October 24th, 2012
03:26 PM ET
A federal advisory committee is recommending all pregnant women be immunized for pertussis or whooping cough.
The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met Wednesday and voted 14 to 0, with one abstention, to recommend health care providers begin immunizations programs for Tdap. This is a vaccine that provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).
The committee says the vaccine should be administered during each pregnancy in the late second or third trimester (27 to 36 weeks gestation), regardless of whether the patient has had Tdap in the past. If that's not possible, the mother should receive the vaccine immediately after childbirth or before leaving the hospital or birthing center. Jennifer Liang, a member of the ACIP pertussis vaccine working group, told the committee the vaccine is very safe in all trimesters and could be given at any time during pregnancy.
September 26th, 2012
12:24 PM ET
If you're pregnant and you (or your other half) notice you've started to snore, you might want to talk to your doctor. You could be at greater risk of getting high blood pressure and preeclampsia, according to a new study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Preeclampsia, left untreated, can be life-threatening to the mother and unborn child. It usually starts after the fifth month of pregnancy and causes a pregnant woman's blood pressure to go up and the presence of protein in the mother's urine. This can significantly affect the placenta and the mother's liver, kidney and brain.
Preeclampsia can cause seizures and is the second leading cause of death in pregnant women in the United States. It's also a leading cause of fetal complications including premature birth, low birth weight and stillbirth. There is no cure short of delivering the baby.
September 10th, 2012
05:05 PM ET
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has updated its recommendations on the effectiveness of routine screening for ovarian cancer, and continues to advise against routine screening for women without symptoms or a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer. The recommendations were published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women, and has the highest death rate of all gynecological cancers. More than 22,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, according to the American Cancer Society. While ovarian cancer can strike all women, the majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are over age 40, with the largest number of cases found in women over age 60, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Available screening methods include transvaginal ultrasonography and the CA-125 test which identifies blood proteins that can signal ovarian cancer. But other harmless or less harmful conditions can also increase CA-125 levels, including pregnancy, normal menstruation, uterine fibroids, cirrhosis and endometrial cancer. FULL POST
August 21st, 2012
12:49 PM ET
Editor's note: These tips were originally published on CNN.com in 2011. To read the full article, click here.
"i had an ache in my chest, both my arms were sore... i became nauseous, my skin was clammy, i was very very hot, i threw up... i googled womens heart attack symptoms, i had many of them, but really? – i thought – naaaa."
Heart disease is the number-one killer of both men and women, but O'Donnell's response is common, experts say - especially among women.
Although most report symptoms of chest pain with a heart attack, women are more likely to report unusual symptoms like back pain, jaw pain, light-headedness and extreme fatigue, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
July 31st, 2012
02:50 PM ET
Beginning Wednesday, all new health insurance plans will be required to provide eight preventive health benefits to women for free.
The benefits include contraceptives, breast-feeding supplies and screenings for gestational diabetes, sexually transmitted infections and domestic violence, as well as routine check-ups for breast and pelvic exams, Pap tests and prenatal care.
The services are a requirement of the health care reform law Congress passed in 2010. A new report released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services estimates 47 million women are in health plans that must offer the new benefits.
“Women will be able to have access to essential preventive services that will provide early detection and screening for those situations where they’re most at risk, and also provide opportunities to care and services that they need as wives and mothers,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, said at a press conference Monday.
An additional 14 free preventative service benefits for women have already taken effect as a requirement of health care reform, including mammograms to screen for breast cancer in women over 40 and screenings for osteoporosis in women over age 60.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius trumpeted the need for the reforms.
“Before the health care law, many insurers didn’t even cover basic women’s health care. Other care plans charged such high copayments that they discouraged many women from getting basic preventive services. So as a result, surveys show that more than half of the women in this country delayed or avoided preventive care because of its cost,” Sebelius said Monday. “That’s simply not right.”
Not all insured women will have access to the new services. Certain insurance plans that existed prior to the passage of health care reform may have “grandfathered” status and may be exempt from offering the benefits.
“You may or may not have them offered to you, and if they’re offered, you may have to pay cost sharing. In other words, you may have to pay a portion of the costs,” said Gary Claxton, a vice president on health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
It’s not immediately clear how many women are in such plans. A 2011 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 56% of covered workers are in “grandfathered” plans. Experts anticipate the number of those plans will shrink as significant changes are made to them, resulting in a loss of “grandfathered” status.
Women can call their employers to ask whether they are in “grandfathered” health insurance plans, Claxton said.
July 30th, 2012
12:19 PM ET
The father of Aimee Copeland says while it is far from easy, his daughter is making great strides as she undergoes physical therapy. The 24-year-old woman lost part of four limbs to a flesh-eating bacteria in May after a zip line accident over a river in western Georgia.
"During each of her physical therapy sessions, Aimee does 200 crunches in 7 minutes," writes Andy. "At this point, I have to pause and ask a simple question: How many of you can do 200 crunches in 7 minutes?"
July 15th, 2012
08:01 AM ET
Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I sometimes feel a stabbing pain down there. What could be causing it?
Remember when Charlotte's vagina was "depressed" on "Sex and the City?" She had this problem - specifically, chronic vulvar pain, also known as vulvodynia.
It's characterized by soreness, burning, or itching in the vulva, and symptoms can appear or disappear without any apparent trigger (though you may feel them during sex or even long bouts of sitting).
Not much is known about the causes, but there are several treatment options: antidepressants (which can affect your perception of pain), biofeedback (to help relax the pelvic muscles), topical creams, or, in some cases, surgery (to remove tissue involved with the condition).
July 2nd, 2012
04:47 PM ET
A small subset of suicide attempts may be linked to an infection that starts in the litter box. A new study suggests an association between Toxoplasma gondii and suicide attempts among women.
Interesting finding, to be sure, but how does one even begin to test a theory like this? Why in the world would anyone posit that kitty litter could be related to suicide attempts?
As it turns out, about one-third of the population is walking around right now with latent toxoplasma infection. Most people will never know they have it - and most will not attempt suicide as a result of it. But the presence of T. gondii among women who attempted suicide raises interesting questions.
Those questions led senior study author, Dr. Teodor Postolache, to find out more. Postolache said he was at first puzzled by studies suggesting low-grade activity in the immune systems of suicide victims.
June 6th, 2012
06:15 PM ET
Is the morning-after pill also an abortion pill? That's seems a continuing question. If you read some of the labels, the morning-after pills work primarily by "stopping (or delaying) the release of an egg from the ovary." But the controversy has been - and continues to be - whether taking the morning-after pill is tantamount to abortion.
Ella, Plan B and Next Choice (the generic version of Plan B) are morning-after pills currently all currently available in the United States. All three labels indicate the drugs work by preventing the release of an egg from an ovary. If the egg is never fertilized, there's nothing to abort.
All three labels also indicate that the pills may prevent the attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterus, which has been interpreted by some to mean it causes an abortion.
May 16th, 2012
12:01 AM ET
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their annual health report for 2011 on Wednesday. The report contains more than 150 data tables on the U.S. population's well-being, with a special focus on socioeconomic status.
Here are a few of the interesting tidbits we found. For more, visit www.cdc.gov.
The Bible Belt needs more doctors. On average, there were 25 physicians for every 10,000 people in the U.S. in 2009. The Northeast, Hawaii and Minnesota had the highest ratio of doctors to patients, while states in the South and Rocky Mountain-areas had fewer than 21 per 10,000.
Your education level affects your kids' weight. The CDC collected data on childhood obesity between 2007 and 2010. Where the head of the household had a college degree, 7 to 11% of children aged 2 to 19 were obese. But when the head of the household was a high school dropout, 22 to 24% of the children were obese.
Cigarette smoking is still on the decline. In 2010, 19% of U.S. adults smoked, down 2% from 2009. Over the last decade cigarette smoking among students in 12th grade has decreased from 33% to 22% for male students and from 30% to 16% for female students.
Fewer teens are giving birth. Between 1998 and 2008, birth rates declined 27% for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17.
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.