PEDIATRICS recent issues

Congenital Muscular Torticollis: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Clinical Practice

Congenital muscular torticollis (CMT) is a common postural deformity evident shortly after birth, typically characterized by ipsilateral cervical lateral flexion and contralateral cervical rotation due to unilateral shortening of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. New evidence is emerging on the pathogenesis of CMT, the negative long-term consequences of delaying intervention, and the importance of early identification and early intervention to maximize outcomes. Our purpose in this article is to inform pediatricians and health care providers about new research evidence and share selected recommendations and implementation strategies specifically relevant to pediatric practice to optimize outcomes and health services for infants with CMT.

Hyperammonemic Encephalopathy due to Ureaplasma parvum Infection in an Immunocompromised Child

Idiopathic hyperammonemia is a rare complication with a high mortality rate that occurs in persons with hematologic malignancies or hematopoietic stem cell or solid organ transplant. Patients present with encephalopathy and hyperammonemia in the absence of liver disease or inborn errors of metabolism. Several etiologies have been proposed, including chemotherapeutic agents, medications, and a catabolic state with an elevated nitrogen load in the setting of acute illness. Recently, cases of hyperammonemia in adult lung transplant recipients have been attributed to infection from Ureaplasma parvum or U urealyticum. Herein, we report a 12-year-old girl with acute myeloid leukemia and neutropenic fever who developed acute encephalopathy. Laboratory testing revealed severe hyperammonemia (blood ammonia level >1609 μmol/L) with normal liver function studies. U parvum was detected in blood, urine, and respiratory specimens by polymerase chain reaction testing. After antibiotic therapy directed against U parvum, blood ammonia levels normalized, the infection was eradicated, and the patient recovered. We propose that clinicians should test for invasive infection from Ureaplasma species in immunocompromised children with unexplained hyperammonemia.

Cultivating Research Skills During Clinical Training to Promote Pediatric-Scientist Development

Physician-scientists represent a critical component of the biomedical and health research workforce. However, the proportion of physicians who spend a significant amount of effort on scientific research has declined over the past 40 years. This trend has been particularly noticeable in pediatrics despite recent scientific work revealing that early life influences, exposures, and health status play a significant role in lifelong health and disease. To address this problem, the Duke University Department of Pediatrics developed the Duke Pediatric Research Scholars Program for Physician-Scientist Development (DPRS). The DPRS is focused on research training during pediatric residency and fellowship. We aim to provide sufficient research exposure and support to help scholars develop a research niche and scholarly products as well as identify the career pathways that will enable them to achieve their research goals. Herein, we describe the DPRS’s organizational structure, core components, recruitment strategies, and initial results, and we discuss implementation challenges and solutions. Additionally, we detail the program’s integration with the department’s residency and fellowship training programs (with particular reference to the challenges of integrating research into small- to medium-sized residency programs) and describe the development and integration of related initiatives across Duke University School of Medicine. The program served as the basis for 2 successful National Institutes of Health Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (R38) applications, and we hope it will serve as a model to integrate formalized research training for residents and fellows who wish to pursue research careers in academic medicine.

When Parents Take Conflicts to Digital Media

Over the past decade, there have been numerous cases around the world in which parents have used digital media to orchestrate public opposition to doctors’ recommendations. Parents are not always "successful" with such efforts; these cases have mixed outcomes and, sometimes, unintended consequences for parents. In this article, we address the current lack of understanding of parents’ goals, motivations, and rationalizations in initiating such campaigns. We analyze 12 cases in which parental digital media campaigns went viral that occurred between 2007 and 2018, with the aim of better understanding parents’ motivations for going public. We identify 7 themes raised by parent-initiated digital media campaigns: (1) changing doctors’ minds, (2) being heard, (3) feeling empowered, (4) buying more time, (5) raising public awareness, (6) feeling that they have done everything possible, and (7) financial gain. Greater attunement to these themes and what is driving parents in such conflicts may help to disrupt the highly adversarial narrative surrounding such cases. It may also inform how clinicians approach disagreements that cross a certain threshold of public interest at the bedside.

The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health

The American Academy of Pediatrics is committed to addressing the factors that affect child and adolescent health with a focus on issues that may leave some children more vulnerable than others. Racism is a social determinant of health that has a profound impact on the health status of children, adolescents, emerging adults, and their families. Although progress has been made toward racial equality and equity, the evidence to support the continued negative impact of racism on health and well-being through implicit and explicit biases, institutional structures, and interpersonal relationships is clear. The objective of this policy statement is to provide an evidence-based document focused on the role of racism in child and adolescent development and health outcomes. By acknowledging the role of racism in child and adolescent health, pediatricians and other pediatric health professionals will be able to proactively engage in strategies to optimize clinical care, workforce development, professional education, systems engagement, and research in a manner designed to reduce the health effects of structural, personally mediated, and internalized racism and improve the health and well-being of all children, adolescents, emerging adults, and their families.

School Readiness

School readiness includes the readiness of the individual child, the school’s readiness for children, and the ability of the family and community to support optimal early child development. It is the responsibility of schools to meet the needs of all children at all levels of readiness. Children’s readiness for kindergarten should become an outcome measure for a coordinated system of community-based programs and supports for the healthy development of young children. Our rapidly expanding insights into early brain and child development have revealed that modifiable factors in a child’s early experience can greatly affect that child’s health and learning trajectories. Many children in the United States enter kindergarten with limitations in their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development that might have been significantly diminished or eliminated through early identification and attention to child and family needs. A strong correlation between social-emotional development and school and life success, combined with alarming rates of preschool expulsion, point toward the urgency of leveraging opportunities to support social-emotional development and address behavioral concerns early. Pediatric primary care providers have access to the youngest children and their families. Pediatricians can promote and use community supports, such as home visiting programs, quality early care and education programs, family support programs and resources, early intervention services, children’s museums, and libraries, which are important for addressing school readiness and are too often underused by populations who can benefit most from them. When these are not available, pediatricians can support the development of such resources. The American Academy of Pediatrics affords pediatricians many opportunities to improve the physical, social-emotional, and educational health of young children, in conjunction with other advocacy groups. This technical report provides an updated version of the previous iteration from the American Academy of Pediatrics published in 2008.