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Health

Brain scans show the minds of girls and boys are similar in math

Ridofranz/iStock(NEW YORK) -- As more and more advocates and organizations work to dispel the myths that boys are better at math than girls or that women don't belong in STEM fields, new data is supporting their case.

Boys and girls show the same brain activity when it comes to math, according to a new study published Friday in the journal Science of Learning.

The seven-year study, conducted in Rochester, New York, tested the brain activity of more than 100 children ages three to 10.

The children underwent functional MRI scans while watching 15 to 20-minute long clips of educational TV shows like "Sesame Street" that focused on basic math processing.

The three female co-authors of the study examined the kids' brain activity to look for things like how active was their brain over the course of the clip and at what points during the clip did their brain activity peak.

The result is one the co-authors hope will put an end to the lingering assumption that boys are better than girls at math.

"What we found is that there weren’t any differences in how children’s brains were working when they were watching the math videos," one of the co-authors, Alyssa Kersey, Ph.D., a post-doctoral research scholar at the University of Chicago, told "Good Morning America." "It allowed us to see that girls’ brain activity and boys’ brain activity is the same when it comes to math."

Kersey points out that while there has been behavioral research showing boys and girls perform the same on math, this new research is the first to find their brain activity is the same, too.

"It’s a new way to show these differences aren’t there," she said. "There doesn’t seem to be a biological difference at this early age."

Studying kids while they were just watching educational videos gave the researchers data on kids' brain activity around math when they were not feeling pressure to perform correctly, according to Kersey. There may be additional research to do on whether there are differences in brain activity between girls and boys when there is pressure to perform.

"There is definitely work showing that anxiety affects performance so if there is more anxiety among girls, that could affect performance," she explained.

Kersey added she hopes the reaction to the study is swift in breaking down any lasting stereotypes around women and STEM.

"It's important for parents and teachers to know about these results and to see there is the same potential for girls and boys to excel at math and so girls and boys should be given the same opportunities at home and at school to excel," she said. "I’ve been in this field for a while now but it’s nice to do work that you feel like has the potential to produce some sort of change more quickly."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New measles case reported in metro Atlanta

ABC News Photo Illustration, Adapted from the LexisNexis StateNet Database and the Immunization Action Coalition, May 2019 (ABC News)(ATLANTA) -- Cobb County, a suburban part of Atlanta, Georgia, confirmed a case of measles in an unvaccinated person, according to state health officials.

The individual may have exposed others to the infectious disease between Oct. 31 and Nov. 6, health officials said Saturday.

The case is the latest in what's been an explosive year for measles, with more than 1,250 cases reported in 30 states as of early October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measles, which is highly infectious, is characterized by symptoms like fever and a blotchy skin rash, according to the Mayo Clinic, and is spread by coughing, sneezing and close personal contact with people who have the disease.

Although in high-income countries, such as the United States, deaths from measles are relatively uncommon, the disease is a major killer worldwide. In 2017, there were 110,000 deaths linked to measles around the world, primarily among kids younger than 5, the World Health Organization reports.

Two new studies published last month also indicate that having measles can do long-term damage to the immune system.

In the wake of major outbreaks around the country, state are reconsidering rules about childhood vaccines. In June, New York State eliminated non-religious exemptions for vaccination, making it the fifth state in the nation to do so. Now all kids who attend school or daycare in the state must be vaccinated.

Forty five states -- including Georgia -- continue to permit religious exemptions for vaccination and 15 states still allow for personal belief exemptions for childhood vaccines.

In Georgia, after confirming the measles case in Cobb County, health department officials advised local residents to contact their doctor immediately if they think they have symptoms of measles.

"DO NOT go to the doctor’s office, the hospital, or a public health clinic without FIRST calling to let them know about your symptoms," the department said in a statement.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


13-year-old Broadway star Laurel Griggs dies after asthma attack, family says

Davizro/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A 13-year-old Broadway actress, Laurel Griggs, has died after an apparently fatal asthma attack.

Laurel appeared in the Tony award-winning show, Once. The musical shared news of the star's passing in a Facebook post Saturday.

"This beautiful young lady was part of our Once family. Please keep her family in your prayers."

Laurel's grandfather, David Rivlin announced her death on Facebook Nov. 6.

"It’s with heavy heart that I have to share some very sad news. My beautiful and talented granddaughter, Laurel Griggs, has passed away suddenly from a massive asthma attack. Mount Sinai was valiant in trying to save her but now she’s with the angels," Rivlin wrote.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton told Good Morning America that although asthma is a common lung condition, it can potentially be serious and in some cases, fatal.

"It's characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the passageways in our lung," Ashton said, adding that asthma can cause the following symptoms: wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and cough.

In some cases, Aston explained, asthma can lower blood oxygen levels.

Ashton said Laurel most likely died from severe asthma exacerbation, which can happen when a person does not respond to traditional treatments. The condition can last for hours and can become fatal once someone's oxygen levels drop beyond a certain point.

"We do have to remember though, still, it's rare," Ashton said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 6 million children under the age of 18 living with asthma. In 2017, 185 children died from asthma, the CDC reports.

How do parents know if an asthma attack is serious enough for an emergency room visit?


1. If your child stops talking to catch their breath.

2. They use their abdominal muscles to breathe.

3. They widen their nostrils when breathing in.

4. If you see a blue-ish tint to the lips or nail beds, that is an emergency.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Anti-vaccine leaders targeting minority becomes growing concern at NYC forum

baona/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Despite decades of rigorous research, proving time and time again that vaccines are safe, and copious evidence that vaccines work, saving an estimated 732,000 children’s lives and preventing millions of hospitalizations over the last 20 years, the scientific community continues to fend off assaults from a relatively small number of ardent anti-vaccine advocates.

It’s a battle they shouldn’t be fighting, experts say. Like climate change, vaccine science is settled. By all conceivable logic, a medicine that prevents disease outright, rather than treating symptoms, should be universally embraced. Nonetheless, a handful of anti-vaccine leaders, who mistakenly believe that vaccines cause autism, continue to fight a ground war of disinformation, spreading propaganda to skittish new moms and dads and encouraging parents of children with autism to blame their children’s diagnoses on vaccines.

The consequences of that disinformation campaign are stark. This year marked the worst year for measles in the United States in decades, fueled by outbreaks in unvaccinated and undervaccinated communities around the country. In some ways, vaccination is a victim of its own success. Many younger people, without lived memory of the disease, don’t take the risk of contracting it seriously enough. And while measles deaths in high-income countries like the U.S. are rare, the disease killed 110,000 people worldwide in 2017, according to the World Health Organization. New research also indicates that contracting measles can cause long-term damage to the body’s immune system.

Increasingly, those same anti-vaccine leaders have their sights focused on a new target: they’re infiltrating minority groups with existing skepticism of the medical establishment and exploiting the historically fraught relationships those groups have with doctors.

“It’s really vile, predatory behavior,” Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said of the anti-vaccine leadership.

The “band of predators,” as Hotez dubbed them, includes Robert Kennedy Jr., a prominent anti-vaccine proponent, and Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who sparked the anti-vaccine movement with a now-debunked and retracted study and who is barred from practicing medicine because of numerous ethical violations.

They’ve already spread disinformation about vaccines in the Somali refugee population in Minnesota and Orthodox Jewish communities in New York State, which have both suffered severe measles outbreaks. Now all signs point to an effort to undermine the black community’s fragile relationship with doctors.

The failed enlistment
On paper, Harriet Washington might seem like the perfect target for the anti-vaccine movement.

Her work, including authoring the book "Medical Apartheid," has focused on African Americans being mistreated by certain medical professionals throughout history. So when Washington received an unexpected phone call from Kennedy roughly five years ago, she says he may have expected that her critique of racism in medicine translated into blanket distrust of established medicine.

During the conversation, Washington says she remembers discussing Kennedy's claim to her that African-American boys were being used in secret vaccine experiments, and a subsequent parallel she says Kennedy drew to the infamous Tuskegee experiment.

"He was clearly trying to enlist me," claimed Washington.

But when Washington, who worked for years as a science journalist, pushed back at Kennedy, asking for proof to back up the connections he was making (and has made before), "He became very angry and began shouting at me," she said.

The conversation continued to digress, Washington said, with Kennedy suggesting that she "was somehow being disloyal to African Americans."

Then Kennedy hung up, she said. Kennedy denied raising his voice and told ABC News Washington’s claim that he implied she was unsupportive of the African-American community was "invented, crazy and just wrong."

Kennedy was set to be featured in a controversial vaccine forum hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network (NAN) in the historically African American Harlem neighborhood of New York City in October, until Sharpton pulled out at the last minute.

A spokesperson for NAN told ABC News that Sharpton canceled the event because he "was told that both sides would be present." "Both sides of this argument needs to be presented and heard. When this was shown 'NOT' to be the case, Rev. Sharpton canceled this event," the spokesperson said.

Hotez said he found it "interesting that Sharpton's exit excuse was that his people couldn't ensure that ‘both sides would be heard," noting that putting pro- and anti-vaccine sides on equal footing sends a "chilling message that the misinformation from the anti-vax camp is somehow equivalent to the consensus of the scientific community."

Public health experts breathed a sigh of relief. They'd feared that Sharpton, an influential figure in the black community, might lend credibility to the anti-vaccine movement.

Evoking civil rights to push an anti-vaccine agenda
That relief was short-lived.

After Sharpton pulled out, Kennedy’s anti-vaccine group, Children’s Health Defense, secured a new venue for the event: the Riverside Church, an imposing Gothic cathedral just outside Harlem and the site of an impassioned anti-Vietnam War speech Martin Luther King Jr. delivered in 1967.

Parents in the diverse crowd pushed baby strollers back and forth and some onlookers filmed the event with their cellphones and scribbled down notes. Others thumbed through anti-vaccine books they’d picked up at an information booth in the back of the room and passed around bumper stickers and fliers advising attendees of which anti-vaccine candidates to vote for in November’s election.

Only one medical doctor, pediatrician Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, took the stage during the event. Palevsky, who is frequently cited in anti-vaccine pamphlets and who spoke at a predominantly Orthodox Jewish anti-vaccine rally this spring, made sweeping connections between vaccines and nearly every modern-day health problem.

By the time Kennedy, who was to headline the event, took the microphone, the forum had stretched well beyond its allotted 3.5 hours and a representative from the church cut the event short. Kennedy was ushered out a side door and the audience reconvened on the sidewalk just outside to hear him rail against the pharmaceutical industry’s role in creating what he called “the sickest generation in American history.”

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, a New York City-based civil rights organization, said that "interlopers" like Kennedy do a disservice to the African-American community when they appropriate civil rights language to further anti-science positions.

"I'm not seeing a scintilla of scientific evidence from any reputable public health expert that supports their claims," he said. "If you don't have that, do not come into our communities trying to trick, fool and bamboozle people and create artificial fear."

Before the MMR vaccine was available, kids regularly died of the measles and mumps, Morial, who has three kids, cautioned.

"We're talking about something that's so serious. You're trying to convince parents to put their own children and the children in their community at risk," he added.

"These are contagious diseases, not something to play with."

Exploiting fears in the African-American community
Washington says her phone call with Kennedy was especially troubling because there’s a history of African Americans being mistreated by the medical establishment, a topic that she’s written extensively about.

In addition to the infamous Tuskegee experiment in the 1930s, during which the government purposely withheld treatment from black men who had syphilis as part of an unethical medical study, Washington’s book documents slaves being used in medical experiments and African Americans being disproportionately enrolled in non-beneficial research.

Then there's Henrietta Lacks, the African-American woman whose cells were harvested by doctors without her permission during surgery in the 1950s, and whose story became a book, and later a movie, starring Oprah Winfrey. Johns Hopkins says there weren't established practices for obtaining consent from patients to do research on their cells or tissue samples at the time.

Layered on top of those stories is persistent racial disparity among medical providers. While African Americans make up 13% of the population, only 6% of doctors are black.

While there’s no indication of widespread vaccine hesitancy in the black community and black children receive the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at comparable rates to white children, concerns about exploitation "contribute to potential distrust of vaccination and other health care interventions," explained Dr. Kristen Feemster, director of research for the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Targeted misinformation fueled outbreaks in Brooklyn and Minnesota
The Harlem forum was held barely a month after New York City health officials declared an end to the biggest a measles outbreak in the city in nearly three decades.

While the city fought to stop the outbreak and increase vaccination rates in the community, anti-vaccine groups held rallies about vaccine choice and distributed anti-vaccine pamphlets. Members of the Orthodox Jewish community received Robocalls inviting them to a "Vaccine Symposium" in upstate New York featuring Wakefield.


"Valid concerns can be manipulated. That's what really worries me most about this kind of targeted outreach," said Feemster, adding that building trust between the medical community and their patients, particularly in marginalized communities, is a slow process.

"Confidence and trust is one of the most important factors that contributes to vaccine hesitancy," Feemster said. "It’s also one that is most difficult to address."

It’s a personal matter for Hotez, who in addition to being a pediatrician and scientist, has a daughter with autism.

“If anyone were to have a reason to buy into the lie that is the vaccine-autism connection, it would be Peter Hotez," Arthur Caplan, the founding director of New York University's division of medical ethics, wrote in the forward to “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism,” a book Hotez published last year about his experience.

Instead of giving in to the easy answers the anti-vaccine movement is selling, Hotez has spent his career promoting vaccination and trying to stamp out Wakefield and Kennedy’s disinformation campaigns.

“They’re really quite shameless,” Hotez said of the anti-vaccine movement’s leaders. “We'll have to see how this plays out.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserve


Results of 10-year-study link insomnia with heart disease and stroke

yanyong/iStockBy Dr. Angelo Landriscina

(NEW YORK) --  People who have trouble sleeping may be at higher risk of heart disease and stroke according to a new study published today in the medical journal Neurology.

Researchers from Peking University in Beijing China followed 487,200 Chinese adults for a decade to examine the relationship between insomnia and cardiovascular health.

Participants were surveyed on their difficulty falling or maintaining sleep as well as on their early morning awakening and "daytime dysfunction" (difficulty concentrating because of poor sleep).

Researchers then tracked cardiovascular disease in the participants over the next 10 years using a national health registry.

Their findings indicated that the risk of overall cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease or ischemic stroke was significantly higher in participants who had reported insomnia-like symptoms at the beginning of the study period.

Overall risk was 9% greater in those who had difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, 7% greater in those with early morning awakening and 13% greater in those with daytime dysfunction. Furthermore, they found that these risks increased for those with a greater number of sleep symptoms.

"These results suggest that if we can target people who are having trouble sleeping with behavioral therapies, it’s possible that we could reduce the number of cases of stroke, heart attack and other diseases later down the line," said the study's lead author Dr. Liming Li in a press release.

"The link between insomnia symptoms and these diseases was even stronger in younger adults, and people who did not have high blood pressure at the start of the study, so future research should look especially at early detection and interventions aimed at these groups," he added.

The researchers also noted that participants with insomnia symptoms were more likely to be older, female, diabetic, less educated, poorer and more likely to live in rural areas. They were also more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety.

"Because these factors couldn’t be controlled for, it’s difficult to say that there’s a causal link between insomnia and cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Ravi Kesari, an internist at NYU Langone Medical Center in an interview with ABC News. "A larger study like a meta-analysis could further define the relationship."

While the study agrees with similar research performed in the United States and Europe, it represents the largest research into this issue to date.

Angelo Landrisicna, M.D., is a resident physician in dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


CDC identifies Vitamin E Acetate as a 'strong culprit' in vaping related illnesses and deaths

sestovic/iStock(ATLANTA) -- Officials have identified Vitamin E Acetate as a "strong culprit" in the vaping-related lung injuries that left thousands sick and 39 people dead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

The agency collected lung fluid samples of patients with EVALI, short for "E-cigarettes or Vaping product use Associated Lung Injury," as part of its ongoing investigation. Vitamin E Acetate was found in all of the 29 samples collected. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was found in the majority of samples and nicotine was found in about half of samples.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, described the Vitamin E Acetate link as a "breakthrough" in the investigation, but cautioned that the news does not mean the investigation is over.

"These findings do not rule out other possible compounds that may be causing lung injuries but help us better understand potential ingredients that may contribute to the cause of EVALI," Schuchat said during the Friday news briefing. She also stressed that inhaling Vitamin E acetate is very different than applying it as a cream or taking it as a supplement, neither of which is thought to be harmful.

"We are not talking about the Vitamin E capsules that people swallow," Schuchat said. "This is a case of inhaled aerosol."
There have been 2,051 lung illnesses and 39 deaths linked to vaping, according to the CDC's latest numbers.

Seattle public schools filed a lawsuit against Juul Labs and its parent company, Altria Group, on Thursday on the grounds that the e-cigarette company purposely targeted minors with its advertising campaigns.

Juul did not respond to ABC News' request for comment on the lawsuit.

Two surveys published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that mint was the most popular flavor among older high schoolers, and the second most popular flavor among younger high schoolers, who used Juul e-cigarettes.

Nearly 60% of high school students and 54% of middle school students reported that Juul was their preferred e-cigarette brand.

Juul halted sales of the mint e-cigarettes, its best-selling flavor, on Thursday.

The Trump administration said on Friday that it would announce the details for a possible ban on flavored e-cigarettes next week.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


5-year-old credited with saving mom's life when her blood sugar got too low

ABCNews.com(HOUSTON) -- A young boy is being hailed a hero after his quick thinking helped save his mother's life.

Chelsie Montemayor was unresponsive last Friday due to dangerously low blood sugar and her 5-year-old son Benjamin called his grandmother when he noticed something was wrong.

"He was crying, he was screaming. 'Memaw, please help me,'" Marciela Torres, Benjamin's grandmother, told ABC News Houston station KTRK.

Torres said she called Benjamin's father, who was already out of the house for the day at work, and he called 911.

"Honestly, I don't remember anything," Montemayor, Benjamin's mother said. "If he would not have called for help, I would've been dead."

Torres arrived to their home shortly before the paramedics, according to KTRK, and found her daughter unresponsive in her bedroom.

"I just woke up with a whole bunch of paramedics around me," the mother of two said.

"They checked her (blood) sugar (level) and it was 39, which is way too low," her mom said. "They gave her something to get her sugar up and she started coming to."

Now, Montemayor has started to slowly feel better and said she hopes this serves as a reminder to teach children what to do in an emergency.

"Teach your kids, even if you have to put an emoji by someone's name or different colored hearts by certain people's names so they know if there's an emergency, this heart will call dad, this heart will call grandma," she said.


Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Wisconsin state Assembly passes slate of suicide prevention bills

Jason_Ray_Photography/iStock(MADISON, Wis.) -- Wisconsin state Assembly Republicans passed a slate of laws aimed at suicide prevention Thursday, in response to rising suicide rates in the state.

"Every one of us, unfortunately, has a friend, family member or colleague, who has been in a really bad place," Rep. Robin Vos, speaker of the Wisconsin state Assembly said in advance of the vote.

For Vos, that person was his former college roommate, who was married and had a family, and who died by suicide, he explained.

"Far too many people in Wisconsin don't even know what people are going through," Vos said.

The bills came out of a bipartisanship suicide prevention task force Vos created.

One proposal would require schools that issue student identification cards to include a suicide prevention hotline on cards printed. Another proposal would require two hours of continuing education for mental health professionals, to ensure that they understand important cues for suicidality when listening to patients.

Other proposals would provide grant funding to schools and local governments for suicide prevention programs, as well as grants to gun shops that temporarily store weapons for people who are experiencing mental health crises.

The biills now move to the state Senate. If approved there, Gov. Tony Evers would have the opportunity to sign them into law next year.

In 2017, more than 47,000 people died by suicide around the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


White House says to expect announcement on ban of flavored vape products next week

HAZEMMKAMAL/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration will announce the details of a possible ban on flavored e-cigarette and vaping products next week, President Donald Trump said Friday.

"We're going to be coming out with a very important position on vaping," Trump told reporters at the White House. "We have to take care of our kids, most importantly. So we're going to have an age limit of 21 or so, but we'll be coming out with something next week, very important on vaping."

Trump said the administration will also look into raising the federal age to legally buy tobacco products, as well as concerns about the impact the action would have on jobs in the vaping industry.

"We're talking about the age, we're talking about flavors, we're talking about keeping people working and, you know, there are some pretty good aspects," Trump said. "But we're very close to a final report and we will be giving it next week."

Trump first announced the administration would ban flavored e-cigarettes products in September amid concern about rising rates of youth use and reported lung illnesses believed to be related to vaping. At the time, Trump said they would implement "strong rules and regulations" to keep the products away from underage users.

That announcement was praised by public health and anti-tobacco groups that wanted the administration to take a hard line against flavored products that appeal to teenagers, but has also faced some pushback from pro-vaping groups that say e-cigarettes help adults quit smoking traditional cigarettes and that some flavors -- including mint and menthol -- should stay on the market.

Two surveys published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association deepened researchers’ understanding of flavored e-cigarette use among teenagers. Nearly 60 percent of high school students and 54 percent of middle school students reported that Juul was their e-cigarette brand of choice.

There are currently 5.3 million high school and middle school e-cigarette users, compared with 3.6 million school-aged users last year.

Among older high school students who used Juul e-cigarettes, mint was the most popular flavor, followed by mango. For eighth graders, those flavor preferences were reversed.

Juul suspended sales of most of its flavors last month amid concerns about its popularity among youth, and said Thursday it will no longer provide mint pods to retailers. The company continues to sell menthol and tobacco flavored products.

There have been 2,051 lung injuries associated with the current vaping outbreak, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirty-nine people have died in 24 states, with most of those deaths linked to THC devices and black market products.

Officials working to respond to concerns about vaping-related deaths and lung injuries have discussed multiple parts of the broader "vaping epidemic" in recent months. In addition to the illnesses, which the CDC is still investigating to identify the cause, authorities are concerned about the rising rates of young people who use nicotine with e-cigarettes or vape pens after years of declining cigarette use.

A significant percent of the e-cigarette users that have become sick also told investigators they used products containing THC, raising concerns about counterfeit products that could contain unregulated and dangerous ingredients.

Officials from CDC and the Food and Drug Administration have also said they can't definitively say using e-cigarettes or vaping is safe because there isn't long-term data available to evaluate possible health risks.

Some states like Massachusetts, New York and Michigan have already proposed their own bans on vapes or flavored vape products -- but those measures are already facing legal challenges.

Even when the Trump administration starts enforcing its ban against flavored e-cigarette products, some of those items could be put back on the market later.

FDA is moving to remove the products in part because they haven't applied for the agency's approval or been signed off on as a safe alternative to cigarettes. Even as FDA or other agencies move to take the products off the market tobacco companies can apply through that formal process to convince regulators their product helps public health overall by providing a less dangerous alternative to traditional cigarettes.

If regulators approve any e-cigarette products through that process, they will be officially approved to be sold to the public, but likely with restrictions on marketing or with flavors that make them less attractive to teenage users.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Mom keeps fighting to cure daughter's rare disease

United MSD Foundation(NEW YORK) -- There is not enough time in the day for Amber Olsen.

An average day for this mother means working as a business owner of the staffing company, Nextaff Gulf Coast, taking care of her two teenage daughters and finding a cure for her youngest daughter, Willow, who has a rare genetic disease.

Now 6 years old, Willow has been diagnosed with multiple sulfatase deficiency and is not expected to live past the age of 10.

Olsen has made it her mission to find a cure for this life-threatening illness, if not to save her own daughter then to help give other families a fighting chance.

Signs of regression

Willow was born Aug. 21, 2013, after a healthy pregnancy.

She was a happy baby who loved getting kisses from her two older sisters and her parents.

Amber, now 44, noticed that Willow was delayed when it came to milestones such as crawling and walking.

“I just kind of have that mama instinct,” Olsen told ABC News' Good Morning America. “She could walk and run, but she walked like Frankenstein ... with her arms out and stuff.”

After taking Willow to a neurologist, the family learned that she was showing signs of regression, and eventually lost the ability to walk and move anything except her hands.

Through genetic testing, they learned that Willow had multiple sulfatase deficiency, a rare, inherited lysosomal storage disease, where the body is unable to rid itself of cellular waste.

"Multiple sulfatose deficiency is an ultra rare disease that affects kids from birth," Rebecca Ahrens-Nicklas, assistant professor of pediatrics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia' told GMA. "Basically, it can affect all parts of their body where it causes buildup of material that are clear in our body. When these materials build up, they can cause damage to all different parts of your body."

This disease tends to affect the brain the most.

When doctors first told Olsen about her daughter’s diagnosis in 2016, they expressed that there wasn’t a real treatment or cure.

“There's nothing you can do [except] take her home and be with her, and just try to keep her comfortable, and she will die,” Olsen said.

It has been estimated that there is currently 50-75 kids in the United States that are currently living with MSD, according to Ahrens-Nicklas, and there is no official cure.

Nicklas says the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is currently trying to find every child in the United States who has MSD to conduct a study of the disease.

"Because it's such a rare disease, it's somewhat variable also," Ahrens-Nicklas said. "We estimate that the life expectancy in good medical care today is between 10-20 years, but we honestly don't know and it is incredibly variable."

On a mission to find a cure

Shortly after she was diagnosed, Willow went back to crawling and then she reached a point where she couldn’t move at all. She had to move around in a walker.

Willow’s mother compared the disease to Alzheimers because of the changes that the person goes through, and how difficult it can be “having to adapt and kind of be on unstable ground.”

Willow cannot speak, but her parents know she is still cognitively processing everything around her.

“You can see the spark in her eye,” Olsen shared. “She smiles, she laughs, so, you know she's still there but has a lot of issues.”

Olsen is devoted to making her little girl happy. She even shares a special morning routine with her daughter where she does "Superman" stretches with her to help move her limbs.

So when she learned the devastating news about her daughter's diagnosis, she was not going to sit and watch her health fade away. If no one knew of a cure, she was going to find it herself.

She immediately Googled other parents who had children with the same condition and came across a couple in Ireland, Alan & Michelle Finglas, who had created the MSD Action Foundation, inspired by their own son, Dylan, who had MSD.

"When we met the dad, he said, 'We just need time and money. It's a single gene disorder. There is science out there that could save these children, so we have to band together and work together,'" Olsen shared.

She and her husband flew back to Europe shortly after that to meet with scientists, who told them that in order to find a treatment, they needed to gather the funds.

This inspired Olsen to start fundraising and researching the disease more.

“I'm not a doctor or a nurse and I never knew anything about medical stuff,” she said. "It was a huge learning curve in a very quick amount of time.”

Raising $3 million

Just a few months after Willow’s diagnosis, her mother created United MSD Foundation, a nonprofit organization that would work towards funding research to create a clinical trial to help children like Willow suffering from MSD.

The organization’s goal was to raise $3 million for pre-clinical research, manufacturing of medicine and Phase 1 of the clinical trial.

Olsen helped established a scientific advisory board, put out a request for research proposal and recruited Dr. Steven Gray, associate professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, to be their lead researcher in the field of gene therapy to develop a treatment for MSD.

She says her biggest challenge has been driving this organization as someone “who is not a medical professional.”

Despite the fact that she “flunked biology” when she was in grade school, Olsen takes classes in genetics and science to understand the research work for MSD.

She is committed to doing everything she can to help Willow.

Willow’s legacy

With the help of scientists and volunteers, the United MSD Foundation has raised over $2 million within two years and is currently about $620,000 away from its goal to fund a gene therapy clinical trial for children.

Olsen believes that if her daughter cannot be saved, at least she has the opportunity to save the lives of others.

“We all want to grow up and go to school and get married and have children, so we make a difference in the world, and she doesn't have ... very many of those opportunities,” Olsen said. “I just think that's so important ... you know her legacy.”

Through the grueling hours of phone calls, research and worrying, the mom has learned to cherish the little moments.

“[Willow’s] giggling about something that I was doing with her … and we're all excited that she just laughed,” Olsen said. “It's those little moments that I think we see and take advantage of more, way more, than we used to, and kind of slow down and appreciate that.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Sculpture honoring trans, gender nonconforming communities unveiled in New York City

FotoCuisinette/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Artist Rubem Robierb’s sleek white sculpture of massive butterfly wings certainly makes a statement.

"In tribute to the strength and bravery of the trans [and gender nonconforming] community, ‘Dandara’ has an important message and meaning," Robierb said at the unveiling on Monday in New York City. "I felt that New York City was a place to showcase this on a public scale."

Robierb named the piece "Dandara," after a 42-year-old transgender woman who was brutally attacked and murdered in Fortaleza, Brazil, in 2017.

The 10-foot-high fiberglass wings are13 feet long and 4 feet wide and are fixed on a steel and concrete base, where there is a place for viewers to position themselves between the butterfly wings. The piece was designed for the public to interact with the sculpture.

The sculpture will be on display at Tribeca Park from Nov. 4, 2019 to May 4, 2020.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Teen 'Jeopardy!' champ donates $10K to cancer research in Alex Trebek's honor

ThitareeSarmkasat/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The category is: Cancer research, for $10,000.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and Avi Gupta, a teen Jeopardy! champ who took home $100,000 over the summer, has donated part of his earnings to cancer research in honor of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who revealed his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis back in March.

Gupta, 18, announced in a video posted to Twitter that he donated more than $10,000 for pancreatic cancer studies at the Knight Cancer Institute in Oregon, which will also go towards promoting early detection of pancreatic cancer -- something Trebek himself advocated for in an October PSA.

"It was a dream come true earlier this year to finally join [Alex] on the Jeopardy! stage in the Jeopardy! teen tournament," Gupta began. "And I'm honored to be able to make this donation to the Knight Cancer Institute to support him and the millions of other people suffering from pancreatic cancer across the world."

"Our goal with this campaign," he continued, "is to support research into pancreatic cancer awareness and early detection, and we hope you'll join us in contributing."

Trebek resumed chemotherapy treatments in September, and told Good Morning America at the time that he has no plans to stop hosting Jeopardy!

"As long as I can walk out and greet the audience and the contestants and run the game, I'm happy," he said.

Nov. 21 has been designated as World Pancreatic Cancer Day.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


These 20 names are predicted to be the top baby names of 2020

Kwangmoozaa/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Move over Sophia and Isabelle -- Adah is coming to a nursery near you.

The name is predicted by popular baby naming web site Nameberry to be the "top girl name of 2020." The site bases its predictions of top baby names for the coming years by calculating which names saw the biggest increases in interest from their readers so far this year compared with last.

Some top names of 2020 are influenced by high visibility celebrities or pop culture events, while others contain a fresh spin on a stylish sound or form, the site said.

"Our top girl names for 2020 feature several choices that feel familiar, yet contain some element that’s new," Nameberry said.

Top girl names for 2020, according to Nameberry:

1. Adah: "All girl names starting with the letters and sound Ad have been rising quickly in recent years, including Ada and Adele, Adelaide and all spellings of Adeline. Adah, a Biblical name pronounced AH-dah, is a fresh choice with deep roots."

2. Reese: "Actress Reese Witherspoon had a highly visible year in 2019, between Big Little Lies and her book club. Now her name is poised to take off ala Scarlett (Johansson) and Adele. Reese is the phonetic spelling of the unisex Welsh name meaning ardor."

3. Mika: "Journalist Mika Brzezinski undoubtedly had some influence on the popularization of her name, pronounced mee-ka, but it’s also a new Michael feminization, taking over from the now-flagging Mikayla and cousins."

4. Paisley: "Paisley is one of those super trendy names that morphed quickly from fascinating and fresh to super trendy, rising in the official list to No. 52 in just a bit over a decade. But according to our data, the Scottish Paisley is only getting hotter."

5. Amina: "Amina is an Arabic name with Quranic significance – she was the mother of prophet Muhammad – and international appeal."

6. Teagan: "The Irish and Welsh Teagan is one of those names that is technically unisex but is used far more often for one gender, in this case over 90% girls. The name has deeper roots than you might imagine – there was a Welsh St. Tegan – and takes over for '90s favorites Megan and Reagan."

7. Nova: "Nova is one of those, well, nouveau names that’s enjoyed a meteoric rise. Closing in on the Top 50 on the official charts, Nova could soon join Luna as a celestial name at the top of the popularity lists."

8. Aura: "Aura may be the least-used name among our top girl names of 2020 – only 120 baby girls were named Aura in the US in 2018, where it still lies outside the Top 1000. But it’s a natural successor to Aria and Arya, carries a stylish spiritual feel, and is also popular with Spanish speaking parents."

9. Pear: "Gently old-fashioned Pearl is a granny name turned modern superstar. Pearl was a Top 100 name from the time the Social Security Popular Names count started in 1880 through the mid-1920s, when it started a long decline. But in the past decade it’s come back in a major way."

10. Billie: "Teen singing sensation Billie Eilish has done for this name what Billie Holiday could not: Made it a modern star. Billie hit its high point in the US charts in 1929 and 1930, when it was in the Top 100, which according to the Hundred Year Rule makes it destined for widespread popularity again in the next decade."

Top boy names for 2020, according to Nameberry:

"The top boy names of 2020 feature some ancient choices not heard in centuries as well as brand new names," Nameberry said.

1. Austin: "This Texas city name is poised to climb again now that the memory of Austin Powers has faded. You can also see it as a feminist literary name, a tribute to author Jane Austen."

2. Alva: "Every American schoolchild knows this as the middle name of the great inventor Thomas Edison, whose surname has also become popular. With Alma and Alba now stylish for girls, Alva could gain visibility for boys."

3. Acacius: "This ancient name carries the trendy s ending and a botanical meaning, a style winner on three counts."

4. Tate: "Norse surname name Tate, which means cheerful, is theoretically unisex but used 95% of the time for boys."

5. Diego: "Diego, which you’d be forgiven for not knowing was the Spanish form of James, is one of the hottest Latinx names for boys in the US."

6. Easton: "Easton, technically a place-name literally meaning east town, is preppier and more popular than the cowboyish Weston."

7. Lucius: "Lucius can’t help being a luscious name, one of the male forms of the ancient Roman clan name meaning light. While Lucy, Lucia, and Lucian are all rising on popularity lists, Lucius has yet to hit the US Top 1000."

8. Cash: "Cash is a multi-dimensional name, theoretically a short form for the stylish ancient names Cassius or Cassian, a tribute to Johnny Cash, or a straight-out ode to money."

9. Ash: "Ash is a short form of the popular Biblical Asher, which means happy, and might also be considered a tree name. It still stands outside the Top 1000."

10. Luca: "Luca is a pan-European favorite that receiving an enthusiastic welcome from American parents. Related to Lucas and Luke rather than the Lucius family, it’s set to break into the boys’ Top 100."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Mammoth bones found in man-made pit reveal tantalizing evidence of hunting behavior

(Photo Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH) Mammoth bones found in what is believed to be the first mammoth trap set by humans, in Tultepec, Mexico, in a photo released by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology (INAH).(MEXICO CITY) -- Anthropologists in Mexico say they’ve uncovered more than 800 bones from 14 mammoths, in two human-made traps north of Mexico City, which are thought to be 15,000 years old.

The pits -- which are 6 feet deep and 25 yards in diameter -- were discovered when the site was excavated to be used as a garbage dump, according to a statement from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Researchers think that groups of 20 or 30 prehistoric hunters herded the mammoths with torches and branches, attempting to separate one animal from the group and lead it into a trap. A series of such traps in the area may have increased hunters' mammoth-trapping success rate.

This differs from anthropologists' previous belief that early humans only killed mammoths that were already wounded or trapped.

Other bones recovered in the pit include the vertebrae and jaw of a camel, as well as molars from a horse.

The region is apparently a hotbed for archaeology. A similar incident occurred in the same city in 2015. In that case, workers digging to install drainage pipe uncovered mammoth remains.

It's unclear how the discovery would affect plans for the landfill.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Saying 'no' to screen time limits: The Mom-troversy

andresr/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Screen time: It's the home battlefield between parents and kids. But should it be?

Some parents are saying 'no,' and refuse to set limits on how much time their kids spend on devices.

Franci Haskell is one of those parents. Her two sons, ages 9 and 11, are allowed to use their phones as much as and whenever they like.

She told ABC News' Good Morning America the boys got the phones because they have a long commute to school and back in New York City -- more than an hour each way.

"They play games or talk with their friends," she said of the boys' device usage. "They don't surf the internet or have social media."

The long-term effects of screen time on kids is not yet known. However, a new study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center published in JAMA Pediatrics showed evidence that brain structure may be altered in kids with more screen use.

Christine Burke of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, also does not limit her kids' screen time.

"We live in a digital age and they are digital natives," she said. "They don't know any different"

Burke's experimentation with unrestricted screen time began when she read an article by a mom who didn't set screen time limits as long as her kids met some criteria.

So one summer, she decided that once the kids had done an agreed upon amount of reading, creative work and exercise, they could have their devices.

"It worked beautifully," she said.

Burke told GMA she "doesn't see the value" in limiting screen time. She pointed out her kids have learned and pursued their passions online. Her oldest child, now 17, is off to film school.

"He learned digital effects and other skills I couldn't teach him," she said.

Still, it's not all educational, Burke said. Her kids spend time on social media, too. In addition to being a writer, Burke is a social media manager. She and her husband have open and ongoing discussions with their kids about proper social media usage.

"We talk about digital citizenship and how to express yourself properly online," she said. "It's very much like teaching manners at the dinner table."

Burke believes that parents who say their kids don't have social media accounts are fooling themselves. "I tell them it's not that their kids don't have it, it's just that they [the parents] don't know it."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents of kids older than 6 "place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health."

Still, the topic of screen time is a hot one in parenting circles and online groups. Haskell said she usually feels judged for her stance on screen time when the topic comes up.

"It's like I'm going to get my head bitten off" when she's open about her kids' screen time usage, she said. "I kind of roll my eyes. Your kid might be left out if they can't talk with their friends."

Burke told GMA that kids' social lives exist in the DMs of Instagram. She said her kids are able to regulate themselves and manage their own screen time, something she and her husband wanted them to achieve before heading off to college and living on their own.

"My son will say, 'gosh, I've been texting for hours. I need a break,'" she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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