Video: Young Man and Speech Therapist Talk about Stuttering

Last updated on September 29th, 2015 at 10:04 pm

Learn about the causes and challenges of stuttering (also known as stammering) from a speech therapist and a young man who’s living with stuttering. Jamal eventually got help for the problem and has since embraced his stutter as just another aspect of who he is – not a defining element.

Editor’s Note: Video Highlights

  • Stuttering or stammering is a difficulty with fluency in speech
  • Physically it can manifest or be experienced as a person repeating sounds or words, or becoming completely blocked in speaking
  • But there are also a lot of internal, often negative, feelings about stuttering – particularly as a child ages
  • Ways that people use to cope with stuttering is avoidance or substitution of words – and even avoidance of social situations – trying to deal with the stuttering is always top of mind
  • Stuttering background conceptThe issue can affect everyday situations and, as a person grows, can become a barrier to employment, through avoiding interviews
  • There is a lot of help now for people who stutter – best to get specialist help, such as speech therapy
  • It’s never too late to get help, whether a child or an adult – a cure may not be possible, but real improvement is possible

For more information on the characteristics, causes and treatment of stammering, check out this link from NHS Choices or The Stuttering Foundation

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 08-31-2015 to 09-06-2015

Last updated on September 14th, 2015 at 11:20 am

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Top Headline of the Week:
Being a meaning partner in your child’s IEP – Please read if your child is eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
http://t.co/dXiDYDkytM

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week #2:
10 Signs Your Child’s Concussion Is Serious — and What to Do http://t.co/HYIkbFimIj

Is The Food in Your House Safe to Feed Your Family?

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Little girl and mother cooking together in the kitchen.Food poisoning is a real issue in American households and restaurants. It is estimated that 48 million food-borne illnesses are reported each year. That is pretty staggering when you think that the entire population of the United States is 318 million – 15% of the population is affected each and every year! Infants, children, the elderly and those that are already sick are the most vulnerable. We would be remiss if we did not discuss the basics in food safety.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics along with ConAgra Foods has put together an excellent website on food safety. They have put food safety basics in 4 categories: WASH, SEPARATE, COOK & REFRIGERATE.

WASH
This includes cleaning your hands, your food items and all food preparation surfaces.

SEPARATE
Be sure to keep all raw meat, poultry and fish separate from other food until it is ready to cook.

COOK
Make sure all foods are cooked to a proper temperatures . Also make sure any leftovers are reheated to at least 165 degrees.

REFRIGERATE
Refrigerate leftovers immediately in shallow containers to below 45 degrees. Do not keep leftovers beyond the suggestion times.

When cooking with your kids and teenagers, be sure to teach them food safety. Learn more details of each of these areas of WASH, SEPARATE, COOK & REFERIGERATE on the Home Food Safety website.

Courage and Compassion: Tatum’s Bags of Fun

Last updated on September 14th, 2015 at 11:19 am

I had the opportunity to attend a fundraising benefit last weekend to support kids with cancer in Indiana, my home state. The White Party is the signature annual event for the charity, Tatum’s Bags of Fun.

Who is Tatum and What are Bags of Fun?

Tatum During her First Treatment

Tatum during her first treatment

I’m glad you asked! Tatum is a two-time cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at age 6, and again eighteen months later. Now 15 year’s old, Tatum is 6-years cancer-free.

Once Tatum was doing better – having endured 3 surgeries and multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation over two years – she did not simply go off and resume her former life. She remembered just how much she benefited during out-of-state treatment from receiving a bag of goodies from the Gabby Krause Foundation – so she and her family resolved to do the same for kids diagnosed with cancer in Indiana.

Bags of fun are backpacks filled with age-appropriate games, toys and activities to keep kids amused and occupied while in the hospital and getting chemotherapy. As Tatum says in the video on her website, “during your treatments you’re really tired, you’re really weak, you don’t really feel like getting up and moving…and it’s a lot of times boring!” Bags of fun are based on the idea that kids are kids…even sick kids!

Tatum with a bag of fun!

Tatum with a bag of fun!

Tatum and her family started giving out the bags in 2008, making this the seventh year they have been supporting local kids with cancer. They give out more than 300 backpacks each year across the state – which sadly indicates how many children are afflicted by cancer each year just in Indiana. The White Party I attended last Saturday – where everyone wears all white to represent purity and freedom from cancer – was the sixth annual version of this event and helps to raise the funds needed for these bags of fun – each of which costs more than $300 to stock.

Tatum-smilingI was able to meet Tatum on Saturday evening and heard both her and her father speak to the group. She’s a really impressive girl, and very articulate for a teen – which you can see from her video on the Tatum’s Bags of Fun home page (and she was only 12 years old when the video was made!) She also does a lot of speaking engagements at schools and clubs and seems to work tirelessly on fundraising efforts (rather than, say, play video games or upload photos to snapchat!). A lot of other folks seem to think she’s impressive too, as indicated by the testimonial videos on the website – including one by John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, a wonderful book (and movie) about teens with cancer, that was set in Indianapolis (where John Green was born).

I find Tatum’s work – and her courage – to be an inspiration. Clearly she and her family are making a difference in the lives of children who have to fight a battle no one that young should ever have to. Testimonials on Tatum’s website from these kids and their parents tell the story better than I ever could. Below are a a few excerpts.

  • “As a parent you have touched my heart forever…. I was in tears because someone thought of something to give my son to help get him through this difficult journey he is on. ”
  • “…it was one of the last fun and happy times we had together. I will always remember it, and I thank you. I know that our son does too.”
  • “…What I really want you to know is you made her forget about how scared and sick she was. In that moment that we saw how excited she was, we all forgot. I want you to know that you made a difference in her life. She was dealt a very unfortunate hand but you have made it much, much easier to deal with. For all of us.”

Study Indicates IVF Poses Minimal Risk of Autism and Low IQ

Last updated on September 14th, 2015 at 11:19 am

IVF-and-autism-lowIQ“Children born after certain infertility treatments at higher risk of autism,” reads the headline in The Independent. The news is based on a large long-term Swedish study.

Researchers looked at how children were conceived and how this might affect their risk of developing autism, a type of autistic spectrum disorder, or “mental retardation”, a term used by researchers to describe a person with an IQ under 70 (average IQ is 100).

The Independent’s headline is misleading, as the study in fact found there was no statistically significant increase in the risk of autism in children conceived through any form of in vitro fertilisation (IVF). However, there was a statistically significant increase in the risk of mental retardation, but this increase was slight. The occurrence of mental retardation was 39.8 per 100,000 births in those conceived spontaneously, compared with 46.3 per 100,000 births in those conceived through IVF. This represents a difference of just 6.5 cases per 100,000 births.

This news should not cause alarm among those thinking about undergoing IVF treatment, but does highlight a potential association between IVF and mental development that warrants further study.

Where did the story come from?

The study was led by researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and was funded by Autism Speaks, a non-profit organisation that provides funding for autism spectrum disorder research, and the Swedish Research Council.

It was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Asssociation (JAMA).

Most of the UK media’s reporting was balanced, including The Independent’s coverage, which outlined important information on how “scientists stressed that the chances of an IVF baby being affected was tiny in real terms”.

But many of the headline writers failed to make a similar distinction, with the exception of The Guardian and ITV News, which wrote that “IVF findings ‘should not stop parents using fertility treatments’.”

What kind of research was this?

This was a prospective cohort study designed to test whether the use of any IVF procedure (as well as specific types of IVF procedures) may be associated with an increased risk of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and mental retardation in children conceived this way.

IVF allows a woman’s egg to be fertilised by sperm outside the body under controlled laboratory conditions. Different types of IVF have been developed over the years, and the researchers pointed towards previous research that suggests intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) might damage the egg when the sperm is inserted.

ICSI is usually used to treat male infertility (when the man has a low sperm count, or there are problems with the movement of sperm impeding natural conception, for instance) and involves injecting sperm directly into the egg.

The research group highlight that there is little research on how IVF, and different types of IVF, influence the brain development of children conceived using these techniques. Their study aimed to fill in this gap in our knowledge.

What did the research involve?

The researchers reviewed the records of more than 2.5 million infants born in Sweden between 1982 and 2007. They recorded how they were conceived and whether they were diagnosed with ASD or had “mental retardation” at the age of four.

Conception was categorised as being spontaneous (without IVF) or using IVF. The specific type of IVF used was also recorded, as was the source of the sperm (ejaculated or surgically extracted).

ASD is described as a deficit in social interaction and communication that also involves restricted, stereotypical or repetitive behaviour. Read more about the signs and symptoms of ASD. “Mental retardation” is defined as an IQ lower than 70, plus limitations in adaptive behaviour.

In Sweden, where the research took place, all infants and preschool children are regularly seen at “well-child” care clinics, and undergo routine medical and developmental screening. At the age of four, all children undergo a mandatory developmental assessment of their motor skills, language, and cognitive and social development. Children with a suspected developmental disorder are referred for further assessment by a specialised team.

The researchers used information from these assessments and the years that followed to categorise the children as having either infantile and childhood autism or mental retardation. They used diagnostic criteria from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ninth edition. These definitions did not include other forms of ASD such as Asperger syndrome, a higher-functioning form of ASD where intelligence is usually unaffected.

The researchers’ main analysis compared the incidence of ASD and mental retardation, and whether the conditions differed depending on the method of conception.

The analysis was adjusted to take into account some confounders known to influence the risk of impaired child brain development, including:

  • Parental psychiatric history
  • Birth year
  • Multiple births
  • Preterm birth (less than 37 weeks)

What were the basic results?

Out of the approximately 2.5 million infants born, 30,959 (1.2%) were conceived by IVF. These were followed-up for an average of 10 years. Overall, 103 of 6,959 children (1.5%) with ASD and 180 of 15,830 (1.1%) with mental retardation were conceived by IVF.

The key results showed:

  • There was no statistically significant difference between the risk of the child developing ASD in those conceived spontaneously and those using IVF (all types grouped together).
  • There was a small and borderline significant increased risk of the child developing mental retardation if they were conceived using IVF (all types grouped together) compared with spontaneous conception. The occurrence of mental retardation was 39.8 per 100,000 births in those conceived spontaneously, compared with 46.3 per 100,000 births conceived through IVF.
  • When the analysis was restricted to single births, the increased risk of mental retardation disappeared, so it only seemed relevant to multiple births from the same mother.

There were statistically significant differences in the risk of developing autism and mental retardation depending on the specific IVF techniques used to conceive. Compared with IVF without ICSI, there were statistically significant increases in the risk of ASD and mental retardation following ICSI. The relative risk increases when comparing IVF with and without ICSI were much larger than the overall relative risks reported when comparing IVF with spontaneous conception.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that, “compared with spontaneous conception, IVF treatment overall was not associated with autistic disorder but was associated with a small but statistically significant increased risk of mental retardation“.

For specific procedures, IVF with ICSI for paternal infertility was associated with a “small increase in the RR for autistic disorder and mental retardation compared with IVF without ICSI”.

But the researchers do point out that “the prevalence of these disorders was low, and the increase in absolute risk associated with IVF was small”.

Conclusion

This large cohort study showed that compared with spontaneous conception, IVF treatment (all techniques combined) was not associated with autistic disorder but was associated with a small, borderline significant increase in the risk of mental retardation.

For specific IVF procedures, IVF with ICSI was associated with a small increase in the risk of ASD and mental retardation compared with IVF that did not involve ICSI.

This study benefits from a large sample size and robust data collection methods, and did well to address an issue few other studies have looked at. But it’s worth noting that there may be other unrecorded factors – beyond the conception method – that influence the likelihood of a child developing autism or mental retardation.

While the researchers adjusted for some of these factors, there may be other factors that are also influencing the findings, such as parental socioeconomic status. As the researchers point out, the Swedish health authorities fund three cycles of IVF, so this may bias the results towards richer couples who have the means to pay for additional cycles that lead to more conceptions.

While the headlines may seem scary at first glance, it is important to highlight that the real risk increases are very small, a statement reiterated by the study authors themselves and, refreshingly, in some of the news coverage.

However, the influence of the specific type of IVF on the risk profiles for both developmental conditions is interesting and a worthy area of further research. It is hoped that further innovations can refine these techniques and lead to a reduction in the very low risk of complications.

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter.

Summary

“Children born after certain infertility treatments at higher risk of autism,” reads the headline in The Independent. The news is based on a large long-term Swedish study researchers looked at.

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Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 08-24-2015 to 08-30-2015

Last updated on September 14th, 2015 at 11:19 am

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Report: time for new pacifier safety standards http://t.co/JVXEDX1Ava