PEDIATRICS recent issues

Providing Care for Infants Born at Home

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes that current data show that hospitals and accredited birth centers are the safest settings for birth in the United States. The AAP does not recommend planned home birth, which has been reported to be associated with a twofold to threefold increase in infant mortality in the United States. The AAP recognizes that women may choose to plan a home birth. This statement is intended to help pediatricians provide constructive, informed counsel to women considering home birth while retaining their role as child advocates and to summarize appropriate care for newborn infants born at home that is consistent with care provided for infants born in a medical care facility. Regardless of the circumstances of his or her birth, including location, every newborn infant deserves health care consistent with that highlighted in this statement, which is more completely described in other publications from the AAP, including Guidelines for Perinatal Care and the Textbook of Neonatal Resuscitation. All health care clinicians and institutions should promote communications and understanding on the basis of professional interaction and mutual respect.

Emerging Issues in Male Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Care

Pediatricians are encouraged to address male adolescent sexual and reproductive health on a regular basis, including taking a sexual history, discussing healthy sexuality, performing an appropriate physical examination, providing patient-centered and age-appropriate anticipatory guidance, and administering appropriate vaccinations. These services can be provided to male adolescent patients in a confidential and culturally appropriate manner, can promote healthy sexual relationships and responsibility, can and involve parents in age-appropriate discussions about sexual health.

Nickel Allergic Contact Dermatitis: Identification, Treatment, and Prevention

Nickel is a ubiquitous metal added to jewelry and metallic substances for its hardening properties and because it is inexpensive. Estimates suggest that at least 1.1 million children in the United States are sensitized to nickel. Nickel allergic contact dermatitis (Ni-ACD) is the most common cutaneous delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction worldwide. The incidence among children tested has almost quadrupled over the past 3 decades. The associated morbidities include itch, discomfort, school absence, and reduced quality of life. In adulthood, individuals with Ni-ACD may have severe disabling hand eczema. The increasing rate of Ni-ACD in children has been postulated to result from early and frequent exposure to metals with high amounts of nickel release (eg, as occurs with ear piercing or with products used daily in childhood such as toys, belt buckles, and electronics).

To reduce exposure to metal sources with high nickel release by prolonged and direct contact with human skin, Denmark and the European Union legislated a directive several decades ago with the goal of reducing high nickel release and the incidence of Ni-ACD. Since then, there has been a global reduction in incidence of Ni-ACD in population-based studies of adults and studies of children and young adults being tested for allergic contact dermatitis. These data point to nickel exposure as a trigger for elicitation of Ni-ACD and, further, provide evidence that legislation can have a favorable effect on the economic and medical health of a population.

This policy statement reviews the epidemiology, history, and appearances of Ni-ACD. Examples of sources of high nickel release are discussed to highlight how difficult it is to avoid this metal in modern daily lives. Treatments are outlined, and avoidance strategies are presented. Long-term epidemiological interventions are addressed. Advocacy for smarter nickel use is reviewed. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports US legislation that advances safety standards (as modeled by the European Union) that protect children from early and prolonged skin exposure to high–nickel-releasing items. Our final aim for this article is to aid the pediatric community in developing nickel-avoidance strategies on both individual and global levels.

Optimizing Resources in Childrens Surgical Care: An Update on the American College of Surgeons' Verification Program

Surgical procedures are performed in the United States in a wide variety of clinical settings and with variation in clinical outcomes. In May 2012, the Task Force for Children’s Surgical Care, an ad hoc multidisciplinary group comprising physicians representing specialties relevant to pediatric perioperative care, was convened to generate recommendations to optimize the delivery of children’s surgical care. This group generated a white paper detailing the consensus opinions of the involved experts. Following these initial recommendations, the American College of Surgeons (ACS), Children’s Hospital Association, and Task Force for Children’s Surgical Care, with input from all related perioperative specialties, developed and published specific and detailed resource and quality standards designed to improve children’s surgical care ( In 2015, with the endorsement of the American Academy of Pediatrics (, the ACS established a pilot verification program. In January 2017, after completion of the pilot program, the ACS Children’s Surgery Verification Quality Improvement Program was officially launched. Verified sites are listed on the program Web site at, and more than 150 are interested in verification. This report provides an update on the ACS Children’s Surgery Verification Quality Improvement Program as it continues to evolve.

Management of Opioid Misuse and Opioid Use Disorders Among Youth

In response to the growing impact of the current opioid public health crisis in the United States on adolescents and young adults, pediatricians have an expanding role in identifying opioid use early, preventing escalation of risky use, reducing opioid-related harms, and delivering effective therapies. Research and expert consensus suggest the use of brief interventions focused on reducing risks associated with ongoing opioid use and using motivational interviewing strategies to engage youth in treatment. Because fatal opioid overdose remains a major cause of opioid-related mortality among youth, delivering overdose education as part of any visit in which a youth endorses opioid use is one evidence-based strategy to decrease the burden of opioid-related mortality. For youth that are injecting opioids, safe injection practices and linkage to needle or syringe exchanges should be considered to reduce complications from injection drug use. It is crucial that youth be offered treatment at the time of diagnosis of an opioid use disorder (OUD), including medications, behavioral interventions, and/or referral to mutual support groups. The 2 medications commonly used for office-based OUD treatment in adolescents are extended-release naltrexone (opioid antagonist) and buprenorphine (partial opioid agonist), although there is a significant treatment gap in prescribing these medications to youth, especially adolescents <18 years of age. Addiction is a pediatric disease that pediatricians and adolescent medicine physicians are uniquely poised to manage, given their expertise in longitudinal, preventive, and family- and patient-centered care. Growing evidence supports the need for integration of OUD treatment into primary care.

Marijuana Legalization and Youth

Various states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes and/or decriminalized recreational marijuana use. These changes coincide with a decrease in perceived harmfulness of the drug and an increase in its use among youth. This change is of critical concern because of the potential harmful impact of marijuana exposure on adolescents. Marijuana use has been associated with several adverse mental health outcomes, including increased incidence of addiction and comorbid substance use, suicidality, and new-onset psychosis. Negative impacts on cognition and academic performance have also been observed. As the trend toward legalization continues, the pediatric community will be called on to navigate the subsequent challenges that arise with changing policies. Pediatricians are uniquely positioned to provide innovative care and educate youth and families on the ever-evolving issues pertaining to the impact of marijuana legalization on communities. In this article, we present and analyze the most up-to-date data on the effects of legalization on adolescent marijuana use, the effects of adolescent use on mental health and cognitive outcomes, and the current interventions being recommended for use in pediatric office settings.

Public Health Considerations for Adolescent Initiation of Electronic Cigarettes

Adolescent use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has increased dramatically, with younger and nicotine-naive adolescents starting to use these devices and use them more frequently than combustible cigarettes. In emerging evidence, it is shown that e-cigarettes are not effective in helping adult smokers quit and that youth using e-cigarettes are at risk for becoming nicotine dependent and continuing to use as adults. Important gaps in our knowledge remain regarding the long-term health impact of e-cigarettes, effective strategies to prevent and reduce adolescent e-cigarette use, and the impact of provider screening and counseling to address this new method of nicotine use.

Screening for Problematic Internet Use

Problematic Internet use (PIU) by adolescents is of growing concern among both parents and pediatricians. Early controversies may have contributed to challenges in defining and measuring PIU. A variety of screening tools have evolved, aligned with different constructs of PIU, although a validated screening tool does exist. Current data and American Academy of Pediatrics policy reflect evidence-driven screening for PIU for all youth.

Technology Use for Adolescent Health and Wellness

As avid users of technology, adolescents are a key demographic to engage when designing and developing technology applications for health. There are multiple opportunities for improving adolescent health, from promoting preventive behaviors to providing guidance for adolescents with chronic illness in supporting treatment adherence and transition to adult health care systems. This article will provide a brief overview of current technologies and then highlight new technologies being used specifically for adolescent health, such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and machine learning. Because there is paucity of evidence in this field, we will make recommendations for future research.

Primary and Secondary Prevention of Youth Suicide

Youth suicide is a national and global public health crisis. Pediatricians can use primary and secondary prevention strategies to intervene with youth before or after the onset of suicidal behaviors. Universal suicide risk screening programs can be used to identify youth in medical settings who may otherwise pass through the health care setting with undetected suicide risk. Pediatricians are uniquely positioned to help foster resilience in their young patients and equip families of at-risk youth with safety plans and lethal means safety counseling. Pediatricians on the frontlines of this critical public health crisis require education and training in detecting suicide risk, managing those who screen positive, and connecting their patients to much needed mental health interventions and treatments. Evidence-based suicide risk screening and assessment tools, paired with interventions, are feasible and potentially life-saving in the medical setting.

Sleep Disorders in Adolescents

Chronic sleep deprivation is a common, treatable condition among adolescents. Growing literature supports a myriad consequences that impact overall health, behavior, mood, and academic performance in this vulnerable age group during a time when there are rapid changes in physical development and emotional regulation. This article reviews the epidemiology and health effects of sleep deprivation in adolescents as well as common disorders leading to sleep loss and evidence to support treatment. Although a variety of important sleep disorders may disrupt quality of sleep in adolescents, such as obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy, this article will focus on common disorders that affect the quantity of sleep, such as poor sleep hygiene, circadian rhythm disorders, and insomnia.

Diagnosis and Management of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Adolescents

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common female reproductive disorder that often manifests during adolescence and is associated with disruptions in health-related quality of life. Prompt evaluation and clinical support after diagnosis may prevent associated complications and optimize overall health management. This article incorporates the most recent evidence and consensus guidelines to provide an updated review of the pathogenesis, clinical presentation, diagnostic evaluation, and management strategies for adolescents with this complex condition. We will review the recent international guidelines on PCOS; because the diagnosis of PCOS remains controversial, management of this condition is inconsistent. In 2019, PCOS remains a common, yet neglected, condition, in part, because of the lack of agreement around both diagnosis and management.

Office-Based Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections in Adolescents

Almost 1 in 4 adolescents have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). These infections are preventable through safe sexual practices and routine screening. Pediatricians are the first line of clinical care for adolescents and are well positioned to offer sexual and reproductive health care counseling and services to their patients; yet, there is a paucity of sexual health screening provided at routine health supervision visits. This article addresses the epidemiology of STIs in adolescents, reviews the evidence of current clinical practice, presents recommended STI screening from government and medical agencies, and offers strategies to address barriers to providing care for adolescents and for sexual health screening in primary care.

Current Issues in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris

Acne vulgaris is an extraordinarily common skin condition in adolescents. The mainstays of acne treatment have remained largely unchanged over recent years. In the context of increasing antibiotic resistance worldwide, there is a global movement away from antibiotic monotherapy toward their more restrictive use. Classically reserved for nodulocystic acne, isotretinoin has become the drug of choice by dermatologists for moderate to severe acne. Given the virtually ubiquitous nature of acne in teenagers, there remains an appreciable need for novel therapies. In this article, we will cover the currently used acne treatments, evaluate the issues and data supporting their use, explore the issues of compliance and the mental health implications of acne care, and recommend directions for the field of acne management in adolescents in the years ahead.