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Tuesday
Nov142017

At snack business, young people with autism find work and skills for the future

ABC News(LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y.) -- Sam Antar was all smiles when he was offered a full-time, paid position as a "granologist" at Luv Michael, a healthy snack business.

"I like to put the ingredients together," Antar, 22, told ABC News. "I love making new friends."

Based in Long Island City, Luv Michael's mission is to provide meaningful employment for young adults with autism.

The business was started by Lisa Liberatore and husband, Dimitri Kessaris, for their son, Michael, who has autism and also loves to cook. Luv Michael now employs six workers and sells granola in more than 60 stores on the East Coast.

"Teamwork is pivotal in the Luv Michael program," said Sarah Kull, the company's curriculum coordinator. "We all motivate each other. We collaborate. We share ideas. Someone's having a hard day, we support them."

"There's no discouraging," she added.

Volunteers work for three consecutive weeks so staff can gauge their commitment, interest and skill set. After that period, and if all goes well, Luv Michael offers the volunteer a full-time, paid job.

"I can't begin to tell you the impression and the feeling that we have in the room when they're offered the job," Liberatore said.

Antar's mother, Deborah Ehrlich-Antar, was present as he accepted his job offer.

She told ABC News that her family was incredibly thankful for the work opportunity and that finding Luv Michael had been a "miracle."

"For any child with autism, after high school and after services from the Board of Education end, each child is in a very different place, a place where they're not quite sure what programs they're going to be involved in and what they're going to do every day," Ehrlich-Antar said. "It's extremely difficult and it's a time of uncertainty and great concern."

Ehrlich-Antar said Luv Michael's staff understand that people with autism need a place to thrive, be productive and feel good about what they're doing.

Antar told ABC News that after working at Luv Michael, he'd like to move on and become a chef.

"I'm learning a lot at Luv Michael," he said. "I love baking and cooking."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov142017

Scientists testing sweat analysis for cellphone authentication 

Carlo de Jesus(NEW YORK) -- Imagine unlocking your cellphone with a drop of sweat?

Dr. Jan Halámek, a biochemist and assistant professor at the University of Albany, and his team are studying that very concept. Halámek believes there is a better way to secure electronic devices, and facial recognition is not one of them.

Halámek’s approach relies on amino acids found in skin secretions. A phone, for example, will be able to identify what compounds are in its owner’s unique sweat, Halámek told ABC News.

The amino acids and their compounds will ideally be able to unlock a device through “obvious connection of metabolized and fluctuating levels,” he explained.

“The device will sense them, and say ‘that’s my owner,’” said Halámek. He said his lab has tested the method successfully.

Those metabolizing levels change depending on factors like eating and exercising, he said. “We are unique and we metabolize. It’s a dynamic process, but metabolized levels change.”

To build a profile, the device would first have a “monitoring period” in which it would continuously measure its owner’s sweat levels at various times of the day, according to a press release on the science.

Halámek's lab is still working on how often the phone would need to recalibrate to stay up to date.

“I’m asked a lot, ‘what if people steal my sweat,’” Halámek said. “The answer is that it would work, but not for long. The sweat will begin to decompose and will not stay stable.”

That's one of the reasons why Halámek believes a biochemical approach to cybersecurity would be the most effective.

“Metabolization is not constant. It is not a Social Security number,” he said.

To break into a phone, one would have to know exactly what the metabolizing levels are at that point in time.

His team is submitting proposals for funding to get this research in the hands of smartphone makers.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov142017

Identical twins try out 2 trendy diets for 30 days

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A pair of identical twins with the joint goal of losing weight tried out two different trendy diets for one month, and revealed their individual weight loss results live on "Good Morning America" Tuesday.

Lauren Holman and Leila Cruz, both 32, from Brooklyn, New York, tried the Whole30 and Counting Macros diets to see which one worked better for them. Both twins said they were hoping to shed the extra pounds they gained after having babies.

Prior to embarking on their diets, each woman met with Dr. Avigdor Dori, a clinical dietitian and exercise physiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke's Hospital in New York City, to measure their body fat percentages and establish their goals. Dori suggested that women should have 30 percent body fat or less to be in good health.

Although the pair are genetically identical, and each strictly adhered to their diet plans, the 30-day challenge did not account for the lifestyle or environmental factors that could affect the twins' weight.

Twin 1: Lauren Holman

Starting Weight: 152.3 pounds

Starting Body Fat Percentage: 41.2 percent

Diet: Whole30

The Whole30 diet requires dieters to eat whole foods, meats, and vegetables, and bans sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy and dairy for 30 days.

"What we do is we pull them out for 30 days and it's a pretty strict pull out,” Whole30 co-creator Melissa Hartwig, who coached Holman, told ABC News. “It’s like pushing the reset button with your health habits and your relationship with food.”

To stick to foods on the diet, Holman cooked everything herself.

Holman's take on Whole30:

Holman told ABC News that her weight loss battle began shortly after she gave birth to her son three years ago.

"I was 115 pounds before I got pregnant and even after my pregnancy I haven’t gotten anywhere near my goal weight," she said.

Holman added that her weakness when it comes to maintaining diets has always been "snacking," saying that prior to starting, she felt "nervous" about doing the Whole30.

"There is not much snacking on Whole30," Holman said, adding that she was also apprehensive about giving up sugar.

Since completing one month of the Whole30 diet, Holman said she has lost 10 pounds, feels like she is no longer bloated and is sleeping better.

"It was also a great experience to do this with my boyfriend," Holman said. "Him and I both have struggled with weight loss since having our son so this was super fun to do together as a couple."

"The hardest thing about the diet was the first two weeks," she added. "I had to get used to reading every ingredient, and to my surprise everything has sugar."

"Another hard part about the diet was the money," she added. "It is very expensive to eat healthy."

Holman said the diet was "worth it in the end," telling ABC News that going forward she is "definitely going to keep up with the Whole30."

Weight Lost After 1 Month: 10.7 pounds

Body Fat Percentage After 1 Month: 5.1 percent

Twin 2: Leila Cruz

Starting Weight: 133.8

Starting Body Fat Percentage: 37.9 percent

Diet: Counting Macros

Counting macros is dubbed the new school approach to counting calories. To follow the diet, Cruz can eat whatever she wants, as long as it fits into her personalized pie graph of carbs, proteins and fats.

"There are three macro categories, protein, carbs, and fats, [and] having the correct amount of those three things is important," SD-Evolution founder Alessandra Scutnik, who coached Cruz, explained. "We do recommend that 80 percent of your day is nutrient dense foods like fruits, veggies, complex carbs, lean meats and then that leaves 20 percent to be anything you want."

Cruz said that 20 percent was ice cream for dessert. For the rest of her diet, she weighed everything she ate and checked the macros to make sure everything stayed within her numerical range.

Cruz's take on Counting Macros:

"I haven’t been serious about losing weight mainly because I thought I couldn’t do it," Cruz told ABC News.

She said she "was able to eat what I want" with this diet.

"I ate all my favorite foods in moderation. Knowing how much protein, fat, and carbs I was allowed in each meal made it easier for me to pick meals for the day," she said. "As I continue to do the diet I definitely feel like I have more control over my day."

After completing the diet for a month, Cruz, like her sister, said she feels less bloated and noticed that she has been sleeping better.

Cruz added that one of the hardest parts of the plan was having to add certain foods to her diet in order to reach her protein goals.

"I ate protein bars and started drinking protein shakes," she said.

"Another struggle was weighing my food," Cruz added, saying as a teacher the logistics of weighing her food in her classroom were a bit difficult. "Also, if we ordered out I didn’t know the nutritional facts for certain foods."

She said she struggled slightly with having to log every single thing she ate each day.

Overall, however, Cruz said she feels "proud."

"I’m very proud of myself and how far I’ve come," she told ABC News. "It’s just the beginning of a steady healthy lifestyle."

Weight Lost After 1 Month: 6.7 pounds

Body Fat Percentage After 1 Month: 4.6 percent

Tips to Mastering the Whole30, from Whole30 co-founder Melissa Hartwig

1. Announce your commitment. Having accountability will keep you on track, and makes it easier for you to recruit friends and family for support along the way.

2. Recruit your support team. You’ll need motivation, encouragement, resources, and maybe some tough love along the way, so ask key players for exactly what you’ll need. Task your mom with daily encouragement, your best friend with a butt-kicking when you need it, and your Whole30-savvy co-worker with recipe inspiration if you get bored.

3. Clean out your pantry. If your Whole30 excitement is high you may be tempted to skip this step, thinking, “I don’t even want this stuff, no need to remove it!” But the future you will thank you for getting the chocolate out of easy reach when you’re cranky, tired and craving. Give it away, donate it to a local shelter, or box it up with lots of tape and stick it in the garage for a month.

4. Plan some meals. Having a robust plan for the first few days will help you alleviate stress and keep you on track when days run long.

5. Stock up on emergency food. During the Whole30, you can’t grab candy out of the vending machine if you’re in a pinch. Having plenty of “emergency food” on hand can help you work around getting stuck in traffic, travel days, and late meetings. Hard boil some eggs, prep a protein salad, stash some Whole30 Approved jerky or an RxBar in your desk at work, and roast a double-tray of veggies on Sunday night so you always have some on hand.

Tips to Mastering Counting your Macros from SD-Evolution founders Josh and Alessandra Scutnik:

1. Establish your baseline or “maintenance” calories and macros. If you are new to calorie counting and are unsure how much food you are consuming, the first step is to start tracking your current food intake using an app. It’s as simple as logging what you eat on a daily basis. At the same time, you want to be tracking your body weight to see if it is maintaining at this intake. We suggest tracking both your food and body weight for about two weeks. The reason why we suggest two weeks is that your bodyweight is going to fluctuate daily based on a number of factors including but not limited to sleep, stress, sodium levels, water levels and bowel movements. The most optimal way to get an accurate body weight average would be to weigh-in at least twice per week for two weeks, then take the average of those numbers. If your body weight is staying the same, we can assume these are your personal maintenance calories.

2. Purchase a food scale to measure your portions (this is more accurate than using measuring cups or spoons). This is important for at least the first few weeks to ensure you learn proper portion sizes, but using a food scale is not something you need to use as you become familiar with the foods you normally consume. The first few weeks are usually a big eye opener in regards to what your normal portion sizes look like!

3. Follow the 80/20 rule when choosing foods to eat. As long as you fill your day with 80 percent nutrient-dense choices, you can leave some wiggle room for foods that you enjoy and may not be as “healthy.”

4. Be consistent! The two most important factors with any diet are adherence and consistency. If you aren’t sticking to your plan and being consistent how will you know if it’s truly working for you?

5. Meal prep. Meal prep is an absolute game changer. By making your meals ahead of time, you are already prepared for your week. You don’t have to prep every meal, but having some go-to options handy will keep you in line with your goals and keep you on track!

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov132017

Supreme Court will hear challenge to California pregnancy center law

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court on Monday said it will consider whether a California requirement for pregnancy centers in that state to provide information about publicly funded abortion and contraceptive services violates free-speech rights.

The petitioners, which say they are "life-affirming pregnancy centers", argue that California’s Reproductive FACT ACT, “Forces licensed pro-life medical centers to post notices informing women how to contact the State at a particular phone number for information on how to obtain state-funded abortions, directly contradicting the centers’ pro-life message.” And that petitioners argue is a violation of the First Amendment, both its protections of speech and of free exercise.

The pro-life groups opposed to the FACT ACT, suggest they were “targeted” based on their religious viewpoint. In court documents, the petitioners argue, “The State of California forces licensed centers to communicate the government’s message about state-funded abortions to everyone who walks in the door. The State, rather than using countless alternative ways to communicate its message, including its own powerful voice, instead compels only licensed facilities that help women consider alternatives to abortion to express the government’s message regarding how to obtain abortions paid for by the State."

Attorneys representing California in court documents argue, “Some 700,000 California women become pregnant each year, and over half of those pregnancies are unintended. The Act addresses two problems that pregnant Californians can face. “First, many women cannot afford medical care on their own, and are unaware of the public programs that are available to them.”

According to court documents, California’s attorneys said that the state legislature was trying to provide as much information as possible,“The state Legislature concluded the most effective way to ensure that women quickly obtain the information and services they need” is to require licensed health care facilities that are unable to immediately enroll patients into state-funded programs to advise each patient at the time of her visit that the programs exist and give information on how they may be accessed.”

The case represents the Supreme Court's first major grant in an abortion-related case since the addition of its newest member, Justice Neil Gorsuch, said Kate Shaw, an ABC News Supreme Court contributor who also teaches at Cardozo Law School.

The case could have broader implications, she said.

"This case raises important First Amendment questions, and, depending on how the Court answers them, it could potentially impact the status of other state laws that regulate abortion — both those designed to facilitate access to abortion, and those designed to thwart it," Shaw said.

The U.S Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the California law. Both the 4th and 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have struck down similar laws.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov132017

With end to cancer treatment in sight, man celebrates with marching band

Keira Miller(NORCROSS, Ga.) -- In lieu of the traditional ringing of the bell, Josh Libman recently celebrated the upcoming end of his cancer treatment with tubas, drums, flutes, saxophones and pom-poms, all courtesy of the efforts of registered nurse Alane Levy.

Libman, 32, of Norcross, Georgia, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer this summer and in July his left lower leg had to be amputated. That surgery was followed by rounds of grueling chemotherapy, requiring him to stay in the hospital for days.

Levy learned of his plight this summer, when she came across Libman's story in a Jewish mothers Facebook group.

"I reached out to the family and said, 'This is who I am and this is what I do and I would like to take care of Josh and the family through this entire process. Instead of writing a check, I'll give myself,'" said Levy, who cares for people in their homes post-surgery.

Levy said she was with the family since before Libman's amputation and had even stayed with him in the hospital.

"It has been my honor to be part of their family and to take care of them," she said.

With Libman nearing an end to treatment, Levy said, she wanted him to be able to ring a bell, a tradition for cancer patients ending treatment in hospitals across the nation. Libman has one round of chemotherapy and a surgery left.

Levy, however, said that Libman was on a floor with sickle-cell anemia patients and there was no bell.

"I just wanted him to have that memory," she said.

So Levy improvised, big time. She reached out to the band leader at Norcross High School, Libman's old high school, and asked for help.

On Thursday, the entire band -- all 150 students -- marched down Libman's street and appeared in front of his home to play. In the front, band members carried a poster with a message for Libman: "You are loved."

"We believe!" the band members chanted as Libman stood by. "We believe that Josh will win! We believe that Josh will win!"

Levy had prepared Libman for the band's arrival, telling him to grab his jacket, a hat and his crutches, but even she was not ready for the celebration that was in store. Levy had only expected about 50 students to show up.

"They were the best, most beautiful bell I could've ever thought of," she said. "Josh was so excited. I was so excited. And, I couldn't think of anything better to do."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov132017

How to lower your blood pressure without medication 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The new recommendations on blood pressure from the American Heart Association (AHA) will significantly increase the number of Americans diagnosed with hypertension, particularly in younger age groups.

The number of adult women under 45 with the diagnosis will double, while the number of adult men under 45 will triple. The number of Americans that are recommended medical treatment will only increase slightly.

The AHA recommends “lifestyle modification” as a first line treatment. However, it is not always clear to patients which lifestyle modifications are the most effective. The below descriptions summarize which lifestyle modifications are recommended by the AHA, based on the latest available research.

Diet changes


The single intervention with the greatest documented effect on blood pressure is the “DASH” diet, a well-studied diet that encourages fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and discourages foods high in saturated and total fats. Research shows that this diet can lower systolic blood pressure (the top number) by approximately 11 mmHg. In addition, the guidelines recommend low-sodium diets (goal less than 1,500 mg per day, with the best effects seen at less than 1,000 mg per day), and diets rich in potassium (dried apricots, avocado, salmon, green leafy veggies and bananas). Low sodium and high potassium diets can lower systolic blood pressure by approximately 4-6 mmHg.

Weight loss

Losing weight improves health and well being in many capacities, but exactly how much to lose may be different for everyone. For those over 5 feet tall, an “ideal body weight” can actually be calculated mathematically. These numbers will change based on how tall you are, and the calculations are different for men and women. Formulating an individualized numerical goal in this way can help people reach a healthy body mass index.

A normal, healthy BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 may be a good long-term goal, but in order to get there most physicians recommend losing 1 kilogram (or about 2.2 lbs.) at a time. The average American can expect a 1 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure for every 1 kilogram reduction in body weight.

Exercise

Aerobic exercise yields the most benefit in lowering blood pressure. What constitutes enough? The experts say 90-150 minutes per week with heart rates up to 65-75 percent of one's heart rate. For strength training, the AHA recommends dynamic and isometric resistance exercises.

Dynamic exercise is any exercise that involves joint movement, such as bicep curls, tricep dips or squats.

Isometric exercise is typically done against immovable objects and includes planks, wall-sits and boat pose.

Experts say weight training should be done three times per week and benefits are usually seen after 8-10 weeks of practicing.

All of the above activities were seen to benefit people with hypertension with studies indicating a decrease of systolic blood pressures of approximately 4-8 mmHg.

Alcohol consumption

For drinkers, limiting the amount of alcohol consumed has a beneficial impact on blood pressure. Studies find that drinking in moderation lowers systolic blood pressure by up to 4 mmHg. For men, AHA recommends drinking less than or up to two drinks daily, and for women only up to one drink daily. In fact, decreasing alcohol intake even proved to reduce blood pressure in patients who had not been diagnosed with hypertension yet.

Consult with a health care professional

While the above recommendations can change blood pressure for a large share of those with hypertension, there are still millions of Americans for whom lifestyle modifications are not enough. Consult with your health care professional to see which intervention, medication or otherwise, is right for you.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov132017

More than 103 million Americans will have high blood pressure under new guidelines

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The American Heart Association has changed the definition of hypertension for the first time in 14 years, moving the number from the old standard of 140/90 to the newly revised 130/80.

The change is outlined in the American Heart Association 2017 Hypertension Practice Guidelines, an extensive report by experts without relevant ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

The changes are expected to drastically impact adult Americans: revising the hypertension threshold downward will increase the percent of U.S. adults living with high blood pressure from 32 percent to 46 percent -- nearly half of the adult population. It will also disproportionately affect younger people by tripling the number of men under 45 and doubling the number of women under 45 with the diagnosis.

The new guidelines reflect years of research, which have shown that people within the new range of blood pressure defined as hypertension have doubled their risk of cardiovascular problems in the future, such as heart attacks or strokes. As such, health care professionals should be identifying these patients and helping to initiate interventions to bring down blood pressure.

While the new guidelines significantly increase the number of Americans with a diagnosis of hypertension, they do not suggest a proportionate increase in treating with medication. The number of Americans with hypertension who are recommended for medical treatment would increase by only 4.2 million adults, or 5 percent more than were previously recommended. Medication will be recommended for patients with previous cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, or significant cardiovascular risk factors determined by factors such as age, blood tests and having other medical conditions that increase risk of heart attack.

The study authors recommend lifestyle changes, including exercise, diet modifications and weight loss, as the first step to reducing high blood pressure.

Doctors in the guidelines stress the importance of using two separate blood pressure readings on two different occasions to diagnose hypertension. They recommend that those with hypertension use approved blood pressure monitors at home. Writing down these readings at home can help tell the difference between people with truly abnormal blood pressure and those with “white-coat syndrome” -- with high blood pressure only under stress like at the doctor’s office.

High blood pressure increases the risk of cardiac problems and strokes, and is sometimes called “the silent killer” because so many adults live with high blood pressure and don’t know it.

To help understand the new hypertension guidelines and how they affect managing your health, see your healthcare professional.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov132017

26-year Army veteran and former West Point football player documents ALS journey

(NEW YORK) -- Chuck Schretzman is a 26-year Army veteran and former West Point football player. His wife Stacy too starred as a college athlete at Army and then at Bentley.

Since retiring from the army, life has taken an unexpected turn for the Schretzman's, presenting them with a serious and unexpected challenge.

Set to take a job in the civilian sector, Chuck was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrphic lateral sclerosis), also known as "Lou Gerhig's Disease," in 2015 shortly after his retirement. The two are now documenting Chuck's ALS journey in the new documentary series "Behind ALS," sponsored by Cytokinetics.

The couple recently spoke to ABC News about how the disease has affected their lives and what they are doing to spread awareness about it.

Chuck noticed he was struggling with balance just after he received his job offer in his post-army career. After medical professionals initially concluded Chuck did not have ALS, they re-examined him and diagnosed him with the disease.

Stacy told ABC News the diagnosis was "very scary," especially as they witnessed how the disease took hold of Chuck's life. He lost strength and his speech was slurred and altered.

Physical therapy became an important part of Chuck's life. Stacy says it is very important for him to improve strength so that he can continue standing. As a former athlete, Chuck cherishes physical activity and does not want to be helped with much, even if it is just taking a cup out of the cupboard.

His physical therapist is a "battle buddy," Stacy says, and he pushes Chuck even on the days when he is feeling down or sad.

Chuck and his wife both admitted that it is quite easy to fall into a state of sadness while battling ALS, which is when they say they look back on the lessons they learned as cadet-athletes.

Chuck approaches his battle the same way he did when he faced opponents on the football field: "one game at a time."

As he reflects on how he processes the disease, Chuck tells ABC News:

"I get up today, I walk today... tomorrow is not a guarantee. Live in the moment, live every day like one game at a time... one play at a time... I can't look at the big picture... and you learn that from sports."

The couple takes a game-by-game, or a day-by-day approach, because of the unpredictable affects ALS can have on his body. One day, Chuck could be feeling fairly strong, but that can change within a 24-hour span.

Chuck and Stacy call it Chuck's "mental strength" that allows him to carry on each day and allows him to continue succeeding in physical therapy and doing the things he wants to do in his everyday life. It is that mental strength they took from their days as athletes and they have applied it to their latest challenge.

For more on Chuck and Stacy Schretzman's story, their documentary series “Behind ALS” can be found here.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Nov122017

Jeff Sessions sued by 12-year-old girl with epilepsy who wants to legalize medical marijuana 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being sued by a 12-year-old Colorado girl suffering from epilepsy who aims to legalize medical marijuana nationwide.

Alexis Bortell, along with her father and other plaintiffs, including former NFL player Marvin Washington, filed suit in the Southern District of New York against the attorney general as well as the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Many states now allow use of marijuana for at least some medical reasons. The lawsuit filed in July seeks to make medical marijuana legal across the U.S.

"This lawsuit stands to benefit tens of millions of Americans who require, but are unable to safely obtain, cannabis for the treatment of their illnesses, diseases and medical conditions," the suit states.

Alexis, whose family moved to Colorado from Texas to take advantage of the state’s legalization of recreational and medical marijuana, had been suffering since she was 7 from a form of epilepsy that cannot be safely controlled with FDA-approved treatments and procedures, the lawsuit says.

As a result, she often had multiple seizures a day. "Nothing she tried worked," the suit states. When her family finally tried a form of marijuana, the girl found "immediate relief from her seizures."

"Since being on whole-plant medical cannabis, Alexis has gone more than two years seizure-free," the suit says.

The suit contends that Alexis won’t be able to return to her native Texas -- where she hopes to attend college -- because she would be subject to arrest if she continued to use marijuana to control her seizures.

ABC News reached out to the Justice Department for comment on the lawsuit but did not get an immediate response.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Nov112017

-- Father of twins 'fainted' when he discovered his wife is now expecting triplets

Courtesy Nia and Robert Tolbert(WALDORF, Md.) -- One couple, who welcomed a child in 2011, then twins in 2015, are now expecting triplets next year.

Nia and Robert Tolbert of Waldorf, Maryland, couldn't believe their luck when they discovered at a routine prenatal doctor's visit back in August that they were expecting three girls.

"When we were expecting twins, our technician that was doing the ultrasound asked if multiples ran in our family. So this time around, the technician asked the same thing and I thought, 'Oh, we must be having twins again,'" Nia Tolbert, 28, recalled to ABC News.

But when doctors eventually told her she was having triplets, she admitted "everything kind of spiraled out of control."

Nia Tolbert decided to share the big news with her husband of three years in a special way -- by leaving Robert Tolbert, 31, a giftbag coupled with a handwritten note.

Initially, he thought the gift bag contained a FitBit, since he'd been hinting at getting one for weeks, Robert Tolbert told ABC News. Instead, he found out just what would help keep him running around the house -- three more children.

On a handwritten card, Nia Tolbert wrote: "Please accept this gift from me and God."

"I opened the bag and I saw a very, very long sonogram," Robert Tolbert continued. "Then I saw three onesies in the bag ... and they were numbered 1, 2, and 3."

The now father of six admitted that he "fainted" when he realized what his wife was telling him. "I was just shocked," he added. "I just went straight to bed."

The growing family has since recovered from the shock, and now can't wait to expand their family.

"We’re already planning for our new our household. It's going to be equally balanced now -- with three little girls and three little boys," Nia Tolbert noted.

"But we're not too concerned," she added. "I know we’re not going to sleep for a couple years, our grocery bill is going to go up, and our house is not going to be quiet and that's OK."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







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