The annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies was held from April 30 to May 3 in Denver and attracted more than 7,900 participants from around the world. The conference highlighted recent advances in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illnesses in children, adolescents, and teens, focusing on the latest research in pediatric health care.
Sarbattama Sen, M.D., of the Tufts University Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues found that pregnant women who were obese were less capable of fighting off infections compared to their leaner counterparts.
"Obesity before and during pregnancy impairs a woman's ability to fight infections during pregnancy, which could adversely affect the health of the mother and her infant," Sen said.
The investigators drew blood from 30 women between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, including 15 obese women (body mass index [BMI] >30 kg/m²) and 15 women with a normal BMI (between 20 and 25 kg/m²). Compared to leaner pregnant women, the investigators found that obese pregnant women had fewer cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells. In addition, the ability of obese pregnant women to produce cells to fight infection was impaired.
"The implications for future practice are that women who are obese need to be carefully monitored and treated for infections compared to lean women," Sen said.
In another study, Pamela J. Kling, M.D., of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and colleagues found that infants born to obese mothers (BMI of 30 kg/m² or higher) were more likely to have an impaired iron status compared to infants born to mothers with a BMI of less than 30 kg/m².
"At this time there is no single test to prove that a newborn is iron-deficient, and this marker may help provide a new risk factor in identifying pregnant mothers and/or their newborns with poor iron status," Kling said.
The investigators evaluated 281 mother/newborn pairs and found evidence of impaired iron status in newborns of women who were obese.
"This is the first study to identify that obesity impairs iron status of the newborn. Half of the iron that the baby requires for the first year's growth is obtained before birth. Iron deficiency as a fetus or young infant can cause life-long learning problems, so identifying risk factors for poor iron status in early life is very important," Kling said. "The implication of our findings is that obstetrics/gynecology doctors should monitor a pregnant mother's iron status not only at the beginning of pregnancy but throughout pregnancy, especially if the mother is obese with a BMI greater than 30."
Adam J. Spanier, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, and colleagues found that early pregnancy exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) is associated with wheezing in children.
The investigators evaluated the relationship between prenatal exposure to BPA and wheezing in childhood among 367 pairs of mothers and infants. The investigators measured BPA levels in the urine of the pregnant women at 16 and 26 weeks' gestation as well as upon delivery.
The researchers found that 99 percent of children were born to mothers who had detectable BPA in their urine at some point during pregnancy. At 6 months of age, infants whose mothers had high levels of BPA during pregnancy were twice as likely to wheeze compared with infants whose mothers had low levels of BPA. At 3 years of age, the investigators found no differences in wheezing rates. The investigators also found that high BPA levels detected in women at 16 weeks' gestation were associated with wheezing in their offspring. However, high BPA levels at 26 weeks' gestation and birth were not associated with wheezing.
"This is the first study of the association of BPA with child wheeze, so it should be replicated. If these results are confirmed in future studies, we might recommend that women of childbearing age avoid exposure to BPA. It would also have important policy implications," Spanier said.
In another study, Kathryn L. King, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital in Charleston, and colleagues found that academic achievement improved in a public elementary school in South Carolina that implemented a specialized program combining developmentally appropriate daily physical activity with classroom lessons.
"In this study, we aimed to prove that academic achievement was not going to get worse and actually found that academic achievement got much better. We evaluated 105 children one year prior to implementing the program and then after implementing the program, basically matching them against themselves," King said.
The investigators implemented a daily physical activity program (40 minutes a day, five days a week) that incorporated classroom lessons among first- through sixth-graders at an academically low-scoring elementary school to assess the impact on student achievement. The investigators compared state standardized reading test scores taken in the spring and fall for the year before and the year after initiation of the program. Fall test results included an individualized goal for each student to reach for spring testing. The investigators measured the number of students who met or exceeded their goal score during spring testing.
The researchers found that the percentage of students reaching their goal on the state tests increased from 55 percent prior to program initiation to 68.5 percent after the program implementation.
"While previous studies have shown that physically fit children tend to do better academically, these results are a bit different because they show that low-achieving students' test scores can be improved by increasing the amount of physical activity scheduled into their day. We hope that through the hard work of the administrators, teachers, and students at this school these results will help other school systems feel more comfortable implementing a similar program," King said.
PAS: Tailored Exercise Benefits Cystic Fibrosis Patients
TUESDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teenagers with cystic fibrosis (CF) may benefit from an individually tailored exercise program, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 30 to May 3 in Denver.
PAS: Media Exposure Common in Child Care Centers
TUESDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Media exposure, including television and computer use, appears to be common in child care centers, with less than half of centers compliant with American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines on television use in child care, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 30 to May 3 in Denver.
PAS: Pharmacies Often Give Infants Overdose Amounts
MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Infants and toddlers receive overdose quantities of narcotic prescriptions from pharmacies fairly regularly, with younger ages associated with higher frequencies of overdose, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 30 to May 3 in Denver.
PAS: ASD Screen of Preterm Babies May Be Inaccurate
MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Screening extremely preterm infants for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at 18 months of age may not provide accurate results, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 30 to May 3 in Denver.
PAS: Secondhand Smoke May Raise Boys' Blood Pressure
MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Secondhand smoke exposure among boys, but not girls, appears to be associated with elevated systolic blood pressure, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 30 to May 3 in Denver.
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