Friday, July 11th, 2014
In 2012, The New England Journal of Medicine published an article about a child known as “Mississippi Baby” who was reportedly cured of HIV. Unfortunately, more than two years later, doctors have discovered the nearly 4-year-old now has detectable levels of the infection again, according to USA Today.
Researchers were cautiously optimistic that this case would provide information that could help babies born with the virus, mostly in developing countries. More from USA Today:
“Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child’s care and the HIV/AIDS research community,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases, at the briefing.
The development “reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body,” Fauci said in a statement. “The NIH remains committed to moving forward with research on a cure for HIV infection.”
The girl is now back on anti-retroviral treatment after being taken off two years ago and will remain mostly for the duration of her life.
“Mississippi Baby” was born with the infection. Her mother did not receive any prenatal care, and when she went to the hospital to deliver, it was too late for the doctors to give Baby treatment before delivery. The day after she was born, doctors began administering medications. Mother and baby routinely received treatment for the next 18 months, but then they disappeared. Doctors feared the worst when they returned five months later, but instead Baby appeared to be HIV-free.
Fauci says that doctors had hoped that giving anti-retroviral drugs so early prevented the AIDS virus from hiding in her white blood cells, which can serve as “reservoirs” of infection. These reservoirs of hidden cells can cause the disease to come back if patients stop their medications.
Fauci said last year that the child’s case offered support to something scientists have long believed: that a cure is possible “if you can get somebody treated before the reservoir of virus forms in the body, and before the immune system has been damaged by months or years of viral replication.”
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Image: Female hands holding red AIDS awareness ribbon via Shutterstock
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Child Health, Must Read, New Research
Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Pregnant women should think twice before using flame-retardant items. According to a new study, children of women who used items with flame retardants were measured to have lower IQs and higher hyperactivity. More from ScienceDaily.com:
A new study involving Simon Fraser University researchers has found that prenatal exposure to flame retardants can be significantly linked to lower IQs and greater hyperactivity in five-year old children. The findings are published online today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The researchers found that a 10-fold increase in PBDE concentrations in early pregnancy, when the fetal brain is developing, was associated with a 4.5 IQ decrement, which is comparable with the impact of environmental lead exposure.
SFU health sciences professor Bruce Lanphear is part of the research team that measured the levels of flame retardants, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, (PBDEs) in 309 U.S. women at 16 weeks of pregnancy, and followed their children to the age of five.
Researchers say their results confirm earlier studies that found PBDEs, which are routinely found in pregnant women and children, may be developmental neurotoxicants.
PBDEs have been widely used as flame retardants in furniture, carpet padding, car seats and other consumer products over the past three decades. While most items containing PBDEs were removed voluntarily from the market a decade ago, some are still in commerce and others persist in the environment and human bodies. Nearly all homes and offices still contain some PBDEs.
“The results from this and other observational human studies support efforts to reduce Penta-BDE exposures, especially for pregnant women and young children,” says Lanphear. “Unfortunately, brominated flame retardants are persistent and North Americans are likely exposed to higher PBDE levels than people from other parts of the world. Because of this it is likely to take decades for the PBDE levels in our population to be reduced to current European or Asian levels.”
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) added two of three existing commercial PBDE formulas to the list of banned Persistent Organic Pollutants (PIPs) due to concerns over toxicity in wildlife and mammals in 2009. While PBDEs were voluntarily withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004, products manufactured before then may still contain PBDEs, which can continue to be released into the environment and accumulate via indoor dust.
The latest research highlights the need to reduce inadvertent exposure to PBDEs in the home and office environment (e.g., via dust), and in diet (e.g., via fish or meat products), to avert potential developmental neurotoxicity in pregnant women and young children.
Lanphear says additional research is needed to highlight the impact of PBDE exposure on the developing brain. He also notes that it is important to investigate related chemicals and other flame retardants used to replace PBDEs.
Image: Pregnant woman in white and respirator holds belly isolated on white background via ShutterStock
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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
Being bullied has been found in a new study to raise a protein level in the bloodstream that’s linked to both physical and mental health problems. More from The New York Times:
Being bullied raises the blood’s level of C-reactive protein, or CRP, a marker of systemic inflammation and a risk factor for cardiovascular and other diseases.
Scientists followed 1,420 boys and girls ages 9 to 21, interviewing bullies, victims and their parents. They assessed CRP levels with periodic blood tests.
After controlling for initial levels of CRP and for many factors that affect it — sex, age, race and various health and socioeconomic issues — the researchers found that CRP levels in victims increased in direct proportion to the number of bullying incidents they experienced.
Bullies, in contrast, had low increases in CRP, even lower than those in children not involved in bullying at all. The finding suggested that a bully’s increased social status might have biological advantages, the scientists said. Their study was published online on Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The only other kind of social adversity where we see this kind of long-term effect is in children who are physically abused or neglected,” said the lead author, William E. Copeland, an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke.
Image: Bullied boy, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Less than a year after being struck by lightning and sustaining a serious brain injury, an Ohio boy is starting to integrate back into his school. ABC News reports:
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Ethan Kadish was simply enjoying a summer day when he suffered a devastating injury. Kadish and two other children were struck by lightning as they played Frisbee at a summer camp last June. Ethan’s heart temporarily stopped, leaving his brain deprived of vitally needed oxygenated blood.
As a result of the oxygen deprivation, Ethan suffered a hypoxic brain injury, which has left him unable to walk or talk. He spent five months in the hospital, and a gastrointestinal perforation put him back in the hospital just 10 days after he was released.
In spite of these setbacks, earlier this month Ethan returned to school, less than a year after his initial injury.
Now in a wheelchair and with a nurse, Kadish is able to attend classes at his middle school three days a week. He cannot talk, but works with teachers in the special education classroom. His mother Alexia Kadish, of Loveland, Ohio., said after just a few weeks at school they have already seen a difference in Ethan.
“It’s been more amazing than we could have imagined,” Kadish said. “We initially thought any sort of schooling would be homebound initially.”
Kadish said Ethan has been sleeping better on days when he’s at school. Ethan also gets visits from his old friends when he’s at school.
Even his younger sister will sometimes walk over from her fifth grade class room to visit him.
Kadish said Ethan’s road to recovery will be a long process and even doctors don’t know exactly how much his brain will recover from the injury. The eighth grader, who loved sports and musicals, no longer speaks but he has started laughing again.
“He laughs a lot. He even accesses the sad side … it’s more a of a pouting cry,” Kadish said. “He’s accessing the emotional areas of his brain. We’re hopeful that it indicates that he’s becoming more present.”
Monday, March 31st, 2014
A study 42 years in the making found more than it was searching for, data reveals. Researchers set out to record the cognitive abilities of low-income children starting from infancy. One group was given full-time day care, meals, and stimulating activities while the other group was given nothing besides baby formula. And while the study organizers were expecting to connect children’s intellect with financial hardships (which they did), they also observed a relationship between those hardships and the overall health of the kids as they entered adulthood. More from The New York Times:
In 1972, researchers in North Carolina started following two groups of babies from poor families. In the first group, the children were given full-time day care up to age 5 that included most of their daily meals, talking, games and other stimulating activities. The other group, aside from baby formula, got nothing. The scientists were testing whether the special treatment would lead to better cognitive abilities in the long run.
Forty-two years later, the researchers found something that they had not expected to see: The group that got care was far healthier, with sharply lower rates of high blood pressure and obesity, and higher levels of so-called good cholesterol.
The study, which was published in the journal Science on Thursday, is part of a growing body of scientific evidence that hardship in early childhood has lifelong health implications. But it goes further than outlining the problem, offering evidence that a particular policy might prevent it.
“This tells us that adversity matters and it does affect adult health,” said James Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who led the data analysis. “But it also shows us that we can do something about it, that poverty is not just a hopeless condition.”
The findings come amid a political push by the Obama administration for government-funded preschool for 4-year-olds. But a growing number of experts, Professor Heckman among them, say they believe that more effective public programs would start far earlier — in infancy, for example, because that is when many of the skills needed to take control of one’s life and become a successful adult are acquired.
The study in Science drew its data from the Carolina Abecedarian Project, in which about 100 infants from low-income families in North Carolina were followed from early infancy to their mid-30s. The project is well known in the world of social science because of its design: The infants were randomly assigned to one group or the other, allowing researchers to isolate the effects of the program. Such designs are the gold standard in medical research, but are rarely used in investigations that influence domestic social policy.
The researchers had already answered their original question about cognitive development: whether the treated children would, for example, be less likely to fail in school. The answer was yes. Over all, the participants’ abilities as infants were about the same, but by age 3 they had diverged. By age 30, those in the group given special care were four times as likely to have graduated from college.
“Forty years ago, it was all about cognition,” Professor Heckman said. “But it turned out that when you expand these capabilities — not only cognitive but social and emotional — one of the effects is better health. Nobody thought about that at the time.”…
What can you expect from your growing toddler? Take our Toddler Nutrition Quiz to find out!
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