Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
A half century after the vaccine against measles was introduced in 1963, the life-threatening disease has been eliminated in the U.S. but remains a global threat, claiming the lives of 430 children – 18 every hour – every day. The international presence of measles is of domestic concern as well, putting families who choose not to have their children vaccinated at risk of exposure if they encounter an infected person who brought the disease from another country. More from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
In an article published on December 5 by JAMA Pediatrics, CDC’s Mark J. Papania, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues report that United States measles elimination, announced in 2000, has been sustained through 2011. Elimination is defined as absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months. Dr. Papania and colleagues warn, however, that international importation continues, and that American doctors should suspect measles in children with high fever and rash, “especially when associated with international travel or international visitors,” and should report suspected cases to the local health department. Before the U.S. vaccination program started in 1963, measles was a year-round threat in this country. Nearly every child became infected; each year 450 to 500 people died each year, 48,000 were hospitalized, 7,000 had seizures, and about 1,000 suffered permanent brain damage or deafness.
People infected abroad continue to spark outbreaks among pockets of unvaccinated people, including infants and young children. It is still a serious illness: 1 in 5 children with measles is hospitalized. Usually there are about 60 cases per year, but 2013 saw a spike in American communities – some 175 cases and counting – virtually all linked to people who brought the infection home after foreign travel.
“A measles outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “The steady arrival of measles in the United States is a constant reminder that deadly diseases are testing our health security every day. Someday, it won’t be only measles at the international arrival gate; so, detecting diseases before they arrive is a wise investment in U.S. health security.
Image: Child getting a vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
New research by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention reports that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects 11 percent of American children, spiking a staggering 43 percent since 2003 and growing by 2 million children since 2007. Researchers, far from being alarmed, are saying the finding shows that public awareness efforts and better diagnostic tools are helping families and doctors make an accurate number of diagnoses. More from CNN.com:
Today, 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 – 11% of kids in this age group – have received an ADHD diagnosis, according to the study, which is based on a survey of parents. That’s 2 million more children than in 2007.
The number of children using medications to treat ADHD is also rising. Since the last survey taken in 2007, there has been a 28% increase in children taking drugs to manage the disorder. More than 3.5 million children in the 4 to 17 age group, or 6%, are taking ADHD medications, the survey found.
These data are part of the CDC’s National Survey of Children’s Health, a national cross-sectional, randomized telephone survey. The survey is conducted every four years, and questions about ADHD diagnosis have been included since 2003. The latest data are from interviews conducted via telephone from February 2011 and June 2012, with 95,677 interviews completed and an overall response rate of 23%.
But while rising rates of ADHD diagnosis may be an alarming headline, Dr. John Walkup, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, found some positive news when looking at rates of prevalence and treatment. In his view, the data suggest that the increasing diagnosis rate of ADHD is getting closer to the true prevalence of ADHD, which is even higher.
“We’ve been working so hard for so long to improve treatment,” Walkup said. “If the prevalence rate is 9 to 11% and we’re getting 8% currently diagnosed, it suggests that the public advocacy for treatment is paying off.”
Image: ADHD buttons, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Warnings that children under age 4 should not use over-the-counter cough or cold medicines, even those intended for children, appear to be having a positive effect on the number of families that misuse those products, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. More from The New York Times:
Government researchers said on Monday that those moves have had a remarkable effect: a significant decrease in emergency hospital visits by toddlers and infants with suspected medical problems after using these medicines.
Dr. Daniel Frattarelli, a former chairman of the committee on drugs at the American Academy of Pediatrics, praised the study, saying it showed that “the label is a very powerful tool for changing parent behavior.”
In the new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed data from 63 hospitals to estimate the number of emergency visits from 2004 to 2011 by young children who had taken cough and cold medicines.
Children under 2 accounted for 4.1 percent of all emergency visits for suspected drug-related effects before the 2007 withdrawal, the researchers found, and accounted for 2.4 percent afterward. Among 2- to 3-year-olds, emergency room visits linked to cough and cold medicines decreased to 6.5 percent from 9.5 percent after the label change.
Yet there was no significant reduction in emergency visits among children ages 4 to 11. Among 4- and 5-year-olds specifically, visits attributed to cough and cold drugs increased to 6.5 percent from 5.6 percent.
“We’re making great progress in under-2s, and we’re making relatively good progress in 2 to 3s,” said Dr. Don Shifrin, a pediatrician in Seattle and a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “But we’d like better news for kids over 4.”
The new report may reignite the debate over when it is safe for parents to give cough and cold medicines to their children, some experts said.
“I would call this Chapter 1 in the story,” said Dr. Matthew M. Davis, a professor of pediatrics and public policy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Chapter 2 is going to require additional changes in policy to reduce adverse drug events for older children, 4 and older, and to ensure safer medications in the home medicine cabinet for all ages.”
Dr. Frattarelli said he would like to see “do not use” labeling for children ages 6 and younger, since the drugs continue to be misused for 4- and 5-year-olds.
Image: Cough medicine, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
Flu season may still feel far away as summer-like temperatures are still felt over much of the country. But the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an advisory this week urging parents to get their children–and themselves–immunized against the flu as soon as possible to achieve the maximum protection when the season begins in earnest. More from NBC News:
There are some new vaccines on the market and while some of the newer ones might appear better, it’s not worth waiting for one, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in an advisory.
“With the exception of children less than 6 months of age, everybody should go out and get their influenza vaccine as soon as the influenza vaccines are available,” Dr. Michael Brady of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and chairman of the Committee on Infectious Diseases for the Academy told NBC News.
“Parents should not delay vaccinating their children to obtain a specific vaccine,” added pediatrician Dr. Henry Bernstein of the Hofstra North Shore – Long Island Jewish Health System in New York, who led the team writing the recommendations.
“Influenza virus is unpredictable, and what’s most important is that people receive the vaccine soon, so that they will be protected when the virus begins circulating.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that anywhere between 3,000 to 49,000 people a year die from flu in the United States, and up to 200,000 are sick enough to be hospitalized. A lot depends on the strains circulating. During last year’s flu season, 160 children died from flu.
Image: Child getting a shot, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 2nd, 2013
A new government report reveals that a surprising number of boys received the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) last year, the first year that it was recommended for adolescent boys. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 1 in 5 boys received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, NBC News reports.
Shared through sexual contact, HPV can cause cervical cancer in women and genital warts in both sexes, and in rare cases, throat and anal cancer. The vaccine was first recommended for girls ages 11 and 12 beginning in 2006, and then recommended for boys in 2011. More from NBC News:
The shots are largely intended not to protect boys from disease, but to stop them from spreading a sexually transmitted virus to girls that could cause cervical cancer.
The vaccine hasn’t been very popular among girls. The government report issued Thursday is the first real sense of how many boys are getting the shots.
“It’s a good start,” said Shannon Stokley, a vaccination expert with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Introduced in 2006, the vaccine protects against human papillomavirus, which is spread during sex. Most infections go away on their own, without people developing symptoms. But the virus can cause cervical cancer in females, genital warts in both sexes, and some other, less common conditions like throat and anal cancer.
The vaccine was first recommended for girls ages 11 and 12 because it works best if given before a teen starts to have sex. In 2011, it was also recommended for boys that age to help prevent the virus’s spread.
The CDC report covers vaccination rates for last year, the first full year since the shots were advised for boys. It’s based on telephone calls to families for about 19,000 boys and girls ages 13 to 17.
About 21 percent of the boys had gotten at least one of the three doses. Less than 7 percent were fully vaccinated.
The rates look relatively good compared to the initial rates for some other vaccines aimed at adolescents. For example, the initial rate for a meningococcal vaccine was just 12 percent.
Rates tend to start low when a vaccine is first recommended and build after. So the HPV numbers for boys are reason to be optimistic, said the CDC’s Dr. Melinda Wharton, although she added a word of caution.
“Given how the coverage level has stalled for girls, though, a solid start isn’t enough,” she said.
Image: Three teen boys, via Shutterstock
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