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moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  After beginning her professional modeling career last year, Madeline Stuart has jetted across the globe for photo shoots and runway shows. A hectic schedule comes with the modeling territory. But Stuart has something else to prove to the world.

She was born with Down syndrome and is working hard to change society's perceptions of modeling. According to Stuart, she is the only professional model with the genetic disorder. But her condition has not slowed down her career. The teenager is walking in the FTL Moda show during New York Fashion Week -- her second time modeling at the fashion event.

"I hope through modelling I can change societies view of people with Disabilities," she wrote on her Facebook page. "Exposure is creating awareness, acceptance and inclusion."

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that develops when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. Individuals with Down syndrome often have a lower IQ and slower speech. The disease can also affect a person in physical ways. including smaller hands and feet, almond-shaped eyes and small ears.

Rosanne Stuart, Madeline's mother and manager, told ABC News that Madeline has become more outgoing and communicative as a result of her time in front of the camera.

"We always get fantastic feedback from makeup artists, photographers and product companies. She is not pretentious and very focused and down to earth, which I think is amazing as before this she could not get any type of work," Stuart wrote in an email. "She has also developed a very outgoing personality and communicates a lot more."

 She said that she and her daughter have received a lot of support and encouragement.

"I think the most exciting thing is all the thousands of people that have reached out in appreciation of what she is doing and what our beliefs are on changing the world's perspective on disability," Stuart said. "It has been really touching and has made us want to keep going and to keep trying to help people."

Stuart added that Madeline was especially happy about returning to New York Fashion Week.

"We are so grateful for all the support [Madeline] gets as it not only makes her a very happy young woman but it gives us faith in humanity," Stuart said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Courtesy Lindsay Rhoades(NEW YORK) --  A Virginia mom is hoping to raise awareness of pediatric cancer by sharing a tearful video of herself reading a letter she wrote to her recently deceased daughter.

"The day that she passed, I wrote it that morning - after I got back from the hospital," Lindsay Rhoades, of Herndon, Virginia, told ABC News today. "I read it at her service. I've written letters to Kate for a long stretch of time, but this particular letter I thought about all the things I wanted to say to her if I had the opportunity to say them to her."

 Rhoades, 39, said her daughter Kate was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the summer of 2013 and completed her treatments in September 2015.

But on Jan. 11 blood work revealed that Kate had relapsed and one day later, she died at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia. She was just 4 years old.

"She did so well through treatment and she was perfect, so this was truly the ultimate shock," Rhoades said. "It was absolutely the most gut-wrenching [feeling].... There's a lot of guilt wondering if there's something we could’ve done differently ... and utter disbelief because she was are only child and she just started living.

"She was an angel," Rhoades added. "She was very patient, very gentle, very studious, very, very sweet. She had a big place in her heart for other people that didn’t feel well.... She was also funny - so, so funny. She would’ve done big things, I think."

 On Feb. 5, Rhoades said Mike Gillette, founder of The Truth 365, a social media campaign for children fighting cancer, encouraged her to appear in one of his videos, after hearing her read a letter she wrote to Kate at her funeral. It reads, in part:

"Our Dearest, Darling, Kate,

"Did you know how much we love you? How many times a day did we tell you while we kissed your sweet cheek? If you knew even half as much as we hoped you would, then we did our job as your mommy and daddy.

"... We always wanted to be your mommy and daddy, you know. We dreamed about who you would become, what music you would like and who your first crush would be. I was secretly excited to find out who your first boy band would be so that I could pretend to like their music for you. We wondered how you would like school. Would you be athletic or studious? Where might you go to college and what would you study? This nightmare of never knowing who you will grow up to be will haunt us for the rest of our lives - forever for, they say.

"Since 4 is the forever we were given, I'd say it was a mighty fine 4, and without even knowing it, we spent the last four months building one heck of a lifetime together.... Kit-Kat, we promise that your life will be remembered for the cheerful, bubbly, way you lived, and that your beautiful spirit will be with us forever.

"... God only knows how we'll get along without your sweet face, adorable voice and cheeky grin. When you see him, ask him if he has any pointers on that. Then come by and share them with us. Maybe through a pretty snowfall out back this winter, a breezy day hammocking this spring and the smell of the honeysuckle you loved in our backyard this summer, or as a beautiful fox in our front yard. Come visit us, baby, We know you can't stay. Just promise you'll come...."

 The video, titled "Letter to Kate," has been viewed more than 124,000 times since being posted on The Truth 365's Facebook page.

"The part toward the end, we talk about how we will not let her passing be in vain," Rhoades said. "We want to to raise awareness for pediatric cancer and ultimately for a cure. When she passed, I promised we will not let it be for nothing. We will do big things in her name."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  A 9-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis saw his wish to be Iron Man come true when the entire city of Sydney, Australia, got behind him and turned him into "Iron Boy" for the day.

Domenic Pace even got a shout-out from Iron Man himself, Robert Downey, Jr., who played the superhero on the big screen.

The actor tweeted about Pace’s "top secret mission" on Wednesday.

Sent a very special boy on a top secret mission today. Go get ‘em, Domenic! #IronBoyAU @MakeAWishAust

— Robert Downey Jr (@RobertDowneyJr) February 11, 2016

Domenic’s mom told Make-A-Wish Australia, which coordinated Domenic’s adventure, that he would only answer to “Tony” (Tony Stark, or Iron Man) starting at a young age.

On Wednesday, Domenic was whisked to New South Wales police headquarters via a helicopter and outfitted in an Iron Boy costume.

He was then taken to a nearby island to help rescue a Make-A-Wish news reporter who had “been kidnapped by Ultron’s henchmen,” according to Make-A-Wish Australia.

Domenic, as Iron Boy, then traveled back to Sydney, where he defeated Ultron on the steps of the iconic Sydney Opera House.

In an epic conclusion to the day, Downey recorded a special video message for Domenic and made him an honorary member of the Avengers.

News outlets throughout Australia and the world tweeted about Domenic's day, which was reminiscent of the day in the U.S. nearly two years ago when San Francisco transformed into Gotham City to fulfill a then-5-year-old boy's wish to be Batman for a day.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Shivam Saxena/Hindustan Times via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Wrestling star Daniel Bryan announced his retirement Monday, citing multiple concussions he sustained over his 16-year career.

Speaking at a WWE event, he revealed that doctors had already found evidence that repeated head injuries had affected his brain.

"Within the first five months of my wrestling career, I already had three concussions," he said. "It gets to the point that when you've been wrestling for 16 years, that adds up to a lot of concussions."

Bryan spoke on ESPN about why he retired despite his popularity with fans.

"You have a responsibility to yourself, your family, your friends just to protect yourself," he said this week.

Bryan clarified that he did not blame the WWE for his injuries or his early retirement. He noted that the WWE even stopped him from wrestling after his last concussion despite multiple doctors saying he could compete.

Concussions from professional sports have gained attention in recent years due to new findings about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopahty (CTE).

The degenerative disease involves a buildup of the abnormal protein called tao, which is also found in Alzheimer's patients and is associated with a breakdown of brain tissue. It's believed to be caused by repetitive trauma to the brain, according to the CTE Center at Boston University. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety and progressive dementia.

Multiple NFL, soccer and baseball players have been diagnosed with CTE after their death.

Bryan did not specifically mention CTE in his retirement speech because the disease can only be definitively diagnosed postmortem.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For expecting mothers, planning for the arrival of a newborn is a challenging activity that can be overwhelming for many women.

The list of essential items include furniture, baby gadgets and best ways to pack a bag for the hospital. Based on this list, many women just don't know where to start.

That’s where Big City Moms comes in. A company founded by Risa Goldberg and Leslie Venokur has become a trusted destination for moms, moms-to-be, and families where they can find the latest and hottest essentials for a modern parenting lifestyle.

ABC News’ Sara Haines is expecting in March and she met with Leslie and Risa at Buy Buy Baby in New York City to gather all of the essentials any expectant mother needs to pack in her bag for the hospital and birth of the baby.

Big City Moms recommends packing two bags for your hospital stay: one for labor and delivery and one for your hospital stay. Additionally, expecting moms should bring along a third empty bag for all of the items you will receive from the hospital to care for yourself and your newborn.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Photodisc/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Some weight loss centers may not be following medical standards for weight loss, a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University finds.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Obesity, found that the programs in question may not adhere to weight management guidelines set by the American Heart Association (AMA), the American College of Cardiology and the Obesity Society.

The researchers reviewed 191 weight loss centers in the Maryland-Washington, D.C.-Virginia corridor in several categories -- including diet and exercise -- and found that only 1 percent of all of these centers followed all recommended medical guidelines. Fewer than 1 in 3 were physician-supervised and only 3 percent of centers reported advising the proper amount of physical activity.

The AMA recommends that adults aim for 150 minutes or more of moderate exercise each week to ward off heart disease and stroke.

ABC News’ Dr. Jennifer Ashton appeared on Good Morning America Thursday to discuss what the findings mean for people who are trying to lose weight. An estimated two-thirds of all adults in the U.S. are considered to be overweight or obese, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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WPVI-TV(VOORHEES, N.J.) -- Twin sisters from New Jersey were so in sync they even ended up having their babies within minutes of one another.

Stephanie Edginton and Nicole Montgomery welcomed their daughters, Cora and Louisa, respectively, on Monday at the Viruta Hospital in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Edginton said she was actually overdue when she delivered on Monday.

"We actually had a doctor's appointment today because we were due on Friday," she told ABC's Philadelphia station WPVI-TV. "We got there and they were like 'you have to go to the hospital' and we get a call that Nicole and Rich are on their way, too."

The sisters told WPVI-TV they were born just three minutes apart. Their two daughters may have doubled that time by being born six minutes apart, but these first cousins will still share a birthday.

The couples did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News sent through the hospital.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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

There's a lot of confusion when it comes to mammograms.

When should you get one? When should you not get one? It's a complex issue and the recommendations appear to always be changing. So what do you need to know?

As a board-certified OB/GYN, I follow the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' recommendations, which say to start screening the average risk woman starting at age 40 and have a mammogram every year.

What I worry about is the term "average risk" because we know that the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer were average until the time of their diagnosis.

Bottom line: Talk to your doctor.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Just like Jim Carrey's character did in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, researchers are closing in on a way to safely erase traumatic memories.

As explained in PBS' Nova special Memory Hackers on Wednesday night, Columbia University's Nobel Prize-winning ­neuroscientist Eric Kandel first discovered that creating a memory actually causes physical connections in the human brain.

However, those synaptic connections change every time the memory is recalled, so they can be modified, Memory Hackers' writer, director, and producer Michael Bicks, tells the New York Post.

In a treatment that could someday be duplicated with soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, Bicks explains, arachnophobic people were treated with a drug called propanolol after being exposed to spiders.

After the treatment, when the test subjects were exposed to the arachnids again, they weren't afraid -- and that replaced what would normally be a fearful memory of spiders. Essentially, the new positive memory copied over the negative ones -- so much so that the test subject was able to pet a hairy, palm-sized tarantula "completely relaxed."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The parents of a Tennessee newborn say that their infant was mistakenly operated on while they were still in the hospital.

Nate Harper was born on Dec. 16 at University Medical Center in Lebanon, Tennessee, Nate's mother Jennifer Melton said. A day after his birth, he was taken away by a nurse for a routine physical, Melton said, but when a nurse brought him back she started discussing a procedure called a "frenulectomy." The outpatient procedure involves clipping the bottom of the tongue to allow babies to feed more easily.

Melton said she asked the nurse what procedure she was talking about since Nate was just supposed to get a physical. In medical records released to ABC News by Melton and her husband Domonique Harper, the attending doctor wrote that he performed the procedure after he discussed it with "the parents of a different child." The doctor wrote in the notes that he had called to apologize for his "mistake."

"It's so frustrating that a moment that should have been so happy and joyous for us was ruined with this event," Melton told ABC News, noting that the doctor called to say he was "sorry" he operated on the wrong baby. In the medical records, the doctor wrote that he also visited the parents in the hospital to apologize and admitted it was his fault.

The hospital declined to address the operation directly, citing federal privacy laws, but that the hospital always take action to address patient concerns.

"University Medical Center is committed to providing quality care to all of our patients and expect independent members of the medical staff to honor the appropriate directives of their patients and families," said Adam Groshans, a spokesman for University Medical Center.

"Due to federal privacy regulations, we are unable to comment on any specific patient," Groshans added. "However, we can confirm that we take seriously any concerns brought to our attention, and those matters are reviewed pursuant to the hospital's medical staff by-laws. If made aware of a concern, we promptly seek to address it and take action as appropriate to prevent any future concerns."

The family’s attorney Clint Kelly has told ABC News that the couple now intends to file a lawsuit and that the hospital charged them for the procedure.

"We don't want another family to have to go through this," Melton told ABC News.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- An 8-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair is now the hottest skateboarder on his block thanks to a bit of ingenuity from his mom and dad.

Atticus Edmunds, 8, got his first feeling of flying down a skate ramp last month after his mom, Tresa Edmunds, saw a video on Facebook of a boy in a wheelchair being pushed around a skate park.

Edmunds recruited her husband, Jared Edmunds, and the family of three went to the skate park down the street from their home near Sacramento, California, to let Atticus experience the sensation of skate boarding himself. Jared pushed Atticus up and down the skate park's ramps as if the two were on a board together.

“I couldn’t see the kid’s reaction in the Facebook video and I wanted to see what Atticus would think of it,” Tresa Edmunds told ABC News. “It was an experiment.”

“Atticus’ reaction was so much more than anything we could have anticipated,” she said.

Atticus, who is limited in his speaking and walking capabilities, is now a regular at the skate park, where the other kids have adopted him as one of their own.

“He’s a local celebrity,” Edmunds said. “What I’m loving about this skating world we’re entering accidentally is that it’s all about getting up and making the attempt.”

“They’ve just embraced him as a skater,” she said. “All the other kids are giving him high-fives.”

Atticus was born at 28 weeks and weighed 2 pounds, 3 ounces. He is now a second-grader.

His parents are using his new love of skating as an incentive for schoolwork, and as a life lesson in determination.

“We’ll say, ‘Do your homework and we’ll go to the skate park,” Edmunds said. “He had his first wipeout and it spooked him a little bit because he’s not used to falling over.”

“We had a talk about, ‘If you’re going to be a skater you have to get back up,’ and he did," she said. “He got right back out there."

Edmunds, a blogger, posted a YouTube video of Atticus and his dad’s “skating” that has more than 50,000 views.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- One of the world's smallest surviving babies is finally out of the hospital.

Born 14 weeks early and weighing just 10 ounces, E'Layah Faith Pergues faced an uphill battle to survive. Her doctors at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, were not sure that she would survive her delivery or the first few weeks of life.

She was born so early that doctors weren't even sure how to feed her.

“Our goal since her birth was to grow her as quickly and as safely as we could,” said Dr. Andrew Herman, MD, neonatologist and chief medical officer at Levine Children’s Hospital in a statement.

Eventually they combined formula and breast milk to keep E'Layah healthy.

“We’ve had to fine-tune our approach with E’Layah,” Herman added. “We are now feeding her a combination of protein, fat, sugar, electrolytes and vitamins that will help prevent infections, mature her intestines and help her gain weight.”

Her doctors believe she is the smallest surviving baby ever seen at the hospital and affectionately dubbed her "tater tot" due to her size.

E'Layah's mother, Megan Smith, had a difficult pregnancy, suffering from high blood pressure and even having two strokes. Although she was on bed rest for a month, she had an emergency Cesarean section after doctors realized that E'Layah had stopped moving.

On Wednesday, after five months, E'Layah is finally spending her first full day at home. Weighing in at a healthy 5 pounds and 7 ounces, she's now "outgrown most of her preemie clothes," her mother said in a statement released by the hospital.

“She is a very busy little lady, always grabbing and pulling things and moving around," Smith said. "We are all very excited to be going home. It’s been a long journey and we are looking forward to the next chapter."

Despite her small stature, E'Layah's parents are confident that their daughter will grow into an active child.

“I know she will be something special, whether it’s running on the track, ballet lessons or even basketball,” Smith said. "We pray for her strength. E’Layah is our miracle baby girl.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Approximately 8.4 percent of women report smoking tobacco at some time during their pregnancy, according to new data from a large national survey.

The statistic is an improvement when compared to past statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on smoking and pregnancy. However, given the risks associated with maternal smoking during pregnancy -- which include low birth weight, preterm birth and fetal/infant mortality -- health officials overwhelmingly agree that any level of this behavior is too high.

The lowest rate of tobacco use during pregnancy was noted to be in California, while the highest rate was in West Virginia.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(NEW YORK) — It’s National Heart Month, and Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan sat down for a heart-to-heart conversation with his father, Gene Strahan, about improving his heart health.

In the video chat, Strahan said he decided to talk about his dad’s heart condition to help ensure his dad is “around as long as possible.”

“Sometimes the hardest thing to do is talk to your dad or your hero. Because you admire them,” Strahan said in the new video recorded for Meta, a wellness line, for which Strahan is a spokesperson. “Who doesn't want their father or the person who is most influential in their life to be around as long as possible?”

Have a conversation with parents or loved ones about their health can often be overlooked, according to ABC News Chief Medical Editor, Dr. Richard Besser.

"Looking to your parent, who’s always told you what to do for your health, and then saying, ‘I kind of need to suggest something to them,’ you have to be really sensitive about how you do it," Besser said Wednesday on GMA.

Besser advises including siblings in the conversation and handling the topic of your parents' health with sensitivity and respect.

"First, it’s not one conversation, it’s a series of conversations, so you want to talk early, talk often, and progress with that," Besser said. "If you start the conversation and it’s not going well, you can punt and come back to it and realize there are other opportunities."

Besser said it's also important to remember that health changes made at any point in life can make a difference.

"As you get older you want to make sure that you’re checking your blood pressure and cholesterol more but, more than tests, you want to try and make sure your parents are staying on track with a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise and stopping smoking," Besser said. "You can be in your 70s and 80s and make changes that are going to affect your life."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(STANFORD, Calif.) — While we tend to sigh when we're sad or depressed, scientists have discovered that, unlike the famous song noted, a sigh isn't just a sigh: instead, the deep breath is a lifesaving reflex.

According to the research from the Stanford University School of Medicine that has just been published in Nature, the same tiny clusters of nerve cells in the brain stem that unconsciously regulate our breathing actually call for us to sigh as many as a dozen times an hour in order to keep our lungs functioning properly.

Sighing over-inflates the myriad tiny sacs in the lungs called alveoli, which the research proved turns out is a key -- but until now unappreciated -- feature of healthy lung function.

The researchers noted that the importance of sighs could be why machines used to replicate lung function don't preserve lung function as well as the body's natural mechanisms can.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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