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shironosov/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Few Americans will escape a year without the tell-tale sneezing, coughing and general misery that are symptoms of the common cold. However, a study published on Thursday in the journal Health Psychology finds that people who are feeling lonely are likely to feel much worse.

"Put simply, lonelier people feel worse when they are sick than less lonely people," the authors wrote.

For this study, researchers looked at data from 159 non-partnered people between the ages of 18 to 55, who were asked questions about how often they felt isolated, left out, or lacked companionship. They were also asked objective questions about the size, quality and diversity of their actual social networks.

The participants, who were paid, were then infected with the RV39 common cold virus through nasal drops and spent the next 5 days quarantined in a hotel, recording the severity of their symptoms each day. They were asked about how much certain moods described their feelings, on a scale of 0 to 4. Researchers assessed how depressed participants might have been on each day of the quarantine by taking a mean score of one "sad" and one "unhappy" item.

They also asked participants to answer specific questions about how they perceived their relationships and whether they felt like they were lonely or isolated, meaning the amount of contact they had with their social contacts in a two week period. Those who had the highest measures of loneliness reported more severe cold symptoms. At the end of the study, blood and nasal secretion samples were taken to ensure that each participant had truly been infected with the virus.

The authors stressed that it was those who perceived themselves to be the loneliest, not necessarily those with the smallest or weakest social networks, who said they had more severe symptoms. How someone feels about their loneliness is often more important than how socially isolated they really are, based on numbers of family and friends alone.

"It is critical for clinicians and researchers to consider the perceived quality of people's social relationships (i.e. the experience of loneliness)," the authors continued, "which may be an even more powerful predictor of acute illness-related symptoms than the quantity of relationships."

But the reverse did not appear to be true: A person's perception of loneliness did not make them more or less likely to develop cold symptoms, according to the study.

"If you’re already feeling a bit isolated socially, you’re more likely to perceive a cold as a downer," Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center told ABC News. "Colds generally make you feel less socially interactive: more withdrawn, more inner directed. You want to curl up and go to sleep. So if you’re already feeling lonely, you could be more lonely and depressed and social isolated."

Schaffner said the findings could give people added incentive to take steps to avoid the cold and flu, especially by getting a flu shot.

"It’s not how frequently they got a cold, but once you had a cold, how did you characterize it? How did you feel about it? That’s heart, thinking is brain," Schaffner said. "If you’re already feeling a bit isolated socially, you’re more likely to perceive a cold as a downer."

This is one of several recent studies highlighting the effect a person’s loneliness can have on their experience of an illness. The authors expressed hope that these results encourage doctors and patients to have conversations about social connectedness, to address what may be causing patients the most distress.

The study findings are still preliminary due to the small sample size and because researchers excluded people with chronic illness such as diabetes or asthma, pregnant women, anyone with a psychiatric diagnosis in the past year and anyone who had cold symptoms in the previous 30 days.

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Facebook/Sebastian Design | Courtesy of Danielle Munger(NEW YORK) -- Little Brynn Munger, 3, was over the moon when she received her matching doll at her birthday party on Saturday.

Her bunny doll, now affectionately named Sparkle, only has one eye -- just like her.

“She was really excited,” Brynn’s mother, Danielle Munger, told ABC News of the special surprise. “She got a big smile and she refused to move on to another present until after we had opened it and gotten it out the box.”

Brynn lost her left eye to undifferentiated sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, when she was only a year old.

“We noticed her left eyelid was dropping a little bit, so we took her to the pediatrician and he thought it was something called ptosis,” Danielle, of Kimberly, Idaho, recalled. “We were like, ‘OK, it needs to get addressed but is not life-threatening.’ But a few days later I noticed it was all red around her eye and it started to swell.”

When the family visited the pediatrician again, he immediately sent them to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.

“They did a CT scan that evening and that’s when they discovered her tumor,” said Danielle. “From there it spiraled. She had three different surgeries before we finally had to take her eye.”

Brynn is now in remission and celebrating happy milestones all the time, but for her birthday this year, Danielle wanted to do something really special. She reached out to doll designer Jessa Sebastion of Sebastian Design with a unique request: a one-eyed bunny doll.

“The whole reason I started making dolls is because I have two girls who don't really look like sisters and I wanted them to have dolls that looked like them,” Sebastian wrote to ABC News. “So when Danielle asked if I could make a doll who looked like her daughter, I just decided I couldn't say no. And she was so sweet and excited about it.”

The custom order was a hit with Brynn, whose mom sent photos of her little girl’s excitement to Sebastian to witness how her hard work paid off.

“Getting the pictures from her and also a cute video from her daughter hugging it was quite honestly one of the best things I've ever seen,” said Sebastian, who shared the photos on her Facebook page to much acclaim.

The precious pair are now best friends and Brynn has a “big smile” every time they play together.

“That evening she and I were sitting together reading a book,” said Danielle. “It felt so good to tell her, ‘Yes, she’s special too. This bunny is sick too and she lost her eye, but she’s still special too.’”

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This week, Grey's Anatomy star Chandra Wilson is shining a light on a rare condition that has affected her daughter called cyclic vomiting syndrome, or CVS.

Since it took nearly a year for Wilson's daughter to receive a confirmed diagnosis, she is highlighting the disorder to help other people who may be suffering with the symptoms.

Here are some key facts about CVS:

What is cyclic vomiting syndrome? The syndrome is a condition where a person has sudden and repeated bouts of nausea, vomiting and exhaustion, according to Cleveland Clinic. There is no apparent cause.

Usually these symptoms occur early in the morning and an attack can last from several hours to several days. Both men and women can be affected, but it is more common in children than adults.

CVS affects the upper gastrointestinal tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach and part of the small intestine, according to the The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Symptoms include repeated episodes of severe nausea, lack of appetite, sensitivity to light, pain in the abdomen, severe fatigue and severe headaches.

What is the cause?

It is unclear why the disease occurs, but one theory is that a person has abnormal function of their mitochondria, the energy powerhouse in their cells. According to the Cleveland Clinic, changes in the mitochondrial function have been observed in people with CVS and they may be one cause for the condition.

Additionally, hormonal imbalances, nervous system problems or gastrointestinal dysfunction may also lead to developing the syndrome, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

People with a history of migraines may be more susceptible to the disease, according to the NIH.

How is an episode triggered?

Although there is no specific cause of CVS, the NIH says there are certain instances that may lead to a cycle of vomiting. Both physical changes and emotional stress can trigger CVS.

"Emotional stress, anxiety, or panic attacks -- for example, in children, common triggers of anticipatory anxiety are school exams or events, birthday parties, holidays, family conflicts, or travel," the NIH says on their website.

Physical changes in the body's systems such as infections and flu, as well as motion sickness, heat or physical exhaustion and even a regular menstrual cycle are some of the conditions that can lead to an episode, the NIH says. Food additives like caffeine, nitrites and MSG can also be triggers.

Is there treatment?

There is no known cure for the syndrome, but people affected can receive treatments to mitigate symptoms, such as nausea, and to treat other conditions that can contribute, like migraines.

How many people are affected?

Approximately 3 in every 100,000 children are diagnosed with CVS, according to the Cleveland Clinic. However, it's difficult to estimate the total number of people affected by the syndrome because it is not always reported. The Mayo Clinic estimates that 2 percent of school-age children may be affected and cases are increasing in adults, according to research.

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Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage(NEW YORK) — For Jennifer Hudson, maintaining her 80-pound weight loss is as simple as watching what she eats.

"Well, I don’t really have time to do much [exercise]," the Voice UK coach, 35, told British talk show Lorraine on Wednesday. "I just watch what I eat. I’m very careful and cautious of what I’m eating and I just try to place those meals throughout the day."

She explained, "If it’s early in the morning, OK, I would still be asleep, so I’m not gonna eat right now. I’m very conscious of what I put in my body."

The Oscar winner for Dreamgirls first dropped the weight six years ago after joining Weight Watchers. She was named a company spokesperson in 2010.

In 2014, Hudson told Yahoo! Style that she doesn't let tempting foods intimidate her.

"I throw the pancakes across the room!" she said. "If it's too much, I just get rid of it, but I make sure to watch what I put in my body. And I make sure I know what it is. It's all about portions for the most part."

Hudson does allow for one indulgence, however.

"I always have to have chocolate around -- it's my cigarette," she told the website. "I don't smoke but it calms me so well. I don't like too much junk in my dressing room because I have to watch what I eat, so I put everything else out of the room."

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Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) — Michael J. Fox has been living with Parkinson's disease for decades, but he's kept his sense of humor about it. In an interview for the April/May issue of AARP magazine, he spoke about how the condition makes him laugh.

"The truth is that on most days, there comes a point where I literally can't stop laughing at my own symptoms," he said.

Even mundane tasks that give him a little trouble are enough to entertain the actor, 55, who went public with his diagnosis in 1998. He talked about the adventures of getting coffee in the morning for himself and his wife.

"I pour a cup — a little trouble there," Fox said. "Then I put both hands around the cup. She's watching. 'Can I get that for you, dear?' 'Nah, I got it!' Then I begin this trek across the kitchen. It starts off bad. Only gets worse. Hot java's sloshing onto my hands, onto the floor."

Fox said he and his wife of nearly 30 years, Tracy Pollan, don't let these small struggles get them down.

"There's the fact that it's 7 in the morning and this is how we begin our day — the right way," he said. "But the thing that makes it hilarious to me is when I think of someone else watching all this and thinking, 'Poor Michael can't even get the coffee — it's so sad!'"

The actor said he also had to learn to deal with the public perception of how "sad" his condition is.

"You deal with the condition, and you deal with people's perception of the condition," Fox said. "It was easy for me to tune into the way other people were looking into my eyes and seeing their own fear reflected back. I'd assure them that 'I'm doing great' -- because I was. After a while, the disconnect between the way I felt and the dread people were projecting just seemed, you know, funny."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Actress Chandra Wilson, who plays a doctor on ABC's long-running hit drama Grey's Anatomy, opened up about her family's real-life medical saga in an interview with Good Morning America that aired Thursday.

Wilson, who has played Dr. Miranda Bailey on Grey's Anatomy for the past 13 seasons, described the uncertainty and fear she faced when her daughter, Sarina McFarlane, 23, first became ill as a teenager.

The Emmy-nominated actress said her daughter became afflicted with nausea, vomiting and crippling abdominal pain. McFarlane's mysterious illness baffled doctors, and Wilson said they went nearly 10 months before she finally got a diagnosis -- cyclic vomiting syndrome, or CVS, a neurological disorder characterized by a series of prolonged attacks of severe nausea and vomiting, with no apparent cause.

"It presented itself like a real bad case of food poisoning," Wilson explained. "It didn't go away for four or five days so because of that we went to the ER."

Wilson said emergency room doctors hydrated her daughter but none of the tests showed it was anything different.

"A month later, the exact same presentation happened and this was month after month after month for 10 months," she said.

Wilson kept a running log of her daughter's symptoms in multiple, 5-inch thick binders to note any progress or changes and to streamline the often-arduous check-in process at hospitals.

"I started looking for patterns," Wilson said. "When you are the parent of someone who is a chronic pain sufferer, you end up creating these binders for all of the hospital stays so you can keep track of every visit and any new thing that comes out."

Dr. Richards Boles, medical director at Courtagen Life Sciences -- a medical facility that specializes in genetic testing to find solutions for complicated neurological and metabolic diseases -- said McFarlane could have suffered years had it not been for her mom's tenacity.

"Serena was lucky because of the care and persistence of her mother," Boles said. "Most patients go many years without a diagnosis."

"The name gave us a direction to go in," Wilson said of receiving the diagnosis. "And it put us in a community of other people that seriously were going through the exact same thing stage by stage."

Motivated by her daughter's condition, the Grey's Anatomy star went one step further and directed an episode that mirrored her own scramble for a diagnosis for this mysterious disease.

"Being able to be on Grey's Anatomy with all of those people able to watch it and hear it and say, 'Oh my God. That's what that is. I've heard of that. That's my kid. That's my husband. That's my aunt,'" Wilson said. "That means so much because I just remember what it meant to us."

She added, "[If] that's something that I can do sitting in this chair on the set, then my daughter has said, 'Go ahead. Go and do that.'"

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luchschen/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- From late nights out to early mornings on the job, 30-year-old entrepreneur Erin Finnegan says she has a secret boost that keeps her going.

She uses “nootropics,” also called “smart drugs,” or supplements claiming to boost brain function, helping to improve memory, focus and maybe even make you brilliant.

“I’m bicoastal, I’m in New York and I’m here [in Los Angeles], and a lot of times traveling,” Finnegan said.

Much like how actor Bradley Cooper played a character who took a pill and his focus went from zero to 100 in the movie “Limitless,” there are some saying the effects of these supplements are nonfiction. Countless users on Reddit swear by these pills, heralding benefits from “increased focus” to “mental stimulation.”

Finnegan said nootropics is one of the keys to her success.

“I would not give them up willingly,” she said. “The additional focus that I can have with them, yes, it does sustain the speed I am going at now and the many things, I would have to take a couple things off my plate if I wanted to keep going without them.”

And she takes a pill every day.

“It’s not like press a button and all of a sudden turbo charge and switch into ‘nootropics mode,’” she said. “I found that it helped lessen the time it took me to switch gears, if that makes sense.”

But some doctors are questioning if the claims are too good to be true.

“The lack of controlled trials the lack of rigorous scientific research and the lack of studies that actually try to study all of these different types of nootropics in certain combinations altogether,” said Dr. Richard Isaacson, a neuroscientist and Alzheimer’s expert.

Nootropics stacks, or pills, are mixes of different components and can include different ingredients from caffeine and L-Theanine -- a type of amino acid -- to herbal supplements to the brain-boosting supplement, piracetam.

Although they claim to alter brain function, nootropics are marketed not as a drug but as a type of dietary supplement, which means they don’t need FDA approval.

Geoff Woo, 29-year-old co-founder of nootropics company Nootrobox, said he got interested in the supplement because he “wanted to be smarter.”

“I grew up very competitive and wanting to be the best version of myself possible,” Woo said. “If there's one really smart person in the world, great we have another Einstein, but if everyone was super smart there's like an exponential amount of information and innovation.”

Four years ago, Woo was working at a venture capital firm when he started digging around the internet and experimenting.

“We were tinkering with things from laboratories from China, from off-label compounds, everything,” he said.

Today, it’s become much more than a hobby for Woo. He says business is booming, and he caught the attention and financial backing of top Silicon Valley titans like early Facebook investor Andreesen Horowitz and Yahoo’s Marisa Mayer. He even made his pitch on an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” but didn’t get any bites.

"I’ve tried nootropics, that’s what people use to go on 48-hour coding binges," Shark Chris Sacca told Woo when he appeared in a "Shark Tank" episode that aired in December. "But at the end of the day, you’re left with a headache, lack of recall, sometimes. I’m worried about the long term consequences so I’m out."

Inside Woo’s tightly controlled lab, located an hour outside of Los Angeles, his team pumps out thousands of little pills every day.

“For our company, we have four different pills, or four different types of stacks,” he said.

Woo claims his pills to do everything from boosting “immediate clarity, energy and flow” to enhancing "memory, stamina and resilience.”

“The whole notion is approaching the human body as if we were from an engineer's perspective. So optimizing shortcuts to being better, more productive versions of ourselves,” he said. “I think we all want to be better versions of ourselves. I think that's one of the distinguishing factors of being human.”

Nootrobox’s products are supplements so they are not FDA approved, but Woo said everything his company produces is “generally regarded as safe” by the FDA, which he said, “is the highest level of safety that the FDA gives for all things that one can consume.”

“It's based on understanding of biological mechanisms,” Woo said. “Our science team, which consists of actually practicing doctors and M.D. Ph.D.s, walk through that and actually validate any cross indications.”

But some experts caution that this temporary boost could have side effects, with many citing the lack of studies about long-term impacts.

“You may have several ingredients on the label and there may be one of the many ingredients on there that may interact with your blood pressure medicines or it may interact with something else,” Dr. Isaacson said. “While these drugs by itself may be generally safe, it's hard to generalize. They may interact with other things ... so that's why we always recommend discussion of approval by a treating physician.”

Despite potential side effects, there are some who are taking multiple nootropic pills a day. Megan Klimen is a self-proclaimed “bio-hacker” who has been experimenting with nootropics for years. On a stressful day, she said she’ll take about eight to 10 pills.

“So on a daily basis, I take ‘The Rise,’ I take the KADO 3, which is this mix of the vitamins that you need, it’s got vitamin D, it’s got K, it’s got Omega 3, it’s got DHA,” she said. “Before I found the Nootrobox, I had 12 different ones that I was taking, but those 12 different ones are summed up in these really well.”

Eric Matzner created his company Nootroo after becoming fascinating in reading about the supplements online. He said he takes over 40 supplements each day.

“I get most of my energy from the ingredients in Nootroo,” he said. “There’s a form of caffeine, a really advanced form of caffeine called Purenergy. That’s a caffeine crystal ... I love ubiquinol I take a ton of it ... I’ll take like 300 or more milligrams a day.”

Matzner said nootropics are a whole new take on science and health care, and some users believe they could be the future.

“We’re talking about ... a new type of biology where we’re taking these things into our own hands but also to try and proactively go from baseline to above,” said Matzner.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Courtesy Josue and Maruska Vella(NEW YORK) -- Jake Vella is literally running for his life.

The 7-year-old Maltese boy suffers from an extremely rare life-threatening disease that causes him to gain weight despite his healthy diet and vigorous exercise regime. Less than 100 people in the world have ever been diagnosed with the illness called ROHHAD, which affects the automatic nervous system and endocrine system.

But Jake is no ordinary kid. To help combat the disease he competes in triathlons like his father and follows a strict diet.

“Triathlons help Jake to keep fit and active. It’s good for his health and also gives him a chance to socialize with other kids,” his parents, Josue and Maruska Vella , told ABC News. “He leads a normal life, goes to school, plays the drums, but he has to be very careful not to get sick and we are frightened that a simple flu could lead to other complications.”

When Jake was first diagnosed with the dangerous illness at age six in 2015, it came as a huge shock to the family. Nobody else on the small Mediterranean island nation of Malta suffers from ROHHAD, so there was no playbook to go by.

ROHHAD stands for rapid-onset obesity (RO) with hypothalamic dysregulation (H), hypoventilation (H), and autonomic dysregulation (AD). It is a rare, life-threatening syndrome that affects the autonomic nervous system (which controls involuntary actions) and the endocrine system.

People with this disease may exhibit a wide range of symptoms including slow heartbeat, excessive sweating, altered pupil response to light and they also may be unable to maintain normal water balance in the body or go through early or late puberty, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Typically the patient will experience rapid weight gain in a 6- to 12-month period and may be at risk for developing certain kinds of tumors. In Jake's case it has also caused a tumor to grow on his back. There is no proven cure for the disease.

The Vellas say they just live day-by-day and hope for the best.

Jake’s video has gone viral and helped raise awareness for the disease. The young triathlete dreams about meeting Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, two of the world’s top triathletes. Jake cannot travel because of his illness but the Brownlee brothers’ manager has been in touch following the video’s success.

Nothing is organized yet, but Jake has his fingers crossed for a shot at meeting his idols.

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Courtesy Michelle Adkins(ROBINSON, Texas) -- One kindergartner undergoing cancer treatment is able to "attend" class, thanks to the help of artificial intelligence.

In January, PJ Trojanowski, 6, was diagnosed with the kidney cancer Wilms tumor in both kidneys.

"She's our most outgoing child," dad Eric Trojanowski told ABC News Wednesday. "It was a different thing to sit down and tell my 6-ear-old, 'You have cancer and the doctors have to figure out how to get it out of you. She was feisty about it. The doc even said, 'I don't know Paisley very well, but I know kids like her do well in treatment because they have a lot of fight in them.'"

"It takes a lot out of her ... [but] she's taking it in stride," he added. "She talks about [how] she's going to beat cancer."

Because of her weakened immune system, Paisley Jane, who goes by PJ, was unable to return to her kindergarten classroom at Robinson Primary School in Robinson, Texas.

With help from her school and the Region 12 Education Service Center, a VGo robot was brought to Robinson Primary on PJ's behalf.

The robot allows PJ to interact with classmates and observe lessons given by her teacher, Michelle Adkins, while she receives chemotherapy treatments at McLane Children's hospital in Temple, Texas.

Adkins told ABC News that her other 19 students are accustomed to PJ logging into the mobile robot from her iPad, and having it move around the classroom.

She also does home teaching visits with PJ two days a week to practice new skills face-to-face.

"I think she likes to interact with it," Adkins said. "She likes to know what we're doing and it's a way for her to get more learning time in. Her parents really enjoy it also."

Trojanowski, a dad of three, said he helps PJ drive the robot around the classroom from the hospital.

"She enjoys listening to the story time and listening in on the lessons," he said. "She told me, 'Sometimes it makes me sad because I want to be with my friends at school.'

"I tell her, 'You're at home now and get to watch and listen,'" he continued. "She's getting used to the idea. The support of the school district has been nothing short of amazing."

PJ is undergoing chemotherapy and will receive surgery to remove the two tumors at the end of April.

The Trojanowskis hope she can rejoin her classmates at the start of first grade.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Premature deaths of people under age 75 are increasing at a dramatic rate across the U.S., according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The authors of the foundation's annual report from its County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program noted a dramatic uptick in premature deaths in the U.S. due largely to "unintentional injuries," which include accidental drug overdoses and car crashes.

They found that in 2015, 1.2 million people in the U.S. died prematurely or before the age of 75 from causes considered preventable. This is an increase of nearly 40,000 from the previous year. These additional premature deaths were more likely to occur in younger people, the report found.

Eight-five percent of the increase in people who died prematurely in 2015 were 15 to 44 years old.

"These are Americans [who] are dying essentially in the prime of their life," said Abbey Cofsky, the deputy director of data and science at the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute, which collaborated on the report. "They are dying as young adults" or with young families, she added.

Accidental drug overdose, homicides and motor vehicle crashes appear to be huge factors in these deaths. The report's authors found that 6,787 people ages 15 to 24 died from motor vehicle accidents, 4,140 were firearm homicide victims and 3,727 died from drug overdoses. Accidental drug overdoses are increasing at a much more significant rate than other causes of premature death, the authors said.

The researchers have documented an increase in premature deaths since 2012, with a more dramatic increase from 2014 to 2015.

"That's when we really wanted to look deeper in population," said Julie Willems Van Dijk, a registered nurse and the director of the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program. She pointed out that before 2012, there was a long-term downward trend in the number of premature deaths.

"That's when we dug into the story [of increased injuries]. A lot of time people don't think of drug overdoses as injuries," she said. "Even when someone is a drug addict, they don't intend to die."

Opioid overdoses in particular have increased in recent years. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 33,000 people died because of opioid overdose in 2015 and that 91 people in the U.S. die every day from such drugs.

The researchers estimated the years of life lost in a population due to drug overdoses. For American Indian/Alaskan Natives, 736 potential years of life are lost per 100,000 people. The number was highest for white people, with 778 years lost per 100,000 people.

Dr. Ellie Ragsdale of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center said it has been a struggle to reach people most affected by opioid addiction, many of whom live in rural areas with fewer resources.

"That is a population that we have been trying to target for many years, and we want to decrease the epidemic," she said.

Ragsdale said doctors have been making an effort to cut down on the amount of opioids prescribed for patients, in the hopes of diminishing the epidemic.

"I think there's been a big collaborative effort among health care providers to limit prescriptions," she said. "We have seen a benefit on the front lines, but we're not seeing it in the data yet."

To see your county's health data, click HERE.

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ABC News(Chris Christie denies rift with Jared Kushner, says pair 'get along just great'

(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie denied there was tension between him and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, as the two prepare to team up in a new White House initiative to combat the nation's opioid epidemic, saying on Good Morning America Wednesday that they "get along just great."

When he was the U.S. attorney of New Jersey, Christie prosecuted Kushner's father, real estate mogul Charles Kushner, who was sentenced to prison in 2005 on 18 counts of tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign contributions.

Now, Christie is set to lead a new White House commission tasked with tackling opioid addiction nationwide. The commission will fall under the White House Office of American Innovation, which Trump unveiled Monday. The president appointed Kushner, his son-in-law and a senior aide, to lead the office.

“The Office of American Innovation will bring a creative and strategic approach to many critical issues and intractable problems that affect Americans’ quality of life,” Kushner said in a statement issued by the White House on Monday. “We have an opportunity to identify and implement solutions by combining internal resources with the private sector’s innovation and creativity, enabling the Federal Government to better serve Americans.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91 Americans die every day from opioid overdose, which includes prescription opioids and heroin. Deaths in the United States from prescription opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone, have more than quadrupled since 1999.

In addition to addressing the drug and opioid epidemic, the White House Office of American Innovation will create task forces to focus on other initiatives, including reforming care for veterans.

When asked on GMA Wednesday morning whether things were tense with Kushner given their history, Christie replied, "Not at all."

"That stuff is ancient history," he added. "Jared and I have worked incredibly well on this issue and, by the way, on a whole bunch of other issues during the campaign ... Jared and I get along just great."

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ABC News(RICHMOND, Va.) — For parents of terminally ill children, professional photographs aren't typically at the top of the priority list.

But the Tiny Sparrow Foundation, an organization that matches professional photographers with these families free of charge, says the parents they serve are often "incredibly appreciative and grateful for the memories."

ABC News traveled to Richmond, Virginia, to document a Tiny Sparrow photo shoot with the Cummings family. Veronica Cummings, 10, was born with a genetic condition called Trisomy 13.

"All I remember was, when I looked up, his face had turned white," mother Christina Cummings said about her husband, Ronnie, when Veronica was first born, "and he sat down on the couch, hands on his head, and doctors were calling for other doctors to come in and they wouldn’t let me see her, and I was on a lot of medicine."

"And the next thing I knew, a little bit later, they had brought in a geneticist who handed me a page-and-a-half printout stapled together," she said. "I just remember reading 'Trisomy 13 is not compatible with life' and I couldn’t even read past that."

"I couldn’t even read whatever else was on there because I didn’t understand how to take that. I had no idea and I didn’t believe that was happening."

"Not compatible with life" is a phrase parents of children with Trisomy 13 often hear. And while Veronica needs a great deal of assistance in every respect, her parents say she is very much alive and a tremendous blessing to her family and community.

"I couldn’t say this at the beginning, but I think now that it’s really a gift that was given to us, she’s touched so many people around us in so many different ways," said her father, Ronnie Cummings.

"I didn’t grow up around anybody with special needs in my family, Christina didn’t either, and just the change it’s made in people in our family," he said. "For me personally, she’s made me humble in a different kind of way. She needs us for everything, and it’s just changed me as a person in a good way. We're lucky that we have her."

It's a testament to both Veronica and her devoted parents and sisters -- Ava, 11, and Charlotte, 6 -- that she has lived for more than 10 years. "She’s so strong, she’s a fighter," her mother said.

But Christina has had to come to terms with the reality of losing Veronica, in the last year. Tiny Sparrow had offered a photoshoot to the family in the past, but she declined.

"I wasn’t ready for it," she said. "I thought it was an amazing organization for a great cause. I loved the idea, but I didn’t want to accept that we were candidates for that."

Other charitable organizations had also offered the Cummings family services that she didn't accept for the same reasons.

"It felt like similar to the way Veronica got a Make-A-Wish trip –- I wasn’t ready to take that for a whole 10 years," Christina said. "[Make-A-Wish] had been telling us 'Take it, take these trips,' and I didn’t want to because it felt like it’s the beginning of the end. And I wasn’t ready for that.

"But this past year, actually, she had been really sick," Christina said. "She hasn’t been to school at all this year. She was supposed to have surgery in January, and she had a surgery this past summer, and it just kept feeling like more and more things were going in the wrong direction. And so I opened up my mind to it and I said 'Okay, let’s go ahead and get some memories while she’s looking good, while she’s happy.' So only this past year, after 10 years of people telling me, you don’t know how long you have with her you need to take advantage of all these things."

Tiny Sparrow has worked with more than 200 families since its inception in 2009 and say their goal is to capture feelings and personality.

"We try to capture their [the child's] spirit and their smile and just the essence of who they are and the innocence," Communications Director Mary Beth Thomsen told ABC News. "We also get to capture the love of their family."

The Cummings' other daughters spoke about Veronica's spirit.

"Her smile brightens my day," said Charlotte.

That smile is what professional photographer Katie Cartwright was hoping to capture during the photo shoot. The Cummings family was the third family she photographed on behalf of Tiny Sparrow.

She said she strives for "the photos you get of the child when you get that expression in their eyes, the light caught in their eyes where you know that that’s something their parents will really cherish."

Thomsen said the foundation does a "special screening for our photographers because we need them to know that this is a very sensitive situation and they need to be handle it emotionally and they’re going to be put in a situation that is very difficult for them."

Tiny Sparrow doesn't have trouble finding photographers willing to donate their services, she said. But the demand for these photos is great and since the photographers are volunteers, it isn't always easy to keep up. The organization said it hopes to be able to raise enough funds for some paid positions this year.

"We're hoping to fund some paid part-time positions so we can have some dedicated people to dedicate their time to making these photo shoots happen," she said.

But they continue providing their services to families. On an overcast day in Virginia, there was an appreciative family and a talented photographer capturing special moments between the parents and children. Christina Cummings called the experience a success and reflected on what having Veronica in their lives has meant.

"We wouldn’t see the world that we see it, we wouldn’t have the doors open that we have open for us if it wasn’t for her, if it wasn’t for Veronica," she said. "It’s showed us a different side of humanity, who we can be, and to show our kids the same -- to see them grow up with the type of heart and compassion that you don’t always see in kids now."

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is set to play a role in a new White House effort to tackle the nation’s opioid epidemic, a White House official confirms to ABC News.

Christie was a central figure in President Trump's campaign and was the first to lead his transition team, but he was replaced with Vice President Mike Pence just days after the election.

He was also passed over for high-profile positions in Trump's administration, such as attorney general.

Politico has reported on the details of a draft order, not yet obtained by ABC News, which calls for the creation of a commission that will be tasked with making recommendations on the funding, treatment and law surrounding opioid addiction and treatment.

The expected commission would mark the president’s first foray into fulfilling one of his big campaign promises to address the opioid crisis.

Though the White House now confirms that Christie is set to take a role in helping the president on the effort, the New Jersey governor was uncharacteristically mum when asked about it on a New Jersey radio show earlier this week.

“We’ll see … I don’t jump any announcements by the President of the United States. If the president has something to announce, he’ll announce it when he wants, and then I can respond if I’m involved in any way,” he said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump signed on Tuesday the "Energy Independence" executive order, requiring the review of a regulation unpopular in coal country states where he was wildly popular on election day. The order also unravels former President Barack Obama's goal of tackling climate change.

"Today I'm taking bold action on that promise," Trump said at the signing of the executive order at the Environmental Protection Agency. "My administration is putting an end to the war on coal. We're going to have clean coal, really clean coal."

EPA chief Scott Pruitt said on "This Week" this past weekend, "This is about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach to how we do regulation in this country."

Part of Trump's executive order will require the EPA to rewrite one of the key parts of Obama's agenda, the Clean Power Plan.

What is the Clean Power Plan?

The Clean Power Plan, signed into law by Obama in August 2015, set the ambitious goal of requiring a 32 percent reduction in greenhouse gases emitted by existing power plants from 2005 levels by 2030.

Upon signing it, Obama called it the "the biggest, most important step we have ever taken to combat climate change."

According to the EPA, the Clean Power Plan was designed with three building blocks. First, it required an increase in the efficiency of existing coal-fired power plants. Second, it moved electricity generation away from fossil fuel-fired, coal power plants to natural gas-fired power plants. And third, it planned to increase the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

With the Clean Power Plan, each state was given specific carbon emission goal for electricity producers. The EPA claimed that the climate and health benefits of the plan "far outweigh the estimated annual costs of the plan, which are $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion in 2030." It also claimed that the plan would reduce asthma rates in adults and children.

But the Clean Power Plan isn't currently being enforced because the law is stuck in legal proceedings. On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the law pending judicial review. Attorney generals from 28 states -- led by Pruitt, when he was Oklahoma's attorney general -- joined together to claim that the plan presents too broad an interpretation of the Clean Air Act.

In December, those state attorney generals wrote a letter to President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan urging them to withdraw from the Clean Power Plan on day one of the Trump administration, saying that the rule "directly intrudes on each state's traditional prerogative over its mix of electricity generation."

Legal challenges ahead

The first hurdle for the Trump administration will be moving Obama's rule out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit where it currently stands in legal limbo.

The rewriting of the Clean Power Plan could take over a year, as it requires the EPA to follow the same procedure of rule-making used when crafting the original plan. This means, for every rule the EPA plans to rewrite, the administration will have to justify why the rule is being rolled back. Then, comments will be made on each of the new rules that the administration must respond to. This complex re-writing period will likely face hefty litigation from environmental advocacy groups opposed to the executive order.

How will this affect the Paris Climate Agreement?

The same year Obama signed into law the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. signed onto the Paris Climate Agreement.

The goal of the Paris deal is to commit countries worldwide to lowering the emission of greenhouse gasses. To remain in the deal, the U.S. must cut its emissions by about 26 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2025.

Exactly how the Clean Power Plan will affect the Paris Climate Agreement is "unknowable," Richard Lazarus, an environmental law professor at Harvard University, told ABC News.

"As a formal matter, we cannot really withdraw from Paris for about two years," said Lazarus. He added that China might welcome the withdrawal by the U.S, though, as it would provide the country with an opportunity to take leadership on a global issue and take the charge on clean technology innovations.

Rolling back the Clean Power Plan "affects our standing in the world as a leader in climate change issues and we'll have to see what the other countries do," he said.


Environmental advocacy groups and health organizations are roiling over Trump's executive order.

"With this executive order, the Trump administration is simply putting America further behind in the global race towards a renewable future," Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard said in a statement.

Rolling back the Clean Power Plan "disregards science," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at a press conference Tuesday with Democratic colleagues Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Sen. Ed Markey, D- Massachusetts, added "President Trump didn't issue an executive order, he issued a declaration of war on American climate leadership and our clean energy future. This executive order isn't about energy security, it’s about climate denial."

Harold Wimmer, CEO of the American Lung Association, raised concerns about how the new order will affect air quality. "Today's executive order directly contradicts EPA's core mission of protecting public health and the environment, and undercuts the Agency's ability to achieve the promise of the Clean Air Act -– ensuring that all Americans are able to breathe clean, healthy air."

But the United States Chamber of Commerce came out in support of the Trump administration's plans. "America got good news today when President Trump took bold steps to make regulatory relief and energy security a top priority," the lobbying group said in a statement. "The U.S. Chamber has long argued that EPA's power plant regulations are not only unlawful, they are a bad deal for American families and businesses."

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Case Western Reserve University(CLEVELAND) -- After years of paralysis, a man was able to pick up a cup of coffee and take a sip, thanks to experimental technology that allowed brain signals to control his arm with the help of a computer.

The researchers at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center documented their work in a new study published Tuesday in The Lancet medical journal. The study explains how a special electrical device, including implants in the brain and arm, allowed the man to control the movement of his right hand and arm years after being paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Dr. A Bolu Ajiboye, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University and lead study author, explained their patient was the first to have such a high level of paralysis and yet still be able to move his arm via the device called BrainGate2.

"He literally cannot do anything on his own," said Ajiboye of the study subject, who was paralyzed eight years before he took part in the study. "With [this] system, he's been able to scratch his nose or be able to take a take a drink of a cup of coffee ... he now has the ability to do things."

To help the unnamed patient, doctors used the experimental neural interface system, BrainGate2, which is being studied in clinical trials at various institutions in the U.S. The system works by using electrical chips in the brain to transmit data to a computer, which then sends electrical signals to the muscles to move. In this case, two small chips were implanted in the man's brain in order to transmit data via a cable to a computer. The researchers also implanted small electrodes in his right arm, so that electrical impulses can cause the muscles to move.

In a person with full mobility, a desire to move the arm will result in an electrical signal down the spinal cord to the muscles that will result in the arms moving. The devices recreates that by having the implant "read" data from the patient's brain, which the computer translates into action that is then triggered by electrical signals to implants in the patient's arm.

"What we are doing in this project is circumventing the spinal injury by taking [the] pattern of brain activity to directly stimulate the muscles," Ajiboye explained.

Ajiboye said the patient was excited to take part in the study despite the invasive surgery in order to be able to do things for himself again.

"He said, 'You know what I really want to [do is] drink coffee,'" Ajiboye recalled. "We showed him drinking through a straw and drink coffee [via the device]."

He also has gotten to feed himself and even itch his nose with the device. However, since the device is experimental, the patient can only use it in the lab, but researchers hope to eventually have a device that he can use at home.

"He definitely keeps us wanting to innovate," said Ajiboye. "We want to give him more functionality."

Dr. Ben Walter, medical director of the Deep Brain Stimulation Program at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and co-author of the study, said that this is still an early prototype with limitations. For example, the patient can't "feel" what he's holding; instead, he has to visually judge how much force to use in order to pick something up.

"In this particular application, he is not sensing the pressure and able to modulate the force based on feedback," Walter explained. "He can see what he's doing, but he can't feel."

While experimental, Walter said the implant is still an important move forward and could become much more streamlined in the future.

"In this case, he just thinks about moving and he moves," Walter said. "We're really putting things back together the way they're meant to be."

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