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30,000 may carry human form of mad cow
October 15th, 2013
04:06 PM ET

30,000 may carry human form of mad cow

Up to 30,000 people in Britain may be silent carriers of the human form of mad cow disease, according to new research published Tuesday.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) is the human form of the fatal brain-wasting disease found in cows called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) - better known as mad cow disease.  So far there have only been 177 confirmed human cases in the United Kingdom, according to the study. Forty-nine more cases have been reported in 11 other countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Previous research suggested maybe 1 in 4,000 people living in Britain were carrying the protein that causes vCJD, says Dr. Sebastian Brandner, one of the study authors and head of the Division of Neuropathology at Queen Square, one of the largest academic neuropathology departments in the UK. But that estimate was made using a smaller sample, says Brandner.

This new study, published Tuesday in the medical journal BMJ, was much larger. Researchers studied appendix samples from 32,441 people and found 16 that tested positive for vCJD. Given that population of the United Kingdom is a little over 60 million, Brandner says that means about 1 in 2,000 people - or roughly 30,000 people total - have this potentially lethal prion.
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MERS unlikely to cause pandemic - for now, experts say
July 4th, 2013
06:34 PM ET

MERS unlikely to cause pandemic - for now, experts say

For the past few months, near-daily reports of new cases and deaths from a new type of coronavirus called MERS raised fears that another pandemic, similar to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), was looming.

That's not the case, according to new research from France published Thursday in the British medical journal The Lancet.

A mathematical analysis of the known cases suggests that "MERS-CoV does not yet have pandemic potential," even when looking at the worst-case scenario, according to researchers. They looked at the "reproduction value" or R-value, which is a calculation of  the number of infections caused by one infected person.

If the R-value is bigger than 1, the number of infections will grow exponentially. For example, if 10 people have MERS and the R-value is two, then those 10 people would infect 20 people, and they would then infect 40 people etc., explains Chris Bauch, a professor of applied mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and one of the authors of an editorial accompanying the research. FULL POST


Vinegar could save tens of thousands of lives
A women's rally in India. A new study says vinegar could help reduce cervical cancer deaths in the country.
June 3rd, 2013
02:11 PM ET

Vinegar could save tens of thousands of lives

In some parts of the world, cancer patients are treated with some of the newest targeted cancer drugs which can cost more than$100,000 per year, while in other regions, patients don't even know they have cancer because they're not being screened.

But where pap smears are not available, there may be a decidedly low-tech way to screen for cervical cancer and reduce cancer deaths, according to a large clinical trial released Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago: swabbing a woman's cervix with vinegar.

This study out of India is one of the top five out of more than 5,300 studies presented at the conference. It was given a spotlight usually reserved for the newest blockbuster drug research. FULL POST


Breast-fed babies need Vitamin D supplements
April 30th, 2013
03:32 PM ET

Breast-fed babies need Vitamin D supplements

Most new moms aim to breast-feed their babies - a practice encouraged by experts who tout the many health benefits of breast milk.

But breast milk is not perfect when it comes to vitamin D. A new study published Tuesday in a special edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association focusing on child health reiterates that breast-fed babies also need a vitamin D supplement.

The current recommendations to give babies being fully or partially breast-fed 400 IU, or International Units, of vitamin D each day "is quite satisfactory," said lead study author and registered dietitian Hope Weiler of McGill University in Canada. FULL POST


Fewer moms having C-sections before 39 weeks
Research indicates that delivery should not be scheduled before 39 weeks of gestation, the CDC says.
April 10th, 2013
03:53 PM ET

Fewer moms having C-sections before 39 weeks

Moms can be convinced to change their minds about having their babies before they are at full term, according to a study released this week in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

For years, medical groups have been encouraging moms to wait until their baby has remained in utero for 39 weeks. At the same time, the number of women choosing to induce labor or have an elective cesarean section for nonmedical reasons has been rising.

Just last month, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reiterated its recommendations, encouraging moms to avoid early elective deliveries. FULL POST


Too-early solid food could lead to problems for babies
March 25th, 2013
02:36 PM ET

Too-early solid food could lead to problems for babies

At least 40% of moms are feeding their infants solid foods far too early, according a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, and that may lead to problems for their children later in life.

Researchers wanted to know how many babies were being fed solid foods (including cereal and baby food) sooner than recommended, whether breast-feeding or formula feeding made a difference and why solids were being introduced early. When the study began in 2005,  the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which also publishes the journal Pediatrics, recommended introducing solid foods when babies were between 4 and 6 months old.

In 2012, the AAP changed those recommendations. Now it says babies shouldn't be eating solid food until they are about 6 months old.

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March 20th, 2013
04:09 PM ET

CDC: Higher number of children with autism

The number of children with autism is "significantly" higher than previously thought, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

School-aged boys were four times more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis than girls, according to the new data.

The CDC released a report a year ago estimating 1 in 88 American children has a form of autism spectrum disorder - neurodevelopmental disorders that lead to impaired language, communication and social skills.  The report looked at medical and educational records of all 8-year-olds living in 14 areas of the United States during 2008. FULL POST


Task force: Evidence for Vitamin D, calcium supplements lacking
The task force found evidence that Vitamin D and calcium supplements increase the risk of developing kidney stones.
February 26th, 2013
10:49 AM ET

Task force: Evidence for Vitamin D, calcium supplements lacking

You’ve seen it added to cereal boxes, gallons of milk and bottles of orange juice. Experts tout its benefits – from strong bones to a strong immune system – and warn of the dangers of Vitamin D deficiency.

The public relations push is working; between 2002 and 2011, sales of vitamin D supplements increased from $42 million to $605 million, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

New recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force could bump those sales even higher, or - if critics are right - confuse consumers as they head down the pharmacy aisle.

After completing a review of existing research, the USPSTF, an independent panel of doctors and experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, is advising against taking moderate amounts of Vitamin D and calcium supplements because there is not enough evidence to prove the supplements reduce the risk of bone fractures.
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February 25th, 2013
03:43 PM ET

Antibiotics less likely to be prescribed for kids' ear aches

Guidelines for diagnosing and treating ear infections are changing and the result may mean fewer prescriptions for antibiotics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on Monday released the new guidelines for diagnosing and managing acute otitis media (AOM), the most common form of ear infections.

Going forward, pediatricians should only diagnose acute ear infections if the child's eardrum is moderately to severely bulging or if there is discharge leaking from the ear, according to the recommendations. They may diagnose a middle ear infection if the child's ear drum is mildly bulging and there is recent onset of pain or intense redness. FULL POST


Researchers urge eye screening as early as age 1
Wanda Pfeifer uses a special purpose camera to screen children for amblyopia, also known as "lazy eye."
February 12th, 2013
11:53 AM ET

Researchers urge eye screening as early as age 1

How many times have you seen a young child with a patch over one eye or wearing glasses with one lens blocked and wondered why?  Chances are that child has something called amblyopia (sometimes called "lazy eye"), where one eye is not being used by the brain because it doesn't see as well.

After looking at more than 10 years of data, researchers now say children as young as a year old can be reliably screened for amblyopia; by using a camera that takes pictures of the eye, symptoms of the condition can be detected long before it becomes apparent, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The goal is to identify children with this problem as early as possible, says lead study author Dr. Susannah Longmuir, "so we can start treatment before they have a problem or treat it before it gets worse."

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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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