Entries in American Academy of Pediatrics (10)


Doctors to Advise Teens on Emergency Contraception

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) – Does your teen know about Plan B? If not, he or she may soon get acquainted with it. All pediatricians are now encouraged to advise adolescents about the use of emergency contraception, according to Monday’s policy statement released online by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The statement says that pediatricians should inform teenaged patients about the use, availability, and effects of all forms of emergency contraception as a day-to-day practice. In addition, both male and female patients should be encouraged to get tested or treated for sexually transmitted diseases, and talk about regular contraception methods as a follow up to the use of emergency contraception.

Co-author and Professor of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital Cora Breuner highlights the fact that these are not the same as abortion drugs or methods.

“These are progestin only medications that prevent fertilization. They do not prevent implantation, so these are not considered abortive drugs,” she says.

Breuner also states that the primary focus of the statement is to prevent unwanted teen pregnancies.  The United States continues to have a higher teen birth rate compared to developed countries. Breuner and her colleagues discovered that teenagers have been found to use emergency contraception more often if they are notified about it in advance.

“I think this will provide an impetus to have a conversation with your practitioner as a parent or a patient about what you plan to do about your own family planning and reproductive health before there has to be a discussion about "I had unprotected sex" or "I had non-consensual sex,” she says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kids Under 2 Should Not Watch TV, Experts Say

Hemera/Thinkstock(ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill.) -- Kids under 2 years old should not be in front of the tube: instead they should be encouraged to talk and play, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced Tuesday.

There is no scientific evidence that shows TV viewing in young children offers any benefit in early development, the AAP announced.  In fact, studies have shown that TV can cause sleep problems in children, the country’s largest organization of pediatricians noted.  The new policy statement will be published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

But a recent survey found that 90 percent of parents said their children watch some sort of screen from electronic media.

“There have been studies that have looked at developmental health effects of TV in children, including language delays and disruptive sleep,” Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician and lead author of the guidelines, told ABC News. “Unstructured play time has been proven to be beneficial for critical thinking skills that kids need for life, so this is time better spent.”

Brown noted that children under 2 years old do not have the mental ability to understand the content and context within TV shows, even those that claim to have educational benefits.

“It’s entertaining,” Brown said . “People of all ages are drawn to screens.  But it’s not educational for kids that age.”

The AAP guidelines are no different from recommendations from 1999, which also discouraged TV viewing in kids under 2.  But this year, the association also made recommendations in regards to parents’ viewing habits.

“We addressed what we call second-hand TV,” Brown said. “This is when a child is playing in a room with the TV on.  It’s distracting for the child and the parent, so we recommend that if you want to watch your shows, try to watch them later when children are asleep.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New ADHD Guidelines Expanded to Include Four-Year-Olds

Comstock/Thinkstock(ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill.) -- Guidelines to diagnose Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have been updated to include children as young as four.

ADHD, a condition that makes it difficult for children to focus and concentrate, initially covered youngsters between the ages of six and 12.  But the American Academy of Pediatrics now says these rules should be expanded to include anyone from four to 18 because of more comprehensive research into understanding the condition.

Mark Wolraich, who chaired the committee presenting the latest findings, said it's important to evaluate four-year-olds because "these children may have been kicked out of preschool programs or they may have parents who are really getting angry at them much of the time."

Treatment for these children to reduce stress is first through behavioral therapy practiced by parents.  If that fails, doctors may prescribe Ritalin -- the most common medication to deal with ADHD patients -- beginning with low doses.

ADHD affects as many as 8 percent of all children and adolescents in the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


What to Do If Vaccines Worry You

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In spite of all the anecdotes about autism-spectrum disorders and other neurological problems caused by vaccines, no scientific studies have shown a definitive link between the two. Yet many parents remain fearful. Why parents continue to question the safety of vaccines is the subject of an article published in PLoS Biology, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by the Public Library of Science.

The article focuses on the research of a University of California-San Francisco medical anthropologist, Sharon Kaufman, PhD, who got interested in the persistent doubt around vaccines after reading reports of scientists, doctors, and government spokespeople receiving harassing phone calls and even death threats for simply reporting on findings that vaccines don't cause autism.

Much of the doubt was triggered by a 1998 British study published in The Lancet. It reported on a theory that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine caused intestinal problems that released toxic substances into the brain. The paper was later discredited, and the author is currently under investigation for ethics violations.

Around the same time, a congressman in the U.S. asked the Food and Drug Administration to review the use of thimerosal (a mercury-containing preservative) in all the products it regulates. The agency found that its current use could expose children under 6 months old to dangerously high levels, and as a result, asked pharmaceutical companies to remove it from vaccines. Since 2001, thimerosal preservatives have been largely eliminated from childhood vaccines (the flu vaccine being the one exception), although it's still detectable in trace amounts as a by-product of manufacturing.

Those two events were enough to generate serious doubt in parents' minds about the safety of vaccines, even though medical agencies around the world continued to publish papers and reviews disproving theories of a vaccine-autism link. Increasing access to the Internet didn't help either, Kaufman found, as collecting that information online led to more doubt.

According to a 2002 review of anti-vaccination websites published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, many sites used emotional appeals and cited seemingly convincing evidence that came from self-published studies (which don't undergo the peer review process required by medical journals).

The researchers also found that it wasn't uncommon for the sites to publish statistics that came from questionable sources, including letters to newspaper editors and television interviews, rather than scientific research. Also, the review found, many of these sites promoted the idea of vaccinations as a "hoax" intended to generate profits for doctors and pharmaceutical companies.

"Despite all of the very hard work of epidemiologists to exonerate vaccines as a cause or to be implicated in autism, the lay public still seems to have rampant suspicion about what vaccines are used for and why we use them," says Dr. Joseph Domachowske, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and professor of pediatrics, microbiology and immunology at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University. "Until we can give people an answer as to what causes autism, there will still be some suspicion about vaccines."And the suspicion is causing concerned parents to lose sight of the bigger picture.

"People have forgotten about the infections that vaccines can prevent," he says. "And there's a misconception that vaccines are riskier than developing a vaccine-preventable infection." Those infections are on the rise in many parts of the world. Measles, one of the deadliest childhood illnesses, was all but eliminated in the U.S. before 2000 but last year saw the largest outbreak since then. And just this week, officials in Europe announced that cases of the mumps have doubled so far this year, compared with the same period last year.

Despite the scientific evidence, many parents still distrust childhood immunizations' safety. But why?

In general, says Dr. Domachowske, a majority of parents do vaccinate their children, but "they seem to want to know a whole lot more than in the past before they agree to it," he adds. If you need more information to put your mind at ease, though, rely on doctors and epidemiologists rather than emotional blogs that don't often rely on experts, he says.

Even though most childhood vaccines no longer contain mercury-based preservatives, you can ask for thimerosal-free flu vaccines (the flu shot is the only one administered to children under 7 that still contains thimerosal). Dr. Domachowske notes that trace amounts of thimerosal left over from manufacturing expose children to very tiny amounts mercury, 1 microgram (mcg) or less per dose, according to the FDA. In comparison, exclusively breastfed infants will ingest 400 mcg of mercury by the time they're 6 months of age, just from normal environmental exposures to the mother (mercury in air and water) that pass into her breast milk.

According to a recent survey, only 9 percent of toddlers are up-to-date on their immunizations, but falling behind could make the vaccines less effective. A common concern expressed on anti-vaccine websites is that the one-size-fits-all vaccination schedule, which is set by the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, doesn't take into account children's differing health needs. Talk to your doctor about your child's medical history if you're concerned that a vaccine may interact with an existing allergy or a past infection.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Experts Want Legislative Changes to Protect Children from Chemicals

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Health experts are calling on lawmakers to make legislative changes to ensure that children are properly protected from chemicals in products, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The last few decades have witnessed the introduction of numerous chemicals into the environment, but the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), which governs chemical management policy, hasn't undergone any meaningful changes since its introduction in 1976. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that U.S, chemical management policy be substantially revised, requiring that safety assessments consider the consequences of exposure on children and pregnant women, our most vulnerable population.

Medical experts say an update is long overdue as the current law is ineffective and it never required that companies provide safety data before introducing new chemicals into the market.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Doctors Warn 'Facebook Depression' Could Affect Teens

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill.) -- Troubled teens who obsess over social media networks may be affected by "Facebook depression," according to a group of influential doctors.

Authors of the American Academy of Pediatrics' new social media guidelines find that kids with poor self-esteem could feel even worse while scanning through status updates and pictures on Facebook.  Seeing others post happy messages and appearing to be having a great time in photos could make teens believe that they can't compare to their happiness, leading to them feeling depressed.

Dr. Gwenn O'Keeffe, the lead author of the guidelines, which were published online Monday in Pediatrics, said the depression brought on by Facebook could be worse than other real-life situations teens face that could bring them down, like sitting alone in a crowded school cafeteria.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Starting Infants on Solid Food Can Lead to Obesity

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Obesity and children. Those two words are in the same sentence more and more as an epidemic of childhood obesity befalls the United States. To combat the issue, parents may be contributing to their kids' excess weight-- without even knowing it. 

A new study suggests that not only what infants eat but when they start eating it can lead to obesity as they grow older.  Published in the journal Pediatrics, it followed 847 infants from before birth until age three.  Their mothers were surveyed about how they fed their babies and when they were started on solid food.   

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents wait until infants are between four and six months old before introducing solid food into their diet.  For the sixty-seven per cent of infants who were breast-fed, there was no association between when they started on solids and obesity, but for the thirty-two per cent of babies fed formula, those introduced to  solid foods earlier  than four months had a six times greater chance of being obese by age three.  The study ended at that age so we don't know if the pattern of obesity continued. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Guidelines Emphasize Timely Teen Vaccination

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics has released its latest vaccine recommendations.

"The new vaccination schedule draws more importance to vaccinate teens," said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. "Even though our kids may have gotten a vaccine when they were young, we know that as we get older, protection wears off."

More frequent visits to the doctor make it easier for babies to get all of their recommended vaccines. But it's harder to keep up with vaccines as a child gets older, Besser said.

  • Flu vaccine: Most children aged 6 months to 8 years old should now receive two doses of the flu vaccine, even if they received the H1N1 vaccine last year.
  • Pertussis vaccine: Children 7-10 not previously vaccinated against pertussis -- also known as whooping cough -- should get a single dose of the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, or Tdap vaccine. Teens ages 13 to 18 who did not get the Tdap should get the vaccine, followed by the Td booster every 10 years after.
  • HPV vaccine: The HPV vaccine is now recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for prevention of genital warts in females, but may also be administered in a three-dose series to boys aged 9 to 18.
  • Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine: Children older than 5 and adults who have sickle cell, leukemia or HIV, or have had a part of their spleen removed should receive a single dose of this vaccine.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine: This vaccine is typically given right after birth. Catch-up vaccinations for children who miss the recommended birth dose should be given on a schedule of 0, 1, and 6 months. The third dose should be given no earlier than 24 weeks old. If your teen did not receive the hepatitis B vaccine as a baby, they should receive a two-dose combination.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine: Any series begun with the older, 7-valent vaccine should be completed with the new 13-valent version. A single supplemental dose of the new vaccine is recommended for children who have completed the series using the old one.
  • Meningococcal vaccine: Adolescents should receive the first vaccine before age 12, and then should receive a booster when they're between ages 16 to 18.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Staying Safe Amidst the Crazy Halloween Parties and Parades

Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Halloween is a time for children and adults alike to loosen up, show off creative costumes or other fantastical get-ups and indulge in treats that they hope will outnumber tricks.

Yet despite the carefree spirit of Halloween parties and parades, there are many ways to inadvertently end up injured, ailing or in distress while your friends are out howling at the moon. The candle conflagrations, the Halloween hit-and-runs, the greasepaint-triggered acne are all more common than the possibly apocryphal incidents of accepting apples or candy that some sadist has adulterated with razor blades.

Just in time for Halloween, several federal agencies and physicians' organizations have offered their recommendations for staying safe during the holiday once known as All Hallows' Eve.

The Food and Drug Administration compiled its "Lucky 13" tips for a safe Halloween.

The American Academy of Pediatrics pulled together advice about safe costumes and safe pumpkin carving.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology sounded yet another warning about using decorative non-prescription contact lenses.

Even those with food allergies can enjoy a safe holiday, said Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist at NYU School of Medicine. He recommends shopping in advance for foods and snacks free of suspected allergens, bringing your own treats to parties or while trick-or-treating, keeping emergency medications such as epinephrine pens handy should an allergic reaction occur, and considering non-food items such as stickers and crayons instead of candies and foods whose mystery ingredients could prove hazardous.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Pediatricians to Screen for Postpartum Depression

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new American Academy of Pediatrics effort will see pediatricians doing more screening for postpartum depression in mothers of their tiny patients.  Pediatricians already do postnatal screenings but the Academy says more screening is needed as a newborn grows.

Many pediatricians find that inadequate follow-up time, incomplete training in diagnosing the potentially tragic depression, and lack of reimbursement serve as barriers to proper screening.  The authors of a new study say awareness of postpartum depression is essential to healthy child development.

The study suggests pediatricians use an already established list of questions at the 1, 2, 4 and 6 month visits, and offer support strategies and referrals if the mother of one of their patients shows signs of depression. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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