June 24th, 2014
02:36 PM ET
Scientists have long hypothesized that chemicals found in our environment play a role in causing autism. Research published this week in Environmental Health Perspectives supports that theory, finding children whose mothers are exposed to agricultural pesticides during pregnancy may be at increased risk for autism spectrum disorders, or ASD.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at the medical records of 970 participants. They found pregnant women who lived within a mile of an area treated with three different types of pesticides were at a two-thirds higher risk of having a child with ASD or developmental delays. These pesticide-treated areas included parks, golf courses, pastures and roadsides.
The study investigated the use of three classes of pesticides: organophosphates, which include the widely used insecticide chlorpyrifos, as well as pyrtheroids and carbamates.
May 15th, 2014
05:44 PM ET
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.
May 12th, 2014
01:43 PM ET
Chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, commonly found in our food and products such as makeup, sunscreen and toothpaste, have been shown to cause fertility problems. Now scientists have a better understanding of why.
Researchers found endocrine disruptors can interfere with human sperm's ability to move, navigate and/or penetrate an egg. Their study results were published Monday in EMBO reports.
Wait, what's an endocrine disruptor?
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with your endocrine system - the system in your body that regulates hormones. These hormones control everything from your metabolism to your sleep cycle to your reproductive system, so messing with them can cause serious issues. FULL POST
November 5th, 2013
11:49 AM ET
Women with higher levels of pesticides in their blood are also more likely to have endometriosis, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which tissue normally lining the uterus’ interior walls also grows outside the uterus, commonly to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or pelvis –- causing pelvic pain and infertility.
“It affects women during their reproductive years and it could be that as many as 10% of women during reproductive ages have endometriosis,” says Victoria Holt, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington and lead study author.
More than 5 million women have endometriosis, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Women's Health.
“What we know about endometriosis is that it's an estrogen-driven disease. Women who have more estrogen are more likely to have it," Holt says.
Once in the body, some organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) are believed to mimic estrogen, possibly contributing to endometriosis. FULL POST
June 12th, 2013
05:05 PM ET
Poor diet and lack of exercise might not be the only factors contributing to the obesity epidemic. A new study suggests the environment may also play a role.
“Eating too much and exercising too little are important factors,” said Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. “But they cannot explain the steep increase in the obesity rate the last three decades. We haven’t really changed our eating habits and exercise that much.”
The environmental culprit, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, may be bisphenol-a, a chemical commonly found in plastic and cans.
Li and colleagues studied 1,326 school-age children in Shanghai, China, and measured BPA levels in their urine. In girls ages 9 to 12, higher BPA urine levels were associated with a doubled risk of obesity. And as BPA urine levels increased, so did the girls’ obesity risk - measured using their weight in reference to weight distribution in the population. FULL POST
May 21st, 2013
01:47 PM ET
As greenhouse gases cause average temperatures to climb worldwide, human health will suffer, scientists say.
A study in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that heat deaths in Manhattan will increase over the rest of this century in connection with higher temperatures associated with global warming. In the 2020s, heat-related deaths could rise about 20% compared with the 1980s, according to the research.
"This paper helps to remind people that climate change is real, that it’s happening and we need to prepare and make ourselves as resilient as we can to climate change," said Patrick Kinney, the study's senior author and director of the Columbia Climate and Health Program at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "It’s a real problem that we face. It’s not insurmountable."
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.
November 28th, 2012
10:35 AM ET
Could the couch in your living room be toxic? Some scientists say yes.
A study in this week’s Environmental Science and Technology journal measured just how many toxic flame-retardant chemicals are in our furniture.
Researchers found that 85% of couches contained some combination of flame retardant chemicals in their cushion foam. Aside from upholstered furniture, flame retardant chemicals can also be found in car seats and nursing pillows, or any other product that has polyurethane foam. In addition, it can be used in carpeting and electronics. FULL POST
October 30th, 2012
01:27 PM ET
Flooding overwhelmed parts of the East Coast Tuesday as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
In Little Ferry, New Jersey, floodwaters were six to eight feet deep, and about 75% of the city was underwater, according to the police chief.
“We have people who were actually on roofs of their homes in certain sections. We needed, actually, boats – we’re still using boats to get people out of the low-lying areas,” Chief Ralph Verdi told CNN. “I’ve been a police officer for 33 years. I’ve never seen this type of devastation from flooding.” FULL POST
September 18th, 2012
03:24 PM ET
The chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, has a long and controversial history.
Used to manufacture some plastics – like the kinds in soda or water bottles – and as an anti-corrosive in aluminum cans, BPA has been under fire for some time from consumer advocacy groups.
The FDA recently banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups after concerns were raised about potential side effects on the “brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children,” according to the FDA website.
Still, the organization has stood by the overall safety of the chemical; in March the FDA denied the Natural Resources Defense Council’s petition to ban BPA outright.
Now a new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association is adding more fuel to the flames. The paper shows an association between BPA levels in children’s urine and obesity prevalence.
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.