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After boy's controversial TSA pat-down, a look at SPD

An outraged mother gained widespread attention with a video she posted to Facebook showing her 13-year-old son getting a thorough pat-down by a Transportation Security Administration officer at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Jennifer Williamson accused the TSA of  treating her family “like dogs,” and noted that her son has sensory processing disorder (SPD).

The video shows a TSA officer  methodically patting down her son from head to toe for about two minutes. 

“We were treated with utter disrespect as if we were criminals,” Williamson said in an interview with “CBS This Morning.” 


Jennifer Williamson posted a video to Facebook on Sunday showing a TSA agent patting down her 13-year-old son.

Jennifer Williamson

She called the pat-down her son was given “excessive.” “They went over his sensitive areas, a little more than necessary, especially given that he wasn’t wearing bulky clothing or anything like that,” Williamson said.

Her son’s condition made the ordeal even more upsetting. “My son has sensory processing disorder so the touch can be very difficult for him to handle,” Williamson said.

SPD is a neurological condition in which the brain has trouble receiving information from the senses. Symptoms can range in severity from mild to incapacitating, and they differ from person to person, but often involve hypersensitivity to sound, sight, and touch.

Elysa Marco, M.D., a pediatric cognitive and behavioral neurologist and director of the Sensory, Neurodevelopment & Autism Program (SNAP) at the University of California San Francisco, said some of her patients liken the feeling of a light touch to that of “a profoundly itchy sweater times 100.”

“Everybody’s going to feel uncomfortable when you scrape your nails down a chalkboard or when you wear that itchy wool sweater,” Marco told CBS News. “Everyone can understand that, but it’s important to realize that some people have a better ability to modulate their response to stimuli and for our patients the threshold is very low.”

Conversely, some people with SPD may under-respond to sensations and show little to no reactions even to extreme pain, heat, or cold.

A study done in 2004 estimates that at least 1 in 20 children are affected by SPD. While the condition is more commonly reported in kids, Marco says adults can have it, too.

SPD is not an official medical diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), an authoritative guidebook for doctors, but is part of the criteria for autism and is currently under study to be considered for inclusion in the next update. 

Marco says the condition is more common in children who were born prematurely , those with fetal alcohol syndrome , and kids with certain genetic conditions.

Treatments include occupational therapy that can help patients tolerate different sensations. Certain medications may also help.

In Williamson’s case, the TSA said it was complying with new policy procedures, which took effect on March 2. The Facebook video shows the officer explaining the process first, then conducting the pat-down in which the officer used the backs


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Vitamin D and cancer risk: New study raises doubts

High doses of vitamin D supplements may not lower older women’s risk of developing cancer, a new clinical trial finds.

Many studies have hinted that vitamin D might help ward off cancer. Some, for example, have found that people with higher blood levels of the vitamin have lower rates of certain cancers, including colon and breast cancers.

In lab experiments, vitamin D has also shown activities that might slow the growth of cancer — such as promoting the death of abnormal cells.

But those types of studies cannot prove that taking vitamin D actually causes cancer risk to drop, explained Dr. JoAnn Manson, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

That, Manson said, takes clinical trials that test vitamin D against an inactive placebo.

That’s exactly what the new study did, but it found no significant benefit.

The trial involved 2,300 older women who were randomly assigned to take either high-dose vitamin D plus calcium, or placebo pills.

Over the next four years, about 4 percent of women on the supplements were diagnosed with cancer. That compared with just under 6 percent in the placebo group — a difference that was not statistically significant, the study authors said.

“This is a null study,” said Manson, who wrote an editorial published with the findings. “We can’t make any public health recommendations based on this.”

And it’s not the first such trial to come up empty, she added.

“The clinical trials to date have been disappointing,” Manson said. “Overall, we have no compelling evidence that vitamin D reduces cancer incidence.”

However, she stressed, the new trial is “by far not the final word.”

The problem is, the trials done so far have had limitations -- small study groups or fairly low vitamin D doses, for instance.

Two large-scale trials, each involving upwards of 20,000 people, are still ongoing, said Manson, who is leading one of the studies.

Those trials should offer more definitive answers in the next year or two, according to Manson.

Joan Lappe, a professor of nursing and medicine at Creighton University, in Omaha, Neb., led the latest study.

She agreed that it’s “not the definitive trial” on vitamin D and cancer.

One reason is that the study was fairly short-term, and there were few cancer cases, which limited the researchers’ ability to detect a protective effect.

Lappe added that important issues still have to be sorted out.

For one, she said, women in her study started out with relatively high vitamin D levels in their blood. On average, their levels were 33 nanograms per milliliter, which is considered well within the adequate range.

It’s possible, Lappe said, that supplements would have a greater effect on cancer risk among people with vitamin D insufficiency.

The findings are based on just over 2,300 healthy women who were 65 years old, on average, at the outset.

Half were randomly assigned to take calcium and 2,000 IU of vitamin D each day. That’s more than triple the recommended dose


More older women are drinking hard

More older American women than ever are drinking — and drinking hard, a new study shows.

Most troubling was the finding that the prevalence of binge drinking among older women is increasing dramatically, far faster than it is among older men, the researchers noted.

The difference was striking: Among men, the average prevalence of binge drinking remained stable from 1997 to 2014, while it increased an average of nearly 4 percent per year among women, the researchers found.

Increased drinking and binge drinking can be a serious health problem for women, said study author Rosalind Breslow, an epidemiologist at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Women don’t tolerate alcohol as well as men , and they start to have alcohol-related problems at lower drinking levels than men, Breslow explained.

She pointed out that on average, women weigh less than men, and have less water in their bodies than men do. (Alcohol dissolves in water).

“So, after a man and woman of the same weight drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman’s blood alcohol concentration will tend to be higher, putting her at greater risk for harm,” Breslow said.

For the study, Breslow and her colleagues collected data on more than 65,000 men and women aged 60 and older who were current drinkers. Among these, more than 6,500 men and 1,700 women were binge drinkers.

Older adults, in general, are at greater risk of the effects of alcohol than younger adults, Breslow noted. “They’re more sensitive to the effects of alcohol , which can contribute to falls and other injuries, a major problem in older people,” she said.

As the U.S. population ages, the number of men and women 60 and older who drink will likely increase further, bringing with it more alcohol-related problems.

In the study, said Breslow, “we found that between 1997 and 2014, the proportion of older male drinkers in the U.S. population increased about 1 percent per year, and female drinkers increased nearly 2 percent per year.”

It’s not clear why this is happening, Breslow added.

“There is a great deal of speculation that baby boomers drank more when they were young and continue to drink more as a group. There is some limited evidence to support this speculation,” she said.

“We did find that more younger boomers, ages 60 to 64, both men and women, were drinking than people of the same age in past generations,” Breslow added.

Whether drinking is increasing among certain racial or ethnic groups isn’t something the researchers analyzed, she said.

But alcohol can have devastating consequences , particularly for older adults, Breslow said.

“Too much drinking increases your chances of being injured or even killed. Alcohol is a factor, for example, in about 60 percent of fatal burn injuries, drownings and homicides; 50 percent of severe trauma injuries and sexual assaults ; and 40 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides and fatal falls,” she said.

In addition, heavy drinkers have a greater risk of liver disease,


GOP health care bill battle continues behind the scenes

Republicans say they’re not giving up on their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare despite their failure in the House last week to secure enough votes for legislation that would have done just that.

On Tuesday, the House GOP conference met for the first time since their healthcare debacle exploded on Thursday and Friday.

“The way I would describe the meeting we just had with our members is we are going to work together and listen together until we get this right. It is just too important,” Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., told reporters after their closed-door meeting. 

“Obamacare is a collapsing law. Obamacare is doing too much damage to families. And so, we’re going to get this right. And in the meantime, we’re going to do all of our other work that we came here to do.”

For two consecutive days, House Republican leaders and the White House lobbied members of their own party to back the American Health Care Act (AHCA), but ultimately they fell short of the votes needed to get it through the lower chamber . Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus remained united against the measure and a number of moderates opposed it, too. The bill’s opponents argued that it didn’t deliver a full repeal of Obamacare , it wouldn’t have lowered premiums, millions more people would be uninsured and it wouldn’t have passed the Senate.

President Trump has said he wants congressional Republicans to move on to overhaul the U.S. tax code and pursue a reform package. Conservatives aren’t giving up on health care yet, though.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a Freedom Caucus member, has filed a one-line piece of legislation to repeal Obamacare. He’s reportedly lobbying his colleagues to sign a discharge petition to try and force a floor vote on the bill.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked Tuesday whether the White House is involved in any renegotiations of the health care bill.

“Have we had some discussions and listened to ideas? Yes. Are we actively planning an immediate strategy? Not at this time,” Spicer said. “So there has been a discussion, and I believe there will be several more.”

In an interview on “CBS This Morning” Tuesday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., suggested that Republicans and Democrats should try and reach a compromise on health care together if they want to be successful.

“When the Democrats rammed through Obamacare, they did it on a strict partisan basis. We did not include the Democrats in negotiations on Obamacare. The issue is not going away,” the Arizona Republican said.

“We’ve got to go back and address this issue on a bipartisan basis and we can’t wait until people are without health care,” McCain added. “We’ve got to have some bipartisanship around here, otherwise we’re not going to get much done.”

There are signs Mr. Trump may not be quite ready to move on, either. He suggested in a tweet Monday that Democrats would eventually have to negotiate with Republicans.

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