Pregnant women who take folic acid and multivitamins have babies with lower autism risk, study says

AndreyPopov/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you're pregnant, a new study released Wednesday may give you one more reason to listen to your doctor if he or she prescribes a folic acid or multivitamin supplement.

Researchers in Israel studied 45,300 children born between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 31, 2007, also looking at survey data that indicated whether their mothers were prescribed multivitamin and folic acid supplements.

The children were followed from birth to Jan. 26, 2015.

"Maternal vitamin deficiency during pregnancy is inconsistently associated with cognitive functioning in offspring. ... Hence, FA (folic acid) and multivitamin supplements are routinely recommended to pregnant women," the study's authors said. "Our study aims to examine the association between maternal supplementation with FA and multivitamins before and/or during pregnancy and the risk of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) in offspring."

What researchers found: Those mothers who got either or both of the supplements during pregnancy had an estimated 73 percent lower chance of having a baby with an autism spectrum disorder than women who were not prescribed one or both of these supplements.

Of the children in the study, 572 were diagnosed with autism.

"Maternal exposure to folic acid and/or multivitamin supplements before pregnancy was statistically significantly associated with a lower likelihood of ASD in the offspring compared with no exposure before pregnancy," researchers said. "Maternal exposure to folic acid and/or multivitamin supplements during pregnancy was statistically significantly associated with a lower likelihood of ASD in offspring compared with no exposure during pregnancy."

The study's authors said, however, that their results "require cautious interpretation given several limitations" and that future studies were needed to replicate the findings.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief medical correspondent, said that this study raises "interesting questions" about preconception and prenatal nutritional status and the resultant association with autism.

"At this time, general consensus is that there is not one singular cause of autism, but more likely multiple causative factors, however, these findings do reflect a positive association with maternal preconception and prenatal intake of folic acid/prenatal vitamins and a reduced risk of having a baby with autism," Ashton said. "While we need to show biologic causation to definitively reinforce this link, these findings serve as a reminder of the importance of preconception and prenatal nutrition."

"It is crucial, however, to not allow these findings to have negative social impact on mothers who have children with autism by blaming them in any way for this outcome, since obviously there are plenty of mothers who did consume adequate preconception and prenatal folic acid, and had an offspring with autism anyway," she said. "We need more research."

The study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Multiple Tennessee school districts closed due to widespread flu

RyanKing999/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Widespread reports of the flu led three Tennessee school districts to remain closed for the rest of the week.

School districts in Benton, Humphreys and Stewart counties were scheduled to reopen later this week, but school officials told ABC News they postponed the opening to help prevent the spread of the illness.

Mark Florence, director of schools for Benton County, told ABC News the district consulted with community physicians and concluded that due to the high amount of flu cases they have seen this year, extending the Christmas holiday for the rest of the week would be best.

He added physicians told him in the last week alone, reported flu cases have doubled.

Humphreys County school district director Richard Rawlings echoed Florence’s reasoning for his district as well, telling ABC News schools will remain closed because of the flu and the bone-chilling weather. Rawlings said he and his colleagues consulted with doctors and nurse practitioners across the county before making the decision.

Stewart County Schools posted on its Facebook page Tuesday, writing, “In an effort to prevent the spread of flu and other illnesses, as well as prevent student exposure to extremely cold temperatures, Stewart County Schools will remain closed the rest of the week. Schools will reopen on Monday, January 8, 2018.”

Twelve flu-associated pediatric deaths have been reported for the 2017 to 2018 season thus far, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the 2016 to 2017 season, the CDC reported 110 pediatric deaths related to the flu, an increase from the year prior.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Sixth-graders help classmate reach $1M goal for medical research

(ABC News) Sixth-graders at Ipswich Middle School in Massachusetts celebrate with classmate Talia Duff after learning they helped her foundation meets its goal of raising $1 million by the end of 2017.  Sixth-graders at a Massachusetts middle school who created a video in December to help raise money for a classmate's medical-research foundation got a belated holiday surprise today.

"I'm here today to let you guys know that you have helped our foundation to get over $1 million!" Jocelyn Duff told the students and staff as she stood by her daughter, Talia Duff. "You showed the world that many people coming together can make an extraordinary difference -- and most importantly you showed the world what you would do for a friend."

PHOTO: The teachers at Ipswich Middle School share the good news with their sixth-grade students: Their viral video helped raise $1 million for classmate Talia Duffs foundation.ABC News
The teachers at Ipswich Middle School share the good news with their sixth-grade students: Their viral video helped raise $1 million for classmate Talia Duff's foundation.
more +

Talia Duff has Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathy type 4J (CMT4J), a rare genetic disease that weakens the muscles.

In 2017, her foundation Cure CMT4J set a goal of raising $1 million before the year's end to take the science that researchers already have and approach the Food and Drug Administration in hopes of a clinical trial.

Jocelyn Duff said that missing the 2017 deadline would mean an additional $1 million to $2 million needed for 2018.

Sixth-graders create video to help classmate reach $1M goal for medical research

PHOTO: Sixth-graders at Ipswich Middle School in Massachusetts celebrate with classmate Talia Duff after learning they helped her foundation meets its goal of raising $1 million by the end of 2017. ABC News
Sixth-graders at Ipswich Middle School in Massachusetts celebrate with classmate Talia Duff after learning they helped her foundation meets its goal of raising $1 million by the end of 2017.
more +

So, on Dec. 6, Talia Duff's sixth-grade classmates and their teachers at Ipswich Middle School released a video they'd brainstormed and created, educating people about CMT4J and Talia Duff. The video was shared over social media.

"Talia is just such an important part of our community," said Kathleen Simms, a sixth-grade math teacher at Ipswich. "The video really speaks to that town, this grade, to these students with just how connected they are to her. ... They work with her on a daily basis. They are interacting with her."

Before the sixth-graders' video, the foundation had raised more than $467,000 from 1,385 donations. After the video was released and shared Dec. 6, more than $532,000 was raised from over 4,315 donations.

PHOTO: Talia Duffs mother, Jocelyn Duff, visited Ipswich Middle School Jan. 3 to share the news with classmates.ABC News
Talia Duff's mother, Jocelyn Duff, visited Ipswich Middle School Jan. 3 to share the news with classmates.

As of today, according to the foundation, its total raised funds stand at more than $1 million from more than 5,700 donations. The foundation said donations had come from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Armed Forces Pacific Theater as well as six countries.

According to the foundation, children from across the U.S. donated Christmas and birthday monies.

Amelia Mooradd, a sixth-grader at Ipswich who has known Talia Duff for three years, said today that she was excited about being able to help raise money to find a cure for her friend.

"It's just so amazing and I'm so happy that we finally made it to $1 million," she said.

PHOTO: From selling shoelaces to lemonade stands and bake sales, the community of Ipswich, Massachusetts, has been rallying hard to raise $1 million by the end of 2017 for sixth-grader Talia Duff.CureCMT4J and Ipswich Middle School
From selling shoelaces to lemonade stands and bake sales, the community of Ipswich, Massachusetts, has been rallying hard to raise $1 million by the end of 2017 for sixth-grader Talia Duff.
more +

Jocelyn Duff told ABC News today that reaching the $1 million goal was "truly the work of thousands of angels."

She said the foundation's researchers are now putting together all of the necessary documentation to approach the FDA and are in talks regarding a clinical trial site and securing a clinical champion to take on CMT4J.

Jocelyn Duff said funding, however, must continue in order to reach a clinical trial for her daughter and others.

"We are overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement for achieving this milestone and could not be more proud of the message of kindness and generosity that these [sixth-graders] spread throughout the world, but our fight continues and we still need considerable help and donors in the next year," she said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


'I think I am going into labor': Bus driver pulls over to help pregnant woman

Chalabala/iStock/Thinkstock(MILWAUKEE) -- A bus driver in Milwaukee pulled over to help a woman who appeared to be in labor on Christmas Eve.

Tayetta Currin was driving her bus route in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, which borders Milwaukee, when she noticed a woman walking toward the street who looked like she needed help, the Milwaukee County Transit System told ABC News.

Currin pulled over the vehicle to check on the woman, according to the transit system.

Video shows the woman saying, "I think I am going into labor."

Currin, along with the help of passengers riding the bus, is seen in the video helping the woman onto the bus.

Being a mother herself, Currin was sensitive to what this woman was going through, said the MCTS.

The woman told Currin that she was seven months pregnant.

Currin and the bus passengers stayed alongside the woman until an ambulance arrived that took her to a local hospital.

MCTS said that it didn't get the woman's name and they are unsure if she gave birth, but it is hoping to identify the woman that was helped.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Woman pays for stranger’s birthday cake to honor her late daughter

(Courtesy Ashley Santi) McKenna Jodell died in 2008 at the age of nine months.(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) -- When Kyle Jauregui and his family went to an Arizona grocery store to pick up a birthday cake for his younger sister, they learned the cake had already been paid for.

“We were pretty shocked and really grateful,” Jauregui, 23, told ABC News. “When we read the card we all just felt an overwhelming amount of love and just felt really blessed.”

The card that came with the cake was written by Ashley Santi, 33, who also paid for the cake for Jauregui’s sister, a complete stranger to her.

Santi, of Scottsdale, lost her only child, daughter McKenna, in 2008. McKenna, who was 9 months old at the time, died of a traumatic brain injury after a television set fell on her in a freak accident.

Since 2010, Santi has anonymously paid for a birthday cake for a stranger on McKenna’s birthday, Dec. 27.

“I wanted to do something special for her birthday,” Santi said. “Each year I get a blank card and fill it out with whatever comes to mind and then leave it with the bakery to give to the family.”

Jauregui wanted to share the random act of kindness and tweeted photos of the cake and the card left by Santi.

That tweet connected Santi to Jauregui, and he and his family spoke to her on New Year’s Eve.

“It was amazing,” Santi said. “You want to be anonymous but it’s kind of neat to see how they react.

“McKenna is impacting more lives than I imagined,” she said.

Through the phone call Santi learned that Jauregui’s sister, Madison, shares McKenna’s exact birthday. Madison turned 11, one year older than McKenna would have turned this year.

“That was pretty awesome,” Santi said. “It’s her birthday so I want to do something special because I would do something special if she was alive. It’s just kind of my way of honoring her and loving her.”

Jauregui said Madison felt like she had a guardian angel with her on her birthday.

“I think it was overwhelming for my sister,” he said. “She just felt a little bit of extra love and extra blessed that day and felt like she had a guardian angel looking over her.”

Jauregui’s family, including Madison, plan to meet Santi in person this weekend.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Keto, Whole30 diets rank last on one best diets of 2018 list

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two of the most buzzed-about diets, the Keto diet and the Whole30 diet, have landed at the bottom of a new ranking of best diets for 2018.

The Keto diet, which promotes a low-carbohydrate, high-fat regimen, tied for last on the Best Diet Overall list released today by U.S. News and World Report.

"One of our experts said, ‘Any diet that recommends snacking on bacon can’t be taken seriously as a health-promoting way to eat,'" Angela Haupt, assistant managing editor of health at U.S. News and World Report, told ABC News.

Ketogenic, or low-carbohydrate diets, have been used for treatment of epilepsy for decades and more recently gained attention as a tool for weight loss. Severely restricting carbohydrates can result in a process called ketosis.

"One of the concerns with Keto is how high in saturated fat it is," Haupt said. "Our experts say the diet can be especially dangerous to people with severe diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease."

The Whole30 diet, which gets 60,000 searches per month in Google, came in next to last in the ranking of 40 diet plans. The diet, based on a bestselling book, strips food groups like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes from participants’ diets for a full 30 days, according to its website.

The expert panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants and physicians that ranked the diets criticized Whole30 in particular, along with the Body Reset diet, for “being ‘fad diets’ that unnecessarily wipe out entire food groups,” according to U.S. News and World Report.

"The main thing about [Whole30 and Keto diets] is they’re both extreme," Haupt said. "They’re both really restrictive, in some cases wiping out entire food groups, and our experts say it’s just not necessary and it’s not safe or healthy.

"You’re just not setting yourself up for any type of lasting, healthy, long-term success and you might even do damage to yourself in the process," she added.

Topping the list of best diets for 2018 were the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet, which tied for first place.

"Both of them are really nutritionally sound," Haupt said. "And they also have benefits for chronic diseases and even brain health and heart health."

Haupt said a desire for drastic change and fast results could explain why diets like Whole30 and Keto have reached such popularity.

"Slow and steady might work but it’s not the exciting way to go about things and weight loss can be so frustrating," Haupt said. "You might not see it as quickly but you are setting yourself up for longer, more healthy success when you do choose that sound plan."

Diet trends in 2018 will focus on promoting health from the inside out, according to U.S. News and World Report. The magazine reports consumers are interested in eating for whole body health as well as for specific body systems, like skin, muscles, bones, and a healthy nervous system.

Here is a breakdown of the diets that rounded out the top five in U.S. News and World Report's 2018 Best Diets ranking.


1 & 2. Mediterranean and DASH diets

The Mediterranean diet, which features meals high in "good" fats, ranked as the top diet on the U.S. News and World Report's ranking for the first time ever, in a tie with the DASH diet.

The Mediterranean diet recommends emulating how people in the Mediterranean region have traditionally eaten, with a focus on foods like olive oil, fish and vegetables. U.S. News and World Report called the diet a "well-balanced eating plan" and pointed to research that suggests the diet helps prevent some chronic diseases and increases longevity.

The DASH diet has been ranked as the No. 1 overall diet by U.S. News and World Report for eight consecutive rankings.

Originally started by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) as a diet to help reduce blood pressure, the DASH diet is made up of low-sodium and healthful foods. The NHLBI publishes free guides on the plan so you can see if it is right for you.

"The thing about the DASH diet is you’re eating specifically the foods you’ve always been told to eat, pretty much fruit, vegetables, whole grain, lean protein and low-fat dairy," Haupt said. "And it eliminates foods high in fat and sugar-sweetened drinks and sweets."

3. Flexitarian diet

The flexitarian diet encourages people to try alternative meat options, like tofu, but leaves room for flexibility if you can't quite fully give up meat. The diet was promoted by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner in a 2009 book that says you can reap the benefits of a plant-heavy diet even if you eat meat occasionally, according to U.S. News and World Report.

This plant-heavy diet focuses on adding five food groups -- "new meat," fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy and sugar and spices -- to your diet, instead of taking foods away. The "new meat" food group includes tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds and eggs, according to U.S. News and World Report.

4. Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers ranked in the top five for best diets overall and also obtained the No. 1 ranking for best commercial diets and best fast weight-loss diets this year.

The program, which is backed by Oprah Winfrey, focuses on assigning points based on the nutritional value of foods.

Weight Watchers, which offers support online and with in-person group meetings, assigns a points value to foods to encourage dieters to make healthful choices that will "fill" you up. The points are higher for foods high in saturated fats and sugars, and lower for foods with high levels of protein.

5. MIND, TLC and Volumetrics diets

The No. 5 spot in U.S. News and World Report's latest ranking is a three-way tie between the MIND Diet, TLC Diet and Volumetrics.

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, ranked third last year, is a hybrid of the top-rated DASH and Mediterranean diets.

The diet focuses on "10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables in particular, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine," according to U.S. News and World Report.

Among the diet's requirements is eating three servings of whole grains, a salad and another vegetable daily, as well as a single glass of wine if desired.

The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet was designed to help cut bad cholesterol and requires eating foods with less saturated fat.

The diet limits daily cholesterol intake while pushing more foods with fiber in order to help dieters manage high cholesterol without medication, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The Volumetrics diet is described as less of a diet and more of an approach to eating by U.S. News and World Report.

The diet, promoted by Penn State University nutrition professor Barbara Rolls, teaches you to, "decipher a food's energy density, cut the energy density of your meals and make choices that fight hunger," the magazine reports.

 Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Dry January: What is it and how beneficial can giving up alcohol be?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’re still feeling hungover from that New Year’s Eve Champagne or had one too many boozy eggnogs over the holidays, let this January be a fresh start.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, chief medical correspondent for ABC News, is going dry this January and encourages you to take the challenge with her: no alcohol for the month of January.

This is one resolution that might actually make you healthier.

The Dry January campaign was started in 2013 in England and is now making waves on this side of the pond. Australia and New Zealand have also participated in similar challenges.

There has been limited research on how quitting alcohol for a month affects your body, but a few studies have shown psychological and health benefits.

In 2013, 14 staff members at the magazine New Scientist teamed up with researchers at the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at the University College London Medical School to investigate the benefits of Dry January.

The staff members, who all considered themselves “normal” drinkers, underwent baseline testing with blood samples, liver ultrasound scans and questionnaires. For the next five weeks, 10 of them stopped drinking and four drank their normal amounts.

The people who stopped drinking had lower levels of liver fat (which can be a precursor to liver damage), improved blood sugars and lower cholesterol than they did at the beginning of the month. They also reported improved sleep and concentration. In contrast, the four people who kept drinking saw no benefit.

The University of Sussex reported that 2015 Dry January participants in the United Kingdom also had several other benefits: 82 percent felt a sense of achievement, 79 percent saved money, 62 percent had better sleep, 62 percent had more energy and 49 percent lost weight.

Staying dry for January may also help jump-start people to give up alcohol for longer.

Although most people who participate in Dry January return to drinking, up to 8 percent stay dry six months later, according to Public Health England and the British Medical Journal.

And those who go back to drinking drink less. A 2015 study conducted in the United Kingdom and published in the journal Health Psychology found that people who participated in Dry January drank less often, had fewer drinks when they did drink and were drunk less often six months after Dry January was completed.

Dry January participants were also better able to refuse alcoholic drinks. These benefits were even seen in people who did not complete the whole month of Dry January.

It might seem daunting to stop drinking alcohol for a whole month. Between cocktail hour after work, beers while watching the football game, and that relaxing glass of wine after a long day, our culture sometimes seems to revolve around alcohol.

But the 2015 Health Psychology study found that 65 percent of people successfully completed the month of abstinence.

Of course, the longer you can stay away from alcohol, the better.

People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol -- more than seven drinks per week for women or people older than 65 and more than 14 drinks per week for men younger than 65 -- are at higher risk of death and many medical conditions.

Excessive alcohol use is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

People who drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol are more likely to have high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, nerve damage, infections including pneumonia and even certain cancers like breast cancer.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is also associated with a number of psychiatric conditions, including depression, higher rates of suicide, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, insomnia and other substance abuse disorders.

Dr. Fulton Crews, the director of the Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said attempting to stop drinking for Dry January is a good opportunity for people to see if they have an actual addiction to alcohol.

“Many people are in denial about their drinking and hazardous drinking, and if they try to stop and are not able to, it really points out to them their weakness," Crews told ABC News. "If they can’t stop for a month, they would realize that they have a problem.

"Either that or they do it, and they realize it's not that hard for them," said Crews, who described Dry January as a "good idea."

For those individuals who drink alcohol within the recommended limits, Crews said he is "not sure there would be any observable benefits."

"I don’t see any clear potential for a moderate drinking person to stop drinking," he said.

If you do choose to participate in Dry January, Crews shared his advice for sticking to the program.

“Try to avoid temptation by maybe putting all the alcohol out of the house," he said.

 Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


How to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning this winter

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A recent string of injuries and deaths across the country has brought attention to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, especially during colder months.

One incident of possible carbon monoxide poisoning in Ohio left two people dead last Friday, according to ABC's Dayton, Ohio affiliate WKEF. High levels of carbon monoxide were detected in the home where the woman and man were found dead, officials said.

Authorities in Parks, Arizona, found a family of four, including two children, dead inside their home on New Year's day, according to ABC News affiliate KNXV. Investigators hired a licensed heating and cooling provider and found a major failure with the in-home heating system, which officials said would be consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ten people were hospitalized on Monday after their St. Paul, Minnesota, home had dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, according to ABC News affiliate KSTP.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that as temperatures drop and in-house heating systems are turned on, the winter can be an especially dangerous time since space heaters, generators and other portable heating devices can leak carbon monoxide.

Every year 400 Americans die from exposure to carbon monoxide, according to the CDC, with 4,000 hospitalized and 20,000 ending up in the emergency room as a result of exposure to the colorless, odorless gas.

The signs and symptoms of exposure can be subtle, leading people to try and sleep it off instead of heading straight for the emergency room. So here's the information you need to know to stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Sign and symptoms

Carbon monoxide can be deadly but its initial symptoms can be mild, starting off as just a headache and sleepiness.

Dr. Jerri Rose, the program director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Cleveland's University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, said early symptoms, including fatigue, headache, nausea and short of breath, can often appear to be an early flu.

In severe cases, a person can become confused or faint due to the effects. In rare cases, death is possible.

Doctors may also notice a slight redness in the face or lips of a person with CO poisoning in rare cases, Rose said.

"In actual reality, few physicians ever see that," Rose said of the red face symptoms. "Generally there’s not really anything you can look at by telling someone."

Carbon monoxide safeguards

The CDC recommends that everyone have a carbon monoxide detector in their home. Rose suggests that people who live in a multilevel home have detectors for every floor of their home, similar to their smoke detector.

Common sources of carbon monoxide are internal combustion engines or heating sources. Every year, doctors hear stories of people killed by carbon monoxide as they tried to heat their homes, Rose said.

To protect against carbon monoxide poisoning, the CDC recommends that heating systems, water heaters and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances be serviced by a qualified technician every year. Make sure gas appliances are vented properly and never use a generator, camp stove or oven as a heater indoors.

A full list of advice from the CDC can be found here.

How does carbon monoxide poisoning work?

When the body absorbs carbon monoxide, these molecules bind up the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. This makes it impossible for the red blood cells to carry vital oxygen and deliver it to organs and muscles.

There is no "safe" level of exposure to carbon monoxide, Rose said, and acute symptoms can occur in minutes or days depending on the level of CO exposure.


Doctors usually treat carbon monoxide by giving the affected person oxygen through a mask, according to Rose.

In extreme cases, doctors can rush a patient to a hyperbaric chamber, which can help raise blood oxygen levels more quickly since the pressurized environment allows the victim to inhale more oxygen molecules with each breath, Rose said.

Early treatment is critical, according to Rose, who said patients shouldn't be afraid to get help for symptoms that may appear minor.

"It’s important for people to be aware if they have any symptoms at all, they should come in and get checked out," she said. "If they suspect that they could be [exposed] it could be very life-threatening to not seek medical attention, especially in winter time."

 Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Five fitness vacations to take in 2018 

Courtesy Canyon Ranch(NEW YORK) -- If two of your New Year's resolutions are to get fit and travel more, taking a wellness vacation might be the best way to get a jump-start on keeping true to your word.

We've rounded up a few of the best places to drop a few pounds and get a little R&R in the process.

Canyon Ranch

A staple in wellness travel, Canyon Ranch has resorts in Tucson, Arizona, and Lenox, Massachusetts. Programs geared for moms and fitness buffs are offered.

For those looking to jump-start a healthier lifestyle, the 7 Days to Change program in Tucson is a good option. It includes daily fitness and addresses nutrition and stress. Other week-long programs include: Weight Loss Program, Focus on Mindfulness, Renew Your Spirit Week, Focus on Brain Health, Encore: Flourishing in the Second Half of Life and Women’s Health and Wellness Summit. A day might include a water workout, hiking, pilates, seminars and more.

Canyon Ranch is all inclusive, rates start at $1,000 per person, per night.


This all-inclusive resort on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia is dedicated to well-being and allows guests to design their own getaway. Yoga, spin, pilates, Zumba and beach volleyball are available.

New this year, however, is the addition of the Villa Firefly and customized-themed getaways. The four-bedroom villa can accommodate up to 10 guests. Retreats are Cleanse & Detox, Yoga, Mindfulness, Weight Loss and Verdic, which is "designed to restore guests who are mentally, emotionally, or physically drained by a demanding work or home life. The retreat uses a 360 degree approach, which aims to rejuvenate and re-balance mind, body, and soul." Dates for retreats vary by theme; check with the resort for details.

Prices are from $550 per person, per night.

Biggest Loser Resorts

You've heard of the show and some of the amazing transformations that have taken place. If you're hoping for a major weight loss of your own, check out one of the three Biggest Loser Resort locations in Amelia Island, Florida, Niagara, New York, or Palm Desert, California.

A typical day at the resort starts with an early yoga class and includes several other activities -- like spin and circuit training -- in the afternoon and evening. There are classes on emotional versus intuitive eating, interactive cooking demonstrations and three calorie conscious meals each day. Prices vary depending on length of stay and room type, but a stay generally runs about $2,000 per person, per week.

The Ranch

With 4, 7 and 10-day options and locations in both Malibu and Westlake Village, California, The Ranch has an option that fits your scheduling needs. Each day starts with an hours-long hike and several hours of low-impact strength training. Plan on yoga, cooking classes and massages during your stay.

Prices vary, the popular 7-day program is priced at $7,800.

The Fitness Cruise

Unlike our other recommendations, you'll only have one shot at The Fitness Cruise in 2018. The 7-day cruise departs on Oct. 28 from Miami and goes to various ports in the Eastern Caribbean. Guests onboard the Norwegian Getaway can take cardio classes, dance classes, yoga, cooking seminars and more.

The Fitness Cruise is priced from $1,066 per person for an inside cabin.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Mom welcomes twins in 2 different years

Maria Esperanza Flores Rios(LOS ANGELES) -- A set of twins in Southern California were born in two different years.

Although they were born just 18 minutes apart, Joaquin Ontiveros was born a year earlier than his sister, Aitana de Jesus, at the Delano Regional Medical Center in California's Kern County, their mother, Earlimart resident Maria Esperanza Flores Rios told ABC News on Tuesday.

The baby boy was born at 11:58 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2017, and weighed in at 5 pounds, 9 ounces and was 18 inches long, ABC station KABC reported. His younger sister was born at 12:16 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2018, at 4 pounds, 10 ounces and 16 inches long.

Rios gave birth to the twins via C-section nearly 4 weeks early, she said. Her original due date was scheduled for Jan. 27.

The hospital wrote on Facebook that it was "honored to play a significant role in this 2018 New Year delivery of baby twins" and thanked the "dedicated" hospital staff.

Rios' sister, 25-year-old Aurelia Perez Rios, told ABC News that she is happy for her sister and brother-in-law.

"I'm excited and thrilled to be an aunt once again," Aurelia Perez Rios said.

Rios is now a mother of five.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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