Ten sets of twins take massive holiday photo on Santa Claus' lap

Stacy Kifer(CHICAGO) -- Ten sets of twins crowded onto Santa Claus' lap earlier this week, proving that Jolly Old St. Nick can truly multitask.

The mothers, all from the Chicago, Illinois area, are part of a group called the "Chicago Twin Moms," and meeting Santa was last Monday's play date for the twins, who are all under the age of 2.

Stacy Kifer, a co-founder of the group, instructed the moms to all dress their twins in red and green.

"All of us are really obsessed with dressing our children alike. That’s like a big thing," Deborah Knoll, one of the moms who created the group, told ABC News. She's mom to 18-month-old daughters, Grace and Meadow.

The twins and their moms -- Kifer, Knoll, Becky Raz, Jessica Ferguson, Terri Preston, Michelle Schroeder, Maureeca Lambert-Stefanski, Shannon Teresi, Olga Pakhnyuk, and Katie Leep -- descended on Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois on Monday ready for Santa.

"We had a good turn out," Kifer, who parents 16-month-old sons, Kaleb and Kobe, added. "It was really crazy."

"We got in line early so as soon they opened, the kids got to run around in a real-life snow globe," Raz, who's mom to 16-month-old girls Ava and Gracyn, said.

Kifer added, "We had 20 toddlers running around with fake snow. It was nuts!"

"Santa was kind of surprised as one by one another set of twins came out of the snow globe," Raz continued. "He realized he had his work cut out for him," she added with a laugh.

Knoll, 36, told ABC News, "we try to get a group picture" at every play date. And this time was no different.

Still, the moms quickly realized that the twins wouldn't take a photo with Santa Claus without them posing too.

"Santa and the elves that took the picture were incredibly accommodating," Raz said. "We had very, very low expectations, but all but one baby was looking [at the camera]. We were really impressed and pleased with how it turned out."

The moms, who held their first official play date last Spring, have hosted a variety of monthly play dates at parks, each other's houses and they've even planned a Halloween party in the past, said Kifer.

These Chicago-area moms believe that not only is the group helping their twins, but themselves as well.

"We know that it’s a challenge, but we’re all there for each other to lend a hand even though our hands our full," Raz said.

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Scarlet fever cases at a 50-year high in England

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- In England, scarlet fever hit its highest level in the past half-century.

More than 19,000 cases were reported in 2016, the highest level since 1967, according to The Lancet.

The disease rate had been rising since 2014, but experts are not sure what the reason is. Figures for 2017 show a slight decrease, but experts are saying it may be too soon to tell.  

The highly contagious, bacterial disease can be treated with antibiotics. It most commonly affects children under age 10. Symptoms include a sore throat, headache and fever accompanied by a rosy rash that feels like sandpaper.

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FDA approves first biosimilar for treatment of certain breast, stomach cancers

Bet_Noire/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a first-of-its-kind drug for the treatment of breast or stomach cancer on Friday.

"The FDA continues to grow the number of biosimilar approvals, helping to promote competition that can lower health care costs," Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. A biosimilar is a product, derived from a living organism, that is highly similar to a product already approved by the FDA with no meaningful difference in safety, purity or potency.

The drug, Ogivri, was approved based on its similarity to Herceptin, which was approved by the agency in September 1998.

Side effects of Ogivri are expected to include headache, diarrhea, chills, fever, infection, congestive heart failure, insomnia, cough, rash and low red and/or white blood cell levels.

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Adding extra guacamole could boost online daters' popularity 

rez-art/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For those who love guacamole, it might not hurt to mention it in their dating profiles. One site says the avocado dip could boost a would-be dater's chances of being noticed.

Zoosk, an online dating site, said it recently looked at data from profiles and messages between users to examine the effects of different food-related phrases.

After analyzing more than 3.7 million dating profiles and almost 365 million first messages, the findings showed that guacamole was the most popular food to mention in an online profile.

In fact, Zoosk found there was a 144 percent increase in inbound messages to profile that mentioned the creamy green stuff.

It may cost extra on the side in real life, but it looks like guacamole could pay off when looking for a date online.

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Family, friends lace up sneakers for 100-year-old marathoner's birthday run YORK) -- A Texas man recently celebrated a century of living, surrounded by family and friends.

But before the traditional cutting of the cake and blowing out the candles, 100-year-old Orville Rogers had one, simple request: That they all celebrate the milestone by running with him.

Last Saturday, Rogers led partygoers as they collectively ran 100 miles at White Rock Lake in Dallas. Everyone wore light-blue T-shirts that bore his face on the front.

"I never would've thought I'd live long enough to have 32 people, 34 people [there]," Rogers told ABC affiliate WFAA-TV. "How wonderful it is and how great it is to be alive."

The former World War II veteran was a bomber pilot who later became a commercial pilot. Now a Dallas father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Rogers started running at the age of 50.

He's now a marathon runner who competes in national races and has set 13 world records. Rogers said he has a total of 43,500 miles under his belt.

"I live life with a capital 'L,'" he told WFAA.

He trains every other day and runs three times a week. And on top of all of that, he also wrote a book titled "The Running Man,"

Rogers said he'd experienced no joint or muscle problems, thanks to his lifestyle.

"I eat right -- most of the time," he said. "I have a wonderful and supportive family and lots of wonderful friends."

When the running ended Saturday, Rogers' family and friends, still decked out in those T-shirts, gathered around him to sing "Happy Birthday" and presented him with a cake complete with the number 100 on top.

"I really enjoy life," he said.

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Woman loses nearly 80 pounds by cooking meals at home in an Instant Pot for one year

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A California woman lost 77 pounds in one year after she made a New Year’s resolution to cook all of her family’s meals at home.

"I turned to my husband and said for the first time, 'I'm considering weight loss surgery,'" Brittany Williams, 27, of San Diego, told ABC News. “I didn’t think it was possible to lose all the weight by myself."

"January was like my last-ditch effort," Williams said of the resolution she made on the first day of 2017.

Williams, a mother of three, reached a peak weight of 261 pounds after suffering through several miscarriages in addition to her successful pregnancies.

She was motivated to lose weight when she realized she couldn’t sit on the floor or run and play with her kids, all under the age of 6.

Williams began using an Instant Pot her husband had bought her years before in order to fulfill her New Year’s resolution of cooking at home.

Before her New Year’s resolution, Williams said she would skip breakfast and eat tortilla chips covered in cheese and chili for lunch, a frozen meal for dinner and brownies or cookies for desserts.

The pizza delivery person also knew her by name, she said, because she would order dinner out so frequently for her family.

"Now I start my day off with water and always eat breakfast, usually either a smoothie or a frittata in the Instant Pot," she said. "And lunch we usually do raw veggies -- so a salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar -- and for dinner I’ll do something again in the Instant Pot like a vegetable lasagna or a beef stew or a chicken stew."

In addition to the weight loss, Williams said cooking meals at home has helped her family’s budget. The family of five now spends about $250 on groceries every other week.

Williams began documenting her weight loss on social media and developed such a following that she started a blog where she posts tips and recipes, particularly for the Instant Pot.

"It’s just really neat to see the ripple effect that one person can have," she said. "I don’t want people to get discouraged because it wasn’t that simple for me. It’s attainable."

For Williams, the key to her weight loss success was when she said she realized she was not on a diet but making an adjustment to her lifestyle. On Jan. 1, 2018, after her New Year’s resolution is met, Williams said she will be back in the kitchen cooking healthy meals for herself and her family.

"Just give it a try."

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USDA rolls back Obama-era school lunch requirements

XiXinXing/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has followed through on Secretary Sonny Perdue's proclamation earier this year to loosen regulations on school lunches put in place during the administration of President Barack Obama.

The Agency published an interim rule in the Federal Register on Thursday that allows schools to offer one percent flavored milk to students, opt out of offering whole-grain products, and freeze sodium levels instead of further reducing them.

"Schools need flexibility in menu planning so they can serve nutritious and appealing meals," Perdue said. "It doesn't do any good to serve nutritious meals if they wind up in the trash can. These flexibilities give schools the locla control they need to provide nutritious meals that school children find appetizing."

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Dogs are smarter than cats, study finds

chendongshan/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Dog owners now have scientific data to back them in the eternal debate over whether dogs really are smarter than cats.

A study led by a Vanderbilt University professor counted for the first time the number of cortical neurons in the brains of cats and dogs and found that dogs possess nearly double the amount of neurons compared to cats.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that dogs have 530 million neurons in their cerebral cortex, while cats have only half that amount, or around 250 million.

The number of neurons in an animal determines the “richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen … based on past experience,” researchers said.

“I’m 100 percent a dog person,” Suzana Herculano-Houzel, the Vanderbilt professor who developed the method for measuring the neurons, said in an article published by the university. “But, with that disclaimer, our findings mean to me that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can.”

Herculano-Houzel studied the number of neurons in the brains of animals including a ferret, mongoose, raccoon, lion and more. The research was accepted this week for publication in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.

Researchers also found that the brain of a golden retriever has more neurons than the striped hyena, African lion and brown bear, even though a brown bear has a cortex up to three times larger than a dog.

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This year's flu season may be a bad one, some medical experts warn

Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The upcoming flu season may be a particularly severe one in the U.S., some medical experts warned on Thursday, citing preliminary data from the Southern Hemisphere's waning flu season.

The flu vaccine used this year in Australia -- which has the same composition as the vaccine used in the U.S. -- was only 10 percent effective, according to a preliminary estimate, at preventing the strain of the virus that predominately circulated during the country's flu season, experts wrote in a perspective published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The flu vaccine used this year in Australia -- which has the same composition as the vaccine used in the U.S. -- was only 10 percent effective, according to a preliminary estimate, at preventing the strain of the virus that predominately circulated during the country's flu season, experts wrote in a perspective published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"However imperfect, though, current influenza vaccines remain a valuable public health tool, and it is always better to get vaccinated than not to get vaccinated," the same international team of medical experts emphasized, however, in the perspective.

The researchers suggested that the especially harsh flu season that the Southern Hemisphere sustained during its winter months this year may be an indication of what's to come as flu season gets underway in the Northern Hemisphere.

"Reports from Australia have caused mounting concern, with record-high numbers of laboratory-confirmed influenza notifications and outbreaks and higher-than-average numbers of hospitalizations and deaths," the medical professionals wrote.

One reason for the severe flu season may be that this year's currently made vaccine may have mismatched to the flu strains that ended up circulating, making the vaccinations ineffective at preventing the outbreak. Researchers said this points to a potential inherent flaw in the way flu vaccines are made.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, co-authored the perspective, along with other researchers from the NIAID and experts at the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia.

The perspective called for more research to be done in developing a "universal" flu vaccine, which could potentially protect against all seasonal flu variants and strains, and would also eliminate the need for people to get new flu shots each year.

Finally, while most flu vaccines are manufactured using chicken eggs, the experts recommended that scientists explore different manufacturing strategies in order to increase the effectiveness of flu vaccines.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that an annual flu vaccine is the "the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses."

In addition, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact with sick people and limiting your own contact with others when you feel sick as well as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing in order to prevent the spread of germs.

Other preventative actions the CDC recommend to stop the spread of the seasonal flu include washing your hands often with soap and water, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and disinfecting surfaces that may have been contaminated with flu germs.

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CDC: HIV being diagnosed more quickly; 15 percent of Americans with the disease don't know they're infected

Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that HIV is being diagnosed sooner after infection than previously believed, which that the agency's director called "encouraging."

According to a Vital Signs report released on Tuesday, the median time between infection and diagnosis was about three years in 2015. In 2011, the CDC had estimated that the median time between infection and diagnosis was three years and seven months.

"These findings are more encouraging signs that the tide continues to turn on our nation's HIV epidemic," CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald said in a statement "HIV is being diagnosed more quickly, the number of people who have the virus under control is up, and annual infections are down."

Overall, however, the CDC estimates that 15 percent of those with the disease were unaware of their status.

The CDC recommends that anyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for the disease at least one in their lifetime. Those at higher risk are advised to get tested at least annually.

The report also found that more people at increased risk of HIV reported getting tested in the previous year, but that the number is still too low. According to the CDC, 29 percent of gay and bisexual men, 42 percent of people who inject drugs, and 59 percent of heterosexual people at increased risk for HIV said they did not get tested in the last year.

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