Mom says infant got 'margarita burn' from eating celery outside: What to know as summer approaches

Courtesy Reanna Bendzak

(NEW YORK) -- A mom in Canada is sharing a warning about eating and drinking outdoors as summer approaches.

Reanna Bendzak said she, her husband and their two children were at an outdoor barbecue in March when she gave her then-7-month-old daughter a piece of celery to chew on.

"Our daughter was cutting her second tooth, so we gave her a piece of celery to chew on, just to help soothe those gums," Bendzak, who asked that her daughter's name not be used, told ABC News' Good Morning America. "It wasn't warm by any means, but it was sunny so she was covered neck-to-toe in a onesie and we had a sun hat on her, so we thought she was fairly well-protected."

Bendzak said she and her husband wiped their daughter's face multiple times throughout the afternoon with a cloth, but didn't at the time wash her face with soap and water.

The next morning, Bendzak said her daughter woke up with a rash around her mouth, which later in the day worsened into blisters.

Bendzak said her daughter was ultimately diagnosed with a condition she had never heard of, phytophotodermatitis, a skin reaction that can happen after touching certain plants while out in the sun, according to research published in the journal Canadian Family Physician and available in the National Library of Medicine.

Celery is among the plants that can cause phytophotodermatitis, Bendzak said she and her husband learned. The condition is also commonly called "margarita burn" because limes and other citrus fruits are also culprits.

"As any parents out there would know, your first reaction is just like, 'Oh my gosh, what did I do? And how could I have prevented that,'" Bendzak said. "But you're only as good of a parent as the knowledge you have, and we did what we thought was best at the time."

She continued, "Now in retrospect, of course, we would have done things differently and made an intentional effort to go inside and wash with soap and water."

Bendzak said her daughter, who is now 9 months old, experienced blisters on her mouth area for about 10 days, and some scarring and hyperpigmentation for about six weeks, but now is "doing great."

She said she and her husband estimate their daughter was only exposed to direct sunlight for about 20 minutes total that afternoon, but that was enough time to cause damage.

Once her daughter had recovered, Bendzak shared her family's story on Facebook in hopes of spreading awareness of phytophotodermatitis.

"I had no idea that it was even a possibility until this experience," Bendzak said. "Hopefully this story can help others learn from our experience and they can make better decisions for their own personal lives moving forward as well."

How to treat and prevent phytophotodermatitis

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OB-GYN, said the summer season is a time to be acutely aware of phytophotodermatitis as people are often outside cooking, eating and making drinks.

"Citrus is definitely the most common, and lime is the most common amongst the citrus," Ashton said. "So, that's why it's gotten this name, 'margarita burn.' People are making or drinking margaritas, touching limes outside in the summer months, and that can be an exposure."

In addition to celery and citrus, other plants and fruits that can cause phytophotodermatitis include carrots, peppers, dill, fennel, mustard, parsley and parsnip.

Ashton said the best prevention method is to wash your skin with soap and water if you are handling food and drinks while outside in the sun.

Another important prevention method, according to Ashton, is to wear sunscreen daily.

"If you are going to be outside in the summer months, make sure you're reapplying that SPF every two hours," she said, adding, "But to be crystal clear, [SPF] should be used 365 days a year, on your face, hands and neck, people of all skin colors, all skin types. So make it part of your day-to-day routine."

If a person notices changes on their skin, Ashton said they should contact a healthcare provider.

She noted that phytophotodermatitis can present from mild to severe symptoms.

"It really is a spectrum of severity in terms of mild, moderate to severe," Ashton said. "In mild cases, where someone has touched a lime or the citrus, you could just see some itching, some inflammation. You could see some some redness or pinkish discoloration depending on skin color, and then you could see a full spectrum of severity, ranging in more moderate cases to discoloration that may persist longer, and in severe cases, even some small blistering."

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Map: How abortion access has shifted in 11 months since Roe v. Wade was overturned

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(NEW YORK) -- The landscape of abortion rights has shifted dramatically in the 11 months since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending federal protections for abortion rights.

The decision left it up to states to decide how to regulate abortion services.

States in the West and Northeast have since taken steps to expand and protect abortion rights, while states across the South, Great Plains and Midwest have moved to ban or restrict abortion care.

Sixteen states have ceased nearly all abortion services.

South Carolina became the latest state to greatly restrict abortion access this week after its governor signed a six-week ban into law.

Florida could be the next state to severely restrict abortion services. If a state court upholds a 15-week abortion ban, a new six-week abortion ban will go into effect.

The ban would prohibit all abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which generally occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant. The ban makes exceptions for when the woman's life or health is at risk and cases of rape or incest, under certain conditions.

If allowed to go into effect, the ban will limit access to many women in the South who live in areas where Florida would have been the closest state where they could access care.

Medication abortions

Meanwhile, a court case in Texas is seeking to revoke the Federal Drug and Food Administration's approval of one of the medications used in chemical abortions -- mifepristone -- across the country, even in states where abortion is protected.

The case is currently before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals but is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Mifepristone remains available while the case continues.

Wyoming became the first state to ban medication abortions in March.

How abortion bans largely work

Nearly all bans throughout the country target physicians, making it illegal for them to provide abortion services punishable by fines, jail time and their medical licenses being revoked.

Some bans -- modeled after a Texas law -- make it a crime to aid women in accessing abortion care and establish civil liability against individuals who violate state bans.

Texas, which has several abortion bans in place, allows people to sue anyone who "aids or abets" an illegal abortion, to collect a bounty of at least $10,000.

Physicians warn that the anti-abortion landscape in some states will discourage doctors and future doctors from moving to states banning or restricting abortion. This could also have implications for reproductive and female health care in the states.

Residency programs in states with bans in place saw a drop in the number of OB-GYN residency applications, according to recent data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. While there was an overall decrease in the number of all residency applications submitted in 2023, the decrease was sharper in states with complete bans compared to states without restrictions, according to the data.

There was a 10.5% decrease in OB-GYN applicants in states with complete bans in 2023 compared to 2022 residency applications, according to the study. In states without restrictions, the decrease was only 5.3%, data shows.

How pregnant women are being affected

Some women have come forward with stories about how abortion bans have impact them and their access to reproductive health care. In a first since Roe was overturned, 15 Texas women filed a lawsuit against the state, saying that its near-total ban put their lives in danger.

Abortion ban challenges in other states face legal challenges from abortion providers, on behalf of their patients, abortion clinics and pro-abortion rights groups.

Kylie Beaton, a woman in Texas, told ABC News she was forced to carry a nonviable pregnancy to term, watching her son die days after he was born. Beaton was unable to access care in New Mexico because she was too far along when she received her diagnosis -- past the facility's cutoff point -- despite the state allowing abortion at all stages of pregnancies.

The only other option was a facility in Colorado that provided late-term care, but Beaton and her husband could not afford the $10,000 to $15,000 it would have cost. Beaton has since joined other women suing Texas over its ban.

Women forced to travel to receive abortion care also risk having to continue further along into their pregnancies. The further along a pregnancy, the more complex, risky and expensive the abortion care.

Even with exceptions to abortion bans, women have reported having to wait until their health deteriorates or until their life is in danger before they could get care in states with near-total or total bans.

"Heartbeat" laws which prohibit abortions when cardiac activity can be detected have in some cases complicated care for women whose water breaks before their pregnancy is viable.

Kristen Anaya, who lives in Texas, told ABC News she had to wait until she went into sepsis before she could get abortion care because her fetus still had a heartbeat, despite her high fever and shaking uncontrollably for hours — both signs of an infection.

In Florida, Anya Cook was sent home from a hospital after losing nearly all her amniotic fluid because she wasn't at a high risk for any complications, despite the risk that she could go into sepsis without delivering the fetus—which can be fatal. She later delivered in the bathroom of a hair salon, bleeding so much she lost half the blood in her body and had to be hospitalized for six days, she told ABC News.

She needed two subsequent procedures to remove the remainder of her placenta. This pregnancy was her 17th miscarriage in just two years, she told ABC News.

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South Carolina six-week abortion ban signed into law, providers file lawsuit

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(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a six-week abortion ban into law Thursday, with it going into effect immediately. The new ban prohibits all abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which generally occurs at six weeks of pregnancy, with limited exceptions, according to the ban.

"With my signature, the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act is now law and will begin saving the lives of unborn children immediately," McMaster said. "This is a great day for life in South Carolina, but the fight is not over. We stand ready to defend this legislation against any challenges and are confident we will succeed. The right to life must be preserved, and we will do everything we can to protect it."

Abortion providers Planned Parenthood and Greenville Women's Clinic have filed a lawsuit challenging the state's ban and seeking a temporary restraining order that would prevent enforcement of the law.

"Abortion providers have asked a state trial court to block S. 474 on the grounds that it violates South Carolinians' constitutional rights to privacy, equal protection, and substantive due process by banning abortion, providing inadequate protections for patients' health, conditioning sexual assault survivors' access to abortion on the disclosure of their personal information to law enforcement, violating the Medicaid Act, and improperly targeting Planned Parenthood through an unconstitutional bill of attainder," Planned Parenthood said in a statement.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a written statement Thursday evening that South Carolina's "extreme and dangerous" ban on abortions past six weeks " will criminalize health care providers and cause delays and denials of health and life-saving care."

"South Carolina's ban will cut off access to abortion for women in the state and those across the entire region for whom South Carolina is their closest option for care," Jean-Pierre said.

McMaster signed a previous so-called "heartbeat ban" into law in 2021, but it was struck down by the state's Supreme Court in January.

Fifteen states have ceased nearly all abortion services since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending federal protections for abortion rights.

Under the new ban, abortions are permitted to prevent the death of the pregnant woman, to prevent the serious risk of a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function, in cases of rape and incest and if the fetus has a fatal anomaly, according to the ban. The exception does not include psychological and emotional conditions.

Conditions listed under the exception include molar pregnancy, partial molar pregnancy, blighted ovum, ectopic pregnancy, severe preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, abruptio placentae, severe physical maternal trauma, uterine rupture, intrauterine fetal demise and miscarriage, according to the bill.

Anyone who violates the ban is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined $10,000, face prison time of up to two years or both. Physicians or medical providers found guilty of performing illegal abortions will also have their licenses revoked.

Planned Parenthood said, along with its partners, that it is prepared to challenge the ban in court.

"Abortion is already difficult to access in South Carolina, with only three abortion clinics in the state and a range of limitations on access imposed by state lawmakers. South Carolina ranks 43rd -- in the bottom 10 of all states -- with the highest maternal mortality rates. Women here are three times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than the average U.S. woman," Planned Parenthood said in a statement.

'Sister senators' fight against ban

A group of five women senators, the only five in the legislative body, has fought against the bill. The group, who've adopted the term "sister senators," told ABC News that a short holiday week near the end of the legislation session would be the time the men would "shove it down our throats."

Even before the vote they had a sense that a back-room deal had been made to get it through. After three attempts, the senators' filibuster failed to block the bill from passing.

"Women are 51% of the South Carolina population [but hold] only 14% of the General Assembly and even less than that in the Senate. What I believe is that women are going to show up at the ballot box," state Sen. Sandy Senn said.

The group of women are very different -- three Republicans, one Democrat and one independent -- but they are all religious mothers who are certain this bill passing in the state Senate would be bad for women in the state. None of them viewed themselves as women's rights advocates or feminists and they all said they were "pro-life."

"We all believe in life. We believe in life for the woman as well as a life for the child," state Sen. Margie Bright-Matthews told ABC News.

They needed two men to cross over to vote with them on Tuesday to block the ban, but one of their previous allies had gone dark, which they knew wasn't a good sign.

Abortion options for women in the Deep South are now closing fast, with Florida's six-week ban awaiting a court ruling soon and North Carolina's 12-week ban taking effect.

What is in the ban?

Women will be required to have to in-person doctors appointments before they can receive an abortion.

Under the ban, pregnant women cannot be criminally prosecuted or face civil liability for violations of the ban.

If the fetus is alive in utero, physicians are required to make reasonable efforts to preserve the life of the unborn child, provided that does not pose a risk to the health of the pregnant women, according to the bill. Entities that violate this will be fined up to $50,000, according to the bill.

Physicians who perform abortions under the health exceptions have to rationalize why they believe the woman qualifies for the exception in her medical records, according to the bill.

Abortions performed under the rape and incest exceptions must report it to the sheriff in the county in which the abortion was performed within 24 hours. Physicians must tell the patient they will report the rape before the abortion is performed.

Physicians are also required to maintain a copy of the patient's records for seven years after an abortion is performed under the exception. Failing to do so would be a felony with up to two years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine on the physician, according to the bill.

Pregnant women upon whom an abortion is performed in violation of the law can seek actual and punitive damages against the violator.

ABC News' Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.

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Artificial intelligence used in medical procedure to help paralyzed man walk

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(NEW YORK) -- A man left paralyzed by a motorcycle crash over a decade ago is walking again after a surgical procedure aided by artificial intelligence.

Gert-Jan Oskam, 40, said he dreamt of walking again after being paralyzed from the waist down in the 2011 crash.

"I tried everything at home," Oskam told ABC News. "I tried standing up and making steps, but it wasn't enough."

It was not until last year that Oskam, working with researchers in Switzerland, experienced a breakthrough.

In 2022, researchers at Lausanne University Hospital surgically inserted electronic implants in the areas of Oskam's brain and spinal cord that control movement.

Then, with the help of AI, the researchers built what they call a "digital bridge" between his brain and spine, bypassing his injuries, and essentially putting his thought into action.

"Thanks to algorithms based on adaptive artificial intelligence methods, movement intentions are decoded in real time from brain recordings," one of the researchers, Guillaume Charvet, said in a statement, noting that the technology allows the patient to "move around independently."

Oskam said that now he can think about moving, and his body follows his thoughts.

"I think about moving my leg and then the stimulation gives me a pulse to make the step," Oskam said, noting that even when the sensors are turned off, he can still walk with the help of crutches.

Although this type of AI has been used in medicine for decades, researchers say Oskam's case is the first successful procedure of its kind.

Researchers describe the breakthrough as using AI as a thought-decoder that processes what the neurons in the brain region are trying to do, and sending that signal to the spine.

Details of the accomplishment were published Wednesday in the medical journal Nature.

The technology that enabled Oskam to walk is still in the preliminary stages, the researchers acknowledged. Oskam was the first human to undergo this procedure.

While the technology is not widely available to patients, the researchers said their mission is to "bring it to other people."

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Salmonella outbreak linked to raw cookie dough sickens 18 across six states

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(ATLANTA) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is investigating reports of 18 salmonella infections across six states -- California, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Two people have been hospitalized but no deaths have been reported in connection with the outbreak.

Multiple cases have been linked back to Papa Murphy's raw chocolate chip cookie dough and s'mores bars dough that are sold at Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza stores, according to the CDC.

Nine of the sickened people reported that they ate Papa Murphy's raw cookie dough in the week before they got sick. Papa Murphy's has temporarily stopped selling the two types of dough, according to the CDC.

At least two sick people said they did not eat at Papa Murphy's. Investigators are working to identify the contaminated ingredient in the cookie dough, the CDC said.

The true number of sick people is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreaks may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. Some people recover without medical care and are not tested for salmonella, according to the CDC.

Most people infected with salmonella experience symptoms including diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, which usually start between six hours to six days after ingesting the bacteria, according to the CDC.

Anyone experiencing more severe symptoms -- including diarrhea and a fever higher than 102 degrees; diarrhea for more than three days that is not improving; bloody diarrhea; so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down or signs of dehydration -- should call their health care provider.

Most people recover without treatment after four to seven days, according to the CDC.

Some may experience more severe illness that requires medical treatment or hospitalization, including those with weakened immune systems, children under 5 and adults 65 years and older, the CDC said.

Anyone with Papa Murphy's chocolate chip cookie dough or s'mores bars dough in their freezer or refrigerator should throw it out, even if they didn't get sick after eating some of it, the CDC said.

Items and surfaces that may have touched the dough should be washed using hot, soapy water or a dishwasher. Papa Murphy's chocolate chip cookie dough and s'mores bars dough are not meant to be eaten raw, according to the CDC.

Most raw cookie dough is made with unpasteurized eggs or raw flour and can have germs like salmonella and E. coli, according to the CDC.

There are some other cookie dough options that do not need to be baked because they are made with heat-treated flour and pasteurized eggs or no eggs, which is noted on the label, according to the CDC.

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Woman shares yearslong experience with PCOS to spotlight the impact on South Asian women

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(NEW YORK) -- A woman is sharing her experience with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, to put a spotlight on a community at greater risk of the condition: women of South Asian descent.

Varsha Singh of Pennsylvania told ABC News' Good Morning America that she struggled with symptoms for over a decade before being diagnosed with PCOS in her mid-20s.

"My hair was shedding more over time, and coupled with having an irregular period, I knew something was off," Singh said, adding, "I was not given any kind of support that I wish I had."

The condition Singh, 31, was ultimately diagnosed with, PCOS, is a female hormone imbalance in which the ovaries produce excessive amounts of testosterone and, in some cases, form small ovarian cysts, according to the U.S. Office on Women's Health.

Symptoms of PCOS can include everything from irregular or absent periods to excessive facial hair, acne and obesity. The exact cause of PCOS is not known.

The condition affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age, according to the Office on Women's Health.

People of South Asian descent are at even higher risk for PCOS, multiple studies show.

One study, based in the United Kingdom, estimated nearly 50% of South Asians had polycystic ovaries (PCO), which is one criteria of PCOS.

Another study published in 2021 found that the prevalence of PCOS in South Asian women was 3.3%, compared to 1% for Chinese women and 1.5% for Filipina women.

"People who are of South Asian descent tend to present with symptoms at a younger age and have more severe hirsutism, or that high level of male hormone in the body," Dr. Fatima Daoud Yilmaz, a New York-based, board-certified OB-GYN, told GMA, adding that there is a need for more research and visibility on people of South Asian descent with PCOS.

"We shouldn't be comparing everyone to a default of a Caucasian person, but rather comparing you to people who have a similar origin that you do," Daoud Yilmaz said.

A diagnosis of PCOS requires two of three criteria: Irregular ovulation, which is usually indicated by an irregular menstrual cycle or a lack of a cycle; increased androgen levels; and multiple small cysts on the ovaries.

After she was diagnosed, Singh started chronicling her journey with PCOS online, in the hopes that she might help other people.

She said for her, lifestyle changes including diet and exercise made a difference in treating the condition.

"I had more time to learn how to work out the right way for me and how to meal prep and cook healthy foods," Singh said. "Within three months, my body was showing improvements."

She continued, "I'm doing yoga and meditating. Now it's a lifestyle practice for me."

Other treatment options to manage PCOS symptoms include hormonal birth control and anti-androgen medicines as well as weight loss, according to the Office on Women's Health.

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Social media could have a 'profound risk' on kids and teens, US surgeon general warns

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NEW YORK -- U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned in a new advisory Tuesday that excessive social media use can be a “profound risk” to the mental health of youth in the United States.

“I’m very concerned that social media has become an important contributor to the pain and the struggles that many of our young people are facing,” Murthy said in an interview on ABC News Live.

A surgeon general’s advisory is “reserved for significant public health challenges that require the nation’s immediate awareness and action,” according to the report released by the surgeon general’s office.

The surgeon general said that while we’re in the “middle of a youth mental health crisis” it’s important to identify possible causes. The advisory recognizes that social media has both positive and negative effects on young people, but that ultimately there’s not enough “research and clear data” to determine if it’s “safe” for adolescents to use.

Ninety-five percent of teens are on social media. Although age 13 is commonly the required minimum age for users of social media platforms, nearly 40% of children ages 8 through 12 still use the platforms, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Children and teen users are not only scrolling on these accounts, but are also becoming hooked. Young people on average report spending three and a half hours per day engaging in or creating social media content, according to a study referenced in the advisory.

Murthy calls this “deeply concerning,” as the studies he points to indicate that at least three hours on social media a day doubles a young person’s risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders. The advisory also highlights social media’s negative impact on body image and disordered eating behaviors.

Not only is it “chipping away at their self esteem,” the U.S. surgeon said, but that these platforms are also “taking time away from activities that are critical for health and development.”

On a typical weekday, nearly one in three adolescents report using screen media until midnight or later, the surgeon general told us.

“Poor sleep has been linked to altered neurological development in adolescent brains, depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” according to a study referenced in the advisory.

Murthy also highlighted the harmful content children are being exposed to on social media, including violence, sexual content, harassment and bullying.

The entire burden of managing social media use in children is currently being placed on parents, according to Murthy, who is also a parent to young children.

“It can’t be on parents alone to manage this,” Murthy told ABC News, detailing why he’s calling for “immediate action” on policymakers and technology companies.

The advisory has a number of suggestions for actions technology companies can take: conducting independent assessments of the impact of their products on adolescents, disclosing findings with researchers, creating effective systems to address complaints and requests from users and their families, as well as prioritizing health and safety while designing products.

“We’ve got to make sure these platforms are actually safe for our kids,” said Murthy. “The way we do with other products that children use, whether it’s medications, cars, car seats, infant formula, we make sure that these are safe so that parents have the support that they need to make the best decisions for their kids.”

The surgeon general’s advisory asks policymakers to create “age-appropriate health and safety standards,” require higher standards for privacy protection, fund future research, support implementation of digital literacy education in schools and require tech companies to share health-related data.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan pair of lawmakers introduced the Kids Online Safety Act, focused on protecting children online and holding social media companies accountable.

Though the bill failed last year, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, after conversations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said he has “hope” and expects to have a vote this session.

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US surgeon general issues major advisory on social media use and teens' mental health

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(NEW YORK) -- A new advisory from the U.S. surgeon general warns of an urgent public health issue regarding social media usage and youth mental health.

In the new advisory, released Tuesday, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy calls for more research to determine the extent of mental health impacts on young people, including the type of content generating the most harm, societal factors that could protect youth and ways in which social media can be beneficial.

"To date the burden of protecting youth has fallen predominantly on children, adolescents and their families," Murthy writes. "The entire burden of mitigating the risk of harm of social media cannot be placed on the shoulders of children and parents."

Murthy claims in the advisory that technology companies' "lack of transparency" has created "barriers to understanding the full scope and scale of the impact of social media on mental health and well-being."

He calls on social media companies to prioritize safety and privacy in their product designs and ensure minimum age requirements are enforced.

Most social media platforms have a minimum user age of 13, which Murthy says he believes is "too early" for kids to be on social media, describing the age as a "time when kids are developing their identity, their sense of self."

Murthy says the ages of 10 to 19 are a sensitive time, when youth identities are forming, leaving them susceptible to social pressure and peer opinion.

The advisory also outlines how policymakers can enact change in three ways: creating policies limiting access to potentially harmful content, developing curricula about digital and media literacy in schools, and increasing funding for related research.

Murthy also calls on parents to model responsible social media behavior, in addition to the changes recommended for policymakers and social media companies.

He says parents should create family media plans, establish tech-free zones and encourage children to foster in-person friendships.

The advisory comes just weeks after the American Psychological Association issued sweeping recommendations intended to help teenagers use social media safely.

Psychologists say that adolescent brain development starts around age 10 and continues through early adulthood. The APA cautions that sites that use "like" buttons and artificial intelligence to encourage excessive scrolling "may be dangerous for developing brains" and recommends limiting social media use on these types of platforms through phone settings.

Research shows frequent social media use may be associated with distinct changes in the developing brain, including in areas necessary for emotional learning, regulation and impulse control.

Mitchell Prinstein, Ph.D., chief science officer of the APA, told ABC News that as it stands now, the time in life that kids' brains develop the most is also when they are most exposed to social media.

"The time when most kids get access to social media is actually one of the most sensitive periods of neural development in our lifetimes," he said.

On average, teens report using social media for 3.5 hours a day, with many spending more than seven hours a day on these platforms, according to Tuesday's surgeon general's advisory.

Time is a key component when it comes to assessing social media and mental health risks, as teens who spend more than three hours a day on social media may unknowingly double their risk of poor mental health outcomes, according to the advisory.

Dr. Colette Poole-Boykin, a child psychiatrist and assistant professor at Yale University, told ABC News that the reality may be worse than data shows because children may underestimate the time they report spending on social media.

"Children have difficulty estimating how much time they spend on social media," she said. "When this happens, it is almost always that they spend far too much unrestricted time on their devices."

Poole-Boykin noted that cyberbullying can also be an issue for teens on social media, saying, "I have treated multiple patients for mood disorders and concern for suicidality due to bullying and the sharing of intimate information on social media."

According to the surgeon general's advisory, 75% of teens say social media sites are only doing a fair to poor job of addressing the issues of cyberbullying and online harassment.

While social media has some benefits, particularly for minority youth who find community, identity-affirming content and other social support online, experts say there is still not enough evidence to say social media is safe for children and teens.

Dr. Neha Chaudhary, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said she has seen benefits for teens when working in "moderated groups."

"There's a power in feeling less alone," she said, describing "moderated groups" as places where "people can come together to validate one another, share advice and support, and uplift one another, especially if they are facing a common challenge."

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Girl, 12, saves twin brother's life after he chokes in school cafeteria

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A 12-year-old Massachusetts girl is being credited with helping save her twin brother's life.

Amelia Loverme was eating lunch with her twin brother Charlie and their classmates in the school cafeteria this month when Charlie began choking on a slice of cheese.

"I was just really scared because I didn't know if I would be able to get it out of my throat or if it would just be stuck there," Charlie told ABC News' Good Morning America. "I thought I was going to pass out, or like die."

Surveillance video from the cafeteria shows Charlie stumbling and pointing to his mouth as he seeks help.

As other students back away, seemingly unsure of what to do, Amelia runs in to help her brother, wrapping her arms around him and performing the Heimlich maneuver.

"I just knew that I needed to help him, or try and help him," Amelia told GMA. "I didn't know how to do it either. I just did what I thought was right."

The Heimlich maneuver is designed to be used on people ages 1 and older, specifically when a person is not able to speak, cough or breathe, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians.

When performing the maneuver, the ACEP says to first reach around the waist of the person who is choking, placing one clenched fist above the navel and one below the rib cage.

Then, holding the two fists together, push "backward and upward under the rib cage six to 10 times quickly," according to the ACEP.

In the surveillance video of Charlie and Amelia, Charlie is able to remove the cheese from his mouth after just a few abdominal thrusts.

Christy Ruth, Charlie and Amelia's mom, said she is "grateful" that Amelia was looking out for her brother.

"This is the stuff you hope and pray never, ever to happens to one of your children," Ruth said. "Kids need to pay attention and look out for one another, and I'm just grateful that Amelia did."

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FDA advisers vote in favor of RSV vaccine for pregnant people

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(NEW YORK) -- An advisory committee for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted in favor of drugmaker Pfizer's application for a new RSV vaccine for pregnant people Thursday, two weeks after the federal agency approved the first RSV vaccine for older adults.

The move is part of a multi-step regulatory process involving both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The FDA would need to make an approval decision next, which is expected in late August. Pfizer is hoping for an approval by early August, but after the FDA approves a vaccine, the CDC would also need its advisers to weigh in before the agency makes its final decision too.

Vaccine approval is being closely watched ahead of the winter RSV season, which typically surges between December and February.

A new study published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown encouraging data that supports the case for an RSV vaccine during pregnancy. The study data was gathered from a phase three clinical trial with pregnant participants in over 18 countries and showed that when the RSV vaccine is given between 24 and 36 weeks gestation, it appeared immunity passed to the fetus through the placenta. The results also showed the vaccine was effective at preventing severe lower respiratory tract infection and reducing hospitalization.

If approved, the RSV vaccine could be given to those who are pregnant, much like other vaccines available now, including those for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), the flu and COVID-19.

According to the CDC, infants and young children, like older adults, are at high risk for RSV, which sends approximately 58,000 to 80,000 children in the U.S. to the hospital each year.

An RSV vaccine for children is also currently in the works.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Contaminated eye drops linked to more deaths as 14 people report vision loss

Jrgen Hopf / EyeEm/ Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- An additional person has died in an outbreak linked to contaminated eye drops and more people are reporting they've lost their vision.

The number of deaths has risen to four, according to an update issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday and first reported by ABC News.

At least one of the deaths occurred in Washington state, but the CDC did not provide any information on the other victims.

Additionally, at least 14 people have gone blind, up from eight reported during the last update in March. Four people have had their eyeballs surgically removed but that number has not risen.

Patients reported using at least 10 different brands of artificial tears but most cases have been linked to EzriCare and Delsam Pharma eye drops, made by India-based Global Pharma Healthcare.

The eye drops were contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an aggressive bacterium, according to the CDC.

Pseudomonas are a type of bacteria found in the environment, with P. aeruginosa being the most common to cause infections in humans.

The infection is common in health care settings and spreads from improper hygiene either due to unclean hands or medical equipment and surfaces not being properly cleaned.

P. aeruginosa is resistant to multiple types of antibiotics and has caused about 32,600 infections among U.S. hospitalized patients and an estimated 2,700 deaths, according to the CDC.

The strain that has been linked to the outbreak, however, had never been reported in the United States before, the CDC stated in its update.

As of May 15, 81 people across 18 states have been infected with P. aeruginosa, an increase of 13 patients since the last update.

Symptoms of their infections include yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye; eye pain or discomfort; red eyes or eyelids; feeling of something in the eye; increased sensitivity to light; and blurry vision.

In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning, backed by the CDC, urging clinicians and the public not to buy EzriCare Artificial Tears or Delsam Pharma's Artificial Tears due to potential bacterial contamination.

After the warning, Global Pharma Healthcare issued a voluntary recall of both products, notifying distributors and advising wholesalers, retailers and customers who have the products to stop usage. Global Health Pharma has also issued a recall of Delsam Pharma's Artificial Ointment.

The CDC and the FDA are warning that anybody who still has these brands immediately stop use and discard. None of the products appear to be able to be bought online.

Among the 13 new cases that were reported to the CDC, six had specimens collected prior to the February recall.

"These cases were confirmed after the recall date due to the time it takes for testing to confirm the outbreak strain and because of retrospective reporting of infections," the CDC wrote in its update.

Of the seven patients with specimens collected after the recall, they either were living in long-term care facilities with other known cases or were using a recalled brand of artificial tears.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mom fights for teen daughter battling same disease as Celine Dion

Lindsey Sutherland

(NEW YORK) -- An Illinois mom is opening up about how she advocated for her teenage daughter to get the correct diagnosis and treatment she needed after she started experiencing life-changing symptoms over a year ago.

Lindsey Sutherland told Good Morning America her daughter Ayli started having unusual symptoms, such as a stiff hand, trouble walking and hallucinations, after she underwent jaw surgery.

"She did not know us. She was seeing things," Sutherland recalled.

The symptoms were aggressive, according to Sutherland, and kept getting worse, leading to seizures, tics and parts of her 14-year-old daughter's body freezing in place.

For months, doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong.

At times, Sutherland said her daughter's behavior was psychotic.

"This was not my child anymore. It was like she wasn't even in there," Sutherland said.

Eventually, a friend of Sutherland's told her Ayli's symptoms reminded them of a movie called Brain on Fire, which recounts the true story of a young woman with psychotic episodes and seizures who was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis, a condition where the immune system attacks the brain.

"It was that story almost to a T. And so I thought, 'OK, what do I have to lose? I'm calling those doctors from that movie,'" Sutherland said. "I begged and I said, 'Please just see my child.'"

Doctors eventually diagnosed Ayli with both autoimmune encephalitis and stiff person syndrome, another rare debilitating disorder that iconic singer Celine Dion revealed she had last December. They think stress from Ayli's jaw surgery may have set off her autoimmune encephalitis.

At Northwell Health's Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, pediatric neurologist Dr. Juliann Paolicchi started treating Ayli with a couple medications, including steroids.

"The effect was miraculous," Paolicchi told GMA.

"Our child was starting to come back to us. She could walk down the hall by herself," Sutherland added.

Paolicchi said the right treatment for Ayli was like night and day.

"It was so striking that it was almost challenging to believe from a medical perspective," Paolicchi said.

Although there is currently no cure for either autoimmune encephalitis or stiff person syndrome, Ayli's symptoms are now under better control with the appropriate medications.

Ayli has now also returned to school and is looking ahead to her future.

"I've always wanted to work in the medical field but I think now, I'm leaning more towards helping patients that have this," the 14-year-old said, referring to her conditions.

Sutherland said she encourages other parents to fight for and advocate for their kids' care.

"If something's not right in your gut, keep fighting," Sutherland said. "Don't stop."

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

With the high cost of drugs used for weight loss like Ozempic and Mounjaro, some users turn to compounding pharmacies

Mario Tama/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- As medications like Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro used by some for weight loss experience a surge in popularity, they remain out of reach for many people.

The reason is the medications' cost, which can run more than $1,000 a month without insurance coverage.

"Patients may not have [insurance] coverage, and so, if they elect to use them, they often are paying out-of-pocket," Dr. Veronica Johnson, an obesity medicine specialist at Northwestern Medicine, told ABC News. "And the costs can be anywhere between $1,000 to $1,500 a month."

Both Ozempic and Mounjaro are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat Type 2 diabetes, but some doctors prescribe them "off-label" for weight loss. Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight loss for people with obesity or who are overweight.

Insurance coverage for the medications varies, depending on everything from a person's medical diagnosis to where they live and their insurance plan.

Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro are not covered for weight loss under most Medicare and Medicaid programs.

"Health insurance providers work to ensure the right medications are prescribed to the right patients and at an affordable cost," America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade association of health insurance companies, told ABC News in a statement, adding, "Evidence ... suggests that patients may not be able to maintain their weight loss once they stop taking the drug."

Among people whose insurance does not cover the medications, some are turning to an alternate option, finding a cheaper off-brand version at a compounding pharmacy.

Tina Straw of Ohio told ABC News she chose to use a compounding pharmacy when her insurance company denied coverage.

"I was like, 'OK, I can do $1,200 a month for a year, but I can't ... do $1,200 a month indefinitely," she said. "I'm planning on, you know, hopefully retiring soon."

Instead of paying $1,200 per month, Straw said she is paying around $300 per month for a generic semaglutide compound.

Semaglutide is the active compound that Ozempic and Wegovy are made of, while Mounjaro contains a compound called tirzepatide.

Compound pharmacies create their own semaglutide or tirzepatide compounds using the raw ingredients.

"A compounding pharmacy is a pharmacy that takes drug components and mixes them together to make a drug," Dr. Al Carter, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, told ABC News. "Patients [use compound pharmacies] if they need a specific drug, it's not available in a market, or if they need a drug that doesn't have a specific inactive ingredient because of allergy or something else."

Some medical experts say there are risks associated with getting semaglutide through that route because the compounds can be altered and it's not clear in many cases from where the drugs are sourced.

"It could be combined with something else that's not tested or safe, so in general, it's just really not recommended," Johnson said of the use of compound pharmacies.

The FDA said while the medications are eligible for compounding because of shortages, the compounded versions "pose a higher risk."

"Compounded drugs pose a higher risk to patient than FDA-approved drugs because compounded drugs do not undergo FDA premarket review for safety, effectiveness, or quality," the agency said in a statement. "The FDA's compounding program aims to protect patients from poor quality compounded drugs, while preserving access to lawfully marketed compounded drugs for patients."

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy says many compound pharmacies are safe and are regulated by the states.

"Of these medications [used for weight loss], where I would get concerned is when you are going to purchase these compounded products online," Carter said.

Experts say people who would like to take the brand names of the medications should check on their insurance coverage every few months because the coverage may change.

Eli Lilly, the maker of Mounjaro, said in April that it expects the medication could be approved by the FDA for weight loss as early as the end of the year.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Two doses of mpox vaccine were 86% effective against infection: CDC

Евгения Матвеец/Getty Images

(ATLANTA) -- The mpox vaccination campaign after an outbreak swept the United States last year was highly effective at preventing infection, new federal data showed.

One dose of the JYNNEOS vaccine was 75% effective and two doses of the vaccine were 86% effective, a new study published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

Among patients who are immunocompromised, one dose of the vaccine was 51% effective and two doses were 70.2% effective.

CDC officials said the results showed the importance of at-risk populations getting vaccinated or getting a second dose among those who've only been partially vaccinated ahead of summer.

As of March 31, nearly 31,000 mpox cases and 42 deaths have been reported since the outbreak struck last year, according to the report.

During the height of the outbreak, cases were, in some instances, doubling every week. Although anyone -- regardless of sexual orientation -- is at risk if they have direct contact with an infected patient, the outbreak was primarily concentrated in men who have sex with men, a group that includes people who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary.

In response, health officials began advising anyone with known exposure to mpox or who might be at risk of exposure to get vaccinated with the JYNNEOS vaccine, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2019.

To increase the number of JYNNEOS doses available, the FDA authorized a proven strategy in August to inject the vaccine intradermally, just below the first layer of skin, rather than subcutaneously, or under all the layers of skin.

This allows one vial of vaccine to be given out as five separate doses rather than a single dose.

Since summer 2022, more than 1.2 million doses have been administered. However, there has been limited data on the effectiveness of the vaccine, so the CDC conducted a study comparing vaccine effectiveness among sexually active men who have sex with men or transgender people between ages 18 and 49.

Between August 2022 and March 2023, a total of 309 patients who were vaccinated were compared with 608 patients who were not.

Not only was the vaccine shown to be effective, but also there was little difference in vaccine effectiveness when it came to the method by which the shot was administered, whether subcutaneously or intradermally.

"Vaccination is an important tool for preventing mpox, and this report demonstrates that the JYNNEOS vaccine is effective at reducing risk for mpox," the report said. "However, additional pre-cautions to reduce exposure should be considered, particularly among immunocompromised persons" including limiting the number of sexual partners and one-time sexual encounters."

The study comes as the CDC and the Chicago Department of Public Health reported a recent outbreak of mpox.

Twenty-one cases in Chicago have been diagnosed, with most among gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, the CDC said during a press briefing with reporters Thursday morning.

Some cases did occur among previously vaccinated individuals, but there could be explanations including decreased immunity over time or infected patients being immunocompromised, the officials said.

This demonstrates "the ongoing risk for new cases and outbreaks and the need for continued vigilance and prevention efforts," Dr. Christopher Braden, the CDC mpox response incident manager, said during the briefing.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

What age is right for kids to get smartphones? Parents debate after expert says to wait until high school

Karl Tapales/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- An ongoing parenting debate about when it's appropriate to give a child a smartphone has been reignited, ironically, on social media.

Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, shared a post to Instagram on Monday stating his belief that parents should wait until their child is in high school to give them a smartphone.

In calling on parents to wait, Grant, a bestselling author with nearly two million Instagram followers, cited his own family's experience, as well as a new report that he said showed a negative correlation between mental health and getting a smartphone earlier in life.

"We were among the holdout parents," Grant wrote in an Instagram post that now has over 130,000 likes. "We know it's not easy, but the evidence is clear: even if kids under 14 need phones for communication, they don't need smartphones or social media. It's time for parents to align on waiting so it isn't just a few kids being left out."

Among the thousands of comments left on Grant's post were people on both sides of the debate, with some agreeing that no kid should have a smartphone until high school, and others arguing the decision is more nuanced than that.

"It's ridiculous to think that it's only a one household decision," one commenter wrote, in part. "When kids are surrounded by peers with some thing like a smart phone, it's impossible for them to not think that they are excluded."

"This is the world we live in now, and I don't understand why so many parents think we can ignore it or put up a united front against phones," wrote another commenter.

Some commenters shared that they want their child to be able to communicate their whereabouts with parents, while others commenters emphasized that mental health struggles cannot be blamed on phones alone.

"Great, another thing to shame parents and make them feel bad about themselves," one commenter wrote. "Why don't we focus on learning more about mental health and how to support those suffering from it rather than blaming parents for letting their child have too much screen time so the holdout parents can feel superior."

Many parents, however, shared in the comments their own experiences with waiting until their kids were older to give them phones.

"We waited till 18. They had a flip phone before that so they could reach us from anywhere. They hate social media. It worked," one commenter wrote.

"Couldn't agree with this more!," wrote another commenter. "Our 13 year old is not on smartphone or social media and it shows!"

Several commenters also agreed with the idea that parents can have an impact, with one writing, "We need more parents aligned on creating the 'norm' for smartphone use (or lack thereof)."

Grant declined to comment to ABC News.

Brooke Shannon, a mom of three daughters in Texas, is the founder of Wait Until 8th, a movement in which parents sign a pledge to not get their child a smartphone before 8th grade.

Shannon told ABC News the pledge is important because she believes it has to be a "community effort" to successfully limit young people's screen time on phones, with parents, coaches, schools and kids all on board.

According to Shannon, what started out nearly seven years ago as a small effort among the parents of her daughters' friends has grown into a national movement with over 40,000 families from across the country having signed the pledge.

"I think because so many parents struggle with this same question, it just spread very quickly," Shannon said, adding she believes the movement has also grown because of the growing body of research showing the potential impact of screen time on young people.

"There are so many studies," she said, adding, "'When you look at the amount of research, you just want to shout it from the rooftops, 'Parents just wait. There's no hurry.'"

Shannon said her oldest daughter just received her first smartphone last year, at the start of her freshman year of high school. She does not have access to the internet or any social media apps on the phone, according to Shannon.

"It's basically like a communication device, where she can text, she can call, she can FaceTime, she can listen to music and take photos," Shannon said. "That has worked really well for our family, to just take it very slowly and to keep it very simple."

Dr. Hina Talib, a board-certified pediatrician and adolescent specialist in New York City, said she hears from parents daily with questions about their teens and phones and social media.

She said in her opinion, it's hard to issue a blanket age at which it's OK to give a child a phone and access to social media.

"The reality is just way more nuanced than these headlines," Talib told ABC News. "The best advice is really particular to the child in front of you. There's no doubt that social media for some teens can be harmful, but there are still groups of teens who are able to engage with their friends ... and their interests in helpful ways."

Talib said she believes a better approach is to decide on a more individual level when a child is ready for a smartphone, and then give more access to the phone with "more skills gained and responsibility earned."

"For example, you might start with just using it as a communication tool having text only or music only, and then over time, try out other applications and eventually social media," Talib said. "But even then, it should always be an ongoing, by-way communication between you and your adolescent and young adult as they continue to develop their relationship with technology."

How to know if your child is ready for a phone

Talib said she encourages parents to use a free 10-question tool from the American Academy of Pediatrics and AT&T to help them decide if their child is ready for a smartphone.

The tool asks questions like how often a child would need the phone to communicate with others, how responsible the child is in other activities, like turning in school assignments, and how well the child follows rules about other media, like TV or video games.

If a child is ready for a phone, the AAP also has a free tool where parents can work with their child to create a media plan that works for their own family.

Parents also have a resource through the American Psychological Association, which earlier this month issued the first guidance of its kind on teenagers and social media.

The guidance contains 10 recommendations designed to ensure that teens get the proper training on how use social media safely. For most families, that means starting with an active discussion about which sites teens are using, how often and how those experiences make them feel.

In addition to setting limits, the APA strongly encourages ongoing discussions about social media use and active supervision, especially in early adolescence. Parents are encouraged to model healthy social media use, including taking social media "holidays" as a family.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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