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iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. RICHA KALRA

(NEW YORK) -- Thinking positively is often good for brain health -- but a new study shows it's important to proceed with caution.

Positive thoughts seem to increase connections between regions of the brain in favorable ways. But the study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, showed that optimism can also come with risks.

"We were interested to show the science behind an old phenomenon, called the optimism bias," said co-author, Dr. Bojana Kuzmanovic, Cognitive neuroscientist at Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research, in an interview with ABC News. "What we conclude and believe depends on what we want to believe."

To see how optimistic beliefs influenced their brain activity, researchers from Germany and Switzerland looked at fMRI brain images and analyzed survey responses using computer models from 24 self-described positive thinkers, 10 men and 14 women.

When learning new information, these people were more likely to incorporate good news than bad news into their overall belief systems. The good news increased the activity in the reward region of the participants' brains. When the participants rejected bad news, the same reward region also showed increased activity. Plus, the reward regions of their brains increased connections to other thought-processing, or cognitive, areas of their brains.

The stronger the individual's original optimism bias was, the stronger the connections were between the cognitive areas of their brains.

Although increased activity in the reward centers and increased neural connections might sound great, there was an important caution noted in the study.

The optimism bias -- a thought process that leads people to believe that they are less likely to run into a negative event than other people -- was strong. In other words, optimistic people can believe "bad stuff only happens to other people."

This bias can have a strong unconscious influence, preventing people from taking precautionary measures when making important decisions.

"Even politicians making big decisions could be using this bias," said Kuzmanovic. "It is important to consider an alternative viewpoint, especially when you really care about the outcomes, and there is a lot at stake."

There are some other factors that researchers noted could have influenced the effects on participant's brains. Some ideas could have been especially positive for certain individuals because of their tastes or experiences and it's possible that hearing good news directly after bad news made it even better.

Kuzmanovic acknowledged that the implications of this phenomenon are not all bad. Previous studies have shown that incorporating positive thoughts into beliefs can lead to better cardiovascular health and an improvement in a person's overall ability to cope with stress.

"People do have positive value for their positive beliefs," said Kuzmanovic. "It is just about being aware. These influences are present in all the decisions we make, and may put us in danger of making biased decisions. When making important decisions, we should consider collaborating with others to understand different perspectives."

Richa Kalra, M.D., is a resident physician specializing in psychiatry and working in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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(NEW YORK) -- Adults who hold back-and-forth conversations with young children rather than just talking to them may be helping to strengthen connections between the language regions of the children’s brains, new research shows.

The new study published today in The Journal of Neuroscience found that dialogue with adults may lead to stronger pathways between two brain regions critical for language development in young children.

“Our findings show that the information highways between the language regions of the brain were stronger in children who took turns talking with their parents, and the greater connectivity held true independent of socioeconomic status,” said Dr. Rachel Romeo, postdoctoral research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study, in an interview with ABC news.

The study by a team from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania was based on results from a relatively small group, 40 children ages 4 to 6.

The researchers recorded the children and their parents for two days to capture the number of different words children heard, the number of words they spoke, and the number of turns they took in back-and-forth conversations with their caregivers. The team then used an MRI to take images of the children’s brains, and performed common office tests to measure the children’s verbal and cognitive abilities.

Children who took more turns in back-and-forth conversation with their parents had stronger connections between the brain regions responsible for comprehension and production of speech, and also scored higher on verbal skills tests, the study found.

It is well known that the quantity and quality of that language that children hear early in life predicts their future verbal and cognitive skills.

In a study in the 1990s, researchers found that by the time children from higher socioeconomic backgrounds reach school age they are exposed to on average 30 million more words than children growing up in lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The findings became known in the medical community as the “word gap.”

Since then, much of the focus of early childhood language development has been on getting children to hear a greater number of words. Romeo believes the word gap is an overly simplistic approach to language development, and her team’s work is part of a movement to think more about the quality of speech children are exposed to as opposed to just quantity.

While other research has linked children's verbal skills to the complexity of conversations they have when young with adults, this is the first study to suggest which specific structural changes in the brain might be responsible for this association. As this is a small study, the connection will need to be proven in broader work.

“This was an early-stage study to determine whether these relationships [between conversational speech and structure of the brain] exist and now that we know they do, we will move to an intervention study where we will bring children and parents in and target those brain regions,” Romeo said.

If the study is confirmed, it’s an inexpensive intervention that any caregiver can do.

“When you engage children in conversation, you can target language for their appropriate level of development … They’re getting that optimal feedback,” Romeo said.

Edith Bracho-Sanchez, M.D., is a pediatrician and consultant for ABC News, and Richa Kalra, M.D., is a resident physician specializing in psychiatry working in the ABC News Medical Unit.

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ABC News(EMPORIA, Va.) -- A 6-month-old boy died after being left for hours in a hot car in a parking lot outside a Domino's restaurant in Virginia, police said.

The baby's mother, an employee at the Domino's in Emporia, Virginia, had dropped off one or two other children at a day care Friday before driving to work, Emporia Police Chief Rick Pinksaw told ABC News Monday.

The baby was in the car for several hours, Pinksaw said, though he declined to specify exactly how long.

Officers responded to the parking lot at about 9 p.m. and performed CPR on the infant before he was taken to a hospital, Pinksaw said. Emergency room staff tried to revive him but the baby was pronounced dead, he said.

The temperature reached 90 degrees in Emporia Friday with a heat index -- or what it feels like -- of 96 degrees.

"We're having a hard time wrapping our heads around how this could occur," Pinksaw said, calling it "such a tragic situation."

"I don't understand how anybody could leave a child in a vehicle. With the way the weather is with the heat, I just think, you know, if you put kids in your car, you need to account for those kids when you get out of the car," Pinksaw said.

"These kids are helpless and they depend on their parents or their caregivers to take care of them."

No charges have been filed against the baby's mother, 30-year-old Blondia Curry, Pinksaw said, adding that the decision will be up to prosecutors.

Autopsy results are pending, he said.

At least 33 children have died from hot cars this year in the United States, according to the organization

This is also the fourth hot car death this year in Virginia, the organization said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the first time ever has green-lighted a birth control app to be marketed as a method of contraception.

The app, Natural Cycles, calculates when a woman is most likely to be fertile using their daily body temperature data and their menstrual cycle information.

The app then tells users what days they are more likely to be fertile and should abstain from sex or use protection if they do not wish to get pregnant.

"Consumers are increasingly using digital health technologies to inform their everyday health decisions, and this new app can provide an effective method of contraception if it’s used carefully and correctly," Dr. Terri Cornelison, the assistant director for the health of women in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.

"But women should know that no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device," she added.

The app had a "perfect use" failure rate of 1.8 percent in clinical studies that involved more than 15,500 women, or a "typical use" failure rate of 6.5 percent, according to the FDA. The "typical use" failure rate took into account women who sometimes did not use the app correctly or may have had unprotected sex on a day when the app flagged that they were fertile.

Natural Cycles has, however, courted controversy in Europe, as some women have reported unwanted pregnancies while using the app as their main form of birth control.

Sweden's public broadcasting company SVT reported that 37 out of 668 women who received an abortion at a Stockholm hospital from September 2017 to the end of December 2017 were using the app and still had an unwanted pregnancy.

ABC News' chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton emphasized that no method of contraception is perfect except abstinence, so it's not completely surprising that women have still gotten pregnant while using it.

Ashton added that apps can be useful in that they enourage women to be aware of their bodies' monthly changes. If a woman does decide to use an app for birth control, however, she needs to have a plan for what she would do if she does have an unplanned pregnancy.

Most contraception pills have a "typical use" failure rate of approximately 9 percent, according to Ashton, which is actually higher than the rate of the app, the FDA's data showed.

Still, Asthon says that women should ask their doctors about risks, benefits and alternatives for any contraceptive method they are using.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Being expected to check work email during non-work hours is making employees, as well as their significant others, experience higher levels of anxiety, a study shows.

Researchers from Virginia Tech surveyed 108 employees working at least 30 hours per week, 138 significant others and 105 managers and found that the sheer expectation of monitoring work email, rather than the amount of time spent doing so, led to increased anxiety in both employees and their significant others.

"Some employees admitted to monitoring their work email from every hour to every few minutes, which resulted in higher levels of anxiety and conflict between spouses," co-author William Becker, an associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business, told ABC News.

Significant others also reported decreased relationship satisfaction in contrast to employees themselves, whose satisfaction was not affected by the constant monitoring of work email.

Professor Becker asked, "Are we underestimating the effect this is having on our spouses?"

Both partners also reported negative health impacts from the increased anxiety, which may be explained by the well-established relationship between chronic stress and poor physical and mental health outcomes.

"Anxiety can manifest in several ways, including changes in appetite, concentration, focus and decreased quality of sleep. It makes people less productive in their work and home lives," Dr. Lama Bazzi, who is part of the American Psychiatric Association Board of Directors, told ABC News.

This study comes months after New York Councilman Rafael Espinal introduced a "Right to Disconnect" Bill, the first of its kind in the U.S. and modeled after a similar legislation in France, which would make it unlawful for private employees in New York to respond to work email after hours.

"When do we un-blur the line between work and our personal lives?" Espinal told ABC News. "I have personally felt the effects of burnout and understood that there was a greater problem going on here."

The study team suggests a few methods for employers and employees to lessen these negative effects: Manage employer expectations on after-hours email and help employees to engage in mindfulness practices to reduce anxiety, no matter what after-hours expectations are.

"Being able to be in the moment is one of the biggest things we teach people in alleviating anxiety. Remove distractions and focus on the conversations you are having," Bazzi said.

Professor Becker hopes that the study will encourage leaders to be proactive and have clear policies that allow employees to be engaged and present in their personal lives. He also hopes to shift the onus onto employees to not fall in to the trap of glancing at email after hours.

"Quality of relationships matter, as does being mindful and present," Becker said. "Turn your phone off, put it away and engage in your real life."

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California Department of Fish and Wildlife (SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Recently, Dr. Jamie Peyton received a phone call from a fellow veterinarian at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding a yearling bear cub that sustained severe, third-degree burns on her paws and feet. In addition to being unable to walk or move from the severity of her burn injury, there were active fires burning nearby that placed her life at risk.

The bear cub is approximately 1 years old, estimated Peyton, a board-certified veterinarian in emergency and critical care, and showed promising signs of a fast recovery due to her young age, overall good health, voracious appetite, active lifestyle, spunky attitude, and the prompt treatment she received.

The time of year also makes a difference in the young cub's recovery.

“Most bears are very active during the summer versus the winter when they would be hibernating," Peyton, who is internationally renowned for her interest in burn injuries, multidisciplinary pain management, and innovations in wound care, told ABC News. "Better health and all these factors are better for healing despite her wounds being so severe."

Although she has experience treating bears with burn injuries in the past (she treated two adult bears injured by the Thomas fire in December), this bear is the youngest Peyton has treated and has more severe and extensive injuries. So she decided that the best remedy to treat the young bear would be fish skins.

What are some of the challenges in treating burns?

Burn injuries don’t discriminate -- they affect all species.

“Wildfires affect all of us -- I have been forced to evacuate from California wildfires five times," Peyton said. "It has driven me to advance areas of burn injury, wound care and pain management for patients."

Dr. Deanna Clifford, a senior wildlife veterinarian at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), noted the challenges of treating wildlife with burn injuries.

“When an animal’s extremities are burned, they basically cannot walk," Clifford told ABC News. "It is a challenge to figure out how to treat wildlife -- I cannot just walk up to a bear and give it a pill or an injection.”

Prior to recent advances, “bears like this were not treated for this injury -- they were either euthanized or never found,” Peyton explained.

Historically, burns were treated in patients with ointments and bandages, which is difficult to do for wild animals, particularly those with severe, third-degree burn injuries. Medical advances have led to the creation of skin and dermal substitutes that while very helpful, are prohibitively costly for both humans and animals alike -- sometimes costing thousands of dollars and rarely covered by insurance.

“We are trying to figure out how to heal severe burn injuries and wounds for veterinary patients and also keep it cost-effective," Peyton said, "we can’t afford a lot of the skin substitutes that are out there.”

It's why Peyton had the idea to look into other sources of biological dressings for wound care, like tilapia skin as bandages.

In wild animals, veterinarians are trying to balance managing severe burn injuries, minimizing the times they have to immobilize and anesthetize animals to perform procedures, while also accelerating healing time.

“We are learning as we go -- the fish skin is applied on a case by case basis,” Clifford said. “Ultimately, we want her [the bear cub] to have the best chance of success. Our goal is to heal the skin and release the bear into the wild as quickly as possible.”

How did fish skins as bandages come to be used in the United States?

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Peyton first heard about fish skin -- specifically tilapia -- being used as a treatment option for burn injuries in Brazil from a YouTube video. Brazil, like many developing nations, does not have access to tissue banks. With limited resources, “You have to think outside the box so we tried this on animals that needed help," said Clifford.

Given Peyton’s expertise, she recognized fish skin as a viable alternative to costly skin substitutes.

“The tilapia serves as a biological band-aid that is helpful in multiple ways," Peyton explained. "It provides pain control, protection, and acts as a collagen scaffold for wound healing. We have been very pleased because we have seen good results with wounds healing faster than expected."

Peyton also believes in using multi-modal therapy, which incorporates both medical-based treatments and holistic, integrated care. The bear has received both medications and non-drug based holistic therapy including acupuncture, chiropractic care, cold and infrared laser therapy, and TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) -- an electromagnetic field therapy that facilitates blood flow. To make the treatment more enticing, the bear is receiving her crushed pills in meatballs.

What is it about fish skin that helps heal the burn?

California Department of Fish and WildlifeThe tilapia provides direct, steady pressure to wounds, keeping bacteria out and staying on better and longer than any kind of regular, synthetic bandage, according to the CDFW. The process is simple -- Peyton buys the fish, cleans and sterilizes it, and sutures it onto the normal part of the animal’s skin and directly over the burn injury itself.

Before applying the tilapia dressing, this bear’s skin was cleaned and debrided and a medical-grade honey balm mixed with beeswax was applied to her feet to acclimate her skin and assess her walking. It was also important to rule out any signs of infection. Immediately, the veterinary team noticed she was not bearing weight.

“She was not putting weight on her front feet at all,” Clifford said. “Through this method, we also wanted to promote her healing as much as possible and see what tissue was affected -- what her burns are trying to tell us.”

Prior to the application of the fish skin, the bear was licking her paws constantly, “a sign of concern," Peyton said.

“The animal pain response is that they will lick their wounds when something hurts,” Peyton added.

Once the tilapia was applied, she did not fuss with her paws at all.

“She has not taken the dressing off or licked it, which lets us know she has been getting pain relief from this,” Peyton said.

Over time, the fish skin will dry out and act as a protective, leather-like shield. It was sutured on to prevent it from coming off, and the bear will be reassessed in the next couple of days for progress.

“While it is too early to know when she will be released," Peyton said, "her response in the past week has been remarkable, especially regarding her pain control and the extent of her wounds.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- Men's bodies may respond better to low-calorie diets than women's, a new study showed.

A study in Denmark recruited more than 2,000 people who had pre-diabetes -- meaning high blood sugar, but not yet diabetes -- to look at how low-calorie diets worked for them. In the study, researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that men benefitted in more ways from the reduced calorie counts, and not just in the numbers on the scale.

"Despite adjusting for the differences in weight loss, it appears that men benefited more from the intervention than women. Whether differences between genders persist in the long-term and whether we will need to design different interventions depending on gender will be interesting to follow," said lead author Dr. Pia Christensen, of the University of Copenhagen.

After eight weeks on the low-calorie, high-protein diet, all participants had lost about 10 percent of their body weight and gained control of their blood sugar, researchers said. In addition, men lost significantly more body fat than women, had improved resting heart rate, lower bad cholesterol and had lost a few inches off their waist.

Women, on the other hand, had some negative effects in addition to the weight loss. They saw decreases in good cholesterol, or HDL, lean body mass and bone-mineral content -- none of which is good for long-term health.

Both genders saw a decrease in inflammatory biomarkers, which led to improvement in blood flow.

Does this study mean women should not adhere to a low-calorie diet? No.

Weight loss can curb diabetes, but women should understand rapid weight loss may have long term implications. It's important to eat a different and more balanced diet after this kind of rapid weight loss, and work with doctors to monitor overall health.

A total of 86 million adults in the U.S. have pre-diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this condition, blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough yet to classify as type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, it can lead to a future full of insulin shots and doctors’ visits which may eventually include diabetes.

"Progression of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by lifestyle modification," Dr. Joann E. Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts told ABC News. "Most importantly, lose weight and become physically active."

But, it's important for people with pre-diabetes to recognize that it it's easy for it to progress to diabetes and they need to stay vigilant.

"If you tell people that they don't have diabetes yet, they think 'Oh good.' They take that loophole," Anne Daly, past-president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association, told ABC News. "We don't want people to take that loophole."

Managing weight loss includes diet changes and exercise, as well as consulting with health care professionals.

"In order to create a calorie deficit, which is how you lose weight, you've got to decrease what's coming in the door and increase what's going out the door," Daly added. "You need to work on both sides of that energy equation. You can try to be a couch potato and eat like a bird, but it isn't going to work."

Aditi Vyas, M.D., specializes in radiology and occupational and environmental medicine and is a resident in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states, but a mother in New York discovered her town required breastfeeding be limited to "designated areas."

That code went unnoticed and unchanged in Hempstead, New York, for more than 35 years until Colleen Morgan, 33, brought it to the attention of town leaders.

Morgan, a mother of two, noticed in June that among the rules for the local pool was one that read, "Breastfeeding and diaper changing shall be permitted in designated areas."

"It upset me for two reasons," Morgan told Good Morning America. "One, because it's illegal and, two, because they felt the need to put breastfeeding in with diaper changing as though it's something dirty that needs to be done out of the public eye."

Morgan sent an email to Town Supervisor Laura Gillen to alert her to the discrepancy between the town code and New York state law, which has protected the right to breastfeed in public since 1994.

She also posted about it on social media and was surprised to see that while the majority of the replies were supportive, some were still opposed to women's breastfeeding in public.

"I was kind of shocked," Morgan said. "I think a lot of people don't even realize that unless you're actually looking for it, you don't even see it. When a baby is nursing, the child's head covers the mother's breast. This is a normal thing that mothers will do in public."

Gillen has introduced a new town code that would permit women to breastfeed in public anywhere throughout Hempstead, a suburb of New York City. The town board is scheduled to vote on the proposal next month.

"I am the first mother who has ever served as Hempstead town supervisor, so this is an issue that is very important to me," said Gillen, a mother of four and the first Democrat to serve as town supervisor in more than 100 years. "We're very grateful that Colleen came forward and made us aware of this archaic rule that had not been updated since 1982."

In addition to Gillen, two other members of the town board are mothers. Gillen said she's "optimistic" the law will pass and credits being a mother to helping her bring a new perspective to her role.

"I'm looking at things for the long-term because I want to make the town better for my children and for everyone's children," she said. "We're looking to update outdated procedures and be more inclusive and respective of people’s rights."

Morgan, a special-education teacher, will be watching the town vote and hopes women watch closely as their voices are heard.

"I think it's great, especially for women to see that women can make a difference," she said.

Moms continue the fight for breastfeeding

The controversy in Hempstead unfolded as mothers around the world continue to try to normalize breastfeeding, which is recommended exclusively for the first six months of a baby's life. August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

"Big Latch On” demonstrations took place around the world in recent days as moms in cities from New York to Seattle, Savannah and Mexico City breastfed en masse to bring attention to the issue.

Breastfeeding in public only became legal in all 50 states earlier this year when legislation was passed in Utah and Idaho.

Even with breastfeeding in public legal nationwide, women still face discrimination.

Two breastfeeding moms were asked to leave a public pool in Minnesota in July after being told they were making other pool-goers uncomfortable. Days later, more than a dozen moms held a "nurse in" at the pool, north of Minneapolis, in support of the moms.

Women are also taking action to not only normalize breastfeeding, but also make the places they breastfeed more comfortable.

Krish Vignarajah, a Maryland gubernatorial candidate, released a campaign ad in March that showed her nursing her nine-month-old daughter, Alana.

A petition started by Lacey Kohlmoos and Samantha Matlin, two working moms from the Philadelphia area, resulted in Amtrak's agreeing to install self-contained mobile lactation pods at Amtrak stations in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Chicago.

Breastfeeding rates are on the rise in the U.S., according to the 2016 Breastfeeding Report Card from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Around 81 percent of infants born in 2013 were breastfed immediately after birth, and more than half were breastfeeding at six months.

Employers have been required to provide "reasonable break time" and a place, other than a bathroom, for employees to pump breast milk since enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Nearly 30 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, also have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Women can find the specific breastfeeding laws in their state by visiting the NCSL's website.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Encouraging people to eat a variety of foods, also known as dietary diversity, may actually backfire, according to a new scientific statement by the American Heart Association.

The suggestion that people try to eat a variety of foods has been a basic public health recommendation for decades. Now, experts are warning that it may actually lead to just eating more calories -- and to obesity. The issue: People may not interpret "variety" the way nutritionists intend.

Marcia Otto, Ph.D., lead author of the AHA advisory, said that can be a big problem.

"We looked at all the evidence that was out there and saw a link between dietary diversity and a greater intake of both healthy and unhealthy foods," said Otto, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center's School of Public Health in Houston. "This raised some red flags and had implications on obesity -- we saw a greater prevalence of obesity amongst people with a greater dietary diversity."

Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, co-author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, explained that this goes against standard dietary advice.

"Most dietary guidelines around the world include a statement of eating a variety of foods," Mozaffarian told ABC News. "'Grandma’s wisdom' states to eat ‘everything in moderation,’ but does science support that?"

There is little agreement about the definition of "dietary diversity," said Dr. Goutham Rao, co-author and chair of the department of family medicine and community health at University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University.

Rao also pointed out one of the problems to ABC News: "What does dietary diversity actually mean? It is not clearly and consistently defined across the board, and there is no useful measure of it."

How is it measured?

Some measure a food count, aka the number of food groups eaten, or "evenness," the distributing of calories evenly across individual foods, or by how different the foods are from each other.

Rao explained that the feeling of fullness is important.

"The phenomenon of sensory satiation is very important -- when something new is presented to us, we tend to eat more and more," Rao said. "For example, people who go on cruises tend to gain a lot of weight because restaurants are usually open all the time with a variety of foods."

After 20 years of experience in the field of obesity, Rao said he's observed: "People who have a regimented lifestyle and diet tend to be thinner and healthier than people with a wide variety of consumption."

He added that he's noticed this pattern for a very long time in his patients.

The authors of the AHA scientific statement conducted a review of articles published between January 2000 through December 2017.

So, what were the authors' conclusions?

There's no evidence that dietary diversity promotes healthy body weight or optimal eating patterns. Limited evidence shows that eating a variety of foods is actually associated with more calories, poor eating patterns and weight gain. There is some evidence that a greater variety of food options in a single meal may delay people's feeling of fullness and actually increase how much they eat.

What's their advice on what you should eat?

The researchers recommend eating more plant-based foods, which includes fruit, beans, vegetables and whole grains. Additionally, they recommend adding low-fat dairy products, nuts, poultry, fish and vegetable oils to your diet. It's important to limit sweets, sugar and red meat -- the more problematic parts of a "diverse" diet.

"Part of the advisory's recommendation reflected changes to the food system that have developed over time -- centuries ago, food was not heavily processed and vitamin deficiencies were a very real concern -- diversity in diets may have actually been very beneficial during that time," Mozaffarian explained. "Nowadays, 'everything in moderation' can be misinterpreted and feed into the food industry. When we conducted a comprehensive literature search, none of the studies convincingly showed that diverse diets lead to better health outcomes. In fact, studies show that the more diverse a diet is, the worse it is and more weight people gain."

Mozaffarian’s own impression as a scientist is that a diet with a limited number of healthy foods eaten regularly tends to be the healthiest. Good examples of healthy eating are the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, diet, a heart-healthy eating plan, and the AHA dietary recommendations.

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Courtesy Maria Jordan MacKeigan(NEW YORK) -- Maria Jordan MacKeigan had never met a person with Down syndrome until her own daughter, Jordan Grace, was born with the chromosomal abnormality four years ago.

Now MacKeigan is making sure her daughter and all kids with disabilities are known to the world.

MacKeigan, a mother of two from Canada, organizes pop-up photo shoots so that kids with disabilities can have headshots taken. The headshots are then used to try to get kids with disabilities featured in advertisements.

“I want to normalize differences. I want to normalize disabilities,” she said. “I don’t want people to be scared of my daughter or just walk away. I want them to play with her and accept her.”

MacKeigan added, “Advertisements [featuring kids with disabilities] are a conversation starter for other parents to talk to their children about differences and that it’s OK to be different and to include and accept them.”

MacKeigan has organized photo shoots in her hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, and in Tucson, Arizona, where she grew up. The photo shoots are staffed by professional photographers and stylists, so they get exposed to kids with disabilities too.

“It’s so magical to see them in front of the camera,” MacKeigan said of the children being photographed. “You can see the true joy that they live and a different kind of beauty.”

MacKeigan’s daughter, Jordan Grace, has scored modeling jobs thanks to the photos taken at Changing the Face of Beauty pop-up photo shoots.

“I’m so proud of her that I want the whole world to know her,” MacKeigan said. “She’s the kind of girl who steps and smells the roses and notices the little things that we don’t notice.”

The photo shoots organized by MacKeigan are the brainchild of another mom, Katie Driscoll, who also has a daughter with Down syndrome.

Driscoll, a professional photographer, founded Changing the Face of Beauty, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of kids with disabilities featured in advertising and media.

She started the headshot clinics around three years ago when she found that brands were having trouble finding kids with disabilities to cast as models. The problem, according to Driscoll, is that talent and modeling agencies remain hesitant to represent kids with disabilities.

“I think more brands would be more inclusive if it was easier to find the talent,” Driscoll said. “We want to empower the disability community to push the talent firms for representation.”

The pop-up photo shoots are held not just in cities like New York and Los Angeles but in towns across the U.S. and Canada. More than 30 photo shoots have been held over the past three years.

“If we start a conversation in communities across the country, hopefully talent agencies hear that and it impacts their decisions,” Driscoll said. “I believe advertising is the missing component [in disability acceptance] and it can change the future of the disability community.”

Some brands are responding to the call for more inclusion in their advertisements.

In July, the clothing brand Aerie launched a campaign featuring models in a wheelchair, wearing an insulin pump and using arm crutches. In February, Lucas Warren, who has Down syndrome, was chosen as the 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby.

Changing the Face of Beauty has also received pledges from more than 100 companies to include models with a disability in their advertising, according to Driscoll.

"It’s important to be seen in the world that you live in," she said of children with disabilities. "We have to be able to be a part of advertising, the most influential voice in the world."

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Some crayons may not be ready for play time, according to a new report.

U.S. Public Interest Research Group, an advocacy group, said in its annual report on the safety of school supplies that Playskool brand crayons purchased at a Chicago Dollar Tree store tested positive for trace amounts of potentially dangerous asbestos chemicals.

The group tested six kinds of crayons from different brands, purchased at stores in several states and online. According to their report, Only the green Playskool crayons tested showed trace amounts of tremolite, a type of asbestos fiber.

"It’s completely unnecessary for crayons to contain asbestos," Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG education fund toxics director, told ABC News. "We know how to produce crayons without asbestos and most crayons are free of asbestos."

Dollar Tree stores acknowledged the report, telling ABC News in a statement, "The safety of our customers and associates is our top priority. Our company utilizes a very stringent and independent testing program to ensure our supplier products meet or exceed all safety and legal standards. We are aware of the report and have since re-verified that each of the listed products successfully passed inspection and testing."

CPSC warns parents to keep fidget spinners 'away from young children' after swallowing incidents

Hasbro, the parent company of Playskool, said it is looking into the reports.

"Product and children’s safety are top priorities for Hasbro," Julie Duffy, senior vice president of global communications for Hasbro, said in a statement to ABC News. "We are conducting a thorough investigation into these claims, including working with Leap Year, the licensee of the product."

According to the report, the crayons U.S. PIRG purchased at the Chicago Dollar Tree were manufactured in China and did not carry an AP seal, meaning an “approved product” certified as non-toxic by The Art and Creative Materials Institute, or ACMI, a manufacturer’s association that promotes safety standards in art materials.

Several other brands of crayons were found to have asbestos fibers in 2000, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission study.

CPSC said in its report that it believed the risk that children could be poisoned by coloring with or chewing on tainted crayons was low. But, the commission said, there was no reason crayons should carry the risk at all.

"Although CPSC staff determined that the risk is extremely low, the staff believes that as a precaution, crayons should not contain these fibers. CPSC staff asked the industry to reformulate crayons using substitute ingredients," the report said.

The commission, however, stopped short of regulating or banning asbestos in crayons.

In 2015, four unidentified brands of crayons were found to contain asbestos in tests by the Environmental Working Group.

Other children’s products have recently been found to include asbestos, including makeup kits.

Asbestos refers to a group of minerals that can crystallize into fibers. Because those fibers naturally resist heat and chemicals, they have often been used to make insulation. If these fibers are released into the air and then inhaled by people, they can cause dangerous conditions in the lungs and an aggressive form of cancer called mesothelioma.

Talc, which crayon manufacturers often use as a binder in the wax, can be contaminated with asbestos fibers. Many manufacturers now purify the talc to eliminate asbestos contamination, but there is no specific regulation that requires it.

U.S. PIRG emphasized that its findings this year were mostly positive. Many of the school and art supply products it tested did not contain toxic chemicals.

"The good news is that several years ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission tested several products and found that many of them had these trace amounts of asbestos and we’re not finding that anymore," Cook-Schultz said. "Now it’s just a matter of getting the law in place to actually make it so that crayons cannot contain asbestos in the U.S."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Women are more likely to survive heart attacks if treated by women physicians in the emergency room, a new study that reviewed about half a million patients over more than 20 years found.

The study confirms what years of research on "gender concordance" have shown -- that matching the gender of the doctor and patient can lead to better health outcomes.

This review of records also confirms growing research that shows how heart attacks can be different for women -- and the way doctors assess and treat them can differ, too. Finding these differences are important because a large body of research shows that women are less likely to survive heart attacks, in general.

What's important about this study

Although women patients matched with women physicians have been studied before, this study is the first time heart attack outcomes were assessed for gender concordance.

In this study, women heart attack patients were found to be more likely to survive if they were treated by women doctors, according to the team of researchers at Olin Business School at Washington University, Harvard Business School and Carlson School of Management at University of Minnesota Business School.

After reviewing about half a million patients in the Florida Hospital database from 1990 to 2011, the researchers found that women treated in emergency departments were 5.4 percent more likely to survive heart attacks -- or acute myocardial infarction -- if the treating physician was also a woman.

"This study is different than others because it documents, for the first time (to our knowledge), increased survival rates for female heart attack patients who are treated by female physicians," Dr. Seth Carnahan, author of the study and assistant professor of strategy at Olin Business School, said in a statement to ABC News.

The study was restricted to cases in the emergency room, and for acute heart attacks. For the patients records reviewed, men also had better survival rates if the emergency room was staffed with more women physicians.

How are heart attacks in women different?

Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the U.S., and symptoms of heart attack can show up differently in men and women.

Women are more likely to have a "silent" heart attack or to display unusual symptoms. Their symptoms can be seem vague or similar to flu-like symptoms: Fatigue, mild chest discomfort, sleep disturbances and shortness of breath.

Why the doctor's gender might matter

Although a lot more research is needed, the results confirm how different women's symptoms can seem when they come into the emergency room for a heart attack. It is possible that doctors who are men may be less attuned to this and it could be that women physicians communicate differently with women patients.

It's unclear what all the reasons may be for women patients surviving longer under the care of women doctors. Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, who is the author of the Harvard Health Publishing blog post "Does your doctor's gender matter?" wrote about a few more reasons.

"Female physicians may follow clinical guidelines more often," he said in the post. "Female physicians may communicate better, with less medical jargon. Male physicians may be less 'deliberate' in addressing complicated patients’ problems (as suggested by past research)."

Doctors of any gender want to save patient lives and improve care for everyone.

"Especially in emergency medicine, where physicians are tasked with saving peoples’ lives, it is assumed that physicians should be working to save everyone’s lives equally," Laura Huang, professor at Harvard Business School and one of the study authors, told ABC News.

Should women request physicians of the same gender?

Although it is helpful to keep these findings in mind, no one should wait to be treated in an emergency situation -- especially with heart attacks where early treatment matters.

There are many more questions to be answered after the results of this particular study: Would it matter if the patients were younger? Are outcomes similarly different for heart attack patients in the operating room instead of the emergency room? And many more.

For both men and women, the same advice on preventing heart attacks applies -- and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 80 percent of heart disease, especially heart attacks, can be avoided by modifying lifestyle behavior.

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iStock/ThinkstockDr. Anna Chacon

(NEW YORK) -- According to a new scientific advisory statement release by the American Heart Association, time spent on "screens" (computers, phones, tablets, video games, television and other outlets) is associated with increased hours of inactivity in children and teens, which has long been associated with poor cardiovascular health and obesity.

"The nature of screen time has dramatically changed – while watching television has gone down, overall screen time has gone up. We wanted to see how that would influence patterns of sedentary behavior. Even though we have new screen-based recreational devices now, we are just as sedentary," Tracie Barnett, PhD, an epidemiologist specializing in pediatric obesity and a lead author of the advisory, told ABC News.

What age spends the most time on screens?

Between school (kindergarten through 12th grade) and recreation, children sit down for an average of 8 hours a day. Meanwhile, screen time rises dramatically with age, starting just before adolescence. Teens are the most sedentary children, and are spending the most total time on games and onscreen media.

What can parents do?

Dr. Nicholas Edwards, a pediatrician and sports medicine physician in Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the advisory, believes the younger the child, the better it is to start healthy habits – particularly since parents have a greater influence over what they do.

"We can do more when kids are younger; it is harder to intervene as they get older," Dr. Edwards told ABC News

Suggestions include removing televisions and recreational screen-based devices from bedrooms, and keeping them away during meal times.

Parents can encourage outdoor activities and device-free social interactions on a daily basis, and model those habits for kids.

Screen time can be regulated, and parents should know that their own screen behaviors are important.

Enforcing regulations works – it is okay to put limits at home. Parents should reinforce the alternatives: face-to-face interactions, play time, outdoor time.

"There should be no recreational screen time under 2 years of age, no more than 1 hour under 6 years of age, no more than 2 hours over 6 years of age," according to Barnett.

"Overall, recreational screen time use has been increasing. Every family and child is different, but moving more and staying more active is better," added Dr. Edwards.

What do the experts say?

The patterns of screen-based media use and their long-term effects on children and teens just aren’t known yet.

"Technology is moving faster than research, therefore this is an area that needs to be studied further," according to Dr. Edwards.

There’s not much research on how to help kids be less sedentary, screens are very appealing, and getting their attention to go somewhere else is challenging.

"Screens are ubiquitous, but reinforcing and respecting some strategies and rules at home that everyone can adhere to really works,” Barnett said.

"It is encouraging that some technology companies have recognized the need for both parents and children to set limits, introducing options for parents to put limits on when their children can use devices and expanding on these capabilities," Dr. Edwards stated.

Could screens influence eating?

The connections linking screen time to cardiovascular health and obesity are unclear, but doctors are concerned that screens might influence eating behaviors.

For example, children may not notice when they are full when eating in front of a screen. There is evidence that suggests screens disrupt sleep, and that’s known to increase the risk of obesity.

"The core message is to 'sit less and play more – just move,'" Dr. Edwards said.

And parents need encouragement. Sometimes it seems as though technology is too widespread to control, but setting guidelines can make a huge difference with kids.

Dr. Anna Chacon is a dermatologist and part of the ABC News Medical Unit.

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iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. RYAN GUINNESS

A research team from the Mayo Clinic has identified specific genes that go with an increased risk for developing triple-negative breast cancer, according to a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

While breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, not all breast cancers are the same. There are different types of breast cancer, which are determined by the specific cells in the breast that are affected, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Triple-negative breast cancer accounts for 15 percent of breast cancer in the Caucasian population and 35 percent in the African-American population," Dr. Fergus Couch, lead author of the study, said in a press release. "It is also associated with an increased recurrence risk and poor five-year survival rates relative to other breast cancers."

A woman faced with breast cancer, of course, hopes for a definitive test that can tell her what form of cancer she has, and the best steps to treat it. Right now, genetic testing for breast cancer looks mostly at the genetic changes that come from a person's parents and grandparents, and the increased risk of being genetically predisposed to some cancers.

But only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are inherited genetically, according to the American Cancer Society. Triple-negative breast cancer is one of the hardest types of breast cancer to treat because it moves so quickly that screening tests don’t often “catch it” before it becomes serious.

So, what exactly is triple-negative breast cancer?

This type of cancer means that the three most common genes that indicate breast cancer growth -- estrogen, progesterone, and the “human epidermal growth factor receptor-negative” (HER-2) gene -- aren’t in the cancer tumors. Since these tumor cells don’t have those receptors, common treatments like hormone therapy and the usual drugs that target estrogen, progesterone, and HER-2 may be ineffective.

For the study, Couch and his colleagues performed genetic testing on almost 11,000 women with triple-negative breast cancer. They tested up to 21 cancer genes that make breast cancer more likely. The genes, when altered, that increased the risk of triple-negative breast cancer in the women studied included BARD1, BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, and RAD51D. If those genes are involved, there’s a greater than 20 percent lifetime risk for all types of breast cancer among white women. In addition, mutations in the BRIP1 and RAD51C genes were linked to a more moderate risk of triple-negative breast cancer, and a similar trend held true for African Americans.

“This study is the first to establish which genes are associated with high lifetime risks of triple-negative breast cancer,” Couch said.

This study “shows this in more detail, and identifies new specific and strong associations between the susceptibility genes RAD51D and BARD1 and triple-negative breast cancer risk,” he added.

Couch believes these findings might lead to revisions to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network screening guidelines, which currently recommend only BRCA testing when a patient has a family history of breast cancer or is diagnosed at age 60 or younger. Of course, this study must have its results duplicated before doctors are sure of the association, but this may be a win for the possibility that expanded genetic testing may help identify women at risk for triple-negative breast cancer -- and lead to better prevention strategies.

Dr. Ryan Guinness is an internal and preventive medicine resident physician at the University of California, San Francisco, currently working in the ABC News Medical Unit.

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Angela Peters(BURTON, Mich.) -- After one of her regular customers, a woman with a disability that sometimes causes her hands to shake, was refused service at a nearby nail salon, Walmart cashier Ebony Harris decided to help.

Foregoing her break, Harris, 40, offered to paint Angela Peters' nails for her. The pair picked out a shade of sparkly blue that Peters liked and sat down at the Subway seating area inside the Walmart in Burton, Michigan.

Peters said she felt happy when Harris was doing her nails and the two were talking.

"Ebony is a nice person," she told ABC News. "I enjoy conversation with her."

Peters, 36, has cerebral palsy, which can make her hands shake. She said the nail salon felt it would be too difficult to do her nails.

Harris said after she found out, she wanted to create a special day for Angela.

"I knew her from her coming in here shopping," Harris told ABC News. "I’ve helped her shop a couple of times. I just wanted to do her nails and I didn’t want her day to be ruined."

Peters apologized for her shaking hands as Harris painted her nails the shade of glittery blue, but Harris told her not to apologize.

In fact, Harris said she was a little unsteady herself.

"I was a little nervous and was shaking because I didn’t want to mess her nails up," Harris told ABC News.

A woman who works in the Subway restaurant, Tasia Smith, saw the nail painting session. She said the act of kindness brought her to tears. She snapped a photo of Harris and Peters, posted it on her Facebook and it went viral.

"She did great, barely moved & was just so sweet," Smith wrote on Facebook. "It’s an absolute shame that they denied her for something so little."

Harris said she appreciates all the attention the story has been receiving.

"I love it and it hit my soul in a very deep place," she said. "It makes me feel good, but it’s very overwhelming."

Both women said their main goal was to raise awareness for people with disabilities, not to punish or boycott the nail salon.

"I forgive the nail people for not doing my nails," Peters told ABC News in a statement. "When people do us wrong we must forgive, if not we harbor bitterness. I don't want anyone fired, I just [want to] educate people that people with different challenges like being in a wheelchair, we can have our own business and get our nails done like anyone else."

Harris hopes this will inspire others to treat people with disabilities in the same way they would like to be treated. She wants the focus to be "not so much being mad at the nail salon."

"We want people to look at the positive side of the story, that there are a lot of good people out here," Harris said.

Harris, Peters and Smith intend to continue their new friendship and go out to dinner sometime soon.

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