May 27th, 2013
02:44 PM ET
More than 2 million children have been affected by the military deployment of at least one parent within the past decade, and thousands have had to cope with a parent's death or traumatic injury, experts say.
Therefore, it's imperative that pediatricians and other health care providers address the mental health and well-being of children from U.S. military families, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"This is guidance (for the providers), but it is the first of its kind," said co-author Dr. Beth Ellen Davis, a pediatrician and retired U.S. Army colonel. "I could think of no better way to honor our service members than to help providers take care of their children."
May 20th, 2013
11:48 AM ET
Boys with ADHD may be at risk for obesity later in life, according to a new study - which, if confirmed in larger studies, may have implications for the more than 4 million kids in the United States living with the disorder.
Researchers at NYU's Langone Medical Center have been following more than 200 kids for four decades. They found those who had ADHD in their early years were twice as likely to be obese at age 41. FULL POST
May 3rd, 2013
10:48 AM ET
Teen suicides often get the most media attention - tragic stories like that of Canadian teen Amanda Todd remind us that depression is a serious mental health issue for adolescents. But a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more attention needs to be directed at preventing suicide in adults as well.
Between 1999 and 2010, suicides in the 35-to-64 age group increased 28.4%, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Suicides among people aged 50 to 59 years old specifically almost doubled during that time period.
More than 38,000 Americans killed themselves in 2010; that's more than double those who were killed in a homicide that same year, according to the CDC. In 2009, the number of deaths from suicide in the United States surpassed the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes for the first time. FULL POST
April 3rd, 2013
10:50 AM ET
Exposure to intimate partner violence and maternal depression before the age of 3 may increase a child's risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine looked a population of more than 2,000 children, and found that those whose parents had reported depression or intimate partner violence were significantly more likely to suffer from ADHD as they grew older.
"It wasn't surprising, from the lens of me being a behavioral pediatrician," said Dr. Nerissa Bauer, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine and the lead study author. "I routinely encounter mental health and behavioral problems in children, and this supports my initial hunch that I was seeing an increase in that." FULL POST
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 20th, 2013
04:54 PM ET
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.
March 20th, 2013
04:09 PM ET
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
February 18th, 2013
03:56 PM ET
For years, pediatricians have recommended that young children watch no TV, or as little as possible, because it can lead to problems in school and behavior issues. Now a new study concedes children are sitting in front of the TV a lot longer. However, controlling what they watch can improve how they behave.
When preschoolers watch educational programs instead of violent TV shows, they tend to be more compassionate and less aggressive, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
About 600 families were recruited and assigned to one of two groups. Parents in the first group were encouraged to substitute violent shows with educational and pro-social ones - shows that stressed compassion and cooperation.
Families were given monthly TV guides listing educational programming for their area: shows such as "Dora the Explorer," "Super WHY," "Sesame Street" and "It's a Big, Big World." Parents were also encouraged to watch TV with their kids.
The children went from watching a half-hour of violent programming a day to 23 minutes. Parents then increased educational viewing from about 30 to 43 minutes a day.
Families in the second group did not change their viewing habits.
"This is the first study to try to modify the viewing habits of preschool kids," says Dr. Vic Strasburger, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "That's one of the significances of this study."
After a year, researchers found that children watching less violent and more child-appropriate shows scored better on tests that measured cooperation, a willingness to share or compromise. They also had fewer incidents of aggressive behavior such as yelling and hitting.
"Although television is frequently implicated as a cause of many problems in children, our research indicates that it may also be part of the solution," the study notes.
The scientists saw the greatest improvements in boys raised in disadvantaged homes where children tends to watch more TV.
Experts know that children mimic what they see, whether it's in real life or what's on the screen. And this is of particular concern when children watch TV or movies riddled with violence.
"Children learn their attitudes about violence at a very young age, before age 8 and once they learn those attitudes it's very difficult to unlearn them," says Strasburger.
"It doesn't mean that children who watch violence are going to become murderers, but it does mean that they are desensitized to violence in the real world and they are more likely to be aggressive themselves," says study author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute.
Better shows, better kids
But on the flip side, when children watch shows with positive social messages, it helps them get along better with others and gives them the tools to become better communicators, the study suggests.
"They will imitate the good things too," says Christakis. "We should take more advantage of the fact that you can demonstrate good behaviors on-screen and that children will emulate them in real life."
Right now, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers and older children get only one to two hours of TV or screen time a day. But in reality, they're really watching much more. According to this study, preschoolers see an average of about four and a half hours daily at home and in daycare settings. Parents struggle with guilt, researchers say, because they allow so much TV time.
"Parents need to get this message that it's not just about how much TV your children watch, it's about what they watch," says Christakis. "It's not just about turning off the set; it's about changing the channel."
January 8th, 2013
05:01 PM ET
Neuroscientists have been discovering mounting evidence that being fluent in more than one language protects against age-related cognitive declines. But there's still the major question: Why?
Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to get a closer look at the brains of both bilinguals and monolinguals, comparing how their activity differs during specific tasks. This new study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Neuroscience, expands upon previous ideas that bilinguals tend to show superior task-switching abilities compared to monolinguals. The study was led by Brian Gold of the University of Kentucky in Lexington. FULL POST
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.