Category Archives: 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.
Update on 2011 UN Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases
Last year the United Nations held a High-Level Meeting on Non-communicable Disease. CEOs from the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association have issued a statement on the one-year anniversary and stating that the meeting helped to elevate the importance of non-communicable diseases, or NCDs—including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases—on the global health agenda. Progress from last year’s meeting includes a declaration in May by U.N. Member States for a global target of achieving a 25 percent reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025. Read more on global health.
Obesity Rates Higher in U.S. Rural Areas
Obesity is more prevalent in rural areas of the United States than in urban areas, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions. The researchers found that 40 percent of rural residents are obese, compared with 33 percent of urban residents. The study was published in the Journal of Rural Health. Read more on obesity.
U.S. Pediatricians Warn Against Trampoline Use
Despite safety measures such as nets and padding added in the past several years, trampolines should still not be used by kids at home or on playgrounds, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The added measures have not changed the types of injuries caused by trampoline, according to Susannah Briskin, MD, a sports medicine specialist who helped craft the new recommendation. While the number of trampoline-related injuries dropped from 111,851 in 2004 to 97,908 in 2009, the total number of trampolines has also decreased. Read more on pediatrics.
Back To School: Many Schools Unprepared for Pandemic Flu, Infectious Diseases
A new study in the American Journal of Infection Control shows that the majority of U.S. schools are not prepared to respond to a pandemic or an outbreak of an emerging infectious disease, as mandated by the U.S. Department of Education. Also, only 40 percent have even updated their pandemic response strategy since H1N1 in 2009. Researchers analyzed surveys from approximately 2,000 school nurses at elementary, middle and high schools across 26 states. “Findings from this study suggest that most schools are even less prepared for an infectious disease disaster, such as a pandemic, compared to a natural disaster or other type of event,” said Terri Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC, lead study author and associate professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health. “Despite the recent H1N1 pandemic that disproportionately affected school-age children, many schools do not have plans to adequately address a future biological event.” Read more on infectious diseases.
Neurologic Disorders Puts Children at Higher Risk of Flu-related Death
Children with neurologic disorder are at higher risk than children without such disorders of dying from influenza-related health complications, according to a study of the H191 2009 pandemic by the Centers for Disease Control in the journal Pediatrics. Of the 336 children with reported underlying medical conditions who died during the pandemic, approximately 64 percent had a neurologic disorder, which can include cerebral palsy, intellectual disability or epilepsy. “Flu is particularly dangerous for people who may have trouble with muscle function, lung function or difficulty coughing, swallowing or clearing fluids from their airways,” said study coauthor and pediatrician Georgina Peacock, MD, of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “These problems are sometimes experienced by children with neurologic disorders.” Read more on influenza.
Coin-sized Batteries Present Health Danger for Children
The ingestion of coin-sized button batters—common in many household electronics—can result in serious injury and even death, according to a new report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Emergency department treated more than 40,000 children under the age of 13 for ingestion from 1997-2010—72 percent of the cases were for children ages 4 and under. The CPSC warns parents and caregivers to make sure these products are secure and out of the hands of children. Read more on pediatrics.
National Hurricane Center Update on Tropical Storm Isaac
According to the most recent advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Isaac is on the verge of growing to hurricane strength and significant storm surge and flooding are expected for the northern Gulf Coast. A tropical storm watch—which can bring significant and deadly high winds, rainfall and flooding even if it does not grow to hurricane levels—has been expanded along the northern Gulf Coast. A hurricane warning is in effect for points along the Gulf Coast, including metropolitan New Orleans. A warning means that those weather conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area and that people in the full area should be finalizing their safety preparations. A watch means those weather conditions are possible within the watch area. The center of the storm could reach Louisiana between this evening and tomorrow morning. Because the storm will cover such a wide area up until, during and after that time, life threatening conditions are possible and people in the path of the storm should follow all precautions. Tornadoes and rip current conditions are possible from now until the storm ends. Read regular updates from the National Hurricane Center.
People Physically Fit in Midlife Face Lower Risk of Chronic Diseases Later On
Being fit in midlife is linked to a lower risk of chronic disease later in life in men and women older than 65 years and enrolled in Medicare, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication. The researchers examined the association between midlife fitness and chronic disease outcomes later in life by linking Medicare claims with participant data from the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, a large group of individuals who were examined at the Cooper Clinic from 1970 to 2009. The study of 14,726 healthy men and 3,944 healthy woman (overall median age 49 years at baseline) looked at eight chronic conditions: congestive heart failure; ischemic heart disease; stroke; diabetes mellitus; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; chronic kidney disease; Alzheimer’s disease; and colon or lung cancer. The median follow up was 26 years and at that time the highest level of midlife fitness was associated with a lower incidence of chronic conditions, compared with the lowest midlife fitness group, based on treadmill times. Read more on aging.
Exercise May Help Curb Cigarette Cravings
A review of close to twenty clinical trials suggest that exercise can help cut back on cigarette cravings, perhaps by being a distraction, or by putting the smoker in a better mood. However, the researchers do not yet know whether the reduced cravings also lead to quitting cigarettes. Read more on tobacco.
Broken Arms in African American Kids May Foretell Bone Strength
A new study of 150 African American children published in Pediatrics finds that African American children with forearm fractures are at higher risk of low bone mineral density and vitamin D deficiency compared to African American children without fractures. The study also finds obesity may increase the risk of fractures in this population. The authors also found that every increased unit of vitamin D level led to a 10 percent decrease in fracture risk. Read more on pediatrics.
U.S. Court Strikes Down Graphic Warnings for Cigarette
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington has backed a lower court’s ruling that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s graphic warning labels for cigarettes constitute a First Amendment violation. Major tobacco manufacturers such as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. have opposed the nine new labels, arguing they “went beyond factual information into anti-smoking advocacy,” accord to the Associated Press. The U.S. Department of Justice can appeal the ruling. Advocacy groups such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids are pushing for an appeal, saying the court’s 2-1 ruling “is wrong on the science and law, and it is by no means the final word on the new cigarette warnings.” Read an earlier Q&A with Deputy Director of the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium about the preliminary ruling.
AAP Says Circumcision Benefits Outweigh Risks, But Decision Should Be Parents’
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised its guidance on newborn male circumcision, stating the health benefits outweigh the risks, but it should still be up to parents to determine whether to perform the procedure. Male circumcision has been linked to reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. The rate of circumcision has fallen dramatically since the 1970s, from approximately 80 percent to 55 percent in 2010. Still, AAP says parents should consult with their doctors and that the procedure might not be right for all newborn males. “We recognize that the topic cuts across many paradigms in your life — cultural, religious, ethnic, family tradition, aesthetic,” said Dr. Andrew Freedman, a member of the AAP’s task force that issued the new guidelines, toHealthDay. “We’re not in a position to make recommendations on those paradigms.” Read more on infant health.
Study: Physicians Who Use Electronic Health Records May Overlook Patients’ Mental Health Issues
Medical professionals who use electronic medical records (EMRs) are more likely than those who use paper medical records to overlook signs of depression in their patients, according to a new study University of Florida. The study is in the August issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. “While we don’t know why EMRs are associated with lower odds of depression treatment in patients with multiple conditions, we think that either they reduce the amount of interaction between patients and physicians or they focus a physician’s attention on physical health issues, pushing mental health issues off the radar screen,” said Jeffrey Harman, an associate professor and the Louis C. and Jane Gapenski Term Professor of Health Services Administration at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions and the study’s lead researcher. Read more on mental health.
Study: Special Needs Children at Higher Risk for Obesity
A first-of-its-kind study in the International Journal of Pediatrics finds that the majority of children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) suffer from obesity and do not get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. The study was conducted by the Drexel University School of Public Health. While childhood obesity can lead to major health problems late in life—such as heart disease and diabetes—there are no national statistics on CYSHCN obesity. The percentage of typically developing children with obesity has increased to 17 percent from 5 percent over the past 30 years. Read more on obesity.
A survey and medical chart review by researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center finds that many hospitalized kids experience serious pain. The researchers looked at information on 199 patients, aged 7 days to 21 years, treated at Johns Hopkins between 2007 and 2008, and found that 86 percent of the children experienced pain. Forty percent of the children surveyed experienced moderate or severe pain. The researchers say the findings are important because earlier studies show that intense pain during infancy and childhood can create an exaggerated response to pain and make people more sensitive to pain for life. Research also shows that untreated or under-treated pain can exacerbate injury, delay healing, make people more prone to infection and, in rare cases, increase the risk of death.
The researchers offered some recommendations to help medical professionals help deal with hospitalized children’s pain:
- Take the time to talk to patients and involving parents in the assessment and treatment of a child including asking about a child’s behavior and idiosyncrasies.
- Factor in gender, age and individual patient differences when assessing pain treatment.
- Girls reported higher pain scores than boys, even in same-age patients who underwent the same procedures, which may mean that hormonal and cultural differences play a role in pain.
Read more on pediatrics.
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare will remove claims related to improving breast and colon health on advertising and labeling for certain Centrum brand multivitamin supplements, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which had sued Pfizer to remove the claims. Labels for Centrum Ultra Women's and Centrum Silver Women's multivitamin supplements had posted wording that the products supported "breast health" and labels for Centrum Ultra Men's and Centrum Silver Ultra Men's included language that the products supported "colon health." CSPI says it brought the suit out of concern that the claims of breast and colon health implied that the supplements would prevent breast and colon cancer. Centrum had based the claims in part on vitamin D in the vitamins; CSPI’s suit says there is limited and inconsistent evidence on vitamin D’s relationship to breast cancer, and inconclusive evidence on vitamin D's relationship to colon cancer.
In addition, on labels and advertising for Centrum products that bear a claim for "heart health," Pfizer Consumer Healthcare will add clarifying language that the products are "not a replacement for cholesterol-lowering drugs." On labels and advertising for Centrum products that bear an energy claim, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare will add language clarifying that the products do not directly provide an energy boost, but do help support metabolic function. The changes will be made on Pfizer websites and advertising within 30 days; changes on packaging will be on store shelves within six months.
The H1N1 flu epidemic that struck in 2009 killed may have killed 15 times more people than reported, according to a new study in Lancet Infectious Diseases. According to the study, during the pandemic 18,500 laboratory-confirmed deaths were reported to the World Health Organization from April 2009 through August 2010, but as many as 575,400 people may have actually died, according to a review of the epidemic by an international group of scientists. The study also found that the majority of deaths were in people under 65, although in seasonal flu those over 65 are more likely to die of the virus, and populations in low-income countries were particularly hard hit. Read more on flu.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released new guidelines in the Annals of Internal Medicine recommending that doctors screen all of their patients for obesity and, if appropriate, refer them to a lifestyle-management program to help them lose weight. The task force report did not discuss weight loss drugs or bariatric surgery. Read more on obesity.
Young children with allergies to milk and egg experience reactions to these and other foods more often than researchers had expected, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in Pediatrics. The study researchers also found that caregivers often fail to give epinephrine, which can be life saving, when a reaction occurs. Read more on children's health.
A new analysis by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill finds that that mild or intense physical activity before or after menopause may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. However, weight gain may negate the benefit of the exercise. The study was published in the journal Cancer.
The study included 1,504 women with breast cancer and 1,555 women without breast cancer who were between the ages of 20 and 98, and were part of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, an investigation of possible environmental causes of breast cancer. Read more on cancer.
The Dole Company is recalling bagged salads from Kroger and Walmart stores in six states because of possible contamination with listeria. No illnesses have been reported so far. Read more on food safety.
The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as health advocate groups have launched tool kits to help private owners of federally assisted multifamily housing and public housing authorities adopt smoke-free policies.
The owner’s toolkit includes a guide to implementing no-smoking policies, a sample resident survey and frequently asked questions sheet. The residents’ kit includes a going smoke-free guide, a home smoke-free pledge kit, and additional education materials about second-hand smoke. Read more on tobacco.
Hospitalizations for children with high blood pressure increased between 1996 and 2006, according to a study in the journal Hypertension. Researchers reached their conclusions based on discharge records from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Kids’ Inpatient Database from 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006.
- Pediatric hypertension-related hospitalizations in the United States nearly doubled, from 12,661 in 1997 to 24,602 in 2006.
- Charges for inpatient care for hypertensive children increased by 50 percent, to about $3.1 billion.
- The average length of stay for children with hypertension was double that of children with other illnesses, eight days compared to four days.
The researchers say the increased hypertensions hospitalizations may be linked to the rise in childhood obesity, and that children hospitalized with hypertension were more likely to be older than 9 years, male and African-American. Read more on children's health.
Pediatricians are watchful for signs of self-injury, such as cutting skin on arms and legs, among adolescents, but a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics finds that children as young as seven may engage in self injury as well. The study also found that ninth-grade girls were three times more likely to self-injure than ninth-grade boys, and girls were more likely to cut their skin, while boys were more likely to hit themselves. Read more on children's health.
Just over 250,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010 and nearly 17,000 of them were children under age 19, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Lawn mower-related injuries are up 3 percent since 2009.
The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Academy of Pediatrics are issuing guidelines on lawn mower safety.
- Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.
- Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower, and age 16 to operate a driving lawn mower.
- Make sure that sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) are worn while mowing.
- Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins.
- Have anyone who uses a mower or is in the vicinity wear protective eyewear at all times.
- Don’t pull a mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
- Don’t allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers and keep children out of the yard while mowing.
- Drive up and down slopes, not across to prevent mower rollover.
- Keep lawn mowers in good working order. When using a lawn mower for the first time in a season, have it serviced to ensure that it is working correctly.
Read more on injury prevention.