Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reaches all corners of the world. This week’s In the News takes us on the road with new teen driving safety research findings. Next, we visit school cafeterias for National School Lunch Week. And then we’re off to Dubai for a symposium on special education. Keep going to read more research news on pregnancy screening patterns for teens with leukemia and a commentary on the need for more drug trials for children.
Study Shows Most Newly Licensed Drivers Follow GDL Limits
New CHOP research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that a vast majority of New Jersey's intermediate licensed teen drivers do follow the state's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) passenger and nighttime restrictions.
"There is a misperception that teen drivers with intermediate licenses do not follow GDL restrictions,” said Allison Curry, PhD, MPH, a senior scientist at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP and principal investigator of the study. “The findings of this study, along with several naturalistic driving studies, help to dispel this myth. However, this does not mean that we do not have more work to do.
Although most new drivers follow the restrictions, there are still about 30,000 to 40,000 trips taken daily in New Jersey in which a teen driver does not comply with the state's passenger restriction. We need to educate all families on the purpose and benefits of following GDL to prevent teen driver crashes." Although the number of compliant drivers was high, the researchers found compliance was lower among youths from low-income areas and also among males. They also found that compliance was lower during weekends and summer months, when teens are more likely to travel for social reasons.
The study, which reports the first population-level estimate of young intermediate drivers' compliance with GDL, paves the way for accurately measuring and improving compliance with and enforcement of GDL in the future.
Sloppy Joe, Carton of Milk, and a Side of Nutrition Laws
This week we celebrated National School Lunch Week and the 70th anniversary of the National School Lunch Program. The program provided lunch to 7 million children in its first year, and today, more than 30 million children depend on it each day, according to President Obama’s official proclamation.
This week provides a perfect opportunity to revisit CHOP research focused on how kids’ eating in schools affects their health. State and local lawmakers over the last few years have introduced healthy changes in the places where kids spend most of their day, most of the year: schools. Such laws take a range of approaches, such as requiring in-school nutrition education, restricting the sale of junk food in cafeterias and school vending machines, or requiring specific credentials for school food service directors. But there is limited data about the effectiveness of these policies.
A CHOP study published in Preventive Medicine examined nine types of such laws and identified two that were associated with decreased obesity. Although the data couldn’t determine cause and effect, the result points to the need for further research into laws that limit sales of junk food in schools and that restrict in-school food advertising.
Read more in this Cornerstone blog.
CHOP Expert Visits Dubai for Special Education Symposium
Susan Levy MD, MPH, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician and medical director of The Center for Autism Research at CHOP, returned last week from the Princess Haya Award Symposium on Special Education in Dubai — where she was one of eight internationally renowned developmental experts invited to present to an audience of 400 professionals from the field of child development. The goal of the symposium was to encourage the adoption and implementation of best international practices for medical and education professionals supporting children with special needs.
Dr. Levy’s presentation focused on supporting youth with learning and behavioral difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Levy also toured the soon-to-open Al Jalila Children’s Hospital in Dubai, which will feature the first center providing tertiary specialty mental healthcare in the region. Dr. Levy’s participation in the event supports CHOP’s aims to advance pediatric care around the world through education by sharing our expertise.
Standardized Pregnancy Screening Practices Needed for Teens Treated for Cancer
Study findings by a team of researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and CHOP suggests that adolescent females with acute leukemia have low rates of pregnancy screening prior to receiving chemotherapy that can cause birth defects. Their results appeared in the journal CANCER.
There are no standardized guidelines for pregnancy screening in adolescent female cancer patients, according to a press release. The study team examined pregnancy screening patterns among adolescents with acute leukemia compared with adolescents with an emergency room (ER) visit who received computed tomography scans of the abdomen or pelvis. Among 35,650 patient admissions of females, 10 to 18 years old, the proportion of visits with an appropriately timed pregnancy test was 35 percent, 64 percent, and 58 percent in the acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and ER groups respectively. There was substantial variation in pregnancy screening patterns among different hospitals.
“Since nearly all chemotherapy agents used for childhood/adolescent acute leukemia can cause potential harm to a developing fetus, our findings indicate a need for standardized pregnancy screening practices for adolescent patients being treated for cancer,” stated lead author Pooja Rao, MD, MSCE, who is currently at Penn State Health’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Dr. Rao previously worked in the division of Oncology at CHOP.
More Research Needed to Ensure Drug Safety, Effectiveness for Children
Frequently, drugs that are prescribed for children have not been tested in children, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Given the relative dearth of pediatric clinical trials and the common pediatric use of untested or under investigated interventions in care, stakeholders increasingly recognize a need to bolster the trial-informed evidence base both in the U.S. and abroad. This need is particularly acute in the setting of drug trials. In a new commentary, PolicyLab researcher Alex Fiks, MD, MSCE, and the Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness' Elizabeth Lowenthal, MD, MSCE, highlight that despite recent improvements in pediatric participation in these trials, children continue to be underrepresented.
Read the article that appeared in Pediatrics here.
In case you missed it earlier this week on Cornerstone, we highlighted recent events for the CHOP/Penn community focused on mHealth and community engagement in research.
Last week’s In the News post reported the discovery of a gene that raises the risk of childhood ear infections, a Wall Street Journal article that covered the challenges of understanding childhood cancer genetics and heritability, and a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the FDA’s approval of Rotateq®, the first of two major vaccines that block rotavirus.
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