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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An 85-year-old New Hampshire man may have accidentally been exposed to HIV after a hospital mistakenly injected him with an insulin pen previously used on an HIV-positive patient.
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  • ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- A new online challenge that involves teens putting Tide laundry-detergent pods in their mouths is raising concerns among experts.
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  • ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- Celebrity trainer Latreal Mitchell shared some of her favorite workout moves you can do from home to help get the whole family in shape on "Good Morning America" Friday.
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  • ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- The much-publicized case of Gypsy Blanchard may be the first introduction many people have to the concept of Munchausen by proxy. It’s a fascinating syndrome – and one that comes attached with its fair share of myths and misconceptions. Blanchard is serving 10 years in prison for her role in the stabbing death of her mother, who forced her to use a wheelchair she didn't need and subjected her to unnecessary treatments for years. Some professionals have speculated that Blanchard’s mother Dee Dee Blanchard may have had Munchausen by proxy.Below are answers to some of the more common questions about this phenomenon.What is Munchausen syndrome by proxy?Munchausen by proxy is a form of mental illness that falls under the umbrella of what are known as factitious disorders, a group of mental disturbances that includes patients who act intentionally physically or mentally ill to seek attention and empathy without obvious benefits, like financial gain.As its name suggests, however, in Munchausen by proxy the symptoms of a disease are fabricated by someone close to the patient – most commonly a parent – leading to unnecessary and often painful intervention and treatment. Interestingly, 30 to 70 percent of those who falsify illness in children also falsify illness in themselves.The term "Munchausen syndrome by proxy" was first coined in 1977 by an English pediatrician, Roy Meadow. "Munchausen by proxy" derives from Munchausen syndrome -- in which the medical fabrication is self-directed -- and is named after a German cavalry officer known for exaggeration. The most common scenario of Munchausen by proxy involves a parent, who causes symptoms in the child and repeatedly takes the child to medical professionals with the goal of having procedures performed on their child.How does someone get this disorder? How common is this?Many perpetrators show features of borderline personality disorder and often have histories of difficult childhood relationships with their parents, or even their own history of abuse and neglect.Munchausen by proxy is incredibly rare – so rare, in fact, that reliable numbers on its incidence in the U.S. are difficult to come by. Research in other countries, such as Australia and the U.K., suggests that only a tiny percentage of children diagnosed with serious illness are cases of Munchausen by proxy.What are the features of this disease?A child of a parent suffering with the disorder may have a long history of unexplained illness. These parents are typically very willing to have their children experience the discomfort and risk associated with medical procedures, including surgery, and are familiar with the supposed illness and procedures associated with it. Although these parents may demonstrate a wide base of knowledge about medical conditions, they are also simultaneously vague about the details of their children’s illnesses.These parents may be prone to exaggeration, or lying about other aspects of their lives, and may even get hostile or antagonistic if challenged.Is there a cure?Unfortunately, those with this disorder are nearly always resistant to treatment. Psychiatrists may first try to establish what is known as a “contract conference” in which the therapist will encourage these parents to better learn to express themselves and their pain – ultimately with the goal being that they do not channel these negative emotions in a way that leads to harm to their children. Once the parent is able to do this, it opens the door for the psychiatrist to help these individuals work through their issues.Medications have not proven helpful in treatment, although they may be prescribed for symptoms of anxiety or depression if the individual also meets criteria for an anxiety or mood disorder. Some literature has reported a response to antipsychotic medications (such as pimozide).What is the prognosis?Unfortunately, it is often difficult to f
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- A 20-month-old who has a prosthetic leg covered in "Star Wars" Stormtroopers got to meet Stormtroopers in person when they came to his Washington home.Ben Bronske, of Snohomish, Washington, was surprised last month by a group of Stormtroopers who came to wish him well with his new prosthetic.“Ben was a little taken aback at first,” Ben’s mom, Sarah Bronske, told ABC News of the surprise, organized by Seattle Children's Hospital. “But by the end he was giving them high-fives and poking their armor.”It was Bronske and her husband, Josh Bronske, both "Star Wars" fans, who picked out the unique prosthetic covering for their son.“That was not my intention to get 'Star Wars,'” Sarah Bronske said. “I was going to get something neutral to go with all of his outfits but then I saw 'Star Wars' at the fabric store.”Sarah Bronske took the fabric to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Ben is treated, and the member of the team creating the prosthetic also happened to be a "Star Wars" fan.“I thought, ‘OK, this is the one,’” Sarah Bronske recalled.The "Star Wars" prosthetic was custom made for Ben, who had his left foot amputated below the ankle due to a rare form of macrodactyly, a congenital condition that causes abnormal growth of bones and toes in the foot.“Ben had a most extreme form,” said Dr. Vincent Mosca, who treated Ben and is chief of foot and limb deformities at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Doing something more piecemeal than an amputation would have required four or five surgeries as he grew.”Ben began walking as soon as he tried his new prosthetic on for the first time, in August, when he was 16 months old.“He didn’t like the trials with the prosthetic at first,” Sarah Bronske said. “The day they actually brought in his 'Star Wars' leg, he was totally fine with it.“By the time we got back home he was walking around the yard with no assistance,” she said. “He just totally took to it.”Now when Ben looks down at his leg, he says, “boom, boom,” imitating the noises made by Stormtroopers.“He definitely knows it’s Stormtroopers on his leg,” Sarah Bronske said. “When we’re out and if people are talking about Stormtroopers he’ll pull up his pants leg and say, ‘Boom boom.’”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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