Colchicine and Leukopenia

A recent study (E Sag et al. J Pediatr 2020; 224: 166-70) provided some useful information about the development of leukopenia in children receiving colchicine.

This study included 213 patients receiving colchicine at doses between 0.5 mg adn 2 mg/day.  Routine labs were obtained 2 weeks after starting treatment, at 3 months, and then every 6 months.  If leukopenia was identified, f/u labs were obtained 1 week later. Colchicine doses were decreased in patients with persistent leukopenia.

Key findings:

  • 23 (10.8%) developed reversible leukopenia.  No cases of leukopenia were severe and there was not an increased rate of infections.

Related blog posts:

Diagnostic Strategy For Children with Diarrhea and Abdominal Pain

A recent study (E Van de Vijver et al. Pediatrics 2020; 146: e20192235) shows a logical approach for testing children with diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Abstract and video abstract link: Test Strategies to Predict Inflammatory Bowel Disease Among Children With Nonbloody Diarrhea

Methods:

  • Prospective cohort study: n=193, 6 to 18 years who underwent a standardized diagnostic workup.
  • Patients with rectal bleeding or perianal disease were excluded because the presence of these findings prompted endoscopy regardless of their biomarkers.
  • In addition to symptoms, objective measures included C-reactive protein (>10 mg/L), hemoglobin (<−2 SD for age and sex), and fecal calprotectin (≥250 μg/g).

Key findings:

  • Twenty-two of 193 (11%) children had IBD
  • “Triaging with a strategy that involves symptoms, blood markers, and calprotectin will result in 14 of 100 patients being exposed to endoscopy. Three of them will not have IBD, and no IBD-affected child will be missed.

My take: The approach advocated by the authors of reserving a diagnostic endoscopy for children at high risk for IBD based on stool tests/blood tests in addition to symptoms has merit.  I would add a couple caveats:

  1. In this population, I would recommend checking for celiac disease (eg. tissue tranglutaminase IgA antibody, serum IgA level)
  2. I think in individuals with ‘borderline’ elevations of calprotectin (50-250 μg/g), followup testing is needed and if remains persistently elevated, then ileocolonoscopy is likely warranted.  (Calprotectin values in younger children tend to be higher -so this approach is best suited in children >5 years of age)

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COVID-19 Toll on U.S. Children

From AAP News: AAP Report: 513,415 children diagnosed with COVID-19

  • The latest report shows a rate of 680 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 children.
  • Children make up 9.8% of the total cases and about 1.7% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations, up from 0.8% of hospitalizations in late May.
  • Roughly 1.9% of children diagnosed with COVID-19 have been hospitalized, according to data from the 23 states and New York City that are publicly reporting hospitalization data.
  • There also have been at least 103 pediatric deaths in 42 states and New York City, making up about 0.07% of all COVID-19 deaths. Roughly 0.02% of children who have contracted known cases of COVID-19 have died.
  • There have been 792 confirmed cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children in 42 states, New York City and Washington, D.C., and 16 death

“The Truth About Allergies and Food Sensitivity Tests”

This is a link to a 20 minute video regarding “The Truth About Allergies and Food Sensitivity Tests” with Dr. Dave Stutkus and Dr. Mike Varshavski. (If trouble with link, then can find with quick search on YouTube.)

A couple of clarifications:

The video (~at the 3 minute mark) does not provide much nuance on “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” (see related blog posts below)

Some other points:

  • Don’t perform Food IgG testing -this is a memory antibody and does not reflect food allergy or sensitivity
  • So-called food sensitivity IgG tests do not have standardized normal values
  • Don’t perform broad-based IgE testing; there are many false-positives and false negative

Dr. Stutkus decided to undergone ‘food sensitivity’ tests and was reportedly sensitive to nearly 80 foods.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition

NY Times: Vitamin K for Newborns is a No-Brainer

One of the most difficult clinical situations I helped manage involved a newborn who had a devastating intracranial hemorrhage after the parents had refused the routine  administration of vitamin K.  At that time, I did not ask the parents what they were thinking.  I presumed that they were well-intentioned.  Nevertheless, they allowed their child to suffer permanent neurologic injury.

A recent editorial highlights this growing problem: NY Times: Vitamin K for Newborns is a No-Brainer Here’s an except:

Parents are increasingly questioning, and declining, vitamin K, which protects newborns from serious bleeding…

Accounts of healthy babies developing serious, even fatal bleeding in the days and weeks following birth can be found going back centuries

Since the early 1960s, it has been standard-of-care for newborns to receive an intramuscular injection of vitamin K shortly after delivery. Nearly six decades’ worth of data demonstrate that this intervention virtually eliminates vitamin K deficiency bleeding and carries no compelling risk of serious side effects…

Many of the reasons my patients’ parents decline vitamin K are similar to the reasons they decline vaccines: They worry about interventions they perceive as “unnatural” or unnecessary, about whether the doses and ingredients are “toxic” and whether there may be serious complications that doctors are not aware of or that are even being purposefully obscured by doctors, public health officials and pharmaceutical companies…

Parents continue to ask me whether vitamin K might cause childhood cancer, though this suggested association has been debunked….Others simply prefer to spare their newborn the pain of an injection…

Each year in the United States, if no vitamin K were administered, more than 70,000 infants would most likely be affected…

The seeds of mistrust — along with skepticism of science and intellectualism, the allure of the “natural” and the development of social-media-fueled communities founded on these values — run deep, and they’re threatening the health of our youngest and most vulnerable.

My take: Just like seat belts, the approach to this problem should be policy-based.  In my view, if an infant suffers from vitamin K-refusal bleeding, reports should be made public health departments.

Related blog post: Educated or Misinformed –Leading to Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn

What Are The Limits of (Preterm) Viability?

A retrospective recent study (PL Watkins et al. J Pediatr 2020; 217: 52-8) provides data that suggests that preterm infants at 22-23 weeks gestation can have good outcomes.

Cohort:

  • n=70 for 22-23 weeks (22 weeks, n=20, 23 weeks, n=50)
  • n=178 for 24-25 weeks (24 weeks, n=79, 25 weeks, n=99)

Key findings:

  • Survival to hospital discharge: 78% for 22-23 week cohort, 89% for 24-25 week cohort
  • No or mild neurodevelopmental impairment 64% or 22-23 week cohort, 76% for 24-25 week cohort. This was based on prospectively collected data at 18-22 months with Bayley Scales (BSID-III) (≥85) and being free from vision and hearing impairment

These survival and neurodevelopmental outcomes far exceed previous reports.  The study and the associated editorial (pg 9) identify several treatment characteristics that could have helped optimize outcomes: antenatal steroids, high-frequency ventilation, and a specialized environment.  Also, the authors did not include infants who were outborn, stillborn or died in the delivery room.

My take: This article’s data needs to be replicated elsewhere; in the meanwhile, it is going to challenge the notion of nihilism for infants born at 22-23 weeks gestation.

Related article: AH Jobe. J Pediatr 2020; 217: 184-8.  This commentary discusses the potential lifetime consequences of antenatal steroids, which may affect neurodevelopment and cardiovascular outcomes. “Antenatal corticosteroids are frequently used to disrupt normal development in rodent models”

Related blog posts:

St Thomas Harbor

AAP Behind the Scenes 2020 (Part 2): AAP Agenda, Safe Sleep, Encouraging Physician Diversity, APEX Mental Health

More from our recent AAP Board Meeting –more highlights:

Dr Sally Goza, AAP National President reviewed some of the AAP’s initiatives:

  • Healthcare coverage & Change in ‘public charge’
  • Gun violence
  • Climate Change
  • Early Childhood Programs
  • Suicide Prevention
  • E-cigarettes
  • Social Media.  She noted that Pinterest and Google have made efforts to curb harmful inaccurate posts, especially with regard to immunization information, whereas Facebook has not been cooperative.

2020 Georgia Blueprint for Children:

Dr. Sarah Lazarus, a terrific ED physician and an advocate for safe sleep, described updates and obstacles related to reducing sudden unexpected death infant death.

Key points:

  • NASPGHAN 2018 GERD recommendations (33 page PDF) with regard to positioning:  “The working group recommends not to use positional therapy (ie, head elevation, lateral and prone positioning) to treat symptoms of GERD in sleeping infants”
  • CPSC has removed many inclined sleepers.  Commentary from Dr. Lazarus from WebMD (November 2019): Sleeping on an Incline Not Safe for Baby

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning parents not let a baby sleep in rockers, pillows, car seats, or any other product that holds an infant at an incline — with their head higher than their feet.

“I do think it should have happened a while ago when we saw there were deaths from them, but I’m glad they did it now,” says Sarah Lazarus, DO, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Dr. Lazarus is also an injury prevention researcher at Emory University and reviews infant deaths for the state of Georgia.  And what about putting the crib mattress at an incline to help with reflux?

Lazarus says she knows pediatricians used to recommend that, but she says new studies show that it doesn’t really help and may be unsafe. “We do not recommend any sort of wedging or propping or positioning at this point,” she says. In addition to avoiding inclined surfaces, the commission is reminding parents that babies can suffocate if they sleep with blankets, pillows, or other items. The safest way for a baby to sleep is flat on their back, in a bare crib, and on a flat, firm surface.Related blog posts:

Dr. Heval Kelli introduced a program called young physician initiative.  “Getting into medical school can be a long process and difficult to navigate particularly for students from underserved communities due to the lack of access to medical mentorship and network.  The Young Physicians Initiative provides early and interactive guidance to underserved middle school, high school and college students. We inspire students to pursue careers in medicine and pursue pipeline’s opportunities by Being Present in their communities.”

Here are links to his website and to one of the articles covering this project:

My take: This is a terrific program, though there are many other challenges that need to be addressed to encourage applicants from a wide range of socioeconomic groups.

Related blog post: Hidden Costs of Medical Schools

The final speaker, Dante McKay, discussed the APEX program which is a school-based program to address mental health issues in children.

AAP Behind the Scenes 2020 (Part 1): Pandemic Monitoring

Currently I am vice chair for the section of nutrition at the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Dr. Tanya Hofmekler is now chair of the section.  I recently attended a Board Meeting which received reports from a number of committees.  One of the presentations from Dr. Evan Anderson (infectious disease specialist), provided an update on the coronavirus, the flu, and other emerging infections.

Key Points:

  • Coronavirus appears to be more contagious than the flu but less contagious than many other infections like measles
  • CDC has website which is update for the coronavirus which is updated frequently:  2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Situation Summary
  • This is a bad year for the flu (see “red line” on last two slides).  The number of hospitalizations/mortality in young children (0-4) is increased compared to previous years, though the number of cases has been higher in previous years
  • There is now an FDA-approved Ebola vaccine
  • A single case of measles can cost $50,000 for public health to respond; direct medical costs could be much higher

Slide above was accurate on 2/8/20

 

 

Satire from The Onion

Related blog post:

How Allergy Testing Can Lead to More Allergies

Dr. Dave Stutkus shared some slides (on twitter) recently based on a lecture at Nationwide Children’s.  Since I see children everyday who are undergoing poorly-conceived allergy testing, I wanted to share some of them.

  • Excluding foods from diet based on allergy testing without concurrent symptoms can lead to allergies rather than tolerance:

  • Newer antihistamines are safer

  • Most individuals with penicillin allergy are not truly penicillin allergic.  Also, there is a low rate of cross-reactivity with most cephalosporins.

  • Proper allergy testing relies on the basic understanding that sensitization is not equivalent to being allergic.  In addition, allergy testing has a high rate of false positives; therefore, testing needs to be limited (avoid broad panels).

Also, link to AAP guidelines on breastfeeding & eczema and introduction of foods to minimize development of allergies: The Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary
Restriction, Breastfeeding, Hydrolyzed Formulas, and Timing of Introduction of Allergenic Complementary Foods

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition

AAP Bariatric Surgery Recommendations

A recent policy statement (SC Armstrong et al. Pediatrics 2019; 144 (6): e20193223) outlines current evidence regarding adolescent bariatric surgery and makes recommendations for practitioners & policymakers.  There is also an accompanying technical report which provides more detail and supporting evidence.  Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference.

Full PDF Link: Pediatric Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery: Evidence, Barriers, and Best Practices

This policy statement uses “adolescent” to refer to a person from age 13 years to age 18 years.

Background: “Although nearly 4.5 million US adolescents have severe obesity, current estimates suggest that only a small faction undergo metabolic and bariatric surgery…Many providers prefer a “watchful waiting” approach, or long-term lifestyle management.50 However, current evidence suggests that pediatric patients with severe obesity are unlikely to achieve a clinically significant and sustained weight reduction in lifestyle-based weight management programs53 and that watchful waiting may lead to higher BMI and more comorbid conditions…In addition, comparative data examining
postoperative outcomes along the severely obese BMI spectrum (low, middle, and high) suggest that adolescents within a lower BMI range (BMI <55) at the time of bariatric
surgery have a higher probability of achieving nonobese status when compared with individuals with a higher starting BMI (BMI ≥55).”

From Table 2 -Indications for Bariatric Surgery:

  1. Class 2 obesity, BMI ≥35, or 120% of the 95th percentile for age and sex, whichever is lower  along with clinically significant disease, including obstructive sleep apnea (AHI .5), T2DM, IIH, NASH, Blount disease, SCFE, GERD, and hypertension
  2. Class 3 obesity, BMI ≥40, or 140% of the 95th percentile for age and sex, whichever is lower. Clinically significant disease is not required but commonly present

Recommendations for practitioners:

  • Seek high-quality multidisciplinary centers that are experienced in assessing risks and benefits of various treatments for youth with severe obesity, including bariatric surgery, and provide referrals to where such programs are available.
  • Identify pediatric patients with severe obesity who meet criteria for surgery and provide
    timely referrals to comprehensive, multidisciplinary, pediatric-focused metabolic and bariatric surgery programs.
  • Monitor patients postoperatively for micronutrient deficiencies and consider providing iron, folate, and vitamin B12 supplementation as needed.
  • Monitor patients postoperatively for risk-taking behavior and mental health problems.

SYSTEM-LEVEL RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Advocate for increased access for pediatric patients of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds to multidisciplinary programs
  • Consider best practice guidelines, including avoidance of unsubstantiated lower age limits, in the context of potential health care benefits and individualized patient-centered care.
  • For insurers: Provide payment for care (pre-operative, operative & post-operative). Reduce barriers to pediatric metabolic and bariatric surgery (including inadequate payment, limited access, unsubstantiated exclusion criteria, and bureaucratic
    delays in approval requiring unnecessary and often numerous appeals) for patients who meet careful selection criteria.

My take: These recommendations are in general agreement with previous guidelines.  I think having the stamp of approval from the AAP is likely to help in getting coverage and may shift attitudes.

Related blog posts: