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Vaccine-autism connection debunked again
March 29th, 2013
11:08 AM ET

Vaccine-autism connection debunked again

Many expectant parents are wary of all the recommended vaccines their newborns are supposed to get in the first hours, days and even the first couple of years, believing that too many vaccines too soon may increase their child's risk for autism.

A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics Friday may put them at ease. Researchers found no association between autism and the number of vaccines a child gets in one day or during the first two years of the current vaccine schedule.

The research was led by Dr. Frank DeStefano, director of the Immunization Safety Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Together with two colleagues, DeStefano and his team collected data on 256 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 752 children who did not have autism. The children were all born between 1994 and 1999 and were all continuously enrolled in one of three managed-care organizations through their second birthday. FULL POST


Liquid drops could replace allergy shots
March 27th, 2013
11:33 AM ET

Liquid drops could replace allergy shots

In Europe, some allergy sufferers are given sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, to treat their symptoms. These tiny drops of purified allergens - such as pollen or dust mites - are placed under the tongue as an alternative to weekly allergy shots. The drops work like a vaccine, slowly increasing the body's tolerance to the allergen.

The Food and Drug Administration has yet not approved these drops for use in the United States, but new evidence published this week by the Journal of the American Medical Association could pave the way for American pharmaceutical companies.

"There is a tremendous interest in this treatment," said Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. "As such there have been and are currently clinical trials underway by various companies looking to try to get an approval and come to the U.S. market in the years ahead."

Dr. Sandra Lin from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and her colleagues reviewed 63 studies to analyze the effectiveness of allergy drops.
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Cold sores linked to cognitive decline
March 26th, 2013
10:04 AM ET

Cold sores linked to cognitive decline

The virus causing your cold sore may put you at risk for something more insidious: Lower cognitive abilities.

In a study of 1,625 people, researchers at Columbia University measured specific antibodies to common infectious agents in each person's blood, and using this information, created an "infectious burden index." Participants higher on the infectious burden index were more likely to have worse cognition, or cognitive abilities.

The study, published Monday in the journal Neurology, further suggests a link between cognitive decline and herpesviridae viral infections in particular, which previous studies have also linked to Alzheimer's disease and risk of stroke, an accompanying editorial notes. Herpesviridae is a family of viruses including HSV-1 or herpes simplex virus-1, which causes cold sores and can cause genital herpes, and HSV-2, which commonly causes genital herpes.
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Too-early solid food could lead to problems for babies
March 25th, 2013
02:36 PM ET

Too-early solid food could lead to problems for babies

At least 40% of moms are feeding their infants solid foods far too early, according a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, and that may lead to problems for their children later in life.

Researchers wanted to know how many babies were being fed solid foods (including cereal and baby food) sooner than recommended, whether breast-feeding or formula feeding made a difference and why solids were being introduced early. When the study began in 2005,  the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which also publishes the journal Pediatrics, recommended introducing solid foods when babies were between 4 and 6 months old.

In 2012, the AAP changed those recommendations. Now it says babies shouldn't be eating solid food until they are about 6 months old.

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Toddler meals swimming in salt
March 21st, 2013
04:02 PM ET

Toddler meals swimming in salt

Most packaged meals and snacks marketed to toddlers have more than the recommended amount of sodium per serving, meaning children as young as one are most likely eating far too much salt early in life, according to one of several studies on sodium presented this week.

The studies were presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

The findings were alarming to researchers since there is evidence a child's sodium intake is related to the likelihood that he or she will develop hypertension as an adult. Hypertension is a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease and the number-one killer of men and women in the United States. FULL POST


Docs: Same-sex marriage benefits kids
March 21st, 2013
12:01 AM ET

Docs: Same-sex marriage benefits kids

Children raised by gay or lesbian couples benefit when their parents are allowed to marry, America’s top pediatrics group said Thursday in support of same-sex marriage.

“If a child has two living and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the best interest of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a policy statement.

Dr. Ellen Perrin, co-author of the policy statement, says marriage gives children of same-sex couples the same advantages of any married couple’s children. FULL POST


Abuse could mean higher risk of autistic children
March 20th, 2013
04:54 PM ET

Abuse could mean higher risk of autistic children

Being abused as a child may increase a mother's chance of having a child with autism, according to a new study, but researchers aren't sure why.

Investigators at The Harvard School of Public Health looked at more than 50,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study II group, and found that those who reported the highest levels of abuse as children themselves were 60% more likely to have children with some type of autism-spectrum disorder.

The reasons for the apparent connection, reported Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, remain murky. FULL POST


March 20th, 2013
04:09 PM ET

CDC: Higher number of children with autism

The number of children with autism is "significantly" higher than previously thought, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

School-aged boys were four times more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis than girls, according to the new data.

The CDC released a report a year ago estimating 1 in 88 American children has a form of autism spectrum disorder - neurodevelopmental disorders that lead to impaired language, communication and social skills.  The report looked at medical and educational records of all 8-year-olds living in 14 areas of the United States during 2008. FULL POST


Why our noses are different shapes
Left: The nasal bone structure of a person of African origin. Right: Nose of a person of European origin.
March 20th, 2013
12:06 PM ET

Why our noses are different shapes

There are pouches on each side of the human nose below the eyes that are called maxillary sinuses. They're involved in sinus infections, so you may already have a bias against them.

But Nathan Holton, a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of orthodontics at the University of Iowa, wanted to find out why there's such variation in these structures, and how they are affected by variation in the nasal cavity. A study on the subject is published in the journal The Anatomical Record.

Holton and colleagues took computed tomography scans of 40 people. About half of them were European-Americans, and the other half were African-Americans or native South Africans. FULL POST


A health care tale of two counties
March 20th, 2013
07:11 AM ET

A health care tale of two counties

Two New York boroughs, Manhattan and the Bronx, are separated by just a few stops on the subway. Nonetheless, they are vastly different in key public health measurements.

The Bronx ranks dead last for health among all counties in New York, while Manhattan (also known as New York County) is near the top third. The rankings were based on rates of premature death and health-related quality of life. The list was recently compiled and updated for every county in every state by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute.
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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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