Posted On: October 31, 2008

Therapy and Medication Combo Treatment for Anxiety

The largest study done yet of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents suggests that a combination of therapy and antidepressant medications is most effective tor treating disabling anxiety in these age groups.

The particular kind of therapy that was effective is called "cognitive behavior therapy" or "talk therapy." The difference between the combination of therapy and medication and each individual treatment alone was dramatic: 8 in 10 children who had the combination improved significantly, as opposed to 6 in 10 of those who had either the medication or the therapy alone.

The doctors who commented on the study in the article say this is something parents and insurance companies should both be very aware of.

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Posted On: October 30, 2008

CDC: HPV and Cervical Cancer Vaccine is Perfectly Safe

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a statement out of its Immunization Safety Office saying that Gardasil, the vaccine designed to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause cervical cancer, is safe and should be given to girls starting at age 11 or 12.

The article notes that some political groups are frightened that the vaccine will encourage girls and young women to engage in sexual activities that the groups do not approve of, and apparently do not feel that saving these women's lives outweighs this risk. These political groups have been trying to claim that Gardasil is not safe or effective. But the CDC statement points out that a study of 370,000 vaccinations showed no evidence of a link to increased blood clots or other serious health problems, meaning that claims of Gardasil's dangers are counterfactual. From the article:

"The results are really reassuring," said Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the infectious diseases division at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "There's a public perception that the vaccine is not safe. This is important for countering negative information."

The article points out that there are almost 4,000 deaths from cervical cancer each year. Doctors hope that this vaccine will reduce the number of these deaths.

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Posted On: October 28, 2008

JAMA: Millions of Uninsured Children Have Insured Parents

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that more than 2 million children without health insurance have parents with health insurance that covers the working parent only.

Why is this? Because, the researchers say, the parents cannot afford the large payments needed to insure the child.

“I think there’s been a myth that all uninsured children have uninsured parents, and so if we cover the parents we can cover the kids,” said Dr. Jennifer DeVoe of Oregon Health & Science University, who led a study, in an interview. “In most cases, the parents have insurance through work at a reduced rate or no cost, but adding their family is unaffordable.”

The article points out that most of these children are from single-parent families, Hispanic families, and live in the South or the West. Many of them may qualify for some form of public assistance but their parents are unaware of it.

The abstract of the JAMA article can be found here. If you follow it, you will see that 3% of all American children are uninsured with at least one insured parent. This kind of situation is frequently found in low-income households, but middle-class income is also a predictor of being in this position. Even middle-class families aren't immune to this tragic problem.

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Posted On: October 22, 2008

More Food Allergies Among American Kids

A new federal report says that food allergies have risen 18% among American children in the last decade.

From the article:

Eight types of foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies -- milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Allergic reactions to these foods can range from a tingling sensation around the mouth and lips, to hives and even death, depending on the severity of the reaction, the report's authors said.

The report also said that children with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have asthma or other allergies, compared to children without food allergies.

As discussed in the article, there is much we don't know about allergies. We don't know where they come from or why some children do not outgrow the allergies by adulthood, which is what happens in the majority of cases.

The full report can be found at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website: Food Allergies Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations.

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Posted On: October 2, 2008

Experts at Hopkins in Baltimore Recommend Labels for Energy Drinks for Kids

Caffeine is technically a drug, although it's hard to think of it like that.

But some experts are saying that, because caffeinated energy drinks promise some of the same effects as prescription drugs, they should be labeled so kids know that anything that produces those effects has to be treated with caution:

Because energy drinks are touted as performance enhancers and stimulants, Dr. Roland R. Griffiths explained in an interview with Reuters Health, kids who use them for these reasons will likely be more open to trying prescription drugs that promise the same effects.

"It seems like it's a pretty easy threshold to step over, but as a society we want to make this a bright line," Griffiths said in an interview.

In their report on the marketing, regulation and health effects of caffeinated energy drinks published this month in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Griffiths and his colleagues at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine call for regulations requiring energy drink makers to list the caffeine content of their products on their labels, and warn of the potential for caffeine intoxication.

The whole article merits reading as it contains a lot of little-known information about energy drinks and how they are manufactured and what they contain.

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Posted On: October 1, 2008

Government Experts Urge Flu Vaccination For Infants

Until recently, public health officials only recommended flu vaccinations for children two years old or older.

But now, as flu season approaches, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that babies as young as six months get the vaccine.

From the article:

The flu vaccine is recommended for people 50 years and over, people with certain chronic medical conditions, people in nursing homes, pregnant women, and children 6 months to 18 years old unless they have a serious egg allergy. The vaccine is also recommended for health workers, and anyone in close contact with infants or others at-risk.

For further information, go to www.cdc.gov and check out the links about the flu.

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