<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Health News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usWed, 18 Jan 2017 08:36:59 -0800Wed, 18 Jan 2017 08:36:59 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Mom, Toddler Daughter Fight Cancer at the Same Time]]> Wed, 18 Jan 2017 06:39:13 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cancerstrikesmomandtot.jpg

Heather Wilson received some bad news just five days before Christmas.

The 31-year-old mother of three, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor six months earlier, learned that her 14-month-old daughter, London, also had cancer, the Today Show reported.

Doctors found a yolk sac tumor in the area of London's ovaries.

The two have been an inspiration as they bravely face the disease together, rallying friends and family to help ease the financial and emotional burden on the young mom from Covington, Georgia.



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Pam Hunt]]>
<![CDATA[Caffeine May Help Fight Cardiovascular Disease: Study]]> Wed, 18 Jan 2017 05:50:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-472209108.jpg

The cup of coffee you have each morning could be doing more than you think in the fight against cardiovascular disease.

According to a study from scientists at Stanford University, caffeine has been found to help people – especially elderly people – who have a "chronic inflammatory process" that may heighten the risk of having the disease.

Scientists used blood samples and studied medical and family history for 100 people in their multi-year study. The research found a connection between the inflammatory process and caffeine consumption – the metabolites in caffeine were seen to counteract inflammatory proteins.

Past studies have shown that those who drink caffeinated coffee are less likely to develop issues such as cardiovascular problems and multiple sclerosis — as well as live longer — than those who don’t have the beverage.

The study was published online in Nature Medicine in January.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[18M Will Lose Health Insurance With ACA Repeal: Analysis]]> Tue, 17 Jan 2017 12:12:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/obaGettyImages-630310534.jpg

About 18 million people would lose or drop their health insurance in the first year after Obamacare is repealed, the Congressional Budget Office reported Tuesday.

The nonpartisan federal agency also found that health insurance premiums would spike another 20 to 25 percent, NBC News reported. Within 10 years, 32 million more people would be without health insurance, the CBO projects.

Without a replacement, health care costs overall would continue to rise every year, as would the number of people going without health insurance, according to the projection

Premiums would continue to go up, as well.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Moveon.org, File]]>
<![CDATA[UCSD Gets $10.5M to Research Human Breast Milk]]> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 10:45:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/breastmilk-AP_475330119652.jpg

The University of California, San Diego will receive $10.5 million from Switzerland’s Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation to research the mysteries of human breast milk.

Breast milk is known to be the best source of nutrition for babies, but the composition of human milk still puzzles researchers. The foundation is funding a new initiative to provide an evidence-based understanding of how genetic and environmental factors affect human milk. The initiative also will research how human milk affects the health of the recipient over their lifespan.

"UC San Diego has a strong track record for interdisciplinary collaborations and researchers who aren't afraid to challenge conventional wisdom," UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said in a statement. "As one of the world's top research universities, we are committed to advancing the wellbeing of our society.”

The Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation's gift includes seed funding for a new center at UC San Diego (called Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence). The cash will also go towards an endowed faculty chair in collaborative human milk research, as well as a collaboration and fellow fund for collaborative studies either within UC San Diego or with external researchers.

The center will accept further gifts and endowments, which will allow it to grow over time, the university stated in a press release.

Lars Bode, associate professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine, has been named the center's director.

Based in Zug, Switzerland, the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation is an independent charitable group that supports research in human milk and lactation. The gift to UC San Diego follows the foundation's endowment of two professorships in this field at the University of Western Australia and the University of Zurich.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[The Pros and Cons of Marijuana Use]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:05:46 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_pot0112_1500x845.jpg Marijuana use may help with chronic pain and nausea, but a new study says there are also negative consequences for young children and those at risk for certain mental illnesses. Experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reviewed all research on marijuana published since 1999 to find who should smoke and who shouldn't. ]]> <![CDATA[Ziploc Freezer Bags Help Premature Babies Stay Warm: Study]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 07:25:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NICU+Hypothermia+011117.jpg

For premature babies, getting the slightest chill can increase their chance of life-threatening illnesses.

Nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Texas Health Fort Worth developed a program to keep fragile babies warmer.

It has led to a decrease of very low birth weight babies being admitted to the NICU as hypothermic, and potentially increasing their chance of survival.

Premature infants with admission temperatures below 96.8 degrees are at higher risk of mortality and some morbidities, including late-onset sepsis, intraventricular hemorrhage and oxygen toxicity.

The program involves placing the most fragile premature babies, usually less than 32 weeks gestation and 3.3 pounds, into Ziploc freezer bags.

The team cuts a hole at the top of the bag and slides the baby in head first moments after birth.

"It creates kind of a hot house effect so the babies stay warm. So, as they are rolled into the NICU, their admission temperatures are normal," said Stephanie Eidson, B.S.N., clinical educator.

"It sounds so simple that people might wonder why the focus on temperature is just now being addressed, but the process was actually very involved," said Lindsey Cannon, M.S.N., R.N., NICU manager.

Cannon and Eidson put together a team consisting of Labor & Delivery and NICU nurses and leaders, physicians, respiratory therapists and Operating Room, Engineering and Housekeeping staff to work on what's been called the "Hypothermia Eradication from Admission Temperatures "H.E.A.T." study."

The study resulted in interventions like the use of preheated radiant warmers, thermal mattresses, polypropylene bags and plastic shower caps to prevent infant heat loss upon birth.

Additionally, they increased the room temperature of the delivery room from 74 to 76 degrees, using cooling vests to keep staff comfortable.

Within two years, the percentage of hypothermic infants on NICU admission decreased from 20 to 10 percent, and the percentage of infants with normal temperatures increased from 50 to 70 percent, according to the hospital system.

Christine Evans gave birth to her twins girls at 30 weeks gestation in November.

Emma weighed three pounds and her sister, Abigail, weighed two pounds, 11 ounces.

"We are lucky that I came out okay and that they came out of it OK. The outcome could have been vastly different," Evans said.

Seconds after they were born, both girls were placed into Ziploc freezer bags. Elastic bowl covers were placed on their tiny heads.

"Seeing them in Ziploc bags was very odd. I didn't expect that one," said new father, Jason Evans.

"We could have been at any other hospital and not had the same outcome. We don't know. But we were in the right place at the right time," said Christine Evans.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[4 New Flu Deaths Reported in San Diego County]]> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 12:04:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/928114711.jpg

New statistics released Wednesday by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency suggest the flu is spreading rapidly in the area.

County officials reported four new deaths attributed to influenza, bringing the total number of flu-related deaths in San Diego to nine for this flu season. The victims ranged in age from 60 to 96, and all had underlying medical conditions.

This time last year the county had reported three flu-related deaths.

“These new deaths are an important reminder that influenza can be deadly,” Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer said in a report from the County News Center. “The best protection against the flu is getting vaccinated.”

What may be more troubling is the number of confirmed flu cases has jumped 56 percent to 455 cases from the 292 reported last week.

The total of lab-confirmed cases of the flu for the season stands at 1,327 cases compared to 447 cases confirmed this time last flu season.

The flu vaccine is available at doctors' offices and pharmacies. Those who have not gotten the vaccine can find a list of locations at www.sdiz.org or by calling  211.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Asks Vaccination Skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Lead Vaccination Safety Commission]]> Tue, 10 Jan 2017 13:17:26 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/trumpKennedy.jpg

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a vocal vaccination skeptic, said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump has asked him to "chair a commission on vaccination safety and scientific integrity" and that he has accepted.

Both Trump and Kennedy have spread fringe theories linking vaccines to autism in children, an idea that medical experts overwhelmingly reject and have warned is endangering public health by discouraging parents from immunizing their kids.

Trump has tweeted previously that he knew a child who developed autism after receiving immunizations, but he did not provide evidence for that claim.

Scientists have debunked the link between vaccines and autism. But Kennedy, the son of the late U.S. attorney general, believes there is connection and has advocated for parents to be allowed to opt out of vaccinations for their children.



Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday Sweets Recall]]> Tue, 10 Jan 2017 05:46:14 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/holiday+sweets+recall.jpg

Hostess Brands and Palmer Candy Company have recalled holiday-themed sweets over concern the desserts may be contaminated with the harmful Salmonella bacteria.

Hostess Brands recalled its Holiday White Peppermint Hostess Twinkies in response to Blommer Chocolate Company’s recall of its confectionery coating, which contains milk powder ingredients recalled by Valley Milk Products. 

The milk powder ingredients recalled by Valley Milk Products were also in sweets distributed by Palmer Candy Company, which, like Hostess, issued a voluntary recall as a precaution.

Testing has shown no Salmonella in the milk confectionery coating supplied to Hostess and Palmer Candy. No illnesses have been reported.

All affected products were sold to grocery and convenience stores and other distributors nationwide.

A number of candy packages are in the Palmer Candy recall, including chocolate almond bark, Christmas tree pretzels, peanut brittle and holiday gift bowls. For more details about the recall, head to this FDA recall page.

The only Hostess product affected by the recall is the Holiday White Peppermint Hostess Twinkies. For further details about the recall, go to this FDA recall page.

Palmer Candy Company customer service can be reached at 712-258-5543.

Hostess Brands customer service can be reached at 1-800-483-7253.



Photo Credit: Handouts]]>
<![CDATA[Flu Season Hits Hard Nationwide]]> Fri, 06 Jan 2017 19:47:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_flu0106_1500x845.jpg Twelve states are reporting widespread flu activity as the United States slide into flu season at the start of the year. The Centers for Disease Control say flu activity is higher this season compared to last year. ]]> <![CDATA[New 'Hydration Station' Unveiled at Vista School]]> Fri, 06 Jan 2017 13:55:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Vista-Hydration-Station-Water-Fountain2.jpg

A Vista school celebrated the addition of a water fountain that should make it easier for students to refill their reusable water bottles.

The so-called "hydration station" is similar to those seen in other cities and communities. Located next to a standard drinking fountain, it gives students the option of refilling a water bottle without spilling. The same task done at a conventional water fountain may involve spilling or touching the bottle to the water spout which is unsanitary.

“It’s just a convenient way for children to fill up their water bottles,” said Brent Reyes, Vista Irrigation District Water Conservation Specialist. The water district has partnered with the Vista Unified School District to install 10 new water fountains at schools.

The district had initially planned to install the stations at more than 30 schools but the cost of installation increased after one station was damaged during the pilot program. Increased reinforcement and bracing pushed the cost of each unit from an estimated $2,600 to about $12,000 to $14,000 per unit.

As a result, there will be 10 fountains installed at eight schools this school year. One was unveiled Friday at Monte Vista Elementary School on Monte Vista Road.

Student Amber Burgnette brings a water bottle to school with her and thinks the water station is cool.

“If someone doesn’t have any water they can just use a reusable one and they can just fill it up at the water station,” Burgnette said.

The hydration station design is also heralded as a way to prevent waste because it can replace bottled water purchased at the store.

“It will cut down on almost 167 bottles per student per year, which is over 90,000 bottles for the school at Monte Vista,” said Jamie Phillips with the Vista Unified School District.

Three schools were outfitted with the newly designed water fountain in the pilot project. They included Breeze Hill Elementary, Vista Innovation and Design Academy and Rancho Buena Vista High School.

In addition to the hydration stations, the Irrigation District handed out water bottles to students.


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<![CDATA[Cancer Deaths Fell 25 Percent Since 1991]]> Fri, 06 Jan 2017 04:47:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-495314721-doctor.jpg

Fewer Americans are dying of cancer. The latest numbers from the American Cancer Society show a 25 percent drop in cancer deaths since 1991, the peak year for cancer deaths, NBC News reported.

Cancer rates are holding fairly steady, but better screening and better treatments mean that people who get cancer are living longer, the American Cancer Society says in its annual report. And as fewer and fewer people smoke, cancer death rates follow.

It projects that nearly 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and 600,000 will die of it. 

"The continuing drops in the cancer death rate are a powerful sign of the potential we have to reduce cancer's deadly toll," said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the group.



Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Best Diet to Fight Brain Shrinkage]]> Wed, 04 Jan 2017 14:28:07 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_diets0104_1500x845.jpg What are the best diets to help prevent brain shrinkage? A new study shows specific diets that may help fight brain volume loss as we age, NBC News reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Investigation Into Baby Exposed to Fentanyl]]> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 16:36:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Methuenhome.JPG

Police are investigating why a 10-month-old baby stopped breathing twice after being exposed to the opioid fentanyl in Methuen, Massachusetts.

There was drug paraphenalia found in the baby's mother's car, according to police.

Methuen police said they were called to a Treetop Way residence at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday for a report of a baby who was not breathing. 

Upon arrival, emergency personnel immediately began treating the child before transporting her to Lawrence General Hospital, where she stopped breathing twice and had to be revived by hospital staff. The child was later flown to Tufts Medical Center in Boston via MedFlight helicopter and has since been released from the hospital. 

Hospital tests indicated that the baby had fentanyl in her system. The type of drug and amount ingested has not been released. 

The baby lives with her mother and grandparents in Methuen, according to Michael Quinn, an attorney and family friend. 

“There are a lot of questions and they have no answers,” Quinn said. 

Quinn says the mother found the baby unresponsive Saturday after a nap and the grandfather started CPR. 

The baby’s mother has struggled with drugs, but has been clean for several months, according to Quinn. 

“She has no idea how this happened, even before she delivered the baby she was in a program and she has been drug free ever since and that hasn’t changed, she has had negative drug tests the whole time, there hasn’t been anything,” Quinn said. “They are still cooperating with police and whoever wants to talk about it and whatever the investigation shows, they’d like answers as well.” 

"It's disconcerting," Methuen Police Lt. Michael Pappalardo said. "It's heartbreaking, to say the least. It's a 10-month-old baby. It's very difficult to deal with a young child that has become a victim." 

"The opioid epidemic knows no boundaries," added Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni. "We must continue to be vigilant in ensuring that children do not have access to harmful substances and to do everything we can to fight the disease of addiction." 

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid medication that is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. It is often mixed with or substituted for heroin. 

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said his department's focus now is to determine where the drug came from and how it wound up in the baby's system. 

No arrests have been made, but police said charges are still possible.  

The Department of Children and Families is investigating in collaboration with Methuen Police, Massachusetts State Police and the Essex County District Attorney's Office. 

The baby is now in the custody of an aunt. A DCF hearing is scheduled to be held on Tuesday.



Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Prosecutor in Pa. Tackles Heroin Scourge That Claimed Son]]> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 03:33:41 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bruce17.jpg

The phone at Bruce Brandler's home rang at 3:37 a.m. It was the local hospital. His 16-year-old son was there, and he was in really bad shape.

A suspected heroin overdose, the nurse said.

Brandler didn't believe it. Erik had his problems, but heroin? It seemed impossible.

Nearly 10 years later, the nation is gripped by a spiraling crisis of opioid and heroin abuse — and Brandler, a veteran federal prosecutor recently promoted to interim U.S. attorney, suddenly finds himself in a position to do something about the scourge that claimed his youngest son's life.

Until now, he has never publicly discussed Erik's overdose death. It was private and just too painful. But Brandler, now the chief federal law enforcement officer for a sprawling judicial district that covers half of Pennsylvania, said he felt a responsibility that came with his new, higher-profile job.

"It's easier to cope with the passage of time, but it never goes away," Brandler told The Associated Press in an interview. "And, frankly, this whole heroin epidemic has brought it to the forefront."

Deadly heroin overdoses have more than quintupled in the years since Brandler lost his son. The illicit drug, along with highly addictive prescription pain relievers like oxycodone and fentanyl — a substance more powerful than heroin — now rival car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.

Erik's death proved that heroin doesn't discriminate, Brandler said. He urged parents to "open their eyes" to the threat and talk to their kids.

"I want to evaporate the myth that heroin addicts are just homeless derelicts," said Brandler, who, before his son's overdose, held that impression himself. "This epidemic hits everybody, and I think my situation exemplifies that."

The opioid crisis was already taking root when Brandler began having problems with Erik, the youngest of his three children. The teenager's grades dropped, his friends changed and he began keeping irregular hours. Brandler found marijuana in his room and talked to him about it, figuring that was the extent of his drug use.

Then, in spring 2007, Erik overdosed on Ecstasy and had to be treated at a hospital.

"That elevated it to a different level as far as I was concerned, a much more serious level, and I took what I thought were appropriate steps," Brandler said.

He called the police on his son's dealer, who was prosecuted. That summer, Erik completed an intensive treatment program that included frequent drug testing. Brandler thought his son had turned a corner.

He was mistaken.

On the night of Aug. 18, 2007, Erik and an older friend paid $60 for three bags of heroin. After shooting up, Erik passed out. His breathing became labored, his lips pale. But his companions didn't seek medical treatment, not then and not for hours. Finally, around 3 a.m., they dropped him off at the hospital.

At 5:40 a.m., he was pronounced dead.

Five people were charged criminally, including Erik's friend, who received more than five years in prison.

Brandler still doesn't know why his son, who excelled at tennis, went to a good school and had loads of friends, turned to heroin.

"I thought about that, of course, but it's really a waste of energy and emotions to go down that road because I'll never know the answer," Brandler said from his office near the Pennsylvania Capitol, where a framed photo of Erik — strapping, shaggy-haired and swinging a tennis racket — sits on a credenza.

What he can do is join his fellow prosecutors in tackling the problem.

In September, the Justice Department ordered all 93 U.S. attorneys across the country to come up with a strategy for combating overdose deaths from heroin and painkillers. Brandler released his plan, covering 3.2 million people in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, last month. Like others, it focuses on prevention, enforcement and treatment.

He said his office will prioritize opioid cases resulting in death, and aggressively prosecute doctors who overprescribe pain pills.

Additionally, prosecutors will hit the road — bringing physicians, recovering addicts, family members of overdose victims and others with them — to talk to schools and hard-hit communities.

Parents need to know that "if you think it can't happen to you, it can," Brandler said. "If it happened to me as a federal prosecutor, I think it can happen to anyone, and that's really the message I want to get out."

Federal appeals Judge Thomas Vanaskie said it's a message that needs to be heard.

"Education is the most important thing to me," said Vanaskie, who helps run a court program that gets federal convicts back on their feet and who has been working with a former heroin addict who robbed a bank to feed his addiction. "We've got to prevent people from becoming users."

Vanaskie, who has known Brandler for years, commended him for speaking out.

"Hearing it from him becomes so much more powerful," Vanaskie said. "I know it causes great personal pain on his part, but he personalizes, humanizes this matter."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Twins Born in Different Years]]> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 08:34:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Sanchez+Twins.jpg

An Arlington family celebrated the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 in an unusual way, with the birth of twin boys in two different years.

Medical City Arlington says Cassandra Martinez was due to deliver her third and fourth babies on Jan. 20, but they came early.

J'aiden Alexander Sanchez was the first to arrive at 11:46 p.m. on Dec. 31 while Jordan Xavier Sanchez arrived at 12:12 a.m. on New Year's Day, making him the first baby born at Medical City Arlington in 2017.

"I definitely was not expecting to spend the holiday in the hospital, but I am glad they're here and healthy," said Cassandra Martinez, the twins' mother.

In addition to having different birthdays, the Sanchez twins are the third set of twins of this generation in their father's family.

The hospital says twin brothers born on different days in different years, may be as rare as a one-in-a-million occurrence, according to some estimates.



Photo Credit: Medical City Arlington]]>
<![CDATA[Single Shot From Doctor May Be Future of HIV Prevention]]> Wed, 28 Dec 2016 21:34:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/200429890-001.jpg

The Truvada pill is taken daily to prevent HIV and has been touted as a miracle drug responsible for lowering rates of the virus across the United States. But soon, the daily pill may be overshadowed by an even simpler method — a single flu shot-like injection at the doctor's office, once every two months, NBC News reported. 

The National Institutes of Health announced last week that it was entering the first-ever global clinical trial of an injectable HIV-prevention drug called cabotegravir. The trial is taking place in eight countries across three world regions — the Americas, Africa and Asia — and researchers are enrolling 4,500 gay and bisexual men along with transgender women, pulling from groups with the highest rates of new infections.

"The annual number of new HIV infections among young people, especially young men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men, has been on the rise despite nearly flat HIV incidence among adults worldwide," said Raphael J. Landovitz, the protocol chair for the study. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2 More Flu Deaths Reported in San Diego]]> Thu, 22 Dec 2016 10:24:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flu+shot+generic1.JPG

Two more people in San Diego have died from complications linked to the flu this month, county health officials said Thursday.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) said this brings the season’s total flu-related deaths to three so far. The two people who died were an 83-year-old man and 89-year-old woman, both of whom had underlying medical conditions.

At this same time last year, there were also a total of three influenza-related deaths reported in San Diego.

HHSA officials say locals should be sure to get their flu vaccination, as it is considered the best protection against the illness. Health officials recommend an annual flu shot; after the vaccination, it takes two weeks for immunity to develop, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The vaccination is especially recommended for those at high-risk of experiencing complications with the flu, including people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and people age 65 and older.

The HHSA’s latest “Influenza Watch” report, from Dec. 17, says 2 percent of all emergency department visits in San Diego were patients experiencing flu-like symptoms. There were 125 lab-confirmed cases of influenza for the week – a 61 percent spike from the week prior.

To date, there have been 417 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in San Diego. Last year at this time, there were 200. Flu season in the U.S. occurs between December and May.

For a list of county public health centers where you can get a fly shot, click here or call 211.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Catching Up With the Boy Who Had a Double Hand Transplant]]> Thu, 22 Dec 2016 03:52:21 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/handAP_16236722740436.jpg

Just two years ago, Zion Harvey thought he'd never throw a baseball again. 

The young boy had lost both his hands and legs after suffering an infection when he was a toddler. Today, a year and a half after he became the world's first child to have a double hand transplant, he says he's a new person.

NBC News has followed Zion's story each step of the way from his surgery to recovery. All the grueling therapy has paid off, his mother Pattie told NBC News. 

It has been a whirlwind year in the spotlight for 9-year-old Zion. Support has poured in from all corners.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[La Jolla Dentists Under Investigation in Pennsylvania]]> Wed, 21 Dec 2016 07:17:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/La-Jolla-Dentist-Osmolinski.jpg

Local dentists have had their licenses suspended in Pennsylvania as part of an investigation into health code violations.

The Pennsylvania Dental Board is now urging patients to get checked for hepatitis and HIV.

The Pennsylvania Heath Department's investigation of a clinic run by Dr. Jana Osmolinski and Dr. Eric Osmolinski indicates investigators found dead mice and insects in the same space used to sterilize equipment.

They also found expired drugs.

State records indicate Eric and Jana Osmolinski were licensed to operate in California in 2012.

La Jolla Family Dentistry on Draper Avenue was closed Tuesday night. NBC 7 spoke to a patient who gave the practice high marks.

“Excellent. Nothing but the best,” said Ronni Franz, adding she had been a patient at the clinic for at least two years.

NBC 7 also learned that the Osmolinski have licenses in good standing in California.

But it is the couple's Center for Family and Specialty Dentistry in Reading, Pennsylvania that's under investigation.

NBC 7's sister station in Philadelphia covered the story.

They were told by investigators that at least two dead mice, insects and flies were found on the floor in the basement where the tools were cleaned.

"There were serious infection control violations, enough to make us concerned," said April Hutcheson, a spokesperson for the PA Department of Health.

Conditions were such that patient safety was seriously compromised, the health department wrote in its report.

The Pennsylvania Department of Dentistry Licensing Website indicates the licenses of both doctors are temporarily suspended in that state.

“Completely blown away. I would never in a million years think that there would be anything wrong with her instruments or anything in that place in particular,” Franz told NBC 7.

The criticism of the Pennsylvania clinic appears in stark contrast to the affluent setting of La Jolla.

The Osmolinski's lawyers told NBC Philadelphia that he has not been notified of any infections of serious problems by his patients. He also said the Osmolinski's managed the Reading office from California and flew there twice a month.

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<![CDATA[Covered California Again Extends Enrollment Deadline]]> Mon, 19 Dec 2016 17:54:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/hospital-patient_448x336.jpg

The deadline for enrolling in a health insurance plan through Covered California has been extended again to Monday at midnight.

Last week, Covered California announced it had extended its first deadline to Saturday for health coverage starting Jan. 1. It was pushed back yet again to align with the midnight Monday deadline the federal government announced for states that use the healthcare.gov exchange, NBC4's media partner KPCC reports.

You can enroll at CoveredCA.com. For help with the application process call 800-300-1506.

For local, in-person help, visit Covered California's local help page by clicking here.

The deadline extensions were announced as political uncertainty remains about the Affordable Care Act's future.

The big question we're hearing from people is if Obamacare might be repealed, do you still have to sign up for it?

Until the law is actually changed, the answer is yes.

Last week, Covered California reported more than 25,000 people had enrolled in a healthcare plan through the state over the course of two days. Many people have questions about whether Obamacare will survive Congress and a Trump presidency that campaigned on repealing Obamacare.

Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, says no matter what the future holds, people should comply with the law now and let the politics on the issue play out.

"There's a lot of what if's that could happen in Washington, but what isn't a what if is you end up in the emergency room in January without health insurance coverage and you could walk out with a $100,000 debt," Lee said. "That's the reality people will face without health insurance."

Because it is the law, you will be fined up to $700 per person and $2,000 per household if you fail to purchase insurance by the deadline.

Bottom line: Nothing will change for 2017, so don't risk paying that fine and not having insurance.

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<![CDATA[Female Doctors Outperform Male Counterparts: Study]]> Mon, 19 Dec 2016 12:38:21 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-125767555-Doctor-needle.jpg

Patients treated by women doctors are less likely to die of what ails them and less likely to have to return for more treatment, researchers reported Monday.

Yet, as NBC News reports, women doctors on average are paid less than their male counterparts and are less likely to be promoted. According to one study, white male doctors were found to earn an average $250,000 a year, while white female doctors earned an average $163,000 a year.

The researchers said that if all doctors performed as well as the female physicians included in their study, it would save 32,000 lives every year.



Photo Credit: Joe Raedle, Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Engineered Pink Pineapple Safe to Sell: FDA]]> Thu, 15 Dec 2016 03:31:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-503869977.jpg

A strain of pineapple genetically engineered to be pink instead of yellow got the go-ahead from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, NBC News reported. 

The pink pineapple, made by Del Monte Fresh Produce, simply has some genes toned down to keep the flesh of the fruit pinker and sweeter, the FDA said. 

"(Del Monte's) new pineapple has been genetically engineered to produce lower levels of the enzymes already in conventional pineapple that convert the pink pigment lycopene to the yellow pigment beta carotene. Lycopene is the pigment that makes tomatoes red and watermelons pink, so it is commonly and safely consumed."

The pineapple will be grown in Costa Rica. The company will label it "extra sweet pink flesh pineapple."



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Where You Live Determines What Kills You]]> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 08:08:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-515791525.jpg

A new analysis by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows a county-by-county breakdown of what kills people in the U.S., NBC News reported.

Drug overdoses shot up 1,000 percent since 1980 in counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, western Pennsylvania and east-central Missouri. Diabetes-related deaths are more prevalent in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Suicides and homicides were most prevalent in the western states.

Meanwhile, heart disease, is particularly high in the southeast of the United States, blamed on poor diet, a lack of exercise and less access to good medical care. 

"We found huge variation in all the leading causes of death," said Dr. Christopher Murray at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Seattle.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Ikon Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fewer Teens Drink or Use Illegal Drugs Now]]> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 03:51:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-AB68607.jpg

Fewer American teenagers are using illegal drugs or drinking alcohol, researchers said. 

Rates are at a record low for eighth-graders, the team at the University of Michigan and the National Institutes of Health found, but there's a troubling increase in marijuana use among older teens in some states, NBC News reported.

The survey of 45,473 students in eighth, 10th and 12th grade at 372 public and private schools found 48 percent of 12th graders admit to having used a drug illegally in the past year, compared to 49 percent in 2015 and 54 percent in 2000. 

About a third of 10th graders have used any illicit drug and 17 percent of eighth graders have.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Clinical Lab Hack Exposes Personal Health Info of 34,000]]> Tue, 13 Dec 2016 04:34:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Quest+Diagnostics_21789268.jpg

Clinical laboratory services company Quest Diagnostics announced Monday that it is investigating a third-party hack into an internet application on its network. 

The Madison, New Jersey-based Fortune 500 healthcare company said in a press release that on Nov. 26, an unauthorized third party accessed the MyQuest by Care 360 internet application and obtained health information of about 34,000 patients.

In its statement, the company said the data accessed by the third party "included names, dates of birth, lab results and, in some instances, phone numbers."

None of the compromised information included Social Security numbers, credit card, insurance or other financial information, Quest says. The company says it immediately addressed the hack when it was discovered and has notified all affected individuals.

There is an investigation underway, and the company says it is working with a cybersecurity firm to determine the source and cause of the breach.

Anyone with questions on the incident can call Quest Diagnostics at (888) 320-9970 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

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<![CDATA[97-Year-Old Still Running Strong]]> Tue, 13 Dec 2016 07:14:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_97yo1212_1920x1080.jpg World War II veteran Albert Booth is still running marathons at age 97 and has no plans of slowing down.

Photo Credit: WGAL-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Murray, President Obama Talk Cubs, Sox at White House]]> Tue, 13 Dec 2016 03:49:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/murray+obama.png

A Cubs fan and a Sox fan walk into the Oval Office… to talk about health care?

That’s the theme of a new video tweeted out by the White House Sunday featuring President Barack Obama and Bill Murray.

The video is aimed at reminding Americans that they can sign up for health care for 2017 until Dec. 15. But it also undoubtedly features a little Cubs-Sox fan rivalry.

“Generally, I don’t let Cubs fans into the Oval Office,” Obama says at the beginning of the clip.

But, in typical Murray style, the Cubs fan, decked out in his beloved team’s gear, is quick to respond.

“It’s probably not a coincidence that your popularity is at an all-time high,” Murray says. “So I would just stick with this if I were you. I would just ride this baby.”

He then turns his arm and begins pointing at the Cubs logo stitched on the side of his sweater.

“It’s not going to happen,” Obama replies.

The conversation takes place as the two play a friendly putting game in the office, trying to hit a golf ball into a glass on the ground.

“It’s going to happen long before you make this putt,” Murray says before calmly hitting the ball right into the cup.

Obama, however, struggles to make it.

At one point, Murray bends down to pick up the ball, revealing that he is having knee problems, but he has no health insurance.

“Well, look Bill, you don’t have to go without health insurance because these days days, because of the Affordable Care Act, anybody can get health insurance, and it doesn’t matter if you already have something wrong with you because insurance companies have to take you even if you have a pre-existing condition,” Obama says.

Murray then asks if mental health is covered too and Obama confirms it is.

“Remember to go to healthcare.gov, shop for health care between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15 if you want healthcare by January 2017,” Obama says.

It’s not the first time Murray has brought his Cubs fandom to the White House.

In October, the celebrity fan crashed a White House press briefing to announce that he believed the Cubs would win the World Series. And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.



Photo Credit: White House/Twitter
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