Posted On: January 16, 2008

Virginia State Medical Board Reprimands Two Doctors

The Virginia State medical board has reprimanded two obstetricians for how they handled the births of infants that were severely and permanently injured during delivery.

The doctors in question are immune from lawsuit because of a 20-year-old no-fault Virginia program that provides medical care to injured children without requiring a trial while protecting obstetricians from legal action. A consequence of this program was that birth-injury cases would often go unscrutinized and negligent obstetricians could go unnoticed and without reprimand. That is why this an unusual event and the first of its kind in twenty years.

The reprimands do not impose monetary sanction on the doctors, nor do they limit the doctors' ability to practice.

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Posted On: January 11, 2008

Experimental Vaccine May Guard Against Meningitis in Infants

Babies under the age of one are especially susceptible to meningitis. They have the highest rates of infection, but the currently-existing vaccine cannot be used on them. It is restricted to children over two.

However, an experimental vaccine called Menveo may be effective in these infants. Here is what experts have to say about it:

The vaccine was about 94% effective when given in four doses, one at 2 months, 3 months, 4 months and 12 months — a dosing schedule that fits into standard vaccination programs in the U.K., says study author Matthew Snape, a pediatrician at the University of Oxford.

When given in three doses, one each at 2 months, 4 months and 12 months — the standard pattern for shots in the USA — the vaccine was 86% to 100% effective, providing more protection against some strains of the bacteria than others, Snape says.

If approved, a meningococcal vaccine could prevent half of the roughly 300 cases of meningococcal meningitis in babies under 2, says Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Posted On: January 7, 2008

Study Will Test If Extra Attention Can Reduce Autism Risk

Infants who have a sibling with autism are at higher risk of becoming autistic themselves. At the University of Washington, researchers are testing whether or not a special intervention can be done to reduce the chances of autism in these high-risk babies.

Half of the mothers in the study will be taught to notice subtle cues from the babies and how to seize on these cues as opportunities to engage and communicate with them. These cues, it is hypothesized, indicate when the baby is "reaching out" to its parents.

If the study confirms the hypothesis, it means we will have a non-biochemical way of reducing the risk of autism.

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