April 7th, 2014
04:01 PM ET
The researchers looked at data from more than 26,000 children age 2 to 19 in the United States who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that rates of overweight and obese children have been trending upward since 1999, with significant increases seen recently in the number of severely obese children.
Severe childhood obesity rates have more than doubled since 1999, according to the study. In 1999-2000, less than 1% of children fell into the Class 3 obesity category - meaning they had a body mass index 140% higher than their peers. In 2011-2012, 2.1% of children were in the same category. An additional 5.9% met the criteria for Class 2 obesity.
February 24th, 2014
04:07 PM ET
Doctors frequently recommend acetaminophen, commonly found in over-the-counter pain relievers including Tylenol, to pregnant women for treating mild pain.
But a new study out of Denmark suggests the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy could be associated with ADHD-like behavioral problems in children.
“(Pregnant women) shouldn’t worry at this point,” says study author Dr. Beate Ritz, professor and chair of the epidemiology department at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health. “But if I were a woman who was pregnant ... I would try to avoid taking painkillers as much as I can until we know more about this.” FULL POST
February 11th, 2014
11:55 AM ET
The surge in autism diagnoses since the year 2000 has come with a massive cost that’s shouldered largely by the public school system, say researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.
In what’s billed as a conservative estimate, they say the “economic burden” of an autism diagnosis is more than $17,000 a year through age 17, with medical costs making up less than 20% of the total. The biggest chunk of the tab, $8,610, is picked up by schools, according to their paper, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
“The education system is already under a lot of financial strain,” says Tara LaVelle, the lead author, who is now an associate policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. “We need policies at the federal, state and local level to make sure funds are available to provide appropriate intervention.” FULL POST
February 4th, 2014
12:36 PM ET
Everyone has heard about steroid abuse in the context of professional athletics, but its misuse among adolescent boys has gotten a lot less attention.
A new study suggests that gay and bisexual adolescent boys are more than five times more likely to use anabolic-androgenic steroids - which increase the development of secondary male sex characteristics - than heterosexual adolescent boys. The study appeared Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers Aaron Blashill and Steven Safren, both affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, were "shocked" at how much more steroid use affects sexual minorities, Blashill said. It is not common to find such a strong disparity in psychological research. FULL POST
January 30th, 2014
10:49 AM ET
The baby fat lingering around your 5-year-old's face (and tummy and thighs) may be an indicator of his or her weight for many years to come, a new study suggests. Children who enter kindergarten overweight are four times more likely than their normal weight peers to become obese by age 14, researchers say.
Though recent studies have shown signs of progress in the fight against childhood obesity, an estimated one out of every eight preschoolers in the United States is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are higher in African-American and Hispanic populations, at one in five and one in six, respectively.
The new study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests a big part of a child's obesity risk is already established by age 5. Interventions to combat childhood obesity may need to focus on those children who are overweight early in life, the study authors say.
January 27th, 2014
01:59 PM ET
Although the world of medicine has made incredible progress when it comes to tackling certain illnesses, scientists still have not been able to find the cure for the common cold. But there are ways to prevent colds as well as treat them. The question is, which are the most effective?
According to a review in the recent edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, hand washing and possibly taking zinc seem to be the best ways to avoid getting sick. Investigators reviewed 67 randomized controlled trials that showed hand washing as well as alcohol disinfectants are the best ways to ward off colds.
Zinc was found to work mostly in children, with two trials showing that little ones who took 10 to 12 milligrams of zinc sulfate every day had fewer colds and fewer absences from school because of colds. Authors of the study suggest that zinc could work for adults. Vitamin C, the "gold standard" of cold fighters, did not seem as effective.
January 20th, 2014
11:18 AM ET
When Jahi McMath suffered severe complications following a tonsillectomy, and doctors declared her brain dead, many parents were shocked.
More than 500,000 tonsillectomies are performed each year on children in the United States; it's the second most common pediatric surgery. But how routine are these procedures really?
Not so much, a new study published Monday in the scientific journal Pediatrics suggests. Researchers found the quality of care before, during and after a tonsillectomy varies greatly depending on the hospital.
"We were surprised at the degree of variation between hospitals in the use of medications ... and revisits to hospitals after the surgery for complications," said lead study author Dr. Sanjay Mahant.
December 31st, 2013
08:48 AM ET
Thirty-six seconds is the average time a physician spends speaking with adolescent patients about sexuality, according to research published online Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
About one-third of adolescent patient-doctor interactions result in no talk at all about sexuality - which includes things like sexual activity, dating and sexual orientation.
December 4th, 2013
09:03 AM ET
The debate around adolescents and psychotropic drug use may be quieted - ever so slightly - by new data.
More than 6% of adolescents reported using psychotropic medications during the past month, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Six percent is pretty much what I would expect for the prescription of psychotropic medications based on what we know about new disorders and how prevalent they would be among adolescents," said Bruce Jonas, a mental health epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC, who compiled the data.
Psychotropic medications are used to alter the mood, behavior or overall functioning of persons with certain mental health conditions. FULL POST
November 6th, 2013
02:11 PM ET
The first signs of autism may be visible as early as the first month of a child's life, according to a study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.
"These are the earliest signs of autism ever observed," says lead study author Warren Jones.
Researchers at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta followed 110 children from birth to age 3, at which point a diagnosis of autism was ascertained. Fifty-nine babies were considered "high risk" for developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because they had siblings with autism; 51 were considered "low risk" because they did not have first, second or third-degree relatives with ASD. FULL POST
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