Health Highlights: May 7, 2018

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

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More Trespassing, Blockades at U.S. Abortion Clinics in 2017

There was a large increase in trespassing, obstruction and blockades by abortion opponents at abortion clinics in the U.S. last year, the National Abortion Federation says.

From 2016 to 2017, acts of trespassing rose from 247 to 823, cases of obstruction tripled to 1,704, and threats of harm or death nearly doubled to 62, the Associated Press reported.

While there was a significant increase in attempts to disrupt abortion services and intimidate patients and providers, there was a decrease in acts of vandalism against abortion clinics, according to the federation.

The findings are from monthly reports filed by members of the federation, who account for most abortion clinics across the nation.

"The protesters are feeling emboldened by the political environment and seeing what they could get away with," federation president Vicki Saporta told the AP. "They want to make it more difficult to provide care, without going to very extreme forms of violence."

A lot of the picketing in 2017 was more aggressive than in previous years, says the Feminist Majority Foundation, which operates a national clinic access program.

"They're telling us they've never seen this level of intensity," executive director, Kathy Spillar told the AP.

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Woman Flying to Cleveland Clinic Saved on Flight by Clinic Doctor

A woman flying to the Cleveland Clinic for treatment of a serious illness was saved by a clinic doctor on the flight after she suffered a severe allergic reaction.

Ashley Spencer, 28, boarded the flight on the weekend. She was going to the Cleveland clinic for treatment of a rare autoimmune disease called eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis, which causes inflammation in a person's blood vessels, ABC News reported.

But it was Spencer's peanut allergy that put her in peril during the flight. She believes a bag of chips she ate before boarding triggered her severe allergic reaction. Spencer said she passed out and stopped breathing, but did have a pulse.

When flight attendants asked if any medical professionals were on the flight, Dr. Erich Kiehl -- who happens to work at the Cleveland Clinic -- injected Spencer with an EpiPen four times. A doctor from North Carolina who was on the plane also provided assistance, Spencer told ABC News.

The plane made an emergency landing in Pittsburgh, where Spencer was rushed to the hospital and spent the night in the intensive care unit.

Spencer said she hopes to meet Kiehl at the Cleveland Clinic when she has her appointment Monday, ABC News reported.

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Low-Carb Diet May Benefit People With Type 1 Diabetes: Study

A low-carbohydrate diet might benefit people with type 1 diabetes, a new study says.

It found that children and adults with type 1 diabetes had "exceptional" blood sugar control and low rates of major complications if they followed a very low-carb, high-protein diet for an average of just over two years and took insulin at smaller doses than typically required on a normal diet, The New York Times reported.

And while some diabetes experts fear that restricting carbs can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels and potentially stunt a child's growth, children on the low-carb diet did not show any signs of growth problems, according to the study in the journal Pediatrics.

The patients' "blood sugar control seemed almost too good to be true," said lead author Belinda Lennerz, instructor, division of pediatric endocrinology, Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, The Times reported.

"It's nothing we typically see in the clinic for Type 1 diabetes," Lennerz added.

The study -- which included 316 patients, including 130 children -- was an observational study, not a randomized trial with a control group. The patients were recruited from an online group dedicated to low-carb diets for diabetes. Researchers reviewed the patients' medical records and contacted their medical providers, The Times reported.

Even though this was not a clinical trial, the study is significant because it features a group of patients who have been "extraordinarily successful" at controlling their diabetes with a very low-carb diet, according to Dr. David Harlan, co-director of the Diabetes Center of Excellence at the UMass Memorial Medical Center. He was not involved in the study.

"Perhaps the surprise is that for this large number of patients it is much safer than many experts would have suggested," he told The Times.

"I'm excited to see this paper," Harlan said. "It should reopen the discussion about whether this is something we should be offering our patients as a therapeutic approach."

The study authors warned that the findings should not lead patients to change how they manage their diabetes without consulting their doctors, and that large clinical trials are needed to fully assess this approach, The Times reported.

"We think the findings point the way to a potentially exciting new treatment option," study co-author Dr. David Ludwig, a pediatric endocrinologist at Boston Children's Hospital, said. "However, because our study was observational, the results should not, by themselves, justify a change in diabetes management."

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About 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes.


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