May 15th, 2013
05:02 PM ET
We think of malaria as a disease that infects more than 200 million people a year, with transmission happening through mosquito bites.
But it's not entirely the fault of the mosquitoes. Scientists are exploring how the malaria parasite itself may actually change a mosquito's behavior to make it more attracted to humans, as if controlling its mind so that the bug goes after us.
A new study in the journal PLOS One demonstrates, for the first time, that mosquitoes infected with malaria are more attracted to human odor than uninfected mosquitoes. This is only a proof of concept, however; more research needs to be done to confirm.
May 14th, 2013
02:28 PM ET
Reducing salt consumption below the currently recommended 2,300 milligrams – about 1 1/2 teaspoons– per day maybe unnecessary, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The news follows a decades-long push to get Americans to reduce the amount of salt in their diet because of strong links between high sodium consumption and hypertension, a known risk factor for heart disease.
The IOM, at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reviewed recent studies published through 2012 that explored ties between salt consumption and direct health outcomes like cardiovascular disease and death. The organization describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public."
Researchers determined there wasn't enough evidence to say whether lowering salt consumption to levels between 1,500 and 2,300 mg per day could increase or decrease your risk of heart disease and mortality. But lowering sodium intake might adversely affect your health, the panel found.
May 9th, 2013
05:20 PM ET
Worldwide elimination of malaria would save hundreds of thousands of lives each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). But eradication remains elusive, because the parasite that causes the disease can evolve to withstand the effects of new malaria drugs and become drug-resistant.
Researchers, however, now believe they have discovered a way to track the spread of drug-resistant malaria, and this discovery may help to finally eradicate the disease. Their study was recently published in the journal Nature Genetics.
“We’ve seen past cases of (malaria) drug resistance spread in a specific pattern,” said study author Nicholas White from Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, and the University of Oxford in the UK. “It starts in Cambodia, spreads across Southeast Asia and crosses over to Africa, killing millions of children in the process.” FULL POST
May 2nd, 2013
02:39 PM ET
Food and skin allergies are becoming more common in American children, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both have been steadily increasing for more than a decade.
Food allergy prevalence increased from 3.4% to 5.1% between 1997 and 2011, while skin allergy prevalence more than doubled in the same time period. That means 1 in every 20 children will develop a food allergy and 1 in every 8 children will have a skin allergy. According to the CDC, respiratory allergies are still the most common for children younger than 18.
The new report, which looked at data from the National Health Interview Survey, found that skin allergies decreased with age, while respiratory allergies increased as children got older.
April 30th, 2013
03:32 PM ET
Most new moms aim to breast-feed their babies - a practice encouraged by experts who tout the many health benefits of breast milk.
But breast milk is not perfect when it comes to vitamin D. A new study published Tuesday in a special edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association focusing on child health reiterates that breast-fed babies also need a vitamin D supplement.
The current recommendations to give babies being fully or partially breast-fed 400 IU, or International Units, of vitamin D each day "is quite satisfactory," said lead study author and registered dietitian Hope Weiler of McGill University in Canada. FULL POST
April 30th, 2013
01:12 PM ET
Despite public outreach campaigns, a third of all stroke patients don’t call an ambulance to get them to the hospital, leaving them vulnerable to delayed treatment and worse outcomes, according to a new study published in the journal Circulation.
The authors analyzed data on more than 204,000 patients, seen at 1,563 U.S. hospitals between 2003 and 2010. Patients who arrived by ambulance were about twice as likely to arrive at a hospital quickly, and were about 50% more likely to receive intravenous TPA – a clot-busting drug – within the recommended three-hour window, when it’s most effective.
“Time is the essence,” said Dr. O. James Ekundayo, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at Meharry Medical College in Nashville. “The earlier to the hospital, the better – the earlier you’re evaluated and given treatment.” FULL POST
April 22nd, 2013
12:05 AM ET
While growing up, many children may have heard "clean your plate" or been denied candy. But how do parental attitudes toward food affect a child's weight?
Denying certain foods to children or pressuring them to eat every bit of a meal are common practices among many parents. But researchers at the University of Minnesota found parents who restricted foods were more likely to have overweight or obese children. And while those who pressured children to eat all of their meals mostly had children of normal weight, it adversely affected the way those children ate as they grew older, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. FULL POST
April 10th, 2013
03:53 PM ET
Moms can be convinced to change their minds about having their babies before they are at full term, according to a study released this week in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
For years, medical groups have been encouraging moms to wait until their baby has remained in utero for 39 weeks. At the same time, the number of women choosing to induce labor or have an elective cesarean section for nonmedical reasons has been rising.
March 29th, 2013
11:08 AM ET
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
March 27th, 2013
11:33 AM ET
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.
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.