By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Usually, I write about a single topic each week. However, last week I received my current copy of Pediatric News from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). It had several items of interest. None of them were long enough for a full column. So I thought it would make sense to summarize the latest pediatric news.

The lead article talked about childhood obesity. In 2007 the AAP published guidelines about obesity. Those guidelines focused on behavior modification. They focused on discussing healthy eating habits. The result was that more children are now obese than they were in 2007.

The new guidelines are more aggressive. Obesity causes many issues in children. A Type 2 diabetes increase is the best example. The new guidelines call for a more aggressive approach. That approach might include weight loss medication. That approach might include weight loss surgery. They focus on children 12 years of age and older.

A related story addressed the fact that 75 percent of children with Type 2 diabetes were obese. However, in 25 percent obesity was not present. Therefore other factors are at work. The problem that this creates is that physicians tend to be less likely to look for diabetes if a child is not obese. That may not be the best approach.

A second article talks about a well conducted study evaluating CT scans in children. The study concluded that 1 in 10,000 children who have a CT scan develop a radiation-induced brain tumor. 1 in 10,000 is not much. However, it is for the child who is that 1 in 10,000. CT scans in children need to have good indications. Parents need to be careful about urging physicians to do a CT scan on their child.

A third article discussed the increased number of states that have passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana. What they have not legalized is having the parents be smart about the drug. 

Some people use ingestible marijuana. It can come in a variety of forms like candy and baked goods such as cookies. Parents need to realize that like any poison these things need to be kept out of children’s reach. 

In 2017 there were 207 calls to the national poison control center about children under age 5 who had eaten marijuana. By 2021 that number had risen to 3,054 calls. Not many more states had legalized marijuana by that time. However, it was clear that parents were more careless.

The emotional reaction to COVID-19 vaccine has resulted in a decreased vaccination rate against childhood diseases in children entering kindergarten. As a result we recently had an outbreak of measles in 65 children in one area. None of the children had received their measles vaccine. Some people tend to forget that in 1939 measles was one of the top ten causes of mortality in children in the U.S. 

I have written in the past that social media encourages people to be online bullies. Another article talked about online “parent support groups.” Unfortunately, the support was not always supportive. Parents were shamed if they vaccinated their children. Parents were shamed for using steroid creams for treating eczema. Parents were shamed for not breastfeeding. 

The bottom line is that a support group should be just that. If the individuals act like bullies, it is best to find a better group of individuals.

That summary should bring everyone up to date on what is currently happening in the world of pediatrics.