Monday, October 28th, 2013
A new analysis of hospital records by two Boston doctors who presented their research to the American Academy of Pediatrics shows an astounding rise in the number of kids injured or killed by gunshot wounds. More from NBC News:
About 500 American children and teenagers die in hospitals every year after sustaining gunshot wounds — a rate that climbed by nearly 60 percent in a decade, according to the first-ever accounting of such fatalities, released Sunday.
In addition, an estimated 7,500 kids are hospitalized annually after being wounded by gunfire, a figure that spiked by more than 80 percent from 1997 to 2009, according two Boston doctors presenting their findings at a conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held in Orlando, Fla.
Eight of every 10 firearm wounds were inflicted by handguns, according to hospital records reviewed by the doctors. They say the national conversation about guns should shift toward the danger posed by smaller weapons, not the recent fights over limiting the availability of military-style, semi-automatic rifles.
“Handguns account for the majority of childhood gunshot wounds and this number appears to be increasing over the last decade,” said Dr. Arin L. Madenci, a surgical resident at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one of the study’s two authors. “Furthermore, states with higher percentages of household firearm ownership also tended to have higher proportions of childhood gunshot wounds, especially those occurring in the home.”
Among homes with children, rates of gun possession ranged from 10 percent in New Jersey, for instance, to 62 percent in Montana, the researchers found.
Madenci, and his colleague, Dr. Christopher Weldon, a surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, tallied the new statistics by culling a national database of 36 million pediatric hospitalizations from 1997 to 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Image: Small handgun, via Shutterstock
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Friday, August 23rd, 2013
A report by the National Center for Health Statistics reveals that circumcisions of newborn boys in U.S. hospitals have dropped 6 percentage points over the last 30 years, from 64.5 percent in 1979 to 58.3 percent in 2010. The sharpest declines took place in Western states, Reuters reports. The federal analysis shows that circumcision rates have risen and fallen over the years, possibly in response to changing advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Last year the academy revised its policy on circumcision, saying that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.
The analysis didn’t include circumcisions performed outside the hospital in religious ceremonies, for example, or those performed when a boy is older.
Here are further details from USA Today:
One factor that may account for the overall decline in hospital-based circumcisions may be the decreased time babies now spend in the hospital, says pediatrician Douglas Diekema of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
“Often they’re going home within 24 hours, so in some places, these procedures are increasingly being done by the pediatrician during the follow-up period in the doctor’s office or clinic as opposed to the hospital,” Diekema says.
The steep decline in the West may be related to higher rates of immigrants from countries where circumcision is less common, he says.
Recent research suggests circumcision does “help prevent certain kinds of infections,” says pediatrics group president Thomas McInerny. In particular, “there is some evidence that the cells that make up the inner surface of the foreskin may provide an optimal target for the HIV virus.” Research also shows that circumcised males have a lower risk of urinary tract infections and penile cancer, he says.
Complications associated with circumcisions are rare, and include minor bleeding, local infection and pain, says Diekema, but those factors can be easily treated.
A cost study reported last year in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine said falling infant circumcision rates in the U.S. could end up costing the country billions of health care dollars when men and their female partners develop AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections and cancers that could have been prevented.
The health benefits evidence was not so strong that the AAP felt compelled to recommend routine circumcision for all newborn boys, says McInerny. “We wanted to give parents the information as we understand it from the research and let them make the decision.”
Image: Newborn boy, via Shutterstock
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Friday, February 8th, 2013
Parents magazine has named its picks for the top 10 children’s hospitals in the nation, by gathering more than 1,000 pieces of information from members of the Children’s Hospital Association (formerly the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions).
Click here to read the full list of the 10 best children’s hospitals in America, the criteria that were used to determine the honorees, and special services and innovations that each offers. Here’s the top 10 list:
- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
- Boston Children’s Hospital
- Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
- Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
- Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora
- Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
- Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston
- University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Ann Arbor
- Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
- Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Image: Girl in hospital, via Shutterstock
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Monday, November 5th, 2012
A new government study is suggesting that schools might want to consider closing during serious flu outbreaks, as doing so will lower the number of children who wind up in the emergency room because of their symptoms. From Reuters:
The study, reported in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, looked at what happened in two Texas communities during the H1N1 “swine” flu epidemic of 2009. In one community, schools were closed as a precaution; in the other, they weren’t.
It turned out that in the district where schools shut down, there were fewer ER visits for the flu.
What’s more, among kids age 6 and up, there was no increase in flu-related ER trips, while that rate doubled in the community where schools stayed open.
“The effect was most dramatic among school-age children,” said Dr. Martin S. Cetron, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There have been skeptics who’ve doubted that school closures could have much impact during a major flu outbreak, according to Cetron.
“They’ve said, well, people will just congregate in malls or other public places,” explained Cetron, who directs the CDC’s division of global migration and quarantine, and worked on the study.
But schools are different from malls, Cetron pointed out, with kids being in close contact with each other all day long.
He said he thinks this study, along with others, “settles” the question of whether school closures are effective. “Should this be an arrow in our quiver? I think the answer is ‘yes,’” Cetron said.
Image: Closed school, via i4lcocl2 / Shutterstock.com
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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
Hospitals in Rhode Island will no longer be sending new mothers home with samples of infant formula, The Huffington Post reports. The state’s 7 birthing hospitals are just the latest to stop the practice of distributing formula–in September, a study found that the number of formula-free hospitals has doubled in the past 3 years. The move is part of hospitals’ efforts to encourage breastfeeding. From the Huffington Post:
State health officials hailed the decision Monday, noting that breastfeeding has been proved healthier than formula for both infants and mothers. Stephanie Chafee, a nurse and the wife of Gov. Lincoln Chafee, called the decision a critical step toward increasing breastfeeding rates.
“As the first `bag-free’ state in the nation, Rhode Island will have healthier children, healthier mothers, and a healthier population as a whole,” Chafee said. “This is a tremendous accomplishment.”
Formula will still be available to new mothers who experience difficulties with breastfeeding.
The new policy isn’t intended to force women into nursing their children, according to Denise Laprade, a labor and delivery nurse and lactation consultant at Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center, which eliminated free formula distribution last month. She said the focus is instead on parental education and helping mothers decide what’s best for their child.
“We never make any woman feel guilty about her decision,” Laprade said. She said she has received few complaints from parents about the new policy, though she said the older nurses needed a little time to adjust.
Image: Baby formula, via Shutterstock.
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