Violence against abortion clinics rose in 2021, report says

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(NEW YORK) — Violence against abortion providers significantly rose in 2021, according to a report from the National Abortion Federation published Friday.

The report, which measures a variety of acts of violence and disruption, found the most significant increases were in stalking, blockades, hoax devices/suspicious packages, invasions and assault and battery, compared to 2020’s findings.

Vandalism and assault and battery continue to be the most common offenses, but other acts have seen major jumps, with stalking increasing 600% from 2020, according to the report.

Overall, the new data has found increased reported incidents of anti-abortion individuals “pushing, shoving, using pepper spray against, slapping, kicking, and physically fighting clinic escorts, staff and others outside of clinics.”

Melissa Fowler, chief program officer at National Abortion Federation, said that NAF found that abortion clinics are not facing peaceful protests, but rather a “coordinated campaign” that threatens abortion providers.

“It’s really important that people understand the trends… and also the people behind those numbers,” Fowler said. “We can’t sit back and let it be socially acceptable to harass abortion providers.”

The report also draws specific attention to the Jan. 6 insurrection, as NAF has found that many of those known to commit violence and disruption against abortion clinics have also been found to have been a part of the riots at the Capitol in early 2021.

Fowler told ABC News that it was important for the organization to include those details because they feel that it is important to make people aware of the overlap in activity by “extremist groups.”

Amanda Kifferly, vice president of abortion access and clinic security director of The Women’s Centers, told ABC News that while for many Americans the behavior of insurrectionists was shocking on Jan. 6, abortion providers like herself were familiar with it.

She said that she actually looked up one of the usual protestors at her clinic on Facebook and watched as he live streamed his participation in the Capitol attack.

“We were so familiar with the tactics that we saw. The bullying, the loud noises, the militia gear, the harassing language that was used,” she said. “They are pro-violence and the words that they were saying like ‘hang people’ was very familiar.”

Fowler said the connections between anti-abortion and white supremacy groups are not new and they’ve been noted since abortion was legalized in the 1970s.

Kifferly and Dalton Johnson, the CEO of Alabama Women’s Center, said that’ve had to work to have law enforcement officials, different security providers and deescalation tactics implemented to address the violence and disruption that their clinics face.

The report also found that the pandemic affected the type of violence and disruption against abortion providers, as well as how many incidents were actually reported.

At a Thursday press call, Fowler said that many of their member facilities struggled to stay open due to regulations from the government, as well as from staffing issues. The strain of the pandemic, Fowler said, also meant that providers were not as capable of recording all incidents of harassment.

Kifferly said that she and her clinic staff experienced this, as they were “exhausted and became under more scrutiny.” Specifically, Kifferly said she and her staff had difficulty proving they were essential workers during the pandemic.

Fowler, Kifferly and Dalton all said that they don’t believe that the anti-abortion protestors that they have encountered are able or willing to have respectful conversations about the issue of abortion.

NAF reports have found acts of violence and disruption not only committed at abortion clinic sites, but also at the homes, churches and schools of the children of abortion providers.

Fowler said that NAF’s priority continues to be the safety and well-being of their providers and their patients, and working to get patients the care that they need.

The NAF has been collecting data on incidents of violence and disruption against abortion providers since 1977, according to the release.

To do so, they collect monthly reports from their member facilities and allied organizations and conduct follow-up reports.

For the 2021 report, NAF received reports from 80% of their facility members, and suspect that there is underreporting in some areas, such as picketing, hate mail and calls, hate email, internet harassment, obstruction and trespassing.

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Mom opens up about getting ready to donate kidney to 2-year-old son

Courtesy Pamela Bish

(NEW YORK) — If you could give your child the gift of life, would you?

Pamela Bish, a Georgia mom of three, recently got the chance to do so and she immediately jumped at the opportunity. Her youngest son, Carter Bish, 2, needs a new kidney, and after multiple tests and processes, doctors finally gave her the green light to undergo the live organ donation.

Now, Pamela Bish and her son’s procedures are scheduled to go ahead on July 8.

“It’s not just about being a match. There’s other things that they have to consider,” Bish told Good Morning America.

“My vessels have to be a certain size. They had to make sure I had two kidneys. They had to make sure that I didn’t have any cysts on my kidneys. They had to make sure I don’t have high blood pressure. They have to make sure I’m not pre-diabetic,” she explained. “So there were all kinds of things that I had to go through in order to make sure that I, as a donor, could continue to be healthy and live a healthy life with only one kidney.”

She remembers the day she got the critical phone call telling her she was cleared.

“When I got that final call of, ‘I have good news. You have been approved,’ it was instant relief, and just instant peace and calm. And then, the excitement just kicked in,” Pamela Bish said.

Although Carter is only 2 years old, his health challenges began before he was even born.

“I went in for my 20-week ultrasound and the radiologist came in and they said that Carter, there was a lot of things wrong with him and he was not compatible with life, that he wouldn’t make it, he wouldn’t be able to live because I didn’t have much amniotic fluid,” Bish said. “[They said] his kidneys just looked awful. They looked just filled with cysts and a lot of fluid.”

It was devastating news for Pamela Bish and her husband, Dale Bish, who are both originally from Pittsburgh but moved to Dacula, Georgia, partway through her pregnancy with Carter. They decided to get a second opinion from doctors at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where they were told it appeared that Carter had a urinary blockage.

“Throughout all those weeks, between weeks 20 and 30, I would have some fluid and then it would go down and Hopkins just said they wouldn’t recommend any other interventions because he does have a little bit of fluid and if he has enough to just breathe it in and develop his lungs enough, that he could make it,” Pamela Bish said.

“He would likely need dialysis and he would likely need a transplant down the road. But we just had to wait and see, and that was probably the most difficult part, carrying him knowing that we weren’t sure if we were going to have a baby to bring home or not.”

Against the odds, Carter did make it, and shortly after he was born, he was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta, where he was put on a ventilator and received various treatments before he could be placed on peritoneal dialysis, a type of treatment for kidney failure, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Pamela Bish estimates that her son has had at least 11 surgeries, and multiple setbacks and different health issues, but her little boy has fought through them all. She describes Carter as a happy child who loves baseball and was, naturally, one for Halloween this past October.

Last year, Carter’s kidneys also improved to the point where he could even be removed from dialysis.

“He made it a year without dialysis treatment and maintaining his levels. But then things just started to get bad again. His labs started to look not so good,” Pamela Bish explained. “He could create urine but his urine was not good urine, so it wasn’t clearing his body of all the toxins.”

Carter started undergoing dialysis again but would eventually need a transplant. He also had to recover from hip surgery before he would be well enough to receive a kidney.

Now, his mother is looking forward to being the lifeline he needs and giving him a shot at what she hopes is a long life ahead of him.

“I want him to know that during the times in his life that people were telling him that his life wasn’t worth saving or keeping, that his family and his friends and the people around him never believed that for one minute,” Pamela Bish said. “They all believed that his life was worth it and that he would be OK.”

“If you would see him today, you would not know a thing is wrong with him. He is the most adorable, cutest, sweetest little guy. He never stops talking. He has won the hearts of everyone around him,” she added.

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CDC committee greenlights Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children 6-17

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(ATLANTA) — A committee of advisers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted unanimously Thursday to greenlight the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 6 to 17, clearing the way for parents to have one more vaccine to choose from when considering whether to inoculate their children against the virus.

At this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only shot available for children and adolescents 5 years old and older.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration completed the first step in the authorization process, when it signed off on the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 shots for children ages 6 and older, following a unanimous vote from their advisers.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is now expected to issue her official recommendation for use.

However, even with another COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, health experts question how much the Moderna shot will truly move the needle with hesitant parents.

Children 5 years and older became eligible for a primary series of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in November. Even with the shots available for nearly eight months, more than 25.4 million children over the age of 5 are still completely unvaccinated against COVID-19, with just 44% of the age group now fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

Despite slow uptake, scientists from the CDC stressed on Thursday that vaccination against COVID-19 for children remains critical, as young people are not immune to severe disease or the long-term consequences of the virus.

As parents consider getting their children vaccinated, scientists from Moderna reported that their COVID-19 shots are safe and effective for use in children.

Myocarditis, a form of heart inflammation that can occur following vaccination, remains “rare,” according to officials. The greatest risk for the heart inflammation appears to be in adolescents 12 to 17 years old.

For children ages 5 to 11 years old, there have been no statistical significance for myocarditis, and the risk level remains “very low” for younger children, Dr. Tom Shimabukuro of the CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Coordination Unit reported.

Although officials acknowledged that adverse events following vaccination can occur, most people recover in the subsequent weeks and months.

“In general, most adverse events reported after COVID vaccines are mild and transient events like injection site and systemic reactions,” one official said.

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FDA orders Juul e-cigarettes and vaping products to be taken off the market in US

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(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it is taking Juul Labs e-cigarettes and other products off the market.

It comes after the federal health agency completed a nearly two-year review of the manufacturer’s application to sell its vaping device and tobacco- and menthol-flavored pods.

Ultimately, the FDA decided to block Juul’s application.

“Today’s action is further progress on the FDA’s commitment to ensuring that all e-cigarette and electronic nicotine delivery system products currently being marketed to consumers meet our public health standards,” FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said in a statement. “The agency has dedicated significant resources to review products from the companies that account for most of the U.S. market. We recognize these make up a significant part of the available products and many have played a disproportionate role in the rise in youth vaping.”

Juul Labs said it would seek a stay of the decision and was “exploring all of our options under the FDA’s regulations and the law, including appealing the decision and engaging with our regulator.”

The company has long claimed it’s product is important as a tool to stop smoking cigarettes.

“We remain committed to doing all in our power to continue serving the millions of American adult smokers who have successfully used our products to transition away from combustible cigarettes, which remain available on market shelves nationwide,” Juul Labs said.

After hitting the market in the mid-2010s, Juul became the most popular brand of e-cigarettes available, in large part due to its wide variety of flavors, including creme, mango and mint.

Politicians and anti-tobacco advocates have accused the company of using these flavors — along with a sleek design resembling a USB flash drive — to market vaping to U.S. children and teenagers.

More than 2 million American middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2021 — with 8 in 10 students saying they use flavored e-cigarettes, according to the FDA.

The 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey found Juul was the most popular e-cigarette brand used by adolescents with 25.4% of high school e-cigarette users and 35.1% of middle school users saying Juul was their most used brand.

Nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes can hinder brain development in adolescents and young adults, which can continue into the mid-20s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Just one Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 traditional cigarettes, the manufacturer has said.

The CDC also says e-cigarettes can contain heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals that can damage the lungs.

The American Heart Association applauded the decision, saying in a statement, “We call on Juul to immediately comply with the FDA order so these products no longer threaten public health, and we urge the FDA to take swift and severe enforcement action if the company defies the order.”

Juul did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Stock in major tobacco firm Altria Group, which holds a 35% stake in Juul, fell 9% Wednesday morning after The Wall Street Journal reported the FDA decision was coming.

Parent company Pax launched the Juul e-cigarette in 2015. After success with initial sales, Juul spun out from Pax as a separate company in 2017.

In 2018, when Altria acquired its stake in Juul, the e-cigarette company represented 75% of the tobacco vaping market, according to a Wells Fargo analysis of Nielsen data. By 2021, Juul’s share of the market had fallen below 50%, The New York Times reported.

Juul CEO Kevin Burns stepped down in 2019 as the company faced sharp scrutiny over the health effects and the addictive nature of its products. He was replaced by longtime tobacco executive K.C. Crosthwaite, who currently leads the firm.

In 2009, Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products.

E-cigarette manufacturers, including Juul, were required to submit their products to the FDA to review by September 2020 but were able to sell products while the FDA review was under way.

ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

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How to find COVID vaccines for children under age 5

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(NEW YORK) — COVID-19 vaccines began to be rolled out for children between six months and 4 years old across the United States this week.

This means roughly 20 million babies, toddlers and preschoolers under age 5 are now eligible for shots after they were authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week.

As of Wednesday, 2.7 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines have been delivered nationwide, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told ABC News.

Parents looking to schedule appointments can visit vaccines.gov, a website jointly run by the HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and VaccineFinder from Boston Children’s Hospital.

Vaccines.gov launched Tuesday, a few days earlier than planned. There are currently 1,591 locations on the website that include a mix of children’s hospitals, doctor’s offices, community sites, clinics and pop-ups offering the shots.

To use the tool, people can click on the button on the homepage that reads, “Find COVID-19 Vaccines.”

On the next page, users enter their ZIP code and click on the type of vaccine, depending on the age group they would like to receive.

It’s important to select the correct age group because Pfizer’s three-dose vaccine for kids is three micrograms each, one-tenth the dose offered to adults, while Moderna’s two-dose vaccine is 25 micrograms each, one-quarter of its adult-sized dose.

Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor, said the number of locations is expected to increase to more than 10,000 in the coming weeks are more locations get their shipments delivered

“Of course, we understand there’s a lot of anxiety and parents have been waiting a long time to get these vaccines,” Brownstein said. “At some point, the supply will outstrip the demand. Any parent will have access in the coming days. It will take time to get vaccines, but there will be enough to supply.”

The Biden administration has said it eventually expects that 85% of kids under age 5 will live within five miles of a potential vaccination site.

“HHS has received orders for approximately 4.2 million doses to date,” the agency told ABC News. “We made 10 million doses of vaccine available for ordering initially, with millions more available soon, so supply should not be a barrier to someone getting their young child vaccinated.”

For those who may not have access to the internet or are not internet literate, they can call 1-800-232-0233, which offers help to schedule appointments in English, Spanish and other languages.

Brownstein also recommends that people contact their family physicians or pediatricians to either schedule an appointment or ask where to find appointments.

“It absolutely makes sense [to contact them],” he said. “That’s where you have a formal relationship.”

It could prove challenging to get this youngest age group vaccinated if it’s not convenient to do so.

According to the CDC, only about 30% of American children between ages 5 and 11 have been vaccinated compared to 75% of kids above age 12.

Adding to the challenge is that many young children will not be able to receive their vaccines at pharmacies, because many states do not allow pharmacists or trained pharmacy staff members to vaccinate children under 3 years old.

ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett contributed to this report.

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Nearly 1 in 5 American adults who had COVID still have long-haul symptoms, data shows

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(NEW YORK) — Nearly 1 in 5 American adults who have had COVID-19 are still suffering from long-haul symptoms, according to new data collected by the Census Bureau and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The data, collected from June 1 to June 13, 2022, showed that more than 40% of adults in the United States reported having been infected with COVID-19 in the past, with 19% reporting that they are currently still experiencing symptoms of “long COVID.”

Overall, approximately 1 in 13 adults in the U.S. — or 7.5% — have long COVID-19 symptoms, which the groups define as symptoms that were not experienced by individuals prior to their COVID-19 infection, and these symptoms have lasted three or more months after first contracting the virus.

The new data showed that older Americans are less likely to suffer from long COVID-19, as compared to younger adults. Nearly three times as many individuals, in the 50-59 category, currently have long COVID, as compared to their counterparts, who are 80 years and older.

Women were also more likely than men to have long COVID-19, with 9.4% of women currently reporting long-haul symptoms, as compared to 5.5% of men.

Nearly 9% of Hispanic adults reported that they currently have long COVID, a percentage that is higher than non-Hispanic white (7.5%), Black (6.8%) and non-Hispanic Asian adults (3.7%).

Bisexual adults and transgender adults were also found to be more likely to suffer long COVID-19 symptoms as compared to adults of other sexual orientations and gender identities. An estimated 15% of transgender adults were reported to have long COVID-19 symptoms, compared to 5% of cisgender male adults and 9% of cisgender female adults.

MORE: COVID-19 nurse reflects on 1 million American virus deaths: ‘We are still mourning losses’
Further explanation as to why some groups may have had higher rates of long COVID-19 was not specified.

Kentucky (12.7%), Alabama (12.1%), Tennessee and South Dakota (11.6%) were found to have the highest percentage of adults who currently have long COVID-19 symptoms.

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Vaccinated, low-risk people won’t benefit from COVID-19 pill Paxlovid: Pfizer study suggests

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(WASHINGTON) — Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid has been hailed as a breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19. The pills have shown to dramatically reduce the risk of being hospitalized or dying for people who are at high-risk of COVID-19.

But mounting evidence suggests Paxlovid may not benefit everyone equally. The company recently announced the results of a new study that found the drug did not meaningfully benefit people without underlying medical conditions or no previous infection of COVID.

This comes weeks after the Biden administration announced plans to purchase 20 million treatment courses of the drug as it focuses on the Test-to-Treat initiative as part of the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

Some infectious disease experts interviewed by ABC News said the new study could influence the way doctors prescribe the drug, potentially declining to prescribe it to vaccinated, otherwise healthy patients.

But overall, demand for the drug is likely to remain high because 60% of Americans are living with a chronic disease that qualifies them for the drug under its current authorization.

“Paxlovid is something that is targeted towards high-risk individuals, so the fact that it doesn’t have a benefit to low-risk individuals isn’t surprising to me,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told ABC News.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided guidance that the drug is recommended for treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 among people at high risk for severe disease.

“At this stage, the current recommendation under the EUA is for Paxlovid to be given to any high-risk patient who has symptomatic COVID, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, as long as it is within five days of the onset of symptoms,” Dr. Todd Ellerin, chief of medicine and director of infectious diseases at South Shore Health, told ABC News.

“If you’re older, particularly over age 65, if you have underlying illnesses, if you’re immunocompromised, those groups I think will continue to be targeted for Paxlovid,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News.

While the CDC has published a list of medical conditions that would put someone at high risk for severe illness, some experts argue there may be ambiguity.

“High-risk isn’t necessarily only objective criteria, like age, heart disease, etc. It’s also a situation, like socioeconomic status and some of those disparities that exist. When you add all that up, I think that a large swath of people do qualify for Paxlovid potentially as high-risk,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, told ABC News.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the drug would continue to be an important treatment option.

“With up to 40-50% of people around the world estimated to be high risk, we believe there remains a significant unmet need for treatment options to help combat this disease, and we will continue to prioritize efforts to advance the development of Paxlovid,” Bourla said in a press release.

Experts tried to compare that global context to the United States.

“When you look at the average body mass index (BMI) of men and women in the United States is 26, that puts you at a high-risk category and eligible for Paxlovid. So at least 50% of the country is eligible for Paxlovid that is infected with COVID,” Ellerin said.

The CDC defines overweight people as those with a BMI of 25-30 and obese as those with a BMI over 30.

Doctors said there are serious considerations to weigh before prescribing Paxlovid. Drug-drug interactions may lead to serious or life-threatening drug toxicities, including medications such as cardiovascular agents and anticonvulsants. Meanwhile, Paxlovid carries a low risk of something called “COVID-19 rebound,” where individuals experience a recurrence of symptoms or a new positive viral test after having tested negative, according to the CDC.

“When it comes to Paxlovid, at the individual level, there may not be so much downside, but we don’t want to be inappropriately giving drugs to people where there would be no benefit and potentially some downside,” said Dr. John Brownstein, Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News medical contributor.

A recent, small study estimated that less than 1% of patients experience a rebound of symptoms.

Brownstein remains optimistic that further research will clarify guidance on how best to prescribe the drug.

“I think there is a lot that needs to be understood, we have a lot of real-world data and so I think it is reasonable to understand how well it’s working and because it is so widely available, this will not be a hard drug to study like many others. So, we should have a lot of evidence to support a very specific recommendation,” Brownstein said.

Youri Benadjaoud is an MPH candidate at Brown University and a contributor to the ABC Medical Unit.

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Women are more likely than men to develop long COVID, study finds

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(NEW YORK) — Women are significantly more likely than men to experience long-term symptoms of COVID-19, a new review suggests.

Researchers from Johnson & Johnson’s Office of the Chief Medical Officer for Women’s Health analyzed data from studies involving 1.3 million patients.

The results, published Tuesday in the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion, showed females are 22% more likely to develop long COVID than males.

“Knowledge about fundamental sex differences … of COVID-19 is crucial for the identification … of effective therapies and public health interventions that are inclusive of and sensitive to the potential differential treatment needs of both sexes,” the authors said in a news release.

Long COVID occurs when patients who have cleared the infection still have symptoms lasting more than four weeks after recovering. In some cases, these symptoms can persist for months, or even years.

Patients can experience a variety of lingering symptoms including fatigue, difficulty breathing, headaches, brain fog, joint and muscle pain, and continued loss of taste and smell, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s unclear what causes people to develop long COVID but there are several theories among experts including lingering virus in the body, damage to nerve pathways caused by the virus and the immune system remaining active following infection.

The study found the most common symptoms for women within four weeks of testing positive included ear, nose and throat (ENT) issues; muscle aches and pain; shortness of breath and psychiatric or mood disorders such as depression.

Meanwhile, men were more likely to have renal disorders such as acute kidney injury.

Not only were symptoms during COVID-19 infection different among males and females but the symptoms were also different after the development of long COVID.

For women, they had higher rates of long-term symptoms including fatigue; ENT; gastrointestinal; neurological; skin and psychiatric and/or mood disorders.

Women were at least twice as likely to have ENT long-term symptoms and 60% more likely to have gastrointestinal symptoms.

On the other hand, men had higher rates of renal disorders as well as endocrine disorders, including diabetes.

Several studies in the past have looked at differences in hospitalization, ICU admission and death from COVID-19 broken down by sex.

But the researchers noted that, out of more than 600,000 articles analyzed for this study — published between December 2019 and June 2021 — only 35 provided data about COVID-19 symptoms and aftereffects in enough detail to understand how males and females may experience the disease differently.

“Unfortunately, most studies did not evaluate or report granular data by sex, which limited sex-specific clinical insights that may be impacting treatment,” they wrote.

It’s unclear why women are more susceptible to long COVID than men, but the authors said it could be due to differences in how women’s immune systems respond to infection compared to those of men.

“Females mount more rapid and robust innate and adaptive immune responses, which can protect them from initial infection and severity,” they wrote. “However, this same difference can render females more vulnerable to prolonged autoimmune-related diseases.”

Additionally, the team said women may be at greater risk of COVID-19 because certain professions, such as nursing and education, are largely made up of females, which could — in turn — make them more likely to develop long COVID.

What’s more, “there may be disparities in access to care based on gender that could affect the natural history of the disease, leading to more complications and [aftereffects],” the authors wrote in the release.

The team said it hopes more researchers include detailed data about COVID-19 symptoms and effects broken down by sex in their studies to further study how differently men and women are affected and if different treatments are needed.

The authors did not immediately reply to ABC News’ request for comment.

Dr. Roberto Herrera contributed to this report.

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Hot car dangers: How to keep your kids safe this summer

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(NEW YORK) — As a heat wave slams the U.S. this week, it’s important to remember the dangers of leaving children in hot cars.

A child died in Harris County, Texas, on Monday after being left in a hot car for several hours, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. This marked the fifth child to die in a hot car this year, according to national nonprofit KidsAndCars.org.

A record 54 children died in hot cars in 2018, followed by 53 fatalities in 2019, according to KidsAndCars.org.

It’s especially important to be mindful of hot car safety as more parents return to the office and their routines, KidsAndCars.org director Amber Rollins said. A change in routine can often prompt an accidental hot-car death, she explained.

Rollins said she’s also worried about parents who return to work with a hybrid schedule (working at home some days and in the office other days.)

“When your routine is shifting all over the place … that’s one of the most serious risk factors,” she said.

The science behind hot cars

Children’s bodies heat up much faster than adults’ do, according to the nonprofit National Safety Council.

Children’s internal organs begin to shut down once their core body temperature reaches 104 degrees, and it takes very little time for a car to get too hot for children, according to a report published by the council in 2018.

On an 86-degree day, for example, it would take only about 10 minutes for the inside of a car to reach a dangerous 105 degrees, researchers said.

What you can do

Rollins offers these tips for drivers:

— Always keep cars locked even if you don’t have children.

— Always keep keys out of children’s reach.

— Place an item you can’t start the day without in the back seat.

— If a child goes missing, check the inside and trunk of all cars in the area immediately.

— Teach children to honk the horn if they get stuck.

— If you spot a child or pet alone inside a car, “do something,” Rollins said. “If they are in distress, you need to get them out immediately and begin to cool them.”

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New infant sleep guidelines advise against hats and weighted swaddles, blankets

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(NEW YORK) — Weighted swaddles and blankets are popular among parents trying to get their infants to sleep, but they should not be used on sleeping babies, according to new recommendations released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The AAP on Tuesday released updates to its safe sleep guidelines for the first time in five years.

The updated guidelines are based on the study of nearly 160 scientific articles since 2015 that cover risk factors and statistical trends for sleep-related infant death.

Among the new AAP’s new safe sleep recommendations are that weighted blankets, weighted sleepers and weighted swaddles should not be placed “on or near” a sleeping infant and infants should not wear hats indoors except in the first hours of life or in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU).

The AAP also recommends, as it has in the past, that caregivers always place infants to sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface and should never add “blankets, pillows, padded crib bumpers, or other items to an infant’s sleeping environment.”

In addition, caregivers should not use infant sleep products with inclined seat backs of more than 10 degrees and should not use infant car seats, bouncers and other inclined products for sleep, according to the guidelines.

Around 3,400 babies in the U.S. die each year while sleeping in sudden and unexpected deaths, according to the AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In May, President Joe Biden signed into law legislation that bans the manufacturing and sales of crib bumper pads and inclined sleepers with an inclined sleep surface of greater than 10 degrees.

Crib bumpers are defined by the law as “padded materials inserted around the inside of a crib and intended to prevent the crib occupant from becoming trapped in any part of the crib’s openings.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned consumers to not let their children sleep in child rockers after at least 14 deaths were linked to certain Fisher-Price and Kids2 rockers.

“Parents and caregivers should never use inclined products, such as rockers, gliders, soothers, and swings, for infant sleep and should not leave infants in these products unsupervised, unrestrained, or with bedding material, due to the risk of suffocation,” CPSC said.

The AAP offers these additional sleep safety recommendations for babies:

1. Until their first birthday, babies should sleep on their backs for all sleep times. “We know babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides. The problem with the side position is that the baby can roll more easily onto the stomach. Some parents worry that babies will choke when on their backs, but the baby’s airway anatomy and the gag reflex will keep that from happening. Even babies with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) should sleep on their backs.”

2. Use a firm sleep surface. “A crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended along with a tight-fitting, firm mattress and fitted sheet designed for that particular product. Nothing else should be in the crib except for the baby. A firm surface is a hard surface; it should not indent when the baby is lying on it. Bedside sleepers that meet CPSC safety standards may be an option, but there are no published studies that have examined the safety of these products. In addition, some crib mattresses and sleep surfaces are advertised to reduce the risk of SIDS. There is no evidence that this is true, but parents can use these products if they meet CPSC safety standards.”

3. Keep baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep for the first six months or, ideally, for the first year. “Place your baby’s crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard in your bedroom, close to your bed. The AAP recommends room sharing because it can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50% and is much safer than bed sharing. In addition, room sharing will make it easier for you to feed, comfort, and watch your baby.”

4. Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort. “Place your baby back in his or her own sleep space when you are ready to go to sleep. If there is any possibility that you might fall asleep, make sure there are no pillows, sheets, blankets, or any other items that could cover your baby’s face, head, and neck, or overheat your baby. As soon as you wake up, be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed … Bed-sharing is not recommended for any babies.”

5. Never place your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa, or armchair. “This is an extremely dangerous place for your baby to sleep.”

6. Keep soft objects, loose bedding and other items out of the baby’s sleep area. “These include pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, blankets, toys, bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides. If you are worried about your baby getting cold, you can use infant sleep clothing, such as a wearable blanket. In general, your baby should be dressed with only one layer more than you are wearing.”

7. Swaddle your baby safely. “Make sure that the baby is always on his or her back when swaddled. The swaddle should not be too tight or make it hard for the baby to breathe or move his or her hips. When your baby looks like he or she is trying to roll over, you should stop swaddling.”

8. Try giving a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. “This helps reduce the risk of SIDS, even if it falls out after the baby is asleep. If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier. This usually takes 2-3 weeks. If you are not breastfeeding your baby, you can start the pacifier whenever you like. It’s OK if your baby doesn’t want a pacifier. You can try offering again later, but some babies simply don’t like them. If the pacifier falls out after your baby falls asleep, you don’t have to put it back.”

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