New, simpler childhood vaccine schedule
January 29th, 2013
10:29 AM ET

New, simpler childhood vaccine schedule

Pregnant women should receive a whooping cough vaccine in the second half of each pregnancy, according to this year's recommended vaccine schedule for children and adolescents.

In addition, the new schedule - published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  and the American Academy of Family Physicians - consolidates the schedules into one comprehensive list, covering children from birth through age 18.

That's a change from previous years, when the schedule was separated into two different lists, for ages 0 to 6 and 7 to 18. The new schedule will also include an additional column that highlights which vaccines 4-to-6-year-olds and adolescents need.

The schedule, which is published every February, tells parents and doctors when is the correct time to vaccinate children against the 16 infectious diseases for which vaccines are available, said Dr. Cody Meissner, head of the pediatric infectious disease division at Tufts Medical Center and a consultant for the AAP's Committee on Infectious Diseases. The schedule is updated yearly to reflect any changes based on new research or developments.  FULL POST

Doctors asked to participate in gun debate
December 31st, 2012
05:03 PM ET

Doctors asked to participate in gun debate

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14 has compelled the editors of the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine to call on other physicians to become active participants in the discussion about gun violence and gun policy in this country.

More than 30,000 people die from gun injuries each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gun injuries account for nearly 1 in 5 injury deaths in the United States.  More than 96% of those deaths are due to suicide and homicide.

In an editorial published in Annals, a publication of the American College of Physicians (ACP), on Monday, Dr. Christine Laine, editor-in-chief of the journal and a general internist, calls on physicians to use their voices in this gun control debate, just as doctors have done regarding other issues that threaten public health, such as smoking, air pollution, drunk driving and vaccinations. FULL POST

Obesity among young children declines slightly
December 26th, 2012
03:26 PM ET

Obesity among young children declines slightly

The number of young children who are obese and extremely obese is going down, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In what researchers say is the first national study to show that the prevalence of obesity among young children may have begun to decline, scientists analyzed data from more than 27 million children from low-income families between the ages of 2 and 4 in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

"The results of this study indicate modest recent progress of obesity prevention among young children," according to the study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). 


Acute morning sickness: What is it
The Duchess of Cambridge at an event Sunday at St. Andrew's School in Pangbourne, England.
December 3rd, 2012
03:10 PM ET

Acute morning sickness: What is it

Whenever there's a royal wedding, waiting for the news that a royal heir is on the way is always the next step.  Less than two years after Britain's Prince William wed his bride Catherine Middleton, word of a royal pregnancy was eagerly anticipated.  Now we know Catherine is having a baby.

But the world didn't find out in the form of a photo revealing a conspicuous baby bump.  Rather, the news broke when Buckingham Palace announced Monday the Duchess of Cambridge has been "admitted ... to King Edward VII Hospital in Central London with hyperemesis gravidarum," - which means excessive vomiting during pregnancy.

As most mothers can attest, feeling nauseated during pregnancy is not unusual, so why is the duchess hospitalized?


FDA approves new type of flu shot
November 21st, 2012
12:34 PM ET

FDA approves new type of flu shot

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new flu vaccine for adults that is not egg-based, although it hasn't yet been tested on people with egg allergies.

The manufacturing process for the vaccine, called Flucelvax, is similar to the egg-based production method, but the virus strains included in the new vaccine are "grown in animal cells of mammalian origin instead of in eggs," the FDA says.

"The cell-based vaccine is as safe and effective as traditional egg-based vaccine and the technology used to manufacture it is more flexible and reliable than the traditional technology," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement Tuesday.

It is, however, only approved for adults 18 and older, according to the FDA.

Link between autism and infections during pregnancy explored
November 12th, 2012
02:57 PM ET

Link between autism and infections during pregnancy explored

If a mother has an infection or the flu during pregnancy, can it raise the risk of autism for her child? A new study out of Denmark suggests that the answer is "probably not" and "maybe" and that the issue definitely needs more study.

"Overall, we found little evidence that various types of mild common infectious diseases or febrile episodes during pregnancy were associated with ASD/infantile autism (autism spectrum disorders)," the study authors wrote.

But they also say their data suggest there are three scenarios in which there might be an increased risk of the child developing autism. If the mother had the flu, there was "a two-fold increased risk of infantile autism; if the mom had "prolonged episodes of fever" (lasting a week or more), the risk goes up threefold; "and use of various antibiotics during pregnancy were potential risk factors for ASD/infantile autism."  

But the study authors also concede that the results may be skewed by multiple testing, contributing to the potential for “chance findings.” FULL POST

Home pregnancy tests may detect men's cancer
November 8th, 2012
04:34 PM ET

Home pregnancy tests may detect men's cancer

If you've been near social media or on the Internet, you may be aware of the buzz over posts claiming a teenage boy took a home pregnancy test as a joke, received a positive result, and wound up being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

CNN interviewed a girl who identified herself as a friend of the 17-year-old, but was not able to independently confirm the posts.

However, it's true home pregnancy tests can detect some types of testicular cancer in men, experts say - but the tests would not be useful as a screening tool.


Study: Taking aspirin may extend survival for some colon cancer patients
October 25th, 2012
12:23 PM ET

Study: Taking aspirin may extend survival for some colon cancer patients

For more than a decade, studies have shown that some cancer patients benefit from taking aspirin, but who exactly might benefit remained unclear.  Now a new study appears to have found a specific patient population that may live longer by taking this drug: Colon cancer patients.

After reviewing data from 964 colorectal cancer patients, researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston found when patients whose tumors had a mutated form of the PIK3CA gene took aspirin after being diagnosed, they lived significantly longer than patients without the mutation.

The study is published in the October 25 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. Ninety-seven percent of patients with this mutation who took aspirin were alive five years after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Only 76% of patients with the mutation who didn't take aspirin were still alive five years later. FULL POST

West Nile outbreak falls short of 2003 numbers
October 18th, 2012
01:32 PM ET

West Nile outbreak falls short of 2003 numbers

We're still more than two months from the end of the year, but the number of West Nile Virus (WNV) cases in the United States has already exceeded the second-highest annual total.

As of Tuesday, 4,531 cases of West Nile have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including 183 deaths. This means the case count has surpassed the totals for 2006, when there were 4,269 cases including 177 fatalities.

But at this point in the year, it's unlikely that another 5,000 cases will develop, so the 2012 WNV season probably won't be the worst on record. That was in 2003, when there were 9,862 illnesses and 264 deaths reported. FULL POST

October 10th, 2012
11:12 AM ET

Cancer doctor is also a cancer survivor

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. Dr. Alyssa Rieber has known since she was a child that she wanted to be a doctor. What type of doctor she became changed when she became a patient herself.

A simple goal brought Alyssa Rieber to attend medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, 15 years ago.

"Just helping people. And I know that sounds so trite and that's what everybody says, but that's really why I wanted to be a doctor was to help people."

Rieber says she loved the movie "Doc Hollywood" with Michael J. Fox, in which a doctor is sentenced to work in a small-town hospital.

"I was like, 'That's what I want to do.' So I was all ready to move out into a small town and take care of everybody and be the town doctor. And then during my first few months of med school, things shifted quite a bit (when) I was diagnosed with cancer."

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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.