Health and Disease

Yellow Fever: A Rare Infectious Tropical Disease

By Mary Mai

Published 12:35 EST, September 12th, 2021

You’ve probably heard the term “yellow fever” being thrown around the internet. Urban Dictionary defines this term as males having preference over women with Asian descent but in this article, we will not be diving into this internet slang. Instead, we will be diving into the topic of a very serious infectious tropical disease commonly known as yellow fever. 

Yellow fever, also known as bunyavirus infection, is a viral infection that can affect the liver, kidneys, and the gastrointestinal tract which is a tract from the mouth to the anus. Mosquitos are the most common carrier of this yellow fever disease and typically located near the Carribean Islands and Africa. In this article, we will be diving into all there is to know about the yellow fever disease. From all the symptoms to even the causes and treatment for this disease. 


A human is able to contract the yellow fever infection when they have been bitten by a mosquito that also carries the disease. This mosquito is known to be called the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito and is known to do really well in human habitations. A simple bite from the mosquito can be extremely harmful and if bitten by one can also contract the yellow fever disease. This mosquito is also known to spread and can carry dengue fever, zika fever, mayaro, and many more.


Symptoms of yellow fever can impact different parts of the human body, often beginning with severe headaches and delirium. Yellow fever can also impact your eyes causing redness and also causing the eyes to be more sensitive to light. Common symptoms also include muscular problems like aches and seizures and also liver issues like hepatitis, which  is inflammation of the liver. There are also many symptoms that affect the stomach like nausea, abdominal pain, and even cause vomiting as well. People with yellow fever may also experience decreased urination as well as bleeding in the mouth and nose. Another symptom of yellow fever is a slower heart rate. 


Currently, like many other diseases there is no cure for yellow fever because it is an infection that multiplies over time that cannot be killed by anti biotics. However, prevention for yellow fever does exist and those who live in continents that are mostly affected are highly encouraged to take the vaccination in order to prevent contraction of yellow fever. Those who travel to continents with yellow fever are also recommended to take the vaccine as well. However, those who have contracted the disease go through many treatments including oral rehydration therapy. ORT (oral rehydration therapy) involves drinking water with sugar and salt in order to treat dehydration, this can also be given by a nasogastric tube.


Like many other diseases, yellow fever is very complicated and harmful to human beings. Symptoms of yellow fever range from delirium and weak eyesight, to bleeding and hepatitis. The cause of all these symptoms come from a small mosquito known as the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito which is known to be very common for carrying the Yellow Fever disease. Being bitten by one of these mosquitoes can cause yellow fever but thankfully, there are medical interventions that can help prevent someone from contracting this disease. Overall, yellow fever is very harmful and those who live or plan on moving to places with higher risk of yellow fever should proceed with caution. Diseases like yellow fever aren’t curable and can cause many complications. Thankfully, with the help of prevention vaccines that are available to many of us and to those who live in countries that are affected by this disease, many of us can stay safe from the yellow fever mosquito and live a life that is yellow fever free.

Mary Mai, Youth Medical Journal 2021

Works Cited

“Delirium.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 01 Sept. 2020. Web. 01 July 2021.

“Gastrointestinal Tract.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Web. 01 July 2021.

“Yellow Fever.” NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). Web. 01 July 2021.

“Yellow Fever: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment.” Netmeds. Web. 01 July 2021.”Yellow Fever: Symptoms and Treatment.” WebMD. WebMD. Web. 01 July 2021.

Health and Disease

Alice In Wonderland Syndrome : A Very Rare Neurological Disorder

By Mary Mai

Published 1:08 AM EST, Sat May 1, 2021


Alice in Wonderland syndrome, also known as dysmetropsia or Todd’s syndrome, is a neurological condition that affects the brain and causes distortions of visual perception. The term Alice In Wonderland Syndrome came from a book known as, “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland,” and was based on one of the main characters named Alice who also suffers from similar symptoms of Todd’s syndrome. AWS (Alice In Wonderland Syndrome) can cause a person to feel as though they are smaller and bigger than they actually are. This syndrome is not actually caused by hallucinations, but the ways in the brain perceives the environment around it. This syndrome highly affects how the brain understands certain things and multiple senses. As an extremely rar disorder, there is much to be learned about Alice In Wonderland Syndrome, specifically the symptoms, causes, and possible treatment. 

Symptoms Of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome can affect the way a person perceives their environment and can affect most senses. This includes sight, hearing, time, sensation, and touch. However, the most common symptom is visual distortions. Micropsia, a sensation that affects the body or objects within the environment, causes size distortion. Due to Micropsia, those who suffer from AWS often see objects growing bigger and smaller when in actuality, they are not. Furthermore, they are three main categories that divide up what type of perceptual disorder ASW patients could possibly have. These categories split up into type A, type B, and type C. Type A is when the disorder is somesthetic and sensory, somesthetic referring to sensation that can occur anywhere in the body.  Type B on the other hand, affects the visual senses a lot more. For example, those who suffer from Type B Alice in Wonderland Syndrome will view certain objects as too big or too small. It can also affect how shapes appear and how far objects may appear. Finally, type C is a mixture between both types A and B which means a patient who suffers from AWS will experience both sensory disorders and visual distortions. A few common symptoms also include distorted body image, distorted perception of size, and many migraine episodes. Researchers believe that AWS is an aura, meaning it acts as a warning sensation before a migraine or epilepsy attack. Therefore, those who suffer from AWS are more likely to experience migraines and epilepsy. 

Causes Of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Researchers and scientists believe that the main causes of AWS include migraines or Epstein barr virus infections. There have been research studies that prove that some infectious diseases that cause Alice in Wonderland Syndrome are typhoid encephalopathy, mycoplasma, and Influenza A virus. AWS are definitely not caused by sight issues, hallucinations, or any sort of mental illness. There was one study that showed that 33% people who suffered from AWS have had infections and also 6% had head trauma. Other causes may include, stress, brain lesions, epilepsy, brain tumors, cough medicine, psychiatric conditions, and the use of hallucinogenic drugs. There are many risk factors that come with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Experiencing AWS can lead to migraines, infections, and genetics, meaning that someone with family history of AWS is likely to experience it as well. 

Treatment For Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Currently, there are no treatments for AWS.  If a patient suffers from symptoms like migraines, then doctors will usually suggest patients to manage by altering their daily diet and provide medication to help patients cope. However, there is no treatment or cure specifically for the Alice In Wonderland Syndrome. Medical health professionals suggest that if a child suffers from symptoms of AWS, the best course of action is lots of rest and letting it pass. It is also important to note that the symptoms of AWS are not harmful and migraines can be treatable. Doctors do not prescribe antipsychotics for Todd’s syndrome because there is no psychosis in AWS. There is also an increased risk for antipsychotics that can make a patient’s conditions even worse.


Those who suffer from Alice In Wonderland Syndrome have to go through various symptoms that can affect one’s lifestyle. The symptoms of Alice In Wonderland can include migraines, perceptual distortion, and size distortion. There are three types of AWS and each of them are different in their own ways. Some people with AWS suffer from visual sensing disorders while others don’t and some even have a mixture of both symptoms. Causes of this rare syndrome can include migraines and virus infections. There are also different aspects like brain tumors and cough medicine that can possibly cause Todd’s syndrome. Although there is currently no treatment or cure for Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, there are various ways to cope with it. Those with symptoms of a migraine can alter diets while those who have perceptual distortions do not have treatment. There is still much left to discover about this syndrome and still many undiscovered facts about this syndrome. 

Mary Mai, Youth Medical Journal 2021


“Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: Definition, Symptoms, and Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International,

Blom, Jan Dirk. “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: A Systematic Review.” Neurology. Clinical Practice, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, June 2016,

Holland, Kimberly. “What Is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome? (AWS).” HealthLine, 17 Apr. 2019, 

Biomedical Research

Narcolepsy: The Chronic Sleep Disorder

By Mary Mai

Published 4:11 PM EST, Wed March 3, 2021


Many have heard of the term narcolepsy but not have experienced it before. After all, it is an extremely rare condition to have. Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder with excessive sleepiness throughout the day and falling asleep during regular activities. Since narcolepsy is extremely rare, it only affects 1 in 2,000 people, affecting both men and women equally. In the United States, it is estimated that 135,000 to 200,000 suffer from this chronic sleep disorder. However, everyone who is affected by this condition doesn’t necessarily experience the same symptoms because there are different types of narcolepsy. To offer more information on this rare disease, the goal is to cover the causes, the types of treatments,  how it affects people, and also additional facts about this sleeping disorder.

The Two Different Types Of Narcolepsy

  There are two major types of narcolepsy known as type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is narcolepsy with cataplexy, which results in one abrupt muscle weakness in the body. The afflicted will usually start to lose control of the muscles on their face, arms, legs, or torso. This diagnosis is usually based on whether or not the person has low levels of hypocretin, a brain hormone. The second type of narcolepsy is narcolepsy without cataplexy. An individual who has narcolepsy without cataplexy will usually have symptoms like extreme sleepiness, occasional sleep attacks, sleep paralysis while falling asleep, and also dream-like hallucinations. On the contrary, people with this type of narcolepsy do not have the muscle weakness that is triggered by emotions and instead have normal levels of hypocretin.

What Causes Narcolepsy

The causes of narcolepsy are still not entirely understood but researchers were able to uncover many factors that would cause narcolepsy, one of them being autoimmune disorders. Cataplexy causes the brain to lose cells that produce hypocretin which affects the brain negatively. Hypocretin plays a very important role because it regulates wakefulness and rapid eye movement sleep. However, when the body’s immune systems start to only attack the hypocretin chemical, it leads to narcolepsy. Researchers suspect genetic and environmental factors could be a reason why hypocretin is affected. Another cause of narcolepsy could be severe brain injuries. Although it is quite rare, some people have experienced narcolepsy after severe injuries to the brain, specifically parts of the brain that regulate wakefulness.


The symptoms of narcolepsy usually consist of excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, vivid dreaming, hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and disrupted nighttime sleep. People with narcolepsy experience EDS ( excessive daytime sleepiness) very often. Individuals will feel very sleepy and tired throughout the day no matter the amounts of sleep they have gotten during the nighttime. They will also have a difficult time remaining awake throughout the day and could also fall asleep during the daytime while doing daily routines. This is actually extremely dangerous because people with narcolepsy could fall asleep any time during the day and anywhere. For example, they could fall asleep while cooking, driving, walking, and also swimming. It is also possible for an individual with narcolepsy to fall asleep while doing an activity and wake up and continue doing the activity without any recollection that they had fallen asleep earlier.


There is no cure for narcolepsy, but there are many medications for certain symptoms a person can take to improve one’s daily lifestyle. There is indeed medication for cataplexy that helps control EDS. Medications can include modafinil, antidepressants, sodium oxybate, and amphetamine-like stimulants. Modafinil helps reduce daytime drowsiness which is beneficial for someone who suffers from narcolepsy as it helps them be more alert throughout the day. Antidepressants are frequently used to improve cataplexy and also control it. On the other hand, the downside is that this medication has many side effects like high blood pressure and also rhythm irregularities. Sodium oxybate is also very commonly used by those who suffer from narcolepsy. It is usually taken during the night time and improves nighttime sleep while reducing daytime drowsiness.


While not many struggles with this chronic sleep disorder, the people who do suffer face many obstacles during their day-to-day life. Narcolepsy affects one well-being by causing one to fall asleep excessively during the daytime which could result in consequences for the individual. Researchers have been able to find out the possibilities of what could cause this disorder to occur but there is still more to be researched and discovered. Because there are two different types of narcolepsy, those who suffer from it still have to face their own different struggles that come with it. Even though there is no medical cure for narcolepsy, there are a variety of medical treatment options an individual could take to improve their daily lifestyle. There is still much to learn about narcolepsy and hopefully, in the near future, we will be able to discover more treatments and more information about this chronic sleep disorder.

Mary Mai, Youth Medical Journal 2021


Narcolepsy Fact Sheet. (2020, September 30). Retrieved January 31, 2021, from

Narcolepsy – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment. (2021, January 25). Retrieved January 31, 2021, from

Health and Disease

A Deeper Dive Into Body Dysmorphic Disorder


Body dysmorphic disorder, or more commonly known as body dysmorphia, is a common mental illness that causes a person to feel negatively about their minor flaws that other people may not be able to see. Some people with body dysmorphia can also experience eating disorders and OCD–obsessive-compulsive disorder. Body dysmorphia is very common with almost 200,000 cases in the United States per year. There are many people who have this disorder who suffer the negative effects of body dysmorphia. Still, not many people know the causes and symptoms of body dysmorphia and the certain dangers that come with this mental health disorder. This article will uncover all the important details about body dysmorphia such as what causes body dysmorphia, the symptoms of body dysmorphia, and treatment for body dysmorphia.


 Researchers don’t actually know what specifically causes body dysmorphia, but there have been many pieces of research that have been able to come up with the possible factors that cause people to experience body dysmorphia. Some factors in life experiences, perfectionism, and family history concerning the disorder are just a few of the possibilities on what causes body dysmorphia. Life experiences can include abuse and bullying because when experiencing these two things a person can develop negative thoughts about their own appearance and self-image. Perfectionism can also cause body dysmorphia because striving for a perfect appearance can cause someone to compare themselves often. However, these are only a few possibilities that cause body dysmorphia and there is still much to learn about this mental disorder.


There are many body dysmorphia symptoms, one of them being constantly checking yourself in the mirror. It is very common that many people who suffer from body dysmorphia often evaluate their flaws through the mirror and focus on one specific part of the body. This could be anything like hair, skin, or facial features. A person will become very fixated with a certain flaw they see and constantly check on themselves to see their flaws. Another symptom of body dysmorphia is avoiding social activities. Some people who suffer from body dysmorphia often avoid going to social events due to being insecure about their flaws. People with body dysmorphia could potentially avoid many social situations especially during the daytime due to body dysmorphia. These are only a few of the symptoms that come with body dysmorphia. There are still many other symptoms like avoiding mirrors, seeking cosmetic procedures, exercising excessively, frequent weighing, strong beliefs that flaws make you look deformed, and many more. However,  to be diagnosed with body dysmorphia you have to be abnormally concerned with your flaws, or the thoughts about your physical flaws affect the ability to live normally.


Like many other mental disorders, there is no cure for body dysmorphia nor is there a possible way to prevent a person from experiencing body dysmorphia. However, there are treatments for body dysmorphia but they are also varied based on the person. For example, age, health, and opinions can affect what type of treatment a patient will receive. It is important for folks who potentially suffer from body dysmorphia to get treatment in order to live life stress-free and decrease compulsive behaviors that can affect day to day life. Treatment for body dysmorphia can include medicine and also therapy. Medicine like antidepressants usually work very well for patients with body dysmorphia and therapy helps patients replace thoughts by using patterns and positive thoughts. It is also crucial that people, who suffer from body dysmorphia, catch it early because body dysmorphia is known to get worse with age.


Although the causes of body dysmorphia aren’t certain, there are many educated guesses that have been made on what could possibly cause body dysmorphia some of them being life experiences, family history, and perfectionism. These are only a few factors that could be the cause of body dysmorphia. There are also many symptoms related to folks who have body dysmorphia. Symptoms can include checking the mirror a lot and avoiding public and social situations. These symptoms can affect one’s day to day life and cause a lot of stress for people with body dysmorphia. Even though there is no cure for body dysmorphia there is treatment and therapy that is able to help patients deal with this disorder. Treatment and therapy are extremely beneficial and are important to have if one suffers from this condition. It helps patients with body dysmorphia to live a better life with this condition. It is also important to catch this disorder quickly because it gets worse with age. It is important for folks who might think they have body dysmorphia to seek medical help because having this disorder can affect one’s mental health and overall way of life. There are many people who suffer from this disorder who face many of their own challenges as a result. It is crucial for these people to seek the medical help they need whether that be treatment or therapy in order to thrive and have a healthier lifestyle.


Bhandari, S. (2020, June 30). Mental Health: Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Retrieved January 01, 2021, from

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Symptoms. (2018). Retrieved January 01, 2021, from

Mary Mai, Youth Medical Journal 2021

Health and Disease

Deja Vu: The Feeling Of Familiarity


Deja vu is a French term and literally means, “already seen”. Many people probably have felt and experienced the feeling of deja vu or have already heard about the term. The feeling of deja vu gives you a feeling of familiarity but something you can’t quite pinpoint either. This mysterious feeling is actually very common and not usually something to be worried about. However, this mysterious feeling isn’t something that can be easily explained. There have been many theories about what causes deja vu and what can be done to further analyze it. In this article, we will be diving into the depths of deja vu and give a deeper explanation and understanding of this phenomenological experience.

A Deeper Understanding

As mentioned before, deja vu can happen to anyone and anywhere, but to give a deeper understanding of deja vu is that it is a phenomenon of the human brain. Scientists have done many labs and research with deja vu, however the task isn’t as easy as it seems. Studying deja vu, especially in a lab setting, is very difficult because it is something that occurs in your brain. Researchers believe that deja vu can happen more likely to someone who is exhausted or stressed and has also tied instances to fatigue. Since there hasn’t been a solid answer for the cause of deja vu, there are many theories regarding the cause of deja vu. Some have argued that deja vu could possibly happen because of our higher consciousness. This means that deja vu could be caused by our higher consciousness trying to send us a message or that it is sharing something that might have occurred in a previous lifetime. However, obviously, these theories haven’t been proven to be true because they are not necessarily backed up by core evidence. You might be wondering now, then what is the cause of deja vu?


There have been many researchers trying to find the answer to deja vu and have been able to come up with the most hypothetical reasoning of what could possibly cause deja vu. However, researchers believe that the cause of deja vu is due to a malfunction in the brain. It is believed that deja vu might have a connection to the temporal lobe. The temporal lobe is one of the four major lobes that is located in the cerebral cortex. The main job of the temporal lobe is to create and preserve consciousness and long term memory. This connects to deja vu because of its ties to our memory. Researchers believe that the more stressed or tired you are, the more likely deja vu will happen to you because being tired can cloud short and long-term memory.  However, this is not  proven yet so there is still much room left for improvement and more things to be discovered regarding deja vu.

Relations to Fatigue and Seizures

Deja vu and fatigue surprisingly have a relation to one another. Since deja vu is more likely to happen to a person who is tired or stressed, this ties into fatigue because fatigue and stress are related to one another. Symptoms of fatigue include feeling overtired, having low energy, and the urge to sleep during daily activities. If a person experiences fatigue, it is more likely that they will experience deja vu as well since they are under much stress. Deja vu can also be tied into seizures that  occur in the temporal lobes of your brain. Symptoms of this can include deja vu as well. Although deja vu is harmless, it is possible for someone to experience temporal lobe seizures and have symptoms of deja vu at the same time.


Although the mysteries of deja vu still remain unanswered, as technology continues to advance, answers to deja vu in the future could be possible. As of now, our knowledge of deja vu is quite limited but for now, theories can give us a better understanding of what could possibly be the cause of this mysterious feeling. We can currently conclude that deja vu is more prone to happen to someone who has fatigue or someone who experiences stress and tiredness throughout their day. Researchers believe that the cause of deja vu is a malfunction of the brain but more research will be needed for a more solid understanding. For now, we can only make assumptions and theories about deja vu. Hopefully, in the near future, we will be able to come to a conclusion with what causes deja vu.

Mary Mai, Youth Medical Journal 2020


Feel Like You’ve Been Here Before? It Might Be Déjà Vu – Penn Medicine. (2019, July 2). Retrieved November 01, 2020, from

Johnson, J., & Moawad, H., MD. (2020, May 21). Temporal lobe: Definition, function, diagrams, and linked conditions. Retrieved November 01, 2020, from

Raypole, C. (2020, March 30). What Causes Déjà Vu? Retrieved November 01, 2020, from

Temporal lobe seizure. (2019, June 18). Retrieved November 01, 2020, from

Biomedical Research

The Dangers of Vaping to Your Lungs

Vaping has been a rising trend since the early 2000s and teens are getting more and more addicted to the e-cigarettes. Vaping has been very familiar especially with the teen demographic and has been seen all over social media. If you are a millennial or gen-z chances are you’ve heard of vaping and maybe even seen it in public. There have been many debates on the harmful effects of vaping, but is vaping bad for you? Are they a substitute for regular cigarettes? What chemicals are in e-cigarettes? In this article, I will be tackling all the positives and negatives of the world of vaping.

United States Vaping Rates

Smoking rates have significantly dropped over the years, however, vaping rates/ e-cigarettes have increased especially amongst teens. In the article, “U.S Smoking Rate Hits New Low, But Vaping Rises” it states that, “21% of U.S high school students had vaped within the past month in 2018.”  These vaping rates have gotten steadily higher since 2018 and vaping amongst youth has gotten very popular. In another article, “Vaping Statistics 2020” by the single care team tells us the vaping rates amongst adults in the United States are only 9%. As you can see, the vaping rates for teens are drastically higher than they are for adults.

Why is Vaping Common Around Teens?

So what are attracting these teens to vaping? Well, vaping pens are very marketable towards teens and are also very easy to obtain. The cost of vaping pens usually ranges from 8 dollars to 10 with the lowest one costing only a total of 6 dollars. These prices are noticeably cheap and very affordable for the average teen. Not to mention, the various flavors you could choose from. This includes cotton candy, banana nut bread, peach green tea, and many more. Many vaping brands use flavors as a strategy to appeal to teens and younger children. Social media also has a huge impact on the influence of young teens vaping. All over social media, there are tons of posts promoting vape and can be seen vaping in the image as well. One of the most popular brands known for selling e-cigarettes is JUUL. JUUL’s social media profiles heavily promote their product, however, their Instagram account is restricted to viewers who are under the age of 21.

What Vaping Does to the Lungs

Vaping is without a doubt not good for your lunges at all. There are many chemicals in vape pens including acrolein which damages the lunges, carcinogens which are chemicals that are known to cause cancer, and nicotine which negatively impacts brain development for younger folks. Vaping is actually also very harmful to the heart as well, since vape raises your blood pressure it can increase your heart rate that can cause a heart attack. There are also chemicals like an aerosol in vaping pens that are the same chemicals used in hairspray. Further on, Vaping can be extremely damaging to the lungs and can even cause a collapsed lung. Having a collapsed lung can result in difficulty breathing and sharp chest pain. Vaping overall can damage your heart, brain, and lungs, however there is still much research going around vaping since it has been a more recent topic.

Can E-Cigarettes be Substituted for Smoking?

Even though both vaping and tobacco is damaging to the lungs, tobacco is far worse than e-cigarettes. People who smoke tobacco usually have a higher risk of cancer (specifically lung cancer) and are very harmful to the heart. E-cigarettes have been marketed as substitutes for regular cigarettes and have been used for folks who want to quit smoking. However, there are still many harmful effects of vaping, and people who want to transition from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes should be aware of the negative effects vaping still has. 


Vaping contains many harmful chemicals in them and is very harmful to the lungs, heart, and brain. Teens who vape are inhaling nicotine and nicotine affects youth brain development. Even though in the United States, the legal vaping age is 21, there are still several teens vaping in the states. It’s important to educate the youth about the harms of vaping and inform them about what chemicals they are putting in their body when they vape. Teens are very young and impressionable and many are influenced and vape daily. E-cigarettes can be a substitute for those trying to quit regular cigarettes however those who want to start using vape should know the harmful effects it has as well.  The after effects of vaping is harmful and dangerous . So before you vape, know how vaping can cause damage to your lungs, brain, and  your overall health.

Mary Mai, Youth Medical Journal 2020


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“6 Best Vapes to Help You Quit Smoking for Good [Sept. 2020].” Vaping360,

Broderick, Stephen R. “What Does Vaping Do to Your Lungs?” What Does Vaping Do to Your Lungs? | Johns Hopkins Medicine,

CDC. “Health Effects.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Apr. 2020,

Cornell, James. “E-Cigarettes and Vaporizers: A Safe Substitute for Smokers?” Winchester Hospital, 2019,

Hudson, Lindsey. “Vaping Statistics 2020.” The Check Up, Single Care , 17 July 2020,

Products, Center for Tobacco. “2018 NYTS Data: A Startling Rise in Youth E-Cigarette Use.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 2018,

Reporter, Dennis Thompson HealthDay. “U.S. Smoking Rate Hits New Low, But Vaping Rises.” WebMD, WebMD, 14 Nov. 2019,

“Vaping – What You Need to Know.” The Lung Association, 17 Mar. 2020,

“What’s in an E-Cigarette?” American Lung Association, 13 July 2020,

Ybarra, Michele. “The Influence of Social Media on Teen Use of E-Cigarettes.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 21 Mar. 2019,

“Youth Vaping in the United States: Risks, Trends, and Potential Policy Solutions.” Tobacco Atlas, 11 May 2020, 

Health and Disease

Tay-Sachs Disease: The Rare Genetic Disorder


Tay-Sachs disease is a very rare disorder that destroys nerve cells in the brain. It is found in infants who don’t have enough of an enzyme, known as beta-hexosaminidase. 15 (HEX-A) is a defective gene that prevents the body from making this protein.  The beta-hexosaminidase plays a very important role in the brain as well as the spinal cord. Not having enough of this enzyme can cause this disease to be very severe and can be extremely dangerous.  Tay-Sachs is usually found amongst infants who are typically from the ages 3-6 months old and symptoms usually progress from then on out. There are 3 types of  Tay-Sachs disease: infantile, juvenile, and late-onset/adult. However, the most common type is infantile which can start to appear in only the first few months. As the infant continues to grow, Tay-Sachs will start affecting the baby’s sight, hearing, and movement. Progressions usually happen very quickly and by the age of 2, the child will be completely disabled or have seizures. Children with Tay Sachs don’t live a long life and typically pass away by the age of 5.


Symptoms of Tay Sachs disease include muscle weakness which can also lead to paralysis. The infant may also be startled by sound, which will also start to progress into deafness. Further on, the child may start to see red spots, known as cherry-red spots of the macula, that develop in the back of the child’s eyes. This will start to progress into blindness and they will start to be unresponsive and have delayed mental and social development. If a child is having any problems with seeing, hearing, or moving the child must get tested to see if they have Tay-Sachs. However, Tay-Sachs is a very rare disease (less than 20,000 cases per year) so the chances of a child having it are extremely low. Another symptom of Tay-Sachs would be developmental regression. This means that the infant will most likely lose many developmental milestones, causing the infant to slowly regress physically and also mentally, such as difficulty in speaking and swallowing.


Tay-Sachs is inherited from an autosomal recessive pattern. Autosomal recessive is an inheritance pattern that both copies of the gene in each cell have this mutation. This means that if both parents are a carrier for a disease it is very likely that their child will also be a carrier or have the disease. However, autosomal recessive disorders aren’t usually seen in every generation of a family that is affected. If one of the parents is in fact a carrier for Tay-Sachs, then it is possible that the child will also inherit this mutation. There is a 1 in 4 chance that the child will have the disease, a 1 in 2 chance to be an unaffected carrier like each parent, or there’s a 1 in 4 chance that the child would be unaffected and not a carrier.


Tay-Sachs is commonly found in people with a certain ancestry, but most commonly found in people who identify as Ashkenazi Jews. Ashkenazi Jews are people who have families that are from the Jewish community that originates from Eastern Europe. Most Ashkenazi Jews are more likely to have autosomal genetic disorders like Tay Sachs but most of them can be preventable. For Tay-Sachs however, there is a 1 in 25 carrier frequency for Ashkenazi Jews. Tay-Sachs is also starting to be found in the Irish American community as well. There is an estimate that 1 in 50 Irish and Irish Americans are carriers for the Tay-Sachs disease.


Tay-Sachs can be diagnosed by prenatal tests like chorionic villus sampling. It is important for healthcare professionals to look at the person’s medical history as well. The diagnosis will include a blood test that detects whether or not the child has high or low beta-hexosaminidase. This will tell us whether or not the mutation is present or not. However, Tay-Sachs can be detected before birth if parents decide to take a blood test to see if they are a carrier. 


Although there is currently no cure for Tay-Sachs, it is important to take a blood test to see if you are a carrier for any genetic diseases that can be caused by autosomal recessive patterns. Tay-Sachs disease isn’t a very common genetic disease. However, if your family does identify as Ashkenazi Jews, it is recommended that you take blood tests to see if you are a carrier for other genetic disorders like Tay-Sachs. There are treatments for Tay-Sachs but this is only to keep the child comfortable. For example, medicine for pain or anti-epileptics to control seizures. If you have more concerns about being a possible Tay-Sachs carrier, it is important to contact a doctor or healthcare professional.


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“Tay-Sachs Disease.” Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 23 Jan. 2018,

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