Category Archives: Pediatrics
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it will investigate the safety of caffeine in food products, especially the effects of caffeine on children and teens. The FDA’s announcement comes as an increasing number of food companies have introduced food products that contain caffeine—including gum, jelly beans, hot sauce, marshmallows and Cracker Jacks.
Caffeine can be addictive, and can lead to high blood pressure and insomnia, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). AAP discourages the use of caffeine by kids and teens. Caffeine levels vary in the new foods on the market. According to the FDA, a caffeinated version of Wrigley’s gum contains as much caffeine as four ounces of coffee, per piece. The new caffeinated gum packs each contain eight pieces of gum.
Certain Alcohol Brands Dominate Underage Drinking
A small number of alcohol brands in particular are most popular with underage drinkers, according to a new study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. About 27.9 percent of underage youth reporting they’d had Bud Light in the past 30 days, making it the most used. Smirnoff Malt Beverages and Budweiser were second and third. “Importantly, this report paves the way for subsequent studies to explore the association between exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing efforts and drinking behavior in young people,” said study author David Jernigan, PhD, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read more on alcohol.
Report: Informational Tools Help Men Make Better Prostate Health Decisions
Decision-making aids help men make better—and more informed—decisions about prostate screenings, according to a new report in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers found the aids help the men weigh different possible outcomes, such as catching extra cancers, possibly reducing their risk of death or avoiding unpleasant side effects. As many as one in four family physicians regular perform prostate screenings without first getting a patient’s permission, according to Reuters. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against prostate-specific antigen tests for men who are not at high-risk. Read more on cancer.
Study: Kids Treated for ADHD Still Show Serious Symptoms
As many as 90 percent of kids who are treated for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) still show serious symptoms after six years, indicating the chronic condition requires advancements in long-term behavioral and pharmacological treatments, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The study did not look into issues such as whether medications were ineffective or not taken as prescribed. "Our study was not designed to answer these questions, but whatever the reason may be, it is worrisome that children with ADHD, even when treated with medication, continue to experience symptoms, and what we need to find out is why that is and how we can do better," said lead investigator Mark Riddle, MD, a pediatric psychiatrist at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. ADHD causes difficulty in concentration, restlessness, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Read more on mental health.
Baby boomers, the generation born in the two decades after World War II, are in worse health than their parents were at the same stage of life, according to a U.S. study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers analyzed data from National Health and Nutrition Surveys (NHANES) of people 46 to 64 years old between 1988 and 1994 and the baby boomers who were in the same age range between 2007 and 2010.
In spite of medical advances, the study shows the boomers fared worse than their parents at the same age:
- 13 percent of the baby boomer generation reported being in “excellent” health in middle age, compared to 32 percent of the previous generation
- 39 percent of boomers were obese, compared to 29 percent of the previous generation
- 16 percent of boomers had diabetes, compared to 12 percent of the previous generation.
While the study doesn’t explain why baby boomers are in worse shape than their predecessors, Dana King, the study’s lead author believes it may be attributed to their poor lifestyle habits.
Read more on nutrition and obesity
Increasing the minimum price of alcohol by 10 percent can lead to immediate and significant drops in drink-related deaths, according to a study published in the journal, Addiction. Conducted by Canadian researchers in the western province of British Columbia, the study looks at three categories of alcohol related deaths: wholly alcohol attributable, acute, and chronic.
Each death rate was analyzed from 2002 to 2009 against increases in government-set minimum prices of alcoholic drinks. The major finding relates to wholly attributable deaths in which a 10 percent price rise was followed by a 32 percent death rate drop. Researchers say the reason for the lower death rates are likely due to the fact that raising the price of cheaper drinks makes heavy drinkers drink less.
Read more on alcohol
Preschoolers with known exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) or parental depression may be more likely to develop attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by the age of six and be prescribed psychotropic medication, new research from JAMA Pediatrics Journal suggests. Researchers from Indiana University looked at 2,422 children who were part of the Child Health Improvement Through Computer Automation (CHICA) program, a computer-based decision support system that combines elements for implementing clinical guidelines in pediatric practice. Researchers collected information related to IPV and mental status of the parents, as well as the child's psychotropic drug treatment between 2004 and 2012.
Fifty-eight caregivers reported a history of IPV and/or parental depressive symptoms before their child turned three. Sixty-nine reported IPV only and 704 reported depressive symptoms only during this time frame. Children of parents reporting both IPV and depressive symptoms were more likely to have a diagnosis of ADHD and children whose parents reported depressive symptoms were more likely to have been prescribed psychotropic medication. While the study doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect link between IPV and/or maternal depression and likelihood of an ADHD diagnosis, the researchers say it does show a strong association.
The American Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently issued guidelines recommending that women get screened by their physicians for intimate partner violence at regular intervals, including during pregnancy. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which advises the Department of Health and Human Services, recently issued final guidelines for doctors to screen women of childbearing age for intimate partner violence and either provide or refer women who appear to be victims of IPV for services.
Read more on pediatrics
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommends Physicians Ask All Women about Intimate Partner Violence
Physicians should screen all women of childbearing age for signs of domestic violence and refer them for treatment if necessary, according to a new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of women and more than 25 percent of men have been victims of domestic violence. In addition to the risks of injury and death, people who experience domestic violence may also develop sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease, unintended pregnancies, chronic pain, neurological disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and suicidal behavior. Domestic violence in women is also linked to preterm birth and low-birth weight babies. The panel found that women who were screened for domestic violence were far more likely to discuss the issue with their doctor than women who were not screened. Read more on violence.
AAP: Playgrounds Need Yearly Safety and Quality Check
A new study of close to 500 Chicago playgrounds published in Pediatrics finds that the quality and safety of playgrounds can vary by neighborhood. Researchers looked at the playgrounds between 2009 and 2011 and assessed four categories: age-appropriate design, ground surfacing, equipment maintenance and physical environment. While most of the playgrounds met the criteria for age-appropriate design and physical environment, failing grades were often given for problems with ground surfacing, such as not enough wood chips to cushion falls, or equipment maintenance problems. The authors also found that neighborhoods with a higher percentage of low-income individuals had both fewer overall sites and more failing-grade playgrounds. The researchers reported failing grades to local authorities, which led to more passing grades at the end of the study. The researchers say strengthening community partnerships and training appropriate staff for yearly playground checks can result in a safer urban play environment for children. Read more on pediatrics.
Tenth Annual Traffic Law Report Card Finds Fewer Laws and More Deaths
The tenth annual report card on traffic safety by the group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety finds that several states have repealed traffic safety laws and others have not moved to enact new ones. Last year only 10 state highway safety laws were enacted, while 16 laws were passed in 2011 and 22 were passed in 2010. According to the group, preliminary National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data show the largest jump in traffic fatalities since 1975, a 7.1 percent increase in crash deaths during the first nine months of 2012 compared to the first nine months of 2011. The report card also found that:
- 18 states still need a primary enforcement seat belt law;
- 31 states still need an all-rider motorcycle helmet law;
- 19 states still need an booster seat law;
- No state meets all the criteria of Advocates’ recommended Graduated Driver’s License program;
- 40 states and Washington, D.C. are missing one or more critical impaired driving laws and;
- 15 states still need an all-driver text messaging restriction.
Read more on injury prevention.
The first Vital Signs health indicators report of 2013 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention finds that binge drinking is too often not recognized as a women’s health problem. The report found that nearly 14 million U.S. women binge drink about three times a month, and consume an average of six drinks per binge. CDC researchers determined the rate of binge drinking among U.S. women and girls by looking at the drinking behavior of approximately 278,000 U.S. women aged 18 and older for the past 30 days through data collected from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and for approximately 7,500 U.S. high school girls from the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
For women and girls, binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks on one occasion. Drinking excessively, including binge drinking, causes about 23,000 deaths among women and girls in the United States each year. About 1 in 8 women and 1 in 5 high school girls report binge drinking, with the practice most common among women ages 8-34, high school girls, whites, Hispanics and women with household incomes of $75,000 or more. Half of all high school girls who drink alcohol report binge drinking.
Report Helps Parents Identify Dangerous Toys in Stores
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s (U.S. PIRG) 27th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report provides safety guidelines for parents shopping for toys this holiday season. It also identifies toys that are potentially dangerous, either because of the inclusion of toxic substances or because of threats such as choking hazards. “We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys,” said Nasima Hossain, Public Health Advocate for U.S. PIRG. There is also a mobile site for smartphones. Read more on safety.
Survey: Despite Worries, Most Kids Getting Enough Sleep
Despite concerns that U.S. children don’t get enough sleep, a new report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine indicates that kids are generally getting the amount recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recommendations are different for different ages, with kids under age to sleeping 12 to 14 hours each day and 16-year-olds sleeping about 9 hours a day. Lack of sleep has been connected to behavior problems and physical health issues. "We can't say this is the amount that they should be sleeping," said Jessica Williams, the study’s lead author and a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, according to Reuters. "All we could really do is compare our estimated norms with what is recommended, and it seems like it falls pretty well in line with the recommendations." The researchers believe their data can help clinicians better identify kids who may not be getting enough sleep. Read more on pediatrics.
Study: Link Between Autism, Air Pollution
Air pollution during pregnancy and the first year of life may increase a child’s risk of autism, according to a new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The study found kids exposed to the “highest” levels of air pollution—such as from traffic congestion—were three times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than were kids exposed to the “lowest” levels. The findings support previous research suggesting a link between problems with the immune system and autism. "We are not saying that air pollution causes autism," said Heather Volk, lead researcher and assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. "But it does appear that this may be one potential risk for autism. We are beginning to understand that pollution affects the developing fetus." Read more on autism.
Lack of Sleep May Increase Risk of Diabetes
Lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of developing conditions that lead to diabetes, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers found the ability to respond to insulin was down approximately 30 percent in people who did not receive a proper amount of sleep. "It's always been thought that the primary function of sleep was for the brain, but in addition to the brain, your fat cells also need sleep,” said Matthew Brady, the study’s senior author and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center. “Too little sleep makes you groggy, and the same thing happens on a metabolic level. Cells don't behave as they normally would, and this can lead to insulin resistance." Read more on diabetes.
Adult Smoking in Cars Puts Kids at Serious Health Risk
Even with ventilation from open windows or a running air conditioner, smoking by adults in cars produces dangerously high levels of pollutants that endanger child passengers, according to a new study in the journal Tobacco Control. Secondhand smoke has been identified as a factor in asthma, wheezing, middle ear disease and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. "Children are likely to be at greater risk from [secondhand smoke] exposure due to their faster breathing rates, less developed immune system and their inability to move away from the source in many home and car settings," said Sean Semple,MD, of the Scottish Centre for Indoor Air at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Read more on tobacco.
Kids with ADHD Less Likely than Peers to Do Well as Adults
Kids with ADHD symptoms are more likely than their non-ADHD peers to have a harder time as adults, including less education, lower income and higher rates of substance abuse, according to a new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry. "A lot of them do fine, but there is a small proportion that is in a great deal of difficulty," said Rachel Klein, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. "They go to jail, they get hospitalized." The study looked at 135 white men who showed signs of hyperactivity in school during the 1970s, though researchers were careful to note that none of them would be diagnosed with ADHD today. Those marked as hyperactive clearly did not fare as well overall—for example, only 4 percent had higher degrees, compared to 29 for the non-hyperactive students. Read more on pediatrics.
CDC: 14 Dead, 170 Sick in Meningitis Outbreak
Fourteen people have now died in a meningitis outbreak tied to apparently tainted steroid injections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are 170 total cases so far. The methylprednisolone acetate was manufactured at the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass. and given to as many as 13,000 people in 23 states. The outbreak has led many to question current compounding practices. "This incident raises serious concerns about the scope of the practice of pharmacy compounding in the United States and the current patchwork of federal and state laws," read a statement from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.). Read more on infectious diseases.
Study: Concussion Diagnosis Inconsistent in College Athletics
Physicians who diagnose concussions in college athletes use inconsistent criteria that could hinder proper patient care, according to a new study in the Journal of Neurosurgery. Refined, universal standards would improve patient outcomes, according to researchers who analyzed 48 diagnosed concussions in 450 college athletes at Brown University, Dartmouth College and Virginia Tech. "The term 'concussion' means different things to different people, and it's not yet clear that the signs and symptoms we now use to make a diagnosis will ultimately prove to be the most important pieces of this complicated puzzle," said Ann-Christine Duhaime, MD, director of the pediatric brain trauma lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Some patients who receive a diagnosis of concussion go on to have very few problems, and some who are not diagnosed because they have no immediate symptoms may have sustained a lot of force to the head with potentially serious consequences," she explained. Read more on access to health care.
Researchers to Evaluate Umbilical Stem Cells’ Effect on Children with Autism
Scientists at the Sutter Neuroscience Institute, in Sacramento, Calif. will inject 30 children with autism with stem cells from their own umbilical cord blood to research whether the treatment can improve behavior and language skills. Michael Chez, MD, director of pediatric neurology at the institute, said researchers hope to find scientific support for anecdotal evidence. The 13-month study will involve children ages 2 to 7. One in 88 children are affected by autism, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more on pediatrics.
Study: Kids Encounter 4 Hours of Background TV Daily
A new study in the journal Pediatrics reveals that U.S. children encounter an average of about four hours of background television daily. The study surveyed approximately 1,500 parents and caregivers of children ages 8 months to 8 years. Noise from background television “appears to impede social skills, impulse control, and the ability to concentrate, focus and complete tasks,” according to HealthDay. "We think the problem may come from the sound effects, the changes in dialogue and voice pitch, which as a whole constantly recruits a kid's attention and causes them to shift back and forth between their play task and the TV," said study author Deborah Linebarger, associate professor of education at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. "And that constant shifting makes it more difficult to learn how to concentrate and attend appropriately." Read more on pediatrics.
Serious Child Abuse-Related Injuries Up, Despite Overall Drop
Serious injuries from child abuse were up from 1997 to 2009, according to a review of the Kids Inpatient Database in the journal Pediatrics. This is despite an overall decrease in reported child abuse cases over that period. While child protective service records recorded a 55 percent decrease in injuries, hospital statistics showed an increase of 4.9 percent of serious injuries — such as fractures and head trauma. Study co-author John Mishel Leventhal, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, said the difference is likely due to different groups looking at different data sources. "Prevention messages must be clearer, louder and heard in various settings including health care, daycare, parent support groups," he said. Read more on violence.
Study: IVF-Related Birth Defects Becoming Less Common
Birth defects in children born through in vitro fertilization are becoming less common, according to a new study from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Subiaco, Western Australia. Assisted-reproduction techniques generally mean a higher risk of birth defects than traditional conception. The study looked at 207,000 births overall. The study authors were careful to note that they did not know how much exactly the rate of defects has decreased, nor why it is higher in the first place. "Changes to clinical practice may be largely responsible with improved (laboratory techniques) leading to the transfer of 'healthier' embryos," said Michele Hansen, the lead author of the study, to Reuters. Read more on maternal and infant health.
HHS Program to Expand Mental Health Care for Rural Area, Military Personnel
A new program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will increase the number of social workers and psychologists providing care to military personnel, veterans and people living in rural areas. The $9.8 million grant will be shared by 24 graduate social work and psychology schools and programs. “Mental health services are critical for those dealing with posttraumatic stress and other severe problems,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a release. “Increasing the number and quality of providers to care for these individuals is a major step forward in addressing these challenges.” Read more on mental health.
Study: 20 Percent of Prescriptions Unfilled for Kids on Medicaid
A new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests that more than 20 percent of prescriptions to children on Medicaid may not be filled. The study looked at 4,833 kids receiving approximately 17,000 total prescriptions over a two-year period at two Chicago clinics, finding that 22 percent of the prescriptions were never filled. The study did find that prescriptions for antibiotics were far more likely to be filled than those for vitamins and minerals. Rachael Zweigoron, MD, lead researcher from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, said the findings suggest pediatricians need to do a better job of explaining the importance of particular prescriptions. Read more on pediatrics.
Peanut Butter Recall as 30 Sickened by Salmonella
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified peanut butter as the likely cause of 30 cases of salmonella across 19 states. So far four people have been hospitalized from the tainted Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt. The chain is recalling that and other types of peanut butter. Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps in most patients, but can lead to more serious complications and even death. Read more on food safety.