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April 6th, 2011
05:19 PM ET

On the Brain: Inside autism

Welcome to the autism edition of "On the Brain." April is Autism Awareness Month, so naturally there's been a lot of recent discussion of this mysterious developmental disorder.

New research in Pediatrics this week showed that most medications don't work for autism, and it's unclear who will benefit most from early behavioral interventions. The hormone secretin has been shown to be ineffective for addressing the core issues of autism, along with most antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants, stimulants and other medications for hyperactivity. The antipsychotics risperidone and aripiprazole may have some benefit, but have powerful side effects, and more research should be done on them, experts tell CNN.

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Dad was motivation for entering the challenge
April 6th, 2011
04:55 PM ET

Dad was motivation for entering the challenge

What is the one thing that you cannot change about yourself? Your family history. As I have said before, my family history is not great. Hypertension, diabetes, strokes are on both sides of the family.

On Tuesday, March 29, that family history reared its ugly head again. My father passed away from a heart attack. He was 73 years old. For years we have been trying to get him to change some of his ways and begin to become healthier. He always talked about having to get healthier, but his chronic diseases continued. Although he had multiple medical problems, the ending was unexpected. He died of a massive heart attack at his home in Minnesota. I always knew that this day was coming, but never expected it so soon.

Seeing my dad and his worsening medical conditions was part of the motivation to enter the CNN Fit Nation Challenge. I saw how his weight, heart problems and diabetes affected his lifestyle and his ability and willingness to be more active. I knew that if I continued on the same path I was looking at what my life would be like in 25-30 years.

Although I don’t want to end up like my dad was physically, I want to be exactly like him as a man. He was hard working, loved by everyone, always willing to help others, a great father and excellent grandfather to my children. Besides his regular full time job, he dedicated over 40 years to officiating sports- softball, volleyball, basketball and flag football. He coached me and my brothers for years of basketball, soccer and baseball. He was an athlete in his younger days and continued to play softball for many of his adult years. He spent most of his free time devoted to sports and fair play.

In the comments of my CNN bio, he had words of encouragement and said that maybe I could show him some of my exercises. Unfortunately, I did not get an opportunity to do that. I will miss my father dearly, but value the time that we had together. Although he did not set a good example from a health and fitness standpoint, he set a great example on how to be a man. Thanks Dad.


April 6th, 2011
02:33 PM ET

Allergic to aspirin: Are there alternatives?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Question asked by Mary of Fort Wayne, Indiana

I am allergic to aspirin and wonder: If I ever needed a blood thinner or daily aspirin, is there any option for me? There is a history of heart disease in my mother's family. I do take irbesartan (Avapro) for high blood pressure and simvastatin (Zocor) for cholesterol control.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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