March 10th, 2013
07:58 PM ET
Talk about a startling juxtaposition: A mummy in a CT scanner. You may be wondering: Why in the world would a mummy get a CT scan?
It turns out that preserved peoples are great study subjects, especially when you are trying to figure out the roots of health problems that span millennia.
A study released Sunday in The Lancet suggests that atherosclerosis - the disease that makes arteries go rigid, and is a leading cause of death worldwide - may have been around for thousands of years.
"We like to say that we found the serial killer that's stalked mankind for 4,000 years," said Dr. Randall Thompson, attending cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, and lead author of the study.
March 4th, 2013
05:01 PM ET
Centralized record-keeping systems may help improve rates of colon cancer screening, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Group Health Cooperative, a non-profit health care and insurance system in Washington state, used electronic health records to identify and monitor almost 5,000 patients who were due for a colon cancer screening but hadn't gotten it.
One group of patients received "normal care" - reminders from their doctor during appointments. A second group received a letter in the mail encouraging them to get screened; a third group got a call from a medical assistant on top of all of that, and a fourth group got a "patient navigator" to manage the screening process.
Each additional step increased the percentage of people who got screened, from 26% in the "normal" group to 65% in the patient navigator group.
March 1st, 2013
07:51 AM ET
The list of products containing bisphenol A is pretty long: it coats the inside of the food cans; it can be found in certain plastic containers; it is sometimes found on cash register receipts.
And the list of maladies linked to the chemical is growing longer.
The latest study, by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, suggests a possible connection between BPA detected in urine samples of children and later problems with breathing.
February 28th, 2013
04:29 PM ET
How long have you been sitting today? Here's one more reason that you should get up and move around once in a while.
A new study in the journal Diabetologia suggests that reducing your sitting time is more important in lowering your risk of diabetes than exercise. This is just the latest in a string of research suggesting that moving around helps your health. But the new results should not replace standard recommendations for exercise, and more research is required to understand the reasons for the findings, said lead study author Joseph Henson.
"It looks as if just sitting for long periods of time has a real negative impact upon overall health," Henson said.
February 26th, 2013
04:02 PM ET
Diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer in women younger than 40 has increased 2% a year, every year, from 1976 to 2009, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The increase was seen in women aged 25 to 39 of all races and ethnicities, living in both rural and urban areas.
It's a devastating diagnosis, particularly because a woman younger than 40 who is diagnosed with breast cancer is more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease and face lower survival rates.
But for perspective, the overall population of women who are affected still remains small. FULL POST
February 25th, 2013
03:43 PM ET
Guidelines for diagnosing and treating ear infections are changing and the result may mean fewer prescriptions for antibiotics.
Going forward, pediatricians should only diagnose acute ear infections if the child's eardrum is moderately to severely bulging or if there is discharge leaking from the ear, according to the recommendations. They may diagnose a middle ear infection if the child's ear drum is mildly bulging and there is recent onset of pain or intense redness. 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."
February 13th, 2013
05:03 PM ET
There are about 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) each year in the United States, costing some $16 billion in direct medical costs, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Young people are disproportionately affected, the agency said, with half of all new infections occurring in people ages 15 through 24.
"In general, CDC estimated the total number of infections in the calendar year, rather than the number of individuals with infection, since one person can have more than one STI at a given time" or more than one episode of a single STI, officials said. But "CDC used conservative assumptions in generating its estimates, so the true numbers of STIs in the United States may be even higher than estimated." FULL POST
February 12th, 2013
04:03 PM ET
Taking folic acid before pregnancy, and through the first several weeks of pregnancy, may help reduce the risk of autism for those children, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Researchers in Norway looked at data from 85,000 pregnancies, and found that women who took the supplement four weeks before pregnancy, and through the eighth week of pregnancy, were 39% less likely to have children with autism.
The Norwegian study is the largest to date on the benefits of folic acid for autism prevention, and marks one of the first tangible things a woman can do to reduce her risk of giving birth to a child with the disorder. FULL POST
February 12th, 2013
11:53 AM ET
How many times have you seen a young child with a patch over one eye or wearing glasses with one lens blocked and wondered why? Chances are that child has something called amblyopia (sometimes called "lazy eye"), where one eye is not being used by the brain because it doesn't see as well.
After looking at more than 10 years of data, researchers now say children as young as a year old can be reliably screened for amblyopia; by using a camera that takes pictures of the eye, symptoms of the condition can be detected long before it becomes apparent, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
The goal is to identify children with this problem as early as possible, says lead study author Dr. Susannah Longmuir, "so we can start treatment before they have a problem or treat it before it gets worse."
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.