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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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May 10th, 2012
04:37 PM ET

Breast-feeding: Too much of a good thing?

It's hard to avoid staring at the cover of Time Magazine this week. If you're on social media like Twitter and Facebook, the widely shared image may have arrived on your screen before you ever saw it in the supermarket.

The provocative cover shows Jamie Lynne Grumet, a 26-year-old mother from Los Angeles, breast-feeding her son. This isn't your typical mom-and-baby shot: Grumet's son is 3. In case you were wondering, Grumet told CNN's Erin Burnett that her son is actually breast-feeding in that now-iconic image.

Grumet said her own mother breast-fed her until age 6, and Grumet still remembers it. "I'm proud of her," Grumet said.

The picture promotes an article about the growing popularity of "attachment parenting", a theory first advocated by Dr. Bill Sears and his wife, Martha, in their 1992 best-selling guide “The Baby Book.”

The Searses argue that co-sleeping, “baby wearing” (where the baby is attached to the parent with a sling) and extended breast-feeding will help parents respond better to the individual needs of their babies.

Celebrities such as Mayim Bialik of "The Big Bang Theory" are also promoting ideas about attachment parenting. Bialik said on Friday that she still breast-feeds her 3-year-old son. "He's not done breast-feeding, and I'm not ready to tell him not to," she said.

Many moms and dads have strong opinions about these practices, especially the breast-feeding advice.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of their lives.

"We don't all nurse older kids," Bialik said of mothers who subscribe to attachment parenting ideas. "But the notion that a child's voice matters, that every child is different, that's the basis of attachment parenting."

Heather Curtis, wife of Fark.com founder Drew Curtis, told CNN's Geek Out that she practiced breast-feeding for an extended period, carried her babies in slings and practiced co-sleeping, as Bialik did. So did Caryn Rogers, a science writer for the Preeclampsia Foundation.

"I didn't really choose to eschew conventional care so much as chose to get what I believed was the most evidence-based care," Rogers said.

Grumet said that sleeping with her baby does not affect intimacy with her husband.

Watch: Breast-feeding cover-mom defends pose

"I think intimacy is extremely important in a marriage and I think a strong marriage is going to be a great foundation to show your children how to be raised confident and happy and I had that with my family, too," she said.

Time: Extended breast-feeding is more common than we think

CNN.com readers expressed mixed views on the subjects of the best age to stop breast-feeding and the appropriateness of the Time cover in general. See what they said.

We want to know what you think.  Is it OK to breast-feed well past toddler-hood, or is it too much of a good thing?


U.S. ranks lower than Iraq, Afghanistan on this list
May 2nd, 2012
12:01 PM ET

U.S. ranks lower than Iraq, Afghanistan on this list

There are few places that illustrate the fragility of life better than a neonatal intensive care unit.  Premature babies, hooked up to tubes and monitors, their tiny legs sticking out of the smallest of diapers: it's a sight can bring tears to your eyes and a prayer to your lips.

One in 10 children are born prematurely every year around the world.  That comes to about 15 million babies.

You may think developing countries like Belarus and Libya have more preemies than the United States. Think again.

A new study - the first of its kind - ranks preterm birth rates around the globe. The United States comes in at 131 on the list of 184 countries.
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Depression and baby sleep: Vicious cycle?
April 17th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Depression and baby sleep: Vicious cycle?

There's a fascinating new parenting study out that caught our eye at The Chart.  It involves the sleep habits of babies and toddlers.

Research suggests if mom is depressed, she's more likely to wake her baby up in the middle of the night, even if the baby is fine.  Experts say if that happens occasionally, it's not a problem.

But if it happens often, it can lead to developmental issues.

In the study, published in the journal Child Development, researchers at Pennsylvania State University observed 45 families over the course of a week.  The children ranged in age from 1 month to 2 years.  Moms were asked questions about a variety of issues from how they were doing emotionally to the baby's sleep patterns.

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Obesity rate climbs for Mexican-Americans, study says
March 28th, 2012
03:56 PM ET

Obesity rate climbs for Mexican-Americans, study says

Hispanics are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States.  By the year 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau projects Hispanics will compose 30 percent of the population.  Most are Mexican-American.  A new government study drills down on the changing way Mexican-Americans adults are eating and its effect on their health.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics compared statistics from 1982-1984 and 1999-2006.

Among the findings:

  • Obesity is up.  In the early 1980s 21% of Mexican Americans were obese.  By the middle of the last decade, the number had climbed to close to 35%.
  • More Mexican-Americans also have diabetes.  Close to 14% have it now - versus just under 10% 25 years ago.
  • The group's consumption of carbs is also up from just under 46% in the 1980s to just over 51%.
  • Mexican-Americans are also not eating as much protein as they once did, though those numbers are just slightly different.
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NBA announces new concussion policy
December 12th, 2011
04:39 PM ET

NBA announces new concussion policy

The National Basketball Association  has a new program designed to protect players against the long-term impact of concussions.  On Monday, the league announced it has set up a concussion management program that will be run by Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, one of the world's leading experts on sports and head injuries.  Among the program's protocols:

- All players will get an annual baseline neurological exam and cognitive assessment.
- When an athlete gets a concussion during a game, they will have to undergo a customized series of tests before they can return to the court.
- All information related to a concussion, including the diagnosis, treatment and long-term impact will be kept on file.

The program went into effect on Friday, when players reported to training camp.

Programming note: Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been investigating concussions in sports. Be sure to watch Big Hits, Broken Dreams, debuting Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. ET.


High IQ linked to drug use
November 14th, 2011
06:30 PM ET

High IQ linked to drug use

The "Just Say No" generation was often told by parents and teachers that intelligent people didn't use drugs.   Turns out, the adults may have been wrong.

A new British study finds children with high IQs are more likely to use drugs as adults than people who score low on IQ tests as children.  The data come from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which has been following thousands of people over decades.  The kids' IQs were tested at the ages of 5, 10 and 16.  The study also asked about drug use and looked at education and other socioeconomic factors.  Then when participants turned 30, they were asked whether they had used drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin in the past year.
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More than 1 in 10 in U.S. take antidepressants
October 19th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

More than 1 in 10 in U.S. take antidepressants

Eleven percent of Americans over age 12 take antidepressants according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control.  The study, compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics, looked at data from 2005 to 2008.  Among the other key findings:

  • Women are two-and-a-half times more likely to take antidepressants than men.
  • People over 40 are more likely to take antidepressants than younger people.
  • Non-Hispanic whites are more likely to take antidepressants than minorities.

But it was another finding that surprised lead study author, Laura Pratt, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control.  Only one-third of people with severe depression take antidepressants.  "That means many people with severe depression are not getting treated," says Pratt.

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New member of the family?  You may need a new vaccine
September 26th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

New member of the family? You may need a new vaccine

There is nothing quite as momentous as bringing a new baby home.  There are smiles, kisses and sometimes tears, especially for families who have waited a long time for the moment to arrive.  For parents who adopt children from abroad, arriving home is often extra special.  The investment of time,  money and travel has resulted in a homecoming for a special little person who is finally sleeping safely in Mom and Dad's arms.

In the past, experts have told parents who travel internationally to adopt children to get vaccinated against the hepatitis A virus.  Now the American Academy of Pediatrics is supporting a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  recommendation that other people who may have close contact with the children in the months after they arrive in the United States also get vaccinated.

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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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