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U.S. ranks low for newborn survival
August 31st, 2011
09:49 AM ET

U.S. ranks low for newborn survival

Babies born in Cuba, Malaysia, Portugal, and the United Kingdom have a better chance of surviving the first month compared to those born in the United States, according to researchers at the World Health Organization and Save the Children.

In a 20 year analysis of newborn death rates around the world, the study published in PLoS Medicine revealed the number of infants who die  before they are 4 weeks old account for 41% of child deaths worldwide.  Newborn deaths in the United States ranked 41 out of 45 among industrialized countries, on par with Qatar and Croatia.

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August 31st, 2011
07:26 AM ET

Could I have inflammatory bowel disease?

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 BH from Milwaukee:

I am a 30-year-old male. I am having episodes of abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. The doctor says she suspects ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease and wants to do a colonoscopy. What are these diseases? What else could this be and is it appropriate to do a colonoscopy?

Expert answer:
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Medieval plague bacteria strain probably extinct
This flea, X. cheopis, is responsible for transmitting the bacteria strain that causes plague.
August 30th, 2011
05:34 PM ET

Medieval plague bacteria strain probably extinct

Modern  outbreaks – swine flu, bird flu, SARS – have been scary and deadly, but they don't hold a candle to a plague called the Black Death. The disease killed an estimated one-third of Europe's population, perhaps 100 million people.

It's been a while, but scientists are now figuring out what caused the Black Death - at least, the one that swept through Europe from 1347 to 1351. They found evidence of the bacterium Yersinia pestis in the teeth of some of the medieval victims of the plague. Results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Get Some Sleep: Back-to-school bedtimes
August 30th, 2011
04:20 PM ET

Get Some Sleep: Back-to-school bedtimes

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs regularly on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

It is that time of year again. It is starting to get dark earlier. In some parts of the country, there's  a chill in the air at night. And the kids have to go back to school.

For many families, there are some rough days and maybe even weeks ahead as they help their children transition back to a schedule that requires them to get up earlier than they did in the summer.

School-aged children need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a night. If kids have been going to bed at 10 or 11 p.m. in the summer, it is unlikely that they can suddenly fall asleep at 8 p.m. the night before school starts back. It is best to gradually readjust the bedtime one to two weeks before school starts so that the kids are going to bed 15 minutes earlier every couple of nights until the desired bedtime is reached.
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August 30th, 2011
10:34 AM ET

How can I control my panic attacks?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Question asked by Stephanie via e-mail

I've been having a lot of panic attacks, almost every day; sometimes when I'm working, dealing with the kids or just nothing at all. I'll get shortness of breath, chest hurts on both sides or just one side, and a lot of my heart skipping a beat. And it scares me. I'm 29 years old and in good health. How can I control this?
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Lack of deep sleep contributes to high blood pressure
August 29th, 2011
04:01 PM ET

Lack of deep sleep contributes to high blood pressure

A lack of deep sleep may be one of the reasons why people develop high blood pressure.  A study of older men published Monday found that those who got the least amount of deep sleep were 80% more likely to develop high blood pressure, compared to those who got longer, less interrupted sleep.

Researchers studied almost 800 men over the age of 65 who didn't have hypertension when the study started. They were given at-home sleep tests that looked at their sleep patterns and measured their non-rapid eye movement sleep, also known as "slow wave sleep," or deep sleep.  Researchers monitored the men's blood pressure changes for a little more than 3 years. Results were published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association.

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Study: Lipitor lowers more than cholesterol
August 29th, 2011
12:12 PM ET

Study: Lipitor lowers more than cholesterol

Cholesterol-lowering medications like Lipitor seem to protect the body against more causes of death than just cardiovascular disease.

According to a retrospective study published Sunday in the European Heart Journal, the popular drug atorvastatin – sold by Pfizer under the name Lipitor – can also prevent death from infection and respiratory illness.

A clinical trial measuring the drug’s effectiveness ended in 2003 after having successfully shown to help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Since then, the group taking atorvastatin has continued to experience “legacy effects” from that study – a 14% lower mortality rate compared to the group taking a placebo for the study.

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August 29th, 2011
07:59 AM ET

Rabies shots needed for bat exposure?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Dan from South Carolina:

During a recent family trip to the mountains, our kids, who were sleeping in the attic, were awakened by a bat flying around the room. We called our doctor, who told us to go to the emergency room, where the kids got the rabies vaccine and immune globulin. Was that really necessary?
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Semi-sweet news for chocolate lovers
August 29th, 2011
04:10 AM ET

Semi-sweet news for chocolate lovers

Editor's note: Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: The Last Heart Attack at 8p and 11p ET on Saturday, September 3rd.

If only everything that looked good, felt good, or tasted good was good for us too. It comes as more welcome news for chocolate lovers, then, that yet another study has linked chocolate consumption with improved heart health. Maybe.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge analyzed the results of seven existing studies and concluded that high levels of chocolate consumption might be associated with a notable reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. Five of the seven studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumptions and the risk of cardiovascular events. They found that “the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke, compared with the lowest levels [of consumption].”

The studies, notably, did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included consumption of different types of chocolate (bars, shakes, etc.)

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August 26th, 2011
03:21 PM ET

Quiz: August is Immunization Awareness Month

This week's Health Quiz: Steve Jobs' health, premature babies, child window accidents, vaccines and more.

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Filed under: Health Quiz

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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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