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Indian Pediatrics 2001; 38: 693-694  

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q Father's age is a risk factor for schizo-phrenia, according to a study from New York, which evaluated the incidence of schizophrenia in 88,000 children. The study found that the risk was 2.5 per 1,000 children for fathers less than 25 years. It rose to 4.4 per 1,000 children for fathers aged 35 to 40, and to 11.4 per 1,000 for children born to men older than 50 years. The older paternal age may lead to mutations, which could be cause of schizophrenia, the researchers concluded. (Arch Gen Psychiatr; April 2001)

q Lactobacillus, a probiotic can reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired diarrhea, a study from Poland has reiterated. Eighty one children under 3 years of age admitted for various illnesses were divided into two groups, with half the number receiving Lactobacillus GG formula and the other half serving as controls. Eighty per cent reduction in the incidence of diarrhea was documented in the study group (7% versus 33%). The researchers explained that synthesis of anti microbial compounds could explain its effect, while suggesting lactobacillus supple-ments in a high risk setting (J Pediatr 2001;138:361).

q Interleukin levels have been found to be high in acute asthma, according to a study from Taiwan. In this study, the researchers estimated the serum soluble interleukin-2 receptor (sIL-2r) and IL-4 levels in 20 cases of acute asthma and an equal number of controls. The samples were taken during the acute episode and after a 7-day course of prednisolone. The study found that serum sIL-2r levels were significantly higher during acute asthma and these levels decreased after a 7-day course of steroids. The researchers recommend that serum sIL-2r can be used as a marker of treatment response in acute asthma (Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2001; 86: 314).

q Autism and mental retardation can be predicted at birth, according to a study from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, Maryland. The study analyzed stored blood samples of neonates who were normal, developed autism, mental retardation or cerebral palsy. The study found that the concentrations of vasoactive intestinal peptide, calcitonin gene-related peptide, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and neurotrophin 4/5 were higher in patients with autism and mental retardation as compared to infants who went on to develop normally. The increase in neurotropic factors seen in autism and mental retardation may lead to disruption of the normal differentiation process of the neurons, leading to abnormalities, the researchers explained (Ann Neurol; May 2001)

q Recombinant human granulocyte colony stimulating factor (rhG-CSF) has been found to be effective in correcting neutropenia and improving the outcome in sepsis in very low birth weight neonates. Thirteen neonates with neutropenia and clinical evidence of sepsis were given rhG-CSF in doses of 10 g/kg/day for 14 days. Fifteen neonates served as controls. The study reported a decrease in mortality, increase in neutrophil count and decrease in duration of ventilation among neonates given rhG-CSF. As this study was on a small sample, the researchers recommend larger studies on this subject. (Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2001; 84: F172)

q Erythromycin, a macrolide has been found effective as a prokinetic in preterm neonates.In this study on 56 preterm neonates, 27 were given oral erythromycin (12.5 mg/kg), every six hours for 14 days. The rest served as controls. Neonates on erythromycin were able to tolerate oral feeds earlier than the controls. Though it can help in management of gastrointestinal dysmotility in preterms, the researchers do not recommend prophylactic use of erythromycin as its safety in preterms is yet to be confirmed (Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2001;84:F177)

q A new Vi conjugate typhoid vaccine has produced good results in children less than 5 years of age. In this study from Vietnam, over 11000 children received either new vaccine, a Vi conjugate, bound to nontoxic recombinant Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A (rEPA) or a placebo. Four of the 5525 children in the study group and 47 of the 5566 children in the placebo group developed typhoid fever. The Vi-rEPA conjugate typhoid vaccine was safe and had an efficacy of more than 90% in children between two to five years of age. A related editorial has described it a major advance in the fight against enteric fever (NEJM 2001; 344:1263, 1322)

q Children with depression have been found to have high BMI as adults, according to a study from New York. In this report, 90 children aged between 6-17 years and an equal number of controls were followed up for 15 years. The study reported that children with depression had a significantly higher BMI 15 years later as compared to controls. The study also reported a positive correlation between the duration of depression and BMI. Stress could be the linking factor, the researchers suggest (Pediatrics 2001;107:1049)

q Piracetam does not produce beneficial effects in Downs' syndrome. Twenty-five children with Downs' syndrome were given either piracetam in doses of 80-10mg/kg/day or a placebo for 4 months. There was no significant difference in the cognitive function between the two groups. The study concluded that piracetam does not produce beneficial effects, and is also associated with adverse effects like CNS stimulation (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2001;155:442).

q Sensitization to silk has been identified as a risk factor for childhood asthma in China. Eight hundred and seventy one children hailing from a rural province of China, where silk farming is a major occupation, were included in this study. Skin test for 10 allergens including silk was conducted. The study found that sensitization to silk was associated with a more than two-fold risk of developing asthma. The researchers con-cluded that silk could be an important factor in influencing pathogenesis and severity of asthma, especially in silk rearing countries like China, India and Japan (Pediatrics 2001; 107: e80).

C. Vidyashankar, Pediatrician,
Military Hospital, Namkum,

Ranchi - 834010, Jharkhand, India.
E-mail: vidyashankar@vsnl.com.

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