CHOP Research In the News: Predicting Autism, Rear Seat Safety, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Pediatric Stroke

Feb 24 2017

CHOP Research In the News: Predicting Autism, Rear Seat Safety, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Pediatric Stroke

CHOP Research In the NewsThis week’s In the News highlights remind us of one of our favorite quotes from Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Read on to see how researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are working with different groups who share the same vision and scientific goals to advance pediatric care.

Study Uses Brain Imaging, Computer Algorithms to Predict Autism Risk Early in Life

Scientists found a brain biomarker that could help to identify children with autism spectrum disorder early in life, with the help of a computer-generated algorithm used in a novel study conducted by the multi-center Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) network that the Center for Autism Research (CAR) at CHOP participates in. Their findings, reported in the journal Nature, suggest that brain changes may precede behavioral manifestations of ASD.

“The results of this study are a real breakthrough for early diagnosis of autism,” said Robert Schultz, PhD, who directs CAR. “While we have known for some time that autism emerges in subtle, gradual ways over the first few years of life, this study offers the first firm evidence before a child’s first birthday predicting whether certain high-risk children are likely to be diagnosed with autism.”

Read the press release to learn more about this unique study that used magnetic resonance imaging technology to capture brain images of infants.

On the Road to Improving Passenger Safety in Rear Seats

Children remain the most common occupants in the rear seat — more than half are younger than 13 years, and three-quarters are younger than 20 years. That is why the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at CHOP for many years has focused research efforts on finding ways to make the rear seat safer for children. Kristy Arbogast, PhD, co-scientific director and director of engineering for CIRP, participated in a Rear Seat Safety in Passenger Vehicles workshop hosted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) last spring.

“Together with researchers, automobile manufacturers, legislators, regulators, and safety advocates, we are identifying practical, real-world applications and opportunities to make rear seats safer for everyone,” wrote NTSB Vice Chairman T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, PhD, MPH, in a recent blog announcing the release of a detailed workshop summary. Read more about why it’s time to put the rear seat first.

Collaboration to Expand Research for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

February is American Heart Month, which makes it perfect timing for the announcement of a rare congenital heart defect collaboration between Mayo Clinic’s Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and CHOP. The program seeks to work with five to seven regional centers across the U.S. to fund the development of cell-based innovative research opportunities to transform the lives of people living with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in which the left side of a child's heart is severely underdeveloped.

“Lifesaving palliative surgery reroutes a child’s blood flow, but patients may have significant health problems, as they grow up with a unique circulation,” stated Robert Shaddy, MD, chief of Cardiology at CHOP, in a press release. “Cell-based therapy offers us another potential option — beyond conventional medical treatments, ventricular assist devices or transplants — for a child or young adult with a failing heart.”

Read more in the press release.

Headache Common Symptom in Pediatric Stroke

Most of us usually think of strokes as a concern for adults and the elderly, but pediatric stroke affects 25 in 100,000 newborns and 12 in 100,000 children under 18 years of age. While early recognition and treatment after a stroke occurs is critical, children who have had a stroke often are misdiagnosed, or their diagnosis is delayed. Research presented this week at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2017 by Lori Billinghurst, MD, a pediatric neurologist at CHOP, suggests that children are far more likely than adults to report headache at the onset of ischemic stroke.

“Stroke should be considered as a possible diagnosis in any child with a headache and additional symptoms of weakness or numbness (in the face, arm, or leg) or changes in walking, talking, or vision,” Dr. Billinghurst stated in a press release. “Urgent brain imaging may be required to distinguish a migraine with aura from a stroke.”

The study included 355 children, ages one month to 18 years, who were enrolled in the multi-center Vascular Effects of Infection in Pediatric Stroke study. The researchers examined whether a doctor or parent reported that a child had a headache at the time of the stroke. Headache was reported in 46 percent of those 3 or older and in 6 percent of children under age 3. The researchers noted that younger children may not have been able to communicate if they were having a headache. Learn more in this press release from the American Heart Association.

ICYMI

This week on Cornerstone we got to know cell biologist Michael Marks, PhD, a new American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow. His advice to young researchers: “Go outside of your comfort zone, and find something really interesting to go after.”

And here are our top headlines from our Feb. 10 segment of In the News:

  • New Guidelines for Children With Growth Failure Highlight Need for More Research
  • National Trial Compares Lower, Higher Glucose Target Ranges for Critically Ill Children
  • What’s At Stake for Children if CHIP Funding Is Not Renewed
  • New Penn/CHOP Research Informs Interventions for Global Road Safety

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