iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For those who constantly complain that kids have it better than we ever did, here’s some more ammunition: Delta Dental’s “The Original Tooth Fairy Poll” says that youngsters today get an average of $4.36 for every tooth they shove under the pillow.

That’s a considerable increase from the $3.50 left in 2013. Overall, it works out to something like $255 million for all the teeth collected in 2014.

In all, the Delta Dental poll says that the Tooth Fairy showed up at just over eight in ten of the homes where a tooth dropped out, with first-timers generally getting the biggest cash amount — an average of $5.74 — in 40 percent of the cases.

However, being somewhat pragmatic, the amount deposited by the Tooth Fairy is generally determined by how much spare cash is around and the age of the child.

Meanwhile, the best cash rewards are made in the South — a whopping $5.16 on average — while the situation in the Midwest is much leaner with just $2.83 left per tooth.

As for how appreciative the kids are, about 17 percent will complain they expected more money while 11 percent will want a gift in addition to or instead of the cash.

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iStock/Thinkstock(LEICESTER, England) — A lot of smokers in England aren’t particularly happy with a new law going into effect this October that will make it illegal to smoke inside cars where children are passengers.

Naturally, it comes down to the eternal conflict between civil liberties and public health although science seems to have won this argument based on studies that show the harm that can be caused to others by second- and even third-hand smoke.

Some of the most ardent opponents of smoking also point to the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning since the smoke from cigarettes contain that toxic gas.

So in the interest of science, students from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy developed a model to determine how much one would have to smoke inside a sealed car before they become unconscious by CO.

The results of the study probably give smokers some measure of satisfaction because the students figured out it would take a person smoking 15 cigarettes over the course of 75 minutes to pass out from carbon monoxide. Even the most addicted chain smoker would probably get sick before reaching that point.

Still, the study doesn’t let smokers off the hook entirely because CO molecules linger in cars even when the windows are open, meaning they pose a health threat to anyone riding inside a smoky vehicle.

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indigolotos/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Young men have often wondered, “Will I go bald?” and the old adage, “If your mom’s dad is bald, you’ll go bald” is commonly applied.

But, gentlemen, if your mom’s dad is bald, don’t wig out just yet. While there may be a hair of truth to the old saying, it definitely doesn’t tell the whole story.

Dr. Ashley Winter specializes in urology at New York Presbyterian Hospital but also knows a thing or two about the genetics behind baldness. She reports on the subject: “The main gene we blame for male pattern baldness is on the X chromosome…the X chromosome they inherit from their mother can come from either their mother’s mother or their mother’s father, meaning that target blameful gene can come from your mom’s mom or your mom’s dad.”

She also goes on to explain that the gene for baldness doesn’t act independently, and is affected by a lot of other genes that are inherited in different ways.

“So, basically, the big bad bald truth is that anyone who gives you genetic material can make you go bald,” Winter said.

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Nikolay Trubnikov/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK)– A new blood sugar management trick for those with diabetes, and it’s all about timing.

Researchers gave 18 otherwise healthy diabetics either a high-calorie breakfast/low-calorie dinner or a low-calorie breakfast/high-calorie dinner, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Diabetologia.

Both had the same lunch, and the total number of daily calories was about the same.

Researchers found that the high-calorie breakfast eaters had lower after-meal blood sugar levels, better insulin response and a quicker return to normal blood sugar compared to the low-calorie breakfast/high-calorie dinner group.

How much lower? The peak blood sugar after a high-calorie meal was 24-percent lower when it was eaten in the morning.

Overall, researchers say a simple diet change taking advantage of our bodies’ natural internal clock may lead to improved sugar control for millions of diabetics.

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Comal ISD(NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas) — Lindsey Painter is teaching her first-grade class a powerful lesson, one that goes far beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.

In December, when the parents and doctors of one of her students reached out to the public for help in finding a donor, Painter was one of the first to volunteer to be tested. She’d only been teaching at the school since last year.

Matthew Parker, a 6-year-old triplet, attends Painter’s class with his two brothers at Hoffmann Lane Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas.

His kidneys had been failing him since he was a newborn. He’d gotten a kidney donation in 2010 but about two years ago it failed. Since then, he missed school three days out of the week to travel to San Antonio for dialysis.

Doctors said Matthew had a one-percent chance that a second donor would be found. More than 70 people volunteered to see whether they were a match, including Painter.

“When I went in to be tested, they thanked me for coming in but also kind of prepared me for the fact that it would most likely not be a match,” she told ABC News on Tuesday.

Then Painter and the Parkers got mind-blowing news.

“We were shocked to find out that we were a match,” said Painter, the mother of two boys, ages 6 and 10.

“She’s literally the perfect match for Matthew,” the school’s principal, Krista Moffatt, said in a statement, according to ABC News affiliate KVUE-TV. “This act personifies her character as someone willing to perform a selfless deed.”

Surgery is scheduled for mid-March, officials said. One of Painter’s kidneys will be removed. If the surgery is successful, he could return to school full-time in eight weeks.

Painter said she hoped to see Matthew every day at the school next year as a second-grader.

“Every time I watch [my sons] active and running around and playing and loud and doing all of these things that little boys should do…I hope that Matthew is able to get this chance once he gets his kidney,” she said. “I am honored to be able to help him out this way.”

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Kuzmik_A/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new lawsuit claims that Beneful dog food may be killing its customers’ four-legged friends.

Complaints about Beneful date back several years, James Young, a lawyer in Tampa, Florida, told ABC News. He added that lawyers across the country teamed up when they realized there was a “common denominator” in the dog illnesses and deaths.

“It’s all Beneful dog food. That’s the common denominator,” Young said. “Statistically speaking, the fact that this many dogs were affected by the same brand of dog food is pretty compelling.”

However, Keith Schopp, a spokesman for Nestle Purina, the company that makes Beneful, told ABC News that there is no problem with Beneful dog food and that there is a “stringent” quality control program in place. Two similar class-action lawsuits were filed against Beneful in recent years, but both were dismissed, he said.

“Dogs enjoy the product every day,” he said, adding that the ingredient mentioned in the suit as a possible toxin, propylene glycol, is “generally recognized as safe” by the federal government except in cat food.

Young said he and his colleagues are still investigating which ingredients in Beneful they suspect injured the animals.

The lawsuit Young and several other lawyers filed this month in California against Nestle Purina claims that more than 3,000 complaints against Beneful have been filed in the last four years. The complaints were made online by vets and pet owners to law firms, the Food and Drug Administration and attorneys general around the country, Young said. He said he did not know how many of those animals died, and he was not familiar with the previous two lawsuits filed against Beneful.

The new lawsuit cites the story of Frank Lucido, who owned three dogs and is a plaintiff in the suit along with “all other similarly situated.” Lucido started feeding his dogs Beneful for the first time in January, according to the lawsuit obtained by ABC News.

Although the three pets were separated and in different environments while his home was being renovated, they all fell ill shortly after starting the new diet, the suit alleges.

  • First, Nella, a 4-year-old German shepherd, started to lose her fur and took on a strange smell. Then, she became ill, and veterinarians learned that she was bleeding internally and her liver was malfunctioning, according to the complaint. She survived but still has health problems.
  • Five days later, Lucido’s wife found their 8-year-old English bulldog, Dozer, dead in the yard, according to the complaint. Vets determined she, too, had internal bleeding and lesions on her liver.
  • The third dog, an 11-year-old Labrador named Remo, has been “unwell” since the other two became sick, and is undergoing testing, according to the suit.

According to court documents, Nestle Purina has until April 2 to respond to the complaint.

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donghero/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Historians have long blamed rats for spreading the plague in Europe nicknamed the “Black Death” in the 14th century, but new research points the finger at a different furry culprit: gerbils.

Known for decimating the European population in the Middle Ages, the Black Death was caused by the bacterium yersinia pestis, which somehow made its way from Asia to Europe in 1347, according to the study published Tuesday in the journal PNAS.

Study co-author Nils Stenseth, a biologist at the University of Oslo, said that 12 to 15 years before the plague hit Europe, Asia experienced a warm spring and wet summer, which is good for the gerbils and fleas that carried the plague.

Then, a drought decimated the gerbil population, forcing the plague toward domestic animal and human hosts, he said. It then made its way to Europe, though the vessel is unclear, Stenseth said.

Stenseth and his team determined the climate hundreds of years ago by examining tree growth rings, according to the study. The authors wrote that a better approach would be to study the DNA gleaned from the remains of plague victims.

Epidemiologist Dr. Bill Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he found the study “intriguing” because he’d never before heard of an animal other than the rat being blamed for the Black Death. But he said the authors are doing a lot of inferring to come to their conclusions.

“My bottom line is that this is a fascinating new thesis,” said Schaffner, who was not involved in the study. “And I think that it likely will result in a lot of controversy among people who are disease historians.”

But your pet gerbil won’t give you the plague, Stenseth said. The animals that spread the plague in Asia were actually a separate, wild species known as a great gerbil, Stenseth said.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Driving in the winter can be treacherous. Snow, ice and whiteouts can cause pileups, skid-outs and stranded drivers.

Despite this year’s brutal wintery conditions, most of us still brave icy roads, but for Amy Andrews, just the thought of driving in winter causes overwhelming, white-knuckled, debilitating fear.

Andrews’s phobia over driving in snowy or icy conditions is so crippling, just a weather report about a chance of snow, or snow falling unexpectedly, will throw her into a full-blown panic attack.

“This is something that I can’t do,” she said. “If I absolutely have to drive in this bad weather then the whole time I am shaking and I don’t breathe properly and I get lightheaded.”

It’s estimated that about 9 percent of American adults suffer from specific phobias, irrational fears of things like flying, heights, elevators and spiders, according to the National Institute of Health.

“When somebody is exposed to the object they’re frightened of they feel intense anxiety,” said renowned psychotherapist Robi Ludwig. “Their heart can race, they can sweat, they can feel that they’re having a panic attack or a heart attack but it’s basically how somebody feels when they’re in the fight-or-flight reaction. They really feel like their bodies are in danger.”

More than 2,000 people are killed every year in winter weather-related accidents, and facing that possibility behind the wheel is just too much for Andrews.

She lives in New England, which has been battered by record-breaking snowfall this winter. Her phobia has made normal life nearly impossible. She is almost too scared to drive if there is one snowflake in the air, even forcing her to miss work at her job as a school administrator.

“I have had panic attacks where it just starts snowing, where I will end up in the bathroom hyperventilating, ready to pass out,” she said.

Andrews will check the weather obsessively, and cancel plans if there is a threat of snow.

“My sister moved to New Hampshire and I told her that I refused to go up there any time from November to March,” Andrews said.

But Andrews was determined to conquer her fear. She agreed to let ABC’s Nightline send her to a complimentary class at one of the toughest, and most terrifying, winter driving schools in the country: The Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat, Colorado.

There, students have to drive on a track made entirely of snow and ice – Andrews’s worst fear – as instructors teach the fundamentals of winter driving, from what to do if your car skids out to having weight balance in the vehicle.

But before she began, Andrews had a rough start. Her car got stuck on an icy road just trying to get from her hotel to the driving school, and she needed to have her car towed up the road. Right away, the first stages of panic set in.

“She was pretty wound up,” said head instructor Kurt Spitzner. “[But] I think we were going to have a positive effect on her.”

When Andrews finally got to class, and started working with an instructor, something did change.

“I think the results were remarkable,” Spitzner said. “Just seeing how she stopped hyperventilating a quarter of the way through the class made me feel really good. This is a start.”

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Northwestern University Dance Marathon(CHICAGO) — Young patients, nurses and doctors at a Chicago hospital danced and sang thanks to college students raising money to help make their hospital a cheerier place to be.

The patients and staff at Children’s Hospital University of Illinois are the stars of a YouTube video in which they lip-sync to the American Authors’ song “Best Day of My Life.”

The video, with 1,000 views and counting, was made by students at Northwestern University for the school’s upcoming Dance Marathon fundraiser.

“We thought it’d be an awesome idea to film inside the hospital to brighten the kids’ day and to highlight the kids’ stories and what we can do to help with Dance Marathon,” Ross Gordon, a Northwestern senior and the event’s public relations co-chair, told ABC News.

Proceeds from the Dance Marathon event, during which more than 1,000 students will dance for 30 hours straight, will go to the Starlight Children’s Foundation to help them build “beautifully designed treatment rooms and teen lounges” in hospitals, according to Gordon.

The video shoot involved six Northwestern students who coordinated the production and then sat back and watched as the young patients and their doctors and nurses had a blast filming it.

“The smiles on their faces were fantastic,” said Gordon, 22. “Some were a little shy to start, but when you have so many smiling nurses dancing it brightened the mood and they definitely got into it.”

“One of my favorite parts is when a doctor in the back started twirling a stethoscope,” he said. “The doctors and nurses especially got really into it.”

The two-minute video is being used now to help encourage donations and will also be shown when Northwestern students hit the dance floor from 7 p.m. on Friday, March 6, through 1 a.m. on Sunday, March 8.

“The whole idea is to unite our campus around advocacy and giving back to a good cause,” Gordon said.

Northwestern University Dance Marathon, in its 41st year, has raised more than $1 million each of the last four years, according to Gordon.

“This year, we’re using the theme ‘Make Life Bright’ and #makelifebright with the goal of making hospitals a more welcoming and soothing experience for the children we’re supporting,” he said.

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Northwestern University Dance Marathon(CHICAGO) — Young patients, nurses and doctors at a Chicago hospital danced and sang thanks to college students raising money to help make their hospital a cheerier place to be.

The patients and staff at Children’s Hospital University of Illinois are the stars of a YouTube video in which they lip-sync to the American Authors’ song “Best Day of My Life.”

The video, with 1,000 views and counting, was made by students at Northwestern University for the school’s upcoming Dance Marathon fundraiser.

“We thought it’d be an awesome idea to film inside the hospital to brighten the kids’ day and to highlight the kids’ stories and what we can do to help with Dance Marathon,” Ross Gordon, a Northwestern senior and the event’s public relations co-chair, told ABC News.

Proceeds from the Dance Marathon event, during which more than 1,000 students will dance for 30 hours straight, will go to the Starlight Children’s Foundation to help them build “beautifully designed treatment rooms and teen lounges” in hospitals, according to Gordon.

The video shoot involved six Northwestern students who coordinated the production and then sat back and watched as the young patients and their doctors and nurses had a blast filming it.

“The smiles on their faces were fantastic,” said Gordon, 22. “Some were a little shy to start, but when you have so many smiling nurses dancing it brightened the mood and they definitely got into it.”

“One of my favorite parts is when a doctor in the back started twirling a stethoscope,” he said. “The doctors and nurses especially got really into it.”

The two-minute video is being used now to help encourage donations and will also be shown when Northwestern students hit the dance floor from 7 p.m. on Friday, March 6, through 1 a.m. on Sunday, March 8.

“The whole idea is to unite our campus around advocacy and giving back to a good cause,” Gordon said.

Northwestern University Dance Marathon, in its 41st year, has raised more than $1 million each of the last four years, according to Gordon.

“This year, we’re using the theme ‘Make Life Bright’ and #makelifebright with the goal of making hospitals a more welcoming and soothing experience for the children we’re supporting,” he said.

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