Artur Debat/Contributor/Getty ImagesBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor
Cellphones are all the rage nowadays, especially for teenagers.
As parents, it is so imperative that you make sure your teenager is making smart decisions on their phones.
I have two teenagers and realized pretty quickly that their phones were practically, surgically connected to their body. I see it as a mobile, tech diary for their lives and as a vehicle for creativity and exploration.
However, I do have my limits. Here’s my phone prescription:
Talk to your teen about what responsibilities come from using the Internet and how important it is to keep private things private.
Set limits on your teen's phone. You can even attach your phone or email to get copies of all the texts your child sends and receives. This might help any phone disasters before they start.
Researchers in the UK have found in a new study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity,that 14-year-olds who spend an extra hour per day watching TV, using the Internet, or playing computer games tend to have poorer grades on a test known as the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education), which they take at age 16.
And we’re talking quite a bit lower – the equivalent of the difference between getting a B and getting a D.
The Medical Research Council at Cambridge studied 845 pupils from secondary schools in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. They measured self-reported levels of sedentary activity and screen time at when kids were 14 (to be precise, 14-and-a-half years old) and compared these levels to their GCSE scores in the following year.
The average amount of screen time per day for these kids was four hours. Kids getting an hour more screen time per day scored 93 points lower on their GCSE, whereas an extra hour of non-screen time (time spent reading or doing homework, for example) was associated with a 23-point higher score.
But even if participants spent a significant time reading and doing homework, the researchers said watching TV or engaging in online activity excessively still damaged academic performance.
Courtesy Mary Huszcza/808 Photography(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- During Erika Jones' pregnancy, doctors told her there was a good chance her baby girl wouldn't be born alive.
The Jacksonville, Florida mom -- who also is parent to two-year-old Audrey -- had a 30-week ultrasound that spotted that something unusual on her baby's brain. It was later found to be a large brain tumor.
"The doctor prepared us that this was really bad," Jones told ABC News. "The prognosis was very poor."
Jones, herself a nurse who works in neurology, said she knew enough to know this was "devastating."
Just three months earlier, Erika and Stephen's unborn daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome. "After the initial mourning," Jones said, "we made peace with it quickly and were so excited."
Jones said the tumor "literally came out of nowhere. At the 26-week ultrasound, her brain looked completely fine." At 30 weeks, the portion of her brain that was affected appeared "massive."
Jones said she prayed.
"I don’t want to walk this path, I don’t want to sacrifice my daughter,' I said. I imagined God just saying, 'I’m so sorry and crying with us,'" she recalled. "We prepared ourselves for the worst and decided that she would have a meaningful life, no matter how short it might be."
Abigail Noelle Jones was born August 6. The Jones' thought she might die shortly after birth. She didn't, and a few days later professional photographer Mary Huszcza took the photos.
An MRI after Abigail was born revealed the tumor had grown and was thought to be aggressive and cancerous. Doctors have told Jones chemo would likely kill baby Abigail and that an operation on the tumor would not prevent it from growing back. The Jones' decided to take Abigail home with pediatric hospice.
"If she dies, I don't want it to be in plastic box in a hospital NICU. It will be home with us, surrounded by love and in our arms."
Every day that passes, though, gives the Jones a little bit more hope. Nothing has changed in Abigail since she was born and Jones said that to an outsider, it's impossible to tell anything is wrong.
"She is the chillest baby ever. She just loves to be held. She watches your face, tracks it with her eyes." She's had her feeding tube removed and is gaining weight.
Jones said she knows Abigail will be healed, but it may come in death. "If He doesn't heal her on earth, He will heal her the second she takes her last breath," she said. "We know this is tragic, but Abigail's life has a purpose."
iStock/Thinkstock(MERRILLVILLE, Ind.) -- Imagine that you could actually hear your own body’s every sound -- hear your eyes moving, your bones creaking and your heart beating.
That’s what life was like for 28-year-old Rachel Pyne, a school photographer from Merrillville, Indiana.
Pyne had drastically enhanced hearing, allowing every tiny sound body her body made to be amplified.
“I could hear my neck muscles moving, like different things inside my body and when you tell people that, they are like, ‘you're crazy,’” Pyne told ABC News.
It happened all the time and became debilitating, and came with constant dizzy spells. Pyne stopped all her hobbies and only worked when she had to.
“So I would end up in bed usually before noon and just lay there. I couldn't watch TV; it was too loud. I couldn't listen to music,” she said, adding that she just had to lie around and listen to her heartbeat and “feel my brain spin.”
She sought answered from nine different doctors but none could offer her a diagnosis. When she found Dr. Quinton Gopen, that all changed.
Gopen, a surgeon at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center, diagnosed Pyne with a rare condition: Superior semicircular canal dehiscence, or SCD.
“What that means is the inner ear, which is the organ that is in charge of balance and hearing, has an abnormal opening in the bone. And so you tend to hear internal sounds amplified, like your heartbeat, your own voice, and even things moving inside your body like your eyes moving,” Gopen told ABC News.
Pyne was thrilled to know that she could put a name to what had been happening to her.
“We got in the elevator and I was crying. I was so happy,” she said.
UCLA has discovered a minimally invasive surgery fix for the condition and it was performed on Pyne twice. The first surgery was done last November, on Pyne’s left ear, and then again in May, on her right ear.
In each surgery, doctors plugged the tiny hole in Pyne’s inner ear through a dime-sized incision in her skull.
For many patients, the results are immediate.
“We do this surgery in about ninety minutes and they wake up and they say, ‘My symptoms are gone,” said Dr. Isaac Yang, the neurosurgeon who also operated on Pyne, making the small opening in her skull.
That’s exactly what happened after Pyne’s surgeries.
“When I woke up from surgery I knew right off the bat that I was better and I had no more dizziness and I was talking to the nurse right when I woke up and I was ready to get up and go somewhere,” said Pyne, whose hearing is now normal.
According to Gopen, only around one in half-a-million people have SCD.
"It was diagnosed relatively recently, about 15 years ago," he said. "The majority of people that we see that have this condition, there's no known cause or event that they did that created this opening."
WTVD(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- North Carolina school officials said they are investigating an outbreak of an unknown illness, possibly the norovirus, that left dozens of students and some staff members sick.
At least 125 students were sent home from three schools in the Person County School District on Wednesday after reports of symptoms including a low-grade fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
Local health officials said in a statement the symptoms were similar to norovirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention has asked for samples to determine the cause of the outbreak.
Jennifer Purdie, whose daughter attends a school where three students became ill, told ABC News television affiliate WTVD in Raleigh, North Carolina, that she was concerned that the school was remaining open.
"I was talking with a lot of the other parents and we're really upset and concerned that they're not closing the school down at least until Friday," Purdie said.
The Person County School Superintendent said Wednesday that the affected schools were sanitized after classes ended on Wednesday and that school would remain open as normal.
Norovirus is a common virus that affects the gastrointestinal system and can spread widely. Every year the virus leads to between 19 million and 21 million illnesses and 570 to 800 deaths, according to the CDC.
Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Baby monitors offer the convenience of live-streaming videos of children straight to their parents’ smartphones and tablets. But a new report warns that the children's parents might not be the only ones watching.
The report, released Wednesday by tech security firm Rapid7, put nine different Internet-connected baby monitors to the test.
Of the nine kinds of baby monitors tested, one received a grade “D” and the other eight monitors received grades of “F.”
“Overall, we did find some devices that had some very easy-to-exploit issues,” Mark Stanislav, the study’s author, told ABC News.
Potential vulnerabilities found in the monitors included accessing personal information from your Wi-Fi network and even potentially giving attackers real-time control of the device.
Heather Schreck says that is what happened to the baby monitor in the bedroom of her 10-month-old daughter.
“I heard a voice and it was screaming at my daughter, screaming, ‘Wake up baby. Wake up baby,’” Schreck said.
Schreck says the voice came from hackers who used an Internet “back door” to take control of the monitor’s camera.
Rapid7 recommends disabling unnecessary features like video recording and storing footage on the Internet in order to make your child’s baby monitor more safe.
The company also recommends parents never connect the devices to a public Wi-Fi account, use cellular data for a monitor and, just in case, unplug the monitor when it is not in use.
A manufacturer’s association representing the makers of baby monitors says parents should contact the manufacturer if they have any safety questions.
“If a consumer is concerned about the safety of their baby monitor, they should contact the manufacturer directly,” the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association said, in part, in statement to ABC News.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A growing number of young children are being diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and increasingly parents are on the front lines of identifying early symptoms, according to a new study.
A third of children with ADHD are diagnosed under the age of 6, and in the vast majority of ADHD diagnoses, family members are the first to identify signs of the disorder, according to the study, published in the National Health Statistics Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers released the findings after examining information from 2,976 families who had children with ADHD.
The number of diagnosed cases of the disorder have shot up in recent years, rising 42 percent from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012, according to the study.
Researchers found that as rates of ADHD went up, those close to the children, including parents, teachers and other caretakers, played a key role in diagnosis.
“We did see that in the vast majority of cases a family member of some kind was the first to express concern for behavior or performance,” explained Susanna Visser, the lead author of the study and an epidemiologist at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. She said family members who saw signs of ADHD could then, “really [communicate] that to doctors.”
In approximately 64 percent of cases, a family member was the first to show concern about a child’s behavior.
Visser and her team also found that a third of children were under the age of 6 when diagnosed and she told ABC News that new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2013 may have helped spur those new diagnoses.
“In general, once the symptoms start to cause impairment, the child and family can benefit from treatment,” Visser said on the benefits of early diagnosis. “For kids under 6, behavior therapy can benefit.”
Dr. Francisco Castellanos, a professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center, said he was gratified to hear about the new numbers and thought that the study showed progress in appropriately diagnosing children with the disorder.
Castellanos, who was not involved in the study, said the findings were “fair” and that it was clear doctors are taking pains to accurately diagnose patients.
Castellanos said the study showed parents are talking to their pediatricians and that those doctors are taking the ADHD symptoms seriously. He said he was especially happy to see that children getting diagnosed under the age of 6 are generally seeing more specialists before their diagnosis.
“The clinicians are being more judicious, more deliberate and [referring] them to child psychiatrist,” he said.
Castellanos said he suspects the sharp increase seen in recent years is a reflection of increased awareness and will level off soon.
“There used to be a real sense of ‘Let's wait it out, it’s going to go away,’” Castellano said of children with ADHD behaviors. “I think that’s pretty much no longer around. That’s why we see a large increase in overall prevalence. I can’t imagine there’s going to continue to be the same increase" in the future.
Wolterk/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One year after the company stopped selling tobacco products in its stores, CVS Health says it has seen impressive results.
The national pharmacy chain stopped tobacco sales in September 2014, and since that time, the 13 states in which CVS has a 15 percent or greater market share have seen a one percent decrease in cigarette pack sales. The data, gathered by the CVS Health Research Institute, looked at purchases made at drug, food, big box, dollar and convenience stores, as well as gas stations.
In those states, the average smoker, the company says, has purchased five fewer packs. Overall, 95 million fewer packs of cigarettes have been sold in those 13 states since CVS' decision.
CVS also says that there has been a four percent increase in purchases of nicotine patches in those same states, indicating an effect on attempts to quit smoking.
"We know that more than two-thirds of smokers want to quit -- and that half of smokers try to quit each year," CVS Health Chief Medical Officer Troyen Brennan said in a statement. "We also know that cigarette purchases are often spontaneous. And so we reasoned that removing a convenient location to buy cigarettes could decrease overall tobacco use."
Getty Images(PERSON COUNTY, N.C.) -- Dozens of students at a North Carolina school were sent home after they exhibited possible signs of a virus, according to the local school superintendent.
At least 84 students at the Person High School in Person County were sent home after exhibiting "virus type symptoms," according to a statement from Person County School Superintendent Danny Holloman.
Additionally, six staff members were also sent home after exhibiting the same symptoms. At the Helena Elementary School and Woodland Elementary School, a total of 20 students were sent home after showing symptoms.
Students and staff were asked to stay home if they have vomiting, fever or diarrhea.
What triggered the illness remained unknown as of Wednesday afternoon, but school officials said they were reaching out to the local health department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help.
The CDC requested schools send samples from sick kids to determine the source of the outbreak.
School officials said the affected schools would be cleaned overnight and classes were expected to resume as normal Thursday morning. The Person County Health Department did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Charlotte "Charlie" Godish, 5, donated stem cells to her twin brother Bradley. (Jennifer Godish)(ELGIN, Ill.) — A 5-year-old girl became a hero to her family after she helped her twin brother fight his aggressive form of leukemia by selflessly donating her stem cells to him.
"What Charlie did for her brother and my wife and I was nothing short of amazing," dad Brian Godish of Elgin, Illinois, told ABC News Wednesday. “For us to be fortunate enough for Bradley to have a twin sister who's a perfect match; we were speechless. Not everyone is so lucky.
"We were almost at a loss for words as to how emotional it was."
Back in January, Godish told ABC News Wednesday, he and his wife approached their daughter Charlie, short for Charlotte, and asked how she would feel donating her cells to Bradley, who had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in the fall of 2014.
"She didn't understand the whole medical process, but what she did understand was she wanted to help her brother," he added.
"Her words were, 'Yeah, just let me know when you need me.'"
The surgery took place at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Feb. 17, but the family is speaking publicly now because Bradley's cancer is in remission and the twins recently started kindergarten.
Dr. Jennifer Schneiderman, the twins' transplant physician, said all went as smoothly as can be.
"The procedure itself went just fine," she said. "He [Bradley] had a high risk feature to the leukemia, so a procedure was recommended. We look to parents and siblings to see if they're a match and Charlie, his sister, happened to be a match. She [Charlie] gets general anesthesia and we obtain the marrow. She doesn't feel it at the time, but typically patients will feel some soreness for 36 to 48 hours and then they're fine.
"We do about 60 transplants a year and I'd say about a quarter are of brother and sister," she added. "As far as an age appropriate thing, she was very eager to help him and said she would do whatever she needed to do."
Beatrice Abetti, director of the Information Resource Center at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, agreed that a sibling is always the best chance of a match for a stem cell transplant.
"Donating involves extracting stem cells from the hipbone or bloodstream to be infused into the ill child in order to restore marrow function," she added in a statement. "While the process can involve some soreness or discomfort for the child donating the cells, there is generally little risk in this procedure, and the potential benefits for the child with cancer can be significant."
Now that the procedure is complete, Godish, a father of three, said he is glad the twins have recovered.
"She never complained of pain, which ‘til this day amazes me," Godish said. "She had a huge bandage on her back and she didn't want to take it off. It was sort of a badge of honor to show she helped Bradley. She was so proud.
"We really hope as parents they learn from this--to always be selfless to always help somebody out, to always give," he added. "Charlotte's always been such a selfless person and Bradley's been such a good-natured kid. This shows how valuable love and life is and I hope they never take life for granted."
Getty Images(PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan.) -- Seven years after finding a lump in his chest, Bret Miller was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer at age 24.
Multiple doctors had brushed off his concerns through the years, telling him it was likely a calcium deposit.
Then, after finally being told he had cancer, Miller, of Prairie Village, Kansas, was dismayed when a doctor recommended a double mastectomy.
“At first, I was listening to what the doctors were saying, but a part of me … I didn’t want to do the double mastectomy,” he said.
A lifeguard at the time, Miller, now 29, worried how he would look, saying, “It would have made me feel awkward and not make me want to be around a pool anymore.”
He'd planned to postpone the second mastectomy for a month so he could recover from the first. But the day before his initial surgery in 2010, Miller’s physician told him that after consulting another doctor they would stick with a single mastectomy because he should not be treated exactly like female patients.
He said he was relieved that he only had to have one procedure.
“I know it affects women more … but men still have breasts, as well,” Miller said of his having a mastectomy and being left with a long scar. “It took a little while to be comfortable with it.”
While breast cancer is among the most common cancers for women, male breast cancer is rare and researchers are still trying to understand how men with the disease are being treated, compared to women.
A newly published study released Wednesday found that more male breast cancer patients are undergoing double mastectomies, electing to remove unaffected breast tissue as part of their cancer treatment.
The study examined 6,332 men with breast cancer undergoing surgery, and found that for the first time, the number of men having both the affected breast and the unaffected breast tissue removed in a double mastectomy had increased significantly.
The percentage of double mastectomies in men nearly doubled to 5.6 percent in 2010-2011 from 3 percent in 2004-2005.
In women, rates of prophylactic double mastectomies have also been rising, especially for women who are younger, white and privately insured, according to the study.
Ahmedin Jemal, vice president of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society and lead researcher in the study, told ABC News it’s unclear why there has been such a dramatic rise in the procedure for men.
“It is concerning because there is no really good evidence” to the benefit in male breast cancer patients, Jemal said.
He explained that for some women with the BRCA gene mutation, which makes them predisposed to breast or ovarian cancer, removal of the breasts prophylactically is recommended. But there is far less evidence that this is an issue in men, he said.
“I think the increase we see is in the general population is not only high risk people but other women and men are getting the mastectomy,” Jemal said.
Men with the BRCA 2 gene have a 7 percent chance of developing cancer in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control.
About 2,350 men are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer every year, compared to 231,840 women, according to the American Cancer Society. For men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is 1 in 1,000, compared to 1 in 8 for women.
Thought it’s unclear why there is an increase for double mastectomies in men, Jemal and other researchers said in the study it may be related to genetic testing, family history or fear of the cancer’s return.
Dr. Robert Shenk, a surgical oncologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said he was surprised by the study’s findings because men have a far lower risk of developing breast cancer in their second breast.
“It doesn’t make sense to me to remove it,” Shenk said, theorizing that it’s possible men may have chosen to remove breast tissue for cosmetic reasons and so they appear symmetrical.
“You also don’t know if physicians who are used to or recommending prophylactic mastectomies in women are doing the same thing for men,” he added.
Both Shenk and Jemal said more studies were needed for male breast cancer patients to figure out why there has been such a large rise double mastectomies for men.
For Miller, he said he hopes the study will help other men be aware that breast cancer doesn’t only affect women. After his diagnosis in 2010, Miller started a nonprofit foundation aimed at raising awareness about male breast cancer.
“Every single day is a new story and it’s scary to know that [they’re] only 1 percent” of breast cancers, he said.
Larry Marano/Getty Images For SOBEWFF(NEW YORK) — Paula Deen may have dropped some serious weight in the past, but the Dancing With the Stars contestant said she "never" gave up butter.
When asked by Good Morning America what she would do to sweeten up the judges for good scores, she said, "I dunno, bring ‘em butter!"
"I probably will. I’ve asked wherever they put me to stay, if there was just a little kitchen, not much of one, but that’s what I where I go to decompress and to get into my little safety area," she said. "Louis is my partner and I fed him pretty good this last week because we’ve been practicing at my house, so I fed him pretty good this week."
With a lot of dancing in her future, Deen, 68, said she's excited for the challenge and that after she dropped all the weight a few years back, 35 pounds, she feels ready for the show.
"It was a process getting here. But when I finally dropped the weight off I thought well, maybe I can do it," she added. "Maybe I can do it now. And I’ve been eating out of my new cookbook that comes out next week, I’ve been eating that now for a couple of years, which has allowed me to get to where I think I might can do it.”
She said she's going to stay in shape for the show, but that she'll never turn her back on her favorite ingredient.
"I never gave up butter," she stressed. "Never, never. But the big word in my life now is, ‘moderation.’ Moderation, moderation, moderation.
iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor
You know those skinny jeans in the back of your closet from your slimmer days? Are you still hoping and even struggling to fit into them? If so, let them go.
Research shows that holding onto skinny clothes and hoping that you’ll fit into them one day is a common idea but it’s actually linked to negative feelings like failure and disappointment. This can often lead women to start dangerous dieting practices out of desperation.
Instead, embrace yourself as you are today and focus on living a healthy lifestyle. Just because you’re not where you used to be, doesn’t mean that you’re not at your best.
And put those clothes to good use. Donate them or resell them for cash to buy clothes that really fit.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s the post-break-up phenomenon taking social by storm.
Divorcees are now ditching their marriage and instead saying ‘I do’ to “divorce selfies.” The new trend is finding the silver lining in splitting up, turning a heartbreaking situation into a fun photo opp.
“[It’s] A lighthearted way to announce your divorce in one shot and also let people know that they don’t have to feel awkward around you,” Elise Sole, senior writer for Yahoo Parenting, told ABC News.
Florida couple, Keith Hinson and Michelle Knight, were all smiles on their wedding day, but fast forward three years and they’re now happily divorced.
“The most amicable, easy-going divorce in history,” Keith explained.
The exes sealed the deal with a selfie right outside the courtroom.
“She just said, ‘Hey, you want to take a selfie?,’ kind of as a joke and I said, ‘Why not?'” Keith added.
He shared the photo on Instagram with the caption, “Here’s to the most friendly, respectful and loving split imaginable.”
The response was overwhelmingly positive.
“We’re celebrating the fact that we can move forward,” said Keith.
But they’re not the only ones showing divorce can have a happy ending.
Canadian couple Shannon and Chris Neuman declared their 11-year marriage was officially over by snapping a selfie outside of a Calgary courthouse on Thursday.
“We kind of high-fived and did a silly selfie and went on our way,” Shannon explained.
In just a matter of days the candid photo went viral, being shared on Facebook a whopping 36,000 times and counting.
“It shocked me that other people were responding to it,” she said.
Shannon hopes her kids will appreciate it when they're older, too.
"I think that they'll recognize that we love them," she said. "We'll always work really hard to be -- this makes me cry -- to be their parents."
The new “divorce selfie” trend is helping prove divorce doesn’t have to be ugly.