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Genetic research reveals pieces of autism puzzle
April 5th, 2012
02:02 PM ET

Genetic research reveals pieces of autism puzzle

As the number of children with autism has increased over the past couple of decades, so have efforts to find causes behind this neurodevelopmental disorder. Research published Wednesday provides new clues about genetic glitches that may contribute to the development of autism among children.

Ten years ago, little was known about the role genetics plays in autism. But improved technology has allowed scientists to delve deeply into DNA to search for answers.

"Ten years ago [it was like] we were looking through binoculars, then we were looking at autism through a microscope, and now it's like looking at it in high definition," says Andy Shih, vice president of scientific affairs for the advocacy group Autism Speaks, who was not involved in the research.

Since the first human genome was sequenced in the early 2000s, researchers have had the opportunity to search for genes that cause the disorder, which affects an estimated 1 in 88 children in the United States.

Researchers were originally searching for a single gene that would cause the disorder, but they now believe it's much more likely that there are multiple genetic mutations that put a child at risk. By studying specific areas of the DNA of families that have a child with autism, scientists have identified approximately 1,000 genes that may be involved.
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April 5th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Olympic swimmer discusses personal struggles

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard, who first competed at the age of 14 in Atlanta in 1996, shares her struggles with bulimia, drug and alcohol abuse, and self-harm.

Looking back, I think my life story is very real. I have struggled with many issues, including depression, self-confidence and self-infliction that a lot of others can relate to.

Yes, I’ve won seven Olympic medals and have grown up pretty much my whole life in the public eye modeling for magazines and interviewing for newspapers, but deep down, despite the glamour and glitz on the outside, I was a regular girl struggling with my inner demons. 
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Birth control may affect long-term relationships
April 5th, 2012
07:34 AM ET

Birth control may affect long-term relationships

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex weekly on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

A recent study shows that women with lower testosterone levels - typically caused by the use of hormone-based oral contraceptives like the pill - are more attracted to men who also have low testosterone levels.

Previous studies have shown that the less testosterone a man has, the less likely he is to cheat, the more supportive he is, and the better he is at providing for his family. Sounds good, right?

Not quite. Previous studies have also shown that most women are historically more sexually attracted to higher testosterone levels. And the mothers in the study who eventually went off birth control post-wedding reported less sexual contentment than other women; they found their husbands less attractive and less sexually exciting once they went off the pill.
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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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