Couple loses nearly 600 collective pounds for their wedding

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Ask these two the secret to love and, they’ll tell you, “A couple that trains together, stays together.”

Ronnie Brower and Andrea Masella are getting married on Saturday in Syracuse, New York -- healthier and considerably thinner than when they met. The couple has lost nearly 600 pounds collectively.

“I often thought before I met Ronnie, ‘What am I going to do? I hope I meet someone that lives healthy too, because otherwise I could just go backwards,’” Masella, 24, told ABC News.

Four years ago, Brower was single and weighed 675 pounds.

“My doctor told me, ‘Ronnie, if you don’t do something, you are going to die before you are 30,’” he recalled.

Taking charge of his health, Brower started working out at his local gym, Mission Fitness, where he met Masella, who was also trying to trim down from 250 pounds.

“Her working out and living the same lifestyle as me definitely attracted me to her,” said Brower, 32, who has since lost more than 450 pounds.

“I just loved that Ronnie took care of himself,” Masella added. “He just got healthy and shed all of this weight.”

The soon-to-be newlyweds said they used the Ketogenic Diet and intense cardio training to shed the pounds. They’ve supported each other the entire journey, keeping the weight off together, and are now ready to start a new life as a healthy, happy husband and wife.

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Eighth-graders help create 3D prosthetic hand for farmer

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Thanks to a group of middle school students, an Illinois farmer who lost his hand in a 2013 machinery accident will have a new prosthesis to show off around town.

On Wednesday, Jake Hubbard, 30, met with some of the 20 or so people who helped create his 3-D prosthetic hand, including eighth-graders at Rochelle Middle School in Illinois and their tech-lab teacher Vic Worthington.

"This is going to fill that void in my life so I have something to wear when I'm with my family and we go places and do things," Hubbard said. "It's very exciting."

Hubbard told ABC News Wednesday that although he already had one prosthetic hand, he carried it in his toolbox.

"It's an everyday tool," said the father of three. "I don't wear it in public because it's beat up. It's rough."

Worthington said the effort began in August 2016, after he'd struck up a conversation with Hubbard at church. He said he got to know more about Hubbard's life and how he'd lost his hand.

In 2013, Hubbard was moving a large wheel from a machine when he slipped in the mud. The wheel fell on his arm, leaving him pinned overnight. He was found by another farmer the next day but his arm below the elbow could not be saved.

After chatting with Hubbard, Worthington said he came across prosthetic arms that had been made via 3-D printers. Although the school had gotten a 3-D printer with a STEM grant, Worthington had yet to find a use for it.

So Worthington, who teaches sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Rochelle in a STEM-based class, asked Hubbard whether his students could try to make him a hand and Hubbard said OK.

Worthington said that 10 to 12 students had been involved in the project. The project took the entire school year.

On Wednesday, the students met with Hubbard for the first time so he could try on the prosthesis. Worthington credited the students and Rochelle residents and businesses as well as an Ohio engineer that had worked to design and create the prosthetic hand.

"This was never a charity case for the kids or for us or anybody else," he said. "This is a working man who's trying to take care of his family. The guy just never stops and I thought, 'Man, if there's something we can do to make his life better, let's go for it.' It's so exciting to see people care."

The team still has more work to do on the hand. Hubbard said he would be working with the students to make tweaks and fine-tune it.

Student Keanon Voss told ABC News he planned to return to the middle school next year to continue perfecting the prosthesis for Hubbard, even after he'd graduated.

"I'm not going to stop until we get to that point," Voss said. "I started this. Why not finish it?"

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Hepatitis C rates nearly double in pregnant women amid opioid epidemic, CDC says

sarathsasidharan/iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Rates of the viral disease hepatitis C have risen sharply in recent years, nearly doubling in pregnant women, according to a new report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rates of maternal hepatitis C infection increased 89 percent from 1.8 to 3.4 women per 1,000 live births, according to the study published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Certain states reported particularly high rates of infants born to mothers who test positive for the viral disease.

In West Virginia, where the ongoing opioid epidemic has hit hard, the infection rate was 22.6 women per 1,000 live births. In Tennessee, the rate was 10.1 women per 1,000 births

Dr. Stephen Patrick, lead author on the study and a neonatoloigst at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the study findings point to an "emerging public health issue."

"The worry is that with our current system [patients] don't know they're infected and our systems that follow infants are pretty poor," he said. Since hepatitis C often doesn't cause symptoms for years, Patrick said patients may not seek supportive medical care or may spread the disease without realizing it.

Patrick and the other researchers reviewed data from birth certificates from the National Vital Statistics System between 2009 and 2014 and the Tennessee Department of Heath vital records. The national data was used to study overall rates of hepatitis C infections in pregnant women and the Tennessee data was used to examine individual characteristics and outcomes associated with the infection.

The Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a blood-borne infection that can cause chronic inflammation of the liver.

While the disease is more common in the baby boomer population, Patrick said the new infections have increased among women in their reproductive years revealing one new effect of the opioid epidemic. The viral disease can be easily transmitted if people share needles and via sexual contact.

He pointed out that rural areas where the opioid epidemic had been centered have now been hit particularly hard by the increasing hepatitis C rates.

"We found that some counties -- particularly rural counties in Tennessee -- where eight percent of infants were exposed to hepatitis C," said Patrick. The infants were exposed to the virus by being born to mothers who tested positive for the disease.

In one West Virginia county, one out of every 50 births involved a woman who tested positive for hepatitis C, Patrick said.

Patrick said he hoped the findings may lead to additional screening for pregnant women, especially if they live in areas with high levels of opioid abuse. He also called for more assistance to get these women into treatment and to better understand opioid addiction to treat these patients.

"It continues to call for public health approach," Patrick said.

While there are medications that can resolve hepatitis C infections, they are not approved for pregnant women or children at this point.

The study joins other evidence pointing to the devastating effects of opioid abuse on hepatitis C rates. In a preliminary study released by the CDC today, rates of hepatitis C infection that were reported reached a 15-year high.

The annual numbers of hepatitis C reported to the CDC have nearly tripled, rising from 850 in 2010 to 2,436 in 2015. CDC researchers estimate this is likely just a fraction of the true numbers, since many people may not know they are infected. They estimate 34,000 new hepatitis C infections occurred in 2015 alone.

"By testing, curing and preventing hepatitis C, we can protect generations of Americans from needless suffering and death," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention in a statement released today. "We must reach the hardest-hit communities with a range of prevention and treatment services that can diagnose people with hepatitis C and link them to treatment."

The CDC said the data show the increase was primarily a result of intravenous drug use.

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CDC: Teen student drinking at 25-year low but binge drinking persists

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Teen drinking appears to have reached a new low, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The percent of teens who reported drinking at least one drink per month dropped from 50.8 percent in 1991 to just 32.8 percent in 2015.

However, those who reported drinking tended to also report what is considered binge drinking: 57.8 percent of teens who reported drinking said they have had five drinks in a row.

"Despite progress, current and binge drinking remain common among high school students, and many students who binge drink do so at high intensity," the authors wrote. Of the students who reported binge drinking, 43.8 percent said they had consumed at least eight drinks in one sitting.

Overall, rates of teen binge drinking dropped from a high of 31.5 percent of teens in 1999 to 17.7 percent of teen students in 2015 according to the report.

The CDC researchers examined data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, where students complete a self-administered questionnaire. Between 1991 and 2015, the sample size of the students studied ranged from 10,904 to 16,410. The researchers acknowledge one limitation of the study is that it does not include teens who aren't enrolled in school.

The researchers said one of the reasons for the decline in drinking rates is likely the increase in state policies designed to prevent underage drinking. But there is more to be done.

Despite the apparent downward trend for teen student drinking, excessive alcohol consumption remains a danger, according to the CDC and advocacy groups. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services characterizes underage drinking as a "a considerable public health challenge."

Approximately 4,300 deaths among underage people were recorded annually between 2006 and 2010, according to the CDC report.

There is also a financial cost to excessive drinking. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, cited by the CDC, showed the costs for medical care associated with excessive drinking, including underage drinking, was more than $24.3 billion in the U.S.

To deter more teens from picking up the bottle, the CDC said some policy changes based on evidence-based studies could help. Strategies to help curb teen drinking could include raising taxes on alcohol and passing laws that regulate the number of places to buy or consume alcohol in a specific area. Additionally, they advise implementing more rules around alcohol advertising to prevent marketing that appeals to teens.

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Doctor seeks to ease vaccine fears amid Minnesota measles outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Weeks into Minneapolis' worst measles outbreak in more than 25 years, public health experts are still struggling to get some families in the Somali community to vaccinate their children.

Currently, 51 people have been infected with measles in Minnesota, 46 of whom are Somali-Americans. For years, public health officials have been trying to increase the vaccination rates in the Somali community, which dropped precipitously in the mid 2000s over fears about the now-debunked theory that vaccines were linked with autism.

In 2008, the Minnesota Department of Health found that Somali children in Minneapolis were more likely to take part in services for autistic children, although it was unclear if that was because more children in the community had the disorder or because there was better outreach to the community.

Dr. Mahab Ururshe, a pediatrician at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, is originally from Somalia and says he still sees many parents afraid of vaccines, even though numerous studies have shown no link between autism and vaccines.

The parents say, "I know measles, I have had it and my mom had it -- better to have measles than autism," Ururshe told ABC News.

In order to convince some parents that vaccines are safe, Ururshe has spent long periods of time explaining that studies have found no link between vaccines and autism. He also has to point out that the disease can be deadly and that, in Somalia, there was no accurate data compiled about measles complications.

Severe complications from measles include pneumonia and inflammation of the brain and a condition called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) that is fatal and more common in infants, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates one to two of every 1,000 infected children dies from the disease.

Ururshe also tells parents that despite dramatically lowered rates of vaccination in the Somali community in recent years, rates of autism have continued to rise. While parents often believe him, Ururshe said some remain too frightened to act.

"They say 'OK, I know they think it doesn't cause it,'" Ururshe recalled. "[But] I cannot gamble on my son or daughter.'"

While the overall vaccination compliance rate for Minnesota kindergartners is around 90 percent, it is only about 40 percent in the Somali community, according to Kris Ehresmann, director for infectious disease at the Minnesota Department of Health. Ehresmann said with such low levels of vaccination, public health officials have been worried about an outbreak for some time.

"We've known it's going to be a matter of time before something happens," she told ABC News in an earlier interview.

Ururshe said he's seen more and more parents are coming in, asking for their children to be vaccinated. Some other parents come in worried, but are willing to consider vaccination.

That last group "is undecided and confused" Ururshe said, explaining that some parents waffle between accepting the vaccine and fearing it.

"They decide to come in the morning and in the morning they've changed their minds," he said.

Ururshe said it's an asset to be from Somalia when talking to these patients, since he understands the culture and language. When some parents argue that autism only happened when they arrived in the U.S., Urushe has answered that there wasn't a vocabulary to identify the same condition in Somalia.

"There is more trust between the parents and a Somali-speaking or Somali doctor than non-Somalis," he said. "They say 'OK, I trust you, should I give my son or daughter [the vaccine]?"

At least 11 patients have been hospitalized during this most recent outbreak, which is the largest since 1991. The measles virus is spread through infected mucus and is often transmitted to others through coughing or sneezing, but can also live in infected airspace for up to 2 hours, according to the CDC. It is a highly contagious diseases, able to infect 90 percent of unimmunized people who are exposed to it, the agency says.

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Report links painkillers to increased risk of heart attack

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new report in the British Medical Journal appears to link commonly used painkillers to an increased risk of heart attack.

The painkillers that the team of researchers from Canada, Finland and Germany studied included naproxen, celebrex, ibuprofen, voltaren and rofecoxib, which are all classified as oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. NSAIDs are available both with a prescription and over the counter.

Researchers examined over 450,000 cases of "myocardial infarction," or heart attacks, from four databases in Canada, the United Kingdom and Finland. The group found that more than 60,000 of the patients they observed were taking NSAIDs near the time of their cardiac event.

The team also found that patients were most vulnerable during the first month of their NSAID treatment, and that those who were taking higher doses of NSAIDs were at the highest risk.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief women's health correspondent, said the new report, published Tuesday, should raise people's awareness but also needs "a lot more data" to draw more definitive findings.

"This study was based on observation. It didn’t explain a mechanism or cause or effect," Ashton said Thursday on Good Morning America. "There were other factors that could have also increased the risk of heart attack in those people which weren’t taken into account."

Any over-the-counter or prescription medications taken to treat ailments like fever, pain and injury come with their own unique risks and benefits, Ashton said.

"They can be safe and effective but it’s not one size fits all, and I think that’s the key message here," she said. "People need to individualize that risk and have the awareness that it could be increased."

Ashton recommended people take steps on their own to reduce the risk of a heart attack, including not smoking, being active daily and limiting alcohol intake.

"It’s not going to completely remove the risk of death from heart attack,” she said, “but it can lower it and it’s in your control.”

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Mom delivers big baby who 'looks like a toddler'

iStock/Thinkstock(MERCED, Calif.) -- Just in time for Mother’s Day, Jenna Reyes is home from the hospital with her second born, a not-so-little bundle of joy named Raymond.

Raymond was born on April 30 at Mercy Medical Center in Merced, California, and weighed a whopping 13.5 pounds.

“He looks like a toddler, he was so big,” Reyes told the ABC affiliate in Sacramento, KFSN-TV.

According to Reyes, her newborn is already wearing size two diapers and gets dressed in clothing sized three to six months.

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Your Body: Breastfeeding and brain development

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

Is breastfeeding really better than not breastfeeding when it comes to brain development?

Researchers in Ireland looked at 8,000 babies, checking in on them at 9 months, 3 years and 5 years, and comparing those who were breastfed and those were not. They found that in terms of cognitive development, at 3 years there was a slight improvement among those who were breastfed. But at 5 years, there was no difference in terms of vocabulary, hyperactivity and overall reasoning ability.

We know that breastfeeding has multiple benefits for babies, such as decreasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), obesity and certain infant infections. And for mothers, breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

But the reality of breastfeeding is that it’s not always possible for every mom, so as a doctor and a mother, I feel the keyword in breastfeeding is feeding -- and every mom should feed their baby the best way they can.

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Legally blind fourth-grader gets gift of sight for his birthday

Ryan McVay/iStock/Thinkstock(MARYVILLE, Tenn.) -- A legally blind fourth-grader in Tennessee got the birthday gift of a lifetime recently when his school surprised him with glasses giving him perfect vision.

On Friday, Lanier Elementary in Maryville presented Andrew Borden, 10, with eSight3 eyewear. He'd been told the gift was for his class of rising fifth-graders. The cameras were rolling as he
screamed with joy, realizing the contents of the box were actually for him.

"These glasses brought me from a faraway distance of 2,200 to 20/20," Andrew told ABC affiliate WATE-TV recently. "This would make things a whole lot easier, from reading to just playing games in
class, on the computers."

The eSight3 eyewear came with a visor, equipped with two cameras, that goes over Andrew's regular glasses as well as a hand controller and a dial that lets him zoom in and out. The visor also has a
light and a freeze-frame option.

It was a gift that Andrew said he and his classmates had been hopefully anticipating for weeks.

Andrew has ocular albinism, which affects his hair, skin and eyes. Justin Borden, Andrew's father, said that Andrew had poor vision since birth but that as he'd gotten older and more interested in
activities, he and wife Jennifer Borden had sought out solutions to assist him.

Justin Borden said that when he learned of the glasses almost a month and a half ago, he shared it with Jennifer Borden. She then reached out to eSight3 and the family traveled to Atlanta, Georgia,
to have Andrew fitted for custom glasses. They glasses cost $10,000.

Jennifer Borden said that once they got home, the family started reaching out to the school and other organizations for help with raising the money for the glasses.

Renee Powell, a teacher at the school, told WATE-TV that the school had helped put together a fundraising site on GoFundMe after learning that Andrew's parents could not afford the glasses.

"We knew as a community we could do it because we have a small community but we have big hearts and we love our community members," Powell said. "Andrew is one of the most special, little guys I've
ever worked with. ... It's just a dream come true for everyone here in our community."

Two days after posting the GoFundMe, more than $15,000 had been raised for Andrew. Jennifer Borden said there were a lot of anonymous donations.

"I think we cried every day that our GoFundMe page was up," Jennifer Borden said. "It's huge to realize that you have that kind of community."

Powell, Andrew and his parents all expressed gratitude to the school, the community and the anonymous donors who gave to the fundraising site. Powell said Andrew was excited for this new chapter in
his life.

"He's just an amazing little guy. He's smart. He's outgoing. He loves to joke around. ... He has overcome so much but you would never know because he's everybody's friend and everybody wants to be
his friend," she said.

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'Supermoms' at Colorado hospitals with their kids get gifts for Mother's Day

jojof/iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER, Co.) -- This Mother's Day, 175 moms across Colorado who are spending the day in the hospital caring for a sick child will be recognized with a gift.

It's the work of a group called "Celebrating Supermoms," created and led by Sarah Portillo, herself a mom who knows all too well the struggles of spending weeks and sometimes months on end inside
hospital walls.

"It's saying, 'Hey we see you, we want to encourage you,'" Portillo told ABC News. Her daughter, Lily, has acute medical needs. It was back in 2008 when Lily was 5 and needed surgery and recovery
that fell over Mother's Day weekend that Portillo said she first had the thought that hospitals should have volunteer events for moms over the holiday.

Fast forward seven years later and she reconnected with a friend, Rachele Chrismer, and found out her son had passed away on Mother's Day. Chrismer was passing out gift bags in Zack's honor.

It was then Portillo decided she could take that idea and make it bigger, though she credits Chrismer with sparking her Celebrating Supermoms movement. Chrismer has since moved to Minnesota and
still passes out gift bags to moms.

Fundraising for Portillo's "supermom" gift bags begins in the fall each year, she said. The bags often include a book, toothpaste, toothbrush, a cozy blanket, nail polish, gift cards and more. "One
of the reasons these moms are so super is because they don't expect it at all. They are doing what they feel they are supposed to be doing to the best of their abilities."

Still, being away from home to care for a hospital-bound child is stressful for mothers.

"They're often miles and miles away from family and other children," Portillo said. "They have nobody. Walk down a hospital hall and see the moms with their kids, the majority of the time, they're
not rested, not bathed, haven't eaten. What they and their child are going through is overwhelming."

Anna Pakiz was the recipient of a gift bag two years in a row. Her daughter, Caroline, had hollow visceral myopathy, a digestive disorder, and "spent more time in the hospital than not," Pakiz told
ABC News.

Caroline passed away in July 2016 when she was 5 years old.

This year, Pakiz will be handing out supermom bags at Rocky Mountain Children's Hospital, expanding the program from two hospitals to three. The others are Children’s Hospital Colorado and Poudre
Valley Medical Center.

"Every child's illness is different," Pakiz said, "but I feel like I can relate to their position. I do know what it is like to be in hospital day after day, away from other kids. You don’t always
feel like the best mom."

She hopes the idea will spread to hospitals around the country.

Pakiz said she thinks Caroline would like that she's spending this first Mother's Day without her helping out others in need. "I think, I hope she'd be proud."

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