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Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be a better parent in 2018, you’re not alone.

From screen time to alone time, here are a few easy ways to make the whole family happier in 2018:

Problem: Too much screen time.

It’s time for a digital detox, and that goes for both parents and kids. Resolve to put phones/screens away at a certain time. Or, if you find yourself relying on them at a particular time of day, like breakfast -- figure out a replacement behavior instead. So, for example, some parents put phones away from 6-9 p.m. and the focus is on dinner, homework, family and bedtime routines. Instead of the crutch of the iPad in the morning to keep things calm, turn on the music and make the kids be active participants in the morning routine.

Problem: Taking care of everyone else, all the time.

The general idea is you can’t take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself. What this looks like in reality is different for everyone. Maybe it’s getting a sitter more often to spend time alone or with your spouse. Maybe it’s yoga or meditation before the kids get up for school. But the overall trend is that women are finally giving themselves and others the permission to take care of themselves.

Problem: Not enough time for each child.

It's all about quality time with each kid, as opposed to quantity of time with all the kids. Quality one-on-one time isn’t going to be possible each day if you have more than one child, but a conscious effort to spend alone time with each of your children is the key to building a stronger emotional connection and increasing their trust and self-esteem. Think about your kids: Chances are there’s one that’s way more demanding than the other(s). That’s OK, but the child who demands less should never be made to feel less-than because they cooperate and are more self-sufficient.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A deadly flu epidemic spreading across the nation has now claimed the lives of at least 30 children, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The CDC's latest influenza-associated pediatric mortality report released Friday shows that at least 10 children died between Jan. 6 and Jan. 13, and the others have died the since the flu season started in October.

The report also shows that 8,990 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported across the nation between Oct. 1, 2017 and Jan. 13, 2018.

A total of 110 died during the 2016-17 flu season, but CDC officials said this years flu hasn't even hit its peak.

Among the latest casualties Zainab Momin, a third-grader from Pike Road, Alabama, whose death has yet to be counted in the CDC report.

The girl died Tuesday night after her parents took her to the hospital with flu symptoms and fever, Pike Road Schools Superintendent Dr. Chuck Ledbetter told ABC affiliate WBMA in Birmingham, Alabama.

Ledbetter he's been urging parents to "do the little things that seem inconsequential," such as washing hands, getting the flu vaccine, and making sure sick students stay at home.

"We're working very hard to protect our children," Ledbetter said.

The CDC has identified a particular strain of influenza A, H3N2, as the culprit affecting thousands from coast to coast. Agency officials said 49 of 50 states have reported widespread flu activity at the same time.

In Swampscott, Massachusetts, Phyllis Gotlib, a beloved 68-year-old music teacher at the Clark, Hadley and Stanley elementary school died from flu complications. Schools in the district were closed Friday, so students and staff could attend her funeral.

“Phyllis was a wonderful person loved by everyone. She brought music into the lives of so many children in Swampscott and Marblehead," her family said in statement. "We are shocked and saddened and can’t express how much we will miss her."

In Texas, the influenza outbreak is so severe that the Bonham Independent School District, which has about 2,000 students, canceled classes through Tuesday.

At Loma Linda Medical Center in San Bernardino County, California, the medical staff has erected a triage tent outside the emergency room to handle the influx of flu patients.

"This seems to be the worst flu season we've had here in the last 10 to 15 years," Dr. Adrian Cotton, chief of medical operations at the Southern California hospital, told ABC's "Good Morning America." "We're seeing a lot more patients for the flu and the patients we're seeing are a lot sicker than usual."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Orlando Health(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Sarai Arce loves to dance. The 6-year-old loves the poses. Dancing, she said, makes her "happy."

When Sarai was born, her mother, Wanda Arce of Orlando, Florida, said, she was diagnosed with brittle bone disease. Doctors said she may never walk.

Sarai started walking when she was 3 years old, yet she could not participate in any physical activities because of the risk to her body. Arce said her daughter was lacking muscle tone and balance.

Then, Arce came across Come Dance With Us, a program launched at Nemours Children's Health System and the Orlando Health System by Anne-Marie Wurzel.

Wurzel's daughter Reagan had lost motor skills due to metabolic shock and was a patient.

The program, started in October 2016, brings together dancers from the Orlando Ballet and children with special needs, ages 3-6.

During the workshop, the children participate in two daylong sessions and afterward are treated to a performance by the Orlando Ballet. First, it was "Beauty and the Beast," and last year, children got to see "The Nutcracker."

Arce said Sarai, who participated in the workshops last year, has gained strength in her muscles.

"She's like dancing all over the place and trying to do the dances that she was taught and saw in 'The Nutcracker.' ... She's very active or tries to be very active, so that kind of motivated her a little bit more to say 'Hey, I could do this. I could be a dancer. I could be a ballerina,'" Arce said.

Dierdre Miles Burger, director of the Orlando Ballet, said children's personalities and willingness to dance during the workshops blossomed within the first hour.

"They go from being completely withdrawn," she said, "to outgoing and having a wonderful time."

Arce, herself a lover of dance, said Sarai's doctors have now given her permission to take part in more dance classes. Arce said she expected Sarai to be registered in a class soon.

Burger said she just hopes the two-day workshops help the children and their parents create memories they'll treasure forever.

"Most of all, I hope the children have a good time," she said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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alpaksoy/iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Houston firefighters came to the rescue of a man who lost consciousness on a cargo ship after apparently succumbing to the gases released from fermenting molasses, authorities said.

The worker was 75 feet deep in the docked ship's cargo hold Thursday when a shipment of molasses in the same compartment started to ferment, the Port of Houston Fire Department told ABC News.

When molasses ferments, yeast will consume the sugar, creating not only an alcoholic byproduct but gases as well. Typically, one of those gases is carbon dioxide.

Authorities said they believe the increased carbon dioxide in the enclosed area could have caused a hazardous environment, leading to his loss of consciousness.

The docked ship was where a man was left unconscious after fermented molasses caused a hazardous environment in a cargo hold.

Rescuers had to enter the compartment's extremely narrow entrance wearing protective suits to rescue the man, according to the Port of Houston Fire Department.

"In this particular case, the cover to the hatch the gentleman was down was probably about the size of a manhole cover,” Capt. Marcus Woodring, Port of Houston chief officer of health, safety, security and emergency management, told ABC Houston station KTRK-TV.

“So very, very tight, and you have to have very specialized gear to get down there.”

The unconscious man was rescued by firefighters and later regained consciousness.

Authorities described the entire procedure as "very sticky."

"It was extremely difficult with the molasses product in there,” Port of Houston Fire Chief William Buck told KTRK. “Very sticky. And crews had to be decontaminated after we removed him. The patient had to be decontaminated."

Some of the equipment used in the rescue may have to be professionally cleaned or even discarded, Buck said.

The food-grade-level molasses most likely started to ferment because it was sitting in or was exposed to freezing temperatures, authorities said.

The victim regained consciousness and was taken to a hospital, the station reported. Authorities did not release his name.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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penkanya/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Thursday that Bed Bath & Beyond has voluntarily recalled about 175,000 UGG comforters due to the risk of mold exposure.

The recalled Hudson comforters by UGG were sold at the retailer between August 2017 and October 2017, both in-store and online. The recall notice says that mold could be present, “posing a risk of respiratory or other infections in individuals with compromised immune systems, damaged lungs or an allergy to mold.

The Hudson comforters by UGG were priced between $70 and $110, and available in twin, full/queen and king bed sizes, according to the notice posted by CPSC. The polyester comforters were sold in garnet, navy, gray and oatmeal.

The recall includes about 175,000 comforters in the U.S. and about an additional 20 in Canada.

Consumers are advised to immediately stop using these comforters and return them to Bed Bath & Beyond for a full refund.

No injuries have been reported.

ABC News has reached out to UGG for comment.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While fewer Americans are smoking cigarettes, according to the newest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly 38 million smoked "every day" or "some days" in 2016.

The data was released by the CDC on Thursday and comes from the National Health Interview Survey. According to the CDC, those figures indicate that among adults who have ever used cigarettes, the percentage that quit has increased from 50.8 percent in 2005 to 59 percent in 2016.

"The good news is that these data are consistent wit declines in adult cigarette smoking that we've seen for several decades," Corinne Graffunder, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health said. "These findings also show that more people are quitting, and those who continue to smoke are smoking less."

Among daily smokers, the CDC says that the average number of cigarettes smoked per day has dropped in the last 11 years -- from 17 cigarettes to 14. In that same timespan, the proportion of smokers who smoked 20 to 29 cigarettes each day decreased, while those who smoked fewer than ten cigarettes per day increased.

The CDC also found notable disparities across population groups. Smoking remains more common among males, those between the ages of 25 and 64, people with less education, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, those who suffer from psychological distress, Americans who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, and those who live in the Midwest or South.

"The bad news is that cigarette smoking is not declining at the same rate among all population groups," said Brian King, deputy director for research translation in CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "Addressing these critical to continue the progress we've made in reducing the overall smoking rate."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For Kiela Daley, a mother of a 7-year-old girl on a competitive gymnastics team in Rhode Island, watching the sentencing of former USA Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar for sexual misconduct has been emotionally charged and difficult to watch.

"It’s incredibly frightening," Daley said about Nassar, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 125 women and girls in civil lawsuits. “It was such a wake-up call because you do put so much trust in these people.”

Women have appeared in court this week sharing powerful impact statements, and Olympic stars including two-time team captain Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas have publicly coming forward to report abuse by Nassar.

After Biles said she too was a victim of Nassar's earlier this week, USA Gymnastics released a statement. “We are our athletes’ advocates,” the statement said. “USA Gymnastics will continue to listen to our athletes and our members in our efforts of creating a culture of empowerment with a relentless focus on athlete safety every single day."

Because of Nassar’s case, Daley knows it means she’ll no longer be able to shield her daughter and must start to have an important conversation about sexual assault.

“I want it to be a dialogue that we have,” said Daley. “You have to have really hard conversations that you don’t expect to have with a 5- or 6-year-old.”

Cherie Benjoseph, the co-founder and executive advisor of KidSafe, an organization Raisman partnered with to help families prevent childhood sexual abuse, said the first step to keeping kids safe is starting the conversation.

“The philosophy that we have at KidSafe is that just like you teach a child any other type of safety, like swim safety or kitchen safety,” Benjoseph said. “We need to start young to teach them personal safety.”

Preventative education is critical

Parents should teach kids how to identify things that make them uncomfortable by asking questions that help them to listen to their bodies.

Questions like “How do you know when somebody asks you to do something that feels uncomfortable?” or “Who would you tell if something happened that makes you uncomfortable?” can be a great way for kids to practice, said Jenny Coleman, the director of Stop It Now!, another organization dedicated to preventative education.

Benjoseph suggested parents work with children to build a “circle of safe adults” who their child feels they can talk to. Children should know they can tell multiple adults in the circle anything until someone listens.

Children should also know that presents from adults and uncomfortable touches should never be kept a secret. Benjoseph said kids should be able to say, “I don’t have to keep this a secret. Even if someone tells me to keep it a secret, I don’t have to keep it. That’s just the type of secret I was told not to keep.”

Talking to tweens and teens

As kids age, it’s important to continue conversations that keep communication open, experts say.

Tweens and teens also need a circle of safe adults and access to information about their bodies and about sex and sexuality.

“We want to answer questions as they come up,” Coleman said. “Saying, ‘We just want you to know we’re here for you to ask questions’ opens up the space for healthy conversation.”

Spotting warning signs and responding to possible abuse

As a parent, educating yourself is just as important as educating your child, Benjoseph said. While each case is unique, there are warning signs of abuse to look for.

Young children may have trouble sleeping, become suddenly afraid of certain people or places, lose interest in school or change their personal hygiene habits, Benjoseph said.

Older kids and young adults may show similar signs, but other responses, like turning to drugs or alcohol, an increase in sexual promiscuity, or self-harming, are also known to occur.

When it comes to a possible abuser, experts say to trust your gut. Benjoseph said more often than not abuse is coming from a person the child knows and often trusts.

And if you’re unsure, just ask. Benjoseph recommends asking things like, “Has anyone touched you and it made you uncomfortable?”

“If the answer is no, the answer is no,” she said. “But if the answer is yes, you need to report it to the authorities even if it’s a trusted adult in your community or your family. You need to do what is right.”

Keep up a dialogue

Daley is headed to her daughter’s national gymnastics meet this weekend. Her daughter is excited.

“She’s 7,” Daley said. “She thinks she’s going to the Olympics.”

And while conversations about abuse are not easy, Daley knows they extend far beyond gymnastics.

“It makes me sad it is pigeonholed to this sport. It could be a teacher or a friend,” Daley said. “So I want it to be a dialogue that we continue to have.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed -- More than a dozen Chicago elementary school students were hospitalized on Wednesday after consuming candy that may have been laced with an unknown substance, police said.

The Chicago Police Department said 14 students in the city’s Humboldt Park area were transported to local hospitals as a precaution after eating the candy on Wednesday morning.

It did not disclose any information on the student’s identities or ages.

The Chicago Public School system confirmed that the children may have ingested an unknown substance in a statement.

"School officials contacted 911 in response to concerns that a group of students may have ingested an unknown substance earlier this morning,” a spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools told ABC News. “Emergency services providers responded promptly, and a review of the situation is underway."

The school system did not say which schools were affected, but a student at the James Russell Lowell Elementary School, located on the city's west side, told ABC affiliate WLS that a classmate had handed out gummies and chocolates on Tuesday and Wednesday before students reported feeling sick.

"I felt dizzy and tired," the 13-year-old student to WLS on Wednesday after he was released from the hospital.

The police department said it was unaware of the student’s conditions and it was not clear if they had been released yet.

Both the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Police Department said their investigations were ongoing.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Fouque Michaël/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A deadly flu epidemic sweeping the nation has triggered one Texas school district to cancel classes for the week and one California hospital has set up a triage tent outside an emergency room to handle flu patients.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a particular strain of influenza A, H3N2, as the culprit affecting thousands from coast to coast.

"I think this is the first time we've had 49 of 50 states reporting widespread activity at the same time, at least in the last 13 years," Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with with the CDC's influenza division, told ABC News on Wednesday. Hawaii is the only state where the flu is not widespread.

Brammer said this flu season is on par with the 2014-2015 season, when more than 700,000 people were hospitalized with the flu and nearly 130 died.

California has been the hardest hit state with at least 42 people under the age of 65 dying from flu-related symptoms, according the the state's Public Health Department. At least 3,269 people in the state have tested positive for the flu, the agency reported.

Even otherwise healthy people, across age groups, have succumbed to this year's flu.

Katie Oxley Thomas, a 40-year-old mother of three and a marathon runner from San Jose, California, died 15 hours after being admitted to an emergency room with influenza, her family told ABC station KGO in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"I know that she could hear us and we're saying, 'Katie you can fight this, you can beat it,'" said Thomas' stepmother, Adrienne Oxley.

She said the family had a hard time accepting that she died from the illness.

"We just didn't believe it," Oxley said. "We were in total shock. It's still hard to believe."

Nico Mallozzi, 10, of New Canaan, Connecticut, died Sunday after his family took him to a hospital to be treated for flu symptoms while he was at a hockey tournament in Buffalo, New York.

"Nico was a very lively, vibrant, spirited kid," Bryan Luizzi, superintendent of the New Canaan Public School District, told ABC News.

At Loma Linda Medical Center in San Bernardino Count, California, the medical staff has erected a triage tent outside the emergency room to handle the influx of flu patients.

"This seems to be the worst flu season we've had here in the last 10 to 15 years," Dr. Adrian Cotton, chief of medical operations at the Southern California hospital, told ABC's Good Morning America. "We're seeing a lot more patients for the flu and the patients we're seeing are a lot sicker than usual."

In Texas, the influenza outbreak is so severe that the Bonham Independent School District, which has about 2,000 students, canceled classes through Tuesday.

"As the number of confirmed cases of influenza grows, it is important to increase health and safety protocols for each campus, including disinfection of all buses and spaces," the school district wrote in a letter to parents. "Local health officials have recommended a full seven days to stop the cycle of spreading influenza."

The flu epidemic is also taking a toll on the nation's blood supply.

Jodi Sheedy, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross blood services, told ABC News that nearly 500 blood drives have been canceled in the past week, due to bad weather and the flu outbreak. The Red Cross supplies about 40 percent of the blood used in hospitals across the nation.

"If you're not feeling well, you should not be giving blood," Sheedy said.

"Right now we're doing everything we can to make sure hospitals have enough blood on their shelves," she added. "We haven't had any indication that surgeries have been postponed."

She encourage healthy people, especially those who have gotten flu shots, to donate blood, and particularly platelets.

"We're asking people to go out and donate blood as soon as possible," Sheedy said. "All blood types are needed."

Brammer said it's not too late for people to get flu shots and the CDC continues to recommend them.

"The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated, even if we are at the peak of flu season," she said. "There's still weeks to go."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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gpointstudio/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Iced, hot, sweetened or with milk, it seems like there's plenty of options for tea drinkers already. But one trendy addition to the menu is stirring things up.

Cheese tea is the latest beverage trend overflowing on social media news feeds. The drink, which originated in Taiwan and spread throughout Asia, has become the latest popular beverage at bubble tea shops.

While cheese and tea may not sound like an obvious pairing, people on social media are hailing the concoction and drinking it up, sharing their experiences with #CheeseTea.

Jenny Zheng, owner of Little Fluffy Head Cafe in Los Angeles, told ABC News she first heard of the drink and tasted it while living in China in 2016. She decided to bring the concept back with her to California.

"At first it was surprising. But when I tried it, it was refreshingly good and well-balanced with the tea flavor," Zheng said. "I wanted to have my own tea shop in the states and not many people here knew about cheese tea, so it was a very new concept."

Zheng said many shops throughout the U.S. have created their own versions of the drink with a smooth and creamy whipped cheese topping.

"The concept of cheese tea started in Taiwan and then they played around with making it a creamy texture using a cheese powder," she explained. "When I got the recipe it was pretty popular to make it with real cream cheese to make the creamy flavor."

The drink starts with any variety of tea from matcha to herbal and is topped with a whipped cheese foam, which has a similar flavor profile to a cannoli filling.

"We put milk, whipping cream, pink salt and sugar, which makes it more subtle and can be paired with any kind of tea," Zheng said.

Zheng said it is "an aquired taste, but the more you try it the more you get used to the taste. People do like it a lot."

One Instagram user's "pro tip" for people who want to try the drink for the first time: "Don't drink it with a straw."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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WPLG(MIAMI) -- A kind Miami Police Department officer helped a homeless man get a new wheelchair.

Officer Anna Lazcano had regularly checked on Rafael Alvarez and noticed his previous wheelchair was broken and hard to use.

"I went and got him the one he's sitting on right now," Lazcano told ABC Miami affiliate WPLG-TV.

Alvarez emigrated from Cuba in 1980 and worked as a roofer until quitting for health reasons, including a leg amputation from diabetes, the station reported.

He and his wife became homeless when Medicare didn't cover all of their bills and his landlord evicted them, Alvarez told WPLG.

Officer Lazcano said, "Regardless of where they are from, where they ended up and what they're doing with their life, it's just helping the community. It is what we're all about."


Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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WABC(NEW YORK) -- Two NYPD officers helped deliver a baby on the West Side of Manhattan Tuesday morning.

Officers Tiffany Phillips and Carlos Guadalupe, both 12-year veterans, assisted after they were flagged down by a man who was driving near 41st Street and 10th Avenue.

Cellphone video captured the officers in action, and Phillips delivered the baby boy inside the car.

"They are very grateful for us being there at that spot, at that time," Phillips told ABC New York station WABC-TV.

Phillips and Guadalupe had just started their day when a man jumped out of the car and said his wife was going into labor. The couple's 18-month old daughter also was in the backseat.

"He was very frantic and scared," Phillips said.

The couple, who live in Jersey City, had been rushing to Lenox Hill Hospital. Phillips called for an ambulance and leaned into the car, but by then the baby was crowning.

Guadalupe ran into a hotel to get towels. When he came back Phillips was holding the little boy, who wasn't breathing.

"I began to pat his back and to massage him," she said. "Once I did that I heard him begin to cry. His eyes were blinking and he was breathing. That was a great sound!"

The mother and newborn were taken to Bellevue Hospital and were said to be doing fine.

"I got to thank my partner -- A-plus-plus," Guadalupe said. "She held it down and she did her job. She held her composure. She was fantastic."
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An 85-year-old New Hampshire man may have accidentally been exposed to HIV after a hospital mistakenly injected him with an insulin pen previously used on an HIV-positive patient.

Eugene Devoyd, 85, was at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center due to a medical emergency relating to his diabetes, among other ailments, when he was inadvertently injected with an insulin pen previously used on a patient with HIV, according to medical records from the hospital, which were shared with New Hampshire ABC-affiliate WMUR-TV.

The nurse removed the needle from the pen, and used a new needle to inject Devoyd, according to the documents. The doctor informed the family of the mistake, and put Devoyd on antiviral medication later that day in an attempt to prevent an HIV infection.

"The same insulin pen that was used on an HIV-positive patient was used to inject Eugene, but with a different needle," the document says.

Devoyd's son, Chris Devoyd, told WMUR that he unintentionally pricked himself with a needle after checking his father’s blood sugar. He is now concerned for his own well-being, as well as his father's.

"I haven't heard anything from the hospital since he got out," Chris Devoyd told WMUR. "I thought maybe they would say sorry or maybe call and see how he was doing, but nothing. Not one thing."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Brenda Lee(DALLAS) -- Sweet video captured the first time a young boy heard live music.

According to his parents, Brenda and Cody Lee, Jace Lee, 4, lost his hearing as a toddler and was classified as having severe to profound deafness by doctors. It's unclear what has caused his deafness, according to medical records provided to ABC News by doctors treating Jace.

He previously wore hearing aids in both ears, but a cochlear implant surgery in September in his left ear, where he suffers from auditory neuropathy, opened up all kinds of possibilities for him. He still wears an aid on his right ear.

On Jan. 9, he was attending his first Dallas Mavericks NBA game when he heard the beating of drums.

"We were walking out of the suite and he was just like, 'Oh, what's that?'" Cody Lee said.

"He tapped his processor and signed, 'Where's the sound?'" Brenda Lee said.

The family followed Jace as he made his way down the hallway to find the source of the heart-stirring percussion played by the Mavericks' drumline. It was the very first time that Jace heard live music.

Excited by the scene and the new sounds bouncing through his implant, Jace started dancing, which was captured on video.

"It's just really great to see something that normally everybody else gets to experience with their kids," Brenda Lee said.

Jace's implant will be gradually turned up over the course of this year so he can adjust to the new sounds around him.

And, the Mavericks have invited him to a game next week, so he can continue communicating with the universal language of music.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Tide / Procter & Gamble(NEW YORK) -- Spring cleaning may be several months away, but laundry detergent is making big headlines this week as a dangerous stunt called the “Tide Pod Challenge” is going viral on YouTube and other social media platforms.

The challenge is for participants –- primarily teens and young adults, in the videos making the rounds –- to put the pods into their mouths, sometimes even chew them, and then post videos of what happens. Some of these individuals experience foaming at the mouth and severe coughing spells after consuming a pod.

It’s more than just a strange behavior, it's potentially deadly. Here are some facts about the craze to help friends and family protect teens from the hazardous experiment.

What are Tide pods?

Tide pods, the brand's version of the popular laundry detergent pods, are small packets of detergent designed to dissolve while washing clothes. Each pod contains pre-measured, concentrated detergent levels.

The outside wrapping of a tide pod is made of polyvinylalcohol (PVA), a water soluble plastic compound. For the same reason that this packet dissolves in the machine washing laundry, it can also dissolve in a person's mouth -- leading to the immediate release and absorption of the contents.

Why are detergent pods dangerous?

Tide pods are not meant for human consumption –- and for good reason. They contain dangerous chemicals that, if ingested, can lead to life threatening breathing problems, damage to the esophagus from the corrosive ingredients, burns, blood pressure changes, gastrointestinal problems and neurological symptoms, including loss of consciousness.

What ingredients in laundry detergent are dangerous?

Laundry detergent pods contain numerous chemicals that are potentially harmful if they are swallowed or otherwise ingested. Chief among these concerns is a chemical known as 1,4 Dioxane. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to this compound can cause eye and nose irritation, kidney problems and possible long-term lung damage. These effects are unlikely to occur if the product is used appropriately.

How many people have died because of this stunt?

The exact number of deaths related to the Tide pod challenge is difficult to estimate. But a growing number of injuries have been linked to ingestion of these products, for any reason, as they have grown in popularity. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 10,570 cases of detergent exposure reported to poison centers in 2017, for children 5 and younger.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported eight deaths related to laundry detergent pod ingestion since these products hit the market in 2012, through mid-2017.

Anyone who suspects someone they know has ingested chemicals from a detergent pod should call the poison control center hotline at 1-800-222-1222 and take the exposed person to the emergency room immediately.

This article was written by Sarang Koushik M.D. for ABC News.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.





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