ABC - Health News

peterspiro/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A young New York City mother died at a local hospital after going in for what was meant to be a simple procedure, according to her family and their attorney.

Rosemary Abreu, 27, went to Lincoln Hospital, in the Bronx, to have a cyst in her left thigh removed on Sept. 21, attorney Sanford Rubenstein told ABC News on Saturday.

However, the procedure at some point went awry, and Abreu went into cardiac arrest, according to Rubenstein, who noted that he believes she went into cardiac arrest on the operating table.

Abreu was pronounced dead the next day.

She's survived by her mother and her two daughters, a 2-year-old and a 9-year-old.

Her family is now seeking $50 million in damages from the Bronx hospital and New York City Health Hospital.

"This is tragic and unacceptable," Rubenstein said. "A single mother of two young girls should not die under these circumstances. ... She went in for a simple procedure which was to remove a cyst in the left thigh."

Rubenstein said Abreu was in perfectly good health otherwise. He believes the hospital either administered too much anesthesia or the administration of the anesthesia was improperly monitored.

Abreu's mother, Dorah Restituyo, was overcome with emotion Friday at a press conference.

"They killed my daughter. They killed her. I don't know why. I don't know what happened to my daughter," Restituyo said.

In a statement emailed to ABC News, a hospital spokesperson for New York City Health Hospitals said: "The health and safety of our patients is always our number one priority. This incident is tragic, and we offer our sincere condolences to the family and loved ones. Patient privacy and confidentiality laws prevent us from commenting further on this case."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study has found that a 3-week dietary intervention, including cutting down on processed foods, could decrease symptoms of depression in younger adults.

The research suggests that for younger adults – including busy college students – changes in diet can be helpful in managing depression during a critical period of development, while offering myriad other health benefits. The study was published by researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, in the journal PLoS One.

"The literature now strongly suggests that poor diet quality is associated with an increased risk of depression," the study said. "Diet is therefore a modifiable risk factor for depression, which would be a good target for early intervention."

While past research has focused on observing people’s diets and their moods, this study used randomized controlled trials where people are put into groups and one group receives an intervention.

The design allowed researchers to link changes to the controlled intervention. However, since the controlled group received significant attention, that factor might have also contributed to an alleviation of depression.

Still, the young adults’ ability to stick to the diet shows us that it wasn’t just additional support that led to benefits.

Some 17.3 million adults suffered from depression in 2017, and the age group with the most cases of depression were adults between 18 to 25, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.

The study recruited adults with depression with an average age of 19. Half of the adults received dietary guidance from a registered dietician via an instructional video and were told to eat a modified Mediterranean-style diet with increased servings of vegetables, fruits, wholegrain cereals, protein, unsweetened dairy, fish, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and spices. They were instructed to decrease their consumption of refined carbohydrates, sugar, fatty or processed meats and soft drinks.

The group received sample meal plans and recipes, a small hamper of food items and were reimbursed up to $60 for grocery costs. During the three weeks of the study, they received two phone calls to check in and see how their diets were going.

The other half of the adults with depression received nothing and maintained their usual diet.

Three weeks later, researchers evaluated the depression of all subjects. They also checked that the group on the diet stuck to it by asking all the young adults about their eating patterns. Researchers kept them honest by using a special device that measures the levels of chemicals originating from fruits and vegetables in the skin.

The group that received dietary guidance had a healthier diet and reported feeling less depressed. When researchers checked in with some of them three months later, the benefits were still present in some of them.

Michelle Milgrim, a registered dietician and the manager of employee wellness at Northwell Health in New York, noted that a good diet can be helpful through a couple of potential mechanisms.

“Serotonin helps us control our mood. Anti-inflammatory diets – made up of high antioxidant foods like vegetables, beans, nuts and fruit as well as few refined sugars – protect the brain from oxidative damage,” she said.

Dr. Timothy Kreider, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, who specializes in treating adults in this age group, said that diet may complement treatment with therapy and medication.

“Indirectly, a healthful diet makes you feel more energetic. More energy will increase your social and physical activity, and being more active is a key step in recovering from depression,” he said.

“Do we know what specific diet will treat depression? No, I don’t think we have solid evidence for that yet, but I’d love to see some," Kreider said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Chistina Garcia(NEW YORK) -- "Menstrual hygiene is a right, not a privilege."

That's the message that youth activists hope to take nationwide for the first National Period Day, Oct. 19, as they campaign to end the tax on menstrual hygiene products.

Rallies are taking place on Saturday across all 50 states, where women are gathering in hopes of shifting a culture of silence around periods and demanding policy changes that will help inch toward an economy of gender equity.

What is the tampon tax?

Right now, 35 states still have the "tampon tax," a catchy nickname for the sales tax imposed on tampons and other menstrual products, since they are considered non-essential goods. Though there is no specific tax for those products, products like pads, liners and cups are all subject to taxes as non-essential items in many states. Viagra, Rogaine, lip balms and candy, meanwhile, are considered basic necessities and are exempt from sales tax in some of these same states.

Critics of the tax have said this is an injustice that needs to be corrected.

Take 21-year-old activist Nadya Okamoto, who has been vocal in the movement to push legislators to eliminate the tampon tax.

"Menstrual hygiene is a right, not a luxury, and the tampon tax tells us that it's essentially a luxury," Okamoto told "GMA." "That assumption is one of our biggest barriers in front of us, so we need to take that down so we can continue to fight for menstrual equity."

At just 16, Okamoto founded Period, a non-profit organization. It's now the largest youth-run NGO in women's health.

In 2014, Okamoto's family experienced legal homelessness after her mother left her job. Okamoto's commute to school went from 20 minutes to more than two hours. On her journey through downtown Portland, she said she would often pass by homeless shelters where she made conversation with some of the women she met. It was there where she learned about period poverty, the lack of access to menstrual hygiene resources.

Ever since then, she "became obsessed with periods," she said.

As she researched the topic more and learned about issues people face regarding menstruation, the tampon tax stuck out to her.

"Advocating against the tampon tax and once and for all getting our government to actually recognize menstrual products as a necessity is really important," Okamoto told "Good Morning America."

From there, she added, they can work on solving other problems, from providing "freely accessible period products in schools, shelters and prison," to getting benefit programs to cover feminine hygiene products that many don't currently cover.

For example, federal assistant programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, aka WIC, don't include access to menstrual hygiene products.

A common hurdle in this legal fight, Okamoto said, is that "often cisgender male legislators" either don't understand the issue or are hesitant to talk about periods in a public setting.

"So a big part of this fight is just getting the culture ready to talk about periods," she explained. "So legislators can come out and speak freely about it without having to think they're the ones who have to do all the heavy lifting on destigmatizing menstruation."

Momentum to repeal the tampon tax

In recent years there has been momentum to repeal the tax. States like Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey passed laws to eliminate the tax. In this past year, progress has been made in Rhode Island where the tax was eliminated in their budget effective in June of this year, and in California where a budget bill is passed in which period products were exempt from a tax for two years.

Democratic California Assemblymember Cristina Garcia said she's pushing Gov. Gavin Newsom to permanently extend a tax exemption on menstrual products.

When she first came up with the proposal she said people dismissed it and made fun of her. "People would say, 'Oh, it's going to be a bloody fight,' and they started calling me the tampon lady," Garcia told "GMA."

Opponents have said the main problem is the loss in revenue.

Katherine Loughead, a policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, a think tank based in Washington, told "GMA" that abolishing the tampon tax may force governments to apply higher sales tax rates to other items.

In large states like California and Texas, taxes on menstrual products alone can generate more than $20 million annually. To make up the difference, lawmakers have suggested raising taxes on alcohol and tobacco. But no change has been made.

The danger of creating so many exemptions is that "ultimately it leads to a slippery slope, where do we draw the line? There's a lot of things that are a necessity to other people," Loughead said.

However, Garcia argues if people were able to keep the taxed money, they could spend it on other taxed products, thus adding to the state's tax revenue.

"But more importantly, my uterus should not be used in balancing the budget," she said.

As it turns out, this issue is not unique to the U.S.

Half of the European Union countries still impose a value-added tax, or VAT, rate on menstrual hygiene products although some have reduced that rate. Other countries, including Australia, India and Canada, have abolished the policy.

At the end of the day, Garcia said, this fight is about much more than tax revenue or the affordability of period products -- it's about the larger conversation of equality under our system and how we as a society value a woman's body.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Massachusetts General Hospital(BOSTON) -- Friday marked the final day of a mock safe-injection site in Boston designed to familiarize the public with what a potential facility might look like.

"We want to demystify safe-injection sites and give the public a sense that this is a medical procedure, like anything else," Dr. Mark Eisenberg, a primary care physician and assistant professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, who oversaw the event, told ABC News.

Safe injection sites, where drug users can inject in hygienic facilities, under supervision, are currently illegal in the United States.

After a ruling by a federal judge in Philadelphia earlier this month, which found that a nonprofit with plans to open a site in the city did not violate federal law, has renewed interest in the idea.

Eisenberg thinks the Philadelphia ruling might have piqued the public's interest in the Boston-based demonstration, which was far better attended than similar events in years past.

The demonstration was set up in a health center in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and featured a table equipped with a mirror, water and sterile equipment. The three-day event drew dozens of curious attendees, including members of the community, legislative aids and representatives from a local district attorney's office.

In addition to Philadelphia, cities like Seattle, Denver, San Francisco and New York all have nascent plans to open their own sites. In Massachusetts, there's an ongoing battle between the mayor of Somerville, who supports a supervised injection site in his city and Gov. Charlie Baker, who staunchly opposed them.

While offering a place for people to use drugs might seem counterintuitive, public health experts have said that the sites reduce the spread of infectious disease and connect drugs to the health care system.

The issue is personal for Eisenberg, who's had dozens of patients die of drug overdoses during his years working as a primary care physician. The reality is that people use drugs, he explained, and the goal is to is to give people the option to avoid using under unsafe conditions, such as in a bedroom or alleyway.

It's not enabling drug use, Eisenberg added: "We are enabling people to stay alive."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Office of Congresswoman Grace Meng(NEW YORK) -- A New York congresswoman known as the "period lady” for her work on ending period poverty has proven critical in enacting changes so that girls in schools and women in prisons and homeless shelters can have free access to pads and tampons.

Rep. Grace Meng is still fighting for more, trying to create a world where menstruation is not stigmatized and period products are not seen as luxury items but necessities that should be accessible and, in many cases, free.

“I think almost everyone can relate or remember a situation where you were in a public space and you got your period and you didn’t know what to do because either you didn’t have money or you or you weren’t near a drugstore,” Meng, a Democrat who represents Queens, New York, told ABC News' Good Morning America. “These are not luxury products that we choose to use for ourselves and they should be just as available as toilet paper is and paper towels in a bathroom.”

Meng’s activism on the issue all started with a letter from a high school girl who lived in her congressional district and wrote to her concerned that women in homeless shelters did not have access to tampons and pads.

“When I first started studying up on this issue I sort of just assumed, OK, this affects people in underdeveloped countries and how can we help girls who have to skip school,” said Meng. “Then the more I learned about it, I realized that it’s happening to people right here in our country and right here in [New York City].”

“I realized there really was a sort of injustice about how girls and boys are being treated, especially in the lens of menstrual equity and just the basic human right of being able to access these products that affect a majority of our population,” she said.

Women make up more than half of the population in the United States, according to the Census Bureau. They are also more likely than men to live in poverty, and they spend an average of 2,535 days in their lifetime, or almost seven years, on their periods, according to UNICEF.

A survey released this year of low-income women in St. Louis, Missouri, found nearly two-thirds couldn’t afford menstrual hygiene products in the past year, and more than one in five said they had the same problem every month. The women said they instead had to use cloth, rags, tissues, toilet paper and sometimes diapers or paper towels, according to the report published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

It is those stories that Meng said she hears too often and which motivate her to make menstruation equity a priority in Congress.

"In this great country, there should not be anyone who is not able to access these products for a human bodily function that they have no control over," she said. "Access to these products should not depend on your income level or your status in life."

From a high school student's letter to changing federal prisons

Meng, a mother of two sons, learned after receiving the letter from her high-school-age constituent that federal grants provided to homeless shelters in New York City prohibited the shelters from purchasing and distributing menstrual products.

She wrote a letter to the Obama administration asking for help, and soon after the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) announced it would allow homeless shelters to use federal grant money to buy the products.

Up next, Meng took on the federal prison system after she heard stories of women in prison having to ration out their menstrual supplies with their cellmates or having to use limited funds in their commissary accounts to buy tampons and pads.

Meng again wrote a letter to the Obama administration asking for menstrual products to be free in federal prisons, but it was close to the 2016 election and the end of President Obama's second term.

When President Donald Trump was elected in 2016, Meng said she was "concerned" about the future of her request, but the Trump administration expressed its support.

Free menstrual products for inmates at federal prisons was included in the bipartisan First Step Act that Trump signed into law last December.

"Obviously people in both parties menstruate and know people who get their periods," said Meng of the bipartisan support she sees on the issue. "Quite frankly, I find that a lot of people just haven’t thought about this issue and once they hear and learn about this issue are willing to support and help alleviate these situations."

Meng is now pressing governors to increase access to menstrual products in state and local prisons and questioning the Trump administration on their protocols for making sure female migrants at the border have access to menstrual products and showers.

She is also pushing to require that federal buildings, including the building where her office sits in the U.S. Capitol, have free supplies. It was only this year that House members became allowed to use their budget to purchase menstrual products for their offices.

Meng's "Menstrual Equity for All" bill also proposes changes like requiring corporations of 100 employees or more to provide free menstrual products to employees. Her "Menstrual Products Right to Know" bill would make tampons and pads just like most other products where manufacturers are required to list out their ingredients.

Both of those bills are still pending in the House, while legislation she worked on in the last Congress that would allow people to use health savings accounts to buy menstrual products passed the House but was never taken up in the Senate.

"[One] big hurdle that we are still trying to overcome is that this, in most cases, is not a life or death issue," said Meng. "So especially in this unpredictable political climate [it] might not necessarily be the first priority issue that is on the minds of people but we definitely want to make it a priority."

"I don’t mind being called ‘the period lady’"

Poor menstrual hygiene does pose health risks for women, including reproductive issues and urinary tract infections.

The taboo around menstruation and the lack of access to menstrual products also hurts women economically because it costs them money for products and may keep them from jobs and school, advocates say. It also sets women back mentally and in a society where something that happens to them naturally is demeaned or even not discussed.

"Most of us have been conditioned for all of our lives to not talk about menstruation," said Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, a lawyer and author of Periods Gone Public. "And the things that keep us potentially from succeeding are often the things that happen to be what we don’t talk about in polite society."

"All the ways our bodies work just the way they’re supposed to we don’t talk about because we haven’t truly valued women and girls," said Weiss-Wolf, who took up the issue of menstrual equity after teen girls in her community posted on Facebook seeking tampon donations for a food pantry.

Weiss-Wolf, also the co-founder of Period Equity, a law and policy organization fighting for menstrual equity, said the needle has moved in talking publicly about menstrual equity with celebrities including Sophia Bush, Gina Rodriguez and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, taking on the issue.

A documentary short on menstruation even won an Oscar this year.

Weiss-Wolf credits Meng with elevating the discussion in a "really productive and responsible and meaningful way." The two have worked together on issues like eliminating the so-called "tampon tax" that still exists in more than 30 states in the U.S.

"Congresswoman Meng really does stand out," she said. "She’s’ been extraordinarily creative in thinking about what federal levers can be pulled."

Meng, who took office in 2013, said she doesn't mind being called the "period lady" by her colleagues or the public, saying, "If it helps me be able to talk about the issue and educate people around me, then I don’t mind being called that."

She noted that growing up in a middle-class household, she never knew about the issues of period poverty or menstrual equity, but she did learn from a young age the stigma of having a period.

"I don’t want to, as I [did when I] grew up, feel like I have to hide my product up my sleeve as I’m walking through the halls of school or the office toward the bathroom," Meng said. "This is a natural part of being a human being and I don’t want people to be ashamed of it."

"What’s been so inspiring is that anywhere I go, I will run into people, mostly women, who come up to me and these are women of all different ethnic backgrounds or come from different professions or are students or grandmothers," she said. "They tell me how much they appreciate our work on this subject and a lot of them tell me they never thought about this issue before and how it impacts so many people in this country."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Alicia Jordan(NEW YORK) -- Hannah Jordan is a cycling champion who will compete this weekend in the 2019 Hillclimb Worlds in California on a demanding course that rises more than 2,500 feet in elevation.

But the 18-year-old will race the course with something no one else in the competition has: a gastrostomy tube, or G-tube, that keeps her alive.

In a sport where aerodynamics is everything, Jordan, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, uses a specially designed race jersey to hold the G-tube monitor that pumps glucose into her body, preventing her from going into potentially life-threatening hypoglycemia.

"I’m the only person I know who is on a G-tube and competes like this," Jordan told ABC News' Good Morning America. "When I’m told I can’t, that makes me want to ride faster and better."

Jordan was classified as small for her gestational age as a child and suffered extreme fatigue and dangerously low blood sugar because her body could not keep up with her brain's need for glucose, according to her doctor, Madeleine Harbison, a pediatric endocrinology specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

"We don’t know exactly what is different about Hannah," said Harbison, noting that she and other doctors have not been able to pinpoint a genetic defect. "What we do know is that this is a child who without her continuous glucose infusion into her stomach becomes hypoglycemic and is essentially bedridden."

Jordan had to be home schooled because of her medical complications and would be so fatigued that her mom had to push her in a stroller. She has had the G-tube for more than a decade.

The teen's entire life changed nearly five years ago when she picked up an old bicycle and taught herself to ride. She discovered that she could not only ride the bike but thrived riding it, finding it fueled her energy.

"I lived my life in a hospital bed," she said of her pre-cycling days. "I’m living my childhood now and I live every day like it’s a gift."

When Jordan's mom, Alicia Jordan, saw her daughter "come out swinging" on the bike, she sought out USA Cycling, the national governing body for bicycle racing, and got her daughter in a training program and under the care of expert dietitians.

"She morphed into this incredible athlete," said Alicia Jordan. "[My husband and I] transferred our energy from keeping her alive to letting her live the best life possible."

Jordan has gone on to compete in more than two dozen cycling races, winning gold and silver medals and setting personal records along the way.

The same condition that for so long kept her bedridden is now an asset to Jordan as a competitive cyclist in a way that has astounded medical experts, according to Harbison.

"For her, there is some difference in the way her muscle metabolizes energy that allows her to do this, especially since one of her specialties is hill climbing," she said of Jordan. "Exercise is her fuel, essentially, that allows her to be closer to normal."

"What it is about exercise that has woken her brain up, and how she thrives in it, is what’s so curious to me," Harbison added. "She’s the only child I've seen who’s had this extreme lethargy that was improved by exercise."

Jordan's life has changed off the bike, too. With her improved energy she has been able to attend school and is doing an internship at Kate Farms, the maker of the plant-based formula she now uses in her G-tube.

"I call cycling my mental sanity," she said. "It’s definitely helped me just be able to live my life and feel like a normal human being and has been a doorway to many paths."

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officially cleared Jordan to compete last spring at any level after ruling that her G-tube does not give her an advantage over athletes.

The Hillclimb Worlds will be Jordan's first world championship race -- her first of many, she hopes.

"I knew ever since I was 8 years old that I couldn’t just have a 9-to-5 life and I wanted to change the world, even though I was sick," she said. "I knew I wanted to do something great, but didn’t know what it looked like until I found cycling."

"What I love about cycling is that it doesn’t stick anyone in the box," Jordan added. "You can do whatever you want and decide how fast you want to go and how far you want to go."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(ABC/Nicolette Cain) Breast cancer patient Sarah Weimer opens up about her breast cancer journey on "The View" on Oct. 17, 2019, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.(NEW YORK) -- For Sarah Weimer, a 36-year-old mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer, the "hardest thing" wasn't the side effects of chemotherapy but telling her six children that "mommy has breast cancer," she told The View on Thursday.

Weimer, who is from Idaho, was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer earlier this year. She opened up about her journey on Thursday, speaking about the warning signs that she had missed months before her diagnosis and the ongoing treatment she expects to face in the future.

The whole world felt like it had stopped, Weimer said of the moment her breast cancer diagnosis was confirmed. "No one ever wants to hear those words: 'cancer' or 'you have cancer,'" she said.

"The hardest thing was to tell my kids mommy has breast cancer," she said tearfully. "My two older ones, I could see the fear in their eyes a little bit. I could see them being scared and they knew instantly that it was serious, and that was really hard for me to stay strong in that moment. We just ended our conversation with hope and with, you know, we know where our strength comes from, and as a family, we're going to work together."

Summur Shaikh, a producer for The View who was successfully treated for breast cancer earlier this year, found Weimer's story online. She said the story "stuck out" for her because they were both diagnosed at the same age and Weimer's "positivity really inspired" her.

"I have always been a positive person, but dealing with cancer, you could easily get into a very dark place," Weimer said on Thursday. "I knew that wasn't how I wanted to live my life. I chose to focus on waking up and just being thankful that I have another day to be here, being thankful I have another day to be with my kids."

As a mother of six, Weimer admitted that she didn't prioritize her health as much as she should have.

"I first noticed [in] the beginning of this year [that] something was different," Weimer said, referring to her early signs of breast cancer. "I thought, 'OK, maybe it's an infection. Maybe it's just something minor. Maybe it's hormonal.' There was one day where I really looked in the mirror and realized my breasts were literally two different sizes and that's when I decided to call the doctor."

Weimer explained to Whoopi Goldberg, who grappled with her own health issues earlier this year, why she waited so long to see a doctor.

"As a mom, I'm just busy and life happens, and we don't make the time to stop and take care of ourselves. We're taking care of our kids, our house, our family, our job, and we forget to stop and say, 'Wait a minute. Am I okay? Is anything going on with me?'"

"I didn't take the time for myself like I should have," she continued. "I was thinking, 'It's going to go away. It's nothing serious.' And when I realized the changes continued to get more aggressive, I just had a sinking feeling."

With no other options, Weimer had to put her breast cancer treatment before anything else to save her life and be there for her family. She sought treatment three hours from her home at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, which was founded by The View co-host Abby Huntsman's grandfather, Jon Huntsman, who passed away from prostate cancer in 2018.

Jon Huntsman's wife, Karen Huntsman, had designed parts of the hospital and she was seated in The View's audience on Thursday.

"I want to say thank you, Grandma," Weimer said to Karen Huntsman. "Thank you for having a wonderful family because I know that the investment over at Huntsman means a lot to my family and to my life."

In September, Weimer underwent a double mastectomy and what she thought was her last round of chemotherapy treatments. After the surgery, however, her doctors informed her that the cancer had spread and that she would have to restart chemotherapy.

"Cancer is life-threatening and it's really important that you go to a facility that is going to be well taken care of, and they're going to take care of your needs and have the best outcome," Weimer said. "I really just love Huntsmans in general. The view of Salt Lake is gorgeous, so I'm just so, so grateful that I have a great place."

After hearing of Weimer's story, Ford Motor Company's Warriors in Pink donated $20,000 to support her to journey to recovery.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


utah778/iStock(NEW YORK) -- By Dr. Saumya Bhutani

The incidence of stroke, a major cause of disability and death, is on the rise in young and middle-aged adults. A new study suggests that PTSD may be a contributing factor.

"There is now a large amount of evidence that stroke is on the rise in young adults aged less than 45. We are still unable to identify the cause of stroke in about half of overall stroke patients below 30 years of age. We need more studies and funding to study this population which forms the future of our country," Dr. Rohan Arora, director of the stroke program at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills said to ABC News.

The new study, published in the journal Stroke, found that young veterans with PTSD had a 36% increased risk for stroke. They also had a 61% increased risk for transient ischemic attack (TIA), a brief, self-resolving stroke-like event that can represent a warning for future stroke.

Post-traumatic stress disorder has gained significant attention over the past few years with health concerns of those near ground-zero on 9/11, the return of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, multiple mass shootings and increased awareness of sexual assault.

Researchers examined over 900,000 veterans with an average age of 30 for thirteen years. Almost 30% of these veterans developed PTSD. They found that those that did were more likely to experience stroke and TIA than those who did not.

"PTSD may lead to the secretion of 'bad chemicals' in the bloodstream that cause inflammation ... causing injury to the arteries leading to clot formation," Arora said. Clot formation is the basis of stroke.

"PTSD also worsens pre-existing high blood pressure and diabetes -- important risk factors for stroke," he added.

Compared to the veterans without PTSD, those with PTSD had higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as other known stroke risk factors, such as irregular heart rhythms, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity. Still, the occurrence of these conditions was low among all young veterans. They were relatively healthy.

Beyond that, the 36% and 61% increased risk was found when accounting for these factors. The fact that the relationship was strong and significant regardless of these other variables suggests that PTSD plays a unique part in the development of stroke.

"PTSD is a national public health issue," said Lindsey Rosman, Ph.D, the lead author of the study, and assistant professor of Medicine in the division of Cardiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“We know that young folks are increasingly exposed to direct and vicarious trauma, whether its natural disaster, gun violence or sexual assault. These same young folks don’t have the same traditional cardiovascular risk factors for stroke we see in older people," Rosman said.

Rosman said that the digital age exposes people to "indirect trauma."

“Young people can develop PTSD symptoms that are severe and impairing through vicarious trauma. They are continuously exposed to videos of traumatic events that they have the ability to watch over and over again," she said.

The veterans studied were predominantly male and white. Rosman pointed to directions of future research, “It’s very important in future studies to look at the role of sex in PTSD and stroke. Women are more likely to experience chronic stress and PTSD, but are known to have a lower stroke risk than men.” She also stated, “It’s possible other factors that we didn’t control for played a role, including sleep disturbance and migraine.”

Although the study focused on veterans, Rosman noted, “We did not assess the nature of the trauma and it’s possible that our veterans, many of whom were not in combat, experienced more than military trauma. They could have experienced sexual assault and life adversity.” Thus, she believes the findings can apply to those who have PTSD whether they are veterans or not.

“Based on this, we need to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all. We need to develop age-appropriate screening and intervention. We need to expand our view when it comes to risk factors," she said.

"Unique mental health issues may be an important part in understanding a young person’s risk factors of developing disease."

Dr. Saumya Bhutani is a resident in psychiatry in New York with the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Ryne Jungling(MANDAN, N.D.) -- It was a normal Thursday morning in January for new mom Rachel Jungling as she took her infant twins to day care.

Both Rachel and her husband, Ryne Jungling, headed to work, and Rachel was on drop-off duty for Anders and Linnea, who were 11 months old at the time. The boy and girl were miracle babies for the Mandan, N.D., couple, who struggled with infertility for seven years.

"When we found out we were having twins, other twin parents said, 'It's awesome. You're going to have the most fun.' They were right," Ryne told Good Morning America.

"Anders, he was the snuggler ... always giving hugs and he really liked being held," he added. "They were pretty inseparable. When they went to bed, if they weren't sleeping, they'd look at each other and make noises until they fell asleep. If Linnea left the room, Anders wasn't OK. He really liked companionship and being around her."

On Jan. 10, Rachel, who was a teacher at the time, brought Anders and Linnea inside their day care facility while strapped into their car seats. Linnea was awake. Anders was close to sleeping.

"With two, Rachel didn't feel comfort leaving one in the car, so she would grab them both in the carriers and bring them in," Ryne said. "It was common practice. Every day, we'd give the day care provider the update -- how they slept the night before, what they ate. [The kids] were usually out of the car seat."

Ryne said the day care provider removed Linnea from her car seat. Anders was still in his car seat when his mother walked out the door.

"Anders looked over at Rachel and Rachel said, 'Bye buddy,'" Ryne said. "He kind of smiled, and she left -- with the assumption that he was going to be taken out of his car seat, and he wasn't."

"It's not something you ever think is going to happen."

A few minutes after 10 a.m., Rachel received a call at work from police.

"They asked her twice, 'Are you sitting down?' And they said they were coming to pick her up and that Anders was being rushed to the hospital," Ryne said.

Ryne, who was also working in education, said his wife called to let him know Anders was being hospitalized.

"She said, something happened to Anders and you need to get to the hospital and I think it's really bad,'" he recalled. "I remember her voice, I never heard it like that. She was really worried, it was tough. She thought it was kind of weird, but she knew it was pretty serious, if something like that was happening."

When Ryne arrived to the hospital he was met by two detectives. Ryne said he learned Anders was left sleeping in his car seat for two hours. The day care provider did not know of the risks involved when leaving a sleeping baby in a car seat, Ryne explained.

Anders was given CPR by the day care provider until paramedics arrived and worked on him for 40 minutes. After 30 minutes in the emergency room, Anders was airlifted from Bismarck to a hospital in Fargo, N.D.

"To actually realize what was happening with our son, that was hard," Ryne said. "We prayed a lot that he would get better, that this would all go away. We were praying for a miracle to happen. At the same time, we started to pray that this story would lead to a miracle. Maybe Anders surviving, maybe that wasn't the miracle. Maybe it was preventing this [from happening] to someone else."

On Jan. 12 at 5:45 p.m., after three days on life support, Anders died. An investigation determined he died from positional asphyxia in the car seat after his airway was cut off from his head slumping over and his chin falling into his chest.

"It's not something that you ever think is going to happen," Ryne said. "Everybody describes it as a parent's worst nightmare. I'll definitely agree with that. You feel helpless when you can't do anything for your child. It's hard to say ... but we really think lots of good has come out of this."

"We need this story to get this out there."

After losing Anders, a friend of the couple connected them to Carma Hanson, coordinator of Safe Kids Worldwide's Grand Forks, N.D., chapter. The organization's mission is to help prevent unintentional injuries or death to children with five E's: education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement and evaluation.

"Carma immediately was like, 'We need this story to get out there,'" Ryne recalled.

In July, Ryne and Rachel attended the 2019 Safe Kids Worldwide Childhood Injury Prevention Convention where they shared their story with other parents who lost a child through tragic events.

"My heart bleeds for them because I know this is a really difficult time," Lorrie Walker, the technical adviser for Safe Kids, told GMA. "The fact that they want to help other families is amazing and I can't thank them enough."

Ryne and Rachel now have their own mission to spread awareness about positional asphyxia and overall safe sleep practices for children.

"We know it's not the car seat's fault, it's an education issue," Ryne said. "The old adage of 'Don't wake a sleeping baby' is so wrong when it's not safe sleep."

In 2017, there were 3,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) in infants less than 1 year old in the U.S., according to the CDC. Of these deaths, 1,400 were due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), about 1,300 were unknown causes, and about 900 deaths were due to scenarios involving accidental suffocation (like positional asphyxia) and strangulation in bed.

Besides positional asphyxia, the AAP says deaths can also happen in car seats due to strangulation from straps that are unbuckled or partially buckled.

Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a primary care pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University, told GMA that this happens when the devices are being used for things like unsupervised naps or soothing.

"The vast majority of these tragic deaths are easily preventable by taking infants out of car seats and strollers when you're no longer traveling and placing them in a crib or bassinet," Bracho-Sanchez said. "This may mean bringing a portable bassinet or crib if the place where parents are going does not have an environment where their babies can continue to sleep safely. "

The AAP said babies "should not be placed on an incline to sleep."

"With the head elevated, an infant is in a position that could lead to asphyxia," the AAP noted. "The straps on such products also can strangle infants. In addition, the AAP does not recommend any products for sleep that require restraining a baby, especially if the product also rocks."

Study co-author Dr. Jeffrey D. Colvin said mothers, fathers and other family members should be educated on safe sleep practices.

"They also need to have parents educate anyone who is taking care of their infant, whether it’s a grandparent, babysitter or child care provider, that car seats are not substitutes for cribs and bassinets,” he said.

Baby Anders inspires education for sleep safety

As part of their new safe sleep initiative, Ryne and Rachel, who welcomed a son, Elias, on Oct. 2, helped launch a class for grandparents at Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health on safe sleep, furniture tip-over prevention, nutrition, breastfeeding support and more.

They hope to eventually have car seat manufacturers place a warning directly on their devices, reminding parents and caregivers that it's not for sleeping.

"It's in the pamphlet, but no one reads the instructions besides the installation," Ryne noted.

Here are safe sleep practices from the AAP to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), plus how to prevent positional asphyxiation in car seats:

1) Do not use a car seat as an alternative to a crib or bassinet.
As Bracho-Sanchez said, be sure to bring a portable bassinet so babies can continue safe sleep while traveling.

2) Children who fall asleep in a car safety seat while traveling in a motor vehicle should remain in the car seat until travel ends.

3) After reaching a destination, children who are still sleeping should be removed from the car seat and placed in a crib or bassinet.

4) Avoid use of soft bedding, pillows, crib bumpers or stuffed animals inside a child's crib.

5) If you're getting sleepy or tired, put the baby down on the hard surface to avoid risk for injury or death.

6) Share a bedroom with parents, but no co-sleeping, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. The AAP says that room sharing decreases the risk of SIDS "by as much as 50 percent."

7) Avoid overheating.

8) Follow car seat manufacturer's guidelines, and make sure the device is installed at a 45-degree angle in the vehicle.

9) Do not place car seats on elevated surfaces or on soft surfaces like a bed, mattress, or couch.

10) Be sure the car seat's shoulder straps and hip straps are positioned tightly, and the chest clip is buckled at under arm level.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Paolo_Toffanin/iStock(NEW YORK) -- When 29-year-old Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, a second-year family resident at the University of Minnesota Medical School, first found out about TikTok, she did what every other millennial did and downloaded the app to try it out.

“I had seen other TikTok videos on other social media platforms and they were always really funny and creative and made me laugh a lot,” she told ABC News' Good Morning America.

She’s only been on the app for six months, but she caught on to the trend quickly by first using the app to depict how chaotic life is as a resident.

Perhaps what helped her gain a larger following was when she started sharing informational videos about medical facts.

“I realized the most likes and the most comments were on these specific medical videos,” she said. “The demographic that was using TikTok maybe was not getting as much health information at home or at school and was seeking it out in other places.”

Now she takes her office to the app to talk about things like tuberculosis, mental health and even sex education.

And she still tries to teach her followers a thing or two about health while keeping it fun.

“It’s been a great way for me to understand what health topics are important to youth and young adults,” she said.

She added, “I share health information the way I would to one of my friends. I really think that’s the most effective way about talking about a health topic and getting people to listen.”

Recently, Leslie’s videos have been focusing on a more serious topic: vaping.

In a story first reported by Rolling Stone, the doctor was featured after she started sharing TikTok videos about the epidemic.

In one video that has over 600K views, Leslie shows a lung X-ray, explaining in detail how lungs look like for someone who vapes.

“If you’re thinking about quitting, now’s the time to do it,” she says in the video.

She told GMA, “I have been following all the reports on this new disease related to vaping and thought it would be really important for teens who are on TikTok to hear so I decided to take that information and spread it on TikTok in a palatable and easy to understand way.”

Vaping-related illnesses in the U.S. has reached an all-time high with more than two dozen deaths confirmed, and more than 1,000 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette products reported in 49 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Recently, the CDC found that most patients with vaping-related illnesses report a history of using THC vaping-related products which suggest they were either obtained off the street or from other informal sources.

So far, the response to Leslie’s videos has been overwhelmingly positive. And teens are taking note.

Martin Wolk, a teen who follows Leslie on TikTok, was inspired to quit vaping after being an avid smoker for five years.

“I was scrolling through her videos and watching her vaping videos and it was really informative,” Wolk told GMA. “She showed you damage to the lungs and I’ve never really seen like X-ray photos of damage to people’s lungs after vaping so it kind of scared me and I wanted to do something about it.”

Like many teens, Wolk started smoking in middle school after being drawn to the variety of flavors. He described how hard it was for him to quit, but how important it is for people like Leslie to use social media to reach youth about the issue.

“There are a lot of kids right now who are vaping and it’s good to reach them through social media which they are always on,” he said.

“I’ve been pretty surprised that a lot of followers are asking me pretty basic health questions,” Leslie said. “I really feel like continuing to make videos on TikTok will help address a lot of the questions that people have.”

As the CDC continues to investigate vaping-related illnesses and lung-related injuries, Leslie said that getting information to teens is critical and doctors like her will start to use platforms like TikTok to reach them.

“As time goes on it’s just going to be more popular that medical professionals are using social media as a way to spread public health information and get connected to large groups of people,” Leslie said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Courtesy Maria Alves(NEW YORK) -- Maria Alves thought the crippling anxiety and worry she said she felt after the birth of her son three years ago were simply “baby blues” that would go away.

When the feelings continued weeks post-delivery and got worse, Alves asked her then-employer, Boston University, for an extension of her maternity leave, which she was granted.

Alves, of Brockton, Massachusetts, was eventually diagnosed with postpartum depression. When she asked Boston University for additional medical leave to give her more time to recover, she was denied the leave and then terminated from her job.

Alves, a single mom, had worked in administrative roles at Boston University for nine years. Her son, Luis, was 4 months old at the time.

"It was a compound effect because you have the postpartum depression and next thing you know I was terminated," Alves told ABC News' Good Morning America. "Financially it was drastic. I was maxing out credit cards because I had a newborn I had to feed, and clothes and diapers to buy."

Alves said she isolated herself while suffering from postpartum depression and had only told her sister and a cousin about her struggles. Her cousin happened to work in human resources in another field, and when she learned Alves had been fired, she encouraged her to seek legal help.

Last month, three years after her firing, a jury awarded Alves, now 40, a total of $144,000 in compensatory damages for lost wages and emotional distress at the end of a six-day trial in Suffolk Superior Court.

The 10-person jury ruled that Boston University violated the Massachusetts discrimination laws, specifically disability and medical condition discrimination, based on Alves’ diagnosis of postpartum depression.

"I believe I did the right thing in holding [Boston University] accountable," Alves said. "Postpartum depression is really real but unfortunately when you have it you don’t want to talk about it and you don’t want to expose yourself for fear of losing your job."

Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that affects one in nine new mothers in the U.S., according to the U.S. Office on Women's Health. It is considered a serious mental illness during which feelings of sadness and anxiety may be extreme and may interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family

"It’s difficult to explain for someone who has never gone through it," said Alves. "I really didn’t even know what it was. I just knew that my sister had gone through the 'baby blues' and I figured it was going to go away for me in a few weeks and it didn’t."

While many women do not know what to expect with postpartum depression, even more women don't know what their employee rights are when they are pregnant or suffering from postpartum complications, according to Joan C. Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law, a California-based research and advocacy organization.

"Women who are pregnant and women who have postpartum depression often have a qualifying disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)," said Williams. "The ADA imposes a whole new set of duties on the employer."

The ADA, signed into law in 1990, requires employers to work with employees to see if they can create a reasonable accommodation to allow the employee to do the essential parts of the job without creating an undue hardship for the employer, according to Williams.

If, for instance, a woman who is pregnant is a cashier, she could request under the ADA that her employer provide a stool to sit on so she would not have to stand for her entire shift, explained Williams.

"The ADA requires the employer to work with the employee in an interactive process, like, 'Would this work for you?''" said Williams. "And then the employer would come back with another proposal and say, 'Well, would this work for you?'"

Alves, who had just been promoted months before her pregnancy, claimed in her lawsuit against Boston University that the university did not work with her to provide a reasonable accommodation. Her attorneys, Matthew Fogelman and Jeff Simons, presented email evidence during the trial and called Alves' therapist to the stand.

"Their reason [to fire Alves] was that they just couldn’t hold the job any longer, that the department was busy and they needed to fill the position," said Fogelman. "They tried to argue in the case that there would have been undue hardship on the company but the jury did not find that persuasive."

Boston University said in a statement to GMA in response to the lawsuit, "The University respects the jurors’ verdict and wishes Ms. Alves the best going forward. Thank you."

Alves will take home around $182,000 after accounting for interest, according to Fogelman.

"I think it’s notable," he said of the jury's ruling. "Employers have to be equipped to know how to handle not only maternity leave but other complications, whether it’s a mental condition or a physical condition after birth. Maybe you have to hire a [temporary employee] for another month or maybe you have to borrow someone else from another department or maybe the person can work part-time or from home."

Williams' Center for WorkLife Law has established a website,, and a hotline -- (415) 703-8276 -- as resources for women to know their rights in the workplace.

Williams wants women to know that even beyond paid maternity leave -- which only about 35% of women in the U.S. have, according to the Society for Human Resource Management -- and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) -- which only covers about 50% of workers in the U.S. , according to Williams -- they have rights through the ADA.

"That is the big news here," she said. "What we have found is that OBGYNs often didn’t know that, employers didn’t know that and pregnant women didn’t know that."

"Not everyone has a cousin in human resources to talk to," Williams said, referring to Alves.

Alves' son, Luis, is now 3 and she's back to work now at a law firm.

Although she has not recovered financially from her termination, Alves said she is on the other side of postpartum depression, no longer isolating herself or living with crippling anxiety.

"Luis is happy. I’m happy. We’re doing good," she said. "I would hope people with postpartum depression reach out and get help because it is real."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(Courtesy University of New Mexico) The University of New Mexico is handing out coasters that will test for drugs.(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- Students at the University of New Mexico can now pick up coasters that will alert them if any drugs are in their drinks, the school announced.

The university's Campus Office of Substance Abuse Prevention said they are handing out the coasters, which test for GHB and ketamine, drugs commonly referred to as "date rape drugs."

Students can place a drop of their drink onto a dot on the coaster, using their finger or a straw, and if a blue dot appears, it means the drinks tested positive for a detectable amount of either GHB or ketamine.

A "drug detector" built into the coaster reacts to the chemicals in the drink and produces the blue dot, according to Dr. Randall Starling, a senior research scientist at the office.

Amber Greene, a marketing assistant in the office, told ABC News that there are about 200 coasters left.

A few students have personally come to the office to pick them up, while other coasters were sent to fraternities and sororities on campus.

"We're always doing prevention work to try to keep students safe when they're out drinking," Greene said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


RyanJLane/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A new yoga craze is all the rage and a bit of an oxymoron.

Rage yoga has started to stretch across the U.S. where more new instructors are adopting the practice that includes alcohol, profanity and some not so family-friendly poses.

The seemingly off-brand flow, which first took roots in Canada, may be the antithesis of what most yogis expect from a dimly lit room with soft music and calming poses.

Lindsay Istace, the founder of Rage Yoga, told that "It's meant to be a different approach to yoga for those who find their peaceful center in a different way."

The practice is more chaotic and involves ones sense of humor.

Students are encouraged to let it all out with screams, curse words and hand gestures, Istace explained, but it still incorporates traditional yoga postures and breathing, just with alternative principles.

Some of-age participants are even served an alcoholic drink that they can enjoy throughout the class.

According to, there are online training programs available for people interested in becoming a Rage yoga instructor that start at $800.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Savany/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Halloween is around the corner and parents have a sweet way to make trick-or-treating more inclusive and fun for everyone, especially children with autism.

The tradition at the end of the month when kids dress up and go door-to-door can be daunting for someone with autism, especially when prompted to boast, "trick or treat!"

One mother took to Facebook and shared the story of her 3-year-old son who is nonverbal and said they will be trying a new technique to ensure people who hand out candy understand he has a disability.

"This year we will be trying the blue bucket to signify he has autism. Please allow him (or any other person with a blue bucket) to enjoy this day and don't worry I'll still say 'trick or treat' for him," she wrote. "This holiday is hard enough without any added stress. Thank you in advance."

The post went viral and quickly garnered mass attention, which has helped spread the word.

Another Pennsylvania mother, Michelle Koenig, told ABC Scranton affiliate WNEP this is her 5-year-old son's first year trick or treating.

"I think it's hard for them, but it's getting easier. People are becoming more accepting of it and people are aware," she explained. "It's good and it's getting better."

Rachel Brnilovich, a clinical director for the Pennsylvania Autism Action Center, said she thinks the blue bucket idea is a great one.

"We love this campaign. It really gives our kids an opportunity to go out, no matter their age and experience Halloween," Brnilovich told the station. "Taking notice of the blue bucket and then just treating them like a child, how any child would be, give them the candy and just move on."

Koenig said, "It gives people a chance to understand -- and it opens everyone's eyes."

The idea is to have a blue bucket, or at least something blue, but there are no special logos or tags.

Other Halloween trends like the "Teal Pumpkin Project" have successfully caught on and raised awareness for food allergies. Read more about that here.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Jody Davidson(ULSTER, Pa.) -- In a typical year, Ariah Cook's grandparents are the first house in Ulster, Pa., to put up holiday decorations.

But this hasn't been a typical year.

Ariah, 6, is battling stage 3 glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer, and her grandmother with whom she lives just hasn't had the time to get into the holiday spirit -- for any holiday. She's simply been too busy taking Ariah to appointments.

So neighbors Jody Davidson and Amber Gray decided to do it for them.

"Amber and I came up with the idea to light the town up from one end of Main Street to the other and all in between," Davidson told Good Morning America. Gray came up with a flier asking the whole town to decorate for any and all holidays, and within two days it was done.

The two women's children attend school with Ariah and her sister Selene.

"She is one of the happiest girls we have ever met -- she always has a smile on her face and that helps all of us to keep a smile on ours," Davidson said.

The little girl arrived home last week from a week-long treatment at Geisinger Janet Weis Children's Hospital in Danville, Pa., and rode into town on a firetruck.

"It was accompanied by several other trucks from surrounding communities who had heard of her homecoming just hours before," Davidson said.

The Halloween-Christmas-Easter-purple decorations were a hit.

"She loves it -- everyday there is a new decoration that pops up in town," Davidson said. "She absolutely loves Christmas, and with the unknowns of her time here on earth with us, most of the decorations are Christmas and her favorite color purple. She enjoys her family pushing her around town to see all the lights and decorations and it helps to ease the bad days."

The support for Ariah has moved well beyond Ulster, Gray told GMA.

"We get messages from states away of people lighting up a corner of their homes in support of her -- it's just truly amazing," Gray said. "There is just no way to possibly thank everyone for what they have done to keep Ariah fighting. While her prognosis isn't the brightest, our town's love for her is."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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