Monday, July 1st, 2013
A new genetic test may be able to predict a child’s risk of having asthma that lasts into adulthood. With the cost of medical treatment for asthma and it’s complications adding up to around $56 billion each year according to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this test could help doctors determine which children need intensive childhood care to potentially lower their risk of long-term symptoms. More from Time.com:
This new study, published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, uses fifteen specific, isolated genetic markers that are thought to be associated with the physical symptoms of the disease to develop what is called a genetic risk score. Over the course of the 40-year study of 880 participants conducted by researchers at Duke University, those with higher genetic scores were more likely to miss school or work or be hospitalized due to their asthma-related symptoms than those with lower scores. Based on a 38 year follow-up, those with higher scores also were more likely to have symptoms as adults.
Physicians currently use a patient’s family history of asthma to help determine the patient’s risk of the disease. However, since he genetic markers used to develop a person’s genetic risk score do not take into account this family history of the disease, this research may mean that doctors need to rethink how they evaluate asthma risk factors in their patients.
Image: Child with asthma inhaler, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen, the two most commonly used pain relievers for infants and children, have had some parents worried after recent research had suggested that the medications may increase the risk of a child developing asthma. A new study, presented at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society, says the association is a misreading of the data. More from The New York Times:
The study, presented on Monday at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society in Philadelphia, found that children suffering from respiratory infections — which often lead to asthma — are simply more likely to be given over-the-counter pain relievers. These underlying respiratory infections and the fevers they cause, not the use of pain relievers, are responsible for the increased asthma risk, the authors argue.
“That’s essentially what we think is happening here,” said Dr. Augusto Litonjua, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We showed that children who took acetaminophen and ibuprofen in the first year of life had higher risks of developing asthma later on. But when we accounted for their concomitant respiratory infections, the effects were no longer significant.”
For the study, Dr. Litonjua and his colleagues examined data on nearly 1,200 women and their young children. The women were recruited early in pregnancy and were subsequently followed after giving birth. The researchers looked at how frequently the women used drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, either for themselves or for their children. They investigated any diagnosis of asthma or wheezing symptoms, and they looked at respiratory infections, like pneumonia and bronchitis, that the children developed as infants and toddlers.
When they separated the children into groups, based on their exposure to analgesics in their first year of life, the researchers found that those with the highest exposure had a greater likelihood of developing asthma by age 7, a result consistent with earlier reports. But once they adjusted their findings to take into account the occurrence of very early respiratory infections, they found that the association between pain relievers and asthma diminished.
Much of the research linking pain relievers to asthma comes from observational studies, which are limited by a problem known as confounding by indication, in which the symptoms of an underlying disorder can be mistakenly considered a side effect of treatment.
Image: Infant receiving medicine, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Teenagers with asthma have better oversight of their care from parents and doctors than young adults in their early 20s, so teens’ care is more consistent, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. More from Boston.com:
Parents of teens with asthma can remind them to take medications, fill their prescriptions, and make appointments with pediatricians who probably know the child well. But a few years later, when the young adult has left home for college or to live independently, that oversight is gone — and their care can suffer.
Twenty-nine percent of young adults with asthma received treatment at an emergency room during the previous year, compared with 19 percent of younger teenagers with the condition, according to an analysis of national survey data collected between 1999 and 2009. Losing health insurance coverage is a major — but not the only — factor in this declining care, the study found.
Add a Comment
The research, led by Dr. Kao-Ping Chua of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, suggests that many young people wait for a medical crisis rather than seeking preventive care from primary care doctors they may not know well.
Image: Teenager using inhaler, via Shutterstock
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
American-born children have a higher risk of developing allergies to foods or airborne particles like pollen or dust, a new study has found. Though researchers have not identified a definitive reason for the findings, The New York Times reports that the risk is elevated across a number of variables:
After adjusting for age, race, sex, ethnicity and other variables, the scientists found that children born outside the United States were 48 percent less likely to suffer from allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, hay fever and food allergies. The researchers reported their findings in an online article Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
Children with American-born parents had higher rates of allergies than children with foreign-born parents, and having two foreign-born parents reduced the risk for allergy even more than having one.
Just living in the United States appeared to increase the risk — foreign-born children who lived in the United States for 10 years or more were more than three times as likely to have allergies as those who lived here for two years or less.
Image: Child with hay fever, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Teenagers should avoid the “cinnamon challenge,” a popular prank that challenges kids to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon in 60 seconds without having any water. That’s the warning from a group of doctors who published their opinion in the journal Pediatrics this week. At least 30 kids and teens were hospitalized last year, as NBC News reports:
[Doctors say] the spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs, the report said.
Published online Monday in Pediatrics, the report said at least 30 teens nationwide needed medical attention after taking the “challenge” last year.
The number of poison control center calls about teens doing the prank “has increased dramatically,” from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
“People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at greater risk of having this result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing,” according to an alert posted on the association’s website.
Thousands of YouTube videos depict kids attempting the stunt, resulting in an “orange burst of dragon breath” spewing out of their mouths and sometimes hysterical laughter from friends watching, said report co-author Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, a pediatrics professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Cinnamon is made from tree bark and contains cellulose fibers that don’t easily break down. Animal research suggests that when cinnamon gets into the lungs, it can cause scarring, Lipshultz said.
Dr. Stephen Pont, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and an Austin, Texas pediatrician, said the report is “a call to arms to parents and doctors to be aware of things like the cinnamon challenge” and to pay attention to what their kids are viewing online.
Image: Cinnamon, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment