Tag Archives: pediatrics

Journal roundtable explores practices to reduce anesthesia-related deaths in pediatric dentistry

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Mikael Wiman via Flickr

A small child is taken to a dental office for care. He is placed under sedation for the treatment of advanced tooth decay. He never wakes up.

The case, outlined in a recent “Ethics Rounds” commentary for the journal Pediatrics, bears a heartbreaking similarity to stories that sometimes lead the local news. Continue reading

Mother, legislators advocate for more regulation of pediatric dentistry

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

On Jan. 4, Ashley Boyle returned to Kailua Beach to remember her lost child.

The date marked a year and a day since 3-year-old Finley Boyle died. The little girl lapsed into a coma after undergoing a dental procedure, reporter Ben Gutierrez reminded viewers of Hawaii News Now.

A medical examiner’s report found that Finley suffered cardiac arrest after she was given sedatives during a procedure at Island Dentistry for Children in December 2013. She died a month later, on Jan 3, 2014. Continue reading

Research into behavioral genetics in its infancy #ahcj13

Jeannette Moninger

About Jeannette Moninger

Jeannette Moninger is an independent journalist based in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Her articles have appeared in Family Circle, Parents, Fitness, WebMD and others.

At the Health Journalism 2013 session on Shaping the Pediatric Brain, independent journalist David Dobbs shared insights on researching and writing his 2009 article for The Atlantic, “The Science of Success.”

The article served as a springboard for a book that Dobbs is working on about behavioral genetics, tentatively titled “The Orchid and the Dandelion.” The book title plays off a new theory of genetics based on the hypothesis that “dandelion” children appear to grow up okay regardless of their environment. That is, they’ll be fine in a garden, a greenhouse or a crack in the sidewalk.

“Orchid” children, on the other hand, thrive under good care (a greenhouse), do okay in a so-so environment (garden), and wilt in a bad environment (crack in the sidewalk). Over the past couple of years, this hypothesis has started gaining momentum among child development specialists and behavioral geneticists interested in how environment and genetics shape who we are.  Continue reading

Panel will explore how childhood experiences shape the brain #ahcj13

Karen Brown

About Karen Brown

Karen Brown is a mental health writer whose work airs on New England Public Radio and other outlets. She is an AHCJ member and will be moderating a panel on this topic at Health Journalism 2013, coming March 14-17 to Boston.

The notion that what happens to you when you’re young can stay with you for years is a compelling one, but it’s not new.

A look at some of the issues, sessions and ideas to keep in mind for those planning to attend Health Journalism 2013, the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Sigmund Freud became a cultural icon for his theories on early experience and the future psyche. Literature has long weaved childhood memories into adult relationships and mental wellbeing. So have movies. (See: “The Three Faces of Eve,” “Prince of Tides,” “Mystic River”….) The concept simply resonates – both as a psychological construct, and as a metaphorical one.

So why have a conference session now on this seemingly classic idea?

Neuroscience – that’s why. The discipline of brain research has exploded in recent years – largely as a result of beautiful new imaging methods and advanced genetic technology. Scientists can compare the brains of very young children with those same brains years later. They can compare the brains of people who underwent certain childhood experiences (good or bad) with those who didn’t. Or they can seek answers about humans through brain research on animals. All this helps find connections between trauma and brain structure, between genetic make-up and resilience – with a farther-off goal of developing helpful therapies. I think it also feeds into one of the most enduring questions of psychology: which qualities are innate, and which ones are molded by time, development, and experience. Continue reading

Some women’s magazines model poor baby care

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Children’s National Medical Center researchers Dr. Rachel Moon and Brandi Joyner looked at pictures of sleeping babies in 28 magazines popular with women of childbearing age and found that, of the 391 unique images analyzed (230 of which were in advertisements), 122 showed sleeping babies and 99 showed infant sleeping environments (but not the infants themselves).

More than a third of the sleeping babies were shown in improper sleeping positions (side and prone) that violate American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations and increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Furthermore, two-thirds of the photographs portraying sleeping environments showed loose bedding and other objects and locations that violate the safety recommendations and, the report says, increase the risk of SIDS fivefold. In general, advertisements were more likely to include guideline-violating images than their editorial counterparts.

Two vaccines keeping kids out of ERs

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Maryn McKenna writes in Annals of Emergency Medicine that the impressive recent success of rotavirus and pneumococcus vaccines has caused emergency room doctors to ask “Where have the kids gone?”

The vaccines, Prevnar and Rotateq, were introduced earlier in the decade, and their effects are beginning to be felt across the country.

The benefits of such sharp changes in incidence include not only reduced burden of disease but reduced health care utilization and cost; one 2007 study found that, thanks to Prevnar, annual hospitalization and ambulatory expenditures for children younger than 2 years shrank 45% between 1999 and 2004, from $688.2 million to $376.7 million.3 There are more subtle effects as well, some as simple as reducing the stress on a child and his parents because less blood work means fewer needle sticks during an ED stay.

Interestingly, McKenna found physicians worrying that colleagues who entered the profession after these vaccines hit the market would be underexposed to cases of the now widely prevented diseases, and may thus find it difficult to recognize them if or when they do occur.

Physicians who have been in the specialty long enough to have experienced the introduction of Hib vaccine in the mid 1980s, with its extraordinary suppression of bacterial meningitis, and the subsequent introduction of Prevnar, caution that success brings its own risks as well. The lower the incidence of a disease, the less likely younger physicians are to experience it in their training — and thus the more careful medicine must be to make sure certain procedures are still taught.