HEALTH

Age-Related Eye Disease

Feeding New Baby Walk for Autism Unused Medication Teach Children About Safety Help Children Live and Learn Autism Early Intervention Hereditary Angioderma

A Look At Supplements And Age-Related Eye Disease

(NAPSI)—There could be good news for many people who take vitamins and other nutritional supplements to help protect their health. A new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) helps clarify which are most effective and safe for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common eye disease among people age 50 and over.

The Problem

AMD breaks down cells in the back of the eye that provide sharp central vision, necessary for reading, driving and recognizing faces. Advanced AMD can lead to significant vision loss and is a leading cause of blindness in the United States . About 2 million Americans have advanced AMD; another 8 million are at risk. Smoking is a major risk factor.

The Good News

Fortunately, the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that a combination of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and the minerals zinc and copper-called the AREDS formulation-can help reduce the risk of advanced AMD by 25 percent.

The Latest News

In a follow-up study, AREDS2, the researchers discovered that adding omega-3 fatty acids didn’t really help; neither did adding lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin together, however, proved to be a safe and effective substitute for beta-carotene, which has been linked to lung cancer risk in smokers.

Doctors’ Advice

Study findings show a link between beta-carotene use and lung cancer risk not only for smokers but even for former smokers. “Adding lutein and zeaxanthin in place of beta-carotene could improve the AREDS formulation for both smokers and nonsmokers,” said lead investigator Emily Chew, M.D.

“Millions of older Americans take nutritional supplements to protect their sight without clear guidance regarding benefit and risk,” said NEI director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D.

Many risk factors contribute to AMD, including age, genetics and diet. People over 60 should get a dilated eye exam at least once a year and consult an eye care professional before using AREDS supplements.

Learn More

For further information, visit www.nei.nih.gov/areds2.

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Four Ways To Empower Your Baby Shower

(NAPSI)—Shopping for a new baby should be fun and exciting. However, sometimes it can turn into a daunting experience. A targeted baby registry can alleviate the guesswork for friends and family, help you get just what you need and avoid unwanted or duplicate items. To get the most mileage out of your registry, “Do just as much homework as if you were paying the tab yourself,” says Sandra Gordon, one of the nation’s leading baby product experts and author of the new book “Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear.”

“Test-drive strollers in the store, for example, to get an idea of how they handle. If you’re registering online, visit retail stores first to get familiar with the products you’re considering. Selecting baby products is a process, so expect to make several trips to fine-tune your product picks.”

Registry Rules

Gordon offers the following guidelines for expectant parents to help them hone their gift list.

Think big. In this economy, putting big-ticket baby items on your list—such as a stroller, glider, a crib, a baby monitor, changing table, high chair and an infant car seat-can be guilt inducing. Still, friends and family may chip in as a group to buy them for you.

Register at more than one store. Gift givers like options. Consider registering for money, too. Sites such as www.depositagift.com allow you to tastefully request and accept cash gifts. You use the funds to buy as you go or just have a stash of cash for future expenses.

Wander outside the baby gear aisle. These days, new moms and dads are requesting items on their baby registry that aren’t typical, such as a smart- phone, which is great for capturing precious memories of your little one, e-mailing photos to Grandpa and Grandma, and posting cute baby photos on Facebook and Instagram.

Request practical items. Put everyday items such as diapers, diaper wipes and Store Brand Infant Formula on your registry, if you anticipate using formula. Store Brand Formulas, such as Walmart’s Parent’s Choice, offer the same complete nutrition as name brand formula, yet they cost up to 50 percent less. The savings can make a big budget difference later, when your registry stash of formula runs out, adding up to $600 a year. For more information, visit www.parentschoiceformula.com.

Learn More

For more baby product advice, visit www.babyproductsmom.com.

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A Step In The Right Direction To Help Others

(NAPSI)—Chances are that people you know and care about are among the estimated 54 million people living with autism and other disabilities in America today.

Easter Seals invites you to join other families living with disabilities in its national signature event, Walk With Me. It’s all about heightening awareness around issues affecting the disability community while generating valuable support for life-changing Easter Seals services which help people with disabilities to live, learn, work and play in their community.

How It Works

Individual walkers and teams join hundreds of others in their community for a day filled with fun, entertainment and purpose: to raise money for local Easter Seals services which impact the lives of children and adults with autism and other disabilities. Every event is different—not just because of location and activities but because Walk participants at every event are partnered with an Honorary Ambassador, a local child or adult with a disability who benefits from Easter Seals services.

Who Is Helped

Funds raised through Walk With Me stay in our community to support local Easter Seals programs for children and adults with disabilities including Make the First Five Count, Easter Seals’ commitment to heighten awareness of the importance of early identification and early intervention services for kids at risk of autism, developmental delays and other disabilities. Every year, more than one million young children with unidentified disabilities enter school with learning and health issues that put them far behind and have a lasting, negative effect on their ability to meet their full potential. Easter Seals, the nation’s largest nonprofit provider of early intervention services, wants to be sure that kids get the treatments and therapies they need before the age of five so they’re ready to learn alongside their peers with a foundation for success and achievement in school—and in life!

Who Walks

Walk With Me brings tens of thousands of participants together nationwide in nearly 60 local communities. Honorary Ambassadors are joined at the event by friends, family members, Easter Seals staff, community leaders, local companies and representatives from Walk With Me national sponsors including CVS Caremark, Amway, CENTURY 21 and MassMutual Financial Group. All share a common goal: to help bring Easter Seals one step closer to achieving its mission to provide exceptional services that ensure all people with disabilities and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.

Step Up To Help!

• Anyone can participate!

• Register for a Walk With Me event in your community at www.walkwithme.org or call (800)221-6827.

• Spread the word about the event through your personal social media channels or sign up to volunteer!

You can make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities through support of Easter Seals!

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Getting Unused Medications Out Of Your Home Safely

(NAPSI)—Here’s a surprising statistic: More than 4 billion prescriptions are written every year in the U.S. and approximately 40 percent of these drugs aren’t taken according to directions. Failing to finish a prescription medication is one of the most common issues, with Americans leaving 200 million pounds of medication unused annually. In some cases, patients may stop taking a drug once they feel better. Other situations leave caretakers with significant amounts of excess medications.

These unused medications can pose a number of problems. If left in the medicine cabinet, they can cause accidents with young children or may be abused by teens and adults. The problem is not as uncommon as some might think—nearly 7 million Americans over the age of 12 report having used prescription drugs in the past month for nonmedical reasons and the numbers are increasing.

The Lack of Good Disposal Options

In light of these figures, many people are seeing the importance of disposing of unused medication. Even when motivated to do so, however, people can be faced with limited options for getting rid of medications responsibly. In the past, some sources recommended flushing unused medicine down the toilet, but recent evidence shows trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in waterways and drinking water supplies. There have been over 1,000 published reports of pharmaceuticals in sewage, surface waters, groundwater and elsewhere, and an estimated 40 million people in the U.S. are exposed to it. Due to these findings, government authorities now say pharmaceuticals should not be disposed in the toilet or sink.

Throwing medication in the trash does not effectively neutralize the potentially harmful substances in the drugs. Mail-in disposal products are also available, but only for a limited range of substances, and they also require labels to be left on the medications, raising privacy concerns. Finally, some communities organize collection programs, but these can be inconvenient to access due to limited hours and the necessity for law enforcement to be present. Even when drugs are successfully collected through these programs, their eventual incineration can cause air pollution.

A New Method For Easy Disposal

Fortunately, a new product has recently been introduced to meet the need: a pouch with a specially designed inner packet of a drug-deactivating ingredient. Users simply place their medications into the pouch, add a small amount of water, seal it and dispose of the pouch in the household trash. A proprietary activated carbon system in the pouch neutralizes the medication, chemically deactivating the drug. After disposal, the pouch continues to work by keeping the drugs chemically bound so they cannot leach into groundwater from the landfill.

The main ingredient in the pouch, activated carbon, is used extensively in municipal water purification and in emergency treatments of drug overdosage. The pouch works with any prescription pharmaceutical product, including controlled drugs and narcotics. It’s compatible with drugs in tablet, capsule, liquid or patch form.

The Medsaway Medication Disposal System is an affordable and convenient way to increase the safety of your home and dispose of medications responsibly. It’s available in drugstores and online. Retail locations can be found at www.medsaway.com.

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25 Minutes: The Time It Takes To Teach Children About Safety

(NAPSI)—Did you know there are 525,000 minutes in a year? The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children wants you to take 25 of them to talk to your child about safety—the same amount of time it takes to watch a favorite TV show. It could save a child’s life.

In the seven years since it began, NCMEC’s “Take 25” campaign has spread to thousands of communities across the United States , 150 countries and the Internet through social media. The campaign was created to coincide with National Missing Children’s Day, which is May 25.

That was the day, in 1979, when 6-year-old Etan Patz was abducted from a New York street on his way to school, the first time he was allowed to walk to the bus stop alone. A suspect was recently charged with kidnapping and murdering him—more than three decades later.

At the time Etan vanished, there was no coordinated national system for addressing missing children cases. His case, and that of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, who was abducted from a Florida mall and murdered in 1981, helped launch a national movement that led to the Missing Children’s Act in 1982 and the creation of NCMEC in 1984.

Today, up to 2,000 children go missing every day. Most are recovered quickly, but there are many who never return home. As the nation’s leading nonprofit working with law enforcement, families and the professionals who serve them on issues of missing and exploited children, NCMEC has learned a lot about how to keep children safer in the real world and on the Internet.

Since 2005 to January 2013, for example, NCMEC employees have analyzed 8,000 confirmed attempted abductions, showing that many children escaped harm by taking some kind of action. Most suspects were driving a vehicle. Nearly a third targeted children going to and from school or school-related activities between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nearly half of the children escaped by walking or running away without any contact. One third were proactive: yelling, kicking, screaming or pulling away.

This month, NCMEC is honoring a 10-year-old Philadelphia girl who fought off a man who tried to abduct her last July as she walked down a street near her home, holding her 2-year-old brother’s hand. A surveillance videotape showed how fast it can happen: The man grabbed her from behind, put his hand on her mouth and lifted her in the air. She struggled mightily and her little brother screamed as loud as he could. The man dropped her and ran. He was later arrested.

As part of the Take 25 campaign, NCMEC provides families and communities with free tools and resources, in multiple languages, to host events and initiate an ongoing dialogue with children, including conversation starters and important safety tips. Because of its popularity, NCMEC has expanded the May campaign from April 1 to June 15.

Events to raise awareness about the importance of talking to children about safety are held in a variety of venues, including community centers, military installations, sport complexes, retail locations, houses of worship, schools and libraries. Last year alone, Masonichip International hosted 269 “Take 25” events. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 206. Miss Black USA, 36.

Every year, organizers find creative new ways to spread the message—on highway billboard signs, at community safety fairs, even a flash mob.

NCMEC’s free resources, including the “Take 25 Organizer’s Kit,” can be downloaded at www.take25.org or ordered after your Take 25 event is registered and approved by NCMEC staff.

You can also find important safety information at NCMEC’s websites, www.missingkids.com and www.netsmartz.org.

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Helping Children Live And Learn

(NAPSI)—In surprising ways, American youngsters and their parents are helping children half a world away stay in school.

What Can Be Done

Countless impoverished girls in Africa don’t have the means to purchase sanitary pads, causing them to miss up to five days of school each month. The absence creates insurmountable gaps in their education and risks to their health. Enter Huru International, founded in 2008 by Lorna Macleod, which manufactures reusable sanitary pads. For $25, American children and, in fact, anyone can send an African child a “Huru Kit” with the reusable pads and HIV/AIDS prevention information.

The kits are given out through schools, with the assistance of a network of local partner organizations through support from Johnson & Johnson, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and Micato Safaris, among others. When the Huru Kits are distributed, the students participate in an educational seminar that delivers engaging and interactive health and empowerment messaging to at-risk girls.

The kits from Huru (which means “freedom” in Swahili) have helped more than 100,000 girls stay in school, and the organization is working to ensure that girls everywhere have the means to complete their education and safeguard their health.

Huru has employed hundreds of adults and sponsored many community events that provide thousands of people with HIV testing, cancer screening and family-planning services.

Why To Do It

UNICEF and the World Bank cite keeping girls in school as the best way to protect them from chronic poverty and getting infected with the HIV virus. It has long been recognized that “education is likely to determine a person’s vulnerability to HIV infection,” according to UNICEF, and that most of the gains made through prevention initiatives have occurred among the educated.

This makes keeping girls in school especially important, as it is one of the most direct and effective means of reducing their vulnerability to HIV infection and ensuring that they develop the life skills they need to lead healthy, prosperous lives.

What The Experts Say

Explains Macleod, “Education is the most cost-effective means of preventing new HIV infections. Just one additional year of schooling can prevent 60 infant deaths, three maternal deaths and 500 unwanted pregnancies.” The Global Campaign for Education states that “Ensuring that all children complete primary school will prevent 700,000 HIV infections each year.”

Where To Learn More

You can find out more about Huru International at (212) 340- 7115, www.HuruInternational.org and info@HuruInternational

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Crafting A Better World For All Kids

(NAPSI)—Whether it’s knitting, scrapbooking or finger painting with kids, millions of people in the U.S. take part in crafting. Many of them are also supporting an initiative to raise awareness about developmental disabilities and autism. It’s A.C. Moore’s Crafting a Better World for All Kids campaign.

Responding To A Need

It’s estimated that every year, 1 million children with unidentified disabilities enter school with learning and health issues that put them far behind their peers. A new case of autism is diagnosed every 20 minutes.

To address these issues, for the fourth year in a row, A.C. Moore has partnered with Easter Seals to support early intervention and autism services in communities that the stores serve. Crafters who shop at A.C. Moore are being asked to donate $1 at checkout to support Easter Seals.

To date, $500,000 has been raised by A.C. Moore for Easter Seals. Money raised during the campaign supports the Easter Seals Make the First Five Count initiative, which offers free online screenings, early intervention and autism services, and gives thousands of children access to services that help them live, learn, work and play in the community.

Early Intervention Is Key

“We know that through early detection and individualized intervention, children with autism can make significant progress,” said Dr. Patricia Wright, MPH, Ph.D., Easter Seals national director of autism services.

If parents think their child may have a developmental delay or autism, they are urged to trust their instincts and share their concerns with their health care provider. Parents and grandparents can also monitor their child’s milestones at MaketheFirstFiveCount.org and take the Ages & Stages Questionnaire if they are concerned about their child’s development.

A.C. Moore is a specialty retailer offering a vast selection of arts, crafts and floral merchandise to a broad demographic of customers.

Easter Seals provides exceptional services, education, outreach and advocacy so that people living with autism and other disabilities can live, learn, work and play in our communities.

To learn more, visit www.easterseals.com and www.acmoore.com.

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Patients Rally To Raise Awareness Of Rare Disease

(NAPSI)—Nina Smith is one of the approximately 25 to 30 million Americans with a rare disease. She lives with hereditary angioedema (HAE), which causes painful, unpredictable and potentially life-threatening swelling attacks throughout her body, including her arms, legs, face, abdomen and upper airway. People like Nina often struggle for years to obtain an accurate diagnosis because conditions like HAE are so rare and often thought to be other, more common conditions.

“I first experienced HAE symptoms at age 6,” Smith said. “I was in the first grade and had gone out to the playground for recess with the other children when my belly suddenly began hurting so badly I could hardly breathe. The only way I could get any relief at all was to lie in the dirt curled up in a ball.” Living with HAE meant dealing with attacks during vacations, holidays and birthdays. When she was in her 30s, she experienced an HAE attack in her throat that affected her breathing. The thought of not being there for her children was terrifying.

Smith is a nurse who considers herself a patient advocate first and foremost, especially for the HAE community. She grew up with symptoms of HAE but she was not accurately diagnosed with HAE until she was 50 years old. That’s when she began looking for others in her family who may also have symptoms and devoted herself to raising awareness of HAE.

Thirty years ago, the Orphan Drug Act was passed to help the pharmaceutical industry focus on rare disease treatments. Since that time, more than 400 rare disease treatments have been approved by the FDA. As scientific understanding of rare diseases evolves and advocacy organizations like the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and the US Hereditary Angioedema Association (US HAEA) promote awareness and provide patient support, times are different for people like Smith.

“The HAE community celebrates HAE Day annually to raise awareness of hereditary angioedema around the world,” said Janet Long, Executive Vice President of the US Hereditary Angioedema Association (www.HAEA.org), the advocacy and support organization for HAE patients throughout the country. “This is a new era for HAE patients. It is important that all families affected by HAE are made aware that there are many resources available now to help them.”

Raising awareness of HAE is especially important to Smith, because today there are treatment options and a supportive community of physicians, advocates and people living with HAE.

“We have certainly come a long way and I hope you’ll remember that no matter what, we have it in us to be proactive about our health,” Smith said.

That is why she became a Patient Ambassador for Shire (www.shire.com), a pharmaceutical company focused on rare diseases like HAE, to help raise awareness about HAE and the support available.

For Smith, HAE Awareness Day means continuing to speak out about HAE, and encouraging patients to take an active role in their health—not just one day a year, but throughout their lives.

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