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Video chat may help language learning
September 24th, 2013
12:59 PM ET

Video chat may help language learning

As a graduate student studying how children develop language, Sarah Roseberry made an interesting observation.  Parents would come into her lab at Temple University and talk about how they Skyped with grandparents in places like the Dominican Republic.

"The parents would swear their children were learning Spanish," recalls Roseberry, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington. "The more we thought about it, the more we realized this made sense."

Roseberry decided to take her theory into the research lab.  What she found was intriguing: Language can be learned via video chat, as long as the conversation allows for meaningful back-and-forth exchanges.

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Study suggests new approach to dengue fever
Mosquitoes spread a disease called dengue fever.
April 7th, 2013
01:05 PM ET

Study suggests new approach to dengue fever

Dengue fever may be more than three times more prevalent than current estimates, according to a new report. 

The study, led by researchers at the University of Oxford in England, estimates there are 390 million dengue infections around the world each year. Currently, the World Health Organization puts the number between 50 and 100 million infections each year. Researchers hope their findings will help pinpoint parts of the world most vulnerable to dengue fever and develop strategies to treat it.

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The real reason Mary Ingalls went blind
Melissa Sue Anderson, right, portrayed Mary Ingalls in the 1970s NBC TV show "Little House on the Prairie."
February 4th, 2013
10:47 AM ET

The real reason Mary Ingalls went blind

If you watched "Little House on the Prairie," chances are you remember the story of Mary Ingalls.

The television show and popular book series drew on the real-life experiences of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Mary, Laura's sister, went blind as a teenager after contracting scarlet fever, according to the story. Now a team of medical researchers are raising questions about whether that's true.

Dr. Beth Tarini, one of the co-authors of the paper, became intrigued by the question as a medical student.

"I was in my pediatrics rotation. We were talking about scarlet fever, and I said, 'Oh, scarlet fever makes you go blind. Mary Ingalls went blind from it,'" recalls Tarini, who is now an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan. My supervisor said, "I don't think so."

Tarini started doing research. Over the course of 10 years, she and her team of researchers, pored over old papers and letters written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, local newspaper accounts of Mary's illness and epidemiological data on blindness and infectious disease in the late 19th century. What they found was intriguing.

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5 things you need to know about thyroid cancer
"Dancing With the Stars" host Brooke Burke-Charvet revealed this week she has thyroid cancer.
November 9th, 2012
12:32 PM ET

5 things you need to know about thyroid cancer

"Dancing with the Stars" host Brooke Burke-Charvet revealed Thursday she’s battling thyroid cancer via The ModernMom’s YouTube channel.

She says had no clue she had cancer - it was discovered during a routine physical.

"Doctors say this is a good kind of cancer to have. A good cancer ... that sounds so crazy," she says in the video. She says she is feeling great and is not going to let her diagnosis define her. "I'm going to make a positive out of this negative thing."

We strongly believe knowledge is power and that it's critical to be an Empowered Patient. So here are five things to know about thyroid cancer.

1. Women are more likely to get thyroid cancer then men. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2011 there were just over 48,000 new cases of thyroid cancer. Of those, 36,550 were in women and 11,470 were in men. Doctors aren't sure why.

2. It also impacts younger people. Nearly two out of three thyroid cancer cases are found in adults under 55. While it can occur at any age, women's risk peaks typically in their 40s or 50s, while the risk peaks for men usually in their 60s or 70s.

3. It tends not to be an "obvious" cancer. As was the case for Burke-Charvet, for most people there are no obvious symptoms. But over time as the cancer grows, according to the Mayo Clinic, it may cause symptoms ranging from a lump on your neck to difficulty swallowing to changes in your voice.

4. There are more cases now than there were 20 years ago. The number of thyroid cancer diagnoses have more than doubled since 1990. Why? According to the ACS, some of it is the result of the increased use of ultrasound, which can detect tiny nodules on the thyroid that might have been missed in the past.

5. The survival rate is high. Burke-Charvet says in her video that her doctor told her, "this is a happily-ever-after-ending kind of thing." If caught early, the survival rate is nearly 100%. But not everyone survives. Around 1,700 people do die, mostly because their cancer was caught in the late stages.

As for Burke-Charvet, she says that she will soon undergo a thyroidectomy which will remove her thyroid and leave a scar across her neck.


October 3rd, 2012
04:33 PM ET

Veteran files suit over frostbitten penis

A 61-year-old Army veteran is suing the U.S. government for $10 million, claiming negligent care resulted in severe frostbite on his penis, leading to its partial amputation.

Michael D. Nash of Louisville, Kentucky, filed suit in federal court Monday.  He is asking for damages for what his lawyer calls "significant mental and emotional distress and trauma as a result of his injuries."

In October 2010, Nash underwent surgery at the VA Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky.  Doctors were removing and replacing a malfunctioning penile implant.  After the surgery, according to court documents, a nurse applied ice packs to Nash's penis to reduce pain and swelling. FULL POST


CDC warns parents to beware button batteries
August 30th, 2012
02:46 PM ET

CDC warns parents to beware button batteries

They are used to power everything from flashlights to remote controls. So called "button batteries," which are the size of coins (and sometimes smaller), have grown in popularity over the past few decades. Now, the Centers for Disease Control is warning parents to keep them away from children.

According to this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, approximately 40,400 children aged 12 and younger were treated in emergency rooms for battery-related injuries between 1997 and 2010 

But here's the bigger concern: 14 children, all of them under the age of 4, died after swallowing batteries. Twelve of the 14 deaths involved button batteries. In most cases, the batteries got stuck in the esophagus.  Experts say when that happens, or if the batteries make it down to the intestine, they can emit hydroxide which can cause chemical burns.
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Andy Copeland: 'I have become a better father because of Aimee'
Flesh-eating bacteria patient Aimee Copeland was released from an Augusta, Georgia, hospital on July 2.
July 30th, 2012
12:19 PM ET

Andy Copeland: 'I have become a better father because of Aimee'

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.

In a post Sunday on the website Aimeecopeland.com, Andy Copeland writes about the challenges Aimee faces as she regains her strength after fighting necrotizing fasciitis

"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?"
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June 15th, 2012
09:26 AM ET

Surrogate Sisters: The ultimate gift

Editor's note: Surrogate Sisters airs on "Sanjay Gupta, MD" this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. EST and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. EST.

As people on CNN's Health team will tell you, one of my favorite sayings is, "It's better to be lucky than smart." This is one of those instances.  

A few months ago, I saw a picture on a friend's Facebook page of a kid's science project, showing how much sugar is in some popular drinks. The picture came from a "friend" of my friend. Intrigued, I sent a message to my friend's friend.

The recipient was Tiffany Burke, a photographer and mother of two in Bellingham, Washington. Turned out the picture didn't belong to Tiffany, but she told me something amazing.
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Pregnant women who smoke may put kids at risk for severe asthma
June 1st, 2012
05:03 PM ET

Pregnant women who smoke may put kids at risk for severe asthma

One of the first questions a mom-to-be is asked by her doctor is "Do you smoke?" And while pregnant woman don't smoke in nearly the numbers they did decades ago, some still do.  

Almost 14% of American women smoke while pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, causing all kinds of problems including low birth weight, premature birth and SIDS. Now add something else to the list: asthma.

An intriguing new study suggests African-American and Latino children with asthma whose moms smoke while pregnant are more likely to have severe asthma as teens, even if their moms stop smoking after they are born.
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Popular antibiotic linked to higher risk of heart disease death
May 16th, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Popular antibiotic linked to higher risk of heart disease death

It's one of the most popular antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections, but a new study suggests for some people taking azithromycin, commonly referred to as a "Z-pack", could be very dangerous.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University looked at the records of thousands of Tennessee Medicaid patients over a period of 14 years.  They found a 2.5-fold higher risk of death from heart disease in the first five days of using Z-pack when compared to another common antibiotic or no antibiotics at all.

The study was published in the current edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

People with underlying heart problems seem to be especially vulnerable, says Wayne Ray, professor of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt and the study's lead researcher.
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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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