A new study in the journal Pediatrics has found that women who had the flu or prolonged fever during pregnancy were twice as likely to have an autistic child than those who did not.
The researchers involved in the study wrote: “We found almost a twofold increased risk of infantile autism in the child after self-reported infection with influenza virus during pregnancy,” which suggests that the mother’s immune response may affect a child’s developing brain. However, women who reported other infections during pregnancy, such as a cold or UTI, were not any more likely to have a child with autism. Health officials said the finding reinforces their recommendations that pregnant women should get flu shots, which will protect the mother and baby for the first six months after birth.
Additionally, researchers found that women who had a fever lasting a week or longer—either caused by the flu or unrelated to the flu—were three times as likely to give birth to a child with autism, which supports findings from a recent study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
“It is important to bear in mind that when you look at the absolute numbers, we see that around 99 percent of women reporting to have had influenza or fever during pregnancy, do not have children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder),” researcher Dr. Hjördis Ósk Atladóttir of the University of Aarhus in Denmark told NBC. “We want to reassure women. In this study, most women who experienced flu or prolonged fever or who were taking antibiotics did not have children with an autism spectrum disorder,” asserted Boyle.
Contrary to popular belief, children’s headaches are rarely triggered by vision problems, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the opthalmology clinic of Albany Medical Center in New York.
Of the children studied, 75% had the same vision test results both before and after they complained of headaches. The study determined that there is no significant link between headaches and a need for glasses, even if the headaches occur while doing homework or other visual tasks. Researchers found that frequent headaches typically resolved over a period of time, regardless of whether or not the child got a corrective prescription.
Dr. Zachary Roth, who lead the research team, said, “We hope our study will help reassure parents that in most cases their children’s headaches are not related to vision or eye problems, and that most headaches will clear up in time.”
Vision screenings should be a part of a pediatric wellness visit and should be done every year or two, recommends Dr. Daniel Neely, the chairman of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus’ (AAPOS) vision screening committee. AAPOS recommends children have a documented vision measurement by age 5: “The reason that there’s a time factor on these screenings is because of a condition called amblyopia,” explains Neely, which is the leading cause of vision loss. The condition, commonly referred to as lazy eye, occurs when the eye sends blurry images to the brain and can result in the brain learning to ignore images from the weaker eye. Children are less likely to respond to corrective treatment as they age, “So the younger you identify them, the more easily you can treat them. [...] By the time the kid gets to school that window of opportunity is closing,” remarks Neely.
Fewer children ages 4 to 7 died in car accidents after states passed booster seat laws, with the most noticeable results in the 6- and 7-year-old age range, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.
The study found that between 1999 and 2009, states which required booster seats saw an 11% decrease in the number of child traffic deaths versus those without a law. Once some state laws developed to include 6- and 7-year-olds, death rates dropped nearly one-quarter in states with a mandate as compared to those without.
“This [study] shows that it’s kids at the upper end of the age range who could benefit the most,” said senior researcher Dr. Lois K. Lee of Children’s Hospital Boston. While Lee acknowledges that getting an older child to agree to get in a booster seat may be challenging, she has advice for parents: “They can tell their child it’s the law.”
A mother in Piedmont, Oklahoma was fined $2,500 when her 3-year-old son attempted to urinate in their own front yard on Sunday. While the ticket has since been thrown out, the case has garnered national attention.
According to the boy’s mother, Ashley Warden, her son was playing outside on the family’s two-and-a-half acre lawn when he unzipped to take a bathroom break. A police officer spotted the toddler and stopped him before he could pee. Despite the events happening on their own property, the officer wrote Warden a steep ticket because her son was in public view.
Warden told News 9, “I am disappointed that the officer thinks [...] what he needs to do with my tax dollars is sitting and harassing our family.” The Wardens filed a complaint with the local police department and had planned on fighting the citation since their son didn’t complete the act, but the ticket has already been thrown out.
Piedmont’s police chief, Alex Oblein, went to the family’s home to apologize and later commented that the officer should have used better judgment before issuing the ticket. Even Piedmont’s mayor, Valerie Thomerson, weighed in on the officer’s actions: “I have been vilified for saying this, but stupid is as stupid does, and this was just stupid.”