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This is what football can do to a child's brain after just one season

The results of a new study may have some parents rethinking whether they allow their children to play football.

>> Watch the news report here

Three million children in the U.S. play in tackle football programs. While many doctors and scientists have taken a look at the impact of concussions, new research by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center studied the impact of less-serious blows to the head that are common during games.

The study included 25 players between the ages of 8 and 13 and was centered on a youth program in Winston-Salem, N.C. Each boy was outfitted with a helmet that measured the severity and frequency of head blows.

“This is important, particularly for children, because their brains are undergoing such rapid change, particularly in the age category from maybe 9 to 18. And we just don’t know a lot of about it,” Dr. Chris Whitlow, a lead researcher, told NBC News.

Researchers say their findings indicated that even at this young age, the boys were receiving pretty hard hits.

The doctors then performed MRIs on the players and determined there were some changes in the brain’s white matter, the tissue that connects the gray matter of the brain.

“We have detected some changes in the white matter,” Whitlow said. “And the importance of those changes is that the more exposure you have to head impacts, the more change you have.”

Young players who did not have concussions were also found to have been impacted by repeated hits. Brain changes were found even after a single season of playing the sport.

>> Read more trending stories

So far, doctors are not cautioning parents against letting their children play football since there are still some unclear areas following the study. Doctors don’t know if these changes will continue as the boys play football. They also don’t know what long-term impact the repeated blows to the head will have on the players.

Still, some parents say the sport is worth the risk — for now — because of the joy it brings to their children. Football also encourages their kids to stay on top of their grades.

Kindra Ritzie-Worthy has two sons who play football. She says they take their footballs everywhere they go. One even sleeps with his ball.

“Worth the risk?” she told NBC. “I say absolutely.”

The study is published in the journal Radiology.

Weeks after giving birth, soccer star undergoes surgery to remove brain tumor

Former U.S. women’s soccer player Lauren Holiday is recovering after undergoing a successful surgery to remove a benign brain tumor Thursday at Duke University Hospital.

The 28-year-old is married to New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. She was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor called meningioma during her pregnancy with their first daughter.

>> Read more trending stories

In late September, the couple welcomed baby Jrue Tyler. The baby’s original due date was mid-October, but doctors decided to induce labor early to expedite brain surgery, ESPN reports.

Jrue Holiday is currently away from the Pelicans indefinitely as he helps his wife through the recovery. His teammates and coach have been supportive of his decision to take some much-needed family time.

Doctors are confident that Lauren Holiday will make a full recovery, ABC News reports.

Happy Birthday to my best friend, my adventurer and my partner in life. So thankful for the day you were born. I love you. A photo posted by @laurenholiday12 on Jun 12, 2016 at 9:22am PDT

Mom of conjoined twins holds son alone for first time after separation surgery

Until this weekend, mom Nicole McDonald had never held her twin boys in the 13 months since their arrival. On Friday, she was finally able to hold her son, Jadon, following his separation from his brother, Anias.

"For over 13 months, I've dreamed of this moment... I wrapped my arms around him and rocked. One of the most profound moments of my life." #JadonAndAniasPosted by CNN on Monday, October 24, 2016

Jadon and Anias were born conjoined at the tops of their heads. Because of their condition, Nicole was never able to hold her sons.

>> Surgeons separate conjoined twins; family reunited after surgery

On Friday, she finally got that chance.

>> Boy opens eyes for first time since separated from twin brother

“For over 13 months, I’ve dreamed of this moment,” Nicole wrote on Facebook, according to CNN. “I looked down at Jadon’s angelic face and saw him in a way I’d never seen him before. He whimpered for almost the whole two hours I held him because he had just been extubated, had the area under his scalp washed out and had been weaned from the good pain meds.”

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Before the surgery, if Nicole wanted to comfort Jadon, she would have to wrap her body around him in his hospital bed. Now, she can hold him in her arms.

Nicole’s husband, Christian McDonald, wasn’t at the hospital at the time, but says he’s glad Nicole got the moment she had been dreaming of with Jadon.

>> Read more trending stories

She hasn’t been able to hold Anias yet, because his recovery process has been taking a bit longer, as doctors predicted.

Both boys are recovering well. Two weeks ago, they underwent a risky, 27-hour separation surgery at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. A GoFundMe page has raised more than $280,000 to help cover the family’s medical costs. If you would like to donate, click here.

Posted by Nicole McDonald on Monday, October 17, 2016

WATCH: Security camera captures Florida boy's hilarious overnight romp

This surveillance video of a mischievous Florida boy's overnight high jinks is sure to bring a smile to your face.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {</span><br /><span>  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];</span><br /><span>  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;</span><br /><span>  js = d.createElement(s); = id;</span><br /><span>  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";</span><br /><span>  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);</span><br /><span>}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> Looking through security footage when I found this event in the middle of the night in my living room. He's so dead.Posted by Cody Wray on Wednesday, October 19, 2016

>> Click here to watch the viral video

According to ABC News, Cody Wray of Tampa recently noticed that someone had unplugged his home surveillance camera. He watched the recording and quickly discovered that the culprit was his own son, 6-year-old Dylan.

>> Read more trending stories

"Looking through security footage when I found this event in the middle of the night in my living room," Wray wrote on Facebook, posting the hilarious clip of Dylan jumping on the couch and punching the cushions, then cartwheeling and somersaulting across the room.

"This is the last image the camera captured before it was unplugged," Wray added, sharing a close-up of his son's freckled face.

>> See the photo here

​Posted by Cody Wray on Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The video has been viewed more than 52,000 times since it was posted Oct. 19.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

When Wray approached Dylan about what he had found, his son responded, "I told you I get up at 2 a.m. sometimes," Wray told WFAA.

"Every time we watch, it's still hysterical," Wray added in an interview with ABC News. "You want to be mad at him since he's jumping on our brand-new couches, but he's just so cute."

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

Read more here or here.

Infants should sleep in parents' room for at least 6 months, report says

Infants should sleep in the same room but not the same bed as their parents for at least the first six months of their lives, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

>> Read more trending stories  

 The report recommends that babies sleep on a separate surface in parents' rooms, such as a crib or bassinet, but never on a couch, armchair or soft surface for up to their first birthday.

Such soft surfaces can lead to nasal obstruction and asphyxia in infants.

"Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person," Rachel Moon, lead author of the report, said in a statement. "We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous."

And for tired parents feeding infants, if "there's even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair," said Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter co-author of the report.

The guidelines serve as tips to decrease the risk of sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Researchers say minimizing risk factors is the best way to keep babies safe and decrease the number of sleep-related deaths in infants, which currently amounts to nearly 3,500 deaths per year in the United States.   

"The whole phenomenon of SIDS implies that we don't know 100 percent what is responsible for the death, but we have theories," Feldman-Winter said.

The report cites evidence that shows parents who share their room with their infant can reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.

"Babies should share that sleep environment for up to one year, because there is a slight risk of SIDS that persists," Feldman-Winter said. "A baby that is within reach of their mother may have more comfort or physical stimulation from being in an environment with another person."

Other recommendations in the report include placing a sleeping infant on his or her back on a firm sleep surface with a tight-fitting sheet and avoiding the use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys.

Feldman-Winter said a bare crib or space is best.

"There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant's breathing or cause overheating," she said.

Feldman-Winter and Moon said that even with products advertising safer sleeping environments for children, small changes can make a big impact.

"We know that we can keep a baby safer without spending a lot of money on home-monitoring gadgets but through simple precautionary measures," Moon said.

Man pays off all students' overdue lunch fees at elementary school

Parents of 89 students don’t have to worry about their child’s overdue lunch balances thanks to the kindness of a stranger.

>> Watch the news report here

Jerry Fenton, a motel owner in Burlington, Iowa, donated about $700 to Grimes Elementary, his former school, to cover all overdue lunch balances there.

“I find it hard to believe that in this day and age there are kids that go hungry. It’s just unfathomable in this day and age,” Fenton told WQAD.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

The outstanding balance was $458, so his donation will help cover future overdue balances, as well.

>> Read more trending stories

Read more here.

Woman's blog acknowledges how common miscarriages are

To commemorate Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, celebrated on Oct. 15, a woman by the name of Rachel Lewis published a series of stories on her blog called The Lewis Note.

>> Read more trending stories  

The photos that accompany each of her posts all feature an "I am 1 in 4" watermark.

Posted by Rachel Enyeart Lewis on Thursday, October 13, 2016

The reason for this, as it is explained by Lewis, is to raise awareness that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.

"I wanted to bring awareness to the fact that when you see normal, beautiful, successful women, you're also seeing people who are struggling with the loss of a child," Lewis said. "Giving a voice, a name and a face to pregnancy loss is one of the most meaningful contributions I feel I can make in this world."

Each of the women featured on the 34-year-old's blog are women who have lost babies.

Lewis kicked off the project with her own words, "I am your friend. Your coworker. Your barista. Your accountant. Your personal trainer."

While each woman featured on the blog has a different perspective, they share a common struggle: They were each forced to mourn a child they’ve never had a chance to meet.

"You see me at the grocery store with my kids," Lewis wrote. "My baby swaddled up to my chest, my two older kids hanging off the cart I push around. You comment on how full my arms are. I smile on the outside. On the inside, I cringe."

Lewis' blog has gained much attention online since its launch for raising awareness of a struggle that impacts so many women around the world.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> I love seeing my beautiful mama friends here.  They are all amazing (and there were so many more moms I could have featured!) I am #1in4 #October15 #PregnancyandInfantLossAwareness #silentnomorePosted by Rachel Enyeart Lewis on Thursday, October 13, 2016

Toddlers OK'd to video-chat in new recommendations from pediatricians

The American Academy of Pediatrics on Friday announced updated recommendations for parents hoping to shield their children from the worst effects of new technologies.

>> Read more trending stories

The group released its recommendations after reviewing the latest scientific evidence on children and digital media use. Among other suggestions, the AAP said toddlers should be limited to using screens only while video-chatting.

The organization has traditionally recommended toddlers stay away from using screens at all until they become 2 years old. The guideline was first set out in 1999, according to NPR.

Studies indicate that despite the 1999 recommendation, most families operate under the assumption that applications like Skype and FaceTime “don't count.”

In a policy statement, AAP cautiously agreed and cited emerging evidence that young children can learn some words while video-chatting “with a responsive adult.”

The organization warned, however, that scientific evidence shows there is still harm caused by “excessive digital media use.”

"What's most important is that parents be their child's 'media mentor,'” Dr. Jenny Radesky, lead author of the policy statement, said in a news release. “That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn."

The following recommendations were made by AAP:

For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing. For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them. For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.

To support the recommendations, the group also launched an online digital media use planning tool on its website.

Mom's quest to make son with Down syndrome a model goes viral

Asher Nash is 15 months old and lives in Buford with his parents and older sister. He has bright blue eyes and light brown hair and loves to wear bowties.

Asher Nash also has Down syndrome — and a mother who wants to share his beauty with the world.

"I want the world to see just how amazing he is," Meagan Richter Nash said, "and just how amazing other people with Down syndrome are."

In July, Nash submitted her son's photos to a talent agency handling a casting call for OshKosh B'Gosh, the popular children's clothing brand owned by Atlanta-based Carter's. She never heard anything back and, a few months later, contacted the talent agency. 

>> Read more trending stories  

The agency told Nash that Asher's photos hadn't even been submitted because OshKosh "didn't specify that they wanted a baby with special needs." 

That didn't sit right. 

"My first thought," Nash said, "was, 'Well, did they say they did not want a baby with special needs?'"

Nash eventually started working with a campaign called Changing the Face of Beauty and, about two weeks ago, took to Facebook to lobby OshKosh to use her son in an ad. 

The Internet took over.

A post highlighting Asher on the popular "Kids with Down Syndrome" Facebook page has garnered more than 89,000 likes and 100,000 shares in a week and a half. His story has been picked up (with varying accuracy) by viral news sites like The Mighty  and PopSugar.

It's all gotten OshKosh's attention.

Nash said a marketing representative for the company has reached out to her, and she and Asher have a meeting with the company next week. 

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  

An OshKosh B'Gosh corporate spokesperson confirmed as much in a statement sent to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday morning.

“OshKosh B’Gosh appreciates the importance of representing the diversity of our customers in our advertising," the statement said. 

"Since we became aware of Ms. Nash’s request, our team has reached out to her directly to better understand her perspective and provide additional information about our casting process. We agree there is an opportunity for greater representation of children with special needs in advertising. We look forward to meeting with Asher and his family, as well as taking steps to enhance the representation of diverse children in our marketing.”

Nothing has been promised, but the prospect of a modeling career for Asher — "the most loving, outgoing, hysterical baby you've ever met" — and other kids like him appears to be gaining steam. 

Nash wants people to know she was never "out to get" OshKosh, whose clothes Asher loves to wear. But she's excited about what the future might hold.

"My intentions were not for me to tell anyone my son needs to be in there over anyone else," she said. "I'm really just trying to take a stand for him and other children and babies and adults like him."

Baby born at 24 weeks celebrates first birthday

A baby boy given a 5 percent chance of survival is celebrating his first birthday.

>> Read more trending stories  

Kaleb Arkell Graves was well-known even before he was born. His mother, Dana Griffin-Graves, shared a video of her husband, Arkell Graves, crying when he learned she was pregnant. She broke the news of her pregnancy to him by placing a pack of buns in the oven, earning baby Kaleb the nickname "Baby Buns."

Posted by Arkell & Dana's Baby Bun on Saturday, October 3, 2015

The couple had been trying to conceive for 17 years, suffering several miscarriages and a stillbirth. The pregnancy came as a big surprise, but they were thrilled to be welcoming a son.

On Oct. 20, 2015, baby Kaleb arrived 16 weeks early. Early photos show Kaleb resting in the palm of a nurse's hand.

After spending 356 days growing stronger in the neonatal ICU at Virginia Commonwealth University Hospital, Kaleb was finally able to go home. Friends and family decorated the Graveses' home with balloons and banners to mark the momentous day.

"At this very moment, all of my men are asleep under the same roof," Dana wrote on Facebook the day after his homecoming. "Some days I really didn’t think that would happen."

Kaleb still requires medical care at home, but the family hopes it's only temporary.

Posted by Arkell & Dana's Baby Bun on Thursday, November 19, 2015

Can you feel the ❤️? #TeamKaleb #BabyBunsPosted by Arkell & Dana's Baby Bun on Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Cap and Gown! Because it's his 1st graduation!  #TeamKalebPosted by Arkell & Dana's Baby Bun on Wednesday, October 12, 2016

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