Friday News Feed: April 19, 2013

Stay up to date on the latest health headlines and learn how they could be affecting you or your loved ones.

Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion
On April 17, a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas demolished the factory and leveled buildings for blocks in all directions. Scores of people inside the blast radius were injured and a still-unknown number of citizens in the farming community, just outside of Waco, were killed. The explosion resulted in a widescale evacuation of 2,600 people, due to toxic fumes dispersed by the detonation.

Two survivors of the devastating blast discuss what they experienced. Plus, learn the dangers of toxic fumes emitted by such an explosion.

American Red Cross Spokesperson Dan Halyburton explains the challenges that the organization has faced from the disaster.

• Learn about the Intelligent First Aid kit. | Click here to see how it works.

Surviving the Boston Marathon Tragedy
What should have been cause for a marathon celebration, the finish line, instead became the starting point for terror. Thick plumes of smoke filled the air after two bombs, made from pressure cookers, detonated within seconds of each other. The explosions killed three people and close to 200 were injured from debris and shrapnel.

Nicholas and Lee Ann Yanni were both victims of the Boston Marathon explosions. Lee Ann suffered an open fibular fracture and a ruptured eardrum, while Nicholas experienced temporary hearing loss.

Lee Ann and Nicholas join The Doctors via phone to recount the terrifying and traumatic event.

Dr. Parveen Parmar of Brigham and Women’s Hospital explains how the emergency department responded to being flooded with injured people. Plus, learn about the color coding system used in emergency triage.

Preventing Teen Pregnancies

A controversial ad campaign created by New York City’s Human Resources Administration is using scare tactics in hopes of reducing the number of teen pregnancies in the city. With images of young children juxtaposed with statements such as, I’m twice as likely to not graduate high school because you had me as a teen, and, Dad, you’ll be paying to support me for the next 20 years, the initiative addresses the harsh, potential realities of parenting at a young age.

Learn more about New York City's teen pregnancy prevention campaign.

Over the past ten years, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has led a comprehensive pregnancy prevention strategy that’s resulted in a 27 percent drop in teen pregnancies in the city; however, New York still ranks at No. 18 among the top 20 states with the highest number of teen mothers.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Adolescent Health Care reports that roughly three-quarters of a million adolescents under 20 become pregnant each year in the U.S. The majority of these pregnancies are unintended and more than one-quarter end in abortion.

Click here to read ACOG’s strategies for adolescent pregnancy prevention.

Scare Away Sex?
The Doctors discuss New York City’s campaign to prevent teen pregnancies.

The Teen Perspective
Teenage audience members weigh in on the efficacy of the ads.

“I do not agree with the ad campaign because I think they shame the mother and they shame the baby,” OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. “What I’ve seen with teen girls in my practice is that if they feel good about themselves, if they have a positive self-image, then they’re really less likely to get pregnant and acquire STDs.”

Pregnancy Peek-a-Boo?
An expectant mother in Britain captured the world’s attention when she claimed that her baby’s face was visible in her belly bump. See the photo in question and find out whether the mother’s assertion was authentic, or simply an optical illusion.

Daycare Nightmare

Parents in the picturesque suburb of Morgan Hill, California were stunned and dismayed when a once-trusted and beloved caregiver at a local daycare was arrested for drugging children with an adult sleep aid. The woman had worked at the daycare facility for six years and supervised toddlers between ages 1 and 2 during naptime.

Learn more about the shocking story and the potential dangers of sleep aids in young kids.

Implantable Heartburn Cure
An estimated 60 million Americans suffer from chronic heartburn, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).If left untreated, GERD can erode the lining of the esophagus and lead to esophageal cancer. Stomach acid-suppressing drugs, also known as proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, are available in prescription and over-the-counter forms, and are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S.; however, as with any other medication, there are accompanying risks.

Prolonged high doses and/or long-term use of PPIs can affect vitamin and mineral absorption, which can negatively impact cellular function and cause bone degeneration. PPIs have also been linked to an increased risk for Clostridium difficile (C. diff), a serious and sometimes deadly bacterial infection.

Hazards of Heartburn Medications
Learn how prolonged usage of proton pump inhibitors can cause serious health repercussions.

The LINX Reflux Management System
This tiny, magnetic device is the newest weapon in the war on acid reflux. See how it works!

The LINX device is comprised of magnetic beads connected by titanium links, which allow the beads to expand then contract during a swallow or belch. LINX is best-suited for patients with mild or moderate acid reflux. People suffering from severe GERD may benefit from another, more invasive procedure called Nissen, which involves sewing the upper curve of the stomach around the lower portion of the esophagus, essentially creating a one-way valve. The Nissen procedure, however, is only effective in about half of patients and comes with unwanted side effects, such as excess gas and the inability to belch or vomit. The LINX procedure, on the other hand, is less invasive and is performed in half the amount of time.

The Keck School of Medicine of USCwas one of 14 U.S. and European medical centers to test the LINX device, prior to FDA approval. Clinical studies showed that a large majority of patients reported a significant decrease in their acid reflux symptoms after undergoing the procedure, and approximately 90 percent of the patients studied no longer needed to take daily medications for GERD.

To learn more about the LINX Reflux Management System and its side effects, click here.

National Infant Immunization Week

April 20-27 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), an annual observance to promote the benefits of immunizations and to protect children two years old or younger from vaccine-preventable diseases. NIIW is part of an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) that provides resources for parents and caregivers, and encourages better communication with health care professionals.

The Vaccines for Children Program (VCF) provides vaccinations at no cost to eligible families.

More Tips on Infant Safety
Bedtime safety for your baby.
Dangers of drop-side cribs.
Car seat safety guidelines.

Fighting Flat Head Syndrome
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); however, due to infants’ soft, developing skulls, they are prone to another condition called positional plagiocephaly. Also referred to as flat head syndrome, plagiocephaly is a condition where the side and/or back of the cranium becomes obliquely misshapen. If untreated, plagiocephaly can negatively affect cognitive and motor skills, and can also cause problems with vision, hearing and spinal alignment. Roughly 1 in 4 infants develop some degree of cranial distortion, and babies born prematurely are at an increased risk, since their skulls are more malleable than babies who are born at full-term.

Audience member Abbey is expecting her first child and has concerns about her baby developing flat head syndrome. Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears recommends keeping babies off their backs as much as possible, when they're not sleeping, and regularly alternating which side of the head a baby sleeps on to prevent plagiocephaly from occurring. To help parents achieve this, they can elect to use a simple, safe and comfortable beanie called the Tortle, created by board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist Dr. Jane Scott.

Dr. Scott named her invention the Tortle because it protects the infant skull in the same way that a tortoise shell shapes and protects the body of a turtle. In addition, the medical device combats a condition called torticollis, a severe tightening of neck muscles that is associated with flat head syndrome.

The FDA-cleared Tortle is equipped with a non-toxic foam support roll to promote healthy head and neck motion, without the risks of suffocation from using repositioning pillows or wedges.

“It travels with the baby, so it can be worn absolutely everywhere,” Dr. Scott explains. “The whole idea is to move the support roll from side to side, so that the baby’s head is repositioned from side to side, usually about every 2 or 3 hours.”