The nation's fourth and eighth graders scored higher in reading and
mathematics than they did during their last national assessment,
according to the federal government's latest annual statistical report
on the well-being of the nation's children. Not all the report's
findings were positive; there also were increases in the adolescent
birth rate and the proportion of infants born at low birthweight.
These and other findings are described in "
Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2008". The report is compiled
by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, a
working group of Federal agencies that collect, analyze, and report data
on issues related to children and families, with partners in private
research organizations. It serves as a report card on the status of
the nation's children and youth, presenting statistics compiled by a
number of federal agencies in one convenient reference.
"In 2007, scores of fourth and eighth graders were higher in mathematics
than in all previous assessments and higher in reading than in 2005,"
said Valena Plisko, associate commissioner of the
Education Statistics, a part of the U.S. Department of Education.
This year's report also saw an increase in low birthweight infants (less
than 5 pounds 8 ounces). Low birthweight infants are at increased
risk for infant death and such lifelong disabilities as blindness,
deafness and cerebral palsy.
"This trend reflects an increase in the number of infants born
prematurely, the largest category of low birthweight infants," said
Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National
Institutes of Health. Although not all the reasons for the increase
are known, infertility therapies, delayed childbearing and an increase
in multiple births may be contributing factors.
The birth rate among adolescent girls ages 15 to 17 also increased, from
21 live births for every 1,000 girls in 2005, to 22 per 1,000 in
2006. This was the first increase in the past 15 years.
"It is critical that wec ontinue monitoring this trend carefully,"
said Edward J. Sondik, PhD, director of the
Statistics in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Compared with other teens their age, teen mothers are less likely to
finish high school or to graduate from college. Infants born to teen
mothers are more likely to be of low birthweight."
Among the favorable changes in the report were a decline in childhood
deaths from injuries and a decrease in the percentage of eighth graders
who smoked daily.
These and other findings on the nation's children and youth are
described in the report's content areas:
Family and Social Environment
Physical Environment and Safety
The Forum's Web site at <http://childstats.gov> contains all data
updates and detailed statistical information accompanying this year's
America's Children in Brief report. As in previous years, not all
statistics are collected on an annual basis and some data in the Brief
may be unchanged from last year's report.
Members of the public may access the report on-line at
<http://childstats.gov>. Alternatively, members of the public also
may obtain printed copies from the Health Resources and Services
by calling 1-888-Ask-HRSA (1-888-275-4772), or by e-mailing
The Forum alternates publishing a detailed report,
Key National Indicators of Well-Being, with a summary version that
highlights selected indicators. This year, the Forum is publishing
The data tables and figures for all the indicators in this year's brief
are available at <http://childstats.gov>.
The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth;
maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population
issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the
Institute's Web site at <http://www.nichd.nih.gov/>.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
The nation's fourth and eighth graders scored higher in reading and
Friday, July 11, 2008
recently discovered in autism
may share common underlying mechanisms, say researchers supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mutations may disrupt specific genes that are vital to the developing brain, and which are turned on and off by experience-triggered neuronal activity.A research team led by Christopher Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., and Eric Morrow, M.D., Ph.D., of Harvard University, found two large sections missing on chromosomes in people with autism and traced them to likely inherited mutations in such genes regulated by neuronal activity. They report their findings in the July 11, 2008 issue of Science. The study was also supported in part by the NIH's National Center for Research Resources, National Human Genome Research Institute, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child and Human Development, and the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke.The study breaks new ground for complex disorders like autism, taking advantage of a shortcut to genetic discovery by sampling families in which parents are cousins. The researchers found genes and mutations associated with autism in 88 families from the Middle East, Turkey and Pakistan in which cousins married and had children with the disorder."The emerging picture of the genetics of autism is quite surprising. There appear to be many separate mutations involved, with each family having a different genetic cause," explained NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "The one unifying observation from this new report is that all of the relevant mutations could disrupt the formation of vital neural connections during a critical period when experience is shaping the developing brain."Earlier studies had suggested that the individually rare mutations are present in at least 10 percent of sporadic cases of autism, which is the most common form.The researchers used a technique that pinpoints from a relatively small group of families genes responsible for disorders that can be amplified by parenthood among relatives, which can increase transmission of recessive
diseases. Evidence had hinted at such transmission in autism, and the large amount of genetic information obtainable from such families reduced the need for a much larger sample including many families with multiple affected members.The ratio of females to males with autism - normally one female to four males - was less lopsided in such families in which parents share a common recent ancestor, suggesting a doubling of the rate of autism, due to recessive causes on non-sex-linked
Comments: Absurd. DM
Comments: Medicine can be an appropriate choice for your child....however, it seems as if the Dx of children with bipolar disorder (the seemingly new ADHD) is increasing exponentially! This particular child is on Seroquel....which can cause lenticular changes and lithium...which can cause pseudotumor cerebri and that ever popular blurred vision!! They even come with "BLACK BOX WARNINGS"....suicide has been associated with many of these major neurotrophic drugs....use them...but only use them when you must....and use them wisely. DM
Prevalence of Decreased Visual Acuity among Preschool-Aged Children in an American Urban Population The Baltimore Pediatric Eye Disease Study, Methods
Comments: Our Australian colleagues across the REALLY big pond....have discovered what developmental/functional/behavioral optometrists have been saying and teaching for decades. The environment has a significant affect on visual function. I would love for some of these fine researchers to take a look at the work of Francis Young, PhD, Darrell Harmon, PhD, Gerry Gettman, OD, and of course, Arnold Skeffinton, OD....maybe these clinically insightful pioneers can supply additional research fodder for these very good researchers.... Congrats on a very good article! DM
Comments: I have found that you can often do automated screening fields on children as young as 5 years....try it...all to often you will be pleasantly suprised. DM
Thursday, July 10, 2008
On the other hand, youngsters who were medicated for ADHD had a raised risk of being underweight, the same researchers found....
...By completely reversing four types of mental impairment in mice, scientists are overturning the long-entrenched notion that our mental capacity is hardwired and immutable.
So striking were the animal results that scientists are beginning drug trials on people with genetic disorders associated with mental retardation and autism. Several of the drugs are approved for other uses, which should speed up the testing process....
Accommodative insufficiency is the primary source of symptoms in children diagnosed with convergence insufficiency.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Comments: I find it interesting that our eyecare colleagues are finding out how effective optometric vision therapy is in many areas of functional vision. Vision therapy is more effective than an added plus lens.
It should be also noted that 8 weeks of therapy may not be enough to gain normative values....I find most of my patients are in therapy 12-24 weeks (mostly 12) and are being treated for multiple functional vision anomalies at the same time.
It should also be noted that they are using an accommodative technique designed for an accommodative infacility disfunction....not necessarily and insufficiency problem. And finally....it should not necessarily be an either/or decision on how you treat these problems....often I will have the patient use a bifocal and conduct optometric vision therapy simultaneously. I do realize however, than when you conduct research...you cannot have too many confounding factors...DM
Adolescents with Childhood ADHD and Comorbid Disruptive Behavior Disorders: Aggression, Anger, and Hostility
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Research suggests high intake of omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids may reduce blood pressure, heart attack risk.
HealthDay (7/7, Edelson) reported that "[h]igh intake of the omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish and vegetable cooking oils appear to help prevent heart attacks, while the omega-6 fatty acids in vegetables and nuts help keep blood pressure low," according to two studies. One of the studies, published in the July 8 online issue of Circulation, found that "high intake of omega-3 fatty acids reduced the risk of heart attack by 59 percent." A separate study, published in the July 8 online issue of Hypertension, "found a significant relationship between intake of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid found in vegetables, and lower blood pressure."
Study indicates high intake of omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce risk of AMD. In continuing coverage from previous editions of First Look, the Irish Independent (7/7, O'Regan) reported, "Eating fish at least twice a week may help protect your eyes as you age," according to a study published in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.
Florida CBS affiliate WCTV-TV (7/7, Sanders) added that in an "analysis of nine international studies," researchers at Australia's Melbourne University found that "eating fish and other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of...age-related macular degeneration (AMD)." Specifically, "a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a 38 percent reduced risk of advanced AMD."
Comment: Add one more etiology for autism. When will we narrow down the choices? DM
Comments: Stop the insanity! Drugs for 1 y/o kids....low fat milk? Let's get back to some common sense here. DM
Monday, July 7, 2008
Comments: What are you talking about! These children will live to be 80, 90 maybe even 100 years of age. Ten years is nothing....you cannot say this is safe with only 10 years of research. We know that the cornea thins as we age....will these childrens' corneas rupture in their 50's or 60's? We just don't know. Children and their families should consider LASIK ONLY in extreme cases. DM
Comments: Of course the Italians invented eye glasses! We also invented the telephone and made pasta civilized! DM
Comments: Now this is very cool! Toys for kids with disability that are fun and therapeutic at the same time. DM
‘They are totally one-dimensional — they can’t show that a child with Down’s syndrome can be funny, bright and articulate. ...
Comments: Ok....so you can't have it both ways...you want your child treated like any other....but when that really happens you get upset! There are redheaded dolls and blonds, boy dolls, girl dolls....dolls who are cowboys and dolls who are soldiers....there are white, Hispanic and African American dolls....get over it! It's just a doll! DM
Comments: Sure now the research comes out....just as Starbucks is closing 600 stores! DM