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Study: Signs of autism may show up as early as first month
As part of the study, researchers tracked babies and toddlers' responses to videos showing actresses playing a caregiver.
November 6th, 2013
02:11 PM ET

Study: Signs of autism may show up as early as first month

The first signs of autism may be visible as early as the first month of a child's life, according to a study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.

"These are the earliest signs of autism ever observed," says lead study author Warren Jones.

Researchers at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta followed 110 children from birth to age 3, at which point a diagnosis of autism was ascertained. Fifty-nine babies were considered "high risk" for developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because they had siblings with autism; 51 were considered "low risk" because they did not have first, second or third-degree relatives with ASD. FULL POST


Kids of less-educated moms may have noisier brains
October 29th, 2013
05:00 PM ET

Kids of less-educated moms may have noisier brains

A mother's level of education has strong implications for a child's development. Northwestern University researchers show in a new study that low maternal education is linked to a noisier nervous system in children, which could affect their learning.

"You really can think of it as static on your radio that then will get in the way of hearing the announcer’s voice," says Nina Kraus, senior author of the study and researcher at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University.

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, is part of a larger initiative working with children in public high schools in inner-city Chicago. The adolescents are tracked from ninth to 12th grade. An additional group of children in the gang-reduction zones of Los Angeles are also being tracked.

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500 kids die, 7,500 injured by guns yearly
October 28th, 2013
11:56 AM ET

500 kids die, 7,500 injured by guns yearly

Some 7,500 children are hospitalized yearly for gunshot wounds, and 500 of them die, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The study also found a "significant association" between the percentage of kids' gunshot wounds occurring in homes and the percentage of households containing firearms, the AAP said in a statement. Researchers reviewed statistics from the Kids' Inpatient Database from 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009, and estimated state household gun ownership using the most recent data available from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Researchers presented this data at the annual AAP conference Orlando on Sunday. The organization represents 60,000 pediatricians and other medical officials.
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Concussion concerns may lead to fewer boys playing football
October 23rd, 2013
06:05 PM ET

Concussion concerns may lead to fewer boys playing football

As more people learn about how football's hard hits to the head can lead to brain trauma, fewer parents may be willing to let their kids out on the field. That's according to a new poll released Wednesday by HBO Real Sports and Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

One in three Americans say knowing about the damage that concussions can cause would make them less likely to allow their sons to play football, the poll found.

Keith Strudler, director of the Marist College Center for Sports Communication, who helped oversee the phone survey of more than 1,200 adults in July, said this could be alarming news for the future of football. "Historically, youth football has fueled the NFL," said Strudler. "Parents' concern about the safety of the game could jeopardize the future of the sport."

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Pertussis vaccine in teens may reduce infant hospitalizations
October 21st, 2013
03:13 PM ET

Pertussis vaccine in teens may reduce infant hospitalizations

More adolescents being vaccinated for pertussis appears to result in fewer pertussis-related hospitalizations in infants, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

"The number of hospitalizations in 2011 we observed were 30% of  what we would have expected had there not been a vaccine," says lead study author Dr. Katherine Auger, who also specializes in pediatric hospital patient care at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "For every 10,000 infants, we saw 3.3 pertussis hospitalizations. We expected 10.7 hospitalizations had there not been a vaccine."

The study looked at hospitalization rates, using nationwide inpatient samples, and compared it to data before and after the so-called Tdap vaccination was recommended for universal administration to adolescents in 2006.

Also known as whooping cough, pertussis is a highly contagious and often serious disease, especially in young children.  FULL POST


Buying breast milk online? Beware
Breast milk purchased from Internet social media sites may contain bacteria such as salmonella, a new study shows.
October 21st, 2013
09:40 AM ET

Buying breast milk online? Beware

Donated breast milk is "liquid gold at our house,” says Stacy Richards, 37.

The liquid gold is for Simeon, Richards' adopted 11-month-old son. He was born with Down syndrome and suffers from chronic lung disease. Richards believes "breast is best" but couldn't breastfeed, so she turned to the next best thing.

Initially, she sought milk on community milk sharing sites, like “Eats on Feets,” and “Human Milk 4 Human Babies,” but didn’t feel comfortable getting milk from strangers. “We didn’t know who those women were. They didn’t have a safety net,” said Richards. Instead, she relied on trusted friends.

Richards had every right to worry, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The study found milk bought off of the Internet through social media sites was more than twice as likely to be contaminated with infection-causing bacteria and three times more likely to contain salmonella than milk from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBNA). While only 5% of the HMBNA milk tested positive for herpes viruses, 21% of milk from the Internet contained bacteria and viruses. FULL POST


Video chat may help language learning
September 24th, 2013
12:59 PM ET

Video chat may help language learning

As a graduate student studying how children develop language, Sarah Roseberry made an interesting observation.  Parents would come into her lab at Temple University and talk about how they Skyped with grandparents in places like the Dominican Republic.

"The parents would swear their children were learning Spanish," recalls Roseberry, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington. "The more we thought about it, the more we realized this made sense."

Roseberry decided to take her theory into the research lab.  What she found was intriguing: Language can be learned via video chat, as long as the conversation allows for meaningful back-and-forth exchanges.

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E-readers may help people with dyslexia
September 18th, 2013
05:01 PM ET

E-readers may help people with dyslexia

People with dyslexia may have an easier time reading on an e-reader than using traditional paper, a new study published today in the journal PLOS One suggests.

Researchers say the idea for the study came out of anecdotal reports they were hearing from dyslexics who said they never read for pleasure before smartphones and e-readers enabled them to start.

“They said it was a much more comfortable experience,” said Jenny Thomason, a study author who worked at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education at the time. “We wanted to take a closer look.”
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Autism linked to induced or augmented labor, study says
August 12th, 2013
04:01 PM ET

Autism linked to induced or augmented labor, study says

As scientists struggle to understand the causes of autism, a potential new pattern has emerged: The condition is associated with induced or augmented labor, according to a new study.

Induction means stimulating contractions before spontaneous labor begins. Augmentation means helping contractions become stronger, longer or more frequent. Both of these methods of expediting deliveries have helped mothers who have health conditions that could be detrimental to them or their child.

The researchers did not prove that these treatments cause autism. Women should not read the new study, which is published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, and decide against expediting labor on that basis, said Simon Gregory, researcher at Duke University Medical Center and lead author of the study.

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Signs of progress in childhood obesity fight
This map shows the states that experienced a decline or increase in low-income preschool obesity rates.
August 6th, 2013
12:01 PM ET

Signs of progress in childhood obesity fight

After decades of warnings about the rapidly rising rate of childhood obesity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some good news. A new report from the CDC suggests we've made some progress in the fight against childhood obesity in the nation's youngest children - specifically those from low-income families.

Researchers analyzed data from approximately 12 million children between the ages of 2 and 4 who participate in federally funded nutrition programs. Data from 40 states, Washington, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were included in the Vital Signs report.

Nineteen of the states and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw a small but significant decline in preschoolers' obesity rates between 2008 and 2011, according to the CDC. Three states - Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee - saw a slight increase over the same time period, and the rest remained stagnant. Utah, Wyoming, Louisiana, Texas, Maine, Delaware, Alaska, Oklahoma, Virginia and South Carolina were not included in the report due to inconsistencies or changes in data reporting.

"It's a bright spot for our nation's young kids, but the fight is very far from over," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said.
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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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