• Wavebreakmedia Ltd/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Backyard chickens might soon be banned from the nation’s capital, if Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposal to make chicken ownership in the city illegal becomes law.At a news conference on Thursday, Bowser said she was concerned about the conditions the chickens might create for Washington, D.C."The provision is that we keep neighborhoods safe, and clean and rodent-free," she said. "This is a city. And it’s not usually the chickens that are the problem, but what they leave behind."The city has long said backyard chicken ownership is illegal, even under the allowance for "common cage birds" that some have argued applies.Some D.C. residents are worried about the possible ban, which is included in Bowser’s 2018 budget bill and could affect the group of urban farmers with chickens being displaced. The proposed ban has been the subject of backlash from some residents, especially since the mayor’s office has not provided a reason."I would be very unhappy if my chickens would be banned. They are amazing," a D.C. resident who wants to be called by her first name, Kathy, told ABC News. She said she's had chickens for three years now.Besides keeping chickens as pets, some backyard chicken owners say they prefer eating their home-grown eggs. Kathy believes the eggs taste better because owners have the ability to feed the chickens a healthier diet.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have traced salmonella outbreaks to backyard birds. In 2016, eight outbreaks of salmonella infections across several states were linked to live poultry in backyard flocks; they were tied to 895 infections and more than 200 hospitalizations.D.C. attorney Allison Sheedy and her husband Dan McInnis created the website dcbackyardchicken.org to start a petition against the ban, after their own legal battle to obtain a permit for their four chickens. Within a week of launching the site, they had more than 500 signatures.The couple said they were upset when they heard about this new proposal to ban backyard chickens in the city."Hopefully the change of law won’t go through," Sheedy told ABC News, "because it’s not appropriate to stick this in the budget."Like Kathy, Sheedy believes that the chickens are good for the environment and considers them family members."It’s been really fun for our kids," said Sheedy.The group is planning on attend the hearing at the Department of Health Budget Oversight on May 5th to raise their objections to the ban.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...
  • Ondrooo/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Infants born extremely prematurely face a host of health issues from underdeveloped lungs that can cause chronic lung damage to fragile blood vessels that can cause bleeding in the brain.For decades, doctors in the neonatal intensive care unit have done their best to mimic the complex environment of the womb as they work to keep these tiny infants alive.This week, researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia revealed a new device that could help save the lives of the smallest patients, in a study published in Nature Communications. The device acts as an artificial womb using a "biobag" to mimic the natural uterus that allows a fetus to develop."These infants have an urgent need for a bridge between the mother’s womb and the outside world," Dr. Alan W. Flake, a fetal surgeon and director of the Center for Fetal Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) said in a statement released yesterday."If we can develop an extra-uterine system to support growth and organ maturation for only a few weeks," he added, "we can dramatically improve outcomes for extremely premature babies."Currently, the device is in the animal testing phase of development and more work will need to be done before it can be approved for testing on human infants.When infants are born severely prematurely -- between 23 and 25 weeks -- their chances of survival, without ongoing complications including lung or brain problems, is low. That's due, in part, to their underdeveloped lungs, liver, kidney and brain that are forced to start working months earlier than normal."Everything is formed at that stage but is very, very immature," Dr. Jonathan Fanaroff, from the NICU at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, who was not involved in the study, told ABC News. "Our job in the NICU is to support growth and minimize harm."In hopes of building a better incubator, the team at CHOP created multiple prototype devices, eventually creating a device that features a biobag filled with amniotic fluid and a machine to oxygenate the blood via the umbilical cord.An important part of this incubator, or extra-uterine support device, is the ability to sustain infants without using a ventilator, which can strain their underdeveloped lungs or cause scarring that leads to chronic lung disease.By connecting the umbilical cord to a gas exchange that oxygenates the blood, the device function is similar to how a fetus "breathes" in the womb via the umbilical cord. The biobag is kept in a temperature controlled, near-sterile environment with the infant submerged in amniotic fluid. The device also allows researchers to monitor key vital signs and blood flow, so that doctors can respond quickly if the patient starts to deteriorate.To see if the device might work on humans, researchers used lambs born at a gestation between 105 to 120 days, which is somewhat equivalent to a human infant born between 22 to 25 weeks. Using the most current device they developed, researchers measured how long eight prematurely born lambs survived in the device and grew. The animals were also tested to see if they were developing normally.Five of the eight animals born between 105 to 108 days gestation lived between 25 and 28 days and three animals born at 115 to 120 days lived between 20 and 28 days in the device. The longest an animal was in the device was 28 days and the researchers stopped the experiment at that point, due to animal testing protocols, rather than a poor health outcome.While the study is small and the findings preliminary, the researchers are hopeful that this device could be the future of caring for preterm infants that would be less taxing than current methods."This system is potentially far superior to what hospitals can currently do for a 23-week-old baby born at the cusp of viability," Flake said. "This could establish a new standard of care for this subset of extremely premature infants."Dr. Jon
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There may be a link between the common parenting practice known as "emotional feeding," or using food as a means of comforting or rewarding children, and the development later in life of "emotional eating," or the habit of eating to comfort or reward oneself, a new study suggests.A team of researchers based out of Norway examined the eating habits of a group of 4-year-olds in Norway and then followed up every two years until the group turned 10.The scientists found that among the sample of 801 children they examined, there was a "reciprocal relation between parental emotional feeding and child emotional eating," the study states in the abstract.Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief women's health correspondent, discussed the warning for parents live on Good Morning America Wednesday, saying that with any parenting technique you want to lead by example."There are some good habits that we can establish in childhood, like are you eating as a family,” which Ashton said has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity. Ashton also recommended that parents "avoid using food as punishment or a reward and you want to talk about your emotions."Both emotional feeding and emotional eating habits do not necessarily link eating to when one's body feels hunger.The association between emotional feeding in young children and emotional eating in school-age children was only weakly positive, but remains statistically significant.The study said that association may have important implications later, since analyses also revealed a connection between emotional eating and children's body mass index, a measure of overweight and obesity.
    Read more...
  • iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New York Times bestselling author Dr. Ian K. Smith called out America's addiction to sweets in his new book Blast the Sugar Out, a guide designed for diabetic or pre-diabetic people looking to lead healthier lifestyles and for those who are looking to lose weight by reducing their sugar consumption.The book, built as a five-week plan, can help you "regain control of your health destiny" in less than two months, Smith said in a statement."Get the sugar out and put the life back in," he added.Smith shares the story of his brother, a marathon runner who was feeling lethargic energy levels and overall discomfort in his everyday life, but was unable to pinpoint cause of his troubles. Smith said that his brother eliminated sugar from his diet, and saw his energy levels sky rocket and the discomfort dissipate."He told me that he felt brand-new -- as if he had been given his life back," Smith writes in Blast the Sugar Out.Smith breaks down his method for reducing sugar intake into five key factors that readers can hone in on: habits, schedule, choices, exercise and maintenance.Smith encourages readers to pick up one good habit and break down one bad habit each week during the five-week program. He also recommends keeping an eating schedule or consuming meals and snacks at the same time every day.
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Since plastic was invented, figuring out how to get rid of the stuff quickly without further harming the environment has been a puzzle. This week, researchers found one unlikely but possible solution: caterpillars.Specifically, a type of caterpillar called a Galleria mellonella or "wax worm" which as been found to be able to breakdown common plastic material, according to a study published Tuesday in the Current Biology journal. The "wax worms" turn into greater wax moth or honeycomb moth, which often eat honeycombs by breaking down the wax structure."We have found that the larva of a common insect, Galleria mellonella, is able to biodegrade one of the toughest, most resilient, and most used plastics: polyethylene," co-author Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain said in a statement Monday.Plastics, created from fossil fuel oils, remain a staple of modern life. While some recycling initiatives have helped keep the material from ending up in nature, every year an estimated 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans alone, according to the United Nations Regional Information Center of Western Europe.The researchers used a plastic bag made from polyethylene (PE) -- a common plastic substance, according to the study. They found that with a common shopping bag made of polyethylene, the insects were able to eat their way through after approximately 40 minutes. It took about 14 hours for 100 caterpillars to break down about 13 percent of the bag, according to the study. The insects were able to break the PE down to an organic compound called ethylene glycol.Prior attempts at biodegrading PE with bacteria, fungus and nitric acid led the plastic to slowly disintegrate over weeks to months but not hours, according to the study authors.While the researchers are still trying to understand the chemical reaction that allows the worm to break down the plastic, they say these insects are likely primed to breakdown the plastic due to their normal diet of wax honeycombs which contains similar chemical bonds to the ones found in PE."Wax is a polymer, a sort of 'natural plastic,' and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene," Bertocchini said in the statement.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...