June 10th, 2014
04:52 PM ET
The cause of autism is still unknown, but researchers hope harnessing the power of Google will help them solve this neurodevelopmental puzzle.
The research and advocacy group Autism Speaks announced Tuesdaythey are collaborating with the Google Cloud Platform to build the largest autism genome database to date. The collaboration, known as The Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program (AUT10K), will combine extensive DNAdatabases with cloud storage technology, in hopes of moving mountains in autism research, according to a press release.
Autism Speaks believes the AUT10K program holds the potential to radically transform ASD genomics research. "Working with Google is a game-changer," said Rob Ring, who is the organization's chief science officer.
This collaboration is part of a larger movement in the medical field to use big data to speed research efforts. IBM's supercomputer Watson, for instance, is helping oncologists find treatments for a rare aggressive brain cancer in partnership with the New York Genome Center.
Autism Speaks has already donated 12,000 DNA samples, which members describe as the "the largest private collection" with diagnostic and specific genetic information. The organization says the collaboration with Google will allow them to provide researchers access to what will eventually be huge amounts of data. This, in turn, should help researchers find connections between patients faster.
Zachary Warren, director of Vanderbilt University's autism research institute, says in order tounderstand the vast developmental and behavioral differences linked to ASD, more powerful platforms to analyze genetic data are needed.
"Only by understanding autism risk can we begin to develop treatments that target not just the symptoms but the root causes of autism spectrum disorder," hiscolleague and genetic autism researcher Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele said in agreement.
The number of children with autism has continued to go up over the past decades, as have the costs for caring for someone with ASD.
Earlier this year, the CDC reported that1 in 68 children in the United States has autism. A new study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics,estimates the lifetimecost of supporting an individual with ASD can be up to $2.4 million.
May 19th, 2014
02:18 PM ET
There are many myths about vaccinations floating aroundthe Internet, says Dr. Simon Hambidge. One - that giving vaccinations too close together is unhealthy -has prompted some parents to request that their children receive vaccines on an alternate schedule,Hambidge told CNNin an e-mail.
Hambidge, an expert in pediatric vaccinationwith Kaiser Permanente's Institute for Health Research Colorado,is lead author of a new studythat examines the association between vaccine timing and seizures.
His team found that in the first year of life, there is no relationship between the recommended vaccinescheduleand seizures. But delaying the measles vaccine untilafter a child is 15 months old may raise his or herseizure risk. Thestudyresults werepublished Mondayin the journal Pediatrics.
"A number of people have claimed that a young child's immune system is not robust enough to be given multiple vaccines, and that it is safer to 'spread out' vaccination," Hambidge said. "There is no scientific evidence for this, and there is evidence that it is safe and effective to follow the current recommended schedule."
May 15th, 2014
05:44 PM ET
More than half of all young children in the United States attend a day care center or preschool, sometimes spending up to 50 hours a week at these facilities. Their parents should listen up:
A new study, published in the journal Chemosphere, finds these child care centers can host high levels of dangerous, flame-retardant chemicals.
Lead study authorAsa Bradmanrecalls first learning about the dangers of some of these chemicals when he was in high school.
"You know, 35 years later, I'm surprised to find these materials in an environment where young children spend a lot of time," hesaid.
Not all parents are putting babies to sleep on their backs as recommended, a new study finds.
May 6th, 2014
03:34 PM ET
Current and expectant parents may be interesteda fewof the many studies that have been releasedin recentdays as researchers gathered for the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, the largest international meeting focused on research in children'shealth. The meeting, in Vancouver, British Columbia, ends Tuesday.
Here are some of the findings presented:
Not all parents are putting their babies 'back to sleep'
Since the early 1990's, the American Academy of Pediatrics has been recommending parents put their babies on their backs when they sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While the number of SIDS deaths has gone down, the CDC reports more than 2000 infants under the age of 1 died in 2010 as a result of SIDS.
However, a new study finds that the word hasn't gotten out to everyone that babies should sleep on their backs. Researchers presented their data on Saturday. Theyfound that two-thirds of full-term babies in the United States sleep on their backs and less than half of preemies are put in what's officially called the supine sleep position (on the back). FULL POST
Codeine is commonly prescribed for children with coughs and colds, although it's not recommended, a new study finds.
April 21st, 2014
04:24 PM ET
Every year, there are up to 870,000 prescriptions of codeine written for children in emergency rooms in the United States.
And that's a huge danger, because the narcotic can have particularly powerful effects on children. So powerful that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines against its use in 1997. Yet, despite those guidelines, a new study in the journal Pediatrics has found that little has changed in codeine prescribing habits.
Study author Dr. Sunitha Kaiser and her colleagues evaluated the National Hospital and Ambulatory Medical Care Survey database for emergency room visits of children between the ages of 3 and 17 from 2010 through 2010. They foundfound that in the nine years evaluated, the percentage of codeine prescriptions dropped very little - from 3.7% to 2.9%. FULL POST
April 14th, 2014
09:51 AM ET
Does your babyhave difficulty calming him or herself? Falling and staying asleep? It can be stressful, especially for new parents. But once again, researchers are recommending that parents avoid plopping them down in front of the television.
According to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, fussy babies and toddlers tend to watch more TV and videos than infants with no issues or mild issues. And that can lead to problems down the road.
"We found that babies and toddlers whose mothers rated them as having self-regulation problems - meaning, problems with calming down, soothing themselves, settling down to sleep, or waiting for food or toys - watched more TV and videos when they were age 2," said study author Dr. Jenny Radskey, who works in the division of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.
"Infants with self-regulation problems watched, on average, about 9 minutes more media per day than other infants. This may seem small, but screen-time habits are established in these early years."
This chart shows the trends in prevalence of overweight and obese children between 1999 and 2012.
April 7th, 2014
04:01 PM ET
The decline of childhood obesity rates seen in a couple of recent studies may be nothing more than an illusion, according to a new study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
The researchers looked at data from more than 26,000 children age 2 to 19 in the United States who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that rates of overweight and obese children have been trending upward since 1999, with significant increases seen recently in the number of severely obese children.
Severe childhood obesity rates have more than doubled since 1999, according to the study. In 1999-2000, less than 1% of children fell into the Class 3 obesity category - meaning they had a body mass index 140% higher than their peers. In 2011-2012, 2.1% of children were in the same category. An additional 5.9% met the criteria for Class 2 obesity.
February 24th, 2014
04:07 PM ET
Doctors frequently recommend acetaminophen, commonly found in over-the-counter pain relievers including Tylenol, to pregnant women for treating mild pain.
But a new study out of Denmark suggests the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy could be associated with ADHD-like behavioral problems in children.
"(Pregnant women) shouldn't worry at this point," says study author Dr. Beate Ritz, professor and chair of the epidemiology department at the University of California, Los AngelesFielding School of Public Health. "But if I were a woman who was pregnant ... I would try to avoid taking painkillers as much as I can until we know more about this." FULL POST
February 11th, 2014
11:55 AM ET
The surge in autism diagnoses since the year 2000 has come with a massive cost that's shouldered largely by the public school system, say researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.
In what's billed as a conservative estimate, they say the "economic burden" of an autism diagnosis is more than $17,000 a year through age 17, with medical costs making up less than 20% of the total.The biggest chunk of the tab, $8,610, is picked up by schools, according to their paper, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
"The education system is already under a lot of financial strain," says Tara LaVelle, the lead author, who is now an associate policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. "We need policies at the federal, state and local level to make sure funds are available to provide appropriate intervention." FULL POST
February 4th, 2014
12:36 PM ET
Everyone has heard about steroid abuse in the context of professional athletics, but its misuse among adolescent boys has gotten a lot less attention.
A new study suggests that gay and bisexual adolescent boys are more than five times more likely to use anabolic-androgenic steroids - which increase the development of secondary male sex characteristics - than heterosexual adolescent boys. The study appeared Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers Aaron Blashilland Steven Safren, both affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, were "shocked" at how much more steroid use affects sexual minorities, Blashill said. It is not common to find such a strong disparity in psychological research. FULL POST
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.