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Conjoined Twin Babies Undergo First Step Toward Separation

XiXinXing/iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — Elysse Mata leaned over her 8-month-old con­joined twins, kiss­ing their faces as tears streamed down her face and she whis­pered “I love you.”

The babies were about to undergo a skin-stretching surgery, the first step in their even­tual sep­a­ra­tion at Texas Children’s Hos­pi­tal in Hous­ton. They share a chest wall, diaphragm, intestines, lungs, lin­ing of the heart and pelvis.

Five hours later, it was over.

In recov­ery, the Mata fam­ily leaned over groggy Kna­talye and Ade­line, smooth­ing their hair back and kiss­ing them in the recov­ery room.

We are so thank­ful for the sup­port and thoughts and prayers for our girls as they con­tinue to grow, recover and pre­pare for the next step in their jour­ney,” Mata said in a statement.

The twins will spend the next six to eight weeks recov­er­ing as a team of sur­geons span­ning six depart­ments plans their sep­a­ra­tion, which is expected to take place early next year.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

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Caramel Apples Linked to Four Deaths in Multi-State Listeria Outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Health offi­cials are warn­ing con­sumers to avoid eat­ing caramel apples after link­ing the fall treats to a multi-state lis­te­ria out­break that has been linked to at least four deaths.

Offi­cials from the U.S. Cen­ters of Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion reported Fri­day that at least 28 peo­ple from 10 states, includ­ing Min­nesota, Ari­zona and Texas, have been infected with Lis­te­rio­sis due to Lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes, a bac­te­ria that can cause life-threatening illness.

Of those infected, five died and Lis­te­rio­sis def­i­nitely con­tributed to at least four deaths, accord­ing to the CDC.

Out of an abun­dance of cau­tion, the CDC warned all con­sumers to avoid eat­ing prepack­aged caramel apples while they inves­ti­gate the out­break along­side the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion and state health organizations.

The out­break reported on Fri­day has infected peo­ple across a wide swath of the U.S. from North Car­olina to Cal­i­for­nia and across a large age range, from ages 7 to 92, accord­ing to the CDC.

Lis­te­rio­sis is usu­ally caused when a per­son ingests lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes bac­te­ria and it can cause par­tic­u­lar harm among the elderly peo­ple, preg­nant women or any­one with a com­pro­mised immune sys­tem. Symp­toms can include gas­troin­testi­nal dis­tress, fever and mus­cle aches.

In severe cases, peo­ple can develop encephali­tis, swelling of the brain, or bac­te­r­ial menin­gi­tis, inflam­ma­tion of the mem­brane sur­round­ing the brain and spinal cord.

Of the 28 infected, three were chil­dren between the ages of 5 and 15 who devel­oped severe menin­gi­tis symp­toms, and nine cases involved either a preg­nant women or a new­born infant, accord­ing to the CDC.

Fif­teen of 18 sick­ened peo­ple who were inter­viewed by the CDC told inves­ti­ga­tors they ate prepack­aged caramel apples before they were sickened.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infec­tious dis­ease expert from the Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­sity School of Med­i­cine, said the out­break is par­tic­u­larly trou­bling because Lis­te­rio­sis can have a long incu­ba­tion period from three to 70 days.

We can antic­i­pate that more ill­nesses will occur over time,” said Schaffner. “Even [if] the prod­uct is removed from the mar­ket a lot of these [caramel] apples have been consumed.”

Bill Mar­ler, a food safety lawyer based in Seat­tle, said lis­te­ria can be a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult bac­te­ria to con­trol because its growth is not inhib­ited by refrigeration.

I can see caramel apples sit­ting in your refrig­er­a­tor for a long time,” he said. “Lis­te­ria has evolved and it has evolved to grow really well at refrig­er­ated temperatures.”

The CDC reported the caramel apples can have a shelf life longer than a month and offi­cials from the Min­nesota Depart­ment of Health said they were con­cerned peo­ple may eat tainted apples left over from the fall.

The out­break was first reported by the Min­nesota Depart­ment of Health, which found four peo­ple between the ages of 59 and 90 had been infected. The four patients had eaten caramel apples dur­ing the months of Octo­ber and Novem­ber and all four were hos­pi­tal­ized. Two sub­se­quently died after being infected.

Those sick­ened in Min­nesota bought caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip and Mike’s Dis­count Foods, which car­ried the Car­ni­val and Kitchen Crav­ings brand of caramel apples, accord­ing to the Min­nesota Depart­ment of Health.

The apples are no longer being car­ried in stores because they are a sea­sonal item.

Dr. Jay Elling­son, the cor­po­rate direc­tor of food safety and qual­ity assur­ance for Kwik Trip stores, said the pre-packaged caramel apples have been off the shelves for weeks and the com­pany has been work­ing with state and fed­eral author­i­ties “to make sure pub­lic health is protected.”

A spokesper­son from H. Brooks and Com­pany, which released the Car­ni­val brand caramel apples, told ABC News the com­pany was aware of the sit­u­a­tion and work­ing with local health offi­cials dur­ing the investigation.

Offi­cials at Cub Foods and Mike’s Dis­count Foods could not imme­di­ately be reached for com­ment. A num­ber for the Kitchen Crav­ings brand of apples could not imme­di­ately be found.

Lis­te­rio­sis was linked to one of the worst food-borne out­breaks in recent years when 147 peo­ple became infected after eat­ing tainted can­taloupe in 2011. Of those infected, at least 33 died.

In 2013, the CDC esti­mated approx­i­mately 1,600 ill­nesses and 260 deaths caused by Lis­te­rio­sis occur annu­ally in the United States.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

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The Science Behind Nailing Your New Year's Resolution

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New Year’s res­o­lu­tions seem so full of promise on Jan. 1, but by the mid­dle of the week, many peo­ple have already skipped the gym, eaten the stacked burger and been a jerk to their in-laws.

No one said goal-setting would be easy.

Fewer than one in five adults who made health-related New Year’s res­o­lu­tions were able to make any sig­nif­i­cant strides in weight loss, health­ier eat­ing, exer­cise or stress reduc­tion by March, accord­ing to a 2010 poll by the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Association.

Still, psy­chol­o­gists say there’s no time like the present to give your goals a try. And if you want to be a bet­ter ver­sion of your­self in 2015, there’s a sci­ence to con­quer­ing your resolutions.

Read on to find out how to stack the deck in your favor and do your New Year’s res­o­lu­tions right this year:

Choose Your Goal Wisely

The key to accom­plish­ing your goal is to make it con­crete and easy to break down into pieces, said Jeff Janata, chief of psy­chol­ogy at UH Case Med­ical Cen­ter in Cleve­land. Weight loss is actu­ally an exam­ple of a res­o­lu­tion that sets you up to fail.

Weight loss really isn’t in our con­trol,” Janata said, explain­ing that no mat­ter how rigid the diet and exer­cise, weight loss nat­u­rally plateaus. “That’s one of the rea­sons peo­ple fail at weight loss. They focus on ‘I need to lose a cer­tain num­ber pounds per week.’”

Instead, cut­ting out fried foods or decid­ing to work out a few days a week are bet­ter goals, he said.

Don’t start off with these grand res­o­lu­tions,” said psy­chol­o­gist Joe Tar­avella, the super­vi­sor of pedi­atric psy­chol­ogy at NYU Langone’s Rusk Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter who also spe­cial­izes in mar­i­tal and fam­ily psychology.

Don’t Beat Your­self Up If You Mess Up

No mat­ter how per­fect the goal is, Janata said peo­ple are going to slip. But that doesn’t mean they should give up completely.

Re-adjust the goal accord­ing to how dif­fi­cult it is for you,” Janata said.

He advised tak­ing 2015 goals week by week or day by day.

I remind peo­ple that we’re human and we’re not per­fect,” Tar­avella said. “We’re going to mess up through­out our entire lives.”

He said one bad day “doesn’t mean we’re total fail­ures and all progress we made isn’t meaningful.”

Reward Your­self

Build­ing in days off is an impor­tant part of goal-setting, Tar­avella said.

Being totally rigid 24/7 is not sus­tain­able over the long haul,” Tar­avella said.

Go Pub­lic

Want to make sure you nail your 2015 res­o­lu­tions? Make them pub­lic, psy­chol­o­gists advised.

Talk to peo­ple about what you’re doing, so you can be account­able,” Tar­avella said, explain­ing that you’ll be moti­vated to suc­ceed because you won’t want to fail in front of your friends.

Make Sure You’re Doing It for the Right Reasons

Tack­ling a goal because some­one told you to or because you sim­ply think you “should” might back­fire, Janata said. Some­times, tak­ing on a goal because of out­side pres­sure just makes peo­ple want to rebel, he said.

There’s an impor­tant dis­tinc­tion to be drawn between goals that we feel that we should accom­plish and those we believe we truly want to accom­plish,” he said. “Rarely do we attain goals unless we truly embrace the goal.”

So make sure you’re only pick­ing goals because you’re ready and eager to ful­fill them.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

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School Takes Away Blind Boy's Cane as Punishment for Acting Up

iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — A school took away an 8-year-old blind boy’s cane as pun­ish­ment for act­ing up and replaced it with a pool noo­dle, his father told ABC News on Thursday.

Dakota Nafzinger, who was born with no eyes, was lis­ten­ing to his music on the school bus when the dri­ver took it away from him, his father, Don­ald Nafzinger said. Dakota often taps his cane to the music, but this time, his father said he threw it in the air. Nafzinger said school offi­cials told him they thought Dakota was get­ting violent.

Then they gave Dakota a foam pool noo­dle in its place and sent him home with it, Nafzinger said.

It is his eyes,” Nafzinger, 35, told ABC News. “He said he was upset because that’s some­thing he needs to get around with.”

Dakota was born with a rare con­di­tion called bilat­eral anoph­thalmia. Nafzinger said Dakota’s mother chose to call the local news media because she feared that “there weren’t car­ing peo­ple left in this world.”

They shouldn’t treat my kid any dif­fer­ent than the kids that have eyes,” said Nafzinger, who works in Kansas City, Mis­souri, as a stage hand. “My kid is nor­mal except he doesn’t have eyes.”

The school dis­trict, North Kansas City Schools, admit­ted to the mis­take and has since given Dakota his cane back. Nafzinger said not only was that a good out­come, but shar­ing the story has shown his fam­ily how many sup­port­ers they have.

The Dis­trict has reviewed the sit­u­a­tion,” North Kansas City Schools wrote in a state­ment. “We regret that a mis­take was made in mak­ing sure the stu­dent was in pos­ses­sion of his cane when he boarded the bus Mon­day evening. The Dis­trict has apol­o­gized to the fam­ily and is work­ing to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion. When we were made aware of the mis­take, cor­rec­tions were made. It is always the District’s pol­icy when we become aware of sit­u­a­tions like this, we thor­oughly and imme­di­ately inves­ti­gate to ensure a safe learn­ing envi­ron­ment for all students.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

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Plus-Size Blogger Asks Beauty Editors to Transform Her Photo

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When blog­ger Marie Southard Ospina sent a photo of her­self with no makeup and no clothes to photo edi­tors in 21 coun­tries around the world and asked them to Pho­to­shop her, she said she was sur­prised by one thing most of the experts did not do to her image.

I was sur­prised that only three out of 21 altered my weight and my bone struc­ture,” Ospina told ABC News’ Juju Chang. “So that was nice to see.”

[I thought] that the major­ity of the edi­tors would slim me down and just make a very obvi­ously air­brushed minia­ture ver­sion of me,” Ospina said.

The Man­ches­ter, U.K.- and New York City-based writer gave the beauty edi­tors the instruc­tions to sim­ply “make me beautiful.”

That was the tagline of the whole exper­i­ment,” said Ospina, who wrote about it on Bustle.com.

Ospina was inspired to do the exper­i­ment after see­ing another jour­nal­ist, Esther Honig, do some­thing sim­i­lar ear­lier this year. Honig sent her selfie to 25 coun­tries around the world, ask­ing peo­ple to make her beau­ti­ful using Photoshop.

I was just fas­ci­nated by just how much peo­ple actu­ally changed her bone struc­ture and her weight, and she was already quite a slen­der woman,” Ospina said.

When it came to Ospina’s exper­i­ment, the results var­ied widely accord­ing to each coun­try. Canada gave her a new hairdo while Jamaica gave her a darker tan.

Ospina said her favorite result came from Italy, where the edi­tor glammed her up with some heav­ily Pho­to­shopped makeup.

I think, through these images, what I most saw is that beauty isn’t defin­able,” Ospina said. “It varies so much, not just from nation to nation but from per­son to person.”

The biggest point of the exper­i­ment was to see and prove that people’s per­cep­tion of beauty is very indi­vid­ual rather than just one basic norm,” she said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

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Iowa Spa 'Makeover' Lifts 4-Year-Old Cancer Patient

Blush Salon & Spa/Facebook(CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa) — An Iowa spa catered to a very spe­cial client when it gave a full “makeover” to a young can­cer patient Wednesday.

Taryn Oberthein, 4, has spent much of the past year deal­ing with doc­tors and hos­pi­tals after she was diag­nosed with stage 4 neu­rob­las­toma can­cer, accord­ing to ABC News affil­i­ate KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Neu­rob­las­toma is a can­cer that devel­ops from imma­ture nerve cells in dif­fer­ent areas in the body, accord­ing to the Mayo Clinic.

Taryn was sur­prised with a very spe­cial day at the Blush Salon & Spa in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The spa is a mem­ber of the Hello Gor­geous! non-profit that pro­vides free makeovers and pam­per­ing to can­cer patients.

Salon owner Susan Liv­ingston told ABC News the girl started out a lit­tle “shy,” but quickly warmed up as she enjoyed a free man­i­cure, facial and pedicure.

Her mom said [later] that she wanted to do it every day,” Liv­ingston said of the makeover day.

The day of pam­per­ing comes after a dif­fi­cult year, when Taryn under­went chemother­apy, a bone mar­row trans­plant and radi­a­tion to treat her can­cer, accord­ing to KCRG-TV.

It just think it would make her feel so spe­cial to have a day where she can just feel pretty,” Taryn’s mother, Tara Mar­tin, told KCRG-TV.

The full pam­per­ing also included a spe­cial red car­pet entrance, bou­quet of flow­ers and even a lit­tle ses­sion with pho­tog­ra­phers, where Taryn was able to pose in her new look. She was even given her own wig spe­cially made for pedi­atric patients.

When we asked her what she wanted for her birth­day, all she wanted was for her hair to grow back,” Mar­tin told ABC News.

Mar­tin said when the wig came out Taryn was ini­tially a lit­tle afraid, but ended up enjoy­ing her new accessory.

She called it strut­ting her stuff,” Mar­tin said. “She’s a pretty spe­cial lit­tle girl, she’s always got a smile on her face.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

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Santa's Heartwarming Surprise for Deaf 6-Year-Old Girl

iStock/Thinkstock(WESTMINSTER, Mass.) — For one 6-year-old girl in West­min­ster, Mass­a­chu­setts, the best Christ­mas gift she received didn’t come in the form of a per­fectly wrapped box with a bow under the tree. Instead, the spe­cial sur­prise came per­son­ally deliv­ered from Santa him­self — in the form of sign language.

For the first time in her life, Sadie Adam sat on Santa’s lap and the jolly-old-guy knew exactly what she was shar­ing, with no inter­preter needed.

I am glad I was able to com­mu­ni­cate with Sadie,” Westminster’s police chief, Sal­va­tore Albert, who has played Santa for 15 years, told ABC News. “It was amaz­ing to see the smile on her face and her eyes wide open with joy that Santa knew sign lan­guage. I am going to try to learn more for next year.”

Sadie’s mom, Ronelle, taught Santa all the sign lan­guage he needed to know in order to pre­pare for her daughter’s visit on Dec. 6.

She sat with me for about an hour,” said Albert. “I prac­ticed it for three days.”

As Santa signed “Merry Christ­mas” to an unsus­pect­ing Sadie, “her eyes were bright, wide open,” he told ABC affil­i­ate WCVB.

Santa knew my name. He knew how to sign it,” an ecsta­tic Sadie signed. “I told him what I wanted — a kitchen and a baby.”

I knew she’d be sur­prised, so I was just so happy,” her mom said. “I instantly started tear­ing up.”

For lit­tle Sadie, who has been deaf most of her life, this is cer­tainly a Christ­mas she’ll never forget.

This is the first time any­one has had any spe­cial request of any kind,” said Albert. “I was very happy to be able to do it.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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The Possible Health Benefits of Mistletoe?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Leave it to med­ical researchers to find some­thing about mistle­toe that has noth­ing to do with kiss­ing. The tra­di­tional plant that peo­ple hang in their homes at Christ­mas­time may one day keep your liver healthy.

In a report pub­lished on the web­site Sci­ence Daily, researchers say a com­pound pro­duced by a par­tic­u­lar vari­ety of the plant — Korean mistle­toe -– may help fight obesity-related liver dis­ease in mice.

That par­tic­u­lar mistle­toe con­tains a num­ber of bio­log­i­cally active com­pounds, includ­ing steroids, flavonoids and viscothionin.

When the researchers treated obese mice with vis­coth­ionin, their body and liver weights dropped.

The researchers say more work is needed, but vis­coth­ionin may one day be use­ful in fight­ing fatty liver dis­ease, which is linked to obe­sity and can progress to liver fail­ure in some cases.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

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The Couple that Tries to Lose Weight Together May Not Lose Weight Together

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two brains are bet­ter than one when it comes to tack­ling cer­tain things, but a new study indi­cates that when it comes to weight loss, a person’s chance of shed­ding pounds is greater when they don’t team up with a partner.

In a study pub­lished in the jour­nal Eat­ing Behav­iors, researchers assessed 50 over­weight duos who made New Year’s res­o­lu­tions to lose weight, and found those who dieted together gen­er­ally failed separately.

The researchers found that when a per­son was suc­cess­ful in reg­u­lat­ing his or her diet and was able to eat health­ier, that made their part­ner less con­fi­dent in con­trol­ling his or her own food portions.

Accord­ing to study author Jen­nifer Jill Har­man, peo­ple “feel less con­fi­dent achiev­ing their goals when they see oth­ers suc­ceed­ing at the same goals.”

For het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples, com­par­ing weight loss can be even more frus­trat­ing, espe­cially for women. Research at the Mayo Clinic has found that men tend to lose weight and keep it off eas­ier than women because guys have more mus­cle, which helps burn off more calo­ries and increase their metabolism.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

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Parents Should Buy Teens Newer, Safer Cars

dolgachov/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Par­ents buy­ing their teenage chil­dren cars should open up their wal­let and opt for a new car instead of a used one, researchers say.

A study con­ducted by the Insur­ance Insti­tute for High­way Safety, and pub­lished in the jour­nal Injury Pre­ven­tion, looked at national data on dri­vers between the ages of 15 and 17 and dri­vers aged 35 to 50 who were killed in car acci­dents. The biggest dif­fer­ence, the study found, was the age of the cars.

An over­whelm­ing major­ity — 82 per­cent — of the teenagers killed in crashes were dri­ving vehi­cles that were more than six years old. Even more strik­ing, 48 per­cent were dri­ving vehi­cles 11 years old or older.

Those older cars, researchers say, were less likely to have safety fea­tures, such as elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and side air bags, which might have cut the rate of teens killed in crashes. In fact, researchers say, the rate of fatal crashes for teens is about three times that for adult drivers.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio