Friday, November 24, 2006
Inside Autism
Autism is being diagnosed in more children than ever - 1 in 166, according to the CDC. The disorder affects a 1.5 million people, a number that could grow to 4 million in the next decade, according to the Autism Society of America.

Since we first aired our program on autism last summer, a few things have changed. Back then, autism groups had high hopes for more funding to find the disorder's cause. In August, the Senate passed the "Combat Autism Act," which authorized nearly $1 billion over five years for research. The House was expected to take the issue up this fall. That didn't happen. However, the chairman of the committee where the bill got stuck is still hoping for a compromise in December, before congressional leadership changes hands.

In October, researchers from Vanderbilt University reported that a child with two copies of a specific gene mutation is twice as likely to develop autism than one without the mutations. A month earlier, a study from Israel suggested that if a father is over 40 at conception, his child's risk for autism goes up, possibly because sperm from older men may have more genetic defects. These are just a few more parts of the puzzle of autism spectrum disorders. There are still too many pieces missing.

Tune in to House Call this weekend at 8:30 a.m. ET for more on the causes of autism and the tolls it takes on families. Our guest is Dr. Anshu Batra from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. In addition to specializing in treating children with autism, she's the mother of two autistic children.

Also this weekend at 8 p.m. ET, watch CNN Presents: Autism Is A World, a rare look at autism through the words of a young woman who lives with it.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Why I Am Thankful
This week, I am taking my first full week off this year. My wife could not be more delighted, and I have spent most of today tickling the baby and going for a long run with my dog. Still, I wanted to take a few moments to thank all of you - the readers, the viewers, the bloggers and the simply curious.

At CNN, we are committed to the very highest quality health and medical news. With dozens of hard-working producers in various cities across the country, we are investigating, examining and reporting the news and making sure you are equipped every day with information that you can truly use. And, you show up to watch every single time. In fact I just learned that the premiere of our documentary on happiness last Sunday was the most watched show in its time slot among cable news networks. Amazing. Thanks so much for that.

I have also had a chance to reflect on this past year. CNN has sent me all over the world, including most recently to Africa, specifically Chad and the Congo, to cover the atrocities of war. I have seen things this year that I will never forget. They are terrible, awful things and the truth is, I don't want to forget.

You see, it would be easy to forget; to simply come home, hug my daughter and move on with my life. This year, I have learned that we should not be thankful because we have somehow been dealt a better hand in life. Instead, we should be thankful because we can help those out who are less fortunate. So, this Thanksgiving, the lost boys of Sudan, the famished women I met in Chad, the wounded babies in a Beirut nursery and the brave hospital workers in Haifa all will be on my mind. Please know that I am most thankful to be able to share these stories with the world, in the hope that these people get the help they need and deserve.
Monday, November 20, 2006
A Thanksgiving To Remember
For those of you looking for a TV alternative on Thanksgiving Day, CNN is offering four hours of Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

At 2 p.m. ET, "Genius - The Quest for Extreme Brain Power." It's an hourlong look at what it means to be a genius and how you and your children can tap the genius within.

Up next at 3 p.m., Dr Gupta explores "Sleep" - and the link between sleep and your health; what your dreams are telling you, and how to get the best night's sleep possible.

At 4 p.m. there's "Happiness and Your Health - The Surprising Connection" offers an in-depth look at the importance of happiness. Find out how you can be happy - from some of the happiest people on the planet.

At 5 p.m., watch "Memory" - what it is, how to fine tune it and how to keep it as you age.

And for the podcasters out there, don't forget to check out this week's "Paging Dr. Gupta" podcast on the woes of holiday indigestion, and how best to avoid it! You can download it on iTunes or on CNN.com/Health

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all...a good meal!
Is Locally Grown Food Safer?
In advance of Thanksgiving, we wanted to find out whether food grown and sold in your own state or region is safer to eat than the food shipped from across the country or overseas.

Our food travels an average 1,500 miles before it gets to our table, and problems can also hitch a ride.

Three people died and 200 were sickened recently after fresh spinach was contaminated with E. coli bacteria. That spinach made it on the menu in dozens of states before it was traced to a farm in California.

I paid a visit to the Georgia Farmers Market just south of Atlanta to find out whether locally grown food is safer. Even at this time of year, food grown in Georgia such as turnip greens and tomatoes are brought to the market and sold to the public or processed on site to be sent to supermarkets and restaurants across the southeast.

Tommy Irvin, commissioner of Georgia's Department of Agriculture, says distance doesn't necessarily mean risk. Locally grown food will be fresher and buying it will help your area's economy but it all comes down to how the food is handled.

Irvin has these simple hints:

- Wash hands often and thoroughly while preparing food

- Clean produce by rubbing briskly under running water to remove dirt and microorganisms

- Cook food to a minimum of 165 degrees, killing all bacteria and viruses

Irvin says fresh or frozen, organic or not... the safety of the produce and the meat you put on your table this Thanksgiving depends on YOU! Food can be perfectly safe on the trip from the field to your kitchen but if you don't go the extra step of washing and preparing or cooking it properly... foodborne illnesses could to come to dinner along with Aunt Ethel.
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, 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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