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American Academy of Pediatrics, Oct. 17-20, 2009

Last Updated: October 22, 2009.

American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition

The American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition took place Oct. 17 to 20 in Washington, D.C., and attracted more than 12,000 attendees, including 7,100 professionals, from around the world. Highlights included new policy statements on media violence, music lyrics, and tobacco use.

The key theme of the meeting was Pediatric Heroes and how we can make life better for children, advocate for those who have no access to care, and encourage that all children are treated with up-to-date evidence-based care, said AAP spokesperson, Joseph Zenel, M.D., of the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls.

Victor Strasburger, M.D., of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, and Rosario Gonzalez, M.D., from the of Puerto Rico School of Medicine in San Juan, lead authors of the two new AAP policy statements, "Media Violence" and "Impact of Music, Music Lyrics, and Music Videos on Children and Youth," recommended that parents and pediatricians play an active role in monitoring and controlling the videos and music their children pay attention to.

"Media violence is the single most negative aspect of entertainment media," Strasburger said in a statement. "Parents who bring young children to see PG-13 and R-rated movies take a risk that their child will see violence as an acceptable way to solve their problems."

"Music plays such a vital role in the socialization and identity of children and adolescents, and parents often don't know what lyrics their children are listening to because of increasing use of downloaded music and headphones," Gonzalez said in a statement.

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In another policy statement, "Tobacco Use: A Pediatric Disease," and two accompanying technical reports, researchers urged smoke-free environments for children in homes and apartment buildings, cars, schools, restaurants, parks, beaches, sidewalks and sporting events.

"Tobacco use is deadly, and the affects of secondhand smoke exposure of children are severe," Dana Best, M.D., of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C.,.co-author of the tobacco policy, said in a statement. "Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma, permanent harm to their lungs, and other significant health effects. Infants born to mothers who smoked or exposed to secondhand smoke during the prenatal period have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome and many other harms. It's important that families make their homes and cars completely smoke- and tobacco-free."

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Significant research presented at the meeting included a review conducted by researchers from the Children's Hospital in Denver of 24 cases of weight-based dosing ordering errors in 22 children. They found that the most frequent errors occurred in high-risk medications such as narcotics, some of which resulted in more than ten-fold overdoses.


Another study presented by researchers from the Windber Research Institute in Pennsylvania, reviewed the impact of the statewide Children's Health Promotion Initiative on the prevention of school-based bullying. They found that the initiative resulted in a 14 percent decrease in the percentage of middle-school students afraid of being bullied and a 49 percent decrease in those reporting having zero or only one friend in their class.


Veerajalandhar Allareddy, M.D., of the Rainbow Babies Children's Hospital in Cleveland, and colleagues analyzed 2006 data on 3,131,324 hospitalizations, including 31,792 hospitalizations of obese children. Compared to normal-weight children, they found that obese children had an average hospital charge that was $1,300 higher and an average hospital stay that was one-half day longer.


Shital N. Parikh, M.D., of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, analyzed national 2003 to 2007 data on the misuse of car seats in infants and its effect on motor-vehicle injuries. It was estimated that 43,562 injuries occurred during the study period, and found that the most common causes were the infant falling from the car seat, the car seat falling from an elevated surface, and the car seat overturning when placed on a soft surface. Head injuries -- including skull fractures -- accounted for 64 percent of total injuries.


The MedImmune company presented four abstracts related to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, including three studies on the growing burden of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): "Late Breaking Trial: A Randomized Controlled Trial of RSV Prophylaxis with Motavizumab versus Palivizumab in Young Children with Hemodynamically Significant Congenital Heart Disease," "Serious Early Childhood Wheezing Following Respiratory Syncytial Virus Lower Respiratory Tract Infection During Infancy Among Preterm Infants," and "Increased Medical Costs and Use within a Year After Respiratory Syncytial Virus Lower Respiratory Tract Infection Among Commercially-Insured Late-Preterm Infants."

The fourth abstract, "Physician-Sponsored Influenza Immunization in Schools," concluded that physicians can play a key role in organizing influenza immunization programs for schools, especially private schools, when health departments are unable to do so.


"With influenza and RSV becoming more widespread this time of year, it remains important to better understand the impact of infectious diseases on pediatric health and the health care system, as well as what we can do to prevent illness," Alexander A. Zukiwski, M.D., MedImmune's executive vice president and chief medical officer, said in a statement. "The data being presented at the conference build on our extensive foundation of research and help advance innovative solutions for preventing illnesses that negatively impact the health of children."

Other highlights included a plenary address by Howard Koh, M.D., the Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Public Health Opportunities in the 21st Century, which tackled issues ranging from H1N1 influenza vaccinations to pediatricians' role in preventing obesity and exposure to tobacco and secondhand smoke.

An expert panel on infectious diseases, emergency medicine, and disaster preparedness also discussed the most recent news regarding the H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

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According to Zenel, another highlight included a plenary address by Tina Cheng, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, on "The Genetics Revolution and Primary Care Pediatrics." Her speech addressed the future of genetic testing, and what the pediatric office will be like, he said. She showed how genetic backgrounds can predict what will happen in the future, and how it might be possible to manipulate the environment to prevent future adverse genetic changes.

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