Monthly Archives: March 2017

Blood disorder adopts 3 kids with same condition

A Massachusetts mom recently spoke to People magazine about the rare genetic disease that she shares with the three daughters who she adopted from China.

Tracy Antonelli and her daughters have a blood disorder called thalassemia, which requires them to have blood transfusions to ensure that they have enough healthy red blood cells in their bodies, according to People .

Antonelli adopted her first daughter, Emmie, in 2012. When she and her husband learned that thalassemia is more common in China than it is in some other parts of the world, they decided to adopt two more girls, Rosie and Frannie.

But what is thalassemia?

In people with thalassemia, the body doesn’t make enough hemoglobin, a molecule found in red blood cells that’s responsible for carrying oxygen around the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hemoglobin is an essential part of red blood cells, and without enough of it, the cells don’t function properly, and don’t live as long as healthy red blood cells.

This lack of healthy red blood cells is called anemia. Anemia can cause fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath, the CDC says. In severe cases, the condition can cause organ damage and lead to death.

People with mild forms of thalassemia may not need treatment, the Mayo Clinic says . For those with moderate forms of the disease, treatment may be needed only after a person has surgery, for example.

But when a person has severe thalassemia, that individual needs to receive blood transfusions regularly, in order to have enough healthy red blood cells, the CDC says. But red blood cells contain a lot of iron , so regular transfusions can cause the mineral to build up in the body, which can lead to organ damage. This means that people who receive regular blood transfusions may also need treatments to remove the excess iron from their bodies.

All of Antonelli’s daughters have severe forms of the disease — they all needed blood transfusions three times a week, she told People.

Thalassemia is an inherited disease, meaning that it’s passed down through families, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). People who inherit only one faulty gene (in other words, a faulty gene from only one parent) will have a milder form of the disease than those who inherit two faulty genes (one gene from each parent).

There are different types of thalassemia, depending on which part of the hemoglobin molecule is affected, the NLM says. Hemoglobin is made of two proteins: alpha globin and beta globin, and each is encoded by a different gene. People with a faulty gene for alpha globin are said to have alpha thalassemia; those with a faulty gene for beta globin have beta thalassemia.

Alpha thalassemia occurs most often in people from Southeast Asia, China, the Middle East and Africa, according to the NLM. Beta thalassemia occurs most often in people from Mediterranean countries.

Beta thalassemia is the more severe form of the disease and affects at least 1,000 people in the United States, the CDC says. Worldwide, this form is thought to affect about 1 in 100,000 people, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders .

What vegetarians need

We all know how important it is to eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, whether we’re pregnant or not. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, diets that include plenty of fruits and veggies can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain cancers, eye problems, and digestive problems.

It’s probably not news to you that vegetables are healthy, and they’re even more important during pregnancy when your body is counting on the availability of certain vitamins and minerals to keep you and your baby healthy. A vegetarian diet can be a great starting point for pregnancy as long as certain nutrient requirements are met, and sometimes that means careful planning. Let’s look at a few of the nutrients that vegetarian moms-to-be need to include in their prenatal diets.

1.  Protein

Meat is the primary source of dietary protein for people all over the world, but it’s really not difficult to get enough protein from vegetarian sources if you seek out high-protein plant-based foods. These include legumes, nuts, quinoa, and meat substitutes like tofu. A typical American diet doesn’t focus on any of these foods, so it’s important to go out of your way to include them if you’re new to vegetarian eating. Eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt are also excellent sources of protein for vegetarians who consume eggs and dairy products.

2.  Calcium

Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium for vegetarians who include them in their diets. An 8-oz glass of 1% milk contains 305 mg of calcium, almost a third of the 1,000 mg of calcium per day recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) for pregnant women over the age of 19. (The recommendation for pregnant women under 19 is 1,300 mg.)

But expecting vegetarians who don’t consume dairy products may have to turn to fortified foods to get their calcium. There are plant-based sources of calcium like dark leafy greens and certain nuts and seeds, but the amount of calcium these foods contain is relatively small. A cup of chopped kale only contains 101 mg of calcium, and an entire cup of almonds contains 243 mg of calcium. Since it’s not realistic (or necessarily healthy) to eat enough of these sources each day to get your 1,000 mg of calcium, you may want to consider fortified breakfast cereals, fortified orange juice, or fortified milk substitutes, all of which can be excellent sources of calcium. Just check the nutrition label.

LIVING WITH CELIAC DISEASE

3.  Vitamin B12

Another important nutrient that can be difficult to include in a vegetarian or vegan diet is vitamin B12. This nutrient is so important and so easily overlooked that The Vegan Society has addressed the dangers of B12 deficiency in an open letter on their website. And it’s not just vegans who are in danger of B12 deficiency. Vegetarians who include dairy in their diet only occasionally aren’t getting enough B12 from those sources, and low B12 has been linked to neural tube defects in babies.

Vegetarians who don’t eat meat but will consume fish (pescatarians) can get enough B12 by eating low-mercury fish like salmon or Atlantic mackerel (be cautious of other types of mackerel that may be high in mercury). But vegetarians who don’t consume dairy or fish will probably have to turn once again to fortified foods. If the amounts of B12 in fortified foods look small, that’s ok. According to the National Institutes of Health, 2.6 micrograms per day is the recommendation for pregnant women.

Teen pregnancy rates drop as government

The reigning orthodoxy among public health officials is that the more government spends on sex education the fewer teen pregnancies there will be. Now, however, British researchers have found empirical evidence that appears to demonstrate the exact opposite.

In findings published in the Journal of Health Economics, Nottingham University Business School Professor David Paton and Liam Wright, a research assistant at the University of Sheffield, found budget cuts to sex education classes may have contributed to lower rates of teenage pregnancy in England.

Paton’s study compared changes in the rate of teen pregnancy with the change in the annual funding of teenage pregnancy services for 149 English local authorities between 2008 and 2014.

To their surprise, the researchers found that after sex education budgets were slashed, teen pregnancy rates fell by 42.6 percent.

“There are arguments to suggest that the impact [of budget cutbacks] on teenage pregnancy may be not as bad as feared,” conclude Wright and Patom in the study.

For teens under 18 years of age, the conception rate in Britain declined by nearly 50 percent between 2007 and 2015. While the United States compiles data on the number of births, the United Kingdom counts conceptions, including those which end in abortion. They do not factor in conceptions that end in miscarriages.

Like their U.S. cohorts, British sex education advocates attributed the decline to increased government investment through the 1999 Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, which boosted funding to initiatives that expanded access to birth control and sex education courses.

“If the programs which were cut had been successful in delaying sex, this would likely have fed through to pregnancy rates. So our findings suggest that they were not doing so and, by implication, that cutting some of these programs led to a reduction in teen sexual activity,” Paton tells Fox News.

Paton makes clear their research does not argue that budget cuts reduce teen pregnancies. The key lesson for policymakers, he says, is that it would be more productive to focus on the underlying causes (poverty and levels of education) of teen pregnancy, rather than on sex-prevention programs and providing minors access to birth control.

The publication of Paton’s study comes at a time when the debate over U.S. funding for prevention programs is heating up after the Trump administration released its budget, which eliminates the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention program. That program received $101 million from the government in the 12 months ending Sept. 30.

According to its budget justification, the Department of Health and Human Services argues that the teenage pregnancy rate “has declined significantly over recent years, but it does not appear this program has been a major driver in that reduction.”

Paton’s findings have garnered little media attention while a study co-authored by Dr. Julie DeCesare of the University of Florida’s OB-GYN residency program has been widely seized upon by proponents of more government funding for sex education.

The researchers analyzed county-by-county teen birth rate data and found “clusters” of cities that saw a slower rate of decline in teen pregnancies.

The learning experience in a Mississippi hospital

Dede Carraway was getting ready to give birth to her third child in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, when her doctor, Walter Wolfe, noticed the mom’s oldest child, 12-year-old daughter Jacee, eagerly watching the process in the delivery room, right next to her mother.

Dr. Wolfe then asked if Jacee wanted to join in – and help him deliver her new baby brother. Jacee, eager and excited, agreed.

The doctor helped Jacee throughout the entire birth and even allowed her to cut the umbilical cord.

Carraway said Jacee wanted to help deliver her mom’s middle son 18 months ago, who Carraway noted her daughter has “such an emotional connection with.” But at that point, Carraway and her husband Zack thought their daughter was too young.

Knowing her third-born would be her last, Carraway said they decided it was time for Jacee to experience the miracle of childbirth.

“I don’t even know if there are words to describe how it felt,” Carraway told Fox News. “Never in a million years, if you would have told me 12 years ago she [Jacee] would be delivering my last born, I would have told you – you’re crazy!”

 

E coli bacteria contamination in Kentucky

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a Kentucky-based food distributor has issued a recall on more than 22,000 pounds of ground beef and other beef products due to possible E. coli bacteria contamination.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says the Creation Gardens Inc. products subject to the recall were shipped to food service locations in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

The department says the problem was discovered Monday when plant management at the Louisville-based company notified Food Safety and Inspection Service officials of positive test results for E.coli.

Officials say the raw ground beef and beef primal cut products affected by the recall were produced from May 31 to June 2. The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 7914” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

Like their U.S. cohorts, British sex education advocates attributed the decline to increased government investment through the 1999 Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, which boosted funding to initiatives that expanded access to birth control and sex education courses.

“If the programs which were cut had been successful in delaying sex, this would likely have fed through to pregnancy rates. So our findings suggest that they were not doing so and, by implication, that cutting some of these programs led to a reduction in teen sexual activity,” Paton tells Fox News.

Paton makes clear their research does not argue that budget cuts reduce teen pregnancies. The key lesson for policymakers, he says, is that it would be more productive to focus on the underlying causes (poverty and levels of education) of teen pregnancy, rather than on sex-prevention programs and providing minors access to birth control.

The publication of Paton’s study comes at a time when the debate over U.S. funding for prevention programs is heating up after the Trump administration released its budget, which eliminates the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention program. That program received $101 million from the government in the 12 months ending Sept. 30.

According to its budget justification, the Department of Health and Human Services argues that the teenage pregnancy rate “has declined significantly over recent years, but it does not appear this program has been a major driver in that reduction.”

Paton’s findings have garnered little media attention while a study co-authored by Dr. Julie DeCesare of the University of Florida’s OB-GYN residency program has been widely seized upon by proponents of more government funding for sex education.

The researchers analyzed county-by-county teen birth rate data and found “clusters” of cities that saw a slower rate of decline in teen pregnancies.