Stories about: American Academy of Pediatrics

Living through lice: AAP's recommendations

McCarthyClaire_dsc0435-300x198Head lice. Two words that make anyone’s head start itching almost immediately.

Head lice are incredibly common, especially among school-aged children. There aren’t any good numbers on infestations, but it’s somewhere in the millions every year (just in the U.S.)—and these tiny bugs end up costing the country millions of dollars, if you include not just treatments but lost wages. The American Academy of Pediatrics just issued a clinical report on head lice to educate parents about what should—and should not—be done while battling lice in the home.

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The pros and perils of online symptom checkers

Your child has a fever and a stomachache. You’re not sure what to do. So you reach for—your laptop?

The AAP just launched the KidsDoc Symptom Checker, which helps look up specific symptoms by body part.

More and more, that’s what many parents are doing. Over the past few years, the amount of health information available on the internet has skyrocketed, and many sites offer to help you make diagnoses, whether it’s through specific health information, quizzes, or a “symptom checker” that allows you to look specifically at what might be causing the fever or stomachache—or rash, or whatever.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently launched their own “symptom checker,” called the KidsDoc Symptom Checker, available at (there’s an iPhone app too!). It’s very straightforward: you run the cursor over the part of the body where there’s a problem, and you get a menu of possible symptoms in that area. For example, I ran the cursor over the abdomen (pretending I have a child with fever and stomachache), and it gave me Abdominal Pain and Constipation as possibilities. So I clicked on Abdominal Pain, and it gave me information on possible causes of abdominal pain, advice on when to call the doctor and some home care instructions.

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How parents can help prevent doctors' errors

Claire McCarthyDoctors make mistakes. And they make them more frequently than you might think.

That’s the finding of a new study published in this month’s Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The researchers surveyed more than a thousand pediatricians—community pediatricians, academic pediatricians, and pediatricians in training—and found that 54 percent of them reported making a diagnostic error at least once or twice a month.

It’s not quite as bad as it sounds. Trainees made the most errors, and they are supervised—so more experienced doctors are poised to catch the errors before anything bad happens.

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AAP: Docs needed in the fight to stop teen drinking

John Knight, MD

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement calling on pediatricians nationwide to be knowledgeable about teenage drinking, preventative measures to stop it and treatment options for adolescent substance abuse. The statement included information on how alcohol can interfere with the developing teenage brain, and the strong correlation between early alcohol consumption and alcoholism later in life.

John Knight, MD, director at the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CeASAR) at Children’s Hospital Boston, says both parents and pediatricians should do more to combat adolescent alcohol use— especially in the coming months as the weather gets warmer and the prom/graduation season starts for many of the country’s teenagers.

“We have data that suggest if doctors spend if one or two minutes discussing the negative effects of alcohol with their adolescent patients, there is a dramatic decrease in the number of kids who start drinking. You can reduce the prevalence of drinking from 40 percent to 20 percent,” he says.

“But parents have a lot of influence over their children too, even if they think they don’t, and therefore they need to set a model of behavior, especially with younger kids.”

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