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October 31st, 2008
10:27 AM ET

Cosmos after conception?

By Jen Pifer
CNN Medical Senior Producer


After a particularly grueling editorial meeting a few years ago, one of my colleagues turned to me and said, "I need a drink." Now that's not an uncommon sentiment in many newsrooms, but in this case, it was kind of funny. My colleague was hugely pregnant and she meant it. We laughed, but I got the sense she felt a little bit guilty saying that. After all, who wants to be known as the pregnant woman who drinks?

Truth be told, I understood where she was coming from. Sometimes, a girl just needs a cocktail.

The issue of drinking while expecting comes up often with my other pregnant friends. One told me she asked her obstetrician about it. She says the doctor told her a drink now and then wouldn't hurt the baby. But he was quick to add that he was not recommending it. Another friend of mine was out to dinner when she was six months pregnant and ordered a small margarita. The waiter served her, but not before looking at her big old tummy.

There's a new study out today that is likely to get people talking. British researchers found that children whose mothers who drank up to one to two drinks per week or per occasion (for example at a party or on Christmas Eve) while pregnant are not at an increased risk of behavioral problems or cognitive deficits. It is important to point out that the study did not look at the physical problems associated with drinking while pregnant.”

The researchers are very quick to point out they are not out to set new guidelines; they just want to add to the debate. This has been a huge issue in England. Last year, the Royal College of Obstetrics said drinking one or two drinks once or twice a week is unlikely to harm your baby. (See Study) British public health officials say expectant mothers shouldn't drink, but if they do, it should be with great moderation. (See Study) In the United States, it's all about abstinence. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says drinking at any stage of pregnancy is a terrible idea. (Read More)

Now that the experts have weighed in, I am curious to know what you think. Is it ok to drink a little bit of alcohol while pregnant? Would you do it? Have you done it?

Editor’s Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


October 29th, 2008
11:10 AM ET

Inside the mind of an undecided voter

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

When I am in the operating room, I am a very good decision maker. I make the right decision, and I make it quickly. Place a burr hole here instead of there. Extend the fusion to T1 instead of C7, or use a fenestrated clip instead of a straight one. I am good at those decisions. Ask me to pick out a tie in the morning, and I am seemingly paralyzed until my sleepy wife comes over and yanks one out and hands it to me. It is always the perfect tie and no surprise; she thinks I am a terrible decision maker. She thinks I can be wishy washy.

When it comes to decision making, I am apparently not alone. And, thanks to Sam Wang, a neuroscientist from Princeton, (read study) I may have a pretty good defense. There is no question there are still a lot of people who are undecided when it comes to picking a president, and Sam has a pretty good idea why. He, along with his colleagues think peering into the brain may offer a few clues.

Generally speaking, decision-making can be broken down into two distinctive pieces. The first part is when you gather evidence, and then second part is when you commit. That can be like a switch going off. In the brain of an undecided voter, it may be that “evidence gathering” part that is simply taking longer. It’s not that these undecided are indifferent, according to Wang, but they are more willing to take their time, essentially trading off speed for accuracy. At some point though, they typically hit a tipping point and the decision is activated.

Other undecided voters may have an even more interesting process happening. They have already made up their minds, but they haven’t committed yet. They will tell you they are undecided, even though their brain has gathered the necessary evidence and a decision has been activated. Often times, people around them already know the individual’s decision, before the individual does. When my wife picks out that tie for me, she may already know that tie is my preference, even though I haven’t decided yet. There is a third group as well. This is a group that thinks they have decided, but when it comes to actually voting, they switch their minds at the last second. They thought they were committed emotionally, but the brain had gathered evidence and pointed them in a different direction.

It gets a little confusing.

Wang thinks you can tease out the true intentions of an undecided voter by asking more open-ended questions in polls. So, instead of asking, “Whom would you vote for if the election were held today, Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain?” Instead, you ask, “Who do you think understands your problems better?” or “Are you more concerned about the economy or terrorism?” or even “Which candidate has the better temperament?”

None of these open-ended questions would help me pick out a tie, but they might help you decide on electing a president. Are you still undecided? If so, why do you think you are still uncommitted?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


October 28th, 2008
01:50 PM ET

Cancer warning labels on products: A cause for concern?

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

For several months I have enjoyed recording digital music files through my keyboard, thanks to a simple device that connects it to my laptop. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that the following label came with it:

WARNING: This product contains chemicals, including lead, known to the State of California to cause cancer, and birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling.

I freaked out. How could a set of cables attached to a small blue blinking cylinder cause cancer? The USB connector and keyboard inputs seemed harmless enough, and I hadn’t felt obvious symptoms while making music. Was I risking my life for the sake of my four-person fan base?

So I called the company, M-Audio. Apparently, manufacturers have to put this label on certain products to comply with Proposition 65, a California law that requires a warning on anything containing lead or other hazardous substances found to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

Under this law, whose full title is The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, warnings must be placed on products with a chemicals present in amounts larger than what the California government has decided is a “safe harbor number.”

These requirements are pretty strict. For example, for a cancer-causing chemical, according to the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, “a person exposed to the chemical at the ‘no significant risk level’ for 70 years would not have more than a ‘one in 100,000’ chance of developing cancer as a result of that exposure.” So, if there would be more than one excess case of cancer out of 100,000 people over a period of 70 years because of exposure to that amount of the substance, slap on that label.

It’s not just computing equipment. Amazon.com outlines for its customers required warnings for California consumers placed on tools, lead crystal glasses, ceramic tableware, jewelry, Tiffany style lamps, electrical cords, beauty products, and even motor vehicles.

The consequences for violating Proposition 65 can be pretty fierce. One Los Angeles company had to pay a $10 million fine for failing to label lead-tainted lunch boxes (they sold 100,000 of them to the state health department), the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this year.

Still, does that mean I have to wash my hands every time I touch the cord? Mark Williams, spokesperson for M-Audio, says, “No! My gosh, no!”

In general, he says, electronics products carry this label because of the materials used in circuit boards, such as lead, for example. It’s not like there’s pesticide sprayed on the surface, he says.

In fact, according to the company’s official statement on the issue, a device with a lead warning might not have any lead at all:

Even in situations where an electronics device is completely free of lead, there is always a chance that standard third-party-manufactured accessories packaged with the device (such as a power cable, USB cable, or power supply) may contain trace amounts of lead. Out of professional diligence and a commitment to fully comply with the law, M-Audio properly marks all applicable products with a Prop 65 lead warning.

Maybe people are used to seeing these labels by now. Williams said mine was the first call he’s received on the issue in his five months in media relations at the company.

So, now I will make my techno versions of acoustic indie songs in relative peace.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


October 27th, 2008
01:20 PM ET

When should parents ask the experts for help?

By Caleb Hellerman
CNN Medical Senior Producer

My son, who’s 4 1/2, just used the bathroom at his after-school class. Big deal, huh? It was, for us. Up to now, using the potty away from home has been too stressful, which leads to a lot of frantic planning on our part. It’s not just that. He’s been high-strung since birth. He stopped taking a nap around his first birthday. He doesn’t like crowds, tenses every muscle when he gets his hair washed – hey, at least he no longer screams non-stop – and he’s extremely hesitant about trying new things, be it a new food, a new lesson at pre-K or a new slide on the playground.

Don’t all 4-year-olds act that way? Some days, that’s what I think. Other days, not so much. My son is bright and gets along with other kids, but he’s a handful. After commiserating with a few other parents, last year we took our son to see a therapist. She told us he might have something called sensory processing disorder. There’s a lot of disagreement over how to define SPD, but basically some children are extremely sensitive to stimuli including noises, tastes, certain feelings on their skin or even all the above. In severe cases, it’s so distracting, the child has trouble functioning at all.

It’s not a well-understood diagnosis, and I was a little skeptical. But we started taking my son to an occupational therapist once a week. After a couple of visits, she told us my son didn’t have SPD, but he did have “sensory issues.” And what do you know, therapy seems to help. He loves the sessions (lots of climbing and games), he’s a lot less anxious, he’s proud about trying new foods and now even the bathroom isn’t too scary. Is it the therapy? Or is he just growing up?

How do you know when it’s time to seek help for your child?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


October 24th, 2008
02:57 PM ET

Fighting the heavy burden of overweight children

By Saundra Young
CNN Medical Senior Producer

The statistics are staggering. One in three of America’s children carry this heavy burden: being overweight or obese.

In case you were wondering just how serious this problem is, Acting Surgeon General Dr. Steven Galson says the number of children affected between 6 and 11 years old has tripled since 1980. Today 9 million children in this country are overweight or obese. That's one in three.

Surgeons general from the last four administrations gathered this week in Washington to address the nation's childhood obesity epidemic. Drs. C. Everett Koop, Antonia Novello, David Satcher and Richard Carmona were also joined by two former "acting" surgeons general and Galson. They talked about how dire the situation is and what it will take to turn it around.

"Childhood overweight and obesity are among the foremost health challenges of our time," Galson said. "Their effects permeate the United States’ health care system and will do so for decades to come. Their implications for health care policy and for health justice are enormous. So are the costs. Billions of dollars in health-care costs that will impact our entire country for the foreseeable future if we cannot turn this tide around."

The picture painted here was not pretty. And while this problem cuts across all of society, Novello, who was surgeon general under President George H.W. Bush, said minority and disadvantaged children suffer disproportionately.

We know obesity has emotional, social and physical consequences. Children are already seeing them with the early onset of many diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, including high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance. According to Glason, 61 percent of obese children between 5 and 10 years old have 1 or more risk factors for heart disease already!

Koop, surgeon general during the Reagan administration, gave this warning: "If we continue on the present trajectories, obesity will replace tobacco as the Number One preventable cause of death in the United States."

Carmona, the current President Bush's former surgeon general, says the social implications of being overweight are also painful. "The psychological ramifications of being obese as a child and not going to the dance, not being able to play athletics, which we often gloss by but yet are huge if you are that child that's being ostracized or marginalized because of your obesity problem."

Perhaps even more startling, Carmona says this epidemic could turn out to be a national security issue. "Because where will those soldiers and sailors and policemen and firemen come from in the next generation that have to protect our nation, if we are telling you today that this cohort of young men and women going forward will not be physically fit and able to accept those positions to protect community and the nation."

All agreed that the challenge is monumental, that everyone must pull together - parents, educators, youth, doctors, the food industry, government, even the news media. Galson has been traveling across the country on a "healthy youth for healthy future” tour the past year, having discussions and looking at solutions. His message? "Get and stay active, eat nutritiously and encourage young people to make healthy choices."

He says reversing the cycle will be complex. Inaction is not an option; children overweight before the age of 8 are at greater risk of obesity as an adult.

Two weeks ago the Department of Health and Human Services released the first "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans." It tells you how much physical activity you need daily, and ways to get it. The agency recommended that children and adolescents get an hour or more a day.

A surgeon general during the Clinton administration, Satcher, says there have been some successes, such as the wellness policy passed by Congress in 2004. That legislation says if a school gets funds for free breakfast or lunch – -which most public schools do–that school has to have a wellness policy in place dealing with physical activity and nutrition.

But there are successes and there are setbacks.

An epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Carmona for the first time in history, this could be the first generation of children that lives shorter lives than their parents.
All for something entirely preventable.

Are we doing enough? Or have we all been sitting idly by? What more can we do to get our kids back on the road to good health and fitness?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


October 22nd, 2008
12:55 PM ET

Candidate's health insurance proposals revisited

By Caleb Hellerman
CNN Medical Senior Producer

With the election two weeks away, we’ve been talking more about candidates’ health care proposals. It’s impossible to explain all the details at once, and whenever we post something, like Sanjay did last week, you readers are not shy about pointing to what we left out. Here’s more to chew on.

This morning, the Journal of the American Medical Association is running articles by both John McCain and Barack Obama, explaining their plans to overhaul health care. The centerpiece of McCain’s plan is a tax credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families, to help them buy insurance.

Here’s what I find interesting: McCain has gone out of his way not to emphasize what a big change this would be. Right now, about 62 percent of Americans have insurance through their job, and just 5 percent buy coverage on their own. That’s because there’s a big incentive for companies to provide coverage: They get to write off the expense on their taxes. It’s less expensive to buy you insurance than pay the money as salary.

For better or worse, McCain wants to change that. He wants to level the field by offering a similar tax break to individuals. He argues that with more individual buyers out there, more companies will offer individual policies, and you’ll have more options – at lower cost – than you do now. You also won’t have to worry about losing insurance if you switch jobs.

The risk – as Obama likes to point out – is that the people buying individual plans will probably be the younger and healthier workers. That would presumably raise insurance costs for companies, and could start pushing them to drop coverage. That’s especially worrisome for anyone who’s already sick, with a so-called “pre-existing condition.” Some McCain critics accuse him of wanting to eliminate the employer tax break altogether. Those who want to get rid of the employer tax break – like McCain supporter Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican - say that would help most people, because if your employer isn’t buying you health insurance, it can make it up by paying higher wages. But this spring, McCain’s campaign said flatly: Eliminating the tax break is not in the cards.

Obama’s health proposal is more conservative, as in cautious. It would build on the existing system. If you like your health coverage, you can keep it – but you’ll also have the option of buying into a new government health insurance plan, with the same benefits as are available to members of Congress. Obama also wants to require large businesses to provide insurance to employees, or else pay a fine. (He hasn’t said what size businesses should be exempt.) And he would give subsidies to help uninsured Americans buy into Medicaid or SCHIP, the children’s insurance program that’s run by the states.

It’s a little something for everyone. Critics say it’ll be wildly expensive. After all, health care costs are growing faster than inflation. Just building on the current system might not be sustainable, especially in the shadow of massive budget deficits.

Who’s got it right, McCain or Obama?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


October 20th, 2008
02:07 PM ET

How important are candidate medical records?

By Miriam Falco
Managing Editor, CNN Medical News

Last night, the Obama-Biden campaign announced that reporters would be allowed Monday to review Sen. Joe Biden’s medical records. So beginning at 12:30 p.m. today, reporters have five hours to look at a 49-page summary of the Democratic vice-presidential candidate’s medical records.

Since Biden has had two aneurysms– found after his first bid for president 20 years ago - some might wonder how healthy this 65-year-old man really is.

The campaign didn’t give the news media much of a heads-up – less than 24 hours. Earlier this year, selected journalists, including our Dr. Sanjay Gupta, were given three hours to look at over 1,000 of pages of Sen. John McCain’s medical records, far more than most candidates running for this office. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Barack Obama, released only a one-page document by his physician, which pronounced Obama healthy to be president and noted that he used to smoke a lot. So far there hasn’t been any mention of McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, releasing her medical records.

How important is to you it that presidential and vice presidential candidates make their medical history public? Does it influence your vote?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


October 17th, 2008
01:12 PM ET

Checking the candidates' health insurance claims

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

As the presidential election draws near, one issue people have been talking about a lot is health care. The candidates talked about it for a good chunk of the recent debate, and most people are pretty interested in what it all means. The problem is, hardly anyone understands it. I wanted to use this blog to share some of what we uncovered.

First of all, Senators McCain and Obama throw out wildly different numbers. McCain says the average cost of health insurance in this country is around $5,800 for the average family, while Obama cites the figure as closer to $12,000 (listen to the candidates in their own words).

Well, according to AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans), the results of a study about health care costs put the national average cost of a family health care plan at $5,799. That seems to be the number McCain is using. There are a couple important caveats. Your cost of health care is very dependent on where you live. For example, the cost of a family plan in Massachusetts is over $16,000. In Wisconsin, the cost is closer to $3,000 (read study results).  McCain does say that under his plan, consumers will be able to buy health care from different programs so, even if you live in Massachusetts, you would be able to buy a Wisconsin plan. The other caveat is health care costs are incredibly dependent on something known as pre-existing conditions. If you have an already diagnosed illness, it can make getting health care much more expensive, if not impossible.

According to our digging, Obama’s number of $12,000 seems to come from a Kaiser Family foundation survey (read survey). That survey looked specifically at the cost of employer-based coverage, not individual family plans. The reason the number is so much higher is because employers “pool” their employees together. People who have existing conditions are pooled with those who are healthy, and that drives up health care premiums overall.

In a way, they are both right – but they are talking about very different things. In case you are curious, as things stand now – 62 percent of people have employer based coverage, 15 percent are insured through the government, 5 percent have individual plans and 18 percent are uninsured.

Obama wants to create a plan that allows all consumers to have access to the same sort of plans he has as a U.S. senator. With so many people joining such a national plan, the Obama campaign is banking on health care costs coming down overall. He also wants to mandate that every child have health care insurance.

With McCain’s plan, there is a $5,000 tax credit for families, which would cover all but $800 of the average health care plan. And, they tell us if you currently have employer-based coverage, you could still use the credit to pay for the taxes you begin paying on your health care benefit or to offset co-pays and out-of-network costs.

Have you considered all this and if so, which plan do you like more? Why?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


October 15th, 2008
02:28 PM ET

Should we have to choose between health and livelihood?

By A. Chris Gajilan
CNN Medical Senior Producer

It’s been one of the toughest and most complex stories I’ve ever worked on: Smokestacks belching dark clouds of lead, arsenic, cadmium into the air; children live with more than four times the safe limit of lead pumping through their blood; people who believe they have lost loved ones to the toxic conditions of where they live.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviews Leslie and Jack Warden in Herculaneum, MO

Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviews Leslie and Jack Warden in Herculaneum, MO

Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I have been traveling for the upcoming documentary “Planet in Peril: Battle Lines.” We visited the small town of La Oroya, Peru a couple of times during the past year. This town nestled in the Andes mountains is home to the Doe Run Peru smelting complex, where metal-laden rock is brought for processing into raw materials such as lead, copper and zinc. It is a place where the air irritates the eyes, befouls the mouth, stings the nostrils and heavies the chest. In this town of 35,000 people, 99 percent of children living in and around La Oroya have blood lead levels that exceed acceptable limits, according to studies carried out by the director general of environmental health in Peru in 1999.

Consider this: People shouldn’t naturally have lead in their bodies. The upper safe limit set by the World Health Organization is 10 mg/dL. But even more recent findings from La Oroya show that the situation is still very grim. We were joined there by Fernando Serrano, a St. Louis University researcher, whose 2005 study found that children had an average blood lead level of 36.1 mg/dL to 32.4 mg/dL. That’s more than three times the safe limit!

Lead poisoning is insidious. Children who have high levels of lead in their bodies can appear healthy but may suffer long-term consequences such as developmental disorders, mood disorders and in some cases, retardation. The young are most at risk because their tissue is more susceptible to the toxicities of lead.

Doe Run Peru took over the smelter in La Oroya in 1997, after it had already been operating for decades under other companies. We interviewed Doe Run Peru's president, Juan Carlos Huayhua. While his company is making major technological improvements and sponsoring community health programs, it recognizes that more needs to be done. In cooperation with the Peruvian government, Doe Run Peru runs a small nursery school for about 100 children whose blood lead levels exceeded 40 mg/dL. There are thousands of kids who live within a two-mile radius of the smelter.

Yesterday, we visited a sister company, Doe Run Missouri in Herculaneum, where lead is also processed. In that small town, the company agreed to a plan to help clean up the area, including a buyout of about 160 homes, in the area about 3/8 mile from the smelter.

In both towns the battle lines are drawn. We have found that the environmental conditions have improved in recent years. While the company and some residents and workers say they are doing all they can, others say it's far from enough.

Do you have loved ones who work in difficult environmental conditions? Have you ever had to make a choice between health and livelihood?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


October 13th, 2008
10:47 AM ET

Ban the bink?

By Shahreen Abedin
CNN Medical Senior Producer

My husband and I recently took our baby to visit our hometown, Dallas, Texas, where his grandparents still live. We met up with many of their old friends, tons of "aunties" who couldn’t stop cooing over our little tyke who somehow already knows how to work a crowd.

I was a bit annoyed, however, when one of my mom’s friends tried to shame me for letting our baby suck on his pacifier. “Tsk, tsk. It’s bad for him” she admonished - she whom I haven’t seen in about 10 years. I blew her off; we get all kinds of unsolicited input, and I’ve learned to ignore most of it. But this one continues to irk me.

Her fear: that the baby will become addicted to his bink, and then one day, it’s hello orthodontist! She’s not the only one I’ve encountered with this view. Several of the nannies whom I interviewed were adamantly against pacifier use. Some were openly critical of it even though we had just met minutes before. So much stigma.

I’ve read all the pros and cons on the topic and I am unconvinced that it’s going to become a problem for us. We use it only when he’s going down to sleep, and we don’t let him keep it in his mouth for more than a couple of minutes after he awakens.

Some say that it’s better to let him use the bink instead of sucking his fingers, because at least you can take the bink away but once he’s used to thumb sucking, it’s a lot harder to halt that habit. Besides, pacifiers have been associated with lowered risks of SIDS .

And, they really, truly help our wee one sleep better. Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the parental lifesaver “The Happiest Baby on the Block”, includes sucking on a bink as one of the 5 “S’s” that help replicate the comforting experience of being in the womb for babies who are in their first months of life in the real world. Even though our baby is 10 months old, it still works like a switch that immediately helps him relax and melt into slumber. In fact, we didn’t give our baby a pacifier at first until we realized how much it helps to calm him, especially when he’s fussing in the car or has become so overtired that he can’t fall asleep anymore. Plus, I was breastfeeding back then and I read that it just works better not to confuse that little mouth near the beginning.

IMHO, getting baby to sleep is hard enough for most parents (except the luckiest among us), so I think, why not rely on some help from that heavenly silicone soother? Then again, we’ve all seen those 3- and 4-year olds, old enough to go potty by themselves, but unwilling to give up their binks.

Do you think it’s ok to use a pacifier and if so, how long should you let your kid use it? How do you help him let go of it when you decide it’s time? Have any of you forgone the passie and let your kids self-soothe with their fingers and if so, did you run into any problems or did it work like a charm?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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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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