Posts Tagged ‘ National Institutes of Health ’

Many Medications Safe While Breastfeeding, Pediatrician Panel Says

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) finds that breastfeeding women can safely use many medications without harming their infants.

Experts from the AAP Committee on Drugs also noted that some doctors give moms inaccurate advice that they must quit nursing or stop taking certain medicines to keep their babies safe. From Reuters:

“Sometimes people are told that, because physicians may be worried about the risks the drug may pose … and aren’t necessarily thinking about the potential benefit of breastfeeding,” Dr. Hari Cheryl Sachs, the lead author on the report, said.

That benefit includes a lower risk of ear infections, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sachs said properties of the drug itself, whether it’s being used on a long- or short-term basis and the age and health of the infant all affect how safe it is to use medication while breastfeeding.

“It’s hard to make a blanket recommendation on what drugs are fine for the mother, because it’s going to depend on multiple factors,” Sachs, from the Pediatric and Maternal Health Team in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told Reuters Health.

If breastfeeding women have questions about specific medications, Sachs recommends that they talk with their doctors and check LactMed, a website run by the National Institutes of Health. Again from Reuters:

[LactMed] includes the most up-to-date scientific knowledge on how much of a given drug is passed to an infant during breastfeeding, its effects on babies and possible alternatives to consider.

In its report, published Monday in Pediatrics, the committee focused on a few classes of drugs, including antidepressants, narcotics and smoking cessation aids.

Limited information is available on the long-term effects of antidepressants on babies, it wrote, and because the drugs take a long time to break down, levels could build up in infants’ bodies.

“Caution is advised” for certain powerful painkillers such as codeine and hydrocodone—but others including morphine are considered safer when used at the lowest possible dose and for the shortest possible time, pediatricians said.

Nicotine replacement therapy, especially gum and lozenges, is typically considered safe to use during breastfeeding, according to the committee. However the FDA discourages the use of stop-smoking drugs such as varenicline, marketed in the U.S. as Chantix, among women who breastfeed.

The risk of exposure to any drug for babies needs to be weighed against the drug’s importance for the mother as well as the benefits of breastfeeding, researchers noted.

Image: Prescription medication via Shutterstock

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US Child Population Drops Slightly

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

The proportion of the US population under age 17 has dropped slightly in the last year, according to an annual federal government report on population trends.  More details from a statement by the National Institutes of Health:

The percentage of children living in the United States who are Asian, non-Hispanic increased, as did the percentage of children who are of two or more races, and the percentage of children who are Hispanic. The percentages of children who are white, non-Hispanic, and black, non-Hispanic declined.

By 2050, about half of the American population ages under 17 is projected to be composed of children who are Hispanic, Asian, or of two or more races, the report stated. The report projected that, among children under age 17, 36 percent will be Hispanic (up from 24 percent in 2012); 6 percent will be Asian (up from 5 percent in 2012); and 7 percent will be of two or more races (up from 4 percent in 2012).”

These and other findings are described in America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013. The report was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, which includes participants from 22 federal agencies as well as partners in several private research organizations.

The report also found a number of additional trends, including:

  • A drop in the percentage of children ages 4–11 with any detectable blood cotinine level, a measure for recent exposure to secondhand smoke, from 53 percent in the years 2007 and 2008 to 42 percent in 2009 and 2010).
  • A rise in the percentage of male and female 12th graders who reported binge drinking — consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in a row in the past two weeks — from 22 percent in 2011 to 24 percent in 2012.
  • A drop in the percentage of children from birth to 17 years of age living with two married parents, from 65 percent in 2010 to 64 percent in 2011.
  • A drop in the percentage of children ages 5–17 with untreated dental caries (cavities or tooth decay) over the past decade, from 23 percent in 1999 – 2004 to 14 percent in 2009 – 2010.

Image: Babies, via Shutterstock

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