Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Even Moderate Drinking in Pregnancy Can Affect a Child’s IQ
Relatively small levels of exposure to alcohol while in the womb can influence a child’s IQ, according to a new study. (via ScienceDaily)
Pediatricians May Lack Training in Concussion Care
Pediatricians and pediatric nurses often see young patients with concussions, but a new survey suggests they may lack the tools and training to diagnose and treat them. (via Reuters)
Pollutants Linked to Lower Fertility in Both Men and Women
Researchers say that pollutants such as perchlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), industrial compounds and pesticides that are no longer manufactured but remain in older products can still decrease couples’ ability to have children by up to 29%. (via Time)
Kids With Down Syndrome Twice as Likely to be Heavy
More than one in four children with Down syndrome in the Netherlands is overweight, a rate double that of Dutch youth without the developmental disability, according to a new study. (via Reuters)
Enrollment in Charter Schools is Increasing
Although charter schools engender fierce debate, the number of students enrolled increased close to 13% between 2010-11 and 2011-12. (via New York Times)
Early Puberty May Heighten Heart Risks For Women
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A new study finds menstruating before age 12 may contribute to a 23% greater risk of developing heart disease. (via Time)
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Thursday, October 25th, 2012
I was in New Orleans for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) annual conference this past weekend, where roughly 8,000 pediatricians convened to share the latest research and policies surrounding kids’ health. If you’ve been following the news (or our blogs) this week, you’ve probably already heard about some of the big stories to come out of the meeting, including research showing that boys are experiencing puberty at earlier ages and the AAP’s conclusion that there’s no evidence showing that organic food improves health or lowers risk of disease. Beyond that, these are among the takeaways that stuck with me:
1. In a presentation by one of our advisors, Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and author of the must-be-bookmarked blog Seattle Mama Doc, Dr. Swanson noted that that more and more parents are confusing experience for expertise. Though she didn’t single out this person, you can consider Jenny McCarthy a perfect example: Her experience with her son’s autism is clearly being confused by some as having an expertise in autism.
2. Another doctor spoke about the importance of a pediatrician getting a family history from patients. It’s not easy, since lots of families don’t necessarily know their health history. In fact, one study showed that only 1/3 of people have ever tried to gather and organize their family’s health history. Have you? It’s most helpful for docs to have info on three generations: yours, your parents’, and your grandparents’ (and, of course, your partner’s parents and grandparents).
3. Along those lines, it’s really important to let your pediatrician know if anyone in your family (or your partner’s family) has died suddenly, or if there’s a new family history of cancer. Your child’s doctor can use this information to consider recommending certain health screenings, either now or down the line.
4. Firearm safety was a big focus at this year’s meeting. Did you know that when you look at the rate of deaths in children up to age 14 in 23 high-income countries, 87% of them occur in the United States?
5. The AAP’s position has not changed: The safest home for a child is one without guns. The next-best option is a home where guns are stored safely (as in locked up), unloaded and separate from the ammunition.
6. Pediatricians are noticing a disturbing trend in the country, where they may find themselves limited by the kinds of information they can share with patients. One example is asking parents whether they have a gun in their home–and then talking to them about gun safety. You may remember the controversial Florida law that passed in 2011 restricting pediatricians from having this conversation. The law was determined to be unconstitutional and was overturned, but Florida’s governor is appealing it.
7. Sexual abuse was the subject of a crowded session. One doctor shared this stat: When a child decides to share that she has been abused, she’s more likely to tell a peer than anyone else. (Abused children tell their peers 53% of the time; an adult relative 32% of the time; a non-related adult 10% of the time, and school personnel 3% of the time. 2% of kids tell someone who falls into an “other” category.) This means, said the expert, that there’s an “underground railroad” of kids who know about other kids being abused. She made a point that we didn’t address in our recent story about sexual abuse: We have to teach our children that if a friend tells them that he’s been abused, they should try and help this friend tell an adult who can do something about it.
8. Several sessions dealt with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)–more than I can remember from past conferences. It’s encouraging to know that 70% of those children who experience trauma have no lasting symptoms. Of the 30% who do have lasting symptoms, though, half recover, and half have a chronic form of PTSD. So it’s important to make sure a child who has suffered a trauma–whether that’s abuse, a car accident, witnessing a violent episode, among other examples–gets help.
9. For everyone with a child who has a food allergy, or diabetes, or asthma, or a similar chronic disease: Emergency medical bracelets are always a good idea, especially if your child goes to a day care center or school. Your child’s usual caregiver or teacher may be very well aware of his condition and how to manage or treat it, but new caregivers or substitute teachers can definitely benefit from the info.
10. Last week, a report came out noting that three major health organizations around the world recommend that kids under 6 get three hours a day of physical activity instead of the one hour that’s currently suggested by groups like the AAP. For those of us who have a child younger than 6, this can feel daunting. (And by younger than 6 we’re not talking about, say, newborns–this guideline is meant for kids who are awake at least 12 hours each day.) But a professor who gave an interesting talk called “The Reluctant Athlete: How To Get the Sedentary Child Off the Sofa” put it into context. The one-hour recommendation is for “moderate to vigorous” activity–and that’s just hard for a young child to pull off–so changing it to three hours gives kids more time to be active. It works out to about 15 minutes per hour, which seems doable.
Image: Female pediatrician checking cute baby with stethoscope via Shutterstock.
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Monday, October 22nd, 2012
IVF Linked to More Birth Defects
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is responsible for creating thousands of happy families, but the latest research highlights some of the potential long term risks of the procedure. (via Time)
U.S. Boys Experiencing Early Onset of Puberty
A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has documented that boys in the U.S. are experiencing the onset of puberty six months to two years earlier than reported in previous research. (via Science Daily)
Pfizer to Buy Maker of Attention-Deficit Drug for $255 Million
Pfizer Inc said it would buy privately held NextWave Pharmaceuticals for $255 million, gaining access to the company’s attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug, the first once-daily liquid medicine approved to treat the condition in the United States. (via Reuters)
Simpler Colon Screen May be Enough for Many Women: Study
(Reuters) – Women younger than 70 have a relatively low risk of abnormal growth in the upper part of the colon – suggesting, U.S. researchers say, that many women can opt for less invasive colon cancer screening. (via Reuters)
Troubled Teens Could Benefit from Online Access to Health Records, Say Researchers
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Teens who get in trouble with the law could particularly benefit from online health records because they generally have worse health than other adolescents — and no one keeping track of the health care they do receive. (via Science Daily)
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Friday, September 14th, 2012
Salmonella Cantaloupe Infection Toll Rises to 270
At least 270 people in 26 states have been sickened by two strains of salmonella tied to cantaloupes recalled by an Indiana grower. (via NBC News)
Good Health Helps Grades When Students Hit Puberty
A new study shows that good health helps children with stressful transitions from elementary school to middle school. (via Science Daily)
New York Approves Tougher Regulations on Circumcision
The city’s Board of Health passed a regulation that will require consent from parents before Jewish ritual circumcisers can use their mouths to draw blood away from the incision. (via Reuters)
Keeping Mom and Baby Together After Delivery Beneficial
A new review backs up the WHO/UNICEF initiative of “rooming in,” or keeping mom and her newborn in the same room 24/7 to encourage breastfeeding. (via Science Daily)
Mixed Grades For New, Healthy School Lunch Rules
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Leaner, greener school lunches served under new federal standards are getting mixed reviews from students piling more carrots, more apples and fewer fatty foods on their trays. (via AP)
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Monday, April 2nd, 2012
Puberty Before Age 10: A New ‘Normal’?
What science tells us about the incredible shrinking childhood.
Outgrowing Autism? Study Looks at Why Some Kids ‘Bloom’
About 10 percent of children who are severely affected by autism at age 3 seem to have “bloomed” by age 8, leaving behind many of the condition’s crippling deficits, a new study shows.
FDA Says it Will Deny Request to Ban BPA
The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday it will deny the National Resources Defense Council’s petition asking it to prohibit the use of bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, in products manufactured in the United States.
Is Sugar Toxic?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on new research showing that beyond weight gain, sugar can take a serious toll on your health, worsening conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer.
You Want Me to Sign WHAT Before Your Kid’s Party?
Sure, you expect to sign a waiver before your kid goes rock-climbing. But a backyard birthday party? More parents are requiring legal sign-off before basic activities like parties and play dates.
Mattel to Make Bald Barbie
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Following an ongoing campaign on Facebook for Mattel to add a bald Barbie to its line-up, the company said it will create a bald friend of Barbie starting next year.
Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
Parents Are Junkies
In the last few months, parents and researchers have been at war. Evidence has piled up to show that becoming a parent does not make people happier; it makes them unhappier. [Slate]
Early Puberty: How It Could Affect a Child’s Health
Puberty can be an awkward time in any child’s life, but early puberty is even more challenging. Imagine going through those changes before anyone else understands them. [WLTX]
fMRI Predicts Outcome To Talk Therapy In Children With An Anxiety Disorder
A brain scan with functional MRI (fMRI) is enough to predict which patients with pediatric anxiety disorder will respond to “talk therapy,” and so may not need to use psychiatric medication, say neuroscientists from Georgetown University Medical Center. [Medical News Today]
Even Short-Term Poverty Can Hurt Kids’ Health
Being poor for even a short period of time can have lasting health implications for children, according to a new report by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 15.5 million children are living in poverty in the United States, that’s one in five children according to the Census Bureau. [CNN Health]
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