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Heart Disease, Infection Top List of Causes of Pregnancy-Related Deaths

Heart Disease, Infection Top List of Causes of Pregnancy-Related Deaths

Kmonroe2/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study found that the women were more likely to die during pregnancy between 2006 and 2010 than in previous years.According to the study, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the top causes of pregnancy-related deaths were heart disease and infection. Researchers say that women should undergo improved screening for heart disease -- in particular older women and African-Americans.Black women, the study found, were three times more likely to be part of the statistical set than women of other races.Also on the list of most common causes of pregnancy-related deaths was the flu, prompting researchers to suggest all pregnant women get a flu shot this winter.

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American Doctors Less Likely to Prescribe Opioid Painkillers

American Doctors Less Likely to Prescribe Opioid Painkillers

Ridofranz/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new survey found that about half of American doctors are less likely to prescripe opioid pain relievers compared to one year ago.According to the survey, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, prescription painkillers are the second most-abused category of drugs. Between 2000 and 2010, in fact, prescriptions for opioid painkillers nearly doubled. Still, when surveyed, 45 percent of physicians said they were less likely to prescribe those drugs compared to a year ago.The survey was conducted by researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Ninety percent of physicians surveyed said that prescription drug use was either a "moderate" or "big" problem in their communities. About 90 percent also said that opioids were being overused in clinical practice, potentially resulting in adverse effects including addiction and deaths.

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Blunt Chest Trauma Can Cause Irregular Heartbeat in Children

Blunt Chest Trauma Can Cause Irregular Heartbeat in Children

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A case study at the University of Hawaii discovered that blunt chest trauma, which had been known to cause death in young athletes, may also cause an irregular heartbeat.According to the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, the case at the John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu is the first case of atrial fibrillation caused by blunt chest trauma in a young child.

Blunt chest trauma is the second-leading cause of death in young athletes.The teenager in Hawaii's condition resolved itself without causing cardiac arrest.

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Flu Vaccines Effective in Keeping Children Healthy

Flu Vaccines Effective in Keeping Children Healthy

luiscar/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers say that the flu vaccine is generally effective at keeping children out of the hospital.Researchers looked at children both six months old and five years old, in an attempt to determine whether a 2008 recommendation to give the vaccine to all children over six months old was still accurate. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, began in 2000 and continued collecting data through 2011. According to researchers, vaccination rates for eligible children jumped from six percent to 40 percent, but fewer children were admitted to hospitals for flu-related illness.The study did note, however, that the number and severity of hospital visits was highest during the years when the H3N2 strain of influenza was predominant. In particular, the results were worst in years when the flu vaccine was mismatched to the predominant strain of the virus, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said this year's vaccine is.

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Sophie Tweed-Simmons Launches ‘All-Size’ Clothing Line

Sophie Tweed-Simmons Launches ‘All-Size’ Clothing Line

Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Life & Style Weekly(NEW YORK) — Sophie Tweed-Simmons is best known as the daughter of legendary rocker Gene Simmons and former playboy model Shannon Tweed, but she's making a name for herself on her own.The 22-year-old is taking on the world of fashion by designing a line that, she said, doesn’t discriminate. Her designs will fit every body type, she told ABC News’ Abbie Boudreau.“We're not trying to thin shame. We're not trying to fat shame. We're just saying that there's not really an option for girls that look like me,” said Tweed-Simmons, who wears between a size 8 and 10.Tweed-Simmons told Good Morning America that she was frustrated with how clothing fit her body, so she partnered with The Style Club online to launch a New Year’s Eve collection. She describes her look as a combination of rocker meets conservative.“So it's, like, a sexy grandma,” she said.It’s called “an all-size clothing line. We don't call it plus size,” she said.Tweed-Simmons, who’s now starring alongside her mother on a new reality show, Shannon and Sophie, said she names each of her pieces after a strong-minded woman. The line includes pieces such as the “Oprah open back sweater,” the “Malala skirt” and the “Hepburn bowtie jumper.”There are also pieces named for music superstar Taylor Swift and writer Emily Dickinson.Tweed-Simmons, who grew up in front of the cameras on her family’s reality TV show, Gene Simmons: Family Jewels, said her body was constantly judged.“You know, ‘Gene Simmons’ chubby daughter,’ or, ‘Gene Simmons’ whale,’” she said, recalling some of the comments that were made. “And so I had to become comfortable with what I had to work with at a really early age.”Comfortable with her own curves -- according to a recent interview with Yahoo Style, she stands 5 feet, 8 inches tall -- Tweed-Simmons chooses not to have photos of herself digitally enhanced.“I don't want to lie to people about what I look like. ...I'm not trying to pretend to be thinner,” she said. “Not trying to pretend to be more blonde or have smoother skin. Like, this is just how I look.”Many celebrities have been accused of altering their own images online. Tweed-Simmons takes issue with that.“You're telling your followers, ‘I don't think I'm pretty enough,’” she said. “So what is that saying to these young girls?”

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Thinspired: Mara Schiavocampo’s Amazing 90-Pound Weight Loss

Thinspired: Mara Schiavocampo’s Amazing 90-Pound Weight Loss

Mara Schiavocampo/ABC NewsBy ABC News’ Mara Sciavocampo

(NEW YORK) — Most people don’t lose weight by accident. Especially not me.I’m not naturally thin. I’ve never been athletic. I love sugar so much I have literally poured it down my throat.I also have a very tortured and complicated relationship with food and my weight. As a child, a family member regularly ridiculed me and forced me to diet, including weekly weigh-ins.As an adult, I’ve tried practically every diet and weight-loss program known to man. In my early 20s, I suffered a debilitating eating disorder, leading to depression. So, like I said, I’m definitely not the kind of girl who loses weight by accident.But that’s exactly what happened. How much weight? Ninety pounds.Ok, so it wasn’t completely by accident. I had a baby, and desperately wanted to lose the 40 pounds I’d gained, especially given that I was about 50 pounds overweight before the pregnancy. I refused to stay that size. So I made some major life changes, and didn’t give myself any outs or excuses.The beginning was torturous. I mean, it was pure hell. But once I got through the initial phase, adopting new habits, it became effortless. The baby weight came off easily, and then more, and more, and more, all the way down to 90 pounds.At some point, of course, people started to notice. I’d get questioned almost daily, by everyone from co-workers, to family members, to viewers sending emails.“What are you doing?” everyone wanted to know. Though I didn’t start with a formal plan, looking back on my progress, I realized there was, in fact, a formula for lasting success.

Food: 70 percent Sleep: 10 percent Planning: 10 percent Exercise: 10 percent

Food: This seems obvious, but what you eat and how much, is the single biggest factor in weight loss. Period. You will never exercise your way out of a bad diet. Never.Conversely, if you make the right food choices, you can lose weight without any exercise at all. Don’t get me wrong, exercise is really good for you, for a number of reasons. But it plays a much smaller role in weight loss than so many of us believe.Give yourself permission to focus on the food alone for a period of time. Changing your diet is hard enough as it is. For me, I eliminated all my trigger foods, including processed foods, flour and dairy. My rule of thumb was, if I abuse it, it has to go altogether.Today, I eat mostly fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish, beans, nuts and whole grains. Once I made that change, losing weight felt like rolling downhill.Sleep: Sleep is a necessity, not an indulgence. Studies suggest that when you give your body the sleep it needs, you’ll eat less. You’ll have stronger willpower. You’ll make better food choices. You’ll have more energy for exercise.Adequate sleep is the one thing that makes an instant difference in how you feel. Most people need seven to nine hours, though it varies. If you feel tired during the day, you’re not getting enough sleep. It has to be a priority. Put the phone down, turn off the TV, and go to bed!Planning: Failure to plan is planning to fail. A lot of your weight-loss challenges are simple logistical issues that are easily solved with a few minutes of thoughtful planning.Make sure you have groceries in your kitchen. Schedule time to cook. Put your workouts in your calendar, just like other appointments. Wash gym clothes before you run out of clean socks. Pack a snack when you head out to run errands. Just think things through.Exercise: These days, I love to exercise (I used to hate it). It gives me energy all day, is a great stress reliever, it’s empowering and, most of all, it’s fun.My favorites are a spin class called SoulCycle, and interval training at Barry’s Bootcamp. Find an activity you love. You may have to kiss a lot of frogs, but find that sweaty prince!It should be something you look forward to, not dread. If you get bored with one thing, move onto another. Variety is great for your body. Work really hard. Push yourself. Studies show most of us overestimate our intensity anyway.My mantra these days is eat clean, train dirty.

(Editor's Note: Mara Schiavocampo is an ABC News correspondent and author of the soon-to-be-released book Thinspired: How I Lost 90 Pounds -- My Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Self-Acceptance. The book will be available Dec. 30.)

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Sisters Search for Link After Rare Cancer Hits Family Twice

Sisters Search for Link After Rare Cancer Hits Family Twice

Courtesy Carrie Davis and Hadley Rierson(NEW YORK) — When Carrie Davis' father was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer, her first thought was that it was impossible for lightning to strike twice.Her grandmother had died of the same cancer 30 years before, but her father's doctor assured her it wasn't genetic."He said unequivocally there is not [a link]," Davis said. She recalled the doctor telling them her family just had "bad luck."Her father and grandmother died of a rare but devastating brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme. Those diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, the most deadly form of glioma cancers, live on average for about 14 to 15 months after diagnosis -- a timeline that has barely expanded despite decades of medical research.But glioma cancers, including glioblastoma multiforme, were not thought to be hereditary.Davis was not convinced. So she and her sister started to look for researchers studying glioma cancers to see if anyone could prove there was a link."We obviously had a personal stake in this, we had my dad's DNA," Davis said. "We both had small children. We refuse to accept the premise that lightening would strike twice in our family."Davis and her sister, Hadley Rierson, found Dr. Melissa Bondy, the associate director of cancer prevention and population services at the Baylor College of Medicine. Bondy has studied gliomas for 30 years and was in the middle of a project looking for signs that they could be more prevalent among certain families.Davis sent Bondy an email out of the blue, praying it wouldn't go unanswered."I said 'This is a cold call. I've had two members of my family, my dad and grandmother have glioblastoma multiforme," remembered Davis. "She wrote me right back, and my sister and I got on the phone with her."For the first time, Davis and her sister had hope that their hunch was correct."[Bondy] helps us understand the very complicated genetic parts of this," Davis said. "She has a brilliant way of making very complicated things plain."Bondy had been working on a study as the principal investigator of the Gliogene Consortium, a group of brain tumor researchers from around the world primarily funded by the National Cancer Institute. The study focused on finding families with multiple members fighting the disease to see if there was a common genetic component.This week, the results of Bondy's study were published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute. The study's findings point to a specific genetic mutation that could be related to an increased risk of developing certain glioma cancers."I have been researching familial glioma for nearly 30 years, and this study is really the first time we have had a hit when it comes to identifying a gene that is potentially associated with predisposition to the disease," Bondy said.Bondy and her colleagues were able to do advanced genetic testing on 90 individuals with glioma from 55 families participating in the project. A mutation on a gene dubbed POT1 was found in two of the families.One family had six members with the mutation, three of whom developed glioma cancer. In another family, two members developed glioma cancer out of six with the mutation. The cancers were associated with a kind of cancer called oligodendroglia, a less deadly form of glioma than glioblastoma multiforme.Bondy says the findings are preliminary and more work needs to be done to understand them.Dr. Harley Kornblum, a pediatric neurologist and brain cancer researcher at UCLA, agreed more research is needed, but said the study is certainly interesting.Kornblum said if further testing shows more evidence that this gene is involved in cancers, researchers will understand more about its importance and what it does in the body.In 2010 about 22,000 people were diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme and 13,400 people died from it, according to the National Institutes of Health."Just because it's a rare disease doesn't mean you don't study it," Bondy said.Despite the trauma of watching their father die, Davis and Rierson said they felt validated to know that their hunch was right and were inspired to do whatever they could to help the researchers.Eventually they brought up another question that had been nagging them: could their Jewish heritage make them more likely to develop the disease?"We were going with our gut...We wanted to know if anyone had looked at ethnicity and glioma," Davis said, adding that Bondy "didn't laugh" at the idea. Instead, Davis remembers Bondy saying "I think it's something to look into."The sisters are now helping to fund a study at Baylor to see if people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are more predisposed to develop glioma cancer. Davis raised part of the money through Disney's matching gift program, where any employee can donate to a designated cause and the company will match up to $15,000. Davis is the vice president of communications at the Interactive Media Group at Disney, which is the parent company of ABC News. Disney donated $15,000 to the study through this program.Davis' father passed away this summer, about a year after his diagnosis, after the new study got underway."Even now that my dad's passed, I think it's been helpful through the grieving process to be able to focus on this work," she said.

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County in Arizona Considers Not Hiring Smokers

County in Arizona Considers Not Hiring Smokers

iStock/Thinkstock(PIMA COUNTY, Ariz.) -- Pima County in Arizona is getting ready to vote on a new policy that would refuse the hiring of any smokers. Smokers already on the payroll will get a 30% health insurance surcharge, while those who are nicotine-free will be eligible for a $5 healthcare discount each pay period.Health officials say the policy could lead to more than $1 million in healt care cost savings a year for the county.About one-third of the work force are currently tobacco users, and some of them are calling a ban a "form of employment discrimination." At least 29 states have laws that protect smokers' rights. The vote is scheduled for Decemcer 16.  

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Two Killed by Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in NJ

Two Killed by Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in NJ

iStock/Thinkstock(PASSAIC, N.J.) -- At least two people are dead and several others are injured in Passaic, New Jersey, following a carbon monoxide poisoning on Saturday. The incident was at an industrial building often used by local musicians to practice.Passaic Mayor Alex said, "I want to thank the police department, fire, EMS and prosecutors for their fast search and rescue mission that was done. If it wasn't for their quickness, there would be more fatalities tonight."Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in the U.S.

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Breastfeeding Drug May Increase Heart Risk in Women

Breastfeeding Drug May Increase Heart Risk in Women

Jochen Sands/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A drug used by women who have trouble breastfeeding could increase their risk of heart problems.Researchers say that women who take domperidone could see significant increases in their risk of cardiac arrest. The study, published in the Journal of Human Lactation, notes that the drug is effective in stimulating milk production.The heart risk only increased with large doses of domperidone. There were no side effects reported in the children.Domperidone is not legally marketed in the U.S., but can be obtained through certain compounding pharmacies.

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New Drug Could Be Breakthrough in Treatment of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

New Drug Could Be Breakthrough in Treatment of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Anand Soundarajan/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers say a new drug may be a breakthrough in the treatment of Hodgkin's Lymphoma.According to the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the drug Nivolumab could be an effective means of treating the cancer in patients whose disease does not respond to chemotherapy or stem cell transplants. The drug works by blocking a particular pathway that aids in the spread of lymphoma.The study was small, only including 23 patients, but an overwhelming percentage of them saw positive response to the drug. Nearly 20 percent had a "complete response."The new treatment is targeted for patients at the end-stage of their cancer. The testing on Nivolumab is in the preliminary stages.

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Expert Tips for Navigating a Gluten-Free Holiday Season

Expert Tips for Navigating a Gluten-Free Holiday Season

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It feels like everyone and their mother is gluten-free these days, actual allergies or not. For some, though, it’s a legitimate allergy, and eating even a little can cause a severe reaction.

No matter your reason for not eating gluten, getting through the holiday season while gluten-free can be like navigating a minefield. Take some cues from Carol Kicinski, editor-in-chief of Simply Gluten Free magazine, and Shauna Ahern, founder of Gluten Free Girl, who have been gluten-free for more than a decade and make their living off the lifestyle. Their top tips are ahead.

First look for things that are already naturally gluten free.

“The first tip I always tell people is that there is so much food that has gluten, but there’s all this food that doesn’t,” Kicinski told ABC News. “So the most simple, basic thing if you’re going to a cocktail party, look for the things that are naturally gluten free like vegetables, fruit, cheeses, meat platters, shrimp with cocktail sauce."

Bring your own dish to share.

“My mother always taught me don’t show up empty handed, so I use that as an excuse to bring something to share that I know is safe for me to eat. It’s always appreciated and I bring enough to share and I usually will do something that’s fairly hardy,” Kicinski said. “Obviously if you’re invited to someone’s home for dinner, you can’t bring a pot roast, but an appetizer or a dessert is usually appreciated, and that way I know I can have something to eat. And keep it really low maintenance for the host by making things that don’t need to be reheated and already putting it in a nice serving dish.”

Eat before you go.

“Especially if it’s a catered event, I eat before I go. It’s so hard to not be tempted if you’re starving. I don’t make a big deal about it,” Kicinski said. “The good news is that it also keeps you from mindlessly consuming 5,000 calories at a cocktail party. And I’ll always walk around with something to drink in my hand because it's easier to not munch on something if you’re sipping. Obviously you don’t want to have five martinis, so sparkling water is a good thing.”

“Make the party about seeing people and conversations and connections and go with a pretty full stomach. A lot of it is about retraining our attitudes,” Ahern added. “So instead of thinking free food at a party, think connections and seeing people I haven’t seen in a while. And take yourself out to dinner beforehand.”

When you’re hosting, keep it easy for your guests.

“If you’re hosting a buffet or a pot luck, have an abundance of serving utensils so that somebody’s not putting one spoon in the gluten-free thing and then into the gluten thing and back into gluten-free, because just that little bit of contact makes it not gluten-free anymore. Even keep the dishes at separate ends of the table so it’s clear,” Kicinski said. “When people ask what to bring, I always will ask them to bring things that are gluten-free. They can handle the wine, fruit, vegetable and cheese platters. I’ll take care of the main dishes so that other people are bringing salads and side dishes and that kind of thing.”

Have open conversations with a restaurant.

“If the party’s at a restaurant, nowadays it’s pretty easy to talk to the server or someone in the kitchen about whether or not that food is safe. Without making a big deal, I’ll just ask the waiter if what I’m ordering is safe. I don’t make him explain the whole menu,” Kicinski said. “I try not to be that annoying person, but the thing is it’s the hospitality industry -- they want you to be pleased, so you don’t have to be afraid to ask about it.”

Take it easy on yourself.

“If you’re new to gluten free, it’s going to be easy for you to psychologically feel left out, so anticipate that,” Ahern said. “Give yourself other treats or make sure you go to the party with one friend who gets it so you can turn to your ally and vent if needed. Don’t be blindsided by the fact that it might be a tough time for you.”

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“40 Days of Dating” Book to Reveal New Details of Couple’s Lives

“40 Days of Dating” Book to Reveal New Details of Couple’s Lives

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- They came, they saw, and they broke up.

So went the viral 40 Days of Dating experiment in which friends Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman tried committing to a relationship, and then documented their experience online in a he-said-she-said-style blog.

Though the confessional was derided by many, other fans were left wanting more when it ended. Soon, such cravings will be fed: This week, the friends-turned-lovers-turned-exes announced that their tome, due on Jan. 20, is now available for preorder.

So what can readers expect from a book built around a dating diary? While Walsh and Goodman didn't immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment, a message on the 40 Days of Dating website and emailed to ABC News provided some hints.

Apparently, the pages pick up where the couple left off, having ended their relationship. The story will reveal previously unread excerpts from journals kept during the year following the experiment.

There will also be "Q&As about our childhoods, and our lives before we met; a history of dating and a dating map; worst date stories and essays about love and relationships from our friends; tons of new artwork; and much much more," the pair wrote. "You're sure to find the before and after story as fun and deep and interesting as the blog. You’ll also find we added an extra layer to the blog, in the margins, that contains our personal remarks on each other’s entries."

While the writers acknowledged that "some dismissed the blog as a side-effect of the too-much-information generation," they asserted that "many more have been loyal followers of our journey-- hating to love it, loving to hate it, or just simply loving it."

For those who fall in either of the former two camps, Walsh and Goodman will include a pointed accessory with each purchase: It will be "a dart to throw at our faces," they wrote.

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Colorado Family Welcomes Extremely Rare, Nearly 14-Pound Newborn

Colorado Family Welcomes Extremely Rare, Nearly 14-Pound Newborn

iStock/Thinkstock(ALAMOSA, Colo.) -- A Colorado family welcomed a larger-than-expected bundle of joy when their newborn daughter was born weighing almost 14 pounds.

Mia Yasmin Hernandez tipped the scales at 13 pounds, 13 ounces after her delivery Monday at San Luis Valley Hospital in Alamosa, Colorado. The newborn’s father, Francisco Garcia, said doctors had estimated the baby would weigh 8 pounds at birth.

Mia didn't seem especially large when she was born, Gracia said.“She was swollen and everything” after delivery, he said. “I thought she was going to [weigh] 10 or 11 pounds.”But after weighing Mia, the nurse told Garcia the infant’s weight.“I was like, ‘Whoa, she’s the biggest baby I’ve ever seen,’” Garcia told ABC News.Even hospital personnel agreed. Garcia said the nurse told hi she’d never seen “a baby that big.”Dr. Robert Barbieri, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said in a previous interview about one out of 1,000 babies could weigh 11 pounds, and one out of every 100,000 could weigh 14 pounds. A 14-pound baby, he said, is extremely rare, because usually a doctor will induce labor if a baby appears oversize.

More ABC US news | ABC World NewsWhile Mia’s delivery via Caesarean section went smoothly, the infant developed breathing problems and was eventually moved to Children’s Hospital of Colorado in Aurora, Colorado, according to Garcia.Garcia said Mia is on oxygen and doing well, although they’re not sure when she will get home.Garcia said the couple has another four daughters at home, which might come in handy for new baby clothes.“We bought her a lot of stuff like a newborn cap and pampers,” Garcia said. “They don't fit her. She’s too big.”

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WWE Superstar John Cena Grants Wish to Sick 10-Year-Old Boy

WWE Superstar John Cena Grants Wish to Sick 10-Year-Old Boy

Paul Morigi/WireImage(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) -- Alfredo Esquivel is only 10 but has been fighting all his life.Alfredo was born with a congenital heart defect. Because he has just one ventricle in his heart, instead of two, the San Antonio, Texas, fourth-grader often struggles for air, must frequently use oxygen and tires easily.“And he's having arrhythmias that need to be controlled with medicine. And sometimes his heart rate goes to 200,” his nurse, Paty delPalacio, said.

Alfredo sometimes uses a wheelchair, but it has never stopped him from pursuing his passion: wrestling.The boy’s wrestling idol is WWE superstar John Cena.“I like John Cena because I think he's a good wrestler and I like how he fights and everything. And I like that if he's champion, he doesn't go bragging about it,” Alfredo said.Alfredo and his brother enjoy watching wrestling together and Alfredo himself has mastered many of Cena’s moves.Alfredo was able to study those moves up close last month when Macy’s and the Make-A-Wish Foundation fulfilled his dream to meet Cena.This is the seventh year Macy's and Make-A-Wish have teamed up for the Believe Campaign to spread holiday cheer to children with life-threatening medical conditions.The Nov. 23 trip to St. Louis was a surprise treat for Alfredo and his entire family. Alfredo was excited before his meeting with Cena, and when his idol greeted him and asked how he was doing, he was star-struck.“Oh, my God,” he said.The fun didn’t end with the meeting. Cena presented his fan with a WWE Championship Title belt, T-shirts and autographs and took him on a tour of the backstage area.There were even ringside seats for Alfredo and his family, including his brother Mark, 11, to watch the wrestling action up close.Cena may be Alfredo’s idol, but the boy is an inspiration to Cena.“It is such a gratifying feeling, one, to have somebody say that their one wish is to hang out with you,” Cena said. “And then on top of that, to be able to see the end product, see the joy in the kid's, and the family's faces.”The meeting made Alfredo’s ultimate dream a reality.“If I'm having trouble in the future, I can always look back and say, ‘Today is the day I met John Cena,” he said. “I shouldn't be feeling bad because I should just think about the time when I met him. Don't be stressed out. And just relax.’"

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Why the Flu Vaccine Can’t Protect Against Every Flu Strain

Why the Flu Vaccine Can’t Protect Against Every Flu Strain

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A mutated strain of influenza is giving public health officials a headache as they warn this year’s flu vaccine will be less effective against the virulent strain.In September, health officials detected the changes in the most prevalent flu strain so far in the U.S., the virulent H3N2, after the vaccine for this year already went into production.But why can’t health officials and vaccine producers just make a new batch of vaccine to address the mutation?Experts say it comes down to how the vaccines are produced and how fast the influenza virus can mutate.Officials at the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration look at flu strains in the southern hemisphere every year for clues to what will hit the U.S. come fall and winter in the northern hemisphere.Experts pick three to four types of flu strains to produce a vaccine against by February so that production can start as early as March, explained Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.“Making flu vaccine is not something that can be done overnight,” said Schaffner. “We get vaccinated in September, October and November, but they have to manufacture and ship [the flu vaccine] in August.”Flu vaccines are made by injecting fertilized chicken eggs with the flu virus. There are two main types of vaccine that can be administered -- one that protects against three strains of the flu virus and one that protects against four strains. However if the virus mutates slightly -- a process called “antigenic drift” -- it means that protection against one or a few of these strains is lessened.“Given the fact that the flu virus has the capacity to mutate,” Schaffner said, “it has plenty of time to change its coat of many colors [after] we decide what’s going to be in the vaccine.”If the receptors on certain flu strains mutate slightly, “the protective antibodies we make don’t fit on it quite as well," Schaffner said.Compounding the problem this year is that the prevalent strain, H3N2, has been associated with higher mortality levels during past flu seasons. But health official note that it's still key for eligible people to get vaccinated because the flu shot can still provide important protection against other strains or lessen symptoms during infection.“We continue to recommend flu vaccine as the single best way to protect yourself against the flu,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a news conference Thursday. “The vaccine will protect against strains covered in the vaccine, and it may have some effectiveness in the drifted strains.”

More ABC US news | ABC World News

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Do You Suffer from Christmas Tree Syndrome?

Do You Suffer from Christmas Tree Syndrome?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Christmas apparently isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for people who have allergic reactions to not only live Christmas trees, but also fake ones.AFC Doctors Express, an urgent care medical provider, reports it treats a lot of patients this time of year for “Christmas tree syndrome.” The symptoms include runny noses, sneezing and itchy eyes, which are often mistaken for signs of the common cold.The company says research conducted by the State University of New York found that 70 percent of the molds found in live Christmas trees can cause fatigue and sinus congestion and even trigger severe asthma attacks.The sap of Christmas trees contains terpene and other substances that can irritate skin and mucous membranes.ConsumerAffairs.com says some of the materials used to make artificial trees can cause sinus irritation.  It also notes that artificial trees can collect dust and dirt if they are not wrapped securely and kept in a cool, dry place.ConsumerAffairs.com advises live Christmas tree traditionalists to wear gloves and long sleeves when bringing the tree indoors to avoid sap touching their skin.  It also suggests spraying the tree with water to remove some of the mold and pollen before bringing it into the house. And put the tree in a bucket of water and let it dry outside for a few days. That will prevent mold from growing.

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Reading Fewer Emails Means Less Stress

Reading Fewer Emails Means Less Stress

iStock/Thinkstock(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) — Want to reduce stress at work?  Try checking your email inbox less often.Researchers from the University of British Columbia conducted a study of 124 adults from various careers and instructed half the group to limit checking email to three times daily for one week. The other participants were told to check their email as often as they normally checked it prior to the study.After the instructions were reversed for the participants during a subsequent week, the researchers conducted a brief survey.“Our findings showed that people felt less stressed when they checked their email less often,” says Kostadin Kushlev, the study's lead author and a PhD candidate at UBC's Dept. of Psychology.Kushlev says most participants “found it quite difficult” to change their email behavior and only check it a few times a day.“This is what makes our obvious-in-hindsight findings so striking: People find it difficult to resist the temptation of checking email, and yet resisting this temptation reduces their stress,” Kushlev notes.He suggests that companies try to help reduce worker stress by encouraging staffers to check their email in chunks rather than constantly responding to messages.

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The Names of the Best- and Worst-Behaved Boys and Girls

The Names of the Best- and Worst-Behaved Boys and Girls

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new survey suggests that the names Joseph and Ella may be at the top of Santa’s naughty list.SchoolStickers.com, a digital reward system, asked more than 58,000 students to report stickers they received for good behavior in school.  After receiving about one million entries, the company examined the data and released a light-hearted "naughty list" of kids most likely to misbehave.  Joseph tops the list for boys, while Ella ranks number one for girls. Jacob and Amy were the names of the best-behaved boys and girls, according to School Stickers.Nail Hodges, the managing director of SchoolStickers.com, says in a press release that “the annual ‘Santa’s Naughty and Nice list’ is just a bit of fun, and obviously there are many Ella’s and Joseph’s that are perfect little angels, just as I’m sure there are many Amy’s and Jacob's that can be a bit of a handful.”Top 10 Worst-Behaved Girl Names:1. Ella2. Bethany3. Eleanor4. Olivia5. Laura6. Holly7. Courtney8. Amber9. Caitlin10. JadeTop 10 Worst-Behaved Boy Names:1. Joseph2. Cameron3. William4. Jake5. Joshua6. Jamie7. Lewis8. Benjamin9. Ethan10. LukeTop 10 Best-Behaved Girl Names:1. Amy2. Georgia3. Emma4. Charlotte5. Grace6. Sophie7. Abigail8. Hannah9. Emily10. AliceTop 10 Best-Behaved Boy Names:1. Jacob2. Daniel3. Thomas4. James5. Adam6. Harry7. Samuel8. Jack9. Oliver10. Ryan

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Ten-Thousand Cases of Whooping Cough Reported in California

Ten-Thousand Cases of Whooping Cough Reported in California

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- New data out from the Centers for Disease Control reveal that California is dealing with a major whooping cough problem. In 2010, a whooping cough epidemic swept over California with 9,000 cases in total. This year, there have been 10,000 cases.

New CDC numbers show most cases have been in infants. One-third have required intensive care.

Teenagers also have seen elevated rates of whooping cough as a result of a 1997 change from a longer lasting vaccine with more side effects, to a weaker one, which is now wearing off for teens who haven't gotten booster shots.

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