Posted in children, Health, news, Social Media, vaccinations

Over 2/3 of Online Vaccine Information Videos May Contain Misinformation

The number of children who are unvaccinated in the US is rising, and health experts believe misinformation obtained online could be to blame.

A study published in Clinical Pediatrics this month found over 2/3 of online videos to be incorrect when discussing vaccine health risks.

Dr. Daliah Wachs with students and faculty from Touro University Nevada reviewed 200 videos on YouTube that resulted when searching the terms “vaccines,” “vaccine risk,” “vaccine side effects,” and “vaccines and autism,” and found 68% of the videos to contain misinformation.   They additionally found that most of the misinformation occurred within the first 2 minutes of the video.

The most common types of misleading information were:

  • Factually contradicting the CDC or UpToDate, a widely used clinical resource for clinicians and patients
  • Offering anecdotal evidence (based on personal accounts or hearsay)
  • Utilizing unreliable resources or not citing resources

The study authors write: “It is important to recognize that most of the population does not possess a background in medicine or research. The majority of people are susceptible to taking information at face value, and lack the time and energy to delve into the credibility of a video on vaccines as we have in this study.”

The failure by the viewer to fact check the information or sources provided may also come from a misled perception that the online health video was produced by a renowned clinical resource.

If the video is an opinion piece, it many times does not specify.

Wachs states, “when a parent has a child who is unvaccinated, the reasoning can span over a wide range… anywhere from religious preference, to inability to take off work, to fearing a side effect, to distrust of the medical community.

“Parents on the fence about vaccination may feel apprehensive about bringing this up to their medical provider and turn to online education instead.  So this study gives insight to the types and quality of information to which some parents may be exposed.”

Although the majority of children in the US are routinely vaccinated, in 2018 the CDC found the proportion of children “who received no vaccine doses by age 24 months” to be gradually increasing.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, iHeart Radio and is Board Certified Family Physician

 

 

 

 

Posted in children, Entertainment, Health, news, smart devices, Social Media, video games

Most Parents Are Concerned With Their Child’s Gaming Habits

A poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found 86% of parents feel kids spend too much time gaming.

They report the following:

Among parents who say their teen plays video games every day, 54% reported extended gaming of 3 or more hours each day, compared to only 13% of teens that do not play every day; 13% of these parents believe their teen spends more time gaming than other teens, while 78% believe their teen’s gaming is less than or about the same as other teens. One in five parents (21%) say their teen does not play video games at all.
Most parents agree or strongly agree (86%) that teens spend too much time playing video games. Parents try a variety of strategies to limit the amount of time their teen spends gaming including sometimes or frequently encouraging other activities (75%), setting time limits (54%), providing incentives to limit gaming (23%) and hiding gaming equipment (14%).
Overall, parents say gaming sometimes or frequently gets in the way of other aspects of their teen’s life such as family activities/interactions (46%), sleep (44%), homework (34%), friendship with non-gaming peers (33%) and extracurricular activities (31%). Parents whose teen plays every day are more likely to report that gaming has a negative effect on their teen’s mood compared to those who play less frequently (42% vs. 23%).
Although many parents (71%) believe video games can be good for teens, some (44%) try to restrict the type/content of the games they play. Parents of teens 13-15 years, compared to teens 16-18 years, are more likely to use rating systems to make sure games are appropriate (43% vs. 18%), encourage their teen to play with friends in person and not online (25% vs. 18%) and not allow gaming in their teen’s bedroom (28% vs. 14%).

The Helicopter Theory

Many parents may have inadvertently fueled their child’s gaming habits as if their child is in their home playing a video game, they are not away and getting into mischief….a “helicoptering” if you will…..

Parents fear drug use, unsafe sex practices, DUIs, abductions with their teens and so gaming at home while socializing online seems safer and may not be discouraged in a household.

But it’s not “safe” as predators lurk online and hours of gaming can lead to obesity, blood clots, sleep disorders, and depression.

 

Gaming Disorder Now Considered “Mental Illness”

Those who find themselves playing video games for hours on end may end up with a mental health diagnosis.  The World Health Organization suggested adding “gaming disorder” to its list of disease classifications.

But do those World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Fortnite, and Candy Crush fans need to seek professional help immediately?  Well to qualify as having a “gaming disorder”, the WHO suggests the following guidelines:

  • The compulsive pattern of behavior has to exist for at least 12 months.
  • The behavior affects one’s personal life, occupation or health negatively.
  • Once the behavior negatively affects one’s life, the behavior continues or escalates.

They write: impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

They continue:  The inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 follows the development of treatment programs for people with health conditions identical to those characteristic of gaming disorder in many parts of the world, and will result in the increased attention of health professionals to the risks of development of this disorder and, accordingly, to relevant prevention and treatment measures.

Why are we getting addicted?

Video games act on the pleasure centers of the brain, just as alcohol, opiates and chocolate do.  We get “rewarded” by certain behaviors, giving us confidence and ego boots that we don’t get in the real world.  We begin to prefer to be alone with our controller than outside being written up by a supervisor, or turned down by a potential date.  Colors, sounds, awards, level advancement is psychologically addicting.

How to treat a gaming disorder

Many times gaming disorders are accompanied by other internet addictions such as porn and online shopping.  The following are treatment options used to curb one’s compulsive gaming behavior:

  • Limit screen time to one hour a day
  • Screen time holidays, or only use screen time for academic, work purposes
  • Play old school games with the kids such as Chess, Monopoly, or Dungeons and Dragons
  • Encourage family and friend outings such as camping, hiking, and cool projects
  • Visits to the library to use encyclopedias rather than going to Google (avoiding online ads that could tempt one to continue playing/shopping)
  • Cognitive/behavioral therapy
  • Medications, such as Zoloft, that treat OCD.
  • Treatment of the underlying disorder…depression, anxiety, loneliness, etc.

___________________________________

Some play but some blay….

Blaying is when one continues to play a level of a game despite being bored and disliking it.

Researchers estimate over 420 million people are addicted to the internet.  Smartphone addiction is rising exponentially as well.  These addictions many times involve gaming.  Hours are spent playing online games and levels within these games many times require multiple attempts.  If the level is not mastered, one is “stuck” on the level, but continues to play it in hopes the next level will be “better”.  This is all too time consuming.

Those of you who play Candy Crush know exactly what “blaying is”.  For example, you get stuck on level 2124 and can’t advance until you master that level.  But you hate it.  You keep losing and are really bored with the level.  But everyday you return to blayin the hopes that your luck will change and you can advance to a new level.  Eventually that level gets tiresome and you must blay your way through that one.

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Another example:  Advancing to a new World of Warcraft level can be so tempting that one blays for weeks until they finally complete all the quests necessary to advance.

Remember “Around the World” in basketball.  One shoots from  different markers on the court and can’t advance until they make a basket.  But some of us get stuck forever on level 3, and cringe everytime we miss.  But we continue to blay until someone wins or has the chutzpah to say “This is boring!”.

But the psychology behind it is fascinating in that rather than having a quitting mentality, the gamer drudges on.  But why go through such boredom and anguish?  If we can get to the psychological root of blaying, maybe we could be a step closer to fighting internet addiction.

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, iHeart Radio and is a Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Blood, children, Christmas, donations, Health, news, seniors

Giving Tuesday: Ideas If You’re On A Budget

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 to encourage generosity and altruism.  The holidays are an ideal time to share our blessings and fortunes with others who may be less fortunate.  Many charities find this time the busiest of the year and funds are needed to help the great work they do, hence #GivingTuesday couldn’t come at a more opportune time.  Donations of any size can be life saving.

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However, some of us may be on very tight budgets and unable to donate money.  No worries….Giving Tuesday is not just about monetary donations.  There are TONS of meaningful ways one can give to help others.

Blood Donation

The winter season is a challenging time for many of our blood banks and every 3 seconds, someone needs blood. When one donates a pint of blood it can help save up to 3 lives. And it doesn’t cost a cent.

The American Red Cross is accepting blood donations. Local blood drives can be found at redcross.org.

Vitalant has locations throughout the country that can accept your blood donation as well. Contact Vitalant here.

Food Drives

Collecting non perishable food items from your pantry, neighbors or coworkers can be done quickly, easily and when taken to a shelter or organization can feed hungry and sometimes malnourished people in your community.

Clothing Drives

How many of us have saved our clothes from high school hoping we’ll fit into them again?  Well we won’t….so why hold on to a lost dream.  Tons of clothes in your closet can clothe those in need of the community…and an extra benefit is now you’ll create extra space in your closet.

Volunteer

Many shelters and charities need all hands on deck during this time of year.  Churches and temples organize community events as well and could use the extra manpower. Donating your time is worth hundreds of dollars for charities who sometimes need to hire people to help them accomplish the great work they do.

Host a Neighborhood Garage Sale

This is easy and fun where the neighborhood comes together to donate items they wish to sell, and all the money raised goes to a charity of choice.

Donate your Work

Some families could use a service or product that your company provides.  Offering a family in need some surplus or an hour of your time could go a long way.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in children, food, Health, news

Child Goes “Blind” From Junk Food Diet: The Growing Malnourishment Epidemic

A case report in Annals of Internal Medicine describes a teen who went “blind” from a junk food diet.

A 14 year-old boy described as a “fussy eater” presented to his doctor with fatigue after years of eating meals rich in fries, white bread, chips and processed meat.  He was told to take supplements when they found him to be iron and B12 deficient but progressively over the next 3 years he began to suffer from vision loss.  Upon lab testing he was found to be deficient in iron, copper, selenium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B 12. And upon further testing was found to suffer from optic neuropathy.

He was further treated with supplements and now is under the care of specialists including nutritionists and eating disorder specialists.

His condition stabilized but reportedly he still has deficits such as blind spots  in the middle of his vision (central scotomata), rendering him “legally blind.”

This wasn’t the first case of nutritional optic neuropathy.

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Above is a picture of the fundi of a 28 year-old male who suffered from central vision loss as a result of his diet which consisted of heavy alcohol use.  The progression of his disease has stabilized with intervention but he too has had to learn to adapt to his central scotomata.

Our eyes need vitamins such as A, a variety of B’s, C, E, and omega-3 fatty acids to name a few.  Vitamin D is crucial for bone health and for protection against diabetes and cancer.

Most fast food is rich in carbohydrates, fats, salt and preservatives, and lacking in rich nutrients and amino acids.

So comes the question, are the majority of our youth “malnourished?”

Unless our children are eating diets rich is fruit, vegetables, whole grains, protein, dairy and health fats, they could be at risk of not receiving vital nutrition.

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Vitamin supplementation helps but may not satisfy all the nutritional needs of a growing child.  Hence in addition to the millions of children who suffer from malnourishment due to poverty, millions more are expected to suffer similarly as a result of poor diet choices.

This is a developing story.

 

 

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Great Gift!!!

The Ultimate Medical Student HandBook

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in children, Health, news

US Braces for New Wave of Polio-Like Illness

As August approaches, the CDC is asking health care professionals to be on the lookout and report any suspected cases of AFM (Acute Flaccid Myelitis), a paralyzing illness resembling polio, as cases may peak during this time.

Last year a total of 233 cases were confirmed in 41 states.  This year 11 have been reported and an additional 57 cases are being investigated.  Cases have been reported in California, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and West Virginia this year.

 

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Image above from CDC

Last year, California, Colorado and Texas appeared to be the worst hit with 15, 16 and 31  cases respectively.  Experts are urging states to report any cases of suspected AFM as the above map could be an under-representation of true numbers.

On their website, the CDC reports the following:

  • Most of the patients with AFM (more than 90%) had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before they developed AFM.
    • Viral infections such as from enteroviruses are common, especially in children, and most people recover. We don’t know why a small number of people develop AFM, while most others recover. We are continuing to investigate this.
  • These AFM cases are not caused by poliovirus; all the stool specimens from AFM patients that we received tested negative for poliovirus.
  • We detected coxsackievirus A16, EV-A71, and EV-D68 in the spinal fluid of four of 570 confirmed cases of AFM since 2014, which points to the cause of those patients’ AFM. For all other patients, no pathogen (germ) has been detected in their spinal fluid to confirm a cause.
  • Most patients had onset of AFM between August and October, with increases in AFM cases every two years since 2014. At this same time of year, many viruses commonly circulate, including enteroviruses, and will be temporally associated with AFM.
  • Most AFM cases are children (over 90%) and have occurred in 48 states and DC.

 

The “48 states” refers to cases since 2014.   90% of the cases occurred in children under the age of 4.

The age range of children affected appear to be 3-14.  A 6-year-old boy in Washington State died in 2016 and was the first death to be linked to this mysterious illness.  His parents reported he had felt ill, became dizzy and within hours suffered swelling in the brain and paralysis.  Despite medical efforts, he passed.

In 2018 parents of two children who died from AFM accused the CDC of hiding their deaths.

Although the exact cause of AFM is unknown, health experts are considering a variety of possibilities. They have actually been investigating this since 2014 when reports of AFM began to surface across the United States.

What is AFM?

AFM stands for Acute Flaccid Myelitis.  It’s a condition that occurs suddenly, causing inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle tone and reflexes.  Although limb weakness is the primary symptom, patients could also exhibit slurred speech, facial drooping, and in serious cases inability to breath due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles.  Mild cases appear to resolve but serious cases can cause residual paralysis or death. Children appear to be more affected than adults.

What causes AFM?

Although health officials do not know for certain, due to its rapid onset, a pathogen such as a virus seems highly likely.  With the 2013-2014 outbreak, some of the cases tested positive for enterovirus (EV-D68), but it is not conclusive whether this was the exact cause or just coincidentally found in the patients tested.

Some postulate a combination of viruses may be a factor or an autoimmune disease.  Although Guillain-Barre syndrome causes acute limb weakness and paralysis when the immune system begins attacking the nervous system, the report that many individuals feel feverish or ill prior, seem to point to a pathogen as the primary cause although the latter is not being ruled out.  Virus families such as enterovirus (including polio and nonpolio enterovirus), adenovirus (causing respiratory and GI illness) cocksackieviruses and flaviviruses (including West Nile) have been suspected.

How common is AFM?

Per the CDC, acute flaccid myelitis is rare (less than 1 in a million cases) however currently they report 570 cases have been confirmed since the outbreak began in August 2014.

How is it diagnosed?

Medical professionals look at a variety of factors.

History: how the paralysis/loss of muscle tone began and which limbs did it affect first

Laboratory tests and CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) testing: to look for signs of infection

MRI of the brain: which may show gray matter involvement in a case of AFM.

Is there a treatment?

There is no standard treatment that has been proven effective, however depending on the severity of the symptoms, health professionals can consider a variety of options including steroids, IVIG, interferon, antivirals and supportive measures.  Some physicians are using “nerve transfers”, similar to a transplant, to help children regain control of their limbs.

Is there a vaccine?

No.  Until they can identify the exact cause, or causes, health officials cannot create a vaccine.

How does one avoid getting AFM?

If we assume it’s a pathogen causing the illness, avoiding contact with sick individuals, being up-to-date on one’s vaccines and good hand-washing are imperative.  Although we do not know if AFM is caused by a mosquito-born illness, avoiding mosquitoes would be wise as well.   More therefore needs to be researched to determine why and how those individuals with AFM were infected.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in children, Health, news, teens

Teens May Fake Being Abducted in the Latest “48-Hour Challenge”

Earlier this month police warned that some teens may be participating in the 48- Hour Challenge.  This latest feat involves the child running away from home and accruing “likes” on social media.

However, this week we learned of two Houston 6th grade girls who had gone missing, with their parents scared out of their minds. Both the girl’s cell phones had been turned off and the parents were obviously hoping they weren’t truly abducted.

KHOU reports that Mary Tran Le, 13, and Tianny Granja, 12, left their homes around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday with their backpacks and never made it to class, days after they spoke to one of their mothers about the challenge.

Fortunately the girls have been found and returned to their families.

When reports of the social media game surfaced, whose mission is to score many likes while you’re “missing”, it could not be confirmed. Yet the average child who hears of these rumors may think it’s an actual challenge and turn rumor into reality.

Police are already stretched thin and image the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” scenario if this challenge goes viral.

What other dangerous challenges are out there?

Last year we learned of the “Boiling Water Challenge” in which kids drink boiling water from a straw or have it poured all over their body. Then they topped it off with a more dangerous challenge, the “Fire Challenge.”

The Fire Challenge is executed by pouring rubbing alcohol on one’s body and then setting oneself on fire.  A video records the victim running into a tub or shower to wash it off, and this trend has gone viral.

Unfortunately it’s one of the most dangerous.  A 12 year-old girl from Detroit who participated in this challenge is undergoing multiple surgeries to repair burns afflicting close to 50% of her body.

Multiple cases of the “Fire Challenge” have been reported over the years, including a 12 year-old boy from Georgia.

One would think children, especially teens, innately know that fire is dangerous but maybe the younger generation has been so protected that they haven’t experienced the basic concepts of danger and inadvertently underestimate its force.

 

fire-challenge

Challenges that involve dangerous stunts have been around for some time.  The Choking Challenge induced children to suffocate themselves for the high of feeling asphyxiated.  The Tide Pod Challenge tempted kids to put colorful cleaning packets in their mouths, hoping they wouldn’t burst.

 

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The Cinnamon Challenge sparked thousands to inhale the common kitchen spice and cough till they puked.  Then the Condom Challenge offered two options where one dropped a condom filled with water on a friends face, or snorted one through the nose.

 

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We adults can’t for the life of us figure out what the reward is in performing these challenges, but presume its fame and awe among friends and social media followers.  But these challenges prove dangerous and in some cases deadly.  Unfortunately the YouTube Clips never show the after effects of these pranks…maybe they should.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

 

 

Posted in children, Health, news

“Aquaman” Treatment for Burns, A Hit With Kids

Image above from Reuters

Earlier this year we learned of burn specialists experimenting with fish skin to treat damaged skin that had sustained severe burns.  Now we learn that due to a shortage of pig and human skin tissue samples, Brazilian doctors are turning to the scaly looking bandages.

Kids, who idolize DC Comic’s Aquaman, appear to like the treatment.

 

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Tilapia skin, according to researchers, provide the collagen proteins needed to regenerate new tissue.

 

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When one is burned, the loss of tissue can expose one to infection and water loss.

 

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Burnt skin needs to be kept moist and covered, hence conventional treatment requires frequent dressing changes.

The fish skin is sterilized prior to use and then kept on for one week before being removed.  Fresh tilapia bandages may be refrigerated for up to two years.

 

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Preliminary studies are demonstrating Tilapia skin grafts allow quicker healing and less pain, and since they are relatively inexpensive, this treatment could revolutionize burn care.

 

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.