Houston Area Pediatric Specialists

Independent pediatric specialists aim to serve our community. We want to share news and analysis regarding our specialties and our practices.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Infant sleep positioners are dangerous

February 28, 2011

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are warning people not to use sleep positioners for their babies because there is a chance they could suffocate. In the past 13 years, at least 12 babies between the ages of 1 month and 4 months have died when they suffocated in positioners, or when they became trapped between a sleep positioner and the side of their crib or bassinet.

People have been using positioners to keep their babies in certain positions when they sleep. Some positioners are flat pads with side bolsters. Others are inclined like a wedge, or have some other design. These products might be promoted to reduce acid reflux, minimize "flat head" syndrome or even to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, but there is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims.

Read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Babies and grandmas: Who will Texas' Medicaid cuts hurt? All of us - but the oldest and youngest most of all

Babies and grandmas: Who will Texas' Medicaid cuts hurt? All of us - but the oldest and youngest most of all


It comes up in meeting after meeting, e-mail after e-mail, from group after group, from outfits representing senior citizens, the middle class, children, the court system, hospitals, doctors, universities, the mentally ill and public schools. The budget-slashed, rainy-day-fund-untouched Texas that our Legislature is contemplating wouldn't be just a mean, hard place for our families to live. It would be an inefficient one, too — and one whose problems this budget will only make worse.

The proposal to cut reimbursements paid to Medicaid providers by 10 percent is pure pound-foolishness. And its horrifying long-term costs will hit us all.

Copyright 2011 Houston Chronicle

Feb. 2, 2011, 11:37PM

To read the entire editorial


Friday, February 25, 2011

Bruesewitz v. Wyeth: What the Supreme Court Decision Means for Vaccines
By Meredith Melnick Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vaccine injury is a tricky thing to prove — medically and legally. So it was inevitably controversial when the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday against the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz, 18, who suffered seizures and permanent brain damage after receiving a diptheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine in 1993.
The Bruesewitz family sued Wyeth, then the parent company of the maker of the DTP vaccine that Hannah received as an infant, arguing that Wyeth was responsible for Hannah's condition and should be held accountable. The high court disagreed.

Read more at the link.

Pneumonia DNA Morphs To Dodge Vaccines

Published: January 28, 2011

Researchers from seven countries have collaborated to analyze how a single strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria has morphed over 30 years and spread across the world, in an attempt to overcome the development of antibiotics and vaccines.

The research is the first detailed genetic picture of the evolution of a specific strain of pneumonia, resulting in a family tree of sorts. The researchers analyzed samples from North and South America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Over time, the bacteria mutated to better resist antibiotics and vaccines. The researchers found that it underwent both recombination, in which the DNA shuffles around, and base substitutions, in which individual nucleic acids in a DNA sequence change.

Read the rest of the article here.

For Cold Virus, Zinc May Edge Out Even Chicken Soup


Scientists still haven’t discovered a cure for the common cold, but researchers now say zinc may be the next best thing.

A sweeping new review of the medical research on zinc shows that sniffing, sneezing, coughing and stuffy-headed cold sufferers finally have a better option than just tissue and chicken soup. When taken within 24 hours of the first runny nose or sore throat, zinc lozenges, tablets or syrups can cut colds short by an average of a day or more and sharply reduce the severity of symptoms, according to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews,
a respected medical clearinghouse.

Read the rest of the article here.

BBC: Happiness = Work, sleep and bicycles

Mark Easton
08:27 UK time, Friday, 25 February 2011

"Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?" We learned this week that that is one of four new questions being inserted into the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Household Survey as the UK's official number crunchers try to assess the well-being of the nation.

The purpose of this exercise is not to get Britain thinking happy thoughts as the axe falls: the determination to measure well-being pre-dates both the coalition and the age of austerity. The real point is to find a better way of measuring social progress than simply how much stuff we have got.

"While sleep quality seems a textbook case of a problem that can only be addressed in the private realm, former Harvard President Derek Bok has argued that the subjective well-being evidence means that it should to be treated as a policy priority. He suggests actions to address it across the spheres of public education, medical training, and research funding. Other research suggests that actions to address noise pollution and promoting the sleep-related benefits of exercise (e.g. through public health campaigns) would also result in improvements."

Below are some of the findings of the survey:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Effort to Restore Children’s Play Gains Momentum

Brian Blanco for The New York Times

SARAH WILSON was speaking proudly the other day when she declared: “My house is a little messy.”

Ms. Wilson has embraced a growing movement to restore the sometimes-untidy business of play to the lives of children. Her interest was piqued when she toured her local elementary school last year, a few months before Benjamin was to enroll in kindergarten. She still remembered her own kindergarten classroom from 1985: it had a sandbox, blocks and toys. But this one had a wall of computers and little desks.

“There’s no imaginative play anymore, no pretend,” Ms. Wilson said with a sigh.

For several years, studies and statistics have been mounting that suggest the culture of play in the United States is vanishing. Children spend far too much time in front of a screen, educators and parents lament — 7 hours 38 minutes a day on average, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year. And only one in five children live within walking distance (a half-mile) of a park or playground, according to a 2010 report by the federal Centers for Disease Control, making them even less inclined to frolic outdoors.

Read the rest of the article here.

Phys Ed: Should Children Run Marathons?

February 23, 2011, 12:01 am

With temperatures warming and the snows of 2011 finally dissolving into oatmeal slush, many people are feeling an insistent urge to get outside and run, perhaps even to start training for a spring marathon or other distance race. But for some of us, particularly those with young families, this laudatory goal can pose a problem. Should we take our kids with us? Can and should children, at any age, be runners?

This question, though commonly voiced by athletic parents (I hear it all the time), has received surprisingly little scientific scrutiny. Injury patterns and other issues in youth football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer have been extensively studied, but not in youth running. Two new studies, however, have looked squarely at what happens when young people run. Unfortunately they seem to have produced, on first reading, incompatible results.

Read the rest of the article here.

Students Still Getting Mono After All These Years

It was only one week into the new school year and Chelsea Day, 13, was already feeling run down. Her head was pounding, her throat was sore and the typically avid soccer player was sleeping every chance she could.

“I was exhausted,” said Chelsea, an eighth grader from Cleveland, who thought she was simply getting used to school again. “As soon as I woke up, I wanted to go back to sleep.”

But a few days later her symptoms got even worse. The glands in her neck became swollen and the left side of her abdomen grew so enlarged that her mother rushed her to the emergency room.

It turned out she had infectious mononucleosis, or mono. Also known as “the kissing disease” because it is spread by close contact, the infection has become something of a rite of passage for many adolescents and young adults. Symptoms, which can last for months, include severe fatigue, fever, sore throats, swollen glands and an enlarged spleen.

Some 95 percent of adults in the United States have been infected with Epstein-Barr, the herpes virus that causes mono, by age 35 to 40. But unlike other herpes viruses, like chickenpox, most people who become infected with Epstein-Barr virus never develop symptoms. And because mono is so common, some experts fear the disease has become trivialized among physicians and the research community.

Read the rest of the article here.

The Claim: A Fake Smile Can be Bad for Your Health

Published: February 21, 2011

When was the last time you flashed a fake smile at the office?

For some, it may be just another mundane aspect of work life — putting on a game face to hide your inner unhappiness. But new research suggests that it may have unexpected consequences: worsening your mood and causing you to withdraw from the tasks at hand.

In a study published this month in the Academy of Management Journal, scientists tracked a group of bus drivers for two weeks, focusing on them because their jobs require frequent, and generally courteous, interactions with many people.

The scientists examined what happened when the drivers engaged in fake smiling, known as “surface acting,” and its opposite, “deep acting,” where they generated authentic smiles through positive thoughts, said an author of the study, Brent Scott, an assistant professor of management at Michigan State University.

Read the rest of the article here.

Speaking Several Languages Might Protect Memory

Study found those who spoke four or more were less likely to suffer cognitive impairment
By Charnicia Huggins

TUESDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The ability to speak several languages not only looks good on a resume when you're young, it may have neurological benefits well after you pass retirement age.

A new study finds that seniors who speak three, four or more languages may have a lower risk of impaired memory than their peers.

Most people already know the cultural advantages of learning foreign languages, but now it appears there are also health benefits to being able to speak in more than one tongue, said lead researcher Magali Perquin, of the Center for Health Studies from the Public Research Center for Health in Luxembourg.

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brain's 'reward' center responds to bad experiences too


Scientists have found that the so-called reward center not only responds to good experiences but also to bad ones.

The finding may help explain the 'thrill' of thrill-seeking behavior or maybe just the thrill of surviving it, according to scientists at Georgia Health Sciences University and East China Normal University.

Eating chocolate or falling off a building-or just the thought of either-can evoke production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that can make the heart race and motivate behavior, said Joe Z. Tsien, Co-Director of GHSU's Brain and Behavior Discovery Institute.

Scientists looked at dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the mouse brain, widely studied for its role in reward-related motivation or drug addiction.

Read the full article here.

Cell Phone Use Impacts Brain Activity

By Catherine Donaldson-Evans
Feb 22nd 2011 4:00PM

Talking on a cell phone for close to an hour has an impact on brain activity, according to the latest research on the subject -- but the long-term health effects remain unclear.

A preliminary study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that using the cell for 50 minutes was associated with a spike in brain glucose metabolism, which is a marker for brain activity.

The increased glucose metabolism happened in the area of the brain closest to the phone antenna, said scientists from the National Institutes of Health. What the results mean from a health standpoint isn't yet known.

Read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sleep and Epilepsy

As part of a comprehensive approach to treating epilepsy and preventing seizures, sleep disorders should be addressed.

Watch this short video by Dr Rotenberg on the topic