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December 9th, 2011
05:38 PM ET

Having 19 babies doesn't cause miscarriage

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

There are many reasons that might explain why Michelle Duggar miscarried her twentieth child, but it’s likely not because her body failed after having so many children.

“It’s not about how many children you’ve had. It's more about your age, as miscarriages increase as you get older,” said Dr. George Macones, a spokesman for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Duggar is 45.

Duggar miscarried in her second trimester, which occurs in only about one to two percent of pregnancies, according to Macones, who added that second trimester miscarriages sometimes happen because the baby had a chromosomal abnormality, or because the baby died or the mother had a health problem, such as a weak cervix.

“Sometimes we just don’t know why they happen,” he added.

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December 7th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Sugar is on the menu for kids’ breakfast

Only one in four children’s cereals meets government guidelines for limits on sugar, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocacy organization.

Proposed government guidelines recommend that cereals have no more than 26% added sugar by weight, according to the report, and the Environmental Working Group found that many popular cereals, including Froot Loops, Cap’n Crunch and Honey Smacks, had more than 40% added sugar.

“Our children deserve better,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, said in a press release issued by the Environmental Working Group.
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Report: Arsenic in apple and grape juice
November 30th, 2011
06:02 PM ET

Report: Arsenic in apple and grape juice

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

Ten percent of apple juices and grape juices have higher arsenic levels than are allowed in drinking water in the United States, according to a new study by Consumer Reports.

The magazine analyzed 88 samples of fruit juice purchased at stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Several well-known brands, including Walmart, Mott’s, Walgreens and Welch’s, had levels higher than 10 parts per billion of arsenic, the threshold set by the federal government for bottled and tap water.

Twenty-five percent of the samples, including juices from such brands as Gerber, Trader Joe's and Minute Maid, had more than 5 parts per billion of lead, according to Consumer Reports.  Five parts per billion is the standard set for lead in bottled water by the Food and Drug Administration. 
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November 29th, 2011
03:47 PM ET

HIV out of control in most U.S. patients

Three out of four people with HIV in the United States do not have their infection under control, even though anti-HIV drugs have been available for more than 15 years, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“That’s a very poor rate. We have to do much better than that,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Keeping HIV under control is crucial not only for the 1.2 million people in the United States who carry the infection, but also for their sexual partners. Suppressing the virus decreases the chances it will be transmitted to a sexual partner by more than 95%, Fauci said.
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November 18th, 2011
03:20 PM ET

Baby in parents' bed: As dangerous as a butcher knife?

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

The ads at bus stops in Milwaukee make you catch your breath: A baby sleeps next to a butcher knife that’s almost as long as the baby and very, very sharp.

Underneath the ads, the text reads “Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous.”

The point of the ads is that babies should sleep in cribs, not in adult beds. Between 1990 and 1997, 515 infants died while sleeping in adult beds, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. About a quarter of the deaths occurred when parents rolled over on their babies. The rest were due to other causes such as babies suffocating in a soft blanket or getting stuck between the mattress and the bed frame.

But some wonder if  the ads have gone too far.

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November 17th, 2011
11:24 AM ET

How to keep your child safe from sexual predators

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

As disturbing allegations of child sexual abuse by Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky continue to dominate the headlines, many parents have to be wondering about their own children and how to keep them safe when Mom and Dad are not present.

Here are 10 steps from experts.

1. Recognize that sexual abuse could happen to your child. It’s estimated that one out of every four girls and one out of six boys will experience sexual abuse, according to the American Psychological Association.

2. Recognize that the predator will most likely be someone you know.
Chances are, it won’t be a stranger offering your child candy on the playground: More than 90% of the time, the child knows the predator in some way, according to the organization Childhelp. The predator could be a family member, a teacher, a coach or a trusted friend.

Don’t let your guard down just because someone is charming or nice. In fact, those are reasons to put your guard up. Predators "are very good at ingratiating themselves with children,” said Dr. Judith Cohen, medical director for the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

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November 15th, 2011
05:20 PM ET

Gabrielle Giffords improving 'by leaps and bounds'

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

Looking back over the past nine months, Gabrielle Giffords’ neurosurgeon remembers several high points in his patient’s recovery – and the most recent one involves his suit and tie.

“I usually wear scrubs to my appointment with her, but one day I wore a suit instead, and she looked at me and said, ‘Wow, you have a suit on today. What’s with the necktie?’” remembers Dr. Dong Kim.

“She really gave me grief with great fluidity,” he says, laughing. “It was such a great moment that we could interact at that level and hang out and talk.”

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November 15th, 2011
04:09 PM ET

Health threats loom at Occupy protests

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

As fall turns to winter, health problems could plague Occupy protests across the country, infectious disease experts say.

In New York City, police removed Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, citing an “increasing health and fire safety hazard to those camped in the park.” A judge subsequently issued an injunction allowing the protestors back in.

Occupy movements across the country face three challenges: winter, sanitation, and crowding, says Dr. Buddy Creech, an infectious disease expert and associate director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Program.

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Maria Menounos' plans for her embryos
October 6th, 2011
12:48 PM ET

Maria Menounos' plans for her embryos

Last week, entertainment celebrity Maria Menounos made news when she announced she plans to freeze her eggs for future use.

But in an interview with CNN, Menounos clarified that she's actually freezing embryos, not eggs. Fertility doctors will make the embryos by fertilizing her eggs with her boyfriend's sperm in a lab. The resulting embryos will then be banked until the couple wants to use them to start a pregnancy.

The difference between freezing eggs and freezing embryos is significant. Women who freeze their eggs usually do it because they don't have a partner and they're concerned their eggs will be too old by the time they find one. Menounos, on the other hand, has a boyfriend, writer/producer/director Keven Undergaro.
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Heat hurts your insides too
July 12th, 2011
05:08 PM ET

Heat hurts your insides too

When the heat hits, you can see it on the outside of your body with the buckets of sweat you’re pouring out, but it’s affecting you on the inside, too, doctors say.

As the temperatures soar outdoors, the temperature in your brain goes up slightly, according to Dr. Michael Bergeron, the director of the National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance  in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This explains why people sometimes get confused when they’ve spent too much time in the heat.

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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.

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