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August 12th, 2014
04:38 PM ET

Hand sanitizer doesn't help in schools

School children get low marks when it comes to spreading germs, often sharing bugs with their classmates. So scientists wondered if putting hand sanitizers into elementary school classrooms would lead to fewer absences.

The study

Researchers in New Zealand set out to discover if using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, in addition to regular hand washing, would cut back on absentee rates in schools.

They recruited 68 primary schools, and all students were given a half-hour hygiene lesson. They then assigned half of the schools to a control group where children washed their hands with soap and water. The schools in the intervention group did the same, but were also asked to use classroom hand sanitizers when they coughed or sneezed, and before meals.
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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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Child medication measurements confuse parents
July 14th, 2014
11:03 AM ET

Child medication measurements confuse parents

Do you know the difference between teaspoons and tablespoons?

Many parents don’t, according to a study published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which found more than 10,000 calls to the poison center each year are due to liquid medication dosage errors.

The study says part of the reason parents may be confused is because a range of measurement units such as teaspoons, tablespoons and milliliters are often used interchangeably on labels for prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Parents who used the teaspoon and tablespoon dosage were much more likely to use kitchen spoons to measure their child’s medication and were twice as likely to make an error in medication, according to the study. Parents who measured their child’s medication in milliliters were much less likely to make a dosage mistake.

About 40% of parents in the study incorrectly measured the dose their doctor prescribed.
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5 studies you may have missed
July 4th, 2014
11:14 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.

Motörhead is one of the most hardcore rock ’n’ roll acts on Earth
Journal: The Lancet

That Motörhead has the reputation as one of the most hardcore rock’n’roll acts on earth may not surprise you. But finding evidence to support this claim in one of the major medical journals might.

According to a case study published Thursday in The Lancet, a man “developed a chronic subdural hematoma (bleeding in the brain) after headbanging at a Motörhead concert.”
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Teaming up with Google to find autism cause
June 10th, 2014
04:52 PM ET

Teaming up with Google to find autism cause

The cause of autism is still unknown, but researchers hope harnessing the power of Google will help them solve this neurodevelopmental puzzle.

The research and advocacy group Autism Speaks announced Tuesday they are collaborating with the Google Cloud Platform to build the largest autism genome database to date. The collaboration, known as The Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program (AUT10K), will combine extensive DNA databases with cloud storage technology, in hopes of moving mountains in autism research, according to a press release.

Autism Speaks believes the AUT10K program holds the potential to radically transform ASD genomics research. “Working with Google is a game-changer,” said Rob Ring, who is the organization’s chief science officer.

This collaboration is part of a larger movement in the medical field to use big data to speed research efforts. IBM's supercomputer Watson, for instance, is helping oncologists find treatments for a rare aggressive brain cancer in partnership with the New York Genome Center.

Autism Speaks has already donated 12,000 DNA samples, which members describe as the “the largest private collection” with diagnostic and specific genetic information. The organization says the collaboration with Google will allow them to provide researchers access to what will eventually be huge amounts of data. This, in turn, should help researchers find connections between patients faster.

Zachary Warren, director of Vanderbilt University’s autism research institute,  says in order to understand the vast developmental and behavioral differences linked to ASD, more powerful platforms to analyze genetic data are needed.

“Only by understanding autism risk can we begin to develop treatments that target not just the symptoms but the root causes of autism spectrum disorder," his colleague and genetic autism researcher Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele said in agreement.

The number of children with autism has continued to go up over the past decades, as have the costs for caring for someone with ASD.

Earlier this year, the CDC reported that 1 in 68 children in the United States has autism.  A new study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, estimates the lifetime cost of supporting an individual with ASD can be up to $2.4 million.


Study: Don't delay measles vaccine
May 19th, 2014
02:18 PM ET

Study: Don't delay measles vaccine

There are many myths about vaccinations floating around the Internet, says Dr. Simon Hambidge. One that giving vaccinations too close together is unhealthy  has prompted some parents to request that their children receive vaccines on an alternate schedule, Hambidge told CNN in an e-mail.

Hambidge, an expert in pediatric vaccination with Kaiser Permanente's Institute for Health Research Colorado, is lead author of a new study that examines the association between vaccine timing and seizures.

His team found that in the first year of life, there is no relationship between the recommended vaccine schedule and seizures. But delaying the measles vaccine until after a child is 15 months old may raise his or her seizure risk. The study results were published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

"A number of people have claimed that a young child’s immune system is not robust enough to be given multiple vaccines, and that it is safer to 'spread out' vaccination," Hambidge said. "There is no scientific evidence for this, and there is evidence that it is safe and effective to follow the current recommended schedule."

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Hazardous chemicals found in day care centers
May 15th, 2014
05:44 PM ET

Hazardous chemicals found in day care centers

More than half of all young children in the United States attend a day care center or preschool, sometimes spending up to 50 hours a week at these facilities. Their parents should listen up:

A new study, published in the journal Chemosphere, finds these child care centers can host high levels of dangerous, flame-retardant chemicals.

Lead study author Asa Bradman recalls first learning about the dangers of some of these chemicals when he was in high school.

"You know, 35 years later, I'm surprised to find these materials in an environment where young children spend a lot of time," he said.
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New research, recommendations for parents
Not all parents are putting babies to sleep on their backs as recommended, a new study finds.
May 6th, 2014
03:34 PM ET

New research, recommendations for parents

Current and expectant parents may be interested a few of the many studies that have been released in recent days as researchers gathered for the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, the largest international meeting focused on research in children's health. The meeting, in Vancouver, British Columbia, ends Tuesday.

Here are some of the findings presented:

Not all parents are putting their babies 'back to sleep'

Since the early 1990's, the American Academy of Pediatrics has been recommending parents put their babies on their backs when they sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While the number of SIDS deaths has gone down, the CDC reports more than 2000 infants under the age of 1 died in 2010 as a result of SIDS.

However, a new study finds that the word hasn't gotten out to everyone that babies should sleep on their backs. Researchers presented their data on Saturday. They found that two-thirds of full-term babies in the United States sleep on their backs and less than half of preemies are put in what's officially called the supine sleep position (on the back). FULL POST


Despite dangers, docs continue to prescribe kids codeine
Codeine is commonly prescribed for children with coughs and colds, although it's not recommended, a new study finds.
April 21st, 2014
04:24 PM ET

Despite dangers, docs continue to prescribe kids codeine

Every year, there are up to 870,000 prescriptions of codeine written for children in emergency rooms in the United States.

And that's a huge danger, because the narcotic can have particularly powerful effects on children. So powerful that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines against its use in 1997. Yet, despite those guidelines, a new study in the journal Pediatrics has found that little has changed in codeine prescribing habits.

Study author Dr. Sunitha Kaiser and her colleagues evaluated the National Hospital and Ambulatory Medical Care Survey database for emergency room visits of children between the ages of 3 and 17  from 2010 through 2010. They found found that in the nine years evaluated, the percentage of codeine prescriptions dropped very little - from 3.7%  to 2.9%. FULL POST


Fussy infants and toddlers watch more TV
April 14th, 2014
09:51 AM ET

Fussy infants and toddlers watch more TV

Does your baby have difficulty calming him or herself? Falling and staying asleep? It can be stressful, especially for new parents. But once again, researchers are recommending that parents avoid plopping them down in front of the television.

According to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, fussy babies and toddlers tend to watch more TV and videos than infants with no issues or mild issues. And that can lead to problems down the road.

"We found that babies and toddlers whose mothers rated them as having self-regulation problems – meaning, problems with calming down, soothing themselves, settling down to sleep, or waiting for food or toys – watched more TV and videos when they were age 2," said study author Dr. Jenny Radskey, who works in the division of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.

"Infants with self-regulation problems watched, on average, about 9 minutes more media per day than other infants. This may seem small, but screen-time habits are established in these early years."
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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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