Health News

Why young athletes may be more at risk for sudden cardiac arrest

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- When 16-year-old Haley Meche stepped out onto the flag football field, she didn't know it would nearly kill her.

"My brain hurt so bad," Meche told ABC News' Good Morning America. "And then, like, everything went black."

Meche almost died from sudden cardiac arrest. She survived because she had known she had a heart condition and already had a defibrillator. Her doctors said that Meche's heart screening test detected her risk early -- and saved her life.

Studies have also shown that sudden cardiac arrest is the leading medical cause of death in athletes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2,000 young people die from sudden cardiac arrest each year -- many without previously known heart issues.

"1 in 300 young persons has a condition at risk for sudden cardiac arrest," said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, the head of the UW Medical Center for Sports Cardiology in Washington, to GMA.

The risk is nearly four times higher in student athletes, according to Drezner. A risk that most athletes don't even know about, he said.

"Research shows that up to 80% of kids who suffer sudden cardiac arrest have no symptoms prior," said Drezner.

In Florida, non-profit "Who We Play For" is raising awareness around detecting risk earlier. They offer low-cost Electrocardiograms, or ECGs.

"It's never okay for a kid to die out of nowhere because they never know that they have a heart condition," said Meche.

Meche's school was one out of more than 150 schools in Florida that require student athletes to get an ECG before they play. Her doctors told her that early detection saved her life.

Similarly, Josh Tetteh was also able to detect a heart condition last year that, if gone unnoticed, could have led to sudden cardiac arrest.

He said he didn't have any symptoms so he wouldn't have known if it weren't for his preventative heart screening.

"My whole life was perfect," said Tetteh to GMA. "We had this screening, they found something within my heart that is one of the reasons why athletes die."

A majority of high schools across the country require student athletes to pass a thorough questionnaire endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA) and a physical exam before playing sports. If a child is found at higher risk, guidelines call for additional testing and ECG.

Drezner said it's not enough.

"There is robust evidence that using that model for screening leaves the majority of kids at risk undetected," said Drezner.

The AHA told Good Morning America that it supports ECG testing for children at the highest risk, but stood by the current guidelines, which considers the latest research findings and patient safety.

The association also expressed concern that universal ECG screening may miss cases by de-emphasizing the importance of proper exams. Also, it would cost an estimated $2 billion that they said could be spent on other potentially life-saving interventions.

Dr. Eli Friedman, the medical director of sports cardiology at Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute, agreed with the AHA guidelines and he advocated for other interventions.

"It's not a tool for everybody. The infrastructure is definitely a concern that I have because there's disparities in our healthcare system," said Friedman to GMA. "I advocate more than anything for emergency action planning, CPR and AED training."

The AHA said that it is an important area of study that needs more rigorous research and that there is concern that not all doctors are following screening guidelines.

As the debate continues, Bernadette Littles, Tetteh's mother, said she was grateful an ECG screening led to her son's diagnosis. She said she now volunteers to help other kids who may be in the same situation.

"After what happened to Josh, I volunteer. That's my way of saying thank you," she said to GMA. "Can't wait to go to Mayville State and watch him on the field."

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What the new FDA 'healthy' definition means for food labeling, consumers

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(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- Foods that claim to be "healthy" on their packaging will soon be subject to a new set of labeling guidelines, part of an effort by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help educate consumers on nutrition literacy and align packaging language with current nutritional guidance.

The FDA announced the new rules on Wednesday.

The proposed update will ensure that food labels with "healthy" content claims are better aligned with current nutrition science, the updated Nutrition Facts label and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

For example, foods like salmon, despite having higher fat content, can now be labeled as "healthy," as it is a nutrient-dense food.

According to the FDA, "The proposed rule would update the 'healthy' claim definition to better account for how all the nutrients in various food groups contribute and may work synergistically to create healthy dietary patterns and improve health."

"Diet-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. and disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority groups," FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D., said in a statement on Wednesday. "Today's action is an important step toward accomplishing a number of nutrition-related priorities, which include empowering consumers with information to choose healthier diets and establishing healthy eating habits early. It can also result in a healthier food supply."

The moves by the FDA are part of a broader anti-hunger push from President Biden. The changes were announced ahead of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.

The FDA also plans move nutrition labels from the back to the front of a food package to help consumers "with lower nutrition literacy."

The newly proposed rule on healthy labels is part of the agency's ongoing commitment to help improve nutrition and dietary patterns for consumers to ultimately help reduce the burden of chronic disease and advance health equity.

According to the FDA, 80% of Americans don't eat enough vegetables, fruit and dairy, and most consume too much added sugars, saturated fat and sodium.

"Nutrition is key to improving our nation's health," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "Healthy food can lower our risk for chronic disease. But too many people may not know what constitutes healthy food. FDA's move will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, tackle health disparities and save lives."

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Surge of respiratory illnesses in children straining some hospitals' capacity

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(NEW YORK) -- The surge in children's respiratory illnesses, including rhinovirus and enterovirus, is pushing pediatric emergency departments and health systems toward capacity in some parts of the country.

Infectious disease experts say they are seeing a higher-than-expected rate of certain pediatric infections other than COVID-19. There is no one reason for this uptick, but factors include time of the year and relaxed pandemic restrictions.

Hospitals across at least four states -- Washington, Louisiana, New Jersey and Massachusetts -- have told ABC News they are feeling this crush and expect things to worsen as the school year proceeds and winter approaches.

Seattle Children's Hospital is "experiencing unprecedented Emergency Department (ED) volumes and inpatient census," Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine and Emergency Medicine Division chief at Seattle Children's, told ABC News in a statement.

There has been a particular upward trend in respiratory viruses, along with the background of COVID-19 and other standard viruses, Woodward said, adding that he expects the coming RSV and flu season to further amplify the trend.

"While we're still seeing some patients requiring hospitalization specifically with COVID-19, other respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses are making our patients sick," Woodward said. "We are already seeing significant viral activity, which we expect to increase as kids are now back in school and the winter viral and flu season is approaching."

Enteroviruses can cause respiratory illness ranging from mild -- like a common cold -- to severe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In rare instances, severe cases can cause illnesses like viral meningitis (infection of the covering of spinal cord and brain) or acute flaccid myelitis, a neurologic condition that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis.

RSV -- or respiratory syncytial virus -- can also cause mild, cold-like symptoms, and in severe cases, can cause bronchiolitis or pneumonia, according to the CDC. "Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults," the CDC says.

Seattle Children's is seeing more than double the number of respiratory visits associated with the rise in rhinovirus than they have at any time in the past year -- statistically significant, Dr. Russell Migita, attending physician and a clinical leader of emergency services at Seattle Children's Hospital, told ABC.

They've also seen an early rise in RSV, Migita said. "In typical years, RSV starts to rise in November and peaks in February. Last year, it started in August. This year, September/October."

Woodward added that "wildfire smoke has also exacerbated respiratory and other health concerns for many children in the region."

In response to the recent emergency department surges, Woodward said the hospital has increased physician staffing and opened additional beds.

In an advisory to pediatricians and hospitals shared with ABC News, the New Jersey Department of Health warned of increasing levels of enterovirus and rhinovirus activity earlier this month, and noted the state is seeing a similar "surge" like other parts of the country.

A spokesperson for the department said they are "monitoring and watching hospitalizations and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit census daily throughout the state," adding that officials have planned a call with hospitals "to assess pediatric capacity" amid the surge.

Doctors at RWJ Barnabas Health System in New Jersey are seeing that upward trend in cases firsthand, where a wave of children's enterovirus cases in recent weeks has pushed their pediatric ICUs to capacity, Dr. Uzma Hasan, division director of pediatric infectious disease at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, told ABC News.

"Approximately two weeks ago we started to see the numbers steadily rising, and the ICUs were starting to hit capacity with these kids coming in with respiratory symptoms," Hasan said.

It has impacted asthmatic children and those with chronic lung disease particularly hard, but there have also been kids without any major underlying conditions who "seemed to have a pretty significant illness progress in a short period of time," Hasan added.

Children with chronic lung disease, premature babies and kids with asthma are considered especially high risk. Families of kids with asthma should have an action plan with how to deal with an asthma exacerbation if they become ill, Hasan said.

With regards to capacity, Hasan noted that staff had been in communication with state officials "to figure out which sites have ICU beds available to make sure these kids coming into the ER setting are getting accommodated."

One bittersweet silver lining of the pandemic, Hasan said, was how it had drilled hospitals and doctors on how to implement surge protocols and react to emergencies quickly, through COVID's many intense waves -- something has helped them handle the influx in respiratory cases of late. While hospitals are still understaffed and many doctors are grappling with burnout, they've been able to figure out ways to shuffle limited resources around where they're needed most, and how to stay nimble with shifting beds, patients and staff around fast.

"I think one good thing that came out of COVID -- if I can say that -- is we've learned to plan ahead of the game," Hasan said. "When we started seeing the numbers of patients showing up in the pediatric ERs rise and ICUs starting to fill up with kids, we got together pretty quickly to come up with a plan."

Still, that plan could be threatened as the country heads deeper into fall, flu season, and RSV season -- not to mention additional surges of COVID-19.

"The biggest worry is that we may see a concomitant rise in all these respiratory viruses -- and whether we will be able to accommodate the kids who are coming in with severe respiratory symptoms," Hasan told ABC. "We're bracing ourselves for what's next to come."

Ochsner Health in Louisiana is also seeing an "influx" of children's respiratory infections.

"Like other hospitals across the region and the country, Ochsner Health is currently experiencing an influx of viral pediatric respiratory illnesses," Dr. William Lennarz, pediatrics system chair of Ochsner Health, told ABC News in a statement.

"Our Emergency Department volumes have seen an increase due to the flu virus and other normal seasonal respiratory viruses like RSV," Lennarz said. "We are closely monitoring cases of respiratory illness and have a model in place to accommodate increased patient numbers and resources needed to care for these patients."

The Boston area, meanwhile, has seen a similar spike in pediatric respiratory illnesses.

"Reduced population-wide immunity, the dropping of COVID mitigation efforts and increased mixing in schools and daycares is likely responsible for driving the surge in pediatric cases of acute respiratory illness both in our region and nationally," Boston Children's Hospital chief innovation officer and ABC News contributor Dr. John Brownstein said, adding the challenges of emergency department and inpatient capacity, alongside staff shortage, are "only adding more fuel to this fire."

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Number of US suicides rose 4% in 2021, CDC report finds

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(ATLANTA) -- The number of suicides increased in the United States in 2021 after two consecutive years of declines, new federal data finds.

In 2021, there were 47,646 suicides, according to provisional data featured in the report, published Friday morning by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

This means there were about 14 suicides per 100,000 people.

The figure is a 4% rise from the 45,979 suicides that were recorded in 2020 and the rate of 13.5 per 100,000.

It comes after a 3.2% drop in suicides from 2018 to 2019 and a 1.7% drop from 2019 to 2020, the report found.

"Suicide is a major contributor to premature death in the United States," the authors wrote. "In the United States, suicide increased 35% from 1999 to 2018 before declining by 5% through 2020."

For the report, researchers looked at death certificate data from the NCHS as of May 15, 2022, looking at provisional data for 2021 and comparing it with final data for 2020 and earlier.

According to the report, the number of suicides per month in 2021 was only lower in January, February and July compared to 2020. For the other nine months, the number of suicides was higher.

The largest difference in monthly suicides occurred in October with an estimated 4,211 in 2021, which is an 11% increase from the 3,781 recorded in October 2020.

When looking at suicides broken down by sex, the number recorded for males in 2021 was 38,025, which is 4% higher than the 36,551 recorded in 2020.

Additionally, the rate of male suicides rose by 3% from 22.0 per 100,000 in 2020 to 22.7 per 100,000 in 2021, the report found.

Although female suicides increased by 2% from 9,428 in 2020 to 9,621 in 2021, researchers found that the rate increase from 5.5 per 100,000 in 2020 to 5.6 per 100,000 was not "statistically significant.

The report also found there were increases in suicide rates in nearly every age group.

Young adults saw the largest increase with 15-to-24-year-olds going from 14.2 suicides per 100,000 in 2020 to 15.3 per 100,000 in 2021.

Americans aged 35 to 44 had the second largest increase of 17.4 per 100,00 in 2020 to 18.2 per 100,000 in 2021.

The report did not go into explanations of why suicides increased, but studies have suggested the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in mental health challenges, particularly among children and teens, that may have led to a spike in suicides.

Researchers are also studying if there is a link between people with long COVID and higher rates of depression and suicidal thoughts.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 [TALK] for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Thousands of people evacuated from Florida nursing homes, hospitals

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(NEW YORK) -- Thousands of nursing home residents and hospital patients across Florida have been evacuated in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian as the storm heads north.

As of Thursday afternoon, 45 nursing homes were evacuated -- impacting about 3,500 residents -- as were 115 assisted-living facilities, according to the Florida Health Care Association.

Kristen Knapp, senior director of strategy and communication for the FHCA, said most of the nursing homes "are in the low-lying areas where counties had issued evacuation orders."

"About 15 or 20 buildings are either running on full or partial generator power, but some of those are evacuated buildings so no one is in them," she told ABC News.

Under Florida law, generators must be able to provide four days' worth of power at assisted-living communities and nursing homes within 24 hours of a state of emergency being issued.

Evacuees are being transferred to nearby hospitals and shelters to wait out the storm while damages to buildings are being assessed.

Knapp said evacuators were taking steps to ensure elderly patients don't suffer transfer trauma -- which occurs when an elderly person experiences stress when changing living environments -- during this process.

"Evacuations always pose a concern about transfer trauma, we care for very frail elders who have complex medical needs, require oxygen, have Alzheimer's or dementia so we have to account for their mental health needs as well in the midst of an evacuation," she said in a statement.

As Ian moved into the central part of the state, dumping more than 16 inches of rain in a span of 24 hours, some nursing homes were left to evacuate under severe circumstances.

Orange County Fire Rescue shared photos and videos on Twitter Thursday morning of a rescue at Avante at Orlando, a nursing home about 10 miles north of Orlando International Airport.

Paramedics were pictured wheeling residents on stretchers and wheelchairs to waiting ambulances and buses.

Staff at the nursing homes used sandbags to soak up the anticipated rainfall, but it didn't stop water from seeping into the building.

"It was ankle deep when I walked in, but within a short time it was up to my waist," a member of the Fire Rescue team told ABC News.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office tweeted that in certain neighborhoods, flooding waters were "at least waist deep."

"Stay indoors. Stay sheltered," Sheriff John Mina said at a press conference Thursday afternoon. "There's a lot of standing water out there. We've had significant flooding throughout parts of Orange County...I'd encourage everyone to stay inside at this time."

Thousands of people were also evacuated from hospitals, especially in the battered southwestern part of the state.

At HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital in Port Charlotte -- about 30 miles northwest of Fort Myers -- the storm caused significant damage.

Storm surges led to flooding in the ground floor emergency room while powerful winds tore a section of the roof on the fourth floor, where the intensive care unit is located.

Mary Mahew, president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association, said most hospitals did not suffer storm damage but one hospital system based in southwest Florida, Lee Health, will need to evacuate patients after being left without potable water.

"The biggest challenge is the lack of access to the public infrastructure with the utility, with the electrical grid down, they no longer have access to water," she told ABC News. "And that is what has forced them to deal with the evacuation of their patients because they cannot safely care for their patients without water."

Lee Health is currently evacuating about 1,000 patients to hospitals in neighboring regions.

Dr. Joseph Perno, vice president of medical affairs, at Johns Hopkins All Children's in St. Petersburg -- about 20 miles southwest of Tampa -- said the storm did not cause significant flooding in his area and the hospital is ready to accept any patients from other hospitals who were evacuated.

"We have been in contact with several hospitals and said, 'If you need us, we're here for you,'" he told ABC News. "We've been doing an inventory on our staff and our empty beds to see what we could handle if any of the hospitals south of us need help. We want to be ready to help them, so we're prepared to help not only our local community, but also the community most impacted by this terrible storm."

ABC News' Janai Norman and Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

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Hundreds of hospitals on Atlantic and Gulf Coasts at risk of flooding as Ian hits Florida

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(NEW YORK) -- Hundreds of hospitals along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts are at risk of flooding from hurricanes a new study finds, as Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida Wednesday as a Category 4 storm.

The study, published Thursday, found that even lower category storms carry a serious risk to medical centers along the coasts.

Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston University School of Medicine and nonprofit research institute PSE Healthy Energy looked at 682 hospitals in 78 metropolitan areas within 10 miles from the coast.

This covers an area where 85 million people -- or roughly one in four Americans --- live. Researchers found that in 25 of the 78 metro areas, at least half of the hospitals are at risk of flooding from a Category 2 hurricane.

Additionally, because of the rise in sea levels caused by climate change, hospitals are at a 22% higher risk of flooding.

Dr. Aaron Bernstein, senior author of the study and interim director of the Harvard Chan Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment, told ABC News that this is the first study to examine what would happen to health care systems if they got hit by a hurricane.

"I [looked at the] literature and found that there was no literature on what hurricanes would systematically do to access to health care on the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts," he said. "There were papers showing the aftermath, so we have these studies after Katrina, after Sandy, after Harvey and those are very informative about what's at stake here."

He went on, "But no one had looked prospectively and said, 'OK, at a systems level, how do hurricanes matter to the ability of hospitals to be functional and deliver care at a time when people may need them more than usual?'"

Five of the 10 metro areas -- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, North Port-Sarasota, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, and Jacksonville -- will be tested by Ian.

The Sarasota area has the most hospitals at risk of flooding followed by the Fort Myers area.

Photos have been posted on social media of hospitals, such as Tampa General Hospital, preparing for storm surges from Hurricane Ian by building a flood barrier.

The other five metro areas include Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, New York-Newark-Jersey City, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, New Orleans-Metairie and Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington.

Additionally, the study found that even if hospitals themselves were not flooded, the roads around them may be, which could restrict or prevent access to care.

In 18 of the metro areas examined, at least half of all roads within one mile of hospitals were at risk of flooding due to a Category 2 hurricane.

"I think what our study underscores, and past experience does as well, is that while you could have a fully-functioning hospital in one part of a city, if you can't get there because the roads are underwater, it's not that helpful," Bernstein said. "So, we need to think more systematically in our response to hurricanes. It requires a coordinated response in metro areas about knowing where beds are, knowing where staff is available, where supplies can be accessed, knowing where transportation is safe."

Bernstein said the study gives an idea of which cities have hospitals that need to prepare against life-threatening flooding before it's too late.

"Most hospitals have done very little [to prepare for hurricanes] because they don't have the resources, which is understandable," Bernstein said. "Health care is on the ropes after COVID. So you can imagine the idea of building protections against flooding is not necessarily top on the priority list."

He continued, "With the risks of climate change, and hurricanes in particular, so grossly apparent, I don't think anyone wants to look back and say, 'Well, we let these people die.' I think we need to use the knowledge we can glean, to take informed steps that balance costs with outcomes."

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Hidden Epidemic: Schools, parents, police scramble as US fentanyl crisis worsens

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Twenty-year-old Charlie told ABC News' Nightline that he's lucky to be alive after he nearly became one of the thousands of people across the country who lost their lives to fentanyl.

The Southern California college student, who asked not to reveal his real name, was at a party in August when he thought he was taking a party drug, but it turned out to be the synthetic opioid. A friend was able to get help and quickly administered Narcan, a medicine used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, saving his life.

"Thank God that I was surrounded with the people that were there. Thank God my friends were there and thank God that I have smart friends," Charlie told Nightline.

Charlie's story is becoming all too common in America as parents, school officials and parents are scrambling to get ahead of the epidemic and prevent more deaths.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fentanyl was the leading cause of the record number of drug poisonings and overdose deaths in the country last year. More than 71,000 overdose deaths were linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the CDC.

Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have been on high alert, not only monitoring calls of overdoses but also stopping the flow of the drug into communities.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency announced it seized an estimated 10 million fentanyl-laced pills and 82 pounds of fentanyl powder motor crews across all 50 states.

"That is enough to kill 36 million Americans," Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters Tuesday.

Anne Milgram, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator, told reporters Tuesday that two Mexican cartels, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (JNGC), "are responsible for virtually all of the fentanyl and they currently dominate the worldwide fentanyl distribution and supply chain."

Another hurdle for authorities is brightly colored "rainbow fentanyl" pills that are the same as regular fentanyl but that could be mistaken for candy. They have been seized in at least 20 states since February, according to federal investigators.

Milgram added that agents are seeing fentanyl-laced pills disguised as regular drugs like OxyContin and Percocet.

Laura Brinker and Matt White, of San Diego, told Nightline that their 17-year-old son Connor White died last year from fentanyl poisoning when he thought he was taking Percocet.

"It was not a dozen pills in a bag. It was one pill…that was taken," Brinker told Nightline.

Brinker and her husband called for more awareness and education about the crisis.

"There's got to be other means and other ways that we're educating our children and in a very, very serious way, not just don't do drugs," she said.

Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, told Nightline that the crisis is getting worse in his schools.

"I cannot quantify it but I can tell it's much bigger, much more disturbing than what's reported," he said of the fentanyl crisis in Los Angeles schools.

Two weeks, ago 15-year-old Melanie Ramos was found dead on the floor of the girls bathroom after school hours from a fentanyl overdose. A 15-year-old boy, who is being investigated for allegedly selling her synthetic opioid, was arrested in connection with her death.

Days after Ramos' death, Carvalho announced that Narcan would be available at all K through 12 schools, and nurses and other staff will be trained on administering the drug.

"It's a sad new reality but consider the alternative. I think the presence of Narcan in our schools is a life-saving necessity at this point," he said.

In addition to the schools, non-profit groups have been hard at work spreading education on the dangers of fentanyl and providing tools to help prevent overdoses.

Madeline Hilliard, the founder of Team Awareness Combating Overdose (TACO), said her organization is also providing free test strips that can indicate if a drug is fentanyl in disguise. She said while there is some perception that the strips encourage more drug use, they save lives.

"What we see is when people use fentanyl test strips...they're now aware that fentanyl is a risk," Hilliard told Nightline.

Charlie, who is helping TACO with their awareness, said he too is urging young people to be cautious.

"It's inevitable that college students are going to come across these drugs. It's just becoming more and more integrated into drugs across the country," he said.

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New study confirms that COVID-19 vaccines can temporarily affect menstruation

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(NEW YORK) -- When COVID-19 vaccines became widely available, some women reported changes in the timing and length of their menstrual cycles after getting vaccinated.

Now, nearly two years later, a global study has confirmed that COVID-19 vaccination can lead to temporary changes in cycle length for some people.

The study, published in the medical journal BMJ, looked at nearly 20,000 women around the world who self-reported their menstrual cycle through Natural Cycles, an FDA-cleared birth control app.

Study participants who were vaccinated reported, on average, a nearly one-day day increase in the length of their menstrual cycle length after receiving their first COVID vaccine shot, and a half-day increase after receiving their second dose.

Participants who received both vaccine doses in a single menstrual cycle had a nearly four-day increase in cycle length

The study found, like other research has also shown, that the changes to cycle length are only temporary and do not have any long-term effects.

Earlier this year, a smaller study of around 4,000 women found similar results, reporting that a normal menstrual cycle returned within one or two months after getting vaccinated.

The two studies were launched thanks in part to the persistence of women who spoke out on social media and documented their side effects in an online database created by two researchers.

Several months later, in August 2021, the National Institutes of Health announced it was committing $1.6 million in funding to launch studies on the subject at five universities across the country.

Dr. Alison Edelman, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicines, told ABC News earlier this year the research is important because it can help affirm women's anecdotal experiences and let them know what to expect after getting vaccinated.

"On a personal level, any noticeable change to a person’s cycle -- whether it be related to vaccination or other environmental stressors -- can indeed feel significant," said Edelman, a lead researcher on the two studies released so far. "As a clinician, I can help provide them with information about what to expect with vaccination, which might include a slight variation in their cycle length and have them prepared for this possibility so that they do not need to worry."

Menstrual changes are controlled by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, along with the ovaries, which use hormones as signals. These hormone signals can be disrupted when the body goes through changes that occur with an infection and even a vaccine.

Getting vaccinated produces a strong immune system response in the days following the shot, which may cause temporary changes to menstrual cycles. Studies have also documented temporary menstrual cycle changes among women who get COVID-19 infections.

Temporary changes to the menstrual cycle should not be a concern for women, experts say. Changes lasting "three months consecutively, or more" are when health care providers typically make investigation or treatment plans, Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OBGYN and chief medical officer at Verywell Health, told ABC News last year.

Edelman and other experts say the findings that COVID vaccination can temporarily affect menstrual cycles do not mean the vaccine impacts current or future fertility.

In February, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said there was "no evidence" that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 impairs fertility.

ABC News' Sony Salzman and Youri Benadjaoud contributed to this report.

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New guidance released on diagnosing, treating long COVID symptoms

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(WASHINGTON) -- Citing concerns about the lingering and sometimes debilitating long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the body -- and observed inequities amongst minority patients suffering disproportionately from the virus -- medical experts on “long COVID” issued the first guidance of its kind to diagnose and treat the mysterious illness.

Experts at the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation said they hope the guidance will help other doctors leverage their experience with patients to help address and mitigate their symptoms.

The guidance is indicative of widespread concern among medical experts that even months after resolving the initial infection, COVID is still causing serious health concerns amongst many Americans. At least 9 million long COVID patients are grappling with a range of symptoms, but experts said that number could be as high as 28 million people.

"When we recognized that long COVID, this new problem was developing due to the pandemic, we really felt an obligation to come forth and try to address it as best as we could," Dr. Steven Flanagan, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation president-elect said at a reporter roundtable Tuesday ahead of the guidance release. "We recognized two years ago, this is a problem."

A priority in addressing long COVID is to "recognize, assess and treat" the symptoms across a wide range of medical disciplines, including cardiovascular and pulmonary to neurologic, cognitive and gastrointestinal care, experts said.

Dr. Alba Azola, the lead author of the autonomic dysfunction guidance statement and member of the Johns Hopkins Post-Acute COVID-19 Team, said the medical community will need to tailor individual rehab protocols for each patient's unique needs.

"As the pandemic has continued, more people of all ages have contracted COVID-19, and the number of children potentially impacted by long COVID has also increased," Dr. Amanda Morrow, of Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Pediatric Post-COVID-19 Rehabilitation Clinic and lead author of the pediatric statement, said at the Tuesday media briefing.

The most common long COVID symptoms children experience are fatigue and attention problems, ongoing fever, headaches, sleep issues, and new mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Older, female children may be at an increased risk of developing long COVID, Morrow said.

Symptoms, management and rehabilitation for long COVID differ for children and adults, the experts said. Moreover, parsing out a long COVID diagnosis from other potential medical problems is not easy, since long COVID can involve so many of the body's systems.

"Parents, caregivers, teachers and coaches are the frontline in observing changes and children that may be related to long COVID," Morrow said.

"Children generally have fewer preexisting conditions than adults, so long COVID symptoms should be considered relative to the prior acute COVID illness," Morrow said. "Young children and children with disabilities may have difficulty describing their symptoms, so it's really important to try to tease that out during the medical interview."

ABC News asked how the new guidance will ensure marginalized communities get the attention they need. Making information about long COVID more accessible is a first step, the experts said, but it can't be the last.

"The Academy has been concerned about health equity, and we certainly want everybody to have access to the care that they need," Flanagan said. Though there is currently legislation aimed at supporting resources in underserved communities, "there is more to be done, and we are not there yet."

"This is a real significant issue," Azola said. "I think it's just the preponderance of Caucasian females in our cohorts of patients that are being treated at long COVID clinics is a reflection of the limited patient access to medical care in the United States, directly."

"We know that there are people out there, probably debilitated, suffering from long COVID symptoms, that are not even aware about long COVID, or that there's actually something that can be done to help them," Azola said.

ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

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Unvaccinated are 14 times more likely to get monkeypox, data from eligible shot recipients shows

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(WASHINGTON) -- New -- though limited -- data released on Wednesday morning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people who haven't been vaccinated against monkeypox were 14 times more likely to get infected than vaccinated people.

The data is drawn from people who were eligible for a monkeypox vaccine in their states, which mostly includes men who have sex with men or people who have multiple sexual partners. The numbers provide the first sense of real-world effectiveness on the JYNNEOS vaccine, the leading inoculation against monkeypox.

"These new data provide us with a level of cautious optimism that the vaccine is working as intended," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a White House briefing on monkeypox on Wednesday.

Dr. Demetre Daskalaskis, the monkeypox deputy response coordinator for the White House, urged people to share the "early good news."

"This knowledge is power -- and allows people to make more informed decisions about their health and build confidence in this important two dose vaccine," he said.

Real-world data on the JYNNEOS vaccine, initially designed to fight smallpox, has been limited since the start of the current outbreak

The Food and Drug Administration, the CDC and National Institutes of Health have -- largely at the behest of advocates in the LGBTQ community -- launched many studies on the JYNNEOS vaccine's safety and effectiveness since the outbreak began in May.

And though the new data is promising, Walensky also emphasized that it's just a glimpse. There are still outstanding questions about the full breadth of JYNNEOS' protection.

For example, the new efficacy rate of the vaccine was based on data gathered two weeks after the first vaccine, not after a full course of two shots, 28 days apart.

The CDC has yet to release data on efficacy after full vaccination, even though two shots is the consensus recommendation among federal public health officials.

"These early findings and similar results from studies in other countries suggest that even one dose of the monkeypox vaccine offers at least some initial protection against infection. That said, we know from laboratory studies that immune protection is highest two weeks after the second dose of vaccine," Walensky said on Wednesday.

"And it is for that reason that we continue, even in light of these promising data, to strongly recommend people receive two doses of JYNNEOS vaccine spaced out 28 days apart to ensure durable, lasting immune protection against monkeypox," she said.

More studies on efficacy after two shots are underway, Walensky said.

The CDC also has yet to differentiate the efficacy data between injection methods, which would provide further clarity on any potential differences between the new approach, where a smaller dose is injected just under the skin, and the original approach, where the injection was deeper.

It's also not clear how much of a role behavioral changes might be playing in the data on the vaccine's effectiveness.

If vaccinated people are reducing their sexual partners or chances for skin-to-skin contact, that could decrease their monkeypox infection rates, too.

Walensky pledged that more data is coming but that CDC is working to provide all the data it has in real time as soon as it is available -- a lesson learned from COVID-19.

"[The] CDC will continue to evaluate how these vaccines are working in the current outbreak through a portfolio of vaccine effectiveness projects that will help us understand the level of protection provided and how long that protection lasts. And we will continue to deliver these data to you as soon as we have them," Walensky said.

The CDC is also expanding eligibility for monkeypox vaccines to include more at-risk Americans -- though the JYNNEOS vaccine is still not recommended for the general population.

The expansion now includes gay or bisexual men who have had one partner in the last six months or received a new diagnosis of one or more sexually transmitted diseases in the last six months. It also includes sex workers.

Though many states and jurisdictions have already expanded eligibility, the CDC's latest move puts it in closer alignment with local guidance.

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Katie Couric reveals breast cancer diagnosis

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(NEW YORK) -- Katie Couric is speaking out after being diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer.

The 65-year-old journalist revealed in a personal essay on her website that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June, and has since undergone surgery and radiation to treat the disease.

Couric, a mother of two, said she underwent what she thought would be a routine mammogram in June, after unknowingly missing her annual screening for two years during the coronavirus pandemic.

After a follow-up biopsy on her left breast, Couric said she received a call from her doctor with the diagnosis.

"I felt sick and the room started to spin," Couric wrote. "I was in the middle of an open office, so I walked to a corner and spoke quietly, my mouth unable to keep up with the questions swirling in my head."

Since the diagnosis in June, Couric said she has undergone a lumpectomy and several weeks of radiation to treat what her doctors diagnosed as stage 1A breast cancer.

She said the lumpectomy revealed a 2.5-centimeter tumor.

"I was warned that I may be fatigued and my skin may turn a little pink. Yesterday was my final round," Couric wrote, describing radiation, in an essay published on Sept. 28. "My left breast does look like I’ve been sunbathing topless, but other than that, I’ve felt fine."

Couric, who lost her husband, sister and mother-in-law to other types of cancer, said she felt grateful for all the advancements made in breast cancer research over the last several decades.

"I can’t tell you how many times during this experience I thanked God that it was 2022. And how many times I silently thanked all the dedicated scientists who have been working their asses off to develop better ways to analyze and treat breast cancer," she wrote. "But to reap the benefits of modern medicine, we need to stay on top of our screenings, advocate for ourselves, and make sure everyone has access to the diagnostic tools that could very well save their life."

Couric shared her diagnosis on the eve of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is held annually in the month of October.

Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer among women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Around 42,000 women die from breast cancer each year, with Black women having a higher rate of death from the disease than other populations, according to the CDC.

Some women show no symptoms of breast cancer at all, according to the CDC, while others may experience symptoms including thickening or swelling of the breast, detection of a lump in the breast or armpit, redness and pain or a change in the size or shape of the breast.

Women ages 40 to 44 should have access to annual breast cancer screening with mammograms, while women ages 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year, according to federal guidelines.

Starting at age 55, women should switch to mammograms every two years or continue annual screenings, according to the CDC.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many doctors saw a drop in cancer screenings due to limited non-essential, in-person visits and patients opting to put off routine examinations -- including annual cancer screenings -- to curb risky face-to-face interactions.

The number of screenings and mammograms given to people in the U.S. fell by as much as 80% during the pandemic, according to research published last year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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What's behind dramatic drop in monkeypox cases in the US

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(NEW YORK) -- After weeks of rising cases, the monkeypox outbreak appears to be significantly slowing down in the United States.

As of Sept. 21, the latest date for which data is available, the seven-day case average was 197, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is a 50% drop from the seven-day rolling average of 394 recorded one month ago, the data shows.

Similar situations are occurring in cities across the U.S. In New York City -- the epicenter of the outbreak -- the seven-day average of infections has declined by 85.7% over the course of a month from 35 to five, as of Sept. 23, according to data from the city's Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.

Additionally, in Los Angeles, the seven-day average has fallen by 80.5% from 36 to seven, as of Sept. 26, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health data shows.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News there are two reasons why monkeypox infections are trending downward.

One reason is that at-risk people have changed their behaviors.

The outbreak has primarily been concentrated in men who have sex with men, a group that includes people who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary, although health officials have said anyone -- regardless of sexual orientation -- is at risk if they have direct contact with an infected patient.

Schaffner said those at risk have been inundated with information about how to reduce their risk and have followed doctors' advice.

"There's been a terrific amount of public health education that's gone out and it's gone out particularly to the MSM community and the LBGTQ community that's been primarily affected," he said. "So, you have a target population, they've been literally flooded, in some instances, with information about monkeypox, and what you as an individual can do to protect yourself against becoming infected."

Schaffner added, "And so a lot of the communication I think, has been successful. And here's the inferential part, I think people may have altered some of their behaviors, to reduce their risk."

joint survey from the CDC, Emory University and Johns Hopkins University found about one-half of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men reduced their number of sexual partners, one-time anonymous partners, and reduced use of dating apps.

The second reason for the decline is vaccinations, Schaffner said.

As of Sept. 20, more than 684,000 JYNNEOS vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S., CDC data shows. As of the week ending Sept. 10, the number of second doses administered are more than the number of first doses, meaning people are returning to receive full protection.

Last month, to increase the number of doses available, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a new strategy to inject the vaccine intradermally, just below the first layer of skin, rather than subcutaneously, or under all the layers of skin -- allowing one vial of vaccine to be administered as five separate doses rather than a single dose.

"We had data that told us it would be as effective and that appears also to be working," Schaffner said. "[There's been] acceptance of the vaccine by people in the target population and we've developed the capacity to get it out, make it available easily without stigma."

However, Schaffner said the battle is not over yet and there should be a sustained effort on the part of public health officials, clinicians and community leaders to keep spreading information on the seriousness of monkeypox and how to reduce risk as well as how to get vaccinated.

"This will require sustained attention for some time," he said. "It's wonderful that things look as though they're plateauing and declining, but we have to keep attention on wherever this disease is, and we have to keep our public health and communications efforts out there."

"It's not 'mission accomplished.' We have to keep being careful and take advantage of the vaccine," Schaffner added.

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Mom speaks out after daughter dies from suspected fentanyl overdose

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(WITCHITA FALLS, TX) -- A Texas mom is speaking out after her daughter died earlier this month following a suspected opioid overdose. Experts involved in the case believe that fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, might be to blame.

Silvia Martinez of Wichita Falls, Texas, told "Good Morning America" that she wanted to share what happened to her eldest daughter Alizé Martinez to potentially save other children and prevent other families from experiencing what she and her family are going through.

Silvia Martinez said that on the morning of Sept. 17 -- which she described as the "worst day" of her life -- she found her daughter stiff and lifeless in bed.

"I just screamed. I was in so much shock. It just didn't feel real because I was like, 'Not my daughter, not my baby,' " she recalled. "God knew I couldn't live without my kids. I couldn't believe it."

She said that although she had not yet received an official report, the medical examiner said they suspect the death of Alizé Martinez was possibly the result of a fentanyl overdose.

Alizé Martinez, the eldest of Silvia Martinez's five children, was 19 and about to re-enroll in cosmetology school. Silvia Martinez said her daughter had a "super goofy personality" and was "always happy" but had been "struggling" with addiction, something she had been trying to help her through.

"I didn't know this until it was further down the line but when she first tried [opioids], she did it as a party favor, because her friends were doing it," Silvia Martinez told "GMA."

"She thought she was taking a prescription drug that gets prescribed to people from doctors. so to her, that her friends were doing it, well, it comes from a doctor so you know, should be OK on that and not knowing that it was laced with fentanyl," Martinez continued.

Experts warn that people should never take medication that is not specifically prescribed to them and should always precisely follow prescription instructions provided by their doctor.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is anywhere from 50 to 100 times more potent than the narcotics heroin and morphine. Synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths have increased 56% from 2019 through 2020, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the public health agency estimates that more than 150 people die from synthetic opioids each day. Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the effects of opioids, and can help someone who has overdosed on opioids.

Alizé Martinez's funeral was held on Sept. 22, according to her mother, and the police department in Wichita Falls, a city in northern Texas, is currently investigating her death.

A spokesperson for the Wichita Falls Police Department confirmed in an email to "GMA" that officials were indeed investigating "three suspected fentanyl related fatal overdoses," including that of "a 19-year-old female" whom they identified as Alizé Martinez.

The spokesperson also noted police had "made three arrests for the charge of Murder ... for illegally distributing Fentanyl which caused the death of an individual."

Silvia Martinez hopes that despite her family's tragedy, she can raise more awareness about the dangers of street drugs, including opioids and specifically fentanyl.

"The most shocking part was how available it is," she said. "A lot of these pills are looking like candy. And now we don't even want to take our kids trick or treating this year … because we are terrified that our kids are going to get something like that in one of their bags."

"As parents, we need to talk to our children about this drug, about how it's going around everywhere," she added.

Silvia Martinez's message to other parents, meanwhile, is to speak up if they suspect their kids are taking drugs.

"Don't be ashamed. Don't be embarrassed. Speak out," she said. "Let other people hear your voices because we need to be the voices for our children."

"We need to get the drugs off the street," she added. "We need more resources for our children who are struggling with this. We need all the voices we can: every mother, every father, anybody who struggles with this fentanyl addiction. We need more voices. We need to make a change for our kids. I don't want to see any more lives gone due to this."

If someone you know is experiencing signs or symptoms of an overdose, call 911 or immediately present to the nearest emergency department. The national poison control hotline is available for questions 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you can call the SAMHSA help line at 1-800-662-HELP. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service.

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COVID cases not dramatically rising with schools back in session, but experts say testing is down

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(NEW YORK) -- Most children in the United States have returned to school for the year as districts aim to bring kids back to a setting that resembles the pre-pandemic normal.

Masks are now optional in most classrooms and, last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was no longer recommending schools use test-to-stay, which allowed students who were close contacts of those who tested positive for COVID-19 to continue to attend in-person classes if they remained asymptomatic and continued to test negative.

Dr. Greta Massetti, chief of the field epidemiology and prevention branch at the CDC, told reporters at the time that because unvaccinated and vaccinated people were no longer being advised to quarantine, test-to-stay was no longer necessary.

Cases and hospitalizations do not appear to be dramatically rising and adults have the highest rate of weekly cases per 100,000, per CDC data.

But experts said testing data is not robust as it was during the last two school years, making it difficult to compare current data to previous seasons.

"There's good reason to be cautiously optimistic," Dr. Jim Versalovic, pathologist in chief at Texas Children's Hospital, told ABC News. "It's important to point out that we have seen over the past several weeks a steady decline in COVID positivity and in COVID hospitalizations at Texas Children's."

He continued, "There's more at-home testing available and we don't have all the testing data, but we have enough data now to say confidently that positivity is down for COVID less than 5% in our latest rolling seven-day average and we also are now at single-digit hospitalizations, which is a big deal."

Adults still make up most COVID-19 cases

According to CDC data, weekly cases per 100,000 are higher in every adult age group compared to children. Children aged 5-11 have the lowest rate at 15.6 per 100,000 compared to those aged 75 and older at 41.6 per 100,000 with the highest rate.

What's more, the weekly case rate has massively declined since the summer. Just two months earlier, the case rate among 5 to 11-year-olds was 114.6 per 100,000.

Versalovic and other experts point out there are several reasons why there is not a major increase of COVID-19 cases seen among children during the new school year.

This includes less community spread in general; schools having better filtering of air; children being able to play outside, which is less risky for spread, before it gets cold; and vaccination.

Currently, 60.7% of 12-to-17-year-oids are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. This is in comparison with 47.7% fully vaccinated at the same time last year.

Meanwhile, 31.4% of 5-to-11-year-olds are fully vaccinated. While uptake in this age group has severely lagged older children, it's a substantial increase from 0.4% this time last year.

"That was not the case a year ago," Versalovic said. "One year ago, we were still trying to get vaccines to school-aged children. We've now had those vaccines available since last November and we've had boosters available throughout the summer."

However, he said that vaccination rates, particularly among younger children have been lower than he'd like to see. Only 1.2% of children under age 2 and 2.3% of children aged 2 to 4 are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

"We cannot be complacent about it." he said. "Vaccination rates have not been strong as we hoped. That gives us some pause as we look ahead to the winter."

Testing is down from last year

Test is down because testing has dropped dramatically in health care settings and in schools, experts said. Schools are also no longer running test-to-stay programs, so cases could be circulating undetected. Additionally, many people do no report positive at-home tests to health officials.

"There are some important caveats," Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children's Hospital and an ABC News contributor, told ABC News. "We know that overall testing, test volume is down. Incentives for testing have changed, we've seen that reduction in test-to-stay programs."

"There is an argument to make that this could potentially be a calm before the storm as we approach colder months, more indoor activities, drier conditions that facilitate better transmission of respiratory viruses," he added.

Low rates of testing could be hiding potential surges in classrooms or underreporting asymptomatic cases.

Brownstein said there is cause for optimism because a new variant has yet to emerge -- the omicron variant and its subvariants have remained dominant for almost a year compared to 2021 when the dominant variant changed every few months.

"There's a lot of room for optimism, even in the face of a surge, because of the availability of vaccines and treatments," he said. "That being said, we've been surprised at every turn of the pandemic. And so, it absolutely makes sense for us to remain vigilant and utilize the best possible data to drive decisions."

Experts stressed the importance of children getting vaccinated, especially in case COVID-19 infections do surge in the late fall and winter.

"The No. 1 tool that we have to prevent disease are vaccines," Versalovic said. "These vaccines are safe and effective and, if anything, they've proven to be even more safe and effective than we ever could have imagined over the past year."

Brownstein added that certain children, such as those who are immunocompromised or live with a family member at high risk of severe disease, may want to consider other prevention measures such as masking.

"Even if masks or testing isn't required, these are tools that can still be used as needed, depending on your sort of risk tolerance and the risk of family members," he said. "Generally, we are at a good point right now where transmission is lower and we're not facing the threat of a new highly transmissible variant, but we have to remember that we have to be flexible as we continue this school year."

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Amid nationwide abortion debate, American Cancer Society warns fertility preservation for cancer patients could be at risk in the future

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(NEW YORK) -- More than 32,000 young patients newly diagnosed with cancer now live in states that have imposed or have impending abortion restrictions, according to a new study published Monday in The Lancet Oncology.

Because many life-saving cancer treatments harm future fertility, many teens and young adults with cancer decide to freeze eggs, sperm or embryos in the hope of having a family later in life.

Now, in the wake of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, the American Cancer Society is warning that their fertility preservation options could be at risk in the future.

Possible ramifications for cancer patients could include potential restrictions on gene testing, storage and disposal of embryos, even those created in the laboratory, according to researchers from the American Cancer Society.

For now, these concerns are hypothetical. Recent legislation has focused primarily on restricting abortion, and laws regarding embryos or other fertility preservation methods are not explicit, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights research organization.

However, Guttmacher and other abortion-rights advocates have raised it as a possibility in the future. And they argue that some state legislation refers to protecting an "unborn child" without clearly defining whether that might include an embryo. That could make it difficult for health care providers to know when they've run afoul of the law, they say.

Researchers at the American Cancer Society studied more than 120,000 young patients between the ages of 15 and 44 who were diagnosed with cancer in 2018, finding that more than 68% needed fertility preservation.

Of those, more than 32,000 patients -- including over 20,000 women -- were from the 22 states where abortion bans exist or are expected to be implemented, the study found. Texas, Ohio and Georgia were the states with the largest number of newly diagnosed young cancer patients whose fertility preservation care could be compromised.

"Ongoing monitoring of the health effects of the Supreme Court decision on cancer patients and their families is warranted," said Xuesong Han, Ph.D., the lead study author, scientific director and health services researcher at the American Cancer Society.

The anti-abortion group Charlotte Lozier Institute called the American Cancer Society's warning misleading.

"A plain reading of state pro-life laws shows this study is nothing more than scaremongering, which is a huge disservice to the medical community and American women," the institute's Tara Sander Lee, Ph.D., said

Researchers found that patients from 22 states with abortion restrictions were more likely to be living in non-metropolitan areas, belonging to the poorest counties, and were of white or Black ethnicities, compared to the patients from 28 states where abortion remained legal.

"We have not yet begun to see exactly how the Dobbs ruling impacts fertility; however, it is clear that there will be a monumental impact," said Dr. Eleonora Teplinsky, head of breast medical oncology at Valley Health System and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Fertility preservation, though possible in a less restrictive state, will create new barriers and could widen geographic and socioeconomic disparities, according to the study.

"Traveling to another state to get fertility care will put undue burden especially on the most vulnerable of these patients -- medical, financial and psychological," said Dr. Sunita Nasta, professor of clinical medicine at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, adding that "compromised access to care leads to worse outcomes."

"The treatment of aggressive cancers is usually urgent. Fertility preservation needs to be accomplished within a few days to weeks. If these procedures are limited by these bans, patients will face the burden of losing their fertility or delaying therapy," Nasta said.

"Many patients make treatment decisions based on fertility concerns. If fertility preservation is further endangered as we suspect it will be, we likely will begin to see even more patients choosing not to go on life-saving cancer therapy," Teplinsky said.

"The ability to protect their choices with appropriate fertility care gives these patients the freedom to be aggressive about choosing therapy for the best outcomes rather than what may affect their future fertility," Nasta added.

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