MEDICAL RESEARCH UPDATE.
According to research by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a growing number of the children being introduced into the foster care system have "complicated and serious physical, mental, and developmental health problems." To address this situation, the AAP has set down new recommendations to be followed by potential caregivers. The new policy places a high importance on the caregiver-child relationship, and is designed to "ensure optimal brain development" starting in the child's "critical early years" (under age 5). Below is a summary of the recommendations:
* The physical, emotional, and developmental needs of a child depend greatly on caregiver nurturing.
*Pediatricians need to do more to encourage caregivers to mix frequent love and attention with necessary discipline. Caregivers should also be encouraged to stimulate the child through verbal conversation, holding reading books, music, and play.
* Consistent and predictable childcare is vital to the child. Home-placement changes, on the other hand, can be detrimental.
* The needs of the child should always come first-even before the needs of the biological parents-when foster care placement is being considered.
* The ability of a child to deal with internal and external stress is directly related to that child's attachment to his/her caregiver and the child's developmental level.
* Based on results of periodic evaluations of their strengths and needs, children in foster care should receive the appropriate services and any other supports necessary to make foster care a healing process.
For a closer look at these recommendations, see the November 2000 issue of Pediatrics.
A VIRUS THAT MAY ONE DAY HELP TREAT MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY
New research coming out of the University of Pittsburgh suggests that scientists are getting closer to treatment for the most common form of muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
In the study, a genetically altered virus called adeno-associated virus was injected into the calf muscles of mice that lacked dystrophin protein. Dystrophin protein is necessary for muscle function but one that people with Duchenne lack. In 90 percent of the treated tissue, the virus induced production of the protein. Research is currently under way on how this protein can be administered into the rest of the body's muscle groups.
Admitting that "results from animal trials cannot directly translate to humans," and that human trials are several years away, Dr. Xiao Xiao, head researcher of the new study and assistant professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry, concedes being "very excited about this." Equally enthusiastic is the Chair of the National Medical Advisory Committee for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and neurologist at Cornell Medical School, Dr. Leon Charash. "Apparently, [the potential treatment] has some promise," he says, "in being able to deliver the necessary missing DNA to the cells, which then can hopefully produce the normal protein and turn the disease around, arrest progress, and very possibly, [produce] a cure."
The President of the Middletown, Ohio-based Parent Project for Muscular Dystrophy Research, Pat Furlong, also hailed the research as promising. "This is remarkable news for children who need such good news. Even being able to promote small miracles like lifting a fork, rolling over in bed or hugging someone you love--as parents of children with this disease, we're very happy for Xiao's work." For more information on this study, refer to the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 97: 13714-13719.
DOCTORS URGED TO EVALUATE NEWBORNS WITH GENITAL ABNORMALITIES THOROUGHLY BEFORE ASSIGNING GENDER
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently issued a new policy that recommends medical staff and parents delay making immediate gender ssignments to newborns with genital abnormalities until a thorough review of the child's condition is done. examination, the new policy urges that laboratory tests be done as well to help make a more accurate gender determination. Some intersex disorders, which are caused by genetic and/or hormonal abnormalities, may not be immediately apparent---but much later, perhaps at childhood or adolescence.
A few techniques to help determine the sex of a child bom with ambiguous genitalia, such as endocrine function evaluation and testosterone imprinting, are currently available to doctors and laboratories. Once a determination is made, the doctor, working in conjunction with the parents, can explain and schedule treatment, in which surgery may or may not be necessary.
The new recommendation goes on to encourage pediatricians to coordinate the diagnostic evaluation, help families understand their child's medical condition, and keep the lines of communication open between the family and the entire healthcare team.
To read the above policy in full, see the July 2000 issue of Pediatrics.
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|Publication:||The Exceptional Parent|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2001|
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