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Young caregivers put life on hold
Terrell Termidor, 13, has to help care for his paralyzed brother, Emanuel, while their single mother works a full-time job.
October 9th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Young caregivers put life on hold

By Jacque Wilson, CNN

(CNN) - Kim Shifren came home from school one day to find her world turned upside down. Her mom had suffered a massive heart attack; doctors said she would need weeks to recover.

In a matter of minutes, the 14-year-old went from child to child caregiver.

Shifren spent the next month bathing, dressing and feeding her mom before school. When she got home, she cleaned the house and made dinner. Her dad helped when he could, but he worked long hours to support the family.

Two years later, Shifren had to do it all again when her mom had another heart attack. And then again when a third heart attack hit two years after that.

In between, Shifren tried to be a normal teen. But the time she spent living in fear of losing her mom had a lasting impact.

"I felt that getting married and having kids just wouldn't be right, because I was so sure I would have early heart disease like my mom," said Shifren, now an associate professor of psychology at Towson University. "I didn't want to put a husband and children through that experience."

It's difficult to say how many child caregivers there are in the United States. The only national survey on the topic, a 2005 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving (PDF), estimated that there were at least 1.3 million between the ages of 8 and 18 - most caring for a parent or grandparent, some looking after a sibling.

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Filed under: Age • How we live • Who we are
June 12th, 2012
01:28 PM ET

Robin Roberts found a match, but others likely won't be as lucky

By Jacque Wilson, CNN

CNN) - Robin Roberts' battle against myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, is just beginning. The "Good Morning America" anchor will undergo chemotherapy before having a bone marrow transplant later this year.

"Bone marrow donors are scarce and particularly for African-American women," Roberts wrote Monday. "I am very fortunate to have a sister who is an excellent match, and this greatly improves my chances for a cure."

More than 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with blood-related disorders every year, according to the National Marrow Donor Program. Often the best treatment is a bone marrow transplant. During the procedure, a donor's stem cells are directly transfused into the sick patient's bloodstream. The patient's new cells multiply over time to create healthy bone marrow.

Unfortunately, the chance of finding a match on the national registry is as low as 66% for African-Americans and other minorities, compared with 93% for Caucasians.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Black in America • Health • How we look
More cohabitating couples having children
A recent study said one-fourth of women aged 15 to 44 between 2006 and 2010 had a baby before their first marriage.
April 12th, 2012
05:23 PM ET

More cohabitating couples having children

By Jacque Wilson, CNN

(CNN) - After publishing a report Tuesday on the record low teen birth rate, the National Center for Health Statistics is releasing more numbers on babies in America.

Gladys Martinez and her colleagues at the NCHS have written a report on the fertility of men and women aged 15 to 44 in the U.S. based on numbers from the National Survey of Family Growth that was taken between 2006 and 2010. The survey collected data from more than 22,000 face-to-face interviews.

A few interesting tidbits emerged from the report. The NCHS survey found that a greater proportion of births to unmarried couples are happening in households with cohabitating partners than in years past.

Read the full post on CNN's The Chart blog 

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Filed under: Family • Relationships • Who we are • Women