<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Health News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usThu, 23 Mar 2017 11:46:13 -0500Thu, 23 Mar 2017 11:46:13 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Seniors Worry About Loss of Meals Under Trump Budget Plan]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:27:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/IMG_82502.jpg

Dale Lamphier, 97, never married and her closest living relatives―three nephews―live across the country. About two years ago, she moved to a senior housing complex in Westwood, New Jersey, a town she has lived in her whole life. She has been using the meal delivery service Meals on Wheels since her brother died about three years ago.

"Meals on Wheels is important because I can't do much shopping―very little," she said. "And I can't carry things. There are a lot of people here that can't."

There is a Trader Joe's about a block from her complex, which she walks to, but not often. She relies on her daily meal delivery.

North Jersey is just one of the thousands of Meals on Wheels branches that could see cuts to its funding under President Donald Trump's proposed budget plan. Jeanne Martin, the executive director of Meals on Wheels North Jersey, said her program reaches about 220 senior citizens across 30 towns in northern Bergen County. If Trump's budget plan passes, her branch will lose about $32,000―10 percent of her annual budget―and potentially more money from other Department of Health and Human Services grants.

As a whole, the national Meals on Wheels organization receives about 35 percent of its funding from the federal government. Trump is proposing to end the Community Development Block Grants, one of many federal grants that fund the program. Other cuts to Health and Human Services, the parent agency for Meals on Wheels, also could affect the program negatively, but the magnitude of those cuts is unknown. 

Martin has been the executive director of Meals on Wheels in North Jersey for 12 years. She said she has never seen a federal cut this large.

"I don't see any room for us in that budget," she said. "I haven't seen any positive things coming from [the Trump administration] in the social services or the senior service so far."

"It is going to impact our program," she said. "We're not going to be able to offer the subsidies to our clients that they really need."

Andre Sitbon, a Holocaust survivor in his early 90s, has been using Meals on Wheels for more than five years out of the Westwood seniors complex. Around three years ago Sitbon's wife died and he started having severe eye problems, which interfered with his love of cooking. He said the program "receives you with arms open," with extremely friendly staff and good food. On Monday he received meatloaf, mashed potatoes and mixed greens.

Another senior, a 65-year old mentally disabled man, had virtually nothing in his fridge except the two meals―one hot, one cold―that Martin delivered to him Monday morning. The only other parcels were an apple and a small carton of milk, which were given to him by Meals on Wheels the day before.

Martin estimated that about 30 percent of the seniors in her program are no longer visited by family and, like Lamphier, are isolated. Martin said the 550 local volunteer drivers who deliver the meals are often the ones who report health problems and find fallen or sick seniors. Meals on Wheels, she said, is "more than just a meal."

"We're helping people stay in their homes, which is where they want to stay," she said. "It's keeping people out of nursing homes. And they want to spend the rest of the time they have on this world in their homes and we're doing the best we can to give them that."

When Martin became director there were about 100 seniors in the program. The number has more than doubled during her tenure, though she thinks that there are hundreds more seniors who need assistance but are too isolated or too worried about appearing needy to receive help.

If Martin loses funding she would have to make changes to the program's model. The food is now prepared by four local nursing homes to meet federal guidelines. But if the program no longer receives federal funds, it would be free to receive donated meals from volunteers.

"It seems to me that all of the programs that support our most needy, vulnerable populations are the ones that are being jeopardized," said John Birkner Jr., the mayor of Westwood. He also said that recent comments made by Trump administration officials "trivialize" the importance of programs like Meals on Wheels.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, called Meals on Wheels a program that is "just not showing any results." 

"We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good," he said at a news conference last Thursday. "Meals on Wheels sounds great. Again, that's a state decision to fund that particular portion, to take the federal money and give it to the states, and say look, we want to give you money for programs that don't work."

Martin called Mulvaney’s comments "insulting" and said he "couldn’t be more wrong."

Supporters have cited studies to back their case. A University of Illinois review in 2013 of home-delivery programs for seniors found that they "significantly improve" the nutritional quality of diets, as well as increased chances for socialization and an overall "higher quality of life."

Another study in 2015 by Brown University researchers found multiple benefits of Meals on Wheels for senior citizens, including reduced feelings of isolation and loneliness, an increased feeling of security and fewer falls and hospitalizations.

Martin said the cost of a year's worth of meals from her program was $1,500. She compared that to the cost of a one-day hospitalization. 

"So, if we're keeping someone well-nourished and doing a well-check on them, we're saving the government money by keeping them out of the hospital," Martin said. 

Meals on Wheels has about 5,000 local and state delivery programs that supply food to isolated, disabled or poor seniors. In 2016, they served about 2.4 million people, including more than 500,000 veterans.

National Meals on Wheels spokeswoman Jenny Bertolette confirmed to NBC that the program has seen a significant spike in donations since Mulvaney’s comments last Thursday. On a typical day, the nonprofit receives about $1,000 in individual online donations.

Three days after the preliminary budget was released, Meals on Wheels had received about $140,000 in donations. On Tuesday, the nonprofit told The Associated Press that it had received an additional $50,000 donation from NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

Bertolette said the organization was "thrilled about the public’s passionate support" but also said the additional donations could not replace what it gets from the federal government.

The portion of Meals on Wheels' budget that comes from the federal government is part of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program, which falls under Health and Human Services. Trump is calling for an 18 percent cut to the department.

Each state uses Community Block Development Grants differently, so the amount that funds Meals on Wheels per branch varies widely. For example, one program in the suburbs of Detroit could lose 30 percent of its budget; on the other end, New York City's Meals on Wheels is funded through other grants, so it is not affected by the potential loss of Community Block Development Grants.

The program is also funded by private money.

"Cuts of any kind to these highly successful and leveraged programs would be a devastating blow to our ability to provide much-needed care for millions of vulnerable seniors in America," Ellie Hollander, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America, said in a statement.

The cuts are no sure thing. Congress must pass the budget that Trump has outlined and there has already been support from both sides of the aisle for Meals on Wheels.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted that cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels "jeopardizes the health and safety of the poor."

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told CNN he would "never vote to cut even one dollar" of Meals on Wheels.

Since Mulvaney's comments last week, Martin has gained three more volunteers and an additional donor. 

Even if the budget doesn't cut as much as the 10 percent that is currently threatened, to Martin "a cut is a cut." 

Photo Credit: Shannon Ho
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<![CDATA[Here Are the Republicans Who May Reject Health Care Bill]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:25:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/649341198-GOP-Health-Care-Bill.jpg

President Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and replace it with "something terrific." Now, House Republicans are in danger of losing a vote on their health care bill, the American Health Care Act — a defeat that would cause setbacks for the party and for the president.

According to a tally by NBC News, as of Tuesday afternoon at least 25 Republicans have said they will vote against or are leaning toward voting against the bill. Voting is expected to occur Thursday.

Republican leadership has been busy trying to secure the 216 votes needed to pass the bill, which means they can lose the support of only 21 Republicans. After traveling to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning in an attempt to close the deal, Trump has invited about nine moderate, undecided Republicans to the White House Tuesday afternoon in another attempt at persuasion.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FDA: Breast Implants Can Cause Rare Form of Cancer]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:03:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/implants-new.jpg

Breast implants can cause a rare form of cancer that may have killed at least nine people, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday, NBC News reported.

The cancer is called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) and the FDA is checking into more than 350 reports linking it with both silicone and saline breast implants.

ALCL, which is a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, can take about 10 years to develop on average after the implant first goes in and usually stays in the area right around the implant, World Health Organization researchers reported last year in the journal Blood. But it can break out and spread.

"All of the information to date suggests that women with breast implants have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL compared to women who do not have breast implants," the FDA said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Infant Mortality Rates Fall 15 Percent in US]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 12:58:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/babypacifier_1200x675.jpg

Fewer babies are dying in the United States than a decade ago, according to NBC News.

The U.S. infant mortality rate, which is higher than in other developed countries, is down 15 percent over the last 10 years, federal researchers reported Tuesday.

"Infant mortality is considered a basic measure of public health for countries around the world," wrote Anne Driscoll and T.J. Mathews of the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers pointed to a high teenage pregnancy rate in the U.S. compared to other countries as one of several factors behind the comparatively high rate of babies dying. Teenagers are more likely to have small and premature babies.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tetra images RF, File]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Born With 4 Legs, 2 Spines Undergoes Complex Surgery]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:59:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dominique+2.jpg

A 10-month-old baby born with four legs and two spines is recovering well after undergoing a complex and risky medical procedure in Chicago, doctors say.

Young Dominique came to Chicago from the Ivory Coast in West Africa with an extremely rare parasitic conjoined twin.

Doctors say the bottom half of her not-fully-developed twins’ body was protruding from the infant’s neck and back.

“It’s very rare because it was attached at the back of her spine,” said Dr. John Ruge, a pediatric neurosurgeon. “It was as if the twin from the waist down had been attached to the back of Dominique’s neck and there was a pelvis and bladder and functional legs that moved and feet coming out the back of Dominique’s neck. This was very dangerous for Dominique.”

Ruge said the parasitic twin caused Dominique’s heart and lungs to do the work for two bodies and could have ultimately paralyzed her.

The child was brought to Chicago in February with the help of an organization called Children’s Medical Missions West and has been living with a host family while doctors at Advocate Children’s Hospital meticulously studied her case.

“It’s really hard to even put a number on how rare it is,” said Dr. Robert Kellogg.

Despite her condition, her host family said the child had a bubbly personality and was a “very happy baby” when she arrived in the U.S.

“If you can say love at first sight I think that’s true for us,” said Nancy Swabb, who has been caring for Dominique since her arrival.

The Swabbs said the decision to take in the child was made quickly, with Dominique arriving at their home about a week after they learned of her case.

“I saw a picture of Dominique with her extra limbs and one concern that we had before we met her was what can she wear?” Swabb said.

The family later learned Dominique had difficulties balancing and sitting up because of the added weight from the extra limbs.

After weeks of planning, on March 8, Dominique underwent a six-hour surgery that involved five surgeons and 50 clinicians.

“The surgery went very well,” said Kellogg. “There were no complications. We expect her to make a full recovery and live an essentially normal life from here on.”

Dominique continues to recover at her host family’s Edgebrook home. Doctors say once the recovery process is complete, the infant can return home to her family in Africa.

“She is about 2 pounds lighter and she sits up and she’s raising her hands and she reaches for things and she’s doing really well,” Swabb said.

Doctors said Dominique is now “essentially a normal baby” and are confident she can go on to live a healthy life.

“I think it is very unique but it was a unique child that brought us together,” Kellogg said.

Photo Credit: Advocate Children's Hospital
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<![CDATA[New Drug Cuts Cholesterol by Half]]> Fri, 17 Mar 2017 16:11:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_cholesteroldrug0317_1500x845.jpg

A new drug proven to slash bad cholesterol by more than half of a patient's initial level may prove to be a boon to those worried about heart attacks and strokes. Repatha, a drug that could lower the risk of heart attack or strokes by 20 percent, is a $14,000 a month drug that is injected once or twice a month - a price point health insurance companies may not approve of.

<![CDATA[Man's Hands and Feet to be Amputated After Rare Strep Throat]]> Thu, 16 Mar 2017 11:28:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/kevin+breen.png

A rare case of strep throat nearly cost a Michigan man his life, and has led to the quadruple amputation of his hands and feet. 

Kevin Breen, of Alto, Michigan, was a healthy and active 44-year-old before he fell ill on Christmas Day. He began to experience stomach pain that grew so severe he went to the emergency room.

“I never thought (I’d be) going in for a stomach ache and coming out a totally different person,” Breen told NBC affiliate WOOD-TV. “[It’s] life-changing.”

Once at the hospital, doctors found Breen’s stomach was getting larger and hardening as it filled with pus. His organs began failing and in his body started redirecting blood flow to them, causing the flesh of his hands and feet to die. 

“He was one of the sickest patients I have ever taken care of,” Dr. Elizabeth Steensma told WOOD. 

The mysterious infection left doctors puzzled, so much so that Breen’s family was at one point told to prepare for the worst.

“That moment was terrifying to me,” his wife Julie Breen told the news station. “I just kind of lost it and stopped and prayed.”

But soon, doctors would discover what would become the key to his diagnosis – a rash on Breen’s upper torso.

Breen’s son had earlier had strep throat. Knowing that, doctors ran a test and found Breen too had strep throat, but his had traveled from his throat to his stomach.

According to Steensma, there are 32 reported cases of patients with strep throat traveling to the abdomen, though many of those cases were found in women’s urinary tracts. Breen is one of two men in the world to have the infection spread from his throat to his stomach. 

Breen’s hands and feet turned black following the ordeal. They’ve lost all movement and will require amputation.

"Life is going to forever be different but different doesn't necessarily have to be bad,” Julie Breen told WOOD. “It's just going to be what we make it. And trying to figure this out and figure it out for our kid. Dad's gonna have cool hands. Dad's gonna have cool feet. You have to be positive."

Photo Credit: WOOD]]>
<![CDATA[Critics Warn 'Phase 2' Won’t Save Health Care Plan]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 18:12:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/paulryan_healthcare_1200x675.jpg

Things aren't looking great for the Republican health care bill after the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would lead to 24 million more people without insurance and skyrocketing costs for older customers, NBC News reported.

But the White House and GOP leaders say that's only part of the story. 

The Republicans' "American Health Care Act" is only "Phase One" of their plan. In "Phase Two," the White House will lower premiums with tweaks to regulations. In "Phase Three," they'll pass new legislation to fill in gaps that can't be addressed through the budget process.

"The fact of the matter is with our whole plan every single American will have access to coverage," Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said on the "Today" show.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mental Health Groups Worry New GOP Plan Will End Coverage]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 12:19:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/naloxone-kit.jpg

Mental health groups say the new GOP health care bill would terminate mental health care and efforts to combat the opioid crisis, NBC News reported.

The Congressional Budget Office released a report on the bill on Monday, stating that billions of dollars would be saved in federal health spending, by way of cutting $880 billion from Medicaid. In addition to health groups, parents of children with special needs are also rallying against the proposed plan.

“Medicaid is the single largest payer of mental health and addiction treatment services in the country, paying 25 percent of all mental health and 20 percent of all addiction care,” the National Council for Behavioral Health said in a statement.

Without Medicaid’s subsidies, said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the council, people could wind up “homeless, in jail or dead.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said that the bill does not intend to leave states out in the cold in combating the opioid epidemic.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Injuries Rise in Common Infant Products]]> Mon, 13 Mar 2017 18:55:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/BabyInjuries0310_MP4-148944776988400001.jpg

 A new study finds a growing number of young children are being injured while using infant products like carriers, strollers and cribs. Researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, looked at the number of kids across the country under age 3 who had to go to an emergency room after such an injury. "There's an average of 128 a day, or about one every eight minutes," says Tracy Meahn of the Center for Injury Research and Policy. "And the concerning thing is that these numbers are going up."



<![CDATA[Feel Stressed? Stop Checking Your Phone, Study Says]]> Fri, 10 Mar 2017 19:23:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/SmartphoneStress0309a_MP4-148918974502400001.jpg

A recent study finds mobile users who check their phones frequently feel more stressed. According to the American Psychological Association, we are a nation of "constant checkers" and it's taking a toll. Some experts consider this a behavioral addiction.

<![CDATA['One in a Million': Toddler Battles Rare Diagnosis]]> Sat, 11 Mar 2017 14:21:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kate+gulo.jpg

Kate Gulo seemed like your average, adorable toddler, running around with a heightened curiosity but a lack of balance. Now, as she nears her 2nd birthday, what at first seemed like typical toddler falls has become the center of a rare diagnosis.

Kate, a “one in a million little girl” as her family calls her, suffers from Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, a rare inflammatory neurological disorder that affects one in a million people worldwide. Her family is hoping to raise awareness for the condition that has quickly changed their daughter’s life.

Kate’s parents first noticed her stability troubles back in October, when they said “she seemed off balance and wasn’t able to walk properly.”

“Within a couple of weeks we really noticed it really was not just toddler falls,” Teresa Gulo, Kate’s mother, told NBC 5. “It was just really out of the ordinary.”

That's when Kate’s condition began to worsen – and quick.

“Kate went from an always moving toddler to one who could not even sit without falling,” Gulo wrote on Facebook.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, symptoms for the rare disease include an inability to walk or sit normally, behavioral and sleep disturbances, irritability and abnormal eye movements.

Kate was misdiagnosed for more than three months after her symptoms began. It wasn’t until her parents took her to Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital for a second opinion in February they finally received some answers.

“We were relieved when her scans had come back normal with no tumors, but the doctor had said, ‘I want you to know this is still a very serious diagnosis,’” Gulo told NBC 5.

Kate has since begun treatment, including hours of physical and ocupational therapy among other things. As part of her treatment, Kate's immune system is surpressed. So much so, that Gulo has taken time off work to stay home with her daughter “to keep Kate as healthy as possible.”

“A simple cold could potentially last much longer than normal and trigger a relapse in her OMS symptoms,” Gulo said.

The family and their supporters have set up a GoFundMe page to help with Kate's ongoing treatment and medical bills. 

Though Gulo said Kate is doing better following the start of her treatment, there are still many unknowns ahead for the child.

“Kate is a stubborn, persistent, and amazing little girl,” Gulo wrote. “And though we know OMS will never get the best of her, it will cause challenges for her, possibly for the rest of her life.”

In addition to potential cognitive troubles later in life, in some cases, the disease can also lead to neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that often forms in nerve cells.

“We’re hoping that Kate’s was caught quickly enough that she won’t have too much permanent damage,” Gulo said.

Looking back, Gulo said there was one thing she wishes she had done sooner -- sought a second opinion. 

“I would say for other parents, you know your kids best. If you feel like there’s something more or something is missing from what you get from your doctors, don’t stop looking,” she said.

Photo Credit: Gulo Family
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<![CDATA[New Tech Could Change Food Nutrition Labels ]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 15:54:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_labels0307_1500x845.jpg

New smart glasses developed by researchers at Colorado State University could change how food labels are printed on boxes and cans in your local grocery store. The FDA is looking to roll out this new tech by 2018.

<![CDATA[What You Need to Know About Mumps]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 12:40:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mumps1.jpg With several cases of Mumps reported across the Chicago area, officials have been warning parents and students at affected schools. Here's what you need to know about mumps from prevention to symptoms to treatment.

Photo Credit: CDC]]>
<![CDATA[Sleepy Students Allowed to Nap at Some NM Schools]]> Tue, 07 Mar 2017 15:46:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/470425888-pillow-generic.jpg

A handful of high schools in New Mexico are letting their students sleep in school, NBC News reported.

Not during class, though. The schools in Las Cruces are letting students take 20-minute naps between classes in sleeping pods, so they can focus better on their education.

"They wouldn't be listening, they wouldn't be paying attention" if students weren't getting enough sleep, said New Mexico State University sleep researcher Linda Summers.

Teens need a lot of sleep but get little. The National Institutes of Health recommends they get 9-10 hours every night, but only a third of teens are sleeping even 8 hours.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Travel Order Could Hit Doctor Supply in Trump Territory: Researchers]]> Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:17:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_17060083101353.jpg

President Donald Trump's new executive order suspending new visas to the United States for people from six Muslim-majority nations could reduce the number of doctors in areas that voted Trump into office, NBC News reported.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and MIT looked at data about physicians from those countries in the U.S. and found that swaths of Appalachia and the Rust Belt could be disproportionately affected.

Residency programs are a pathway for foreign-born doctors to become physicians in the U.S. Many work in rural and low-income areas, where they have played a critical role in preventing doctor shortages.

As many as several hundred doctors will be affected by the order, unable to begin medical residencies this year unless granted waivers, Atul Grover, executive vice president of The Association of American Medical Colleges, told NBC News.

Photo Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP]]>
<![CDATA[DNA Scan Uncovers 18 Genes Newly Associated With Autism]]> Mon, 06 Mar 2017 18:22:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DNA+Generic+Double+Helix.jpg

A new genetic analysis has uncovered 18 genes associated with autism, NBC News reported.

The study observed people with autism and their relatives, and found that people with autism often had dozens of mutations that could have caused their symptoms. There was an average of 73 unique mutations, according to the team at Autism Speaks.

The study adds to evidence that autism is a condition caused by genetics, and that each person with autism has his or her own pattern of DNA changes. The 18 genes that were identified have not been previously linked with autism, however, they are all involved in brain cell communications.

Photo Credit: AP]]>