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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.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio





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