conversation about if it's right for all women. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[What to Know About Breast and Ovarian Cancer]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:39:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Hensel_Noon_Jolie_Web_1200x675_417603139845.jpg After Angelina Jolie's announcement of surgery to remove her ovaries, Dr. Bruce explains the facts on ovarian cancer and breast cancer on the NBC4 News at Noon on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Vaccine Opt-Out Rates at California Schools]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 07:15:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/vaccine-OTSstock.jpg

Photo Credit: FILE/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Benefits of Healthy School Lunches Reinforced]]> Mon, 23 Mar 2015 19:13:36 -0700 A new study reinforces the danger of second-hand smoke and another shows the benefits of healthy school lunches. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on March 23, 2015.]]> <![CDATA["It's Very Cool": 3-D "Super-Hand" for Pint-Sized Boy]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 21:21:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/170*120/3-19-15-3d+printer+boy+hand.JPG

A pint-sized boy who was born with a tiny hand and a few fingers now has a life-changing thing he calls "very cool": a "super-hand" made with a 3-D printer.

"It's very cool and it's very special," 5-year-old Jonny Maldonado said. "I flex it, and I can use it."

Jonny's indomitable spirit had helped him adjust, but the 3-D printing technology and the new hand have changed his life.

"I still can't wrap my mind what a 3-D printer is and how this comes out of it," Jonny's mother Felicia Maldonado said. "It was a blessing, and we are ecstatic."

Children born with deformities have had to rely on heavy, limited prosthesis to do the things other kids do -- until now. The 3-D printing technology is changing all of that.

"An old prosthetic weighed about 15 pounds, which is about Jonny's whole weight, and many of them look like claws," Jonny's orthopedic surgeon Dr. Nina Lightdale-Miric said.

It takes the 3-D printer 24 hours to make a whole hand. A finger takes just half an hour.

"You take a 3-D image, send it through a software called slicer software," said Alison Glazer, a USC bioengineering student who helps design the hands. "(It) literally slices it up into those layers. You send that into the printer and it melts the plastic layer by layer."

Jonny has different hands for playing baseball, riding a bike and doing homework. Each hand costs about $100.

"His story is just beginning," Lightdale-Miric said. "What he will do with this super-hand or what he will do with the 3-D technology in the future is limitless."



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Poison Center Calls About Kids Hit 1.3 Million: Report]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 11:56:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/medicine-cabinet.jpg

Poison centers across the country get more than 1,100 calls a day that relate to children sickened by medicine, according to a new report.

In all, there were 1.3 million poison center calls about children 19 and under in 2013, the report by Safe Kids Worldwide found. The vast majority of those calls, 53 percent, involved 1 and two year-olds and medicine, a number that the organization Safe Kids Worldwide called “alarming” and “most surprising”

Older children are also at risk for unintentional medicine poisoning, the report found, sometimes experiencing far more serious outcomes. Teens 15 to 19 were six times more likely to experience "moderate or major effects" from unintentional ingestion than children 1 to 4 years old.

The report, “Medicine Safety for Children: An In-Depth Look at Calls to Poison Centers,” analyzed data from 547,042 calls made to poison centers across the country in 2013. It found that 81 percent of the children were given the wrong medicine, while the remaining got too much. More than 10,000 emergency room visits are made each year for over-the-counter medicine overdoses by adolescents, the report said.

The most common accidentally ingested items for children under age 4, according to the report, are ibuprofen, multivitamins and diaper care and rash products. Nearly half of the emergency room visits were connected to the consumption of those products, which the report said can fall into kids' hands after being found on the ground, a nightstand or in a purse.

For teens, the top medicine mistakes were related to forgetting to take drug and then doubling up, taking two medicines with the same ingredient and taking the wrong medicine.

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<![CDATA[WATCH: Bodybuilding Mom Fights MS]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 09:21:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_msbodybuilder0316001_1500x845.jpg Working out often isn't something you would expect from a person who has Multiple Sclerosis, but for Wendy Bordewisch, Evolutions Gym in Annapolis, Md. is often a home away from home. She's there at least four days a week doing cardio and weights.]]> <![CDATA[Youth in Rural Areas Have Higher Suicide Rate, Study Says]]> Sat, 14 Mar 2015 12:10:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ambulance19.jpg

A new Ohio State University study has found that adolescents and young adults living in rural areas are more likely to commit suicide than those in cities.

The study analyzed suicides among people ages 10 to 24 between 1996 and 2010. Results show the adolescent and young adult suicide rate was almost twice as high in rural settings than in urban areas, and the gap appears be widening.

Cynthia Fontanella is clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center. She cites less access to health care, geographic isolation and stigma associated with mental illness as potential reasons for the disparities.

The researchers say the findings suggest there is an urgent need to improve access to mental health care in rural areas.


SUICIDE PREVENTION: If you know someone who needs help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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<![CDATA[Blue Bell Recalls Ice Cream Treats]]> Sun, 15 Mar 2015 21:04:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ice-cream-stock-79772399.jpg

The FDA issued a consumer advisory about some Texas-made Blue Bell ice cream products Friday, after three patients who had eaten the ice cream in a Kansas hospital died of a foodborne illness.

The illnesses prompted the Brenham, Texas-based creamery to issue the first recall in its 108-year history. Blue Bell has stopped production and distribution of ice cream products from that line and has removed them from stores and any other retail outlets.

The problem was discovered about a month ago, Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse told NBC 5. He said the company picked up the affected products approximately three weeks ago from hospitals and stores.

The contaminated products were traced back to one machine, which has been shut down, Kruse said.

This is the first time in 108 years the company has experienced this type of problem, he added.

The affected products include the following novelty items made on the line:

  • Chocolate Chip Country Cookie
  • Great Divide Bar
  • Sour Pop Green Apple Bar
  • Cotton Candy Bar
  • Scoops
  • Vanilla Stick Slices
  • Almond Bar
  • No Sugar Added Mooo Bar (regular Mooo Bars are not included)

Consumers should not eat these items and should discard any of these products they may have in their freezers.

The advisory does not include Blue Bell cups, pints or half gallons.

Recent laboratory tests of three ice cream products from the Brenham production line — Country Cookie, Great Divide and Scoops — indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause severe illness.

The company is calling back additional ice cream items because they were made on the same production line.

No Texas cases have been reported in connection to any Blue Bell products.

Five people in all developed listeriosis and three of them died at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita after eating products from the one production line at the Brenham creamery between December 2013 and January 2015, hospital officials say.

The patients who fell ill with listeriosis during their hospital stays had all initially been hospitalized for unrelated causes, hospital spokeswoman Maria Loving said.

The hospital was unaware that some items produced on one of the 25 production lines at Blue Bell's Central Texas creamery had been contaminated with listeria bacteria, Loving said.

She said all Blue Bell Creameries products were immediately removed from all Via Christi Health facilities in Kansas and Oklahoma once the risk was discovered.

"If you're worried about some sort of potential source of infection, and two weeks have gone by and nothing's happened to you, you're going to be fine," said Dr. Cedric Spak with Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

Spak said symptoms include vomiting, nausea and muscle ache, and they can appear suddenly.

He said those that are most at risk are those with compromised immune systems.

NBC 5's Holley Ford and Ray Villeda contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[23andMe Sells DNA Info to Drug Companies]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 14:01:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*133/82749238.jpg

23andMe, a company that tested genetics for people and accumulated a 850,000-person database, will now mine that information for potential drug targets, according to reports.

The Mountain View, Calif. startup reported that Richard Scheller, former head of research and early development for drug-maker Roche, will become the company's chief science officer, the Wall Street Journal reported. About 80 percent of 23andMe customers agree that the company "owns the aggregated data with rights to use it for research."

Drug companies already use the data and those relationships will continue, Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe's chief executive officer stated, but new clients will also be able to look broadly for information in the database without as many restrictions. Wojcicki is the estranged wife of Google founder Sergey Brin.

In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration halted 23andMe from selling its saliva kits for medical or diagnostic use, so the startup had to remake itself. While it still sells the kits for "ancestry discovery", Wojcicki said she and the company saw it as "an opportunity to transform." This meant hiring new senior executives and a chief medical officer.

While it took a while for 23andMe to find its place in Silicon Valley, it seems that it finally has found its niche.We can only hope those drug makers can create something innovative and affordable.

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<![CDATA["We're Related": 8-Way Kidney Swap]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 07:40:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kidney_Transplant_CT.jpg

Donors and recipients involved in a groundbreaking eight-way kidney swap in Connecticut came face to face for the first time Thursday, greeting each other with hugs, tears and laughter.

Four women donated kidneys to four men during a series of hours-long procedures at the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center on March 3. The group included three sets of husbands and wives.

NBC Connecticut gained exclusive access to the surgeries, and our cameras were rolling during the life-saving procedures, which began at 7:30 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. that day.

"All eight surgeries occurred on the same day and all procedures were deemed a success," said Dr. David Mulligan, director of the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center and professor of surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, noting that the procedure "represents the largest internal kidney transplant exchange performed in Connecticut."

It started with "altruistic donor" Patricia Menno-Coveney, 61, of Mystic, Connecticut, who said she was inspired to donate by a woman at her church who gave one of her kidneys.

What she didn't know is that she would initiate an eight-person kidney chain, including three sets of husbands and wives.

Since the husbands didn't match their respective wives, doctors used computers to pair up the donors and recipients.

Menno-Coveney was matched to Shelton resident David Rennie, whose wife, Margaret Rennie, donated a kidney to Raymond Murphy, of Old Saybrook.

In turn, Murphy's wife, Sylvie Murphy, gave a kidney to Mario Garcia, of New Haven, and Garcia's wife, Hilary Grant, donated her kidney to Stamford resident Edward Brakoniecki.

Without the swap, the men would have endured years of waiting and dialysis. Brakoniecki had already waited five years for a transplant from a deceased donor.

But the generosity of one woman from Mystic sparked a chain that quite likely saved four lives. Nine days later, everyone is in good spirits.

"Look at me," said donor Hillary Grant. "This is a week and two days later. I feel absolutely normal."

Dr. Peter Schulam, professor and chair of urology at Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Yale School of Medicine, explained that the donors and recipients seem to be well on their way to recovery.

"They're usually in the hospital one or two nights," Schulam said. "They're able to return to work in two to four weeks depending on what their occupation is."

The donors and recipients met in person for the first time Thursday ahead of a news conference at Yale-New Haven Hospital. They hugged, cried, swapped contact information and promised to stay in touch.

"I was the lucky recipient in an eight-person kidney swap," David Rennie told NBC Connecticut during an exclusive interview. "It's kind of surreal, kind of like we're related now."

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<![CDATA[Maria Shriver Reveals Coping With Father's Disease]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 18:50:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SHRIVER_ALZHEIMERS-JOHNSON_web_1200x675_412577347781.jpg The former First Lady of California, Maria Shriver is opening up about how she dealt with her father's Alzheimer’s disease. Carolyn Johnson reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Ebola-Infected Worker Arrives in US]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 10:18:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NIHClinic.jpg

An American healthcare worker infected with Ebola in West Africa arrived at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland Friday morning.

The patient is in serious condition and was flown in isolation from Sierra Leone on a chartered plane and admitted at 4:44 a.m., NIH officials said in a statement. The patient's name, age and gender were not released.

The patient had been volunteering at an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone when he or she contracted the disease. The patient was flown to the United States on a chartered flight and then traveled to the hospital via private charter medevac.

The NIH Clinical Center's Special Clinical Studies Unit (SCSU) is designed for high-level isolation capabilities and is staffed by specialists in infectious diseases and critical care, the NIH said.

The person is the second to be treated for Ebola at NIH. Last fall, Texas nurse Nina Pham was treated there after contracting the disease while treating the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S.

The NIH has also cared for two other people who had high-risk exposures to Ebola, but were later determined to not be infected.

The World Health Organization estimated Thursday that the virus has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The current outbreak is the largest ever for the disease. While deaths have slowed dramatically in recent months, the virus appears stubbornly entrenched in parts of Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 



Photo Credit: NIH Clinical Center]]>
<![CDATA[Promising New Autism Research]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 08:32:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/autism6.jpg

A blood-based measure could lead to a clinical test that could spot signs of autism in boys just 1 or 2 years old, a new study has found, a finding that could help children with autism get the help they need earlier on. 

The study, conducted by an international team led by UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers and published in the current online issue of JAMA Psychiatry, found that certain genetic fingerprints might lead to an earlier method of diagnosing autism in male toddlers.

Researchers were able to identify those biomarkers, or genetic fingerprints, in blood samples from boys with autism as young as 12 months old.

Researchers analyzed two different blood samples with two groups of participants. The first group had 147 toddlers and the second group had 73 toddlers.

"The mean age of autism identification in the United States right now is four to five years so by that point, a lot of brain development opportunities have passed," said Eric Courchesne, Ph.D, professor of neurosciences and director of UCSD's Autism Center of Excellence. "What you really want to do is identify the child at the youngest possible age."

Autism is four times more common in males, researchers said, so the study started with looking at young toddlers because it would be easier to recruit young boys with autism for the study.

Because the causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are complex and can vary, it can be difficult to conclusively diagnose a child before the child turns four. 

One parent said an earlier diagnosis in her son could have had a positive impact on his development. 

"I thought I knew how to parent boys," said Karen Heumann. "And he came along, and he was wild and he was out of control, and I thought, 'Oh, he's just trying to keep pace with his brothers,' and instead, he's autistic."

Heumann said as soon as her family found out about her son's Asperger's syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum, they were able to get him therapy. 

That was when her son was 5 years old. She said learning of the diagnosis earlier would have meant more services for him before he started school. 

In the study, researchers looked at blood-based genomic biomarkers that could lead to the development of a clinical test for ASD in boys as young as 1 or 2 years old.

Blood is expected to carry autism-relevant molecular signatures that can be used to detect early signs of autism, said the study's first author, Tiziano Pramparo.

The study found that the genes related to translation and immune/inflammation functions, as well as cell adhesion and cell cycle, were different in boys with ASD and boys without ASD. Genes such as those can have an effect on early brain development in toddlers.

The results of the study may lead researchers to diagnosing autism earlier than current methods. Early diagnosis methods could boost the efficacy of intervention and remedial treatments.

The Clinical Director for the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai in New York said the study is important and suggests progress but that results should be viewed cautiously.

“Larger studies and replication of the findings are necessary before these preliminary results can be considered clinically meaningful,” said Alex Kolevzon, MD.

The study was co-authored by Karen Pierce, Cynthia Carter Barnes, Steven Marinero, Clelia Ahrens-Barbeau and Linda Lopez, from the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence; Michael V. Lombardo from the University of Cambridge and University of Cyprus; Sarah S. Murray from the Scripps Translational Sciences Institute; and Ronghui Xu from UCSD.

The study, partly funded by the Race for Autism and the National Institute of Mental Health, was published in the March 2015 online issue of JAMA Psychiatry.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Burger King Drops Soft Drinks From Kids' Meals]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 09:26:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/burger-king-thumb-82504247.jpg

Burger King is no longer promoting soft drinks on its kids' meal menus.

"We have removed fountain drinks from our kids' menu boards and they are no longer merchandised as part of kids' meals," the company said in an emailed statement to NBC.

The company will instead suggest the meals be accompanied with 100% apple juice, fat-free milk, or low fat chocolate milk.

The menu change does not completely prevent customers from getting sodas with the meals. Customers will still be able to request for a soft drink to accompany kids' meals, the company said.

Advocacy groups like MomsRising.org had been pressuring Burger King and other food chains to make the change. 

"Parents and families across the country are applauding as one by one, restaurants are listening to parents and public health experts and starting to do their part to help keep America’s kids healthy,” MomsRising.org director Monifa Bandale said in a statement.

Competitors McDonald's and Wendy’s have announced similar menu changes. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ Breast Cancer Research App Launched]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 19:47:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/150309-6pm-breast-cancer-app_1200x675_410714692002.jpg Patients with breast cancer, asthma, Parkinson's and other conditions can use iPhone apps to take part in medical research studies using their devices, Apple announced. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 9, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Patients Recovering After Rare 6-Way Kidney Transplant]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 12:54:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*122/doc6.jpg

The three patients who underwent a rare six-way kidney transplant were resting comfortably on Friday morning, hospital officials said, as three more were undergoing surgery to finish the 12-person operation.

California Pacific Medical Center spokesman Dean Fryer said “everything went well” and there were no complications to report stemming from Thursday’s surgery. Doctors on Friday will complete the two-day transplant among six donors and six recipients. Most are from the Bay Area, and two are from the Central Valley. The donors and recipients include three parent-and-child pairs, one sibling pair, and one brother- and sister-in-law pair.

The six-way transplant is the “largest single center kidney paired donation chain conducted on the West Coast” and the largest conducted in the 44-year history of the CPMC Transplant Center, the hospital said. CPMC was the first California hospital to perform a five-way kidney swap in 2011. Hospital administrators took full advantage of the good news to share, tweeting out photos and video of the surgery in progress.

Zully Broussard, 55, of Sacramento was the first donor to kick off this unusual chain of events. She came to the hospital to say she wanted to donate a kidney, but didn’t have a donor in mind. Through the work of a softward program called Matchgrid 11 other donors and recipients were found.

Before the surgery, Broussard said she felt like “a higher power” was “behind all this making it happen. I didn't realize it was so huge. I'm just a small part of the chain."

Fryer said Broussard, the only patient whose identity has been revealed, came out of her 90-minute surgery with no problems. Recovery times vary but the donor typically needs two to three days and the recipient will need about three to five days, Fryer said.

A reception for the donors, recipients and their families is being planned for March 25.

NBC Bay Area's Kent Wilhoite contributed to this report.
 



Photo Credit: California Pacific Medical Center
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Dunkin' Drops Food-Coloring Additive]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 11:16:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dunkin-donuts-AP110727023936.jpg

Dunkin’ Donuts is removing a food-coloring ingredient from its powdered sugar goods, the brand announced Thursday.

The component titanium dioxide is used to brighten white substances. While certain quantities of the ingredient are permitted by regulators and commonly used in items in the U.S., according to CNBC, the use has come under fire from critics of using such substances in food.

As You Sow, a San Francisco-based advocacy group, conducted a food study in 2013 that examined the use of nanomaterial, matter broken down by technology into molecule-size particles. After finding that Dunkin’ Donuts and Hostess Donettes tested positive for the presence of the titanium dioxide materials of less than 10 nanometers, the advocacy group  brought a proposal to Dunkin’ Donuts’ shareholders urging them to eliminate nanoparticles from their goods.

Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer of Dunkin’ Donuts, confirmed that the company plans to phase out the ingredient, but disagreed with the characterization that it is a nanoparticle.

“The ingredient used in our powdered donuts does not meet the definition of “nanoparticle” as outlined under FDA guidance,” she said, “Nevertheless, we began testing alternative formulations for this product in 2014 and we are in the process of rolling out a solution to the system that does not contain titanium dioxide.”

Both the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency classify titanium dioxide as a nanomaterial. Although the FDA has approved the use of it, the agency has said it will continue to monitor the safety of nanotechnology as the science emerges. The EPA is likewise investigating the ingredient, which it says can also be found in sunscreens, cosmetics, and paints and coatings.



Photo Credit: AP Images]]>
<![CDATA["Wake-Up Call": Study Reveals Magnitude of Memory Loss]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 13:47:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/alzheimers-149679784.jpg

About 4 million American households include at least one adult with increasing memory loss or confusion, a new federal study shows,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study is the first to report on worsening memory loss or confusion in households and could offer insight into the health and financial consequences for families. Older adults with complaints about memory have a greater risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, which is potentially a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

Matthew Baumgart, the senior director of policy for the Alzheimer’s Association, told NBC Owned Television Stations that the findings should be a "wake-up call for the long-term care system."

“It is really important to look at these numbers, and for the public health system to take notice,”  Baumgart said. “It’s a wake-up call for the long-term care system. It should be a wake-up call for the federal government to invest more in the research so that we can change the trajectory of the disease.”

The researchers analyzed data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, looking at households in 13 states in which at least one adult had memory loss or confusion that had gotten worse in the last 12 months.

They found that included 12.6 percent of households. In 5.4 percent of households, all of the adults had experienced increased memory loss or confusion.

The researchers wrote that their findings highlighted the magnitude of the problem and could affect public policies.

“For example, increasing awareness about recognition of signs and symptoms of cognitive decline in self or others can allow household members to seek medical advice and plan for future needs,” they wrote.

Baumgart said that there was an epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States and that the numbers were projected to get even worse.

“We’re going to go from over 5 million Americans living with the disease today to as many as 16 million by 2050 — that’s tripling the number of people who are living with this disease,” Baumgart said. “It’s the most expensive disease in America so you can imagine the burden that this huge growing number of people with it will is going to have on our system unless we do something about it.”

Baumgart said that the CDC’s data on people beginning to have memory problems was important as a good predictor for future dementia.

“It is really important to look at these numbers, and for the public health system to take notice,” he said. “It’s a wake-up call for the long-term care system. It should be a wake-up call for the federal government to invest more in the research so that we can change the trajectory of the disease.”

A second report, also from the CDC, looked at the age and health of Americans with memory limitations and also difficulties functioning. It found that they tended to be younger.

Those researchers looked at data for people 45 years or older from 21 states that participated in the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

“Eligibility for services is often age-dependent; our findings underscore a need to ensure assistance for people who have increased confusion or memory loss and functional difficulties but who do not meet the present age-related eligibility requirements,” the researchers wrote.

NBC Owned Television Stations' Jennifer Vasquez and Evan Carr contributed to this report.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Preserving Fertility After Cancer Treatment]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 02:25:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/BREAST_CANCER_FERTILITY-_DR._HENSEL_WEB_1200x675_408526915979.jpg Breast cancer treatment often robs a woman of her fertility. But a new breakthrough is helping some cancer patients survive their disease and still have a family. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4, 2015.]]> <![CDATA["Superbug" Reported at Cedars-Sinai]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 23:32:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_superbug_gordon_5p_1200x675_401693763890.jpg

Four people were infected with a drug-resistant bacteria spread by a device used in medical procedures and another 71 are at risk because they were exposed to the same scope, officials with Cedars-Sinai hospital said Wednesday.

The device is used in some endoscopic procedures.

In a written statement, officials with the hospital said they have linked the bacterial infection to one device, and have increased the level of disinfection required between patient uses.

The hospital initially said 68 people would be receiving notification that they had been exposed to the bacteria that causes the infection, but changed that number to 71.

The hospital will be provided at-home kits for self-testing to those people to determine if they have the infection.

A similar device was traced back to an outbreak of the "superbug" at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center last month.

Two people died as a result of that outbreak.

The devices are difficult to sterilize completely, and even feature warnings from the manufacturer.

The bacteria exists naturally in many people’s intestines and will not affect them, but once it enters the bloodstream it can be deadly.

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<![CDATA[Thousands of Bassinets, Cradles Recalled Due to Suffocation Risk]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:46:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bassinet-recall.jpg

Fall and suffocation hazards prompted the recall of thousands of two-in-one bassinets.

Dream on Me recalled nearly 13,000 two-in-one bassinet to cradle products after learning that the wire supports on the sides can disconnect and cause the fabric sides to lower, leaving infants susceptible to falling out or suffocation.

The company issued the recalled after receiving a report of one such incident. No injuries were reported.

The bassinet to cradle was sold nationwide from May 2012 to October 2014 at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Wayfair.com, ToysRUs.com and Kohls.com.

Consumers should stop using the product and contact Dream on Me for a free repair.

For More Information:

www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Dream-on-Me-Recalls-2-in-1-Bassinet-to-Cradle/



Photo Credit: US Consumer Product Safety Commission]]>
<![CDATA[Plague-Carrying Flea Found on NYC Rats: Study]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:41:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/101214rats.jpg

The type of flea that spread the bubonic plague across Europe in the 1300s, killing millions of people, lives in NYC, according to a study published in a medical journal.

Cornell University researchers trapped 133 rats in five different locations across the city. They then euthanized the rodents and killed the insects living on them using a vapor. Combing through the rats’ fur, they found 6.500 parasites, including the tropical rat mite, the spine rat louse, the spiny rat mite and the now infamous oriental rat flea, according to the Journal of Medical Entomology study.

Among those parasites was the oriental rat flea, which is believed to have caused the Black Death pandemic in Europe centuries ago, according to the researchers.

New Yorkers can breathe a sigh of relief, however. The report said rats in the city no longer carry the disease. But some rats do carry Bartonella, a bacterium that causes fever and flu-like symptoms. 

Diseases are spread from rats to humans via flea bites, which involve the flea regurgitating its gut matter into a human's bloodstream.

The parasite survey shows that more research is needed to determine the danger posed by rats, Matthew Frye, the study’s co-author, told The Verge.

Although such parasite surveys have been possible since the early 1900s, none have been conducted in the city since the 1920s.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Doctors Use New 3-D Tech to Prepare for Brain Surgery]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 07:07:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/generic-brain2.jpg

For the first time, brain surgeons at UCLA’s Neurosurgery Center can look inside the heads of their patients before they go under the knife.

Using a breakthrough tool called the Surgical Theater, doctors can create ultra-realistic 3-D virtual replicas of a patient’s brain and look inside when preparing for surgery.

"We can see the anatomy with great precision and it’s not obscured by fluid, by blood, by any of the things that can be problematic during the operation," explains to Dr. Neil Martin of the UCLA Neurosurgery Center. “That allows us to operate with greater precision and a lot more confidence.”

Some problems can be cured if the surgery is performed perfectly. This 3-D technology improves the chance of a successful procedure by giving doctors a road map for the surgery. Once the 3-D virtual brain is created by combing layers of a traditional CT scan, it’s displayed on a large touch sensitive screen.

The surgeon can then manipulate the image by touch, rotating it, resizing it and locating specific parts of the anatomy.

"We’re prepared before we even get there," Dr. Martin said. "It shortens the operative time and, in my experience, that sense of déjà vu leads you to a much better operation."

Recently, Dr. Martin used the device to prepare for two surgeries that if performed perfectly could lead to a full cure.

Sibyl Stringer was diagnosed with an aneurism - a weakened blood vessel - which could have killed Stringer if it burst.

"I didn’t have any symptoms and it was discovered while we were looking for something else," Stringer said.

Lucas Deines discovered he has a non-cancerous brain tumor when visiting his doctor because of an unrelated problem with headaches. Although benign, the tumor had the power to recur and require further surgery or even radiation, according to Dr. Martin.

"I was scared to death to be frank," Deines said.

After studying the 3-D models of each of their brains, Dr. Martin was able to successfully complete Sibyl and Deines’ difficult surgeries without any major complications.

"I feel blessed that I’m talking to you, and that it’s not a bad dream," Deines said.

Dr. Bruce says: "Lucas told us that just five days after his surgery. This breakthrough technique may soon be used in other areas of the body as well. It may save lives and cut down on risks."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New App Lets Patients Receive Diagnosis Through Phone]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 17:57:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Liberty11P0228_1200x675_406144067928.jpg

Not feeling up for a visit to the doctor? A new phone application may be able to help you out.

Doctor on Demand can help diagnose common health problems without the patient ever having to step foot inside a hospital.

Users can download the application and talk with board-certified and licensed doctors in their area through a web cam.

Some doctors say this is another way of dealing with day-to-day care, but should not be used for chronic health issues.

The application works on a pay-per-visit basis with no other feeds and has medical and pediatric doctors available as well as psychologists and lactation consultants.

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<![CDATA[Family Sues Scope Maker After UCLA "Superbug" Outbreak]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:25:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lafile-ronald-reagan-ucla-medical-center.jpg

The family of a woman who believes she died in connection to the UCLA "superbug" outbreak has sued a medical device company for wrongful death.

Antonia Torres Cerda's husband and four children in Kings County, as well as mother in Mexico, filed the suit against Olympus Corporation of the Americas in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday.

The 48-year-old was exposed to a contaminated duodenoscope while undergoing multiple procedures with the device at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center in October. Cerda "suffered significant injury and died" according to lawsuit documents.

She died on Nov. 8, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The family's complaint also accused Olympus of products liability, negligence and fraud.

Another patient, Aaron Young, represented by the same lawyer, sued the company Monday. The 18-year-old high school student was still hospitalized at UCLA, the LA Times reported.

UCLA Health System officials said last week that medical equipment tainted with an antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) may have caused the deaths of two patients and infected dozens of others between October 2014 and January 2015. The patients were being treated for a variety of issues, including gallstones and cancer.

The lawsuits asserted that after redesigning the Q180V Scope, an endoscope that may be reused on different patients, Olympus failed to update sterilizing instructions and exposed patients to "residual body fluids and organic debris."

UCLA officials said in an earlier statement that they "sterilized the scopes according to the standards stipulated by the manufacturer."

The LA Times reported that the school and the University of California Regents may be added as defendants in these case as more information is uncovered.

A UCLA spokesman told NBC4 the school does not comment on litigation. NBC4 reached out to Olympus without an immediate response.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Body Bags Are Getting Bigger]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:56:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/NC_bigbodybags.jpg With more than one third of U.S. adults overweight, coroners are having problems with standard body bags sizes being too small.]]> <![CDATA[Congresswoman Cracks Down on Liquid Detergent Pods]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:02:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Consumer-Reports-Pods.jpg

Congresswoman Jackie Speier  is set to introduce the tougher laws surrounding the packaging of liquid laundry detergent pods after a child ended up in intensive care after biting into such a colorful, and dangerous, packet.

The Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act would direct the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission to require safer, child-resistant packaging for liquid detergent packets. She's trying to prevent more children from getting sick, and in some cases, from dying.

Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo counties) was moved to act after hearing the story of Jill Koziol  whose 8-month-old daughter, Cate, spent two days in the pediatric intensive care unit after swallowing a detergent pod her husband was using to do the laundry in September 2014. Koziol had moved from Menlo Park, Calif., to New York City, where her husband was about to do laundry in the apartment building, when the baby crawled into the hamper and took a bite of the packet.

And in one of the most egregious cases, 7-month-old Michael Williams of Florida died in 2013 after swallowing such a liquid laundry packet. His mother said that she was living at a shelter, where someone had placed the pods inside a laundry basket on the bed where her son was asleep. She stepped away only to return and find that her son had eaten two.

The American Cleaning Institute called the legislation "unnecessary" because "there are already comprehensive activities taking place addressing the safety of detergent packets."

Spokesman Brian Sansoni told NBC Bay Area that these products should be kept out of reach of children "no matter what color they are."

“In addition, ACI and its detergent manufacturer members are actively engaged in a process – administered by the standard-setting group ASTM International – to enhance and standardize laundry packet labeling and packaging," the statement read.

According to industry experts and studies, detergent packets are popular, convenient, and dangerous because they deliver powerful chemicals in colorful, bite-sized packages that look like candy.

From 2012 to 2013 the National Poison Data System received 17,230 calls involving children exposed to chemicals by the packets. Of those, 769 required hospitalization for issues including seizures, vomiting blood, fluid in the lungs, dangerously slow heartbeats, respiratory arrest, gastric burn, and comas. One 7-month-old boy has died.

Many household products such as medicine and cleaning agents already require child-resistant packaging. But Speier’s legislation proposes expanding those rules to cover liquid detergent packets. According to her office, the proposal advocates requiring stronger, safer policies that cover the design and color of the packets, so that they aren’t as attractive to children; the composition of the packets, so that the consequences of exposure aren’t so severe; and the adequacy of the warning labels, to properly inform consumers about the risk.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) is releasing companion legislation in the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 

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<![CDATA[Alternatives to Statins]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 23:16:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/225*120/2-25-15_Dr_Bruce_Pic.JPG

Cholesterol-lowering medication use is on the rise.

According to information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 83 percent of American adults who took a cholesterol lowering medicine took a statin.

But other studies show that up to 10 percent of people taking statins can't continue taking them or don't wish to because of severe muscle aches.

Those people might be vulnerable to heart disease if they stop taking their medications and their only other choices were medicines that decreased absorption of cholesterol or filtering of the blood — until now.

A new experimental drug called a PCSK9 INHIBITOR might change the landscape for many.

"What the drug does it blocks the action of a key protein in the body," said Dr. P.K. Shahof the Cedars Sinai Heart Institute. "That protein is called PCSK9, which allows then the liver to clear cholesterol from the blood and the cholesterol levels drop in the blood."

Bill Lindsman was one of the people who stopped taking statins but worried that might cause him to go back to a time when high cholesterol endangered him.

"I had a heart attack and it scared the heck out of me and it woke me up that I had to live a better lifestyle," he said.

Shah suggested the experimental drug for Lindsman.

"The major limitation is that they are injectable," Shah said. "They have to be given like an insulin injection."

Landsman did not hesitate, saying that limitation didn't bother him at all. He now gives himself shots every few weeks.

"I feel great and I feel very excited and I feel liberated," he said.

Dr. Bruce offered more information and advice:

"The maker of the new drug told us it may be approved within a few months. No one should stop their current medication without checking with their doctor first. But if it is necessary to discontinue statins this may represent a life saving option for many."

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<![CDATA[Hand Washing Dishes May Prevent Allergies: Study]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:24:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dishwashingAllergy-529008409.jpg

Washing dishes might be the best chore for a kid.

Doing dishes by hand instead of using a dishwasher might prevent or reduce allergies in children, according to a Swedish study published in the journal Pediatrics yesterday.

The study of more than 1,000 children from Sweden found that those living in homes where dishes were washed by hand were 40 percent less likely to develop allergies compared to those in homes with a dishwasher.

A questionnaire asked parents about their dishwashing practices as well as whether their 7- or 8-year-olds had asthma, eczema or seasonal allergies.

The researchers suggest that allergy development was reduced due to increased microbial exposure from the bacteria left on dishes, and that the exposure is good for children because it may stimulate their immune systems.

The report references a German study from 2004 that compared hand-washing techniques and dishwashers and found that half of the subjects did not clean as well as a dishwasher. That study also found that milk products have the potential to stay on utensils enough to pose health risks.

"People whose immune systems are no longer busy fighting infection become disregulated and allergic,” Susan Wasserman, professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada, told Live Science. Wasserman referred to the "hygiene hypothesis," a theory that the immune systems of children not exposed to as many microbes do know how to fight off allergens such as pollen.

The new study of Swedish children found that the development of allergies in children was reduced even more once the researchers analyzed other lifestyle factors. Eating fermented foods, living in crowded situations, and being a part of an immigrant family all prevent or reduce the development of allergies.

In the commentary of the study, two physicans at University of California, San Francisco, said that dishwater usage and other lifestyle choices should be researched further.



Photo Credit: Illustration/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Study Finds Obesity, Diabetes Link]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:26:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UC-San-Diego-generic_6.jpg

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, believe they have discovered the "root cause" of Type 2 diabetes — a molecular link between obesity and diabetes that may lead to new treatment.

Inflammation that results from obesity leads to insulin resistance, the first step in developing Type 2 diabetes, the study found.

One inflammatory molecule in particular, LTB4, is released by immune cells living in extra fat, called macrophages. Positive feedback then signals for the body to release more macrophages, which then release more LTB4 into the fatty cells in the liver, researchers found.

"This study is important because it reveals a root cause of type 2 diabetes," the study's senior author Dr. Jerrold M. Olefsky, professor of medicine and associate dean for scientific affairs, said in a statement. "And now that we understand that LTB4 is the inflammatory factor causing insulin resistance, we can inhibit it to break the link between obesity and diabetes."

Those LTB4 then bind to nearby cell surfaces, the researchers found. In people who are obese, those cells become inflamed and the body becomes resistant to insulin.

In the UC San Diego study, Olefsky and his team of researchers used genetically engineered mice to look for ways to reverse insulin resistance.

The team created genetically engineered mice that did not have the LTB4 receptor. Without the receptor, the health of obese mice “dramatically improved.”

The study was authored by Pingping Li, Da Young Oh, Gautam Bandyopadhyay, William S. Lagakos, Saswata Talukdar, Olivia Osborn, Andrew Johnson, Heekyung Chung, Rafael Mayoral, Michael Maris, Jachelle M Ofrecio, Sayaka Taguchi, Min Lu. All of the researchers are at UC San Diego.

The research was funded in part by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Merck Inc.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Study Links Peanut Exposure to Allergy]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:45:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/peanut+butter+recall.jpg

A groundbreaking study released Monday argues that the key to preventing peanut allergies in children may lie in early and regular exposure to the food, but some parents aren't quite ready to expose their children.

Researchers at King’s College London found introducing peanut snacks to children at high-risk for the allergy made them less likely to develop it by the time they turned 5 than kids who avoided peanut snacks completely.

"Consumption rather than avoidance seems to protect against developing peanut allergy," said Dr. Gideon Lack, of King’s College.

But the news doesn't provide relief for parents of kids who already have a potentially fatal peanut allergy. 

"We just can’t take a chance. We don’t eat out. We don’t travel on planes. We have to live differently than the normal family," said Debbie Adler, whose 6-year-old son suffers from allergies.

Adler first discovered her son’s allergies when he experienced a severe reaction after eating frozen yogurt.

"He started vomiting profusely. I had never seen anything like this. Nonstop. Nonstop. Went on and on until he turned blue and passed out in my arms," Adler said.

In addition to milk, doctors found Adler’s son also had a peanut allergy. Allergies like his are not only a nuisance, but they can also be deadly. In some cases, just smelling peanuts is enough to cause a child to go into anaphylactic shock.

Adler’s son is not alone: More than 2 percent of kids in the United States are allergic to peanuts and that number is only climbing, according to the Associated Press. However, the King's College study could help reverse this upward trajectory.

Researchers enrolled 640 children under age 1 who were at high risk for peanut allergy. Half were given a peanut snack at least three times a week, while the others were told to avoid all peanuts until five.

Although counterintuitive, the results confirmed avoiding peanuts did not help ward off peanut allergies. In fact, 17 percent of the kids who avoided peanuts developed an allergy by age five. However, only three percent of the kids who ate the peanut snacks developed the same allergy.

"You need to be introduced to these proteins very early in life," Lack continued.

There is also a new patch designed to desensitize peanut allergy patients by exposing them to a small dose of peanut protein. The common thread appears to be that a little bit of exposure and consumption seems to teach the body that peanuts are not an enemy.

Adler hopes this technique will free other families from the debilitating effects of nut allergies.

"It would change our lives significantly is he could eat all of the things he’s allergic too."

Dr. Bruce’s Advice: If your kid has a lot of allergies, speak with a doctor and begin exposing them to tiny amounts of the allergens under supervision. If your child gets a rash or other symptoms, stop.

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