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Woman Uses Rubber Bands, Hair Elastics as DIY Braces

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Instructional videos for do-it-yourself braces have become popular on YouTube, but dentists say people considering them should think twice.

A Washington State woman claims she closed her tooth gap in 44 days using $5 worth of hair elastics. She posted six videos to YouTube chronicling the process, garnering hundreds of comments and more than 100,000 views.

"I've got some news for you," Washington-based Jamila Garza says into the camera, beaming. "My gap is officially closed."

Then, she did a little dance. Sitting down with ABC Seattle affiliate KOMO, she said she could "fit a toothpick" into the gap before she used the hairbands to close it.

But doctors say DIY-dentistry is a bad idea because people can do some "major damage" even if their teeth look fine on the surface.

"If teeth are moved too quickly, the roots of teeth can resorb," said cosmetic dentist Dr. Joseph Banker, who owns a practice in New Jersey, explaining that this means the root can start dissolving. "Orthodonture is so much more than straight teeth."

People who try to make their own braces don't know enough about how the mouth functions to move things appropriately, potentially leading to problems with the jaw joints, muscle spasms, clenching problems and shooting pain, Banker said. They can also get gum and periodontal disease, he said.

The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics issued a consumer alert about the use of elastic bands by non-dentists to close gaps in teeth.

"Most of the time, there are no problems, but if the rubber band slides into the soft tissues, it is difficult if not impossible to retrieve it, and it continues along the distal surface of the roots, destroying the periodontal attachment and producing inflammation," the editorial states. "As this occurs, the teeth extrude, the crowns fan out as the roots are pulled together, the teeth become increasingly mobile, and then they might just fall out."

And Garza's videos, which were posted three years ago but have seen a spike in viewers, are not the only ones. YouTube is filled with videos claiming to offer a cheap alternative to braces without a trip to the orthodontist.

"Leave the dentistry to the experts," Banker said.


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How to Avoid the Germs on Your Winter Gloves

Wavebrak Media / Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In the winter, gloves hold railings, open doors, push strollers and sometimes even act as your own personal tissue. So what happens when all those germs transfer to your winter gloves?

Good Morning America took to the snowy paths in New York City's Central Park to swab people's gloves -- ranging from wool to leather to nylon -- and test for bacteria and viruses. We also swabbed the gloves of some of our fellow ABC employees.

The results?

Out of the 27 samples tested, 26 were positive for bacteria. While most are harmless, nine of those tested positive for bacteria including staph and MRSA, which could be harmful if they came in contact with an open wound.

One of the samples tested positive for the corona virus, which doctors say is one of the causes of the common cold.

"Every time your glove comes into contact , you're taking away some of the bacteria that was on that surface," explained Dr. Susan Whittier, director of Clinical Microbiology Service at New York Presbyterian, Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

The good news for glove-wearers is that the bacteria and viruses that attach to gloves may not last very long, just hours or minutes in some cases.

"It's not going to be alive on the glove for very long because it has nothing to help it survive," Dr. Whittier said.

According to experts, these three steps can help protect you from potential germs on your gloves.

  1. Let your gloves air dry instead of keeping them balled up in your pockets.
  2. Wash gloves often. You can even use a disinfectant wipe for some fabrics.
  3. Be conscious not to touch your face with your gloves.

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American Kennel Club Says Labrador Retriever Top Dog Again

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- American dog owners have spoken and once again they say they love Labrador retrievers.

The family-friendly breed of dogs is atop the American Kennel Club’s list of the Most Popular Dogs in the U.S., for the 24th consecutive year.

“The Lab truly is America’s dog,” AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo said in a statement.

The AKC’s 2014 list, released Thursday, shows German shepherds, golden retrievers, bulldogs and beagles following Labrador retrievers in the top five.

The beagle, which ranked number five on the AKC list, saw its breed get attention earlier this year when a Beagle named Miss P, from British Columbia, took home the top Best in Show honor at the Westminster Kennel Club Show earlier this month.

The AKC's most popular list is derived from the number of dogs within each breed registered with the club, an AKC spokeswoman told ABC News.

The bulldog moved up one spot, into number four, above the beagle, on this year's list. The AKC attributes the bulldogs' rise to the breeds’, “natural tendency to form strong bonds with kids, an easy-to-care-for coat and minimal exercise needs. “

A more specific type of Bulldog, the French bulldog, moved into the top 10, at number nine, this year for the first time in nearly 100 years, according to the AKC.

The Labrador retriever’s spot atop the Most Popular Breeds’ list continues its streak as the longest reign in AKC history.

Here is the full top 10 list of the 2014 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. German Shepherd Dog
  3. Golden Retriever
  4. Bulldog
  5. Beagle
  6. Yorkshire Terrier
  7. Poodle
  8. Boxer
  9. French Bulldog
  10. Rottweiler

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Danish Study Links ADHD with Increased Mortality Rate

alexandrenunes/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study conducted in Demark has linked ADHD to a higher risk of accidental deaths.

According to the study, published in the Lancet journal, researchers used Danish national registers to follow 1.92 million individuals, including 32,061 with ADHD, from the time of their first birthday through 2013. In that time, 5,580 of the individuals followed in the study died.

Researchers say that the death rate per 10,000 person-years was 5.85 percent among those with ADHD and just 2.21 percent in those without the disorder. Accidents were the most common cause of death.

Individuals whose ADHD was not diagnosed until after the age of 18 were at the highest rate of accidental death, the study showed.

The study included a solely Danish population, meaning its results may not be applicable to other populations.

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NYC Doctor Who Contracted Ebola Recounts Scare, Criticizes Public Response

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Craig Spencer, the New York doctor who contracted Ebola while treating Ebola patients in West Africa last year and later recovered from the disease, has written an essay in which he denies all of the labels he was given -- "fraud," "hipster," and "hero."

Spencer's essay, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, notes that he kept a journal while in West Africa to help assess his "perceived level of risk of being infected with the deadly virus." In that journal, he marked how much risk each day's work had put him at, checking off "minimal risk" every day. Still, he was checked into Bellevue Hospital with Ebola in October 2014.

While working in West Africa, Spencer says he "was fueled by compassion and the immense challenge of caring for patients with Ebola." After returning, the 33-year-old said he felt "depressed for the first time in my life," citing the suffering he had seen and exhaustion.

"The morning of my hospitalization," Spencer wrote, "I woke up knowing something was wrong. I felt different than I had since my return -- I was more tired, warm, breathing fast."

"My activities before I was hospitalized were widely reported and highly criticized," Spencer continued. "People feared riding the subway or going bowling because of me...I was labeled a fraud, a hispter, and a hero."

"The truth is I am none of those things," Spencer says. "I'm just someone who answered a call for help and was lucky enough to survive."

Spencer also said that he understood the "fear that gripped the country" in the wake of his illness. Still, he says he criticized the media, which he says "sold hype with flashy headlines...abdicating their responsibility for informing public opinion and influencing public policy," and politicians who "took advantage of the panic to try to appear presidential instead of supporting a sound, science-based public health response."

"When we look back on this epidemic, I hope we'll recognize that fear caused our initial hesitance to respond -- and caused us to respond poorly when we finally did," Spencer concluded. "I know how real the fear of Ebola is, but we need to overcome it. We all lose when we allow irrational fear...to supersede pragmatic public health preparedness."

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Pedestrian Fatalities Largely Unchanged in 2014

stevanovicigor/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new report released Thursday details pedestrian fatalities in 2014, finding that the rate of pedestrian death is virtually unchanged from the year before.

The report, titled Spotlight on Highway Safety: Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, was released by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The GHSA estimated that 2,125 pedestrians were killed in the first half of 2014 -- a slight decrease than the figure in the first half of 2013 (2,141). The 2014 figure is about 15 percent higher than in 2009, the report indicates.

Perhaps most notably, 42 percent of pedestrian deaths occur in just four states -- California, Florida, New York and Texas.

"While we're encouraged that pedestrian fatalities haven't increased over the past two years, progress has been slow," GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in a release. "Protecting pedestrians is a priority for GHSA and our members; we're determined to drive the number down to zero."

The GHSA report did find that 24 states and the District of Columbia saw decreases in pedestrian fatalities in 2014. Sixteen states saw single-digit fatality figures, while Wyoming and Nebraska each reported just one.

The report details efforts being made around the country to combat the problem of fatal accidents involving pedestrians. Specifically mentioned are crossing guards in Pennsylvania, education patrols featuring Delaware police officers and a lowered speed limit in New York City.

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Study Warns Heart Attack Survivors of Risks of Taking Painkillers

Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Suffering a heart attack is bad but having another one is much worse.

And yet, a new study says that some heart attack survivors may be putting themselves at risk for a second myocardial infarction or possibly a stroke by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain of muscle discomfort and arthritis.

Dr. Charles Campbell, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Tennessee Erlanger Health Systems in Chattanooga, wrote an editorial for the Journal of the American Medical Association arguing that drugs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen and Celebrex, may be unsafe to use days, weeks or even months after a heart attack.

While he’s not telling patients to just and grin and bear pain, he nevertheless recommends they scale back on NSAIDs as much as possible.

The goal now, according to Campbell, is finding safer solutions to these common painkillers that will lessen the risk of internal bleeding that can lead to another heart attack or stroke.

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How a Researcher Is Trying to Turn Tattoos Into Medical Devices

Analytical Chemistry, 2015(NEW YORK) -- A California researcher is trying to turn "tattoos" into tiny "medical labs" -- with early prototypes able to monitor a person's workout or measure a diabetic's blood-glucose levels.

A team led by Dr. Joseph Wang, chairman of nanoengineering at the University of California San Diego, first developed the fitness-tracker temporary tattoo designed to measure a key chemical on the skin that can give insight into a person's workout.

The sticker-like "tattoo" was able to correctly measure 10 people's lactate levels through their skin using a special sensor in a small study published in Analytical Chemistry in 2013. The lactate chemical is excreted during exercise and, basically, the more intense a workout the higher the levels.

A newer version also will be able to tell if an athlete is hydrated, Wang said.

The tattoo fitness tracker is being developed for commercial use through the company Electrozyme, which claims it will be able to alert users if they need to re-hydrate or take in more electrolytes, or are in danger of overheating.

"The hydration level will tell you the level of fitness and lactate will tell you muscle fatigue," Wang said of the new tracker.

The product has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

More recently, Wang has been working to introduce another, more complex tattoo that could help diabetics accurately read their blood-glucose levels without using a needle.

In a small study of seven people between the ages of 20 to 40, Wang and his team were able to correctly measure glucose with the tiny sensors. In the recent study, which was published in Analytical Chemistry, the volunteers ate a carb-heavy meal and then their glucose or blood sugar was monitored every 10 minutes for the next hour.

To measure blood-sugar levels, the two tiny electrodes are able to use small electrical currents to pull out glucose from under the skin without breaking the skin.

"The goal is to replace the finger stick blood [for] all the diabetics," Wang told ABC News.

Wang said more work and research is needed, but the tattoo could provide a less invasive way for diabetics to read their glucose levels.

Wang added that his team wants to incorporate fun imagery in the tattoos so that even young children won't mind wearing a small tattoo sensor.

"In children, they don’t like finger stick...[so] we put Mickey Mouse over them," Wang said of the thin sensors. "They really like to play with this."

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Millions More Americans Can Now Afford Their Medical Bills

Andre Blais/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK ) -- More Americans under the age of 65 -- 2.9 million more to be exact -- are no longer facing the same difficulties paying their medical bills as they were a year ago, according to a new CDC report released Thursday.

All told, nearly 8.8 million have achieved this level of financial security with regard to their medical bills since 2011.

There are still 47.7 million Americans that have problems with paying their medical bills, according to the CDC report. That’s roughly 17 percent of the American adult population overall.

Children are more likely than adults to be in families having problems paying medical bills, according to researchers.

The researchers also found that Americans with private insurance have less trouble paying medical bills than those with public insurance, and they experience far less trouble than uninsured Americans.

Racial disparities, however, have not improved. Non-Hispanic black Americans still fare worse than Hispanic Americans, and Hispanics still do worse than non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic Asians in the new report.

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Peanut Allergy Study: Three Questions Parents Have

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In what could be a game changer, a new study finds that feeding peanut products to infants early may cut their risk of developing allergies.

“Every once in a while a study comes out and you just say, ‘Wow, this goes against everything I was taught as a pediatrician and what I’ve been telling parents,’” Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, said Tuesday on ABC’s Good Morning America.

The study, published in Monday’s New England Journal of Medicine, found that children younger than 1 who avoided peanuts were 80 percent more likely to develop full-blown peanut allergies than those who didn't.

Besser said this is important information because the number of children living with peanut allergy has tripled since 1997, according to the advocacy group Food and Allergy Research and Education.

Parents definitely have questions about the study, Besser said. Here are some of the questions they’ve been asking, along with what the study suggests.

 

@DrRichardBesser @kellyg377 Yes, But why the increase?What are the theories pointing to?Are Environ factors or changing genetics driving it?

— Daddy (@daddyblr) February 24, 2015

 

“One of the thoughts is that we’ve made the world too clean for children,” Besser explained. “Our children need to be exposed to things early in life so that they’re immune system tones down.”

This so-called “hygiene hypothesis” proposes that when the immune system is introduced to possible allergens early on, it does not develop severe reactions when subjected to them later on.

 

@DrRichardBesser breastfeeding, noticed rash on 8week old after I ate cashews. Do I stay away from all nuts?

— Tricia Williams (@tricianw) February 24, 2015

 

“If your child already has food allergies or is at high risk, they need to be skin-tested before you do anything,” Besser said, adding that it’s important to discuss any diagnosed or potential allergies with your child’s doctor.

 

@GMA @DrRichardBesser peanuts yes/peanuts no coffee yes/coffee no wine yes/wine no ... what/who are we to believe? #trust #drknowsbest

— rose howe (@howe_rose) February 24, 2015



Besser said he understood parents’ frustration with changing health information but every new, well-designed study helps us learn. The current thinking is that any child not at high risk for allergies should be exposed to a wide variety of foods as a baby.

“No milk, no honey but everything else is good to go for babies in the first year of life,” he said.

 

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Same-Sex Couples May One Day Have Biological Children, Researchers Say

Pekic/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A stem cell research breakthrough might someday allow same-sex couples to have their own biological children.

Researchers at Cambridge University in England have taken the first steps towards creating artificial sperm and eggs by reprogramming skin cells from adults and converting them into embryonic-like stem cells. The team then compared the engineered stem cells with human cells from fetuses to confirm they were in fact, identical.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Cell earlier this week, stressing that it’s early days for this type of research.

“We have succeeded in the first and most important step of the process,” Dr. Jacob Hanna, an investigator with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, told ABC News.

Hanna said the team will now attempt to complete the process by creating fully developed artificial sperm and eggs, either in a dish or by implanting them in a rodent. Once this is achieved, the technique could become useful for any individual with fertility problems, he said, including couples of the same sex.

"It has already caused interest from gay groups because of the possibility of making egg and sperm cells from parents of the same sex," Hanna said.

However, the prospect of creating a baby by these artificial means alone is probably a long way off, Hanna said.

“It is really important to emphasize that while this scenario might be technically possible and feasible, it is remote at this stage and many challenges need to be overcome,” he said. “Further, there are very serious ethical and safety issues to be considered when and if such scenarios become considered in the distant future.”

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership.

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Bionic Eye Lets Blind Man See Wife for First Time in 10 Years

Courtesy Mayo Clinic(NEW YORK) -- It was love again at first sight for a man who went blind 10 years ago.

Allen Zderad, a 68-year-old retiree from Minnesota, saw his wife for the first time in more than a decade thanks to a bionic eye implanted by doctors at the Mayo Clinic earlier this month.

“Thank you,” Zderad said in the touching scene captured on video. “It’s crude but it’s significant. ...It’ll work.”

“Who do you see?” His wife Carmen asked Zderad just before the two hugged each other in a long, tearful embrace.

Zderad has retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative condition that attacks the retina. There is no treatment or cure for the disease. He told ABC News his vision gradually deteriorated over a 20-year period until he was only able to sense very bright light.

After his grandson was diagnosed with the same condition last year, Zderad was recruited by the Mayo Clinic and Second Sight, the implant’s maker, to test out the device. Dr. Raymond Iezzi Jr., a Mayo Clinic researcher and ophthalmologist, performed the surgery.

The bionic eye implant sends light wave signals to the optic nerve, bypassing the damaged retina, a statement from the Mayo Clinic explained. In January, a tiny wafer-like chip was embedded in Zderad's right eye. Two weeks later, the eyeglass-style prosthetic device was activated.

Zderad described his new-found abilities as “artificial sight.” He is able to make out shapes, forms and outlines in intermittent flashes. Everything is in black and white now, but with training and periodic upgrades over a five-year period he is confident that he will begin to see more sharply, he told ABC News.

“What an exciting, emotional thing to say that, ‘Yes, that is my wife,’” Zderad said. “I am grateful they made this as much about the person as the technology.”

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Heart Attacks: Women at Greater Risk for Fatal Ones, Study Finds

zaganDesign/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An important alert about heart disease from a new study finds that too many women fail to recognize the symptoms until it's too late.

Heart disease kills one in three women every year.

Young women are especially vulnerable because they often don’t recognize the signs and symptoms of heart trouble.

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health interviewed 30 women between the ages of 30 and 55, who had heart attacks. All of these women delayed treatment because they didn't recognize the symptoms or lacked knowledge about their risk factors, the researchers found.

“What we know is that the signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women can be very vague and they can mimic the signs and symptoms of something very common things,” ABC News medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton told Good Morning America.

Rosie O'Donnell was just 50 when she had a heart attack in 2012. Even though she had symptoms, she delayed seeking treatment for more than a day, she has admitted.

Ignorance alone could be responsible for the more than 15,000 women who die each year from a heart attack in the U.S, the researchers speculated. It could also explain why women under the age of 55 have twice the risk of dying during hospitalization for an acute heart attack than men in the same age group.

The classic scene where a man clutches his chest and collapses to the ground may not necessarily apply to women, according to the American Heart Association. In reality, symptoms for a woman may be far less dramatic.

“Chest pain is still the most common symptom of a heart attack,” Ashton said. "There can be shortness of breath and almost flu-like symptoms including nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting.”

Symptoms may start several days or even weeks before a major heart attack, Ashton added.

Other common heart attack symptoms for women include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach, the American Heart Association noted. If you have any of these signs, the association urges you not to wait more than five minutes before calling for medical help.

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If Your Maternal Grandpa Is Bald, Will You Go Bald?

indigolotos/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Young men have often wondered, “Will I go bald?” and the old adage, “If your mom’s dad is bald, you’ll go bald” is commonly applied.

But, gentlemen, if your mom’s dad is bald, don’t wig out just yet. While there may be a hair of truth to the old saying, it definitely doesn’t tell the whole story.

Dr. Ashley Winter specializes in urology at New York Presbyterian Hospital but also knows a thing or two about the genetics behind baldness. She reports on the subject: “The main gene we blame for male pattern baldness is on the X chromosome...the X chromosome they inherit from their mother can come from either their mother’s mother or their mother’s father, meaning that target blameful gene can come from your mom’s mom or your mom’s dad.”

She also goes on to explain that the gene for baldness doesn’t act independently, and is affected by a lot of other genes that are inherited in different ways.

“So, basically, the big bad bald truth is that anyone who gives you genetic material can make you go bald,” Winter said.

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When It's OK to Discipline Someone Else's Kids

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Picture this: Your child is at a play date and you stop by to pick her up. As you walk into the family's yard, you see your child crying and what appears to be the mom who is hosting the play date scolding her.

How would you feel?

In her recent article for Babble.com, Chaunie Brusie details the tale. Except that she's the mom doling out the discipline.

The short version: Brusie's daughter and the other child got into an argument over a swing. The friend breaks into sobs. Brusie, who is a few steps away, starts to make her way over to the girls and says, “I can’t hear you if you’re crying, honey!”

Brusie writes: "I admit that I may have sounded slightly unconcerned to her plight and I admit that I may have sighed that sigh of tired mothers everywhere as I said it, but I swear my intentions were simply to distract her from crying so I could remedy the swing situation.

But it was at the exact moment that the words left my lips that I saw her.

The girl’s mother.

Who had just come into the yard to witness two things: 1) Her daughter crying hysterically and 2) a woman she barely knew basically scolding her for crying.

I was beyond mortified and even more embarrassed when the woman pretty much sprinted to her daughter, scooped her up, and made the hastiest of hasty retreats."

After the incident, the relationship "kind of deteriorated," Brusie told ABC News.

Despite what happened, which she said "looked a lot worse than it was," Brusie did not and doesn't "ever think it's appropriate" to discipline someone else's child. "There is so much going on 'behind the scenes' so to speak with someone else's child that you aren't privy to, so you really can't know what's going on enough to be able to discipline them effectively."

Plus, "I've never been a fan when people have disciplined my child," she said.

Parenting expert Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time…, said seeing your own child disciplined by another adult can be very difficult.

"Assume the other person did it out of love,” she said. “It’s natural to feel like we’re being judged and get defensive but if we can assume the person did it from a place of love, we’re more likely to respond with kindness."

She added, however, that if the direction or reprimand goes against how you parent, you should "calmly let the other person know you handle things differently and you’ll address the issue with the child in private."

And while McCready generally advises against disciplining other people's children, saying, "anytime children are involved parent’s emotions are heightened," there is one time where it is completely appropriate. "If the child is in danger then, of course, you should intervene swiftly and without hesitation."

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