PEDIATRICS recent issues

The Effects of Armed Conflict on Children

Children are increasingly exposed to armed conflict and targeted by governmental and nongovernmental combatants. Armed conflict directly and indirectly affects children’s physical, mental, and behavioral health. It can affect every organ system, and its impact can persist throughout the life course. In addition, children are disproportionately impacted by morbidity and mortality associated with armed conflict. A children’s rights–based approach provides a framework for collaboration by the American Academy of Pediatrics, child health professionals, and national and international partners to respond in the domains of clinical care, systems development, and policy formulation. The American Academy of Pediatrics and child health professionals have critical and synergistic roles to play in the global response to the impact of armed conflict on children.

The Effects of Armed Conflict on Children

More than 1 in 10 children worldwide are affected by armed conflict. The effects are both direct and indirect and are associated with immediate and long-term harm. The direct effects of conflict include death, physical and psychological trauma, and displacement. Indirect effects are related to a large number of factors, including inadequate and unsafe living conditions, environmental hazards, caregiver mental health, separation from family, displacement-related health risks, and the destruction of health, public health, education, and economic infrastructure. Children and health workers are targeted by combatants during attacks, and children are recruited or forced to take part in combat in a variety of ways. Armed conflict is both a toxic stress and a significant social determinant of child health. In this Technical Report, we review the available knowledge on the effects of armed conflict on children and support the recommendations in the accompanying Policy Statement on children and armed conflict.

Management of Neonates Born at >=35 0/7 Weeks Gestation With Suspected or Proven Early-Onset Bacterial Sepsis

The incidence of neonatal early-onset sepsis (EOS) has declined substantially over the last 2 decades, primarily because of the implementation of evidence-based intrapartum antimicrobial therapy. However, EOS remains a serious and potentially fatal illness. Laboratory tests alone are neither sensitive nor specific enough to guide EOS management decisions. Maternal and infant clinical characteristics can help identify newborn infants who are at risk and guide the administration of empirical antibiotic therapy. The incidence of EOS, the prevalence and implications of established risk factors, the predictive value of commonly used laboratory tests, and the uncertainties in the risk/benefit balance of antibiotic exposures all vary significantly with gestational age at birth. Our purpose in this clinical report is to provide a summary of the current epidemiology of neonatal sepsis among infants born at ≥35 0/7 weeks’ gestation and a framework for the development of evidence-based approaches to sepsis risk assessment among these infants.

Management of Neonates Born at <=34 6/7 Weeks Gestation With Suspected or Proven Early-Onset Bacterial Sepsis

Early-onset sepsis (EOS) remains a serious and often fatal illness among infants born preterm, particularly among newborn infants of the lowest gestational age. Currently, most preterm infants with very low birth weight are treated empirically with antibiotics for risk of EOS, often for prolonged periods, in the absence of a culture-confirmed infection. Retrospective studies have revealed that antibiotic exposures after birth are associated with multiple subsequent poor outcomes among preterm infants, making the risk/benefit balance of these antibiotic treatments uncertain. Gestational age is the strongest single predictor of EOS, and the majority of preterm births occur in the setting of other factors associated with risk of EOS, making it difficult to apply risk stratification strategies to preterm infants. Laboratory tests alone have a poor predictive value in preterm EOS. Delivery characteristics of extremely preterm infants present an opportunity to identify those with a lower risk of EOS and may inform decisions to initiate or extend antibiotic therapies. Our purpose for this clinical report is to provide a summary of the current epidemiology of preterm neonatal sepsis and provide guidance for the development of evidence-based approaches to sepsis risk assessment among preterm newborn infants.

The Role of Pediatricians in Global Health

Ninety percent of the world’s children live in low- and middle-income countries, where barriers to health contribute to significant child morbidity and mortality. The American Academy of Pediatrics is dedicated to the health and well-being of all children. To fulfill this promise, this policy statement defines the role of the pediatrician in global health and provides a specific set of recommendations directed to all pediatricians, emphasizing the importance of global health as an integral function of the profession of pediatrics.

Targeted Reforms in Health Care Financing to Improve the Care of Adolescents and Young Adults

Significant changes have occurred in the commercial and government insurance marketplace after the passage of 2 federal legislation acts, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Despite the potential these 2 acts held to improve the health care of adolescents and young adults (AYAs), including the financing of care, there are barriers to achieving this goal. In the first quarter of 2016, 13.7% of individuals 18 to 24 years of age still lacked health insurance. Limitations in the scope of benefits coverage and inadequate provider payment can curtail access to health care for AYAs, particularly care related to sexual and reproductive health and mental and behavioral health. Some health plans impose financial barriers to access because they require families to absorb high cost-sharing expenses (eg, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance). Finally, challenges of confidentiality inherent in the billing and insurance claim practices of some health insurance plans can discourage access to health care in the absence of other obstacles and interfere with provision of confidential care. This policy statement summarizes the current state of impediments that AYA, including those with special health care needs, face in accessing timely and appropriate health care and that providers face in serving these patients. These impediments include limited scope of benefits, high cost sharing, inadequate provider payment, and insufficient confidentiality protections. With this statement, we aim to improve both access to health care by AYAs and providers’ delivery of developmentally appropriate health care for these patients through the presentation of an overview of the issues, specific recommendations for reform of health care financing for AYAs, and practical actions that pediatricians and other providers can take to advocate for appropriate payments for providing health care to AYAs.

Pediatric Considerations Before, During, and After Radiological or Nuclear Emergencies

Infants, children, and adolescents can be exposed unexpectedly to ionizing radiation from nuclear power plant events, improvised nuclear or radiologic dispersal device explosions, or inappropriate disposal of radiotherapy equipment. Children are likely to experience higher external and internal radiation exposure levels than adults because of their smaller body and organ size and other physiologic characteristics, by picking up contaminated items, and through consumption of contaminated milk or foodstuffs. This policy statement and accompanying technical report update the 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on pediatric radiation emergencies by summarizing newer scientific knowledge from studies of the Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant events, use of improvised radiologic dispersal devices, exposures from inappropriate disposal of radiotherapy equipment, and potential health effects from residential proximity to nuclear plants. Policy recommendations are made for providers and governments to improve future responses to these types of events.

Pediatric Considerations Before, During, and After Radiological or Nuclear Emergencies

Infants, children, and adolescents can be exposed unexpectedly to ionizing radiation from nuclear power plant events, improvised nuclear or radiologic dispersal device explosions, or inappropriate disposal of radiotherapy equipment. Children are likely to experience higher external and internal radiation exposure levels than adults because of their smaller body and organ size and other physiologic characteristics as well as their tendency to pick up contaminated items and consume contaminated milk or foodstuffs. This technical report accompanies the revision of the 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on pediatric radiation emergencies by summarizing newer scientific data from studies of the Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant events, use of improvised radiologic dispersal devices, exposures from inappropriate disposal of radiotherapy equipment, and potential health effects from residential proximity to nuclear plants. Also included are recommendations from epidemiological studies and biokinetic models to address mitigation efforts. The report includes major emphases on acute radiation syndrome, acute and long-term psychological effects, cancer risks, and other late tissue reactions after low-to-high levels of radiation exposure. Results, along with public health and clinical implications, are described from studies of the Japanese atomic bomb survivors, nuclear plant accidents (eg, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima), improper disposal of radiotherapy equipment in Goiania, Brazil, and residence in proximity to nuclear plants. Measures to reduce radiation exposure in the immediate aftermath of a radiologic or nuclear disaster are described, including the diagnosis and management of external and internal contamination, use of potassium iodide, and actions in relation to breastfeeding.

Screening Examination of Premature Infants for Retinopathy of Prematurity

This policy statement revises a previous statement on screening of preterm infants for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) that was published in 2013. ROP is a pathologic process that occurs in immature retinal tissue and can progress to a tractional retinal detachment, which may then result in visual loss or blindness. For more than 3 decades, treatment of severe ROP that markedly decreases the incidence of this poor visual outcome has been available. However, severe, treatment-requiring ROP must be diagnosed in a timely fashion to be treated effectively. The sequential nature of ROP requires that infants who are at-risk and preterm be examined at proper times and intervals to detect the changes of ROP before they become destructive. This statement presents the attributes of an effective program to detect and treat ROP, including the timing of initial and follow-up examinations.

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