CNN – Health

Toxic treatments: Choosing between deafness and death

Toxic treatments: Choosing between deafness and death

KWAZULU-NATAL, South Africa (CNN) - The terror crept over Khumbulani Shandu.Lying in his hospital bed, he knew that something was very wrong. The world was rapidly closing off to him. He could hear ... Continue Reading
Would-be Indian child bride fights back and helps others

Would-be Indian child bride fights back and helps others

UTTAR PRADESH, India (CNN) - Rajni Devi liked school and had big dreams. She was not going to end up like so many other girls in India: married off as a child bride.Rajni was 14 years old when her ... Continue Reading
HPV vaccine leads to steep drop in cancer-causing infections in England

HPV vaccine leads to steep drop in cancer-causing infections in England

(CNN) - The introduction of HPV vaccines has led to a sharp reduction in the number of young women with the cancer-causing infection in England, new data from Public Health England finds.Between 2 ... Continue Reading
Two powerful lessons CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield learned from horses

Two powerful lessons CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield learned from horses

(CNN) - Horses are healers. I didn't know that when I fell in love with them.I was 9 when I first rode one in a dusty ring outside Columbia, Maryland. At the time, I just wanted to keep up with my ... Continue Reading
Planning a Father's Day brunch? Check this list of recalled foods first

Planning a Father's Day brunch? Check this list of recalled foods first

(CNN) - From breakfast cereal to vegetables, US health officials are warning people to avoid some foods after this month's outbreak of unrelated intestinal infections, including salmonella. Here a ... Continue Reading
Their deaths were labeled 'victim of cataclysmic storm.' So why aren't their names on Puerto Rico's list?

Their deaths were labeled 'victim of cataclysmic storm.' So why aren't their names on Puerto Rico's list?

PATILLAS, Puerto Rico (CNN) - Ramon Cruz Laboy, a 75-year-old who kept to himself and never wanted to burden his relatives, died January 24 from medical complications that resulted from a femur fractu ... Continue Reading
Wall Street worker trades in finance job to write young adult fiction

Wall Street worker trades in finance job to write young adult fiction

(CNN) - In December 2015, Chris Babu suddenly became very ill. For weeks, he was dizzy, nauseated and couldn't ride the subway without feeling like he was going to pass out or be sick. One doctor ... Continue Reading
The radio man without a voice

The radio man without a voice

(CNN) - If you're scanning through radio stations, you may soon hear a familiar but oddly mechanical voice reporting the latest news from Capitol Hill.Cox radio veteran Jamie Dupree is back on the ... Continue Reading
Got alt-milk? How plant-based alternatives compare

Got alt-milk? How plant-based alternatives compare

(CNN) - In the nutritional world, the benefits of cow's milk are well-known: It's a good source of several important nutrients, including protein, calcium and vitamin D, and an important staple for c ... Continue Reading
Fewer dental cavities found in young people, but minorities still most at risk

Fewer dental cavities found in young people, but minorities still most at risk

(CNN) - The percentage of young people with dental cavities in the United States dropped from 50% in 2012 to just over 43% in 2016, according to a new study from the US Centers for Disease Control an ... Continue Reading
Anti-abortion protests banned outside London clinic

Anti-abortion protests banned outside London clinic

LONDON (CNN) - A London council has taken the unprecedented step of establishing a buffer zone outside a sexual health clinic in a bid to protect women from protesters accused of harassment and verbal ... Continue Reading
How close are we to video-recording our dreams?

How close are we to video-recording our dreams?

(CNN) - Although most of us dream four to six times a night, we forget 90% of our dreams 10 minutes after they end. Dreams are designed to be forgotten, explained Antonio Zadra, a psychology profe ... Continue Reading
The inside of rubber duckies are full of bacteria. You don't seem surprised

The inside of rubber duckies are full of bacteria. You don't seem surprised

(CNN) - A new study confirms what parents already know: the inside of a rubber ducky is gross.

Yes, those must-have pieces of the bath toy arsenal, look great in the store. They're brightly colored bits of joy the first time the little ones dunk 'em in the bathtub.

But what do they look like after a couple of weeks? They're usually caked with cruddy black stuff on the opening in the bottom and have a sticky, slimy substance on the insides. And that stuff is not harmless.

A new study published this week in the journal NPJ Biofilms and Microbiomes says that slimy stuff inside bath toys are teeming with bacteria with scary sounding names, like Bradyrhizobium, Agrobacterium, Caulobacter and Sphingomonas. Also found was Pseudomonas, which typically can cause eye and ear infections in humans.

The reason

In the study, researchers tested 19 different bath toys and found that plastic toys plus dirty bath water is a microbe's dream.

The main problem, says lead researcher Frederik Hammes, is what's in the plastic that make up rubber duckies and other bath toys.

"All these soft plastic materials have softeners called plasticizers in them to make them flexible," Hammes, who conducted the study with five other researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, told CNN. "(The plasticizers) migrate out of the plastic into the water. The bacteria like to eat them"

But it's not just the chemicals leaking out of the toys that the microbes and bacteria like. The warm bath water itself is full of things they want too, like nitrogen and phosphates, supplied by soap and human body fluids. So the combination of plasticizers and dirty bath water creates almost a buffet for the bacteria to enjoy.

"It just gives them a nice amount of food to grow," Hammes said.

The caveat

All this talk of bacteria and infections is definitely scary, but Hammes doesn't want people to freak out about it too much. We're exposed to microbes and bacteria all the time, he said, so "a bit of bacterial exposure is not that bad."

So while it's not so bad for healthy people, anyone with a compromised immune system may need to take more care.

So just what should a parent do to protect their children from the bacteria found in bath toys? Stop buying them? Give up bathing their kids?

No, nothing that dramatic, says Hammes. Some routine cleanliness will do just fine.

"The easiest answer is to wash the toy regularly with clean hot water and a bit of soap," he said. "Also, there are actually many toy ducks without a hole. Less fun, but certainly cleaner."

And that jibes with a trick that every good parent knows: put super glue in the bath toy's hole. Sure, it stops the squirting fun, but it does prevent the plague.

A boy who survived cancer got his wish when the Pope kissed him

A boy who survived cancer got his wish when the Pope kissed him

(CNN) - An Ohio family got a miracle this Holy Week: Pope Francis granted their son's wish with a papal kiss.Peter Lombardi, 12, was only 9 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia ... Continue Reading
Bread's crust not more nutritious than the rest

Bread's crust not more nutritious than the rest

(CNN) - I always find it a challenge to make interesting, fun lunches for my daughters to take to school, the kind of stuff they can't wait to eat when they pop open their lunch boxes. Early on, I ... Continue Reading
11,000 years ago, our ancestors survived abrupt climate change

11,000 years ago, our ancestors survived abrupt climate change

(CNN) - Imagine if, instead of heat this summer, we were faced with a sudden, dramatic cold front that lasted the next 100 years. That is what our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived through 11,000 years ... Continue Reading
1 in 14 women still smokes while pregnant, CDC says

1 in 14 women still smokes while pregnant, CDC says

(CNN) - About one in 14 pregnant women who gave birth in the United States in 2016 smoked cigarettes during her pregnancy, according to a report released Wednesday.The findings, gathered by the Ce ... Continue Reading
Inside the secret lives of functioning heroin addicts

Inside the secret lives of functioning heroin addicts

(CNN) - They're not slumped over in alleyways with used needles by their sides. Their dignity, at least from outside appearances, remains intact. They haven't lost everything while chasing an insatia ... Continue Reading
Lesbian couple sues feds for thwarting their chance to foster refugee children

Lesbian couple sues feds for thwarting their chance to foster refugee children

(CNN) - Three years ago, as they wore long gowns and exchanged vows surrounded by people who love them, Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin imagined a growing family. But like so many couples who dream of h ... Continue Reading
Family of patient found at a cold bus stop demands justice

Family of patient found at a cold bus stop demands justice

(CNN) - A young patient, dressed only in a thin, hospital gown and tube socks, was left standing outside by a bus stop earlier this month after being discharged from a Baltimore hospital, as seen in ... Continue Reading