<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Health News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usFri, 29 Apr 2016 05:05:25 -0700Fri, 29 Apr 2016 05:05:25 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[FDA Approves First Commercial Zika Virus Test]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 19:38:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaBloodTest-GettyImages-508017592.jpg

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first commercial U.S. test Thursday to diagnose the Zika virus, NBC News reported.

Quest Diagnostics will use the same method that government labs use to look for Zika virus in a patient's blood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends testing pregnant women with Zika symptoms, those who have traveled to areas where Zika is spreading while they are pregnant and women who have had sex with someone who has Zika.

Doctors can now order the test through Quest, which says it can get results in three to five days. Until now, patients who wanted the test had to go through their state or local health departments.  

A spokeswoman for Quest said most patients with a health plan may receive some coverage benefits. Uninsured patients can expect to pay $120 for the test, she said. 

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Birth Rates Drop Among Blacks, Hispanics: CDC]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 14:55:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/TeenPregnancyGettyImages-459016410.jpg

Birth rates among black and Hispanic teenagers have fallen dramatically over the past decade, but they’re still more likely to have babies compared to their white peers, according to a new report, NBC News reports. 

The birth rate among teens aged 15 to 19 dropped 61 percent, from 61.8 to 24.2 births per 1,000, the team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. 

The national teen birth rate declined 41 percent between 2006 to 2014 — and dropped by 51 percent among Hispanics, 44 percent among blacks and 35 percent among whites. But the rate remained about twice as high for Hispanic or black teens, when compared to white teens. The CDC said high unemployment rates, parents who have less education and high poverty levels are the reasons for the gap.

The CDC says most teens do not use effective methods of birth control. Many other researchers have shown that abstinence-only education does not reduce teen pregnancy rates.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cheaper & Designer Sunglasses Give Full UV Protection]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:07:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Sunglasses-GettyImages-106750577.jpg

Cheap sunglasses and expensive designer eyewear deliver the same amount of UV protection, according to an investigation conducted by the “Today” show.

University of California, Berkeley optometrist Dr. Dennis Fong examined an assortment of cheaper and expensive sunglasses. His sensor found that both sets delivered full UV protection. 

"Bottom line is, at any price point you can get 100 percent UV protection," Fong said. 

The takeaway: Your eyes will be fully protected no matter what the price tag on your sunglasses says. Just look for the sticker that says “100 percent UV protection” or “UV 400.”

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Zika Was in Haiti Before Brazil: Study ]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 16:45:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaMosquitoAP_791168702393.jpg

A new study shows the Zika virus was circulating in Haiti in 2014, long before it became obvious that it was spreading in Brazil, NBC News reported. 

The team checked out three mysterious infections in Haiti caused by the Zika virus. Their study raises questions about when and how Zika arrived in the Americas.

"We know that the virus was present in Haiti in December of 2014," said Dr. Glenn Morris, a professor of medicine and the director of the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute. "And, based on molecular studies, it may have been present in Haiti even before that date." 

Earlier this year, international experts used a "genetic clock" to show the Zika virus has changed. And it very closely matches a strain that circulated in French Polynesia in 2013. What's not clear is why it's now being seen to cause disease. Tests show it has mutated, but it's not yet clear if the mutations somehow make it more virulent.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[US Health Care Costs All Over the Map: Study]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:23:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dfw-generic-health-1200-01.jpg

Health care prices vary in different parts of the U.S., according to a new study that digs into the pattern of costs around the country, NBC News reported.

The report from the Health Care Cost Institute finds prices for the same procedures vary even within the same state. 

Some differences make sense: Prices in Alaska are high because medical costs there are 2.6 times the national average. But other differences are hard to explain — a knee surgery in New Jersey costs $24,000, while the same procedure in Oregon can cost $43,000.

Unlike others, this report looked at the price people paid with private health insurance. Most Americans — more than 60 percent — are covered by private health insurance, usually through their employer, while 32 percent have government health insurance.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[More Kids Harmed by Ingesting Laundry Pods: Study]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 05:30:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-453144893.jpg

Despite warnings about the dangers laundry detergent pods pose to children, calls to poison control centers continue to rise, NBC's "Today" show reported, citing a new study published Monday.

The study in Pediatrics shows a 20 percent increase in reports of children younger than 6 putting the brightly colored packets into their mouths, with serious and sometimes even fatal consequences.

Researchers analyzed data from 62,254 calls made in 2013 and 2014 to U.S. poison control centers. Calls increased for all types of detergent exposure, but the greatest jump was in the number of incidents involving highly concentrated laundry pods, followed by dishwasher detergent packets.

Study coauthor Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and his colleagues strongly recommend that parents not use laundry detergent packets if there are young children at home.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Medical Marijuana Users Protest CBD-Only Laws ]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 02:41:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/MedicalMarijuana-AP_613601499642.jpg

Many people who would benefit from the legalization of medical marijuana are beginning to rise up to protest the new laws, NBC News reports. 

They say “CBD-only” laws allow residents with specified conditions to legally use products derived from marijuana that contain cannabidiol (CBD), with low traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which produces marijuana's "high." 

The law allows patients to orally ingest an oil derived from marijuana or hemp. But for patients who require whole-plant medical marijuana say they’re being forced to commit criminal acts to get relief for themselves or their loved ones. 

Seventeen Midwestern and Southern states started passing the laws two years ago. But some say they only help a small group of patients, and that the laws force residents to commit criminal acts to get relief for themselves or their loved ones.

"We're not lawbreakers and this shouldn't even be an issue," said Jennifer Conforti of Fayetteville, Georgia, who gives her 5-year-old autistic daughter, Abby, marijuana-derived oil with higher-than-allowed levels of THC to control dangerous biting episodes. "It should be a medicine that doctors go to when they need it."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Irregular Periods May Raise Ovarian Cancer Risk: Study]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 09:59:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ovarian+Cancer1.jpg

Women who had irregular periods in their 20s were more likely to develop ovarian cancer decades later, according to a new study, NBC News reported.

Researchers reported in the International Journal of Cancer that women who had irregular periods at age 26 had double the risk of ovarian cancer by age 70 and triple the risk by age 77.

But researchers point out that it doesn't mean that every woman who has irregular periods is doomed to develop ovarian cancer. Of the 15,000 who participated in the study, over the next 50 years, only 116 developed ovarian cancer.

What the findings can do is offer new avenues for research into what causes ovarian cancer, a highly deadly form of cancer because most women don't even know they have it until it's spread.

Photo Credit: Ohio State University / MediaSource]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers Use 3D Printer to Make Heart]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 07:59:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_heartvalve0419_1920x1080.jpg Researchers use a 3D printer to make an exact model of a patient's heart prior to a complicated surgery. KARE's Janel Klein reports.]]> <![CDATA[Doctors Hail 'Revolutionary' Stroke Treatment]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 16:26:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_strokes0419_1920x1080.jpg A new study finds more than 90 percent of patients who are able to undergo stent retrieval within two and a half hours of an acute ischemic stroke have minimal to no lasting disability.]]> <![CDATA[Theranos CEO 'Devastated' About Blood Test Issues]]> Mon, 18 Apr 2016 11:55:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_241410476392.jpg

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of blood-testing company Theranos, said she was "devastated" after an inspection found "critical violations" at her California lab, raising questions about an accuracy of the tests. 

The Silicon Valley company, valued at $9 billion, partners with Walgreens to provide quick, in-store blood tests at a fraction of regular prices. In November, a federal inspection by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) found the company failed to hire and train qualified staff to work the testing machines, and let unlicensed workers review test results. 

"I feel devastated that we did not catch and fix these issues faster," Holmes said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show Monday.

Holmes said the lab stopped testing and that she is rebuilding the "entire laboratory from scratch," but a letter from regulators in March called her fixes insufficient and threatened to shut down the lab and ban Holmes from the business of blood testing for at least two years.

Holmes said she has hired a new lab director and an expert medical board to prevent any future violations. She is awaiting response from CMS.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Zika Virus Mutation May Explain Spread, Birth Defects: Study]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 14:39:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaMosquitoAP_791168702393.jpg

Researchers hope genetic mutations they found in the Zika virus may explain why it seems to be causing birth defects, according to NBC News. 

The current virus strain comes from one that circulated in Asia, the team at University of California, Los Angeles, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College said, proving earlier findings the strain isn’t the same as the one first seen in Africa. 

"By tracing its genetic mutations, we aimed to understand how the virus is transmitted from person to person and how it causes different types of disease," one of the researchers said. 

The researchers said they believe the mutations could help the virus replicate more easily and invade new tissues in the body and even the immune system.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Parasites May Help Stomach & Bowel Diseases]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 18:31:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/160414-worm-story-mdl_c8f63d898d16fe763f375098bad69621.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpg

Researchers believe they’ve figured out that worm-like parasites may help stomach and bowel diseases, NBC News reports.

"Our findings are among the first to link parasites and bacteria to the origin of inflammatory bowel diseases, supporting the hygiene hypothesis," said P'ng Loke, of New York University's Langone medical center, who helped lead the research.

Taking too many antibiotics can cause the germs living in the intestines to die back, and be replaced by bad actors. 

But the research showed people in less developed areas and who are loaded with germs and worms are far less likely to have allergies, asthma and unpleasant bowel diseases such as Crohn's.

Photo Credit: NYU Langone Medical Center]]>
<![CDATA[CDC Sees Same-Sex Zika Transmission]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 20:28:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-509588626.jpg

A Dallas man who contracted Zika in Venezuela transferred it to a male sexual partner after returning home in January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Thursday.

The case was identified by a local health care provider earlier this year and investigated by Dallas County Health and Human Services before being referred to the CDC.

"At this time, there had been one prior case report of sexual transmission of Zika virus. The present case report indicates Zika virus can be transmitted through anal sex, as well as vaginal sex," the CDC said in a statement Thursday.

Two days after the man returned to Dallas from a one-week trip abroad, he began to show symptoms consistent with Zika infection — subjective fever, pruritic rash on his upper body and face, and conjunctivitis lasting three days, the CDC said.

During the investigation into the infection, officials learned the man had unprotected anal sex one day before and one day after the onset of symptoms. Seven days after first showing symptoms, the man's partner began to show symptoms of Zika infection as well.

"On Day 7, patient B developed a subjective fever, myalgia, headache, lethargy, and malaise; a few days later, he developed a slightly pruritic rash on his torso and arms, small joint arthritis of his hands and feet, and conjunctivitis," the CDC said.

After a week, all of the symptoms had subsided.

The man who traveled to Venezuela said multiple people living in the area he visited were experiencing symptoms of Zika infections. The man's monogamous partner in Dallas had never traveled to Venezuela and has not traveled to any area with known cases of Zika.

Dallas County health officials sent specimen samples to the CDC for analysis, and it later confirmed the man who traveled to Venezuela had contracted both Zika and dengue, while his partner had only contracted Zika.

The department's director called the developments a game changer.

"Surveillance is going to be on two fronts - one in terms of individuals who travel...and get a mosquito bite and those who travel and engage in sexual activity," said Dallas County health director Zach Thompson.

Thompson said confirmation that Zika can be sexually transmitted should put pressure on federal lawmakers to approve emergency funding for accine research.

"We need a vaccine," Thompson said. "The funding that's being held up in congress is going to hold up whether or not you can do the research. Right now, unless congress kind of moves on giving President Obama what he asks for, there may be some delay in seeing Zika funding."

Further information about the patients is not yet known and is not expected to be released, citing privacy concerns.

Zika virus infection has been linked to increased risk for Guillain-Barré syndrome and adverse fetal outcomes, including congenital microcephaly.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[De Niro Defends Support for Anti-Vaccine Film]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 13:28:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Robert+De+Niro+on+Today+.png

Actor Robert De Niro defended Wednesday the controversial anti-vaccine documentary "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up To Catastrophe" that he pulled from this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

Speaking on NBC's "Today" show he noted that he is not anti-vaccine, "but I want safe vaccines."

"I think the movie is something that people should see," the Oscar winner said. "There's a lot of things that are not said. I, as a parent of a child who has autism, am concerned. And I want to know the truth."

"Vaxxed" was originally set to screen Sunday, April 24 at the 15th annual Tribeca Film Festival, but was pulled after other filmmakers threatened to leave the festival. 

Scientists have repeatedly debunked many of the assertions De Niro makes in the interview. Decades of study have also shown no link at all to vaccines and autism, leaving scientists increasingly impatient with the refusal to accept their findings, NBC News reported. 

Photo Credit: "Today"
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<![CDATA[Teens With Sleep Issues Take Dangerous Risks: CDC]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 18:26:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/CDCLogo-AP_134942423520.jpg

High school students who get too little sleep — or too much — are also more likely to drive drunk or take other risks.

That's the finding of a government survey of more than 50,000 high school students.

Researchers said they don't know if sleep issues cause teens to take dangerous risks, or whether both are a reflection of depression or other problems.

Students who get only five or six hours a night were twice as likely to say they'd driven while drinking in the previous month, compared to kids who regularly got a full night's sleep. That was also true of kids who got 10 or more hours per night, compared to regular sleepers, researchers found.

The CDC released the study Thursday. 

Photo Credit: PR NEWSWIRE]]>
<![CDATA[Emerald Cashews Recalled Over Glass Shards]]> Mon, 04 Apr 2016 11:55:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Emerald_Recall.jpg

Emerald cashews are being recalled nationwide over concerns some packages could contain glass pieces, U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

Snyder's-Lance, Inc., makers of Emerald brand nuts, is issuing a voluntary recall of a limited number of Emerald 100 Calorie Pack Roasted and Salted Cashew Halves & Pieces product.

The product is being recalled because of the possible presence of small pieces of glass that could potentially cause harm, according to the FDA. No injuries have been reported.

The affected products include:

  • Product: Emerald 100 Calorie Packs Roasted & Salted Cashew Halves & Pieces
  • Retail Carton UPC Code: 0 10300 33324 1
  • Retail Carton "Best Before" Dates: 12 DEC 16, 13 DEC 16, 18 DEC 16, 21 DEC 16
  • Inner Package UPC Code: 0 10300 33399 9
  • Inner Package Production Codes: 15346D346S, 15347D346S, 15352D346S, 15355D346S

The company issued a statement addressing the recall: "The quality and safety of our products are the top priority for our company. We apologize to our retail customers and consumers and sincerely regret an inconvenience created by this recall. We are working and cooperating fully with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on this voluntary recall." 

Customers are urged to contact consumer affairs for a full refund at 503-364-0399 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday through Friday, or online.

Photo Credit: U.S. Food and Drug Administration/Snyder-Lance Inc.
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<![CDATA[Baby Deadline Test Lets Women Beat Biological Clocks]]> Wed, 30 Mar 2016 16:54:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/PregnancyTest-GettyImages-566438193%281%29.jpg

A test that has been a staple in fertility clinics is now being used to help women predict their fertility, NBC News reported.

The test, now being called the “baby deadline test,” is a simple blood analysis that measures the amount of Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) in a woman’s bloodstream. The hormone is released by follicles in the ovaries, indicating the possible number of eggs a woman has left. A higher result means more eggs, while a lower result means fewer eggs.

Women are born with a finite amount of eggs, starting out with roughly one to two million in their ovaries. At puberty, the number drops down to about 300,000 — and by age 30, that number drops by 90 percent.

"There are some young, healthy women who are living their lives in shape and taking very good care of themselves who might not know that their reserve strength of their ovaries is lower than it should be." said Dr. Joshua Hurwitz with Reproductive Medical Associates of Connecticut. "It's a question of having the knowledge and awareness of keeping your options open."

Photo Credit: UIG via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zika Virus Causes Brain Damage to Fetus: Study]]> Wed, 30 Mar 2016 14:20:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaMosquitoAP_791168702393.jpg

The Zika virus can cause brain damage to a fetus, despite normal ultrasound results early in pregnancy, according to a new study, NBC News reported.

There were no telltale signs of birth defects when researchers conducted an ultrasound of a Zika-infected pregnant mother at 13, 16 and 17 weeks. But later ultrasounds revealed other brain abnormalities.

"While this is a single case, it poses troubling questions that could inform future research," said the study's co-senior author, Dr. Adre du Plessis, director of the Fetal Medicine Institute and chief of the Fetal and Transitional Medicine Division at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C.

The study also revealed that Zika can cause invisible damage to a fetus that could show up later, and that it made its way into developing muscle, liver, lung and the spleen.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Zika Guidelines for Couples Before Pregnancy]]> Fri, 25 Mar 2016 16:17:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/PregnancyTest-GettyImages-566438193%281%29.jpg

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning couples who have been exposed to the Zika virus they may need to wait up to six months before trying to conceive, NBC News reported.

According to the new guidelines, women with Zika should wait at least two months before trying to become pregnant. For men, the guidelines recommend no sex or condom use for at least six months. The waiting period for men is longer because it can take up to two months to detect the virus in semen.

Previous guidelines have focused on protecting women who were already pregnant.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus and has been linked to serious birth defects. The virus is spreading in Latin America and the Caribbean, and is expected to rise this summer.  

Photo Credit: UIG via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Seniors Dance Their Way to Better Health]]> Fri, 25 Mar 2016 10:08:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_dancebenefits0324_1920x1080__829070.jpg A program finds that Latin dance classes can help improve physical fitness. NBC's Erika Edwards reports.]]> <![CDATA[Study Links Caffeine With Pregnancy Loss]]> Fri, 25 Mar 2016 10:07:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/caffeineGettyImages-511709928.jpg

A new study shows that people who drank three or more cups a day of caffeinated drinks while trying for a pregnancy — sodas, energy drinks or coffee — were more likely to lose that pregnancy early on, Today.com reported. That was the case for men or women. And if women consumed more caffeine after they conceived, they were also more likely to miscarry, the study found. 

The study, led by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is one of the most detailed yet to look at the connection between caffeine intake and pregnancy loss. It is also one of the first to note that men's caffeine consumption affects fertility.

The study found that women who took multivitamins before they got pregnant and early in pregnancy were 50 percent less likely to miscarry.

The 344 couples in Texas and Michigan watched for the study wrote down every caffeinated drink they had, every serving of fish, every alcoholic drink, were weighed regularly, and gave urine, blood, saliva and semen samples. The women took regular pregnancy tests.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[New Rule Lowers Silica Dust Limit to Protect Workers]]> Thu, 24 Mar 2016 17:51:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Silica-AP_858473348021.jpg

Regulators announced a rule to increase workplace protections against exposure to crystalline silica, a carcinogenic dust found in construction, foundries and fracking, NBC News reported.

Issued Thursday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the rule — which takes effect immediately — lowers the exposure limit for silica dust to 50 grams per cubic meter of air. The rule also requires employers to monitor for silica in the workplace, use methods to reduce exposure and provide medical exams to workers.

Some groups have vowed to fight the rule in court and in Congress. They say it's unnecessary and warn that compliance will come at a hefty price.

OSHA said 2.3 million American workers are exposed to silica dust, and that the rule would save about 600 lives and prevent 900 cases of silica-related illnesses annually. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Elmo Teaches Latin American Kids About Zika]]> Thu, 24 Mar 2016 16:46:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ElmoRaya-GettyImages-456230810%281%29.jpg

Sesame Street has joined forces with the Pan American Health Organization to teach kids how to avoid contracting the Zika virus, NBC News reports.

Two 30-second videos feature Elmo and Raya in Spanish, English and Portuguese. The two discuss ways to ward off mosquitoes, including covering and sealing water containers.

Sesame Street also created three printables to post around the house to remind children to close screen windows, cover standing water and to wear long sleeves whenever possible.

All the videos and posters end with the same message: "If the mosquito doesn't bite, goodbye Zika!"

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Global Citizen
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<![CDATA[Zika Has Been in Brazil Longer Than Anyone Thought: Study]]> Thu, 24 Mar 2016 16:05:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/507416952-getty-brazil-health-inspections.jpg

The Zika virus has probably been circulating quietly and undetected in Brazil since 2013, a new genetic study shows.

A large international team of experts used a "genetic clock" to show Zika virus has changed about as much as would be expected if it had been carried into the country in 2013, NBC News reports.

They used samples taken of Zika cases from across Brazil and looked for mutations in the genetic sequence. The Zika now spreading explosively across Brazil, other parts of the Americas and the Caribbean very closely matches a strain that circulated in French Polynesia in 2013, the team reports in the journal Science.

"We estimate that the date of the most common ancestor of all Brazilian genomes is August 2013 to April 2014," they write. The most likely date: December 2013. Brazilian officials first noticed Zika spreading in May of 2015.

Photo Credit: File – Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Congress Breaks for Easter Without Funding Zika Fight]]> Wed, 23 Mar 2016 18:31:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaMosquitoAP_791168702393.jpg

Congress left Washington Wednesday afternoon without voting to appropriate any of the $1.9 billion the Obama administration has asked for to fight Zika, NBC News reported.

Republicans say they don’t want to spend new money if they don’t have to. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., told reporters this week that there is money in the pipeline “that is not going to Ebola” that can fund the fight against Zika.

National health directors say that money cannot be redirected because it is already accounted for, as researchers run trials of Ebola vaccines and treatments in West Africa.

Zika continues to spread across Latin America and the Caribbean. Cases are piling up in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and southern states from Texas to Florida are bracing for smaller outbreaks as mosquito season approaches.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[3 US Hospitals Attacked by Ransomware]]> Wed, 23 Mar 2016 14:42:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Hacker506944962.jpg

Three U.S. hospitals were hit this week by "ransomware" attacks that brought down their systems, according to NBC News.

The servers for Chino Valley Medical Center and Desert Valley Hospital, both in California, and Methodist Hospital in Kentucky were all attacked by malware.

Ransomware is a strain of malware that encrypts data on infected systems, then asks users for ransoms in exchange for their data.

As of Wednesday, the two hospitals in California were brought back online. The third hospital did not immediately return calls from NBC News.  

Photo Credit: Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[3 Infected With Lassa Fever in Germany]]> Fri, 18 Mar 2016 17:14:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LassaFever-GettyImages-485249679.jpg

Three people have been infected with Lassa fever after having come in contact with an American who died of the disease in Germany last month, NBC News reported.

"This is now the first documented outbreak of Lassa fever virus outside of Africa," the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's federal disease control agency, said in a statement.

The patient who died was a medical director of a missionary hospital in Togo. The newly infected people include a mortician who handled his body.

Lassa is carried by rodents and people can catch it when rodent droppings or urine get onto food or into living areas. There is widespread activity of the virus in West Africa, and there is an ongoing outbreak in Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Missing Autism Gene ]]> Fri, 18 Mar 2016 05:12:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/2015_05_07_human_chromosomes_with_telomeres_nih.jpg

Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine have developed a mouse model that connects the genetic defects of Jacobsen syndrome to effects on brain function consistent with autism disorders.

About half of children with Jacobsen syndrome experience social and behavioral issues consistent with autism disorders.

"While this study focused on mice with a specific type of genetic mutation that led to autism-like symptoms, these findings could lead to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying other autism spectrum disorders, and provide a guide for the development of new potential therapies," said study co-author Paul Grossfeld, MD, clinical professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and pediatric cardiologist at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego.

The study also found the anti-anxiety drug clonazepam reduces autistic features in the Jacobsen syndrome mice.

Jacobsen syndrome is a rare genetic disorder in which a child is born missing a portion of one copy of chromosome 11. 

The gene loss can lead to multiple clinical challenges, such as congenital heart disease, intellectual disability, developmental and behavioral problems, slow growth and failure to thrive.

Previous research by Grossfield and others suggested that PX-RICS, the dominant isoform expressed in nervous system development, might be the missing chromosome 11 gene in children with Jacobsen syndrome.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo found PX-RICS to be the most likely gene responsible for autism-like symptoms in Jacobsen syndrome.

They found mice without PX-RICS were less social and more apathetic to other mice. They also spent twice as much time on repetitive behaviors than mice with the gene and were less able to adapt to new situations. They found mice lacking PX-RICS were also deficient in GABAAR, a protein crucial for normal neuron function.

PX-RICS-deficient mice treated with clonazepam, which works by boosting GABAAR, behaved almost normally in social tests, experienced improvements in learning performance and were better able to deviate from established habits.

"We now hope in the future to carry out a small pilot clinical trial on people with Jacobsen syndrome and autism to determine if clonazepam might help improve their autistic features," Grossfeld said.

Study co-authors include Tsutomu Nakamura, Fumiko Arima-Yoshida, Fumika Sakaue, Yukiko Nasu-Nishimura, Yasuko Takeda, Ken Matsuura, Toshiya Manabe, Tetsu Akiyama, University of Tokyo; Natacha Ackshoomoff, UC San Diego; and Sarah Mattson, San Diego State University.

Photo Credit: National Institutes of Health]]>
<![CDATA[Major Candy Companies Will Stop Advertising to Kids]]> Thu, 17 Mar 2016 08:41:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1938576.jpg

With the Easter bunny just hops away, six major candy companies have agreed to stop advertising to kids, including the makers of Peeps, Lemonheads and Jelly Belly candies, NBC News reported.

The companies are the Ferrara Candy Company, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Jelly Belly Candy Company, Just Born Quality Confections, The Promotion in Motion Companies, and the R.M. Palmer Company, a maker of Easter candies.

Under the program, participants will no longer advertise directly to kids under 12. They're joining six other, larger companies, including Hershey's, Mars and Nestlé, who in 2007 stopped marketing to children.

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<![CDATA[Breastfeeding Moms Help Save Sick Babies]]> Wed, 16 Mar 2016 11:43:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-186081739.jpg

It’s a lot like a blood bank, but with breast milk. All the hard work is done at home.

Now nursing mothers in Connecticut can donate to the state's first milk bank depot in Guilford to help feed sick babies in the NICU — and potentially save their lives.

"I didn’t even know you could do this," said Amy Farotti, the first mother to donate when the depot opened a few weeks ago.

The milk is donated to local hospitals like St. Francis and Connecticut Children’s.

"When we give babies this breast milk, it actually, for them, is the difference between life and death, because babies who cannot digest formula will die," said Jan Ferraro, director of education at Acceleron Medical Products, which houses the milk bank depot.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>