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Pediatric News Update

"Pediatric News Updates" are reported from actual news sources, but do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Families United on the Net, For the well-being of all children, parents should not try to diagnose their children, but should seek the advice and care of a pediatrician or family physician.

Educating parents is the single most important element in reducing oral antibiotic overuse, according to a survey of over 600 pediatricians published in the February Issued of Pediatrics, the medical journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

According to the study, over 50 percent of pediatricians said parental pressure contributed most to oral antibiotics overuse, as compared to concerns about legal liability (12 percent) or being efficient in practice (19 percent). In addition, 96 percent of pediatricians had parents request antibiotics during the previous month when they were not needed, and 40 percent reported that this happened 10 or more times.

Authors from the Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, state that in 1980, over 4.2 million prescriptions were written for the oral antibiotic amoxicillin to treat ear infections. In 1992, the number had grown to over 12.3 million - an increase of 194 percent.

Based on these data, the authors estimate that in 1998, 30 million prescriptions will be written for treating ear infections. The authors believe that solving the problem of oral antibiotic overuse must be balanced.

A new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls for plans to ensure the future care of the growing number of U.S. children and adolescents orphaned by parental death from HIV/AIDS, which is expected to total 80,000 by the end of this century.

The policy, which is published in this month's Pediatrics, the journal of the AAP, addresses the difficult issues parents face in the context of HIV infection. One such difficulty is acknowledging their illness to themselves, their children and others in their communities, which must happen in order for plans to be made. Another is the complicated issue of authorizing a guardian to be available during periods when parents are incapacitated.

Further children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic often are from families who have experienced poverty, lack of access to services, discrimination and family disruption. Both parents are likely to be infected and possibly ill or dying, and the mother may be quite isolated.

The policy gives examples of existing state laws and regulations that assist chronically ill parents in planning for their children's future. The AAP also stresses the need for sensitive, long-term bereavement counseling services for children who have experienced the death or face the impending death of a parent. Through specific recommendations, the policy recognized the role pediatricians can and should play in initiating and facilitating plans for providing a loving, nurturing and stable environment for these children.

Following a review of 50 studies on adolescent pregnancy, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidelines to help pediatricians cope with the one million teenagers who become pregnant each year.

Although teen pregnancy rates are decreasing overall, the AAP also reported that the teenage birth rate in 1996 was still higher than the rate for 1980.

In order to counter unintended pregnancy among teenagers, the AAP recommends that pediatricians encourage adolescents to postpone early coital activity and promote abstinence.

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