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Folic acid in pregnancy may help lower autism risk
February 12th, 2013
04:03 PM ET

Folic acid in pregnancy may help lower autism risk

Taking folic acid before pregnancy, and through the first several weeks of pregnancy, may help reduce the risk of autism for those children, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Researchers in Norway looked at data from 85,000 pregnancies, and found that women who took the supplement four weeks before pregnancy, and through the eighth week of pregnancy, were 39% less likely to have children with autism.

The Norwegian study is the largest to date on the benefits of folic acid for autism prevention, and marks one of the first tangible things a woman can do to reduce her risk of giving birth to a child with the disorder. 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."

FULL POST


Alcohol and diet soda may be a bad mix
February 5th, 2013
04:04 PM ET

Alcohol and diet soda may be a bad mix

Saving calories at the bar may not be a good thing.

Researchers gave college students vodka drinks with regular soda and with diet soda, and the diet soda group got more intoxicated, faster - about 20%  more intoxicated than those who mixed regular soda with liquor, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Sugar in your mixed drink actually slows down the effects of alcohol, researchers say. FULL POST


Shot in arm plus physical therapy doesn't help tennis elbow: Study
February 5th, 2013
04:02 PM ET

Shot in arm plus physical therapy doesn't help tennis elbow: Study

Weekend sports warriors take note - that pain radiating out of your elbow may be tennis elbow. But don't be so quick to ask your doctor for a cortisone shot.

Research has shown cortisone, or corticosteroid shots, can alleviate the pain in the initial weeks, but have little effectiveness in the long run, and do nothing to reduce recurrence rates.

Doctors have prescribed physical therapy, also known as physiotherapy, in conjunction with the shots, hoping to increase the cortisone's long-term effectiveness, but a new study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association finds that the physical therapy doesn't aid the cortisone shots at all. FULL POST


Filed under: Conditions • Diet and Fitness • Living Well

February 5th, 2013
01:11 PM ET

Cancer deaths fall for African-American men, disparities remain

The latest report on cancer among African-Americans shows a good-news, bad-news scenario. While racial gaps are closing for some types of cancers, including fewer cancer deaths among African-American men, disparities are increasing for some cancers that can be found through routine screenings.

The report

Every two years, the American Cancer Society reports on the latest data, based on reports from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. The newest information includes data for the year 2009. This year’s report is published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. FULL POST


Does it 'get better' for bullied gay or bisexual youth?
February 5th, 2013
11:25 AM ET

Does it 'get better' for bullied gay or bisexual youth?

The answer to that question depends on how you look at it, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adolescents are victims of bullying twice as often as their heterosexual peers. But research finds that the overall incidence decreases after high school, particularly among girls. However, the scars of emotional distress remain significantly higher in LGB youth.

"What we see is, slightly over half of LGB teens are bullied when they're ages 13 to 14, and then when they're ages 19 to 20, the rates of bullying are fewer than 10 percent," said study author Joseph Robinson from the Department of Educational Psychology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

FULL POST


Too much TV could damage sperm production
February 4th, 2013
06:32 PM ET

Too much TV could damage sperm production

Semen quality is a much-discussed subject among scientists these days. Data suggests sperm concentration has been declining in Western countries over the past couple of decades - and reasons for the decline are debatable.

The lead author of a new study on the subject, Audrey Gaskins, has been studying the effects of diet and exercise on semen for several years as a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her latest research shows a lack of physical activity – and too much time in front of the television - may impact sperm count and concentration.

Previous studies have shown a link between physical activity and decreased levels of oxidative stress, Gaskins says. “Oxidative stress” is stress placed on the body as it tries to get rid of free radicals or repair the damage caused by them. Exercise may protect certain male cells from oxidative damage, Gaskins says, leading to increased sperm concentration.

Those findings led Gaskins to complete an observational study on young men’s exercise and TV habits as they relate to semen quality. The results were published online Monday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
FULL POST


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.

FULL POST


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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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