Health Buzz: America's Fish Contaminated by Mercury and Other Health News

HPV vaccine's side effects are tough to monitor; is your baby smarter than you are?


Government Study Finds Mercury in Every Fish Tested

A new government study shows that mercury contamination of fish is prevalent in U.S. streams, the Associated Press reports. Between 1998 and 2005, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey tested more than 1,000 fish from nearly 300 streams across the nation, according to the AP. Every fish tested showed traces of mercury, but just about a quarter of fish tested had higher amounts of mercury than what the Environmental Protection Agency deems safe to eat, the AP reports.

U.S. News offers tips for choosing fish safe to eat while pregnant. And here's a list of 11 fish that are sustainable, low in contaminants like mercury, and high in omega-3s.

Gardasil Side Effects Tough to Monitor

This week, Gardasil, the vaccine that protects against human papillomavirus, got a bit of a smack-down from two studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reports. The studies detailed safety risks associated with the vaccine and promotional tactics used by medical organizations to persuade women and girls to have the vaccine. An editorial that accompanied the studies concluded that "the net benefit of the HPV vaccine is uncertain" since most women infected with HPV won't develop cervical cancer and thus should "be willing to accept only a small risk of harmful effects from the vaccine."

The article on safety risks, which was conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded that Gardasil still has a good safety profile, Kotz writes. It did, though, find that the vaccine caused an increased risk of fainting and a slightly increased risk of blood clots based on more than 12,000 adverse-event reports that were filed by patients, doctors, and Merck, the vaccine manufacturer, into the government's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System database. Read more.

Earlier, Kotz wrote about Gardasil's side effects, prompted by several parents who contacted her to tell their stories. Consider these 7 facts you need to know about HPV and Gardasil. And find out why there isnt a Gardasil for men.

Is Your Baby Smarter Than You Are?

Babies think differently from adults, and that's a good thing, according to one researcher who studies how children observe the world. They notice everything, particularly what's new and surprising. Adults ignore all that exciting stuff to stay focused on what's useful, whether it's finishing the report at work or buying the groceries, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute reports.

Neuroscientists increasingly believe that many of the big differences between baby and grown-up thinking arise from differences in brain structure and function. Babies' brains have many more neural connections than adults'. As children mature, brain connections become more specialized, particularly in the teenage years, when unused brain connections are pruned to create an adult brain that's a fast, efficient thinking machine, Shute writes. Since small children don't learn the way adults or even older children do, it doesn't make sense to subject them to flashcards, vocabulary drills, or other "learning" aids that marketers push on well-meaning parents. Instead, they should be left to explore, play with toys that mimic real-world tools like phones and kitchen equipment, and imitate their parents. Read more.

Learn what new science shows about babies' brain activity, and here are 5 ways to boost your baby's brainpower.

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