PEDIATRICS recent issues

The Link Between School Attendance and Good Health

More than 6.5 million children in the United States, approximately 13% of all students, miss 15 or more days of school each year. The rates of chronic absenteeism vary between states, communities, and schools, with significant disparities based on income, race, and ethnicity. Chronic school absenteeism, starting as early as preschool and kindergarten, puts students at risk for poor school performance and school dropout, which in turn, put them at risk for unhealthy behaviors as adolescents and young adults as well as poor long-term health outcomes. Pediatricians and their colleagues caring for children in the medical setting have opportunities at the individual patient and/or family, practice, and population levels to promote school attendance and reduce chronic absenteeism and resulting health disparities. Although this policy statement is primarily focused on absenteeism related to students’ physical and mental health, pediatricians may play a role in addressing absenteeism attributable to a wide range of factors through individual interactions with patients and their parents and through community-, state-, and federal-level advocacy.

Principles of Pediatric Patient Safety: Reducing Harm Due to Medical Care

Pediatricians render care in an increasingly complex environment, which results in multiple opportunities to cause unintended harm. National awareness of patient safety risks has grown since the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) published its report "To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System" in 1999. Patients and society as a whole continue to challenge health care providers to examine their practices and implement safety solutions. The depth and breadth of harm incurred by the practice of medicine is still being defined as reports continue to reveal a variety of avoidable errors, from those that involve specific high-risk medications to those that are more generalizable, such as patient misidentification and diagnostic error. Pediatric health care providers in all practice environments benefit from having a working knowledge of patient safety language. Pediatric providers should serve as advocates for best practices and policies with the goal of attending to risks that are unique to children, identifying and supporting a culture of safety, and leading efforts to eliminate avoidable harm in any setting in which medical care is rendered to children. In this Policy Statement, we provide an update to the 2011 Policy Statement "Principles of Pediatric Patient Safety: Reducing Harm Due to Medical Care."

E-Cigarettes and Similar Devices

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. The 2016 US Surgeon General’s Report on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults concluded that e-cigarettes are unsafe for children and adolescents. Furthermore, strong and consistent evidence finds that children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes are significantly more likely to go on to use traditional cigarettes—a product that kills half its long-term users. E-cigarette manufacturers target children with enticing candy and fruit flavors and use marketing strategies that have been previously successful with traditional cigarettes to attract youth to these products. Numerous toxicants and carcinogens have been found in e-cigarette solutions. Nonusers are involuntarily exposed to the emissions of these devices with secondhand and thirdhand aerosol. To prevent children, adolescents, and young adults from transitioning from e-cigarettes to traditional cigarettes and minimize the potential public health harm from e-cigarette use, there is a critical need for e-cigarette regulation, legislative action, and counterpromotion to protect youth.

Psychosocial Factors in Children and Youth With Special Health Care Needs and Their Families

Children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and their families may experience a variety of internal (ie, emotional and behavioral) and external (ie, interpersonal, financial, housing, and educational) psychosocial factors that can influence their health and wellness. Many CYSHCN and their families are resilient and thrive. Medical home teams can partner with CYSHCN and their families to screen for, evaluate, and promote psychosocial health to increase protective factors and ameliorate risk factors. Medical home teams can promote protective psychosocial factors as part of coordinated, comprehensive chronic care for CYSHCN and their families. A team-based care approach may entail collaboration across the care spectrum, including youth, families, behavioral health providers, specialists, child care providers, schools, social services, and other community agencies. The purpose of this clinical report is to raise awareness of the impact of psychosocial factors on the health and wellness of CYSHCN and their families. This clinical report provides guidance for pediatric providers to facilitate and coordinate care that can have a positive influence on the overall health, wellness, and quality of life of CYSHCN and their families.

Health and Mental Health Needs of Children in US Military Families

Children in US military families share common experiences and unique challenges, including parental deployment and frequent relocation. Although some of the stressors of military life have been associated with higher rates of mental health disorders and increased health care use among family members, there are various factors and interventions that have been found to promote resilience. Military children often live on or near military installations, where they may attend Department of Defense–sponsored child care programs and schools and receive medical care through military treatment facilities. However, many families live in remote communities without access to these services. Because of this wide geographic distribution, military children are cared for in both military and civilian medical practices. This clinical report provides a background to military culture and offers practical guidance to assist civilian and military pediatricians caring for military children.

Incorporating Recognition and Management of Perinatal Depression Into Pediatric Practice

Perinatal depression (PND) is the most common obstetric complication in the United States. Even when screening results are positive, mothers often do not receive further evaluation, and even when PND is diagnosed, mothers do not receive evidence-based treatments. Studies reveal that postpartum depression (PPD), a subset of PND, leads to increased costs of medical care, inappropriate medical treatment of the infant, discontinuation of breastfeeding, family dysfunction, and an increased risk of abuse and neglect. PPD, specifically, adversely affects this critical early period of infant brain development. PND is an example of an adverse childhood experience that has potential long-term adverse health complications for the mother, her partner, the infant, and the mother-infant dyad. However, PND can be treated effectively, and the stress on the infant can be buffered. Pediatric medical homes should coordinate care more effectively with prenatal providers for women with prenatally diagnosed maternal depression; establish a system to implement PPD screening at the 1-, 2-, 4-, and 6-month well-child visits; use community resources for the treatment and referral of the mother with depression; and provide support for the maternal-child (dyad) relationship, including breastfeeding support. State chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, working with state departments of public health, public and private payers, and maternal and child health programs, should advocate for payment and for increased training for PND screening and treatment. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends advocacy for workforce development for mental health professionals who care for young children and mother-infant dyads, and for promotion of evidence-based interventions focused on healthy attachment and parent-child relationships.

Incorporating Recognition and Management of Perinatal Depression Into Pediatric Practice

Perinatal depression is the most common obstetric complication in the United States, with prevalence rates of 15% to 20% among new mothers. Untreated, it can adversly affect the well-being of children and families throught increasing the risk for costly complications during birth and lead to deterioration of core supports, including partner relationships and social networks. Perinatal depression contributes to long-lasting, and even permanent, consequences for the physical and mental health of parents and children, including poor family functioning, increased risk of child abuse and neglect, delayed infant development, perinatal obstetric complications, challenges with breastfeeding, and costly increases in health care use. Perinatal depression can interfere with early parent-infant interaction and attachment, leading to potentially long-term disturbances in the child’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development. Fortunately, perinatal depression is identifiable and treatable. The US Preventive Services Task Force, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and many professional organizations recommend routine universal screening for perinatal depression in women to facilitate early evidence-based treatment and referrals, if necessary. Despite significant gains in screening rates from 2004 to 2013, a minority of pediatricians routinely screen for postpartum depression, and many mothers are still not identified or treated. Pediatric primary care clinicians, with a core mission of promoting child and family health, are in an ideal position to implement routine postpartum depression screens at several well-child visits throughout infancy and to provide mental health support through referrals and/or the interdisciplinary services of a pediatric patient-centered medical home model.

Selecting Appropriate Toys for Young Children in the Digital Era

Play is essential to optimal child development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. It also offers an ideal and significant opportunity for parents and other caregivers to engage fully with children using toys as an instrument of play and interaction. The evolution of societal perceptions of toys from children’s playthings to critical facilitators of early brain and child development has challenged caregivers in deciding which toys are most appropriate for their children. This clinical report strives to provide pediatric health care providers with evidence-based information that can be used to support caregivers as they choose toys for their children. The report highlights the broad definition of a toy; consideration of potential benefits and possible harmful effects of toy choices on child development; and the promotion of positive caregiving and development when toys are used to engage caregivers in play-based interactions with their children that are rich in language, pretending, problem-solving, and creativity. The report aims to address the evolving replacement of more traditional toys with digital media–based virtual "toys" and the lack of evidence for similar benefits in child development. Furthermore, this report briefly addresses the role of toys in advertising and/or incentive programs and aims to bring awareness regarding safety and health hazards associated with toy availability and accessibility in public settings, including some health care settings.

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