Plastic surgeons' group issues new warning over Brazilian butt lift procedure

ABC(NEW YORK) -- As celebrities like Kim Kardashian have made voluptuous backsides in high demand, a group of plastic surgeons have issued a new warning to fellow doctors performing a procedure known as the Brazilian butt lift.

The Brazilian butt lift, which has been increasingly in high demand, carries an "unusually high mortality rate," that is "greater than any other cosmetic surgery," according to a new warning to surgeons performing the procedure from a task force backed by international board-certified plastic surgeon societies, including the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

As many as one in 3,000 people who undergo the Brazilian butt lift die, according to the warning.

"With butt lifts becoming more popular ... you have more doctors attempting to perform them," Dr. Urmen Desai, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Beverly Hills, California, told ABC News.

The butt lift is meant to make your rear more shapely, and essentially combines a liposuction procedure with fat grafting, meaning it sucks fat out of a place where you don't want it -- such as the thighs or stomach -- and injects it into the butt.

The new warning highlights the potential dangers of a fatal fat embolism. It also comes at a time when buttocks augmentation procedures with fat grafting have increased 10 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

"Some doctors are being too aggressive injecting too deep ... important veins lie there," Desai said, "Bringing fat to heart and lungs."

These mistakes "prove to be deadly," he added.

ABC News' chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said her advice to those considering the procedure is to make sure you do your research and find a board-certified plastic surgeon.

Ashton also recommends considering alternative options for improving the shape of your backside such as exercising.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Some new moms opting for postpartum parties, not just baby showers

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- "No, thanks -- we don't need anything. We're fine."

It's the reply text that new mamas know all too well. Friends and family are constantly dropping in to meet the babe, and while you're getting the occasional tray of lasagna weeks after giving birth, there's so much more that's needed, emotionally and physically.

Baby showers are appreciated, so why not invest in helping moms during their first six to eight weeks postpartum?

Whether you're shamelessly throwing one for yourself or want to pitch in for a pregnant pal, here are tips for planning an epic postpartum party that'll celebrate her -- or you -- in the ways she needs it most.

Set up a guest list with tentative visiting hours

If you're the one hosting the two-month-long soiree, reach out to potential visitors and let them know what you truly need -- food, cleaning, babysitting, etc. -- over the next few weeks of recovery. If you're the party-planning friend, consult with the new mom on her network of people.

Then, explain to guests that the next few weeks are for celebrating Mom.

But remember to set your boundaries, according to Jenna Greenspoon, mother of two and co-owner of

"The most important thing for new moms to know is it's OK to say 'no,'" Greenspoon told Good Morning America. "This way, you are in control rather than everyone ringing your doorbell."

If you're setting up a digital calendar where loved ones can sign up, establish mealtime hours as time slots so guests can bring dishes.

In addition, Greenspoon suggested offering tentative visiting hours that revolve around the baby's feeding times. But be sure to leave wiggle room.

Kick meal-trains up a notch

It's easy to forget about yourself when caring for a bundle of love. Your buds and relatives can organize homemade meal-giving, but why not elevate them a bit?

"Put together a Friday-night dinner," Greenspoon said. "A friend came over with a whole dinner, and she sort of took it to the next level."

Print a menu out spotlighting your friend's baby pic. Then, schedule a girlfriends' night with a bottle of wine, and have everyone prepare a course.

Put together an aftercare gift

To the bestie in charge: Recruit the girls to assemble a postpartum kit for Mom. Some suggestions include witch hazel pads and comfy clothes to take the pressure off getting back into pre-baby threads.

"Make Mom feel better in a fun way by giving a squeeze bottle, a blowup donut. Take away the stigma of the things that we're not supposed to talk about, like how she can't sit on a hard chair," Greenspoon said. "Make it funny so she doesn't feel isolated."

If you're not into DIY, we love the survival kit from the Etsy shop, White Confetti Box. Inside is a "Haute Mama" silk sleep mask, a milk bath soak, candle, "Tired as a Mother" tumbler and more.

Offer a housecleaning service she can't refuse

Ask a new mommy if you can play maid for an hour. Chances are she'll turn you down.

Instead, arrive at an acceptable hour with the squad donning aprons. Each of you tackle a small but helpful task, like emptying the dishwasher or doing a laundry load of bibs and burp clothes.

"Have one person in charge who's sitting her down and not allowing her to stop you," Greenspoon said.

Another option she won't decline is a gift card for a cleaning service.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Study finds LGBT youth face tougher time as first offenders


(NEW YORK) -- Teens who get in trouble with the law have high rates of substance abuse and mental health issues, but the problems are even worse for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer adolescents who are first-time offenders, researchers say in a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“We already know that adolescents involved in the justice system are at higher risk for drug and alcohol use, risky sexual behaviors and HIV, and more severe mental health issues,” Dr. Matt Hirschtritt, lead author of the study and a forensic psychiatry fellow at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), told ABC News.

“There’s far fewer data [on] those that are not detained, who are court-involved but not incarcerated," Hirschtritt said. "And adolescents who are sexual minorities -- in behavior, orientation or gender expression -- are also at risk for a lot of these same behaviors. So when you combine these two vulnerabilities, does this confer greater individual risk?”

To answer the question, a team led by Dr. Marina Tolou-Shams, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF, used more than one strategy to find teens who identified as a sexual minority, including those who chose “other” for gender, reported same-sex sexual behavior and reported victimization based on sexual orientation or gender expression.

Among 423 first-time offending, non-incarcerated youth, about one-third could be classified as a sexual minority, which was “one of the biggest things we found that jumped out to us,” said Hirschtritt. “Sexual minorities are over-represented, and this number is also found in detained adolescents.”

Other findings of the study include higher rates of behavioral and mental health symptoms in first-time offending (non-jailed) sexual minority youth, including unhealthy internalizing of problems, inattention/hyperactivity, emotional symptoms and personal adjustment issues.

“Our suspicions were confirmed that mental health indicators, as measured by self-report of various domains in psychological functioning, were more severe for sexual minority youth compared to non-sexual minority youth,” said Hirschtritt.

Also notable is that the rate of self-harm is four times higher in sexual minorities than in their heterosexual peers, higher rates of substance abuse and a 60 percent higher rate of being intoxicated during sexual activity.

“What was interesting was what wasn’t different between groups -- self-reported history of delinquent acts and sensation-seeking,” Hirschtritt said. “Sexual minority youth are at higher risk for risky drug use and sexual behavior and/or more severe psychological distress, but they’re not necessarily more likely to have engaged in delinquent acts or drawn to behavior that would generate a delinquent effect with sensation-seeking.”

Instead, trouble with the law is “more a product of their marginalization,” he said. “We’re seeing a dually vulnerable group that’s subjected to stressors of court but also have historically marginalized identity.”

In fact, these court-involved LGBT youth reported more post-traumatic symptoms in the past seven days than their heterosexual peers.

These findings aren’t surprising to Dr. Alex S. Keuroghlian, director of the National LGBT Health Education Center and a clinical psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Fenway Health, a large LGBT-focused health center in Boston.

“We call this the minority stress model,” Keuroghlian told ABC News. “External stigma-related stress -- like everyday victimization, violent victimization -- can lead to internalized stigma-related stress regarding sexual orientation and identity, such as internalized homophobia and transphobia. This can be associated with higher prevalence of mental health problems and decreased self-care, and higher prevalence of physical health problems down the road.”

And when it comes to LGBT youth and getting in trouble with the law, he said, “There's nothing inherently more criminal about this population. It’s due to life circumstances, due to stigma and discrimination.”

In his experience, Keuroghlian said LGBTQ youth are "much more likely to have strained relationships with family, to be ostracized from peers. And all this can predispose someone to needing to survive by means other people may not need to, getting into problems with the law.”

This points to the importance of identifying sexual attraction preferences and helping those individuals deal with the stressors of living in a society that assumes everyone is straight until told otherwise.

Keuroghlian’s advice? Reframe the conversation.

“Young people will attribute challenges in their lives to personal failings, and focus on maladaptive cognitive structures, like 'It’ll never get better. No one will ever love me.' It’s important to correctly attribute challenges in their life to external stigma. It can be liberating not to blame yourself and not feel like a failure.”

The most important thing is helping LGBT youth recognize there is a community out there for support.

Dr. Stephanie Sophie Lee is a pediatrician and preventive medicine resident in South Carolina and a resident in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


More than 350 people report getting sick from Ohio Chipotle: Officials

WSYX-TV(POWELL, Ohio) -- An Ohio health department has fielded more than 350 inquiries from people possibly getting sick from a Chipotle, officials said Tuesday, raising new concerns of food-borne illness similar to those that plagued the restaurant chain in 2015.

Delaware County, Ohio, health officials said they are investigating the potential outbreak that may be linked to the restaurant in Powell over the last week.

County health officials said in a statement on Tuesday that the number of people who have reported getting ill at the restaurant has jumped to 368.

"People reporting getting sick say they ate at the Sawmill Parkway location over the weekend," a statement from the Delaware County Health Department reads.

Officials said they are investigating the possibility of food-borne illnesses stemming from the restaurant in the suburb of Columbus, but have not pinpointed the source of the problem. Results from test were pending, the health department said.

The restaurant was shut down on Monday after an investigation was launched, but it's expected to reopen Tuesday afternoon.

"Our protocols identified a handful of illness reports at one restaurant in Powell. ... We acted quickly and closed this single restaurant out of an abundance of caution and we are working with the local health officials to reopen this restaurant as soon as possible," said Laurie Schalow, a spokeswoman for Chipotle.

Health officials said people who said they ate at the restaurant complained of symptoms ranging from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea after eating at the restaurant between Thursday and Monday.

An outbreak of E. coli hit the Chipotle chain in 2015, resulting in numerous customers getting sick at locations across 11 states.

The crisis prompted Chipotle officials to close 2,000 locations in February 2016 to conduct an employee food-safety training program.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Actor Alan Alda reveals he has Parkinson's disease

iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. KEVIN RIUTZEL

(NEW YORK) -- In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, actor Alan Alda, 82, revealed that he has been living with Parkinson’s disease for three and a half years.

The actor, of M*A*S*H fame, tweeted -- with his characteristic humor -- that to date he’s remaining active and feels fine.

”I take boxing lessons 3 days a week, play singles tennis twice a week, and take a mild pill – all Dr. recommended," Alda said in the tweetl "I even juggle a little. And I’m not entering dementia. I’m no more demented than I was before. Maybe I should rephrase that. Really, I’m good.”

Here's a look at what Alda and millions around the globe are dealing with:

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

With more than one million people affected in North America alone, Parkinson’s disease -- a condition first described in 1817 -- is a brain disorder where nerves are weakened over time, affecting movement. The condition is seen more often after age 50, and is uncommon in people younger than 40.

What causes it?

Researchers don’t yet know. Roughly 10 to 15 percent of people with Parkinson’s also have a parent or sibling with the condition. Most specialists think that this disease likely is the result of a complex combination of genes and environmental causes. But while the cause is unknown, many years of research and working with people with Parkinson’s have given healthcare providers the information to more accurately diagnose it -- and start treatments early to slow the disease and improve quality of life. While there is no cure available now, there are clinical trials to find even stronger and more effective medications and therapies.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s?

At first, there may be only mild symptoms –- Alda said he has a tremor in one hand -- but as the disease progresses, symptoms may interfere with a person’s work or everyday activities. Things to look out for: shaking of the hands while sitting quietly, weakness or a loss of coordination of movements, dragging or a shuffling of the legs when walking, or more frequent falls at home. A person may also lose the ability to think clearly, have trouble remembering things, or experience problems with sleep. Loss of sense of smell is also common early in the course of the disease.

Are there treatments?

Current medications help protect nerves, while other medications work to treat the symptoms of the condition. Doctors may also use a combination of medications that work together to create even more effective results.

How do doctors diagnose Parkinson’s?

There is no one test that your doctor can use to diagnose Parkinson’s. Scanning the brain with a CAT scan or MRI is not helpful in diagnosing the disease, but may be used to help rule out other possible diagnoses. Instead, the condition is diagnosed by the symptoms a person is experiencing, and a thorough physical exam looking for particular signs of Parkinson’s. It is often very helpful for family members to be present for the doctor’s appointment – they’ve observed what’s happening and can help answer the doctor’s questions. This may lead to a more accurate diagnosis.

What happens to Parkinson’s patients?

Although Parkinson’s disease is not a fatal disease, it may increase the risk of other falls, choking, or lung infections. It’s important for patients to acknowledge their symptoms and talk to their doctor earlier rather than later. Alda said, in a tweet: I decided to let people know I have Parkinson’s to encourage others to take action. I was Diagnosed 3 and a half years ago, but my life is full. I act, I give talks, I do my podcast, which I love. If you get a diagnosis, keep moving!

Additionally, there is specifically-tailored physical therapy, exercises, speech therapy, and support groups that can make living with Parkinson’s manageable and less intimidating.

Dr. Kevin Riutzel is a family medicine resident physician based out of Irvine, California currently working in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Study says the average worker spends 1,700 hours staring at a computer screen

(NEW YORK) -- If you find your eyes screaming at the end of the day, here's why: a new study from contact lenses manufacturer Acuvue says the average office worker spends nearly 1,700 hours in front of a computer screen every year.

This works out to be about 6.5 hours a day staring in front of the computer, according to a survey of 2,000 office workers in the U.K.

And all this eye strain doesn't count how long you're staring into those little glowing rectangles.

According to the survey, 37% of the survey respondents say they get regular headaches from the strain; some make things worse by moving their screens even closer to their faces once eye strain sets in.

To quote the movie Office Space: "Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens."

"Computers are a relatively new concept – for millions now, staring at a screen all day is the norm," says Acuvue spokesperson Katie McGeechan. "However, if you look back just a few decades, far fewer of us would have spent the day looking into the same glowing rectangle, and when you add mobile phones into the mix, we’re putting our eyes through a lot every day."

Also, according to the poll, while 53% of the respondents say they try to take breaks from their screens, and nearly half suffer from sore eyes, one in five say they haven't seen an eye doctor in at least two years.  

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


A blood test could lead to new treatments for depression

By Dr. Michael Macintyre

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide, with more than 300 million people suffering from this mental illness, according to the World Health Organization.

Despite how common depression is, scientists still have a lot to learn about it.

Among what is known is that depression is not a single disease but a variety of feelings and behaviors that may have different underlying causes.

“Depressive disorders can present differently in different people. What is known now is that depression affects not just the brain but the whole organism,”said Natalie Rasgon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University.

But a new study of which Rasgon is a senior author finds evidence of a possible biomarker for major depressive disorder, which could lead to better treatments for this sometimes crippling disease.

The study by a group of researchers from around the U.S. and in Sweden finds that a specific, naturally-occurring chemical, called acetyl-L-carnitine, or LAC, is lower in the blood of people suffering from depression. The research was published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Previous animal studies convincingly showed the role of LAC in models of depression. This study is the first confirmation of the results from animal studies in human subjects with depression,” Rasgon told ABC News.

Levels of the chemical were lower among people with more severe depression

Researchers measured LAC levels in the blood of 116 participants, and found that those with depression had significantly lower levels of the chemical than healthy individuals. Two groups of people at two different hospitals were examined, with the same results.

LAC levels were especially low among people whose depression was more severe, who began suffering from the disease at an earlier age or who had a history of childhood trauma. Levels were lowest among females whose depression did not get better with medications or therapy, known as “treatment-resistant depression,” and who had suffered childhood trauma or neglect.

The human body naturally produces LAC from a nutrient called carnitine, but researchers found that carnitine levels were the same in people with and without depression. This suggests that differing levels of LAC can be attributed to depression and not to diet.

What do we know about this chemical?

LAC performs a number of important tasks, including regulating how the brain and nervous system use energy. It also can interact with DNA to change how certain genes are expressed.

In previous studies, LAC has been shown to effectively and rapidly improve symptoms of depression in mice.

A review of multiple studies published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine in 2017 showed that acetyl-L-carnitine may be better than a placebo in treating depression and may be as effective as common antidepressants but with fewer side effects. The review authors noted the studies were very small and larger trials are necessary to confirm any benefit.

There is a LAC supplement that has been used for dementia, but a 2003 review from Cochrane found it is unlikely to be of benefit for this purpose. Some studies suggest a benefit for a type of nerve pain called neuropathy.

But it is important to note this study did not test if LAC can be used for the treatment of depression.

“We are at the very beginning of this discovery and can’t recommend people to buy this supplement at the GNC store,” warned Rasgon.

How further research might lead to possible treatments

LAC has potential to be a biomarker, something measurable in the body that reflects the presence of a disease. As such, it could potentially be used to screen for and diagnose severe or treatment-resistant depression and allow for earlier and more aggressive treatment.

Researchers hope future studies could shed light on whether physical activity, dietary habits, and sleep may affect LAC levels.

This study also found that people on antidepressant drugs still had lower levels of LAC in their blood, suggesting that taking supplements of the chemical might be helpful or possibly even necessary to fully benefit from a medication.

This research, together with prior studies, suggests that correcting a deficiency in LAC could be a step toward more targeted treatments of depression, especially for those who suffered childhood trauma or began having depression at an early age.

“We are excited with these results and are working on extending them to further understand the role of LAC in patients receiving treatment for depression,”Rasgon said. “It is one of the pieces of a very large puzzle that constitutes depressive disorders as an illness.”

While this study has important implications in understanding depression, Rasgon cautioned that it requires larger studies to confirm the findings. “There are many questions to be answered – who will ultimately benefit from taking this supplement, what is the right dose, what is the appropriate duration of use.”

The study was a collaboration between researchers at Stanford, Rockefeller University, Duke University, Weill Cornell Medical College, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

Michael MacIntyre is a psychiatry resident working with the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Moms being shamed for leaving kids unattended ignites heated parenting debate

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A New York Times article is sparking an online debate about why leaving your children unattended has become taboo.

In the essay, "Motherhood in the Age of Fear," author Kim Brooks details the stories of six mothers who "paid the cost of parenting" after they left their kids behind while running errands.

"We now live in a country where it is seen as abnormal, or even criminal to allow children to be away from direct adult supervision, even for a second," Brooks wrote.

Brooks also described how she was faced with charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor (her son), after a stranger had reported her to police for leaving him in the car while she went into a store.

The charges were dismissed after Brooks completed 100 hours of community service.

Julie Koehler, another parent who was interviewed for Brooks' article, had a similar story.

In 2016, Koehler of Illinois, left her three daughters in her minivan while she grabbed coffee.

"I saw the police officer walk up to the car and start questioning my children and I thought nothing of it until my kids started to cry," Koehler said on "Good Morning America." "And at that point I walked out and he turned on me and asked me where I was."

Koehler, who works as a senior public defender, said she defended her actions.

"He accused me of abandoning my children and I just laughed at him," Koehler recalled. "He had picked on the wrong mother because I actually know my rights."

Koeler said that no charges were pressed against her, but that something needs to change.

"We need to fight back against this judgment, this shaming of mothers," she explained. "It's got to stop and it stops with us."

Researchers at University of California, Irvine, have studied just how people reacted to this topic by using short descriptions in which a parent left a child unattended. Participants were then asked to estimate how much danger they felt the child was in.

The study found that the participants’ assessment of the child’s danger depended on how "morally offensive they found the parent’s reason for leaving," according to the Times piece.

"What has changed seems to be social norms, moral judgments, the idea that children should never be left alone and that a parent who leaves a child alone is negligent or abusive," Barbara W. Sarnecka, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Irvine, told "GMA."

In Brooks' piece, she said that no mom is safe from this criticism.

"We're contemptuous of 'lazy' poor mothers. We're contemptuous of 'distracted' working mothers. We're contemptuous of 'selfish' rich mothers."

But readers had mixed feelings about the New York Times article, which has garnered nearly 2,000 comments.

One wrote, "Intervene when children are in real danger. Mind your own business when they are not."

Another said, "You should stop listening to the small voice in your head and start paying attention to the law -- there's a reason 19 states make the act of leaving a toddler alone in a locked, parked car illegal. It's wrong."

On May 8, a new law legalizing so-called "free-range parenting" officially went into effect in Utah.

The law rewrites the state's definition of "neglect," so that kids can participate in some unsupervised activities without their parents being charged, a representative from the state confirmed to ABC News at the time.

Dr. Dave Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, explained that those who are considering free-range parenting should take everything on a "case by case basis."

"If your 12-year-old is capable of walking home from the bus stop by themselves, that's something that you might make a decision about where another 12-year-old may be too impulsive," Anderson explained on Good Morning America in March after the free-range parenting bill was initially signed.

Monday on GMA, ABC News' senior legal correspondent and analyst Sunny Hostin stressed that there are state-by-state differences when it comes to laws on leaving a child unattended.

"I think we need to take care of our children, but I also think as parents we need to know the law," Hostin said. "There's no federal law, but there are certainly laws in about 19 states and there are different age groups...figure out what the law is in your state, but err on the side of protecting your child."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Study shows cellphones in classrooms contribute to failing grades

By Dr. Kevin Riutzel

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Cellphones and laptops can be distracting for students in classrooms, and new research also shows that using electronic devices can even lower students’ grades.

Scientists who studied the effects of divided attention in people know that when attention is divided between two tasks, fewer items regarding those tasks may be recalled later -- a concept called “retention” in psychology.

Additional research on electronic devices shows that smart phones can reduce the ability to think to a person’s full potential, and additional research from Stanford University reveals that intense multitasking decreases the efficiency of completing a given task.

While previous studies demonstrated that divided attention may induce poor performance on exams, two researchers from Rutgers University sought to dive deeper.

Dr. Arnold Glass, the lead researcher for the study and a professor of psychology at Rutgers University, told ABC News that he's long been intrigued by the notion of technology-enhanced classrooms.

"I was always interested in using technology in the classroom before it existed, but when it became apparent that it was affecting the classroom, it raised the question [of] what effect this was having,” he said.

In a study published in the journal Educational Psychology, the two researchers divided 118 upper-level college students into two groups -- each enrolled in the same course, taught the same material by the same instructor, in the same classroom at roughly the same time of day.

The difference? One group was allowed to have laptops and cell phones open for non-classroom purposes, and the other group wasn't.

The group using devices scored about a half a letter grade lower on exams -- the difference between passing or failing for some students. Of note, students who didn’t use a device but were in the same classroom with those who did also scored lower. This was likely due to distraction from surrounding devices.

The researchers noted that this study shows the minimum reduction in exam performance, because this particular course used in-class questions to help students remember course material instead of just passive listening.
So it’s possible that students could do even worse in other courses, depending on how the class is taught and whether they're using electronic devices for non-classroom purposes.

Is this research applicable to high school, middle school or even meetings?

“No doubt,” Glass told ABC News. “Absolutely for sure.”

“These findings," he added, "should alert the many dedicated students and instructors that dividing attention is having an insidious effect that is impairing their exam performance and final grade."

Given the effects electronics have on students who were in the classroom but not using the devices themselves, Glass said in a press release that teacher need to "... explain to students the damaging effect of distractions on retention -- not only for themselves, but for the whole class."

Dr. Kevin Riutzel is a family medicine resident physician based out of Irvine, California and a resident in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Study shows dogs will go out of their way to help owners in emotional distress

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's no surprise to dog owners, but now it's scientifically sound: Dogs will go out of their way to help their owners when their humans are upset.

In a new study with the Lassie-inspired title Timmy’s in the Well: Empathy and Prosocial Helping in Dogs, Johns Hopkins University researchers positioned 34 dogs, one at a time, behind a door closed by magnets. On the other side was a given dog's respective owner.

Their owners were asked to either sing You Are My Sunshine or to feign crying. When the owners "cried," the pooches pawed the doors open faster.

Scientists had thought dogs would only try to open the door only when the owners were crying, but that turned out not to be the case; however, they did open the doors three times faster than the dogs with the singing owners. In some cases, the sound of their owners crying made some dogs freeze.

"We found dogs not only sense what their owners are feeling -- if a dog knows a way to help them, they’ll go through barriers to provide to help them," which was a discovery for the scientists, according to lead author Emily Sanford, a graduate student in psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

“Dogs have been by the side of humans for tens of thousands of years, and they’ve learned to read our social cues. Dog owners can tell that their dogs sense their feelings. Our findings reinforce that idea and show that, like Lassie, dogs who know their people are in trouble might spring into action."

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