Entries in Infant (13)


Head and Neck Weakness May Be a Sign of Autism in 6-Month-Olds

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(BALTIMORE) -- While it has been known that weak head and neck control in babies may signal developmental delays, new research provided exclusively to ABC News revealed that it could also signal autism.

A simple pull-to-sit test for babies may help in early detection of autism spectrum disorders, according to the findings from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

Researchers studied two groups of infants who were considered to be at high genetic risk of autism spectrum disorder. The first group included 40 babies, ages 5 to 10 months old.

The scientists performed a task in which they pulled the babies, who were lying on their backs, by the arms up to a seated position. The infants were tested at 6, 14 and 24 months old. They found that 90 percent of babies who were diagnosed with ASD showed head lag as infants. Fifty-four percent of children who had other developmental delays also showed weak head and neck muscles as infants.

In the second group, Landa and her team examined the presence of a head lag in babies who were at high genetic risk, versus those at low genetic risk. They found that 75 percent of high-risk infants exhibited the head lag, whereas 33 percent of low-risk infants did.

About 1 percent of American children ages 3 to 17 have an autism spectrum disorder, and it is the fastest-growing developmental disorder, according to the Autism Society. The condition characterizes a complex set of brain development disorders characterized by repetitive behaviors and difficulty with social interactions and verbal and nonverbal communications.

Motor disruption tends to be present in children with ASD early in life, and early disruption in motor development can indicate that something could be awry in neurodevelopment, said Landa.

Early intervention in autism is crucial, and identifying a head lag within the first year of life may help families get babies the developmental interventions they need. Otherwise, the disorder may not be properly addressed until the child is 1 to 4 years old, when social and communication impairments tend to emerge in children with autism.

The simple head lag test is a good sign of the functioning of the motor system, overall muscle tone and central nervous system, said Dr. Stefani Hines, director of the Center for Human Development at Beaumont Children's Hospital in Detroit.

But head lag can stem from a number of different conditions, and Hines cautioned against parents assuming the head lag indicates ASD, as it can also reveal neuromuscular disorders, developmental delay and cerebral palsy.

Hines said the new study is another tool in the arsenal in helping to assess high-risk children for autism. The findings will help pediatricians be more cognizant of the importance of assessing head lag in ASD and other developmental disability diagnoses.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Parents Allegedly Starve Baby Because of Obesity Concerns

Hemera/Thinkstock(APPLETON, Wis.) -- Christopher and Mary Sultze are charged with felony child neglect for allegedly starving their infant daughter.

An Appleton, Wis., couple faces charges of felony child neglect after authorities say they intentionally starved their infant daughter because they feared she would become obese.

The girl’s parents, Christopher and Mary Sultze, were each charged with one count of neglect. They each face up to a year in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted. They were released on bond, but ordered to stay away from the daughter they are accused of starving. Mary Sultze, 36, previously pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery for biting another daughter on the arm after the girl bit her older sister.

Prosecutors also allege that the parents were frustrated by doctors who expressed concern over the baby’s weight, insisting they fed her enough. Doctors convinced the Sultzes to admit their daughter to a hospital in August and in one day, the baby gained eight ounces. But Christopher Sultze, 35, was worried the baby would get fat in the hospital and said he didn’t want obese children.

Sultze later told a doctor and a social worker that his family follows a low cholesterol diet, and he had surgery to treat a blocked artery when he was just 25 years old.

Dr. Eugene Hershorin, chief of the division of general pediatrics at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, said a child who is only 13 pounds at 14 months of age is suffering from “very significant failure to thrive.”

“On average, a baby should double its weight by six months and triple it by a year. That’s the normal amount of weight a baby should gain,” he said.

Proper nutrition in the first year of life, he explained, is critical to a child’s development, since that’s the time when brain growth is at its peak.  An infant’s diet should consist of a lot of calories and fat to help the brain develop.

“Nutritional deprivation can alter development, including neurologic development and body growth,” Hershorin added. If there is any damage to the developing organs, it can possibly be reversed by getting proper nutrition later, but in many cases, injuries to the brain cannot be reversed later on.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, he continued, says a child’s diet should not be modified in the first two to three years of life, even if there are concerns about weight.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Infant that Sparked End-of-Life Care Debates Dies

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Baby Joseph, the 20-month-old terminally ill infant at the center of an end-of-life debate, died Tuesday in his Ontario home as his parents wished.

Joseph Maraachli, who had come to be known as "Baby Joseph," was thrust into the forefront of the end-of-life debate in February, when Canadian doctors told his parents, Moe and Nader Maraachli, that no treatment could bring their baby out of a persistent vegetative state. Joseph had Leigh syndrome, a progressive, degenerative neurological disease, which had claimed the life of his brother eight years ago at the age of 18 months.

Because Joseph's condition was terminal, the Canadian government's universal health care system denied him the tracheotomy that would have allowed him to live out his remaining days at home with his family. His parents fought this decision, and for months, Joseph's life remained in negotiation as advocacy groups fought the Canadian government to allow him the procedure, underscoring the sensitive balance many parents and health systems face between keeping patients alive as long as possible and pouring money and medical resources into a losing battle.

With the help of Priests for Life, a New York organization that lobbies against abortion rights and euthanasia, Joseph was eventually flown to a St. Louis hospital for the tracheotomy last April, which allowed him to spend his last five months at home with his family.

The Rev. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, who led the effort to get Joseph end-of-life care in Missouri, commented on the infant's death in a statement:

"I learned with sadness tonight of the passing of Baby Joseph, and extend my prayers to his family. I praise God tonight for the tens of thousands who stood with Priests for Life and other 'pro-life' groups to save Baby Joseph. We remain convinced that the value of life is not measured in months or years, but rather, reflected in the love we share moment by moment."

Last February, Joseph's condition had deteriorated to the point where doctors at the Canadian hospital treating him presented his parents with a consent form that would allow doctors to take him off life support. But the Maraachlis refused to sign the waiver and fought for their son to receive a tracheotomy.

The case was brought to the Consent and Capacity Board, an independent body created by the government of Ontario, and then a Canadian Supreme Court judge. Both entities ruled that Joseph's breathing tube should be removed. It was only after Priests for Life offered to pay Joseph's medical costs that he could get the tracheotomy on March 21.

"I would call this a success," Pavone told ABC News at the time. "We did this based on the value of the child's life here and now, not based on any specific medical outcomes. The family wasn't looking for anything extraordinary, just to be able to have him at home."

"From the beginning, the point of view of the family has been 'If my child is dying, at least let us bring our child home,'" Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, who has acted as a spokesman for the Maraachli family, told ABC News last March.

"They weren't asking for extraordinary medical treatment or for the government to pay for a ventilator with an in-home nurse," he said.

But an April statement from London Health Sciences Center, where Baby Joseph has been treated since October 2010, read another way: "The LHSC position is consistent with the treatment plan approved by Ontario's Consent and Capacity Board as being in the best interest of Baby Joseph. It involves transferring him home, on a breathing machine, and then placing him the arms of his family before withdrawing the machine."

The statement went on to say: "The transfer would not involve performing a tracheotomy, which is not a palliative procedure. It is an invasive procedure in which a device is installed in a hole cut in the throat. It is frequently indicated for patients who require a long-term breathing machine. This is not, unfortunately, the case with Baby Joseph, because he has a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is fatal."

The controversy sparked heated debate throughout North America, and the hospital reportedly received several threats from people in the United States and Canada.

Some argued that a government's overriding parents' wishes would not happen in the United States -- at least for now -- because Americans currently pay for their own medical care. In Canada, healthcare is nationalized -- as it will be in the U.S. if the Affordable Health Care Act is fully enacted.

But Schadenberg said the main question here is: Who really has the right to decide on this baby's fate?

Pavone said it should not be up to medical professionals to determine whether treatment to improve a child's end-of-life was "worth it." "We respect their medical judgment but not their value judgment. The problem is that the medical people are making a value judgment on the life of the child," he told ABC News last spring.

Felicia Cohn, director of medical ethics at the University of California at Irvine, told ABC News last March that she had been involved in similar conflicts and an ethical review was needed.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mom, Partner Arrested for Forcing 4-Year-Old to Chug Beer

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(BRIDGEPORT, Conn.) -- A 29-year-old mother from Connecticut was arrested with her partner after allegedly ordering her 4-year-old son to chug a 40-ounce bottle of beer on a playground.

Juliette Dunn was charged with two counts of risk of injury to a child and two counts of second-degree assault June 28 after her son and her 10-month-old daughter tested positive for alcohol. The 10-month-old girl also tested positive for cocaine.

Thirty-three year-old Lisa Jefferson, who identified herself as Dunn's girlfriend, was arrested on the same charges.

A witness told police that Jefferson handed the boy a beer and told him to chug it. When he finished, police said, Jefferson called him an alcoholic.

Police found an empty 40-ounce bottle of Steel Reserve beer on the ground beside the boy and a baby bottle next to the baby containing a dark liquid that smelled like alcohol.

The children were taken to Bridgeport Hospital where, during an examination, the 4-year-old told a social worker "he likes Natural Ice beer, Budweiser beer, but didn't like the taste of Dog-Bite beer," according to the police report.

Drugs and alcohol can have severe and long-lasting effects on children's developing brains, according to Rahil Briggs, assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

"Children's brains are more plastic than their adult counterparts. This means that they are disproportionately sensitive and responsive to input, both negative and positive," Briggs said. "This is why a four-year-old can learn Mandarin much more easily than can a 40-year-old, but it's also why abuse and neglect at an early age can be especially deleterious, and exert life-long impacts."

Because of their size, the same dose of drugs or alcohol is more potent in children than in adults.

"We do not know enough about exactly how drugs and alcohol affect the young developing brain, but we know that every single effect is negative, and some even life-threatening," Briggs said.

Dunn later admitted to smoking crack-cocaine 10 minutes before police arrived on the scene but said she didn't know how the baby tested positive for cocaine because she didn't breastfeed, according to the police report.

The children were temporarily placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. "In the process of doing that, we've induced a new trauma," admitted Alan Kazdin, psychology professor at Yale University. "There's no good solution here. But in the process of protecting, you sometimes have to hurt."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Record-Breaking Baby! 16-Pound Boy Born in Texas

KLTV(LONGVIEW, Texas) -- Everything really is bigger in Texas. On Friday, Janet Johnson gave birth to a baby boy, who entered the world weighing 16 pounds, more than double the average weight of a newborn.

Baby JaMichael was the heaviest baby to be born at Good Shepherd Hospital in Longview, and reportedly the largest newborn in the Lone Star State.

Johnson and her fiance, Michael Brown, knew that a big baby was coming soon. Two weeks before her Caesarean delivery, Dr. John Kirk, Johnson's obstetrician, said he expected the baby to weigh 12 or 13 pounds. But JaMichael even surprised the doctor.

"He was much larger than expected," said Kirk, explaining how JaMichael was the biggest baby he had ever delivered. "Both his mother and father are large people, and she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which contributed to the baby's size."

"They're calling him 'Moose' up here," JaMichael's father told ABC News' East Texas affiliate, KLTV.

"I'm just excited that he's here," said Johnson.

Johnson delivered her baby a week early. Kirk said delivery wasn't induced before that because the staff needed to wait for JaMichael's lungs to fully mature.

"While infants of diabetic mothers are large in size, their organ function is not more developed," said Dr. Manuel Porto, a professor and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at University of California at Irvine. "In fact, their lung development may be delayed. Early delivery can lead to respiratory problems for the newborn."

According to the Guinness World Records, Ann Bates of Canada gave birth to the biggest newborn, in 1879, when her baby weighed in at a whopping 23 pounds, 12 ounces.

Experts said a woman's uterus can indeed handle 16 pounds of baby (think twins), but the baby's large size does not come without dangers.

A rare genetic disorder can cause abnormally large babies, but usually, a heavy baby is because of diabetes in the mother.

"A baby gets this large usually because a mother has poorly controlled diabetes and the baby is getting extra glucose calories during the pregnancy," said Dr. Ian Holzman, chief of newborn medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, N.Y.

Risks to the baby include birth trauma, said Holzman. This would include nerve damage to the arm, abdomen or injury to the head, as the doctor pulls the infant out if delivered vaginally.

"There is also a risk of low blood sugar in the baby after delivery because the baby's pancreas has been making extra insulin to deal with the extra sugar," said Holzman. "Once the sugar spigot is turned off the insulin causes the baby's blood sugar to drop."

Kirk said the hospital staff is currently trying to get the baby's blood sugar levels back up. JaMichael isn't breathing on his own yet. But Kirk expects that baby and mother should be released from the hospital within two or three days. Kirk warned Johnson and Brown of the increased risks due to their baby's size, but he said he is optimistic, and happy to report that they are both doing well.

"He's really only had some minor problems," said Kirk. "We have made them aware of the possible complications down the road, but hopefully, they'll continue to be under medical care and we'll keep an eye on them."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Baby Raised Genderless Is Bad Experiment, Say Experts

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(TORONTO) -- No one knows the sex of Storm Stocker, a four-month-old baby from Toronto. Only his parents, his midwives, and his two older brothers have ever peeked beneath the diaper.

That's because his -- or is it her -- parents, Kathy Witterick, 38, and David Stocker, 39, want to raise their child genderless.

When Storm came into the world in a birthing pool on New Year's Day, they sent out this email: "We decided not to share Storm's sex for now -- a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime."

Even Storm's brothers, 2-year-old Kio and 5-year-old Jazz, along with one family friend have been sworn to secrecy.

"What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children," Stocker told the Toronto Star. "It's obnoxious."

The newspaper was barraged with critical responses and even Storm's grandparents, though supportive, said they resented explaining their gender-free baby to friends and coworkers.

While child development experts applaud the family's efforts to raise their child free of the constraints of gender stereotypes, they say the parents have embarked on a psychological experiment that could be "potentially disastrous."

"To raise a child not as a boy or a girl is creating, in some sense, a freak," said Dr. Eugene Beresin, director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. "It sets them up for not knowing who they are."

"To have a sense of self and personal identity is a critical part of normal healthy development," he said. "This blocks that and sets the child up for bullying, scapegoating, and marginalization."

"We all have sexual identity," said Beresin. "The mission to have masculine and feminine traits more equalized and more flexible and not judgmental is awesome in a utopian community. But we take pride in our sexual identity."

The family gleaned the idea for unique child-rearing from the 1978 children's book, X: A Fabulous Child's Story, by Lois Gould. The author uses symbolism and allegory to explore gender "creativity."

"Identity formation is really critical for every human being and part of that is gender," Beresin said. "There are many cultural and social forces at play."

Witterick and Stocker have been besieged with phone calls since the media grabbed on to their personal story.

"Thanks for your interest," said Storm's mother on a recorded message when ABC News called for comment. "We are really swamped with calls right now and our first priority is the needs of our family."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Children Can Recall Earliest Memories, Study Says 

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(NEWFOUNDLAND, Canada) -- A study by researchers at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada suggests that young children can access their earliest memories from as far back as late infancy.  However, the researchers note that these memories begin to fade as the children grow older.

For the study, investigators asked 140 children ages 4-13 about their three of their earliest memories and how old they were when the memories occurred. The children's parents would then validate each memory and its timing. 

They found that the youngest children were able to recall memories from as far back as before the age of two.  However, when the researchers asked the same children to describe their memories two years later, they recalled a completely different set of memories.

Still, much older children ages 10-13 were able to recall memories on a more consistent basis.  Study leader Carole Peterson, a professor at Memorial University said that children lose part of their childhood as they lose memories growing up. 

"So our 'psychological childhood' begins much later than our real childhood," Peterson said. "And most of those events that previously were talked about, that caused laughter tears, are no longer accessible if they occurred in our preschool years."

The researchers concluded that very earliest memories are more vulnerable to forgetting.

The research was published in the journal Child Development.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Brooklyn Toddler Dies After Circumcision

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is investigating the death of two-year-old Jamaal Coleson, Jr. following a circumcision Tuesday at Manhattan's Beth Israel Medical Center.

"They gave him anesthesia, and after the circumcision he woke up he was fine," said Jabbar Coleson, Jamaal Jr.'s uncle, who lives in Jonesboro, Ga. "He asked to eat, he asked for something to drink, and then he started complaining about pain in his stomach."

Jabbar said his nephew was in the outpatient ward when doctors noticed something was wrong. But four hours passed before the toddler was rushed to the emergency room, he said. The case, which has been reported as an accidental death to the New York State Department of Health, highlights the extremely rare complications of the procedure performed widely throughout the United States.

"Circumcision is a surgical procedure and so with that there are certain risks, although the risks are quite small," said Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and author of Baby 411.

The most common complications are local infections and bleeding, but Brown says the risks are about one in 1,000 and one in 3,000 respectively. In infants, circumcision is done using local anesthesia -- a numbing cream or an injection into the skin. But the general anesthesia used for older children, like Jamaal Jr., can increase the risk of complications.

"The risk is still low, but it's higher than with local anesthesia," Brown said, adding that in extremely rare cases people can be allergic to an anesthetic.

Beth Israel Medical Center staff will conduct an internal review of the events the led to Jamaal Jr.'s death, the hospital said in a statement. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office said the cause of death would be released in two weeks, following standard tissue and toxicology tests.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


OTC Drug Makers to Stop Producing Infant Doses of Acetaminophen

Comstock/Thinkstoc(WASHINGTON) -- The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) announced Thursday on behalf of over-the-counter (OTC) drug manufacturers that parents will no longer find acetaminophen in concentrated infant drops at their local drugstores. Pediatric liquid acetaminophen for children 12 and under will only be sold in a 160 mg/5L concentration.

"CHPA member companies are voluntarily making this conversion to one concentration to make it easier for parents and caregivers to appropriately use single-ingredient liquid acetaminophen," said the CHPA President Scott Melville in a statement Thursday.

Melville added that the association is committed to educating parents and caregivers about the proper amounts and methods for giving these medications to their children.

While OTC manufacturers will continue to include cups with these medications for older children, they will also provide syringes with dose restrictors in products for infants.  Earlier this week, the FDA release guidelines recommending manufacturers to such devices.

Recent studies report that parents and caregivers often give children incorrect doses of OTC liquid medications due to poorly marked packaging and because they often use household spoons, according to MedPage Today.

The change will take place in mid-2011 after a transition period during which the concentrated products may still appear on store shelves for a time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Terminal Baby at Center of Treatment Battle Returns to Canada

Photodisc/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- After receiving a tracheotomy at a St. Louis hospital that his native Canadian government denied him, Baby Joseph, the 15-month-old terminally ill infant at the center of an end-of-life debate, has returned to his Ontario home where he is set to spend his remaining days with family.

"The tracheotomy was successful," said the Rev. Frank Pavone of New York City-based Priests for Life, Joseph's medical care at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis. Priests for Life is an organization which lobbies against abortion rights and euthanasia and was active in advocating for Baby Joseph's further treatment in the U.S.

"We were anticipating that he would need to go to an intermediate facility after the procedure but he responded so well that he's been off the machines and breathing tubes completely for a week. He's breathing on his own," he says.

Joseph Maraachli, who has come to be known as "Baby Joseph," was thrust into the forefront of the end-of-life debate in February, when Canadian doctors told his parents, Moe and Nader Maraachli, that their baby's degenerative disease was so bad that no treatment would bring him out of a persistent vegetative state. Joseph suffers from a progressive neurological disease called Leigh Syndrome -- the same disorder that claimed the life of Joseph's then 18-month-old brother eight years ago.

Though health care professionals presented Joseph's parents with a consent form that would allow doctors to take him off life support, the Maraachlis refused to sign the waiver and fought for their son to receive a tracheotomy -- a procedure that would allow them to care for their baby in his final days at home.

For months Baby Joseph's life was literally in negotiations as pro-life advocacy groups fought the Canadian government to allow him the procedure, underscoring the sensitive balance many parents may face between keeping their babies alive as long as possible and pouring money and medical resources into a losing battle.

The case was brought to the Consent and Capacity Board, an independent body created by the government of Ontario, and then a supreme court judge. Both entities ruled that Baby Joseph's breathing tube should be removed. It was only after Priests For Life offered to pay for Baby Joseph's medical costs that the infant was able to get the tracheotomy on March 21. The cost of the jet to the hospital, chartered with Kalitta Air, was donated to the family.

Felicia Cohn, Ph.D., director of medical ethics at the University of California at Irvine, told ABC News that she has been involved in similar conflicts, and an ethical process must be under way to assist both parties.

If conflict arises, a clinical ethicist or an ethics committee may assist in the decision making process. The court is a last resort and is a sign of persistent conflict.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio