May 6th, 2013
01:15 PM ET
As a parent, there are undoubtedly a few things you do now that before you had children you thought were gross: Changing diapers, wiping up vomit and using your own spit to clean off a child's pacifier, just to name a few.
Though it's hard to admit, most parents have done the latter. You're out at the mall when your kid drops his pacifier and there's not a place to clean it nearby. So you pick it up, suck on it a bit and hand it back to your baby.
What's the harm?
Turns out cleaning a recently dropped pacifier with your saliva - meaning you put it in your mouth before inserting it back into your baby's - may actually help strengthen your child's immune system and keep him from developing certain allergies, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics. When parents cleaned pacifiers in this way their children were significantly less likely to develop eczema, a skin condition considered to be the most common early form of allergies.
March 21st, 2013
12:01 AM ET
Children raised by gay or lesbian couples benefit when their parents are allowed to marry, America’s top pediatrics group said Thursday in support of same-sex marriage.
“If a child has two living and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the best interest of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a policy statement.
Dr. Ellen Perrin, co-author of the policy statement, says marriage gives children of same-sex couples the same advantages of any married couple’s children. FULL POST
March 18th, 2013
12:03 AM ET
A new survey finds even though vaccines for certain teenage illnesses are available and are found to be safe, many parents aren't having their teens inoculated. The question is why?
Researchers looked at parent questionnaires collected through a national survey called "Reasons for Not Vaccinating Adolescents: National Survey of Teens, 2008-2010." Investigators wanted to better understand why moms and dads aren't taking their older children in for recommended inoculations.
“These vaccines are safe and effective and people should really have their teens get them," says Dr. Paul Darden, lead author of the study and professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. “Parents say pediatricians are telling them about the vaccines, yet they just don’t seem to understand why they are necessary or are skeptical about their safety." FULL POST
March 12th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
We've heard a lot about the benefits of breastfeeding, and the idea that it reduces the risk of a child becoming overweight or obese has been around for decades.
But a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association contradicts that idea. It suggests that though breastfeeding has many benefits, reducing the likelihood that a child becomes obese or overweight may not be one of them. The evidence to support this conclusion is strong as the study was based on a large randomized controlled trial.
March 11th, 2013
12:01 AM ET
Raw meat is a notorious Salmonella carrier. It can also be found on unclean kitchen counters. An investigation published this week in the journal of Pediatrics suggests we should also look for the deadly bacteria in pet frogs.
Investigators from public health agencies across the United States found that African dwarf frogs are causing a nationwide outbreak of a specific Salmonella strain in children.
A group of health professionals make up the Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak Investigation Team, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recently, the team has been examining the effects of African dwarf frogs on people’s health.
“Amphibians and reptiles should never be kept in homes with children less than 5 years old or with people who have immune deficiencies,” said lead author and CDC public health advisor Shauna Mettee Zarecki. This includes day care settings and nursing homes, she said.
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."
January 3rd, 2013
02:26 PM ET
It's a heated question: should women take antidepressants during pregnancy? Some experts argue for it and some against, but a new study may ease the minds of women facing the decision.
Researchers say taking a common type of antidepressant does not increase the risk of having a stillborn child or losing an infant early in life. The study was published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
"It does strengthen the view that these meds are safer than we once thought," explains Dr. Jennifer Payne, director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. FULL POST
December 26th, 2012
03:26 PM ET
The number of young children who are obese and extremely obese is going down, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In what researchers say is the first national study to show that the prevalence of obesity among young children may have begun to decline, scientists analyzed data from more than 27 million children from low-income families between the ages of 2 and 4 in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
"The results of this study indicate modest recent progress of obesity prevention among young children," according to the study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
October 24th, 2012
01:58 PM ET
A growing number of grandparents are raising their grandchildren and a new study suggests they may not be as informed as they need to be when it comes to safety.
While grandparents do have years of child-rearing experience, a study presented this week at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference says some are relying on old data and unintentionally putting their grandkids' health and safety at risk.
"Pediatricians need to be aware, and they need to make sure they are going over (the) most recent safety recommendations with grandparents," says lead study author Dr. Amanda Soong.
September 28th, 2012
11:43 AM ET
Getting children to eat their veggies may be as simple as a good marketing strategy, says a new study.
"Marketing, when it comes to kids and food, tends to have a negative connotation," said David Just, a professor of behavioral economics at Cornell University and a co-author of the study. "What we've been doing is trying to establish whether it's possible to use marketing to get kids to eat healthier foods."
The plan? Just give vegetables catchy new names, and see what happens. FULL POST
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.