7 Surprising Reasons to Give Up Sugar
Jan27

7 Surprising Reasons to Give Up Sugar

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Pregnant Texas Woman Taken Off Life Support
Jan27

Pregnant Texas Woman Taken Off Life Support

PHOTO: Erick Munoz stands with an undated photograph of himself, left, with wife Marlise and their son Mateo, in Haltom City, Texas.
Erick Munoz stands with an undated photograph of himself, left, with wife Marlise and their son Mateo, in Haltom City, Texas.

Ron T. Ennis/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram/AP Photo

A pregnant Texas woman has been removed from life support after months of legal wrangling between her family, who wanted her removed from the machines, and the hospital, which said it had a legal duty to keep her alive while her fetus was viable.

Marlise Munoz was removed from life support around 11:30 a.m. CT, according to a statement from the Munoz family attorneys.

Munoz has been on life support since a suspected pulmonary embolism rendered her brain dead in November. On Friday, a judge ordered John Peter Smith Hospital, the Texas hospital where Munoz was treated, to remove her from life support by 5 p.m. Monday.

Family of Pregnant Brain Dead Woman Sues Hospital for Keeping Her on Life Support

The hospital said in a statement earlier today that they would not appeal the judge’s ruling.

“JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it,” read the statement. “The hospital will follow the court order.”

The family of Munoz had sued to get the 33-year-old paramedic off life support after she was found to be brain dead.

The family issued a statement today confirming that she had been removed from life-support.

“The Munoz and Machado families will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Munoz’s body to rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered,” read a statement from the family’s attorneys.

Why Texas Fetus Might Have Had ‘Abnormalities’ Before Mother Was Brain Dead

Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant at the time she suffered the suspected embolism. As a result of her pregnancy, John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth said state law barred it from removing her from life support until Munoz miscarried or a baby was born.

Munoz’s family said she never wanted to be on life support, and they sued to have her removed from it on Jan. 14, arguing that the law didn’t apply to her because she was legally dead.

Judge R. H. Wallace Jr. agreed.

“Mrs. Munoz is dead,” the judge ruled Friday.

After the ruling, Munoz’s husband, Eric, stood with his lawyers as they made a statement on his behalf.

“This is the decision we sought. There is nothing happy about today. This was a sad situation all the way around,” Munoz family attorney Heather King told reporters after the ruling. “We are relieved that Eric Munoz can now move forward with the process of burying his wife.”

When asked for his response to the ruling an emotional Eric Munoz could barely answer “No comment.”

Read about how Christmas was Munoz’s favorite holiday and a confusing time for her family.

The case has sparked a heated debate about whether a woman who is medically dead should be kept on life support for the duration of her pregnancy for the sake of her fetus. Although Munoz’s mother told ABCNews.com that this is not about abortion for them, the case has also garnered attention from both sides of the abortion debate.

“It’s very frustrating because we know what our daughter wanted, and we’re not about to honor that because of this law,” Munoz’s mother, Lynne Machado told ABCNews.com in December, before deciding to contest the law.

On Wednesday, the family’s lawyers announced that the 22-week-old fetus was “distinctly abnormal,” with water on the brain, a possible heart condition and lower extremity deformities.

Texas law states that “a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient,” but the judge determined it doesn’t apply to Munoz because she is already legally dead. In Texas, death is legally defined as “the “irreversible cessation of the person’s spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions,” according to the Munoz family’s legal filing.

According to the suit, the hospital interpreted the law in a way that “makes no sense and amounts to nothing more than the cruel and obscene mutilation of a deceased body against the expressed will of the deceased and her family.”

They also questioned whether the law was constitutional, but the judge did not make a ruling.

Because John Peter Smith Hospital is a local public hospital, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office represented it. On behalf of the hospital, the office filed its response to the suit last week, in which it denied all allegations.

The family’s heartbreak began on Nov. 26, when Munoz got out of bed in the middle of the night because her 14-month-old son, Mateo, began to cry, Machado said. When the baby continued to cry and Munoz didn’t return, Munoz’s firefighter husband got up too. That’s when he found Munoz on the kitchen floor. She was not breathing and had no pulse. Her skin had taken on a bluish color, Machado said.

Doctors suspect she had a pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot in the lungs, but they won’t know until an autopsy can be performed, Machado said.

“It’s hard to reach the point where you wish your wife’s body would stop,” Erick Munoz told ABC News’ Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate WFAA-TV.

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Shock Leaves Man With Star-Shaped Cataracts
Jan24

Shock Leaves Man With Star-Shaped Cataracts

Jan 24, 2014 2:16pm

HT star cataracts jef 140124 16x9 608 Shock Leaves Man With Star Shaped Cataracts

Star shaped cataracts left an electrician legally blind. (New England Journal of Medicine)

Yes, you can have stars in your eyes. Unfortunately. That’s the lesson one electrician learned the hard way.

The unidentified man, 42, developed star-shaped cataracts after being shocked by 14,000 volts of electricity on his shoulder.

According to a case report in the New England Journal of Medicine, four weeks after being shocked the man sought medical help when his eyesight started to deteriorate. He was able to regain his sight after doctors performed cataract surgery. But a few years later his retina detached in his left eye, leaving that eye nearly incapacitated.

While the cataracts were fixable, further deterioration in his vision left him legally blind although he was able to read by using visual aids.

In an earlier study on another man who spontaneously developed star-shaped cataracts, doctors theorized that “shock-waves” caused the unusual pattern.

Find Out the Symptoms of Cataracts Here

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FDA Says Nutrition Facts Label Will Get a Makeover
Jan24

FDA Says Nutrition Facts Label Will Get a Makeover

Associated Press

After 20 years, the nutrition facts label on the back of food packages is getting a makeover.

Knowledge about nutrition has evolved since the early 1990s, and the Food and Drug Administration says the labels need to reflect that.

Nutritionists and other health experts have their own wish list for label changes.

The number of calories should be more prominent, they say, and the amount of added sugar and percentage of whole wheat in the food should be included. They also want more clarity on serving sizes.

“There’s a feeling that nutrition labels haven’t been as effective as they should be,” says Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “When you look at the label, there are roughly two dozen numbers of substances that people aren’t intuitively familiar with.”

For example, he says, most of the nutrients are listed in grams, a basic unit of the metric system. Jacobson says people don’t really understand what a gram is.

Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, says 20 years ago “there was a big focus on fat, and fat undifferentiated.” Since then, health providers have focused more on calories and warned people away from saturated and trans fats rather than all fats. Trans fats were separated out on the label in 2006.

“The food environment has changed and our dietary guidance has changed,” says Taylor, who was at the agency in the early 1990s when the FDA first introduced the label at the behest of Congress. “It’s important to keep this updated so what is iconic doesn’t become a relic.”

The FDA has sent guidelines for the new labels to the White House, but Taylor would not estimate when they might be released. The FDA has been working on the issue for a decade, he said.

There’s evidence that more people are reading the labels in recent years.

An Agriculture Department study said 42 percent of working adults used the panel always or most of the time in 2009 and 2010, up from 34 percent two years earlier. Older adults were more likely to use it.

The revised label is expected to make the calorie listing more prominent, and Regina Hildwine of the Grocery Manufacturers Association said that could be useful to consumers. Her group represents the nation’s largest food companies.

Hildwine said the FDA also has suggested that it may be appropriate to remove the “calories from fat” declaration on the label.

It’s not yet clear what other changes the FDA could decide on. Nutrition advocates are hoping the agency adds a line for sugars and syrups that are not naturally occurring in foods and drinks and are added when they are processed or prepared. Now, some sugars are listed separately among the ingredients and some are not.

It may be difficult for the FDA to figure out how to calculate added sugars, however. Food manufacturers are adding naturally occurring sugars to their products so they can label them as natural — but the nutrition content is no different.

Other suggestions from health advocates:

— Add the percentage of whole wheat to the label. Many manufacturers will label products “whole wheat” when there is really only a small percentage of it in the food.

— Clearer measurements. Jacobson of the CSPI and others have suggested that the FDA use teaspoons, as well as grams, for added sugars.

— Serving sizes that make sense. There’s no easy answer, but health experts say that single-size servings that are clearly meant to be eaten in one sitting will often list two or three servings on the label, making the calorie and other nutrient information deceptive. The FDA said last year that it may add another column to the labels, listing nutrition information per serving and per container. The agency may also adjust recommended serving sizes for some foods.

— Package-front labeling. Beyond the panel on the back, nutrition experts have pushed for labels on the package front for certain nutrients so consumers can see them more easily. The FDA said several years ago it would issue guidelines for front of pack labeling but later said it would hold off to see if the industry created its own labels.

Tracy Fox, a Washington-based nutrition consultant, says clearer information is needed to balance the billions of dollars a year that the food industry spends on food marketing.

“There’s a lot of information there, it’s messy,” she says. “There may be a way to call out certain things and put them in context.”

———

Follow Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mcjalonick

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Watch: Sperm Donor Ordered to Pay Child Support in Kansas
Jan24

Watch: Sperm Donor Ordered to Pay Child Support in Kansas

Judge ruled that William Marotta has paternal duty since the artificial insemination was not done by a licensed physician.
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Fetus May Have Had ‘Abnormalities’ Before Mom Brain Dead
Jan24

Fetus May Have Had ‘Abnormalities’ Before Mom Brain Dead

PHOTO: Marlise Munoz and Erick Munoz with their 1-year-old son, Mateo.
Marlise Munoz and Erick Munoz with their 1-year-old son, Mateo.

marlise.machado.79/Facebook

Lawyers representing a pregnant Texas woman on life support against her family’s wishes said that the fetus she is carrying is “distinctly abnormal,” but medical experts said this may be the result of a genetic condition that was present before the mother’s health deteriorated.

The family of Marlise Munoz, a 33-year-old paramedic who was 14 weeks pregnant when a suspected pulmonary embolism left her brain dead two months ago, is suing John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth because doctors there told the family a Texas law forbade it from withdrawing life support until the fetus’s birth or a miscarriage occurs.

The fetus has hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, a possible heart condition, and “lower extremities that deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined,” lawyers representing Munoz’s husband announced Wednesday evening.

“Quite sadly, this information is not surprising due to the fact that the fetus, after being deprived of oxygen for an indeterminate length of time, is gestating within a dead and deteriorating body, as a horrified family looks on in absolute anguish, distress and sadness,” the attorneys told the Associated Press.

Dr. Vincenzo Berghella, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia who has not treated Munoz, said the fetal abnormalities the family described appear to be genetic rather than caused by the mother’s pulmonary embolism or time on life support.

“All those things – the brain, the head, the heart, the legs – should have actually all been formed by 11 or 12 weeks,” said Berghella, a member of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists . “You cannot really get a congenital, structural heart defect after 12 weeks.”

Berghella said he can’t think of a genetic syndrome that includes all this fetus’s problems, and it will be hard to know its prognosis until a diagnosis can be made. This can be done through further ultrasounds and an amniocentesis, he said. The most serious issue seems to be the hydrocephalus.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a senior medical contributor for ABC News and practicing ob/gyn, said the lack of oxygen to the fetus during the mother’s suspected pulmonary embolism could have been harmful to the fetus, but they wouldn’t necessarily have caused the heart and brain abnormalities the lawyers described.

“The majority of organ development occurs in the first trimester, but from 14 weeks on, a lack of oxygen to the developing fetus is obviously a significant problem,” said Ashton, who has not treated Munoz but has treated pregnant patients on life support. “But the severity of these physical anomalies suggest the possibility of an underlying chromosomal abnormality in addition. It is very possible that if this is the case, the two factors taken together could result in a situation that is incompatible with survival.”

The family filed its suit against the hospital on Jan. 14 in Tarrant County District Court. Two days later, the judge recused herself from hearing the case, which has since been transferred to Judge R. H. Wallace’s 96th District Court.

Read about how Christmas was Munoz’s favorite holiday and a confusing time for her family.

According to the family’s motion, another state law may trump the law that forbids the hospital from withdrawing life support. The Texas Health and Safety Code defines death as the “irreversible cessation of the person’s spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions,” the motion reads. Since Munoz has lost all brain stem activity, this law could apply to her, it says.

Munoz’s husband, Erick, “vehemently” opposes continued life support, and would like to bury his wife, the motion states. The hospital has interpreted the law in a way that “makes no sense and amounts to nothing more than the cruel and obscene mutilation of a deceased body against the expressed will of the deceased and her family,” it reads.

The family hopes that the judge orders the hospital to remove Munoz from life support, and that he finds that the law keeping her on it is unconstitutional.

Because John Peter Smith Hospital is a local public hospital, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office will represent it. On behalf of the hospital, the office filed its response to the suit, in which it denied all allegations.

The family’s heartbreak began on Nov. 26, when Munoz got out of bed in the middle of the night because her 14-month-old son, Mateo, began to cry, Machado said. When the baby continued to cry and Munoz didn’t return, Munoz’s firefighter husband got up too. That’s when he found Munoz on the kitchen floor. She was not breathing and had no pulse. Her skin had taken on a bluish color, Machado said.

Doctors suspect she had a pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot in the lungs, but they won’t know until an autopsy can be performed, Machado said.

“It’s hard to reach the point where you wish your wife’s body would stop,” Erick Munoz told ABC News’ Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate WFAA-TV.

Machado initially said family members wouldn’t fight the law until after her daughter was finally taken off life support because she thought the hospital’s hands were tied by the law, and didn’t blame the doctors for the situation. But they want the public to know that this can happen.

Although Internet commenters have made the family’s situation into an abortion rights issue, Machado said the family has shared its story to educate the public about a law it never knew existed.

“Hopefully, no family has to go through this hell we’ve had to go through,” she said.

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