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Health

    Drugmaker Allergan has issued a recall for a popular birth control pill over a packaging error that could lead to unintended pregnancy. According to a news release Tuesday, Allergan is recalling one lot of Taytulla birth control pills because capsules were placed in the wrong order. The recalled products are from lot No. 5620706 and have a May 2019 expiration date. 'Allergan recently identified, through a physician report, that four placebo capsules were placed out of order in a sample pack of Taytulla,' the release said. 'Specifically, the first four days of therapy had four non-hormonal placebo capsules instead of active capsules.' >> Read more trending news  When correctly packaged, the four placebo pills appear after the 24 active pills. 'As a result of this packaging error, oral contraceptive capsules that are taken out of sequence may place the user at risk for contraceptive failure and unintended pregnancy,' the release said. 'The reversing of the order may not be apparent to either new users or previous users of the product, increasing the likelihood of taking the capsules out of order.' If you have a package of the recalled pills, which were distributed to health care providers, you should your their doctor and return the item, the news release said. If you have questions, please contact your doctor or call Allergan at 1-800-678-1605 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Read more here.
  • If you suffer from chronic migraines, relief is here. According to The Associated Press, the Food and Drug Administration last week approved Aimovig, a monthly shot that aims to reduce migraines. The drug, developed by Amgen Inc. and Novartis AG, is 'injected monthly just under the skin using a pen-like device,' the AP reported. Its price tag: $6,900 annually before insurance. >> On ActionNewsJax.com: New drug could reduce migraines But how does Aimovig work? The FDA said it blocks 'the activity of calcitonin gene-related peptide, a molecule that is involved in migraine attacks.' Amgen researchers said participants in one study saw their migraines reduced by half and experienced 'minor side effects' like colds, the AP reported. >> Read more trending news  If Aimovig doesn't sound right for you, you're still in luck: Three similar shots and various pills to combat migraines are in the works. Read more here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A groundbreaking study is being done at Boston Children's Hospital that researchers say could potentially predict whether a child as young as 3 months old is at-risk for developing autism. >> Watch the news report here Right now, most children can't receive a reliable diagnosis until they are at least 1 year old.  Chase Minicucci and his mother, Hillary Steele Minicucci, regularly go to Boston Children’s to track his development. Chase seems to be a typically developing toddler, and he’s learning to point and use words to express his needs. >> Could blood and urine test be used to diagnose autism? However, Chase has been identified as at risk because his older brother, who is 7, has autism. “We did the testing, and one day after his 4th birthday … the doctor said, ‘so your son has autism,’” said Hillary Steele Minicucci.  Hillary and her husband also have a 6-year-old daughter who does not have autism, but autism is more prevalent in boys.  Research shows one in five children whose siblings have autism will also be on the spectrum. Hillary spent the first year of Chase's life watching his behavior closely and worrying. “I was literally making myself crazy over it,” she said.  Hillary was able to find a spot for Chase in a study at Boston Children's Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, involving 99 siblings of children with autism. Infants as young as 3 months old and toddlers up to 36 months old spend only a few minutes wearing a cap with more than 100 sensors. While wearing it, they watch a T.V. showing cartoons, which is also an eye tracker. Boston Children's Cognitive Neuroscience Lab Director Dr. Charles Nelson said by studying their EEG signals, the electrical activity in the brain, they can predict which infants are likely to develop autism. “What we've seen is at 3 months of age, we've seen patterns of brain activity that basically predict who, three years later, will develop autism,” said Nelson.  >> Read more trending news  One of the big unknowns is when does autism develop, and Nelson said the study is shining light on whether it happens before or after birth.  “It's very unlikely that brain development was perfectly normal until birth and then something happened. The fact that we see it so early, just at 3 months, makes me think that it started before birth. But what derailed brain development, we don't know,” he said.  Dr. Nelson stressed the medical community is not at the point yet where a 3-month-old could receive a diagnosis, but the child could be flagged. The next step is developing early intervention strategies for that age group. As for Chase, his mother said that right now, he doesn't seem to be exhibiting some of the warning signs, which has given her some much-needed reassurance. “I can start to enjoy my baby now,” she said.  The study is ongoing and open to three groups of children:  Babies with older siblings with ASD Babies with no family history of autism who failed an autism screening Typically developing babies Because the EEG caps are relatively inexpensive, Nelson hopes someday soon every local pediatrician's office could have one and all infants could be identified within a critical window of time.
  • Over the past five years, diagnoses of major depression in the United States have risen by at least 33 percent. >> On AJC.com: People with depression are more likely to use certain words — here’s how they express themselves That’s according to a new report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, for which analysts assessed the BCBS Health Index built from billions of claims for more than 41 million commercially insured Americans annually. >> Read more trending news  The index, which quantifies how more than 200 diseases and conditions affect quality of life, showed that major depression is the second most significant condition on overall health in America. The first is hypertension, or high blood pressure. According to the report, those diagnosed with major depression are nearly 30 percent less healthy on average than those without the condition. Such a decrease in overall health may mean a loss of nearly 10 years of healthy life for both men and women. >> On AJC.com: Why are Americans so lonely? Massive study finds nearly half of US feels alone, young adults most of all More than 9 million commercially insured Americans in the index are affected by major depression. The rate of diagnosis in the country is 4.4 percent. But while diagnoses are up 33 percent since 2013 overall, the rate is even higher among teens and young adults − 47 percent. For teen girls, specifically, the rate has risen by 65 percent. 'The high rates for adolescents and millennials could have a substantial health impact for decades to come,' Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSA, said in a statement. 'Further education and research is needed to identify methods for both physicians and patients to effectively treat major depression and begin a path to recovery and better overall health.'  Analysts also found that overall, women are more than twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with major depression (6 percent compared to 2.8 percent, respectively). >> On AJC.com: Depressed? Reduce your symptoms with this type of exercise Geographically, 49 of the 50 states saw rising diagnosis rates between 2013 and 2016. Hawaii was the only state that experienced a slight decline (a rate of less than 2 percent). Communities in New England, the Pacific Northwest and areas throughout the South and Midwest had higher rates of major depression compared to the rest of the country. Rhode Island had the highest diagnosis rate with 6 percent. However, the authors noted that differences in efforts to screen for major depression can result in varying diagnoses rates across states. “While major depression is the second most impactful health condition for the nation, it is complicated by an increased likelihood of overlapping diagnoses of other chronic, behavioral health and pain-related conditions,” authors of the report wrote. In fact, of the 9 million Americans diagnosed with major depression in 2016, only 15 percent were diagnosed with depression alone. Eighty-five percent, according to the analysis, were diagnosed with an additional health condition. >> On AJC.com: 5 signs you should ask your doctor about depression In addition to a lower quality of life, those diagnosed with major depression are more likely to use more healthcare services, resulting in more than twice the spending. It’s important to note that the report’s findings, based on people with BCBS commercial health insurance, are likely an underestimate. Most Americans are covered by a commercial health plan, but many who report symptoms of depression say they have not been diagnosed or received treatment for the condition. According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide. >> On AJC.com: The suicide rate for teen girls is the highest it’s been in 40 years — Is social media to blame?  Additionally, approximately 800,000 people die of suicide each year; that’s one person every 40 seconds. In the U.S., between 1999 and 2014, the suicide rate rose by 24 percent. And, according to recent data released from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high. Read the full Blue Cross Blue Shield report at bcbs.com.
  • Look away, allergy sufferers: This viral video from New Jersey might bring you to tears. On Monday, Facebook user Jennifer Henderson shared a clip of a backhoe tapping a tree in Millville – and the enormous pollen cloud that followed. >> See the video here >> Read more trending news  'When my husband said the pollen's bad, I probably should've taken his word for it. Crazy!' Henderson wrote.  As of Wednesday morning, the post had been viewed nearly 3 million times with 93,000 shares.
  • Grieving the death of a loved one can affect an entire family, including babies. In fact, losing a relative during pregnancy may affect the mental health of a child later in life, according to a new report. >> On AJC.com: Smoking while pregnant study: 1 in 14 women still smoke while pregnant Researchers from Stanford University recently conducted a study, published in the American Economic Review, to determine the effect a family member’s death may have on children. To do so, they examined Swedish infants born between 1973 and 2011 whose mother lost a close relative, such as a sibling, parent, maternal grandparent, the child’s father or her own older child, during her pregnancy. >> Breast cancer patients may help boost survival chances by building muscle, study says They followed those children through adulthood, comparing their health outcomes to kids whose maternal relatives died in the year after their birth. They gathered the data from their medical records and Sweden’s novel prescription drug registry, which contains all prescription drug purchases. Lastly, they considered the impact the death may have had on the fetus, including fetal exposure to maternal stress from bereavement and even changes to family resources or household composition. >> On AJC.com: Is light drinking while pregnant really dangerous? After analyzing their results, they found that “that prenatal exposure to the death of a maternal relative increases take-up of ADHD medications during childhood and anti-anxiety and depression medications in adulthood,” the researchers wrote in a statement. Furthermore, they discovered the death of a relative up to three generations apart during pregnancy can also create consequences.  “Our study offers complementary evidence linking early-life circumstance to adult mental health, but breaks new ground by focusing on stress,” the authors wrote, “which may be more pertinent than malnutrition in modern developed countries such as the United States and Sweden, and by tracing health outcomes throughout the time period between the fetal shock and adulthood.” >> Read more trending news  To combat the issue, the researchers recommend that governments implement policies to help reduce stress during pregnancy. They believe such policies should especially target poor families as they are more likely to experience stress than more advantaged ones.  Although their findings are concerning, they hope they can better help expecting mothers have healthier pregnancies and birth healthier children.  “Of course, you cannot prevent family members from dying, and we certainly do not want our findings to constitute yet another source of stress for expecting mothers,” the scientists said. “But our findings potentially point to the importance of generally reducing stress during pregnancy, for example through prenatal paid maternity leave and programs that provide resources and social support to poor, pregnant women.” >> On AJC.com: Why pregnant women should be careful around cats
  • Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments for breast cancer. However, building muscle may also help boost chances of survival, according to a new report.  >> On AJC.com: Breast cancer treatment may trigger heart problems, study says Researchers from Kaiser Permanente recently conducted a study, published in JAMA Oncology, to determine the association between muscle quality and the disease.  To do so, they examined 3,241 women from Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The participants were diagnosed with stages II or III breast cancer between January 2000 and December 2013. Scientists then used CT scans to observe muscle tissues. >> Read more trending news  After analyzing the results, they found that higher muscle mass upped survival rates, while lower muscle mass was linked with a higher risk of death. In fact, more than one-third of the individuals with sarcopenia, a condition that causes muscle loss, “had a significantly increased risk of death compared with patients without sarcopenia,” the authors wrote in the study. >> On AJC.com: Study: Fat linked to breast cancer even if you have healthy weight Furthermore, building muscle may also help with other cancers. “Our findings are likely generalizable across many other nonmetastatic cancers because the associations with muscle and improved survival for those with metastatic cancer has been observed across a variety of solid tumors,” they said. While the scientists did not thoroughly explore why low muscle mass is connected to low breast cancer survival rates, they think inflammation may be a factor as cancer-related inflammation can decrease muscle mass and increase fat. The researchers now hope to continue their investigations and believe their findings will lead to better treatment practices. “We should also consider interventions to improve muscle mass, such as resistance training or protein supplementation,” they said. “In the era of precision medicine, the direct measurement of muscle and adiposity will help to guide treatment plans and interventions to optimize survival outcomes.”  >> On AJC.com: Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says
  • Looking for ways to improve your heart health? Munching on nuts and seeds could lower your cardiovascular disease risk, according to a new report. >> Read more trending news Researchers from Loma Linda University in California recently conducted a study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, to determine which foods may contribute to heart disease risk, which can lead to high blood pressure, cardiac arrest and stroke.  To do so, they examined data from about 81,000 people, which detailed sources of animal protein, animal fat and other dietary fats. >> Related: You may be able to better avoid a heart attack with this common snack, study says After analyzing the results, they found that those who consumed large amounts of meat protein were 60 percent more likely to develop heart disease. On the other hand, people who ate large amounts of protein from nuts and seeds had a 40 percent reduced chance of getting the illness. “While dietary fats are part of the story in affecting risk of cardiovascular disease, proteins may also have important and largely overlooked independent effects on risk,” lead author Gary Fraser said in a statement. “This new evidence suggests that the full picture probably also involves the biological effects of proteins in these foods ... This research is suggesting there is more heterogeneity than just the binary categorization of plant protein or animal protein.” >> On AJC.com: You can avoid strokes and heart attacks with these two household fruits, study says While they weren’t surprised by the results, they said their investigation left further questions.  They now wonder if amino acids in meat proteins play a role in the condition. They also want to explore whether other proteins from particular sources affect cardiac risk factors such as blood lipids, blood pressure and obesity That’s why they hope to continue their investigations to help create the best diets for those at risk for the heart disease.
  • Do you avoid pasta when attempting to drop pounds? Don’t do away with the dish just yet, because it has been linked to weight loss, according to a new report. >> Read more trending news Researchers from St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada, recently conducted a study, published in the BMJ Open journal, to determine how the Italian staple affects our health. To do so, they took a look at 30 trials that examined about 2,500 people who ate pasta instead of other carbohydrates as a part of a healthy low-glycemic index diet. >> Related: These are the best diets for 2018 “Unlike most ‘refined’ carbohydrates, which are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, pasta has a low glycemic index, meaning it causes smaller increases in blood sugar levels than those caused by eating foods with a high glycemic index,” the authors wrote. >> Related: Want to lose weight? Give your breakfast an energy boost, study says After analyzing the results, they found that those who ate 3.3 servings of pasta per week, where one serving size was one-half cup of cooked pasta, lost about one-half kilogram over a 12-year period.  “The study found that pasta didn't contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat,” lead author John Sievenpiper said in a statement. 'In fact analysis actually showed a small weight loss. So contrary to concerns, perhaps pasta can be part of a healthy diet such as a low GI diet.” >> Related: Counting calories isn't key to weight loss, study finds The scientists did note that their investigation only focused on low-glycemic index foods and that more research is needed to determine if weight loss is possible for other healthy diets that include pasta. However, they believe their findings are strong.  “In weighing the evidence,” Sievenpiper said, “we can now say with some confidence that pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight outcomes when it is consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern.” 
  • College students have a reputation for binge drinking, but it’s not just them. Americans drink massive amounts of alcoholic beverages, according to a new report.  >> On AJC.com: Even one drink per day can increase your risk of cancer, study warns Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, to determine how much booze United States citizens down.  To do so, they examined information from the CDC’s 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which included self-reported data on individuals’ liquor consumption habits over 30 days. They calculated the annual binge drinking by “multiplying the estimated total number of binge drinking episodes among binge drinkers by the average largest number of drinks consumed per episode,” the authors wrote.  >> Read more trending news  After analyzing the results, they found the Americans guzzled 17 billion drinks in 2015. That equals 470 total binge drinks per binge drinker. “This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others,” co-author Robert Brewer said in a statement. >> On AJC.com: Do you drink too much? Here's what a new study says The prevalence of binge drinking was more common among young adults ages 18-34, but more than half of the binge drinks consumed annually were by adults 35 and older. Furthermore, about 80 percent of the drinks were consumed by men. And those who made less than $25,000 a year and had educational levels less than high school drank “substantially more” a year than those with higher incomes and educational levels.  The researchers said the results “show the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to prevent binge drinking, focusing on reducing both the number of times people binge drink and the amount they drink when they binge.” >> On AJC.com: Alcohol better than exercise to live past 90, study says With their findings, the researchers hope to implement prevention tactics such as reducing the number of alcohol outlets in a geographic area and limiting the days and hours of sale.