The Pediatric Academic Societies' Annual Meeting took place May 1 to 4 in Vancouver, Canada, and attracted more than 7,500 participants from around the world. The conference focused on advances in pediatric medicine, including developments in basic and clinical sciences, translational and health services research, and clinical practice.
Key highlights included the latest research into autism spectrum disorders and obesity implications in pediatric patients. In addition, presentations focused on endocrine disruptions in youth, recession impacts on children and adolescents, comprehensive asthma management, lack of sleep implications, and the use of probiotics for weight gain in extremely-low-birth-weight infants.
In one study, presented by Leslie A. Lytle, Ph.D., of the Seattle Children's Research Institute, researchers found that shorter sleep duration among adolescents, particularly boys, was associated with a higher percentage of body fat, higher body mass index (BMI), and being categorized as overweight.
The researchers collected data on 723 adolescents, including information on length of sleep during the week and on weekends and sleep problems, as well as information on the foods and beverages consumed the prior day, with accelerometers used to measure adolescent activity for seven days.
While overall shorter sleep duration was related to a higher BMI in adolescent boys, only shorter sleep duration on weekends was associated with a higher BMI in adolescent girls. In addition, the researchers showed no relationship between shorter sleep duration and the weight-related factors studied in older adolescents (high school age). However, shorter sleep duration was associated with a higher percentage of body fat, higher BMI, and being categorized as overweight in younger adolescents (middle school age).
"For practicing clinicians, the story is that we need to pay more attention to sleep as a health behavior, and address this with families and adolescents that are seen in practice," Lytle said. "Particularly in boys and younger adolescents, practicing clinicians need to remind families that getting enough sleep -- and for adolescents that is at least nine hours of sleep daily -- is important to their health."
In another study, presented at the conference by Asheley Cockrell Skinner, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, researchers found that children and adolescents may not need to fast overnight prior to cholesterol testing.
In evaluating a nationally representative sample of approximately 17,000 children and adolescents, the researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999 to 2006), which included results of cholesterol testing (total cholesterol [TC], high-density lipoproteins [HDL], low-density lipoproteins [LDL], and triglycerides [TG]) on children aged 3 years and older, and whether or not fasting occurred for eight hours or more.
While TG varied depending on whether the child had fasted, and LDL cholesterol was slightly higher among children who fasted, TC and HDL cholesterol levels were similar between those who fasted for at least eight hours and those who did not fast.
"These results suggest it might be acceptable to simply test children immediately during whatever clinical visit prompted the recommendation to test," Skinner said in a statement. "Because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cholesterol screening for a large group of children, these findings could reduce the burden of such screening."
In a study presented by Mohamad Al-Hosni, M.D., of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, researchers showed that extremely-low-birth-weight infants, weighing 2 pounds, 2 ounces or less, experienced weight-gain benefits when their feedings were supplemented with probiotics, compared to those who were not given probiotic supplementation.
Although the average daily volume of feedings among infants receiving probiotic supplementation was lower than those who did not receive supplementation, the researchers found increased weight gain in the former group. In addition, supplementation with probiotics did not result in additional adverse events.
"These findings strongly suggest that probiotic supplementation to enteral feedings plays a major role in feeding tolerance and nutrient absorption," Al-Hosni said in a statement.
With asthma being the leading cause of admissions at the Children's Hospital Boston, particularly among minority patients from low socioeconomic backgrounds, Faye F. Holder-Niles, M.D., of the hospital, and colleagues found that a comprehensive asthma care program that includes education, specialist referrals, and home health care visits improved patients' health, resulting in decreased emergency department visits.
Among 1,900 asthmatic patients who took part in the comprehensive asthma care program, asthma-related emergency department visits decreased from 26 percent in 2006 to 9.9 percent in 2009, resulting in an overall 62 percent decrease. In addition, asthma-related inpatient hospitalization rates decreased from 10.5 percent in 2006 to 4 percent in 2009, also resulting in an overall 62 percent decrease.
"With increased access to their primary care providers, increased knowledge about their child's disease process and greater control over environmental triggers, families are better empowered to manage their children's asthma symptoms," Holder-Niles said in a statement. "This comprehensive approach to asthma can have tremendous impact on the lives of asthmatic patients."
PAS: Prenatal Smoking May Up Psychiatric Drug Use Risk
TUESDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to prenatal smoking is associated with an increased risk for use of psychiatric drugs -- particularly those used to treat depression, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and addiction -- in childhood and young adulthood, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from May 1 to 4 in Vancouver, Canada.
PAS: GI Issues Common in Children With Autism
MONDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms occur in almost half of children with autism spectrum disorders, and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches are becoming more popular for children with autism, including those with GI issues, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from May 1 to 4 in Vancouver, Canada.
PAS: Abusive Head Trauma Up in Children During Recession
MONDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of abusive head trauma (AHT) among children has increased greatly since the start of the economic downturn in December 2007, though the increase may have no connection to higher unemployment rates, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from May 1 to 4 in Vancouver, Canada.
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