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Meghan Markle pregnant, expecting first child with Prince Harry

The Duchess of Sussex – known as Meghan Markle until her May wedding to Britain’s Prince Harry – is pregnant, Kensington Palace announced Monday.

>> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding photos: The kiss, the ring and more highlights

“Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019,” Kensington Palace tweeted

>> PHOTOS: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle announce baby on the way

In a second post, the palace added: “Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.”

>> See the tweets here

>> Read more trending news 

Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, “is very happy about this lovely news, and she looks forward to welcoming her first grandchild,” the palace said in a statement, according to People magazine.

Reporters from multiple news outlets said the palace would not say whether Meghan had told her father, Thomas Markle, that she was pregnant.

The news came as Meghan and Harry began a 16-day tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, The Associated Press reported.

Read more here.

5 children hospitalized with polio-like sudden paralysis in Washington state

Five children in Washington state have been hospitalized for the sudden onset of paralysis of one or more of their limbs, Washington State Department of Health officials announced Wednesday.

Health department officials are working with experts to confirm whether the children have acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). 

All five of the infants and children are younger than 6 years old

>> On WPXI.com: Acute flaccid myelitis: Why is mysterious polio-like illness afflicting children so badly?

AFM is a rare condition that affects the nervous system, especially the spinal cord, health officials said. 

On Oct. 8, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported an uptick in the illness impacting children. 

It is raising serious red flags with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.

The rare disease is similar to polio.

The five young children being treated in Washington state reportedly had symptoms of a respiratory illness in the week prior to developing symptoms of AFM.

Health officials said the children are residents of King County, Pierce County, Lewis County and Snohomish County. 

In 2016, there were nine cases of AFM in Washington state, health officials said. In 2017, there were three cases, and since the beginning of 2018, there has been one case in the state.

>> Read more trending news 

“Symptoms (of AFM) typically include sudden weakness in one or more arms or legs, along with loss of muscle tone and decreased or absent reflexes,” health officials said. “AFM can cause a range of types and severity of symptoms, but the commonality among them is a loss of strength or movement in one or more arms or legs. The cause of any individual case of AFM can be hard to determine, and often, no cause is found. CDC specialists will make the final determination if these (new Washington state) cases are AFM.”

Read more here.

Acute flaccid myelitis: Why is mysterious polio-like illness afflicting children so badly?

The mysterious polio-like disease that may be afflicting three children in Pittsburgh and others in Minnesota is raising a lot of concern.

>> Watch the news report here

Pittsburgh's WPXI sat down with Dr. Jennifer Preiss from the Allegheny Health Network to talk about acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM.

>> On WPXI.com: 3 children possibly suffering from polio-like disease being treated at Children's Hospital

“It’s bringing back a lot of hysteria, and if you knew anyone who lived during the polio time, there was a lot of hysteria about polio,” Preiss said. “Most of the time, everyone gets better and everyone is fine, but in these rare cases, there is some immune response that is attacking the muscles of these children.”

The Centers for Disease Control doesn’t know the exact cause of this virus that starts as a cold but then attacks the nervous system, causing different forms of paralysis.

Preiss says a lot is dependent on how a person’s immune system responds to this particular virus.

>> Read more trending news 

“Some of the time, when people get viruses – and I’m not even speaking about this particular virus – bad things happen because we have these hyper-immune systems, and some of these hyper-immune system responses are what causes the paralysis,” she said.

The CDC is now looking at the samples taken from the children at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

It will be several weeks before we know if the virus strain in Pittsburgh is the same as the virus in Minnesota that’s affected six kids and made national headlines.

Nationwide EpiPen shortage keeping some kids out of school

The nationwide EpiPen shortage is now forcing some children to stay home from school until their medication can be filled, KIRO-TV in Seattle is reporting.

Chiquita Morris said her 5-year-old son, Eden, had just started kindergarten at Spanaway Elementary School in Spanaway, Washington, when she was told by school officials that Eden couldn’t come back until he has an EpiPen.

>> FDA extends expiration date on some EpiPens due to national drug shortage

“Yes, I understand I need to get one, but there’s nothing I can do,” Morris said.

During a nationwide EpiPen shortage, Morris is among those scrambling to find these epinephrine auto-injectors used to treat severe allergic reactions.

Morris said she's been calling multiple pharmacies every day but has had no luck while her son is missing school.

>> FDA approves first generic EpiPen competitor

KIRO looked up the Bethel School District website, and under the health services page, it said: "State law requires children with life-threatening conditions to have a medication and/or treatment order on file prior to the start of school."

Morris said in light of the EpiPen shortage, the school can do more to accommodate parents and help kids stay in school.

“I understand the health concern but I believe the school should have backup EpiPen as well, and not just parents,” said Morris.

>> Read more trending news 

The EpiPen shortage is so bad that in August, the FDA extended the expiration date for some lots of EpiPens by four months.

But the extension does not apply for EpiPen Junior, which is meant for kids weighing 66 pounds or less.

Doctors are advising people who need EpiPens to renew their prescriptions early or get on a waiting list as soon as possible.

Parents feel pressured when making child safety choices, study says 

More than 90 percent of parents are overwhelmed when researching child safety products, a study released this week asserts.

>> Read more trending news 

The study -- “Shifting Gears: How Becoming A Parent Changes Driving Forever” -- conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Volvo Car USA and coinciding with Child Passenger Safety Week, said that 66 percent of parents are more stressed than last year, when that number was 57. Fifty-seven percent of parents are also more distracted than they were five years ago, up 12 percent from 2017, the study found.

The study also found that 92 percent of parents found it overwhelming to research child safety products, and that rises to 97 percent for first-time parents.

The results come from a survey that was conducted online in the United States by Harris from July 11-17, 2018. There were 1,083 parents age 18 and older who were polled, and these people had children under 18 living in their household.

Other results from the study:

  • Nearly 84 percent of parents surveyed believed that people are more judgmental about the way they care for their children, as opposed to 10 years ago.

  • The top concern regarding child safety involved the car seat. According to the study, 71 percent of parents found the number of models overwhelming, and 58 percent found research frustrating.

  • Buyer’s remorse is sometimes an issue, the study found. Once a car seat was bought, 32 percent wish they had bought a different model. That percentage increases to 41 percent among new parents and to 47 percent among millennial parents.

Fire department surprises 3-year-old with birthday party after guests cancel at last minute

The Harrisburg Fire Department in North Carolina surprised a 3-year-old with a birthday party after several of his classmates canceled Sunday. 

>> Watch the news report here

Melissa Reid said she received several text messages the morning of her son's birthday party from parents, letting her know her son's classmates couldn't make it. 

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

"Around 7 in the morning, I started getting text messages that children are sick, that they weren't going to be able to go,” she said. “Out of the eight families we invited, we had seven that canceled.” 

Reid said she didn’t know what to do. She wanted her son to have a special birthday bash.

So she called the Harrisburg Fire Department, which is about a mile away from her house, and asked for a quick tour to entertain her son, Jackson, who loves fire trucks.

"I said, ‘Would you mind just a couple minutes, just pop in,'” Reid said. “I told them what happened with his birthday party."

Harrisburg Fire Capt. Joe Yowler said he called all three crews to surprise the family.

He said he quickly grabbed birthday balloons and cupcakes and waited, along with other firefighters, for Jackson's arrival.

>> Read more trending news 

"As a parent, I was thinking about how devastating it was on both sides,” Yowler said. “Like, a 3-year-old is thinking all week about it being their birthday and having this big party and then not having it. So how could we make this better for the parent and the kid, and I think it worked out pretty well."

Reid said she's thankful the firefighters went out of their way to show Jackson love.

"There's just no words for how much I appreciate them making my son’s day as special as they did. This is definitely the best party he's ever had."

Yowler said his team is thankful they got the opportunity to make Jackson's third birthday a memorable one.

"It was definitely emotional for her and uplifting for all of us just to see the appreciation,” Yowler said. “That they appreciated it and he had a heck of a time going through the ladder trucks and the engines and just climbing all over."

NBA star Russell Westbrook, wife Nina expecting twin girls

NBA star Russell Westbrook and his wife, Nina, announced Tuesday they are expecting twin girls in a YouTube video produced by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

>> Watch the news report here

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

The video is called "The Westbrook Family." Nina lets out the news they're having twins 2:12 into the video. Russell mentions they will be girls at the 2:28 mark.

> Watch the video here

The couple already have a 1-year-old son named Noah.

>> Read more trending news 

Russell had arthroscopic knee surgery last week. The seven-time All-Star and former MVP is expected to miss preseason and may not be ready for the start of the regular season. The Thunder's first game is Oct. 16 at Golden State.

Police: Child allegedly hurt by bullies actually hurt in fall at apartment complex

Update 10 p.m. EDT Aug. 30: Olympia police confirmed Thursday that after further investigation, they found the injuries sustained by the 6-year-old boy were not be the result of an assault as originally reported by the mother and child -- but instead were the result of a fall that happened at the child’s West Olympia apartment complex. 

Police said there are no suspects of any age. 

“Appropriate social services have been notified to ensure the continued welfare of the child involved,” Olympia Police Lt. Sam Costello said in a statement. 

Original report: A mother in Olympia, Washington, wants answers after she says an attack by a group of children left her 6-year-old son hospitalized.

>> Watch the news report here

Police think the group of children attacked Carter English, 6, at the Courtside Apartments on the afternoon of Aug. 22. 

Dana English said she found her son on the stairs of the apartments with blood covering his face and injuries that almost resulted in him losing an eye.

>> 5th-grader doesn’t fight back against bullies, says it isn’t Jedi way

“They hit him with rocks and sticks. He was just kind of sitting there. When they did his surgery (Friday) they documented pulling out pieces of debris and rock out of his eye,” English told KIRO 7’s Jessica Oh on Friday. 

On Friday, police were still trying to find the children, who allegedly range from 5 to 10 years old, but officers told English that even if they track the kids down, there’s only so much they can do.

>> Read more trending news 

“I was told by the police that it’s an unfortunate situation that happened to my son and that it can be documented, but that’s as far as they can go,” Dana English said. 

However, because they’re children, English does not blame them – despite what they did to her child. 

“My heart is broken for all of these children for many reasons. We are raising our future right now and letting them bully each other and attack each other and looking the other direction is unacceptable,” English said. 

Carter was released from the hospital on Friday and returned home surrounded by support. Children are writing him letters and giving him gifts. 

Detroit schools shut off drinking water over lead, copper contamination

Four years after reports surfaced that tap water in Flint, Michigan, was contaminated with lead, Detroit's public school district is shutting off drinking water after tests revealed large amounts of lead or copper at a majority of its schools.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti decided to turn off the water at the district's 24 schools after "water in 16 of them was found to have high levels" of the substances.

>> Read more trending news 

"Although we have no evidence that there are elevated levels of copper or lead in our other schools where we are awaiting test results, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees, I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools," Vitti said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday.

District officials said aging water fixtures may have caused the contamination, the AP reported. The Great Lakes Water Authority, which provides water to the schools, "says its water surpasses all federal standards," according to the AP.

Over 40,000 students attend schools in the district, whose school year begins next week.

Read more here or here.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Why whooping cough is making a comeback

After a week with a dry cough, Karen Andes’ son started experiencing middle-of-the-night coughing fits so severe, he couldn’t talk. He returned home from his first trip to the urgent care clinic in mid-July with an inhaler and a five-day course of steroids.

The coughing fits didn’t abate, and after a few days, the Decatur, Georgia, teenager jumped out of bed and got his mom’s attention by clapping his hands, unable to get any words out. He gasped for air, tears running down his face.

>> On AJC.com: 5 things every parent should know about immunization

His mother took him to another doctor, who suggested he may have reflux.

But a combination of Andes’ medical background (she’s an assistant professor of global health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University) and a mother’s intuition told her something else was tormenting her son — pertussis, also known as whooping cough. The family requested the child’s name not be published. 

Whooping cough, a potentially life-threatening childhood illness, all but disappeared in the 1940s after a vaccine was developed. But in recent decades, the illness has been making a comeback. Changes in the vaccine and waning immunity are likely contributing to the resurgence of the illness, according to experts.

In recent years, there have been outbreaks not seen since the 1950s.

In 2012, the United States had the highest number of whooping cough cases in more than 50 years with 48,277 reported cases and 20 deaths. Most of the deaths occurred among infants, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Georgia, there were 318 cases in 2012, which included no deaths. Since then, there have been three whooping cough-related deaths (two in 2013 and one in 2016) in Georgia, and all of the deaths involved babies.

Last year, there was a total of 163 reported cases of whooping cough in Georgia, according to the CDC. And this year through Aug. 21, there has been a total of 102 cases, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

>> On AJC.com: What you need to know about mumps

The highly contagious respiratory illness is not always on the radar of doctors and can be mistaken for a cold, bronchitis, reflux. The Georgia Department of Health said it’s not uncommon for someone to see two, even three doctors before getting a proper diagnosis.

Andes insisted on getting her son tested for whooping cough. Results from a nose culture came back positive.

“At first, I felt relieved, and even a bit proud of myself,” said Andes, “but then the reality sunk in that we may be in for more difficult nights.”

The older vaccine for whooping cough was phased out in the late 1990s. It carried a high risk of serious but temporary side effects like pain, and swelling at the site of injection, as well as serious complications such as febrile convulsions, which are fits or seizures caused by a sudden change in a child’s body temperature, and loss of consciousness. One study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente’s Vaccine Study center in Oakland, Calif., found the newer pertussis vaccine, while safer and with fewer side effects than the older version, is not as effective.

The 2016 study from Kaiser Permanente’s Vaccine Study Center found that the booster vaccine known as Tdap provides moderate protection against whooping cough during the first year after vaccination, but its effectiveness wanes to less than 9 percent after four years among teenagers who have received only a newer form of the whooping cough vaccine (known as acellular pertussis vaccine) as infants and children.

>> Vaccines help prevent flu deaths in children, CDC study finds

Pertussis can cause serious illness in people of all ages and can even be life-threatening, especially in babies. About half of babies under 1 year of age who get pertussis need treatment in a hospital, according to the CDC. The illness can have a lasting effect on lung function, leaving people with shortness of breath.

Meanwhile, a team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Georgia, found in a new study while some people lose immunity relatively quickly, the vaccine can be protective for many decades. The study, published in a March issue of Science Translational Medicine, also found the dwindling number of people still alive who survived pertussis infections in the days before vaccination, and therefore gained lifelong immunity, is also playing a role in the resurgence. When the vaccine was first introduced in the 1940s, there were very high rates of vaccination, which led to an overall decrease in transmission.

Senior author Pejman Rohani, who has a joint appointment in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and the Odum School of Ecology, said the number of people who are susceptible to contracting pertussis is slowly rising — setting the stage for an increase in the number of new cases, especially in older individuals. This is known as the “end of the honeymoon” period, he said.

And even though the effectiveness of vaccines may wane over time, experts say people should still make sure to get them. Skipping the vaccines, Rohani said, “would be a terrible idea, especially the routine scheduled and maternal vaccination.”

>> CDC warns of measles in 21 states, including North Carolina, Florida

He added that researchers are still working on deciding whether people should get more frequent booster vaccinations.

Meanwhile, Andes’ son, who was fully vaccinated against whooping cough, completed a round of antibiotics and is doing better. But he still has a lingering cough, and a full recovery could take months.

After the diagnosis, Andes notified City of Decatur schools about her son’s illness. It was over summer break, but he was participating in a high school band camp and was around other high school students. City of Decatur Schools spokesperson Courtney Burnett said a letter was sent to parents of students at Decatur High School informing them of the illness. Burnett said the school system is not aware of any other whooping cough cases.

Andes, who also got whooping cough (likely from her son) but was treated early before symptoms got severe, is sharing her family’s story to help raise awareness about whooping cough.

She wants families to know the following: don’t assume you can’t get whooping cough because you’ve been vaccinated; whooping cough not only affects babies; early treatment is key (not only may it help reduce the severity or the length of the illness, it prevents spreading the illness to others); and whooping cough “doesn’t always whoop,” particularly in adolescents and adults. Her son burped for air after each attack. She checked his fingernails — and they were purplish-blue near the cuticles because he wasn’t getting enough oxygen.

“Each episode was very scary. It was absolutely terrifying,” she said. “Our journey is not over yet, but I have learned a lot.”

Vaccination recommendations

The CDC recommends pertussis (also called whooping cough) vaccines for people of all ages. Babies and children should get five doses of DTaP for maximum protection. DTaP is a vaccine that helps children younger than age 7 develop immunity to three deadly diseases caused by bacteria: diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis).

Health care professionals give a dose of DTaP at 2, 4 and 6 months, at 15 through 18 months, and again at 4 through 6 years. They give children a booster dose known as Tdap to preteens at 11 or 12 years old.

>> Read more trending news 

Teens or adults who didn’t get Tdap as a preteen should get one dose. Getting Tdap is especially important for pregnant women during the third trimester of each pregnancy. It’s also important that those who care for babies are up-to-date with pertussis vaccination. 

You can get the Tdap booster dose no matter when you got your last regular tetanus and diphtheria booster shot (Td). Also, you need to get Tdap even if you got pertussis vaccines as a child or have been sick with pertussis in the past.

The impact of anti-vaxxers on the comeback of whooping cough

Even though children who haven’t received DTaP vaccines are at least eight times more likely to get whooping cough than children who received all five recommended doses of DTaP, they are not the driving force behind the large-scale outbreaks or epidemics, according to the CDC. Even so, their parents are putting their children at greater risk of getting whooping cough and possibly spreading the illness to others.

Whooping cough: Know the signs

Whooping cough starts like the common cold, with a runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe a mild cough or fever. But after one to two weeks, severe coughing can begin and can include many rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound. It’s important to note not everyone with pertussis will cough and many who cough will not “whoop.” Babies may not cough at all though. Instead, they have trouble breathing.

Source: CDC

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