December 4th, 2013
09:03 AM ET
The debate around adolescents and psychotropic drug use may be quieted - ever so slightly - by new data.
More than 6% of adolescents reported using psychotropic medications during the past month, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Six percent is pretty much what I would expect for the prescription of psychotropic medications based on what we know about new disorders and how prevalent they would be among adolescents," said Bruce Jonas, a mental health epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC, who compiled the data.
Psychotropic medications are used to alter the mood, behavior or overall functioning of persons with certain mental health conditions. FULL POST
November 22nd, 2013
05:54 PM ET
The number of children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continues to climb, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There has been a 42% increase in the number of reported cases of ADHD since 2003, according to a CDC-led study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Today, 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 - 11% of kids in this age group - have received an ADHD diagnosis, according to the study, which is based on a survey of parents. That's 2 million more children than in 2007.
November 22nd, 2013
02:26 PM ET
Here's a roundup of five medical studies published recently 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.
Breast milk + solid foods = allergy prevention?
With up to 8% of children in the United States dealing with food allergies, many parents want to know how they can prevent this condition. A new study suggests that babies who receive solid food while they are breast-feeding may be protected from food allergies.
November 6th, 2013
02:11 PM ET
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
November 4th, 2013
01:37 PM ET
More hospital patients are surviving traumatic brain injuries - which is good news, except for those waiting on donated organs for transplants. Improved survival rates have resulted in fewer transplant organs being available, Canadian researchers found.
A study published last week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CAMJ), examined the recovery outcomes of 2,788 adult patients admitted to regional intensive care units in Alberta, Canada, over a 10.5 year period.
“Prior to the study, we had noticed a decline in the number of deceased organ donors in Southern Alberta,” said Dr. Andreas Kramer, lead author of the study. “Since we were seeing fewer patients with brain injuries, we thought we would find fewer patients progressing to neurological death.”
Researchers looked at ICU patients with various types of brain injuries. They found the greatest increase in survival rates were among traumatic brain injury patients. FULL POST
October 31st, 2013
12:04 PM ET
Wave your hand slowly in front of your face.
Did your eyes track the movement? If so, your brain has formed a memory of that action; it will remember what the motion looks like in case you ever do it again.
In fact, a new study suggests that even if you wave your hand in front of your face in total darkness, your eyes may "see" it simply because they've seen it before. FULL POST
October 29th, 2013
05:00 PM ET
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.
October 23rd, 2013
06:05 PM ET
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."
October 22nd, 2013
05:00 PM ET
If I offer you a bag of potato chips today or a box of chocolate truffles next week, which would you choose? Neuroscientists are interested in exploring what happens when the brain must choose between receiving a reward immediately or in the future, especially when waiting may result in a prize you like better.
A seahorse-shaped structure in the brain called the hippocampus is involved in recalling events from the past, and imagining them in the future. A new study in the journal PLOS Biology explores what role the hippocampus plays when a person has to decide between getting a reward now or later.
This study looked at healthy individuals as well as those with Alzheimer's disease, a condition characterized by memory impairment and associated with atrophy of the hippocampus, and a different brain condition called frontotemporal dementia.
October 16th, 2013
12:21 PM ET
Anyone who's ever eaten an Oreo knows how difficult it can be to eat just one.
Scientists have long suspected that our brains crave junk food in the same way they crave other pleasurable substances, such as illegal drugs. Previous studies in rodents and in humans have shown the same area of the brain that lights up on scans when people use drugs, also shows increased activity when study participants consume, or even look at, high fat, high sugar foods like ice cream or bacon.
Some scientists believe certain foods trigger the brain to signal for more, similar to the way addictive drugs prompt cravings; if we don't fulfill the brain's request, the body could produce a physical response (like caffeine headaches) similar to withdrawal symptoms.
New research from undergraduate students at Connecticut College adds to the growing evidence suggesting that food can be addictive. The students were interested in understanding how the availability of junk food in low-income areas has contributed to America's obesity epidemic.
“Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat, high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability,” study designer and neuroscience major Jamie Honohan said in a statement.
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.