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Childhood mental health disabilities on the rise
August 18th, 2014
11:10 AM ET

Childhood mental health disabilities on the rise

Over the past half century, the prevalence of childhood disabilities in the United States has been on the rise, possibly due to an increased awareness about these issues. Now a study published in this week’s online issue of Pediatrics suggests the nature of those newly diagnosed disabilities is changing.

The report, “Changing Trends of Childhood Disability, 2001-2011" found the number of American children with disabilities rose 16% over a 10-year period. While there was a noted decline in physical problems, there was a large increase in disabilities classified as neurodevelopmental conditions or mental health issues, such as ADHD and autism.

“We found that that physical disability health conditions in children were down 12%, but the disabilities related to mental and neurodevelopmental health went up 21%,” said lead study author Dr. Amy Houtrow, chief of the Division of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
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Babies want to speak as early as 7 months
July 15th, 2014
03:09 PM ET

Babies want to speak as early as 7 months

Babies usually start speaking by their first birthday. But new research suggests talking to your baby stimulates his brain well before she utters those first words.

For the study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors compared how 7- and 11-month-old babies from English-speaking families processed sounds from English and Spanish.

Researchers at the University of Washington looked at 57 babies who were 7, 11 and 12 months old. The babies sat in an egg-shaped, noninvasive brain scanner that measures brain activation and listened to speech sounds played over a loudspeaker.

The researchers examined patterns of brain activation in areas of the brain that analyze sound, as well as areas that plan the motor movements required to produce speech.
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Depression a 'powerful' risk factor for heart disease in young women
June 19th, 2014
08:54 AM ET

Depression a 'powerful' risk factor for heart disease in young women

Young women are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or die of heart disease if they suffer from depression, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at 3,237 patients with suspected or established heart disease who were undergoing coronary angiography – a medical procedure used to diagnose narrowing in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. On the same day of the procedure, the patients answered nine questions assessing their state of mind.

If the patient was experiencing moderate to severe depression, and was under 55 years old, researchers found she had double the chance of experiencing a heart attack in the next few years. Depressed women under 55 were also twice as likely to have heart disease or to die from any cause during that time period than those who were not depressed. Men and those women older than 55 with depression did not show the same increased risk.

Depression is as powerful a risk factor for heart disease as diabetes and smoking, study author Dr. Amit Shah, a cardiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, concluded.
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Filed under: Conditions • Depression • Heart • Mental Health

June 13th, 2014
12:01 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Keep your phone out of your pocket – your sperm will thank you
Journal: Environmental International

Since guys don’t usually carry handbags, they tend to keep mobile phones in their pants pockets. A recent study from the University of Exeter suggests this may not be a great idea.

That cell phone could actually have a negative effect on your sperm quality.
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Filed under: Aging • Brain • Cell Phones • Conditions • Dental health • Diet and Fitness • Fertility • Heart • Living Well • Men's Health • Mental Health

5 studies you may have missed
Despite their high fat and calorie content, nuts are better for you than diet sweets, experts say.
June 5th, 2014
09:07 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that can give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Hope for people with Parkinson’s
Journal: Cell Reports

Scientists at Harvard University say they see promising signs from their study on an experimental treatment for Parkinson's disease. The researchers transplanted tissue from fetal dopamine cells into the brains of patients with Parkinson’s in Canada.

Patients with severe symptoms experienced 50% fewer symptoms in the years after surgery. People who had been taking medication to control their Parkinson’s but found that the medicine no longer worked also saw significant improvements after surgery.

Looking at the brains of five patients after they died from non-Parkinson’s related illnesses, the scientists found that the transplanted cells stayed healthy. Earlier research led scientists to hypothesize that the cells would become corrupted, but the cells remained functional for at least 14 years after the patients got them. This is the first proof that this kind of transplant method could work.
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5 studies you may have missed
May 30th, 2014
07:30 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that can give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

The entire world is getting fat
Journal: The Lancet

In what is the most comprehensive look at global obesity in decades, scientists said they can’t find a single positive note in the fight against the epidemic.

In every single country they studied - there were 188 of them - the obesity rates stayed the same or got worse.

Nearly 30%, or almost one out of every third person on this planet, is overweight or obese, according to the study. In 1980 there were 857 million people considered overweight or obese. In 2013, that number was 2.1 billion.

Obesity is more of a common problem in the developed world, but it has become a growing problem in poorer countries.

The country with the most obese people is the United States. About a third of American adults are overweight, which accounts for 13% of all the heavy people worldwide. The United States is only a little over 4% of the world's population, so that's a startling statistic.

Women saw the bigger gains. Between 1980 and 2013, the rate of women who are obese increased from 29.8% to 38%. For men it increased from 28.8% of the population to 36.9% of the population.

Read more from PLOS Blogs


Men who watch a lot porn may have smaller brains

Journal: JAMA Psychiatry

Men who watch a lot of porn are a little lighter when it comes to their gray matter, according to a  study out of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

Scientists made brain scans of a small group of 64 healthy men from 21 to 45 as they looked at pornographic images. Researchers also assessed how often the men typically looked at porn.

The study may be the first to establish a link between the amount of pornography consumption and brain size. The study does not determine whether men who watch a lot of porn have smaller brains to begin with or whether the volume of their brains has shrunk over time.

The study did show that the region of the brain that activates when someone experiences sexual stimuli is less active in those men who typically watch a lot of porn.

Read more from TIME.com

Want to look younger? Avoid the sun, smoking and high-calorie diets
Journal: Cell Press

Forget special creams and surgeries to look younger - what you really need is to avoid cigarettes and sunshine, according to scientists at the University of North Carolina.

If you avoid “gerontogens" - that’s the fancy word for stuff in the environment that may make you age - you may look younger and may even live longer.

Other “gerontogens” include the chemicals used in chemotherapy. A low-calorie diet may also slow aging, as may a low-stress environment, according to the study.

We still don’t know why some people age faster than others. But the researchers hope their study will someday lead to a blood test that would allow doctors to look at someone’s DNA for biomarkers of aging. Those biochemical signatures would help determine how fast a person is aging and why, and perhaps slow or stop the process. That’s a long way off though. This study is still in the mouse model phase.

Read more: Cell Press release

Teen sunbathers beware: 5 bad sunburns increase risk for deadly cancer
Journal: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention

People who say they had more than five or more blistering sunburns before they turned 20 have an 80% increased risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

A study examined the health of 108,916 registered nurses for 20 years. Of those nurses, the ones who had five or more bad sunburns, the kind with blisters, when they were ages 15 to 20, had a 68% increased risk for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and an 80% increased risk for melanoma.

People who had a similar number of bad sunburns when they were older faced no similar increased risk for melanoma, but they did have a greater chance of developing basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma.

Scientists caution people who have a propensity to develop moles or who sunburn easily should take particular care in the sun, especially early in life.

Read more: American Association of Cancer Research

Laser treatment helps tooth regeneration in mice
​Journal: Science Translational Medicine

Lasers sound a lot more fun than root canals. Scientists demonstrated in a new study that it's possible to regenerate dentin, the hard bone-like tissue in teeth, using light.

The technique makes use of stem cells already found in teeth. Researchers did not have to transplant these cells that have tremendous potential in regenerative medicine.

By shining infrared light on damaged teeth in mice, scientists activated molecules called reactive oxygen species. These molecules bind to stem cells, making the stem cells turn into dentin-forming cells that help regenerate the tooth structure, said David Mooney, senior author of the study and researcher at Harvard University.

Scientists demonstrated this in rodents, but not humans, however. Also it's a somewhat lengthy process, which would take weeks to months to work.

If it were successful in humans, though, the technique "potentially could replace the root canal," Mooney said.

Read more from Harvard


5 studies you may have missed
May 23rd, 2014
05:21 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Mental illness reduces lifespan even more than smoking
Journal: World Psychiatry

Oxford University psychiatrists say the life expectancy of people with serious mental illness is reduced by 10 to 20 years. That's a toll on life roughly equal or even more dramatic than for people who smoke at least 20 cigarettes a day.

Mental illness is also roughly as common in the United Kingdom than smoking cigarettes, the researchers report: 25% of people will suffer from a mental health problem annually, while 19% of British men and 19% of women are smokers. In the United States, mental illness affects 20% of Americans over 18 in a year.

The study examined information about 1.7 million patients, analyzing 20 scientific reviews and studies that had mostly drawn upon data from wealthy countries.

Lead study author Dr. Seena Fazel told NPR that stigma may play a role in the pattern observed in this study. 

"So much emphasis has been placed on reducing smoking and smoking deaths. Mental illness doesn't receive the same attention in public health and public policy," Fazel told NPR. 

Read more from NPR

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5 studies you may have missed
May 16th, 2014
01:29 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Pregnant moms: Be careful when you are driving
Journal: Canadian Medical Association

A study out of Canada suggests women in their second trimester of pregnancy are more likely to have a traffic accident than other women.

Researchers looked at every newborn in Ontario, Canada, over a five-year span. They found a 42% increase of life-threatening motor accidents in the second trimester of their pregnancy.
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Only 10% of alcoholics get meds to treat addiction
May 14th, 2014
09:39 AM ET

Only 10% of alcoholics get meds to treat addiction

Ask the average person how to treat alcoholism, and they’ll probably describe an AA meeting or maybe a 30-day stint in a fancy rehab center. What won’t leap to mind, even for most experts, is medication.

That’s a missed opportunity, according to an analysis of more than 120 research studies that found that prescription medication helps addicts reduce their drinking and the associated harms.

Taken together, the studies involved 22,803 patients who abused alcohol. The bulk of the papers looked at the medications naltrexone or acamprosate. Both made addicts less likely to drink again and reduced the number of “drinking days” when they did relapse.
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Impairment from solvents might last decades
May 12th, 2014
04:00 PM ET

Impairment from solvents might last decades

In the workplace, fumes from solvents such as paints, glues, degreasers and adhesives have been implicated in cognitive damage - in other words, impaired thinking and memory abilities. Now, researchers report in the journal Neurology that the detriments linked to these chemicals might last many years.

"What it shows is that these chemicals might have more long-term effects than have previously been thought, and continue to affect people long after they are retired," said Erika Sabbath, research fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and lead author of the study.

A solvent is a substance used to dissolve another chemical. For instance, water dissolves salt. The solvents targeted in this study included benzene (found in detergents and plastics), chlorinated solvents (found in paint strippers and dry cleaning solutions) and petroleum solvents (found in varnish).

But note that researchers did not directly measure whether these chemicals cause brain damage. They simply found a statistical association between impairment on tests and exposure to chemicals. More research would be needed to prove that one directly results in the other.

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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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