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Jessy Nahmias(NEW YORK) -- Brandon Nahmias died when he was just 2 years old, but his life continues to have meaning, his mom Jessy Nahmias says.

She sold empanadas for years at food markets, and next to her empanadas, a simple tip jar stood with a picture of Brandon.

Brandon was born with Down syndrome and a heart condition that could not be corrected completely, despite surgery. Shortly after he turned 2, Brandon caught a virus.

"His heart couldn't take it," the New York woman said.

After his death, his mom said she "went numb for about two years. I didn't want to live."

But Jessy has two other children, and life had to go on. She wanted some way to honor Brandon.

"People would leave tips but I didn't feel right about that," Jessy said of her empanada stand. "So I put out the tip jar instead to try and raise money for other kids with Down syndrome."

She collected thousands of dollars and donated it all to Gigi's Playhouse NYC, a Down syndrome achievement center. "Brandon's Tip Jar," as it has come to be known, has improved the lives of many other children, said Benny Kaufman, program director at Gigi's Playhouse NYC.

The tips, Kaufman said, "support free academic and recreational programs for other individuals with Down syndrome so that they can explore and define their potential. It's helped kids like Brandon learn to read and make life-long friends, it's helped parents receive the support they need, and it's helped create welcoming communities and change New York's perception of Down syndrome."

The organization was so inspired by the enormous effect of Jessy's simple jar that they created an online “virtual tip jar" in Brandon's memory.

And Brandon's short life continues to make a difference. Nahmias just opened her own shop, called Jessy's Pastries, in Oceanside, New York.

She plans to hire people with Down syndrome to work there.

"That was my goal all along, to have a storefront and continue to help people with Down syndrome," Nahmias said. "Brandon came here to show us all what we're supposed to do."

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A former Biggest Loser winner said he felt "shameful" for regaining weight until a new study shed light on the difficulties of long-term weight loss.

Danny Cahill, a contestant on season eight of the weight-loss reality show The Biggest Loser, weighed 191 pounds at the conclusion of the show, dropping more than 200 pounds in 30 weeks.

After Cahill returned home and resumed his life, the weight started to creep back on. A study published Monday in the medical journal Obesity Biology and Integrated Physiology followed 14 Biggest Loser contestants after their remarkable weight loss and found that all but one had regained weight after the show ended. Nearly all of them had slower metabolisms than before their appearances on the show.

Cahill said he gained back 100 pounds and now has to work out three to four times as much as he did before he joined the show.

"I did feel like a million bucks for a couple years I kept the weight off completely. I wondered why others were gaining it back. I was working out two hours a day and riding my bike all over town to go where I was going," Cahill told ABC News. "Once that stopped, the weight started creeping back on."

The producers of the show responded to the study in a statement given to ABC News.

"We have comprehensive procedures and support systems in place which we routinely re-evaluate to ensure all contestants receive the best care possible. The lead medical doctor on the show, who has worked with the National Institutes of Health on initiatives in the past relating to The Biggest Loser, has been made aware of this most recent study and is in the process of evaluating its findings," the statement read.

The study found that among those who lost an extreme amount of weight, their metabolism slowed greatly and they had less of a hormone called Leptin, which regulates hunger. The contestants now have to work harder to keep the weight off than someone of the same size.

Cahill admitted that his weight gain has taken a toll mentally.

"When you gain weight back, even when you’re in school it’s shameful," said Cahill. "When you’re in front of America, then it’s 10 times as shameful."

"When we found this out we were like, 'Okay, some of it is not our fault.' It is our responsibility but some of it has to do with this science," he said, adding, "I’m going to do what David did when he tackled Goliath. I know there’s a bigger God out there that wants me to be well and I am going to do everything I can but I can’t do it all."

Dr. Holly Lofton, assistant professor of medicine and the director of medical weight management program at NYU Langone Medical Center, told ABC News that she often prescribes Food and Drug Administration-approved weight-loss medications to patients after losing weight so they can control their hunger.

"Hunger is not a sign of poor willpower and it’s not a sign of cheating," Lofton said. "There’s a lot of shame and guilt at the idea that they may not be able to keep the weight off on their own without medications or devices or surgery, because that is what the environment has taught us."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The nation’s top experts on preventive health do not recommend for or against routine testing for celiac disease, unless symptoms suggest it.

Celiac is an autoimmune disease in which the body reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat. This disease affects approximately 0.40 percent to 0.95 percent of adults in the U.S., and the symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and malnutrition.

Although blood tests exist to screen for celiac disease, proper diagnosis relies upon biopsy -- an invasive procedure.

The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) concluded that there wasn't enough evidence to recommend for or against routine screening for people without symptoms.

For those with no symptoms, there is little evidence on the short- and long-term impact of a gluten-free diet for those with or without the disease.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- People who suffer from chronic insomnia may be able to find relief without the help of drugs.

New guidelines published by the American College of Physicians (ACP) advise physicians to use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the first-line treatment for patients with insomnia. CBT is a combination of therapy, behavioral interventions and patient education, and it can be done in person (individually or in groups), via telephone- or Internet-based modules, or through books.  

In trials, CBT significantly improved several aspects of insomnia in all ages. Some medications improved insomnia symptoms at least a small amount, but others did not show significant benefits, and some drug therapies were associated with adverse effects.

In addition to recommending CBT for insomnia, the new guidelines advise clinicians to discuss the possible benefits and harms of drug therapy with patients if they need to prescribe it to those who did not improve with CBT alone.

While there was not enough evidence to say which approach was most effective, CBT is less likely to cause harm, so the ACP felt that it provides better overall value than drug therapy.

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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Many studies lead people to believe that a glass of wine at dinner could lead to better overall health and even a longer life. But not so fast -- this topic is really controversial.

Most reputable peer review studies do in fact show what we call a "J-shaped" curve with respect to alcohol intake. This means that most people who don't drink at all and people who drink a lot have higher death rates than those who drink moderately.

On the positive side, alcohol -- especially red wine -- can be good for a Mediterranean lifestyle.

On the negative side, however, alcohol is known to be associated with an increased risk of numerous cancers and it is packed with calories.

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iStock/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) — In a study just published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine have discovered that pregnant women who get the flu vaccine significantly reduce the risk for their baby to get the illness.

According to the scientists, infants 6 months and younger whose mothers were vaccinated when pregnant had a 70 percent reduction in confirmed flu cases and an 80 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations compared with babies whose moms skipped the shot.

What's more, the study showed that 97 percent of laboratory-confirmed flu cases occurred in infants whose mothers' weren't immunized.

"Babies cannot be immunized during their first six months, so they must rely on others for protection from the flu during that time," according to Julie H. Shakib, D.O., M.S., M.P.H., the University of Utah's assistant professor of pediatrics. "When pregnant women get the flu vaccine there are clear benefits for their infants."

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Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Weight loss remains a big priority for millions of Americans but permanently dropping pounds has proved difficult in spite of a huge weight-loss industry. A new study now shows how dropping large amounts of weight can still lead to long-term issues for patients as their metabolism may slow dramatically.

The study, published Monday in the medical journal Obesity Biology and Integrated Physiology, followed 14 contestants of the The Biggest Loser TV show six years after they competed.

All except one of 14 contestants had slowed metabolic rates after losing weight, the study found. The researchers followed the contestants six years after their time on the show and found that all except one regained significant amounts of weight.

Out of the 14 contestants, 13 regained weight within 6 years and four are even heavier than they were before the competition began. Only one contestant, Erinn Egbert, sustained weight loss despite having a slower metabolism. She burned 552 less calories than what would be expected for another woman her size, the study found. There was only one contestant, Rudy Pauls, who had an improved metabolism but he underwent weight-loss surgery after the show to reduce the size of his stomach.

While the authors said further research is needed, the study points out how difficult it can be to achieve long-term weight loss.

"Long-term weight loss requires vigilant combat against persistent metabolic adaptation that acts to proportionally counter ongoing efforts to reduce body weight," the authors concluded.

Producers of The Biggest Loser told ABC News they are evaluating the study findings.

"We have comprehensive procedures and support systems in place which we routinely re-evaluate to ensure all contestants receive the best care possible," the producers said in a statement. "The lead medical doctor on the show, who has worked with the National Institutes of Health on initiatives in the past relating to The Biggest Loser, has been made aware of this most recent study and is in the process of evaluating its findings."

Experts said the study could be important by showing those struggling with losing weight how much of weight loss is physiological and not just a matter of "willpower."

Dr. Holly Lofton, assistant professor of medicine and the director of medical weight management program at NYU Langone Medical Center, said the study will also help draw attention to the guilt of weight gain. She said her patients often feel a sense of shame if they start to regain the weight or use weight-loss aids.

"Hunger is not a sign of poor willpower and it’s not a sign of you be cheating," Lofton told ABC News. "There’s a lot of shame and guilt at the idea that they may not be able to keep the weight off on their own without medications or devices or surgery, because that is what the environment has taught us."

Lofton said she has always told her patients they will not be able to eat as much as a person of the same weight who was not formerly obese, and that she's gratified that the study has underlined her past recommendations.

"We tell the patient you’re not going to be able to eat normally," she said. "It does surprise a lot of people, 'I have to eat that little!'"

Lofton said she thought the study can help people understand more about the difficulty of losing weight.

"I don’t think it’s good news for a person trying to lose weight but it does bring to light that those who can’t maintain weight loss ... there’s a reason," Lofton said.

Dr. Bartolome Burguera, an endocrinologist and director of Obesity Programs at Cleveland Clinic, said the study wasn't surprising but that it was important to highlight how difficult weight loss can be in the long term.

"When you try to lose weight with a very significant effort in general you cannot keep that level of change in your lifestyle," Burguera told ABC News. "Your brain wants you get back to what you did before."

Burguera pointed out that while doctors view obesity as a chronic disease, many patients feel shame for not overcoming their weight gain on their own.

"Losing weight you have to go slowly and you have to make sure you improve your nutrition and become more physically active," Burguera said. "You should not feel guilt if you gain weight. It’s like feeling guilt if you have diabetes or have cancer," or any other chronic disease.


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FDA(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched a $35.7 million anti-tobacco campaign Monday focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young adults.

The new campaign, “This Free Life,” includes four videos that aim to prevent and reduce smoking among LGBT 18- to 24-year-olds, who are about twice as likely to use tobacco as other people their age, according to Kathy Crosby, director of the Office of Health Communication and Education in the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.

“This is the biggest LGBT health initiative that’s ever existed," said Doctor Scout, director of LGBT HealthLink, who was consulted by the FDA in making the ads. A lot of tobacco control has not focused on LGBT people, "despite our huge smoking rate," he said.

Paid for using funds collected from the tobacco industry, the videos prominently feature coming-out stories, famous drag queens, and chance romantic encounters at parties. Instead of focusing solely on the health impacts of smoking, the videos highlight how smoking may affect how one looks and smells.

“It’s a rather sophisticated combination,” said Dr. Robert Jackler, principal investigator of the group known as Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising. “It's really about the eyes meeting across the bar floor, and will tobacco use tip the scale away from [a new relationship]?”

LGBT people are thought to smoke more often than their peers because of increased stress and the sense of community many find in bars and clubs, where smoking ads and promotions are common, according to Scout.

Tobacco companies have long targeted LGBT communities. Most famously, in documents that were made public in the 1990s as the result of anti-tobacco litigation, tobacco company R.J. Reynolds was found to have targeted one of their campaigns, “Project SCUM,” at gay men and homeless people. SCUM stood for “Subculture Urban Marketing.”

What Jackler said he finds particularly interesting, however, is how “This Free Life” uses tobacco companies’ own advertising language against them.

“Freedom-based advertising is huge in the tobacco world,” he said, referring in particular to new electronic cigarette ads, which claim to give users the freedom to smoke wherever they please and without health repercussions.

Using the slogan, “Freedom to be, tobacco-free,” the FDA’s campaign appeals to ideas of freedom and individuality that are “very resonant” with the LGBT community, according to Jackler. At the same time, he warns they may have missed the mark in a campaign that he saw largely as one focused on prevention, not quitting.

According to Crosby, the campaign decided to focus on the 18-to-24 demographic primarily because the average age of coming out is around 18 years old.

“By the age of 18, most people who start smoking already have,” Jackler said. “They do so as an act of adolescent rebellion, they get hooked on the nicotine, and they have a lifetime of tobacco use because it’s so addictive.”

The FDA has aimed separate tobacco prevention campaigns at youths under 18, such as “The Real Cost,” which premiered in February 2014.

“This Free Life” launches online Monday in 12 markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. According to Crosby, these cities were selected based on LGBT population, prevalence of tobacco use, and availability and cost-effectiveness of LGBT-targeted media. In late May, the campaign will begin to target LGBT events, such as Pride and club events.

The FDA will continue to evaluate how the ads increase awareness and change viewers' attitudes and beliefs about tobacco use. They may consider developing new messages based on real-time feedback, Crosby said.

The FDA spent roughly two years putting together this campaign with Rescue, a behavior change marketing company, after receiving the authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009.

“It’s been coming to a boil for a long time,” Scout said.

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Digital Vision/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Are first class cabins on airplanes causing "air rage?"

Air travel seems to become more grueling every year, with delayed flights and cramped seating. One study finds that there might be another factor for your frustration in flight: a first-class cabin.

Researchers from the University of Toronto examined how having a first-class cabin on board and having passengers walk through that cabin was associated with an increase of "air rage" incidents, where passengers become unruly or abusive. The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences medical journal.

Researchers examined more than 1,500 flights and found that having to walk through a first-class cabin meant a flight was 11 times more likely to have an “air rage” incident. By looking at other models on how delayed flights impacted behavior on board, they found that merely having a first-class cabin on board meant the odds of having an “air rage” incident was the same as if the flight had been delayed for nine and half hours.

Lead author Katherine DeCelles, associate professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto, said the researchers theorize that it’s the repeated mentions of first-class cabin in coach that can make passengers more frustrated.

“When they close the curtains between the cabins or they remind economy passengers to not go into forward cabin” or bathroom, DeCelles told ABC News, “it reminds people that they’ve paid hundreds of dollars for this experience,” and are still denied amenities.

DeCelles said she remembered her own frustrating experience flying coach on a plane when the first-class cabin got freshly baked cookies.

“They were baking cookies in the first class cabin and it’s like they will never have that in economy,” Decelle said.

E. Scott Geller, professor of psychology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said the frustrations of air travel have increased in recent decades and that there are common sense solutions to diminish frustration.

Geller, who was not involved in this study, said a "simple fix" would be to allow passengers to board in the middle of the plane so they don’t walk past first class and allowing faster boarding by having people in the back of the plane board first to relieve frustration.

Economy-class passengers can feel frustration when an airline makes them wait as first-class passengers boarded and got a free drink.

For passengers stuck in coach and facing their own feelings of “air rage,” simply talking to others may help diminish these feelings, he said.

“You can say, ‘Oh, that jerk,’ or you can say ‘I don’t know them,’” Geller said. He pointed out stewing because someone takes over an arm rest won’t help you enjoy your flight. Instead, simply ask them politely if they can move or compromise, he suggested.

“People are nice if you allow them to be nice,” Geller said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you reduce your calorie intake, does it make you more irritable or more upbeat?

Past research has suggested a link between calorie restriction and a lower risk of chronic disease – even in those who are not obese. But some people worry that eating less may lead to negative side effects like irritability.

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that these fears may be unfounded – and reducing your calories may actually make you more upbeat.

Researchers took 218 adults who were mainly white women with body mass indices of 22-28 (that’s normal weight to overweight) and randomly assigned them to either eat normally or to reduce their calories by 25 percent for two years. They used questionnaires to measure the subjects’ mood, quality of life, sleep and sexual function during this time period.

The people who underwent calorie restriction not only lost 16.7 pounds (compared to 0.88 pounds in the control group), but they also had significantly improved mood, reduced tension, improved general health and sexual drive, and better sleep quality.

Since calorie restriction had some positive effects and no negative health effects, the researchers suggest that this amount of calorie restriction is likely to provide some improvement even for healthy adults.

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iStock/Thinkstock(OKEECHOBEE, Fla.) -- A Florida woman who was blind for 21 years because of a car accident has mysteriously regained her sight.

Mary Ann Franco, a great-grandmother of two, needed spinal surgery recently after she injured her neck from a fall at home. When she woke up in the hospital, she said to the nurse, according to ABC News affiliate WPBF-TV:

“Lady, you with all that purple on you, give me something for pain."

She said her niece asked her, “What did you say, Mary?’”

And that’s when she realized she could see again... in color. Before her car accident, Franco said she was color-blind, but isn't anymore.

“Out the window, I could see the trees,” she told WPBF-TV. “I could see the houses and stuff.”

Her neurosurgeon, Dr. John Afshar, believes the car accident may have kinked an artery in her spine, restricting blood flow to the part of her brain that controls vision. He told WPBF-TV he may have unwittingly unkinked the artery when he performed her spinal surgery.

“It really is truly a miracle,” Dr. Afshar said to WPBF-TV. “I’ve never seen it, never heard of it.”

Franco called it an act of God.

“I believe he just went ahead and give it to me, he give me back my sight,” Franco said to WPBF-TV. “I really believe this with all my heart.”


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City has gone to the dogs -- literally.

Inside Terminal Four is a 70-square-foot pet bathroom, complete with green turf and a red fire hydrant. The room is marked with a paw print so travelers won't get confused with other airport bathrooms. The specially-designed room for Fido also comes with dog waste bags and a hose to clean the area.

Soon, many more airports will follow suit. In the meantime, check out these airports which already have pet comfort and owner convenience in mind:

Washington Dulles International Airport

At this Washington, D.C.-area airport, service animals or pets can use several areas before security checkpoints and after. Pet relief areas are marked for convenience and contain doggie waste bags and baskets.

Chicago O'Hare International Airport

This airport's two-by-four-foot indoor pet relief area opened in 2015 and, like JFK, comes complete with green artificial turf, mini fire hydrants, doggie waste bags and a hose. It also has a sprinkler system to help drain liquid waste. The room is also wheelchair accessible.

Seattle-Tacoma International

This airport has several indoor and outdoor pet relief areas. Inside, there are five places dogs can relieve themselves: outside of Concourse B, two areas near the Main Terminal and two more near Baggage Claim.

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iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Playgrounds aren't always fun and games according to a new study. Researchers found that children are increasingly being diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after a run-in with playground equipment.

Researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control looked at injury rates for kids under 14 from 2005 to 2013 and determined that there was a significant increase in children going to the emergency room for traumatic brain injuries. Boys accounted for 58.6 percent of the TBIs identified while 50.6 percent of children between the ages of five and nine had injuries, according to a study published Monday in the Pediatrics medical journal.

Most playground-related TBIs were associated with monkey bars and swings, according to researchers.

The authors theorize that the rise in injuries can be attributable to two reasons: increased playground time for kids and increased awareness among parents and doctors about the dangers of head injuries.

"It is also plausible that heightened public awareness of TBI and concussions has prompted parents to seek medical care for their children in the event of a head injury, when previously they would not have done so," the authors wrote.

The authors stress that most children do not have long-lasting injuries, with the overwhelming majority of these pediatric patients, 95.6 percent, were treated and released from the hospital without further care.

The authors did, however, suggest steps that could help lower TBI rates.

"Improvements in playground environmental safety that also address design, surfacing, and maintenance can help accomplish this," the study authors said.

Dr. Oscar Guillamondegui, director of the Vanderbilt Multidisciplinary Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the study wasn't particularly surprising but it could be useful for health officials.

"It brings up some really important points…kids are still getting hurt," said Guillamondegui. "We have no baseline to determine what the rate of dramatic brain injury is…[this] gives us a number to focus on."

Guillamondegui said the increased rate of traumatic brain injury may just be the start of understanding the long-term impacts of these injuries, which can put people at increased risk for anxiety, depression and various cognitive disorders years later.

"Most people are still not attuned to the fact that something major could have occurred, they shake it off and don’t go to ER…those are the unseen trauma," he said.

Dr. Jerri Rose, a pediatric emergency room physician at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said concerned caregivers should take children to the emergency room if they had a head injury. The warning signs of a serious head injury include persistent vomiting, lethargy, change of behavior or loss of consciousness.

"Many of those children turn out to be ultimately fine, it would be best to consult with physician," said Rose.

"I think it’s an important study that the numbers are increasing, I’d still applaud kids for being healthy and active," she added. Children should play "on safe equipment" as "they’re being supervised."

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Huntstock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Can all pathologists determine breast biopsy specimens accurately? A new study has raised concerns, particularly when the slides are neither clearly benign nor clearly cancerous.

If you're getting biopsy results, here's what you need to know:

  • First of all, what radiologists and pathologists do is both an art and a skill. This is not cookie cutter medicine so there can be instances of different interpretations.
  • If possible, when a diagnosis of cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is given, try to get a second opinion.
  • And remember: While cases like this may feel like an emergency, medically, you have time to get another pair of expert eyes on your biopsy slides.

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iStock/Thinkstock(FITCHBURG, Mass.) -- A dangerous batch of heroin caused 10 overdoses in Fitchburg, Massachusetts on Friday and Saturday, leading to three deaths.

According to Fitchburg Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Dateo, it was a particularly strong batch of the drug.

"It hasn't been this bad," he told ABC News. "Ten in 36 hours is pretty unusual."

ABC News affiliate WCVB-TV said the Worcester County District Attorney's Office had sent around a press release to warn Fitchburg residents about the heroin being used in the city.

Fitchburg resident Angie Gonyea, who lost her son-- a father of two-- this year to an overdose, said she knew the pain several families were feeling.

"I don't want any parent to go through what I'm going through or anyone," she said. "The pain is so bad. When they say that your heart literally breaks, it breaks, I mean you feel it. It's horrible."

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