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1.  Health and Human Rights in Chin State, Western Burma: A Population-Based Assessment Using Multistaged Household Cluster Sampling 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(2):e1001007.
Sollom and colleagues report the findings from a household survey study carried out in Western Burma; they report a high prevalence of human rights violations such as forced labor, food theft, forced displacement, beatings, and ethnic persecution.
The Chin State of Burma (also known as Myanmar) is an isolated ethnic minority area with poor health outcomes and reports of food insecurity and human rights violations. We report on a population-based assessment of health and human rights in Chin State. We sought to quantify reported human rights violations in Chin State and associations between these reported violations and health status at the household level.
Methods and Findings
Multistaged household cluster sampling was done. Heads of household were interviewed on demographics, access to health care, health status, food insecurity, forced displacement, forced labor, and other human rights violations during the preceding 12 months. Ratios of the prevalence of household hunger comparing exposed and unexposed to each reported violation were estimated using binomial regression, and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were constructed. Multivariate models were done to adjust for possible confounders. Overall, 91.9% of households (95% CI 89.7%–94.1%) reported forced labor in the past 12 months. Forty-three percent of households met FANTA-2 (Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance II project) definitions for moderate to severe household hunger. Common violations reported were food theft, livestock theft or killing, forced displacement, beatings and torture, detentions, disappearances, and religious and ethnic persecution. Self reporting of multiple rights abuses was independently associated with household hunger.
Our findings indicate widespread self-reports of human rights violations. The nature and extent of these violations may warrant investigation by the United Nations or International Criminal Court.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
More than 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, thousands of people around the world are still deprived of their basic human rights—life, liberty, and security of person. In many countries, people live in fear of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, forced labor, religious and ethnic persecution, forced displacement, and murder. In addition, ongoing conflicts and despotic governments deprive them of the ability to grow sufficient food (resulting in food insecurity) and deny them access to essential health care. In Burma, for example, the military junta, which seized power in 1962, frequently confiscates land unlawfully, demands forced labor, and uses violence against anyone who protests. Burma is also one of the world's poorest countries in terms of health indicators. Its average life expectancy is 54 years, its maternal mortality rate (380 deaths among women from pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 live births) is nearly ten times higher than that of neighboring Thailand, and its under-five death rate (122/1000 live births) is twice that of nearby countries. Moreover, nearly half of Burmese children under 5 are stunted, and a third of young children are underweight, indicators of malnutrition in a country that, on paper, has a food surplus.
Why Was This Study Done?
Investigators are increasingly using population-based methods to quantify the associations between human rights violations and health outcomes. In eastern Burma, for example, population-based research has recently revealed a link between human rights violations and reduced access to maternal health-care services. In this study, the researchers undertake a population-based assessment of health and human rights in Chin State, an ethnic minority area in western Burma where multiple reports of human rights abuses have been documented and from which thousands of people have fled. In particular, the researchers investigate correlations between household hunger and household experiences of human rights violations—food security in Chin State is affected by periodic expansions of rat populations that devastate crop yields, by farmers being forced by the government to grow an inedible oil crop (jatropha), and by the Burmese military regularly stealing food and livestock.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Local surveyors questioned the heads of randomly selected households in Chin State about their household's access to health care and its health status, and about forced labor and other human rights violations experienced by the household during the preceding 12 months. They also asked three standard questions about food availability, the answers to which were combined to provide a measure of household hunger. Of the 621 households interviewed, 91.9% reported at least one episode of a household member being forced to work in the preceding 12 months. The Burmese military imposed two-thirds of these forced labor demands. Other human rights violations reported included beating or torture (14.8% of households), religious or ethnic persecutions (14.1% of households), and detention or imprisonment of a family member (5.9% of households). Forty-three percent of the households met the US Agency for International Development Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) definition for moderate to severe household hunger, and human rights violations related to food insecurity were common. For example, more than half the households were forced to give up food out of fear of violence. A statistical analysis of these data indicated that the prevalence of household hunger was 6.51 times higher in households that had experienced three food-related human rights violations than in households that had not experienced such violations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings quantify the extent to which the Chin ethnic minority in Burma is subjected to multiple human rights violations and indicate the geographical spread of these abuses. Importantly, they show that the health impacts of human rights violations in Chin State are substantial. In addition, they suggest that the indirect health outcomes of human rights violations probably dwarf the mortality from direct killings. Although this study has some limitations (for example, surveyors had to work in secret and it was not safe for them to collect biological samples that could have given a more accurate indication of the health status of households than questions alone), these findings should encourage the international community to intensify its efforts to reduce human rights violations in Burma.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is available in numerous languages
The Burma Campaign UK and Human Rights Watch provide detailed information about human rights violations in Burma (in several languages)
The World Health Organization provides information on health in Burma and on human rights (in several languages)
The Mae Tao clinic also provides general information about Burma and its health services (including some information in Thai)
A PLoS Medicine Research Article by Luke Mullany and colleagues provides data on human rights violations and maternal health in Burma
The Chin Human Rights Organization is working to protect and promote the rights of the Chin people
The Global Health Access Program (GHAP) provides information on health in Burma
FANTA works to improve nutrition and global food security policies
PMCID: PMC3035608  PMID: 21346799
2.  Determinants and importance of atrial pressure morphology in atrial septal defect. 
British Heart Journal  1984;51(5):473-479.
A prominent "v" wave relative to the "a" wave in the jugular vein and right atrial pressure tracing is considered to be a common haemodynamic sign of atrial septal defect. Since the prevalence, age relation, and haemodynamic determinants of the "v" greater than or equal to "a" wave configuration have not been studied the pressure recordings from 15 adults and 80 children with an isolated secundum atrial septal defect in sinus rhythm and from 40 adults and 55 children in sinus rhythm without structural cardiac abnormalities or with coronary and valvular heart disease were studied to assess the sensitivity and specificity of the "v" greater than or equal to "a" wave configuration in atrial septal defect. Only 20% of adults with an atrial septal defect had prominent right atrial "v" waves compared with 63% of children, although the specificity was quite high for each group. In adults "left atrialisation " of the right atrium ("v" greater than or equal to "a" wave) occurred in younger patients with higher right atrial and right ventricular end diastolic pressures. In contrast, in children no age related or haemodynamic determinants for the "v" greater than or equal to "a" pattern were found. In addition, most adults but few children with an atrial septal defect had "right atrialisation " of the left atrial wave configuration ("a" greater than "v"). This was found in older adults with lower right atrial and right ventricular end diastolic pressures and in older children with larger left to right shunts. Thus in contrast to children adults with an atrial septal defect rarely show a prominent "v" wave in the right atrium. The presence of a prominent right atrial "v" wave in adults with an atrial septal defect is associated with relatively higher left atrial and right heart pressures than is the absence of this sign and may be related to relatively higher systolic transatrial flow in these patients. The relative paucity of prominent right atrial "v" waves in older adults suggest that the systolic phase flow may diminish with age, possibly from progressive alteration in compliance of the chronically dilated right ventricle.
PMCID: PMC481536  PMID: 6721943
3.  A systematic review of factors affecting children’s right to health in cluster randomized trials in Kenya 
Trials  2014;15:287.
Following the South African case, Treatment Action Campaign and Others v Minister of Health and Others, the use of 'pilot’ studies to investigate interventions already proven efficacious, offered free of charge to government, but confined by the government to a small part of the population, may violate children’s right to health, and the negative duty on governments not to prevent access to treatment. The applicants challenged a government decision to offer Nevirapine in a few pilot sites when evidence showed Nevirapine significantly reduced HIV transmission rates and despite donor offers of a free supply. The government refused to expand access, arguing they needed to collect more information, and citing concerns about long-term hazards, side effects, resistance and inadequate infrastructure. The court ruled this violated children’s right to health and asked the government to immediately expand access. Cluster randomized trials involving children are increasingly popular, and are often used to reduce 'contamination’: the possibility that members of a cluster adopt behavior of other clusters. However, they raise unique issues insufficiently addressed in literature and ethical guidelines. This case provides additional crucial guidance, based on a common human rights framework, for the Kenyan government and other involved stakeholders. Children possess special rights, often represent a 'captive’ group, and so motivate extra consideration. In a systematic review, we therefore investigated whether cluster trial designs are used to prevent or delay children’s access to treatment in Kenya or otherwise inconsistently with children’s right to health as outlined in the above case. Although we did not find state sponsored cluster trials, most had significant public sector involvement. Core obligations under children’s right to health were inadequately addressed across trials. Few cluster trials reported rationale for cluster randomization, offered post- trial access or planned to implement successful interventions. A small number of trials may have unnecessarily evaluated proven interventions, offered their control arm trial conditions worse than local standards of care or evaluated interventions ostensibly worse than local standards of care. Further research is required to establish if children’s right to health in cluster trials is well understood and to explain why some obligations are unmet.
PMCID: PMC4223386  PMID: 25027410
Cluster randomized trial; Children; Right to health; Access to treatment; Standard of care; Kenya
4.  Right prefrontal activation as a neuro-functional biomarker for monitoring acute effects of methylphenidate in ADHD children: An fNIRS study☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2012;1(1):131-140.
An objective biomarker is a compelling need for the early diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as for the monitoring of pharmacological treatment effectiveness. The advent of fNIRS, which is relatively robust to the body movements of ADHD children, raised the possibility of introducing functional neuroimaging diagnosis in younger ADHD children. Using fNIRS, we monitored the oxy-hemoglobin signal changes of 16 ADHD children (6 to 13 years old) performing a go/no-go task before and 1.5 h after MPH or placebo administration, in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. 16 age- and gender-matched normal controls without MPH administration were also monitored. Relative to control subjects, unmedicated ADHD children exhibited reduced activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and middle frontal gyrus (MFG) during go/no-go tasks. The reduced right IFG/MFG activation was acutely normalized after MPH administration, but not after placebo administration. The MPH-induced right IFG/MFG activation was significantly larger than the placebo-induced activation. Post-scan exclusion rate was 0% among 16 right-handed ADHD children with IQ > 70. We revealed that the right IFG/MFG activation could serve as a neuro-functional biomarker for monitoring the acute effects of methylphenidate in ADHD children. fNIRS-based examinations were applicable to ADHD children as young as 6 years old, and thus would contribute to early clinical diagnosis and treatment of ADHD children.
► We assessed the effects of MPH administration to ADHD children using fNIRS. ► Normal healthy control subjects recruited the right IFG/MFG during go/no-go task. ► Unmedicated ADHD children exhibited reduced right IFG/MFG activation. ► The activation was acutely normalized by MPH administration, but not by placebo. ► The right IFG/MFG activation may serve as an objective neuro-functional biomarker.
PMCID: PMC3757725  PMID: 24179746
Cortical hemodynamics; Developmental disorder; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Optical topography; Ventrolateral prefrontal cortex
5.  Sequence Learning Under Uncertainty in Children: Self-Reflection vs. Self-Assertion 
We know that stochastic feedback impairs children’s associative stimulus–response (S–R) learning (Crone et al., 2004a; Eppinger et al., 2009), but the impact of stochastic feedback on sequence learning that involves deductive reasoning has not been not tested so far. In the current study, 8- to 11-year-old children (N = 171) learned a sequence of four left and right button presses, LLRR, RRLL, LRLR, RLRL, LRRL, and RLLR, which needed to be deduced from feedback because no directional cues were given. One group of children experienced consistent feedback only (deterministic feedback, 100% correct). In this condition, green feedback on the screen indicated that the children had been right when they were right, and red feedback indicated that the children had been wrong when they were wrong. Another group of children experienced inconsistent feedback (stochastic feedback, 85% correct, 15% false), where in some trials, green feedback on the screen could signal that children were right when in fact they were wrong, and red feedback could indicate that they were wrong when in fact they had been right. Independently of age, children’s sequence learning in the stochastic condition was initially much lower than in the deterministic condition, but increased gradually and improved with practice. Responses toward positive vs. negative feedback varied with age. Children were increasingly able to understand that they could have been wrong when feedback indicated they were right (self-reflection), but they remained unable to understand that they could have been right when feedback indicated they were wrong (self-assertion).
PMCID: PMC3342618  PMID: 22563324
sequence learning; learning under uncertainty; stochastic feedback; positive and negative feedback
6.  Left-Handedness and Language Lateralization in Children 
Brain research  2011;1433C:85-97.
This fMRI study investigated the development of language lateralization in left- and right-handed children between 5 and 18 years of age. Twenty-seven left-handed children (17 boys, 10 girls) and 54 age- and gender-matched right-handed children were included. We used functional MRI at 3T and a verb generation task to measure hemispheric language dominance based on either frontal or temporo-parietal regions of interest (ROIs) defined for the entire group and applied on an individual basis. Based on the frontal ROI, in the left-handed group, 23 participants (85%) demonstrated left-hemispheric language lateralization, 3 (11%) demonstrated symmetric activation, and 1 (4%) demonstrated right-hemispheric lateralization. In contrast, 50 (93%) of the right-handed children showed left-hemisphere lateralization and 3 (6%) demonstrated a symmetric activation pattern, while one (2%) demonstrated a right- hemisphere lateralization. The corresponding values for the temporo-parietal ROI for the left-handed children were 18 (67%) left-dominant, 6 (22%) symmetric, 3 (11%) right-dominant and for the right-handed children 49 (91%), 4 (7%), 1 (2%). Left-hemispheric language lateralization increased with age in both groups but somewhat different lateralization trajectories were observed in girls when compared to boys. The incidence of atypical language lateralization in left-handed children in this study was similar to that reported in adults. We also found similar rates of increase in left-hemispheric language lateralization with age between groups (i.e., independent of handedness) indicating the presence of similar mechanisms for language lateralization in left- and right-handed children.
PMCID: PMC3249496  PMID: 22177775
Language lateralization; language development; handedness; fMRI
7.  Spatial acuity in two-to-three-year-old children with normal acoustic hearing, unilateral cochlear implants and bilateral cochlear implants 
Ear and hearing  2012;33(5):561-572.
To measure spatial acuity on a right-left discrimination task in 2-to-3-year-old children who use a unilateral cochlear implant (UCI) or bilateral cochlear implants (BICIs); to test the hypothesis that BICI users perform significantly better when they use two CIs than when using a single CI, and that they perform better than the children in the UCI group; to determine how well children with CIs perform compared with children who have normal acoustic hearing; to determine the effect of intensity roving on spatial acuity.
Three groups of children between 26-to-36 months of age participated in this study: 8 children with normal acoustic hearing (mean age: 30.9 months), 12 children who use a UCI (mean age: 31.9 months), and 27 children who use BICIs (mean age: 30.7 months). Testing was conducted in a large sound-treated booth with loudspeakers positioned on a horizontal arc with a radius of 1.2 m. The observer-based psychophysical procedure was used to measure the children’s ability to identify the hemifield containing the sound source (right vs. left). Two methods were used for quantifying spatial acuity, an adaptive-tracking method and a fixed-angle method. In Experiment 1 an adaptive tracking algorithm was used to vary source angle, and the minimum audible angle (MAA; smallest angle at which right-left discrimination performance is better than chance) was estimated. All three groups participated in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2 source angles were fixed at ±50°, and performance was evaluated by computing the number of standard deviations above chance. Children in the UCI and BICI groups participated in Experiment 2.
In Experiment 1, when stimulus intensity was roved by 8 dB, MAA thresholds were 3.3º to 30.2º (mean = 14.5º) and 5.7º to 69.6º (mean = 30.9º) in children who have normal acoustic hearing and the BICI group, respectively. When the intensity level was fixed for the BICI group, performance did not improve. Within the BICI group, 5/27 children obtained MAA thresholds within one standard deviation of their peers who have normal acoustic hearing; all 5 had greater than 12 months of bilateral listening experience. In Experiment 2, BICIs provided some advantages when the intensity level was fixed. First, the BICI group outperformed the UCI group. Second, children in the BICI group who repeated the task with their first CI alone had statistically significantly better performance when using both devices. In addition, when intensity roving was introduced, a larger percentage of children who had 12 or more months of BICI experience continued to perform above chance than children who had less than 12 months of BICI experience. Taken together, the results suggest that children with BICIs have spatial acuity that is better than when using their first CI alone as well as better than their peers who use UCI. In addition, longer durations of BICI use tend to result in better performance, although this cannot be generalized to all participants.
This report is consistent with a growing body of evidence that spatial hearing skills can emerge in young children who use BICIs. The observation that these skills are not concomitantly emerging in age- and experience-matched children who use UCIs suggests that BICIs provide cues that are necessary for these spatial hearing skills which UCIs do not provide.
PMCID: PMC3402640  PMID: 22517185
8.  Situation of children's rights in Isfahan city 
Taking care of children makes them happy, lively and healthy, and it makes the society healthy. Children's rights have been discussed for years and the United Nation General Assembly has two conventions to prevent children abuse, the Minimum Age Convention of 1973 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 1989 However, in spite of these international agreements, the statistics show that the cases of children abuse increased from 749 cases in 1960 to one million cases in 1995 in the Western countries Islamic republic of IRAN agreed this international agreement in 1993. This study investigated the nature, structure and process of children's right in the city of Isfahan.
The study is qualitative, using Content Analysis. The purpose of the study is to discover children's right nature, and to describe the existing condition. Sampling method was purposive (or judgmental) and continued until data collection was completed. Sample consisted of 43 children, parents and teachers or trainers. Data were collected by observing schools and other public communities and also by interviews which were recorded, transcribed, reviewed and coded in three steps using qualitative research methods, Thematic Analysis, to extract the main conception.
The findings of observations and interviews classified in 260 codes and then joined together again to extract the main concepts and categories related to children's rights. This step lead to 12 categories and in the third step, four major categories including psychological and personality, physical, economic and cultural factors were extracted.
Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that parents, teachers and other significant figures in the children's life should receive education on the children's rights and needs in various fields to become capable of developing policies and plans in this regard.
PMCID: PMC3249763  PMID: 22224097
Children; human rights; personality; culture
9.  Risk Factors for Death among Children Less than 5 Years Old Hospitalized with Diarrhea in Rural Western Kenya, 2005–2007: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001256.
A hospital-based surveillance study conducted by Ciara O'Reilly and colleagues describes the risk factors for death amongst children who have been hospitalized with diarrhea in rural Kenya.
Diarrhea is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. Data on risk factors for mortality are limited. We conducted hospital-based surveillance to characterize the etiology of diarrhea and identify risk factors for death among children hospitalized with diarrhea in rural western Kenya.
Methods and Findings
We enrolled all children <5 years old, hospitalized with diarrhea (≥3 loose stools in 24 hours) at two district hospitals in Nyanza Province, western Kenya. Clinical and demographic information was collected. Stool specimens were tested for bacterial and viral pathogens. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were carried out to identify risk factors for death. From May 23, 2005 to May 22, 2007, 1,146 children <5 years old were enrolled; 107 (9%) children died during hospitalization. Nontyphoidal Salmonella were identified in 10% (118), Campylobacter in 5% (57), and Shigella in 4% (42) of 1,137 stool samples; rotavirus was detected in 19% (196) of 1,021 stool samples. Among stools from children who died, nontyphoidal Salmonella were detected in 22%, Shigella in 11%, rotavirus in 9%, Campylobacter in 5%, and S. Typhi in <1%. In multivariable analysis, infants who died were more likely to have nontyphoidal Salmonella (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 6·8; 95% CI 3·1–14·9), and children <5 years to have Shigella (aOR = 5·5; 95% CI 2·2–14·0) identified than children who survived. Children who died were less likely to be infected with rotavirus (OR = 0·4; 95% CI 0·2–0·8). Further risk factors for death included being malnourished (aOR = 4·2; 95% CI 2·1–8·7); having oral thrush on physical exam (aOR = 2·3; 95% CI 1·4–3·8); having previously sought care at a hospital for the illness (aOR = 2·2; 95% CI 1·2–3·8); and being dehydrated as diagnosed at discharge/death (aOR = 2·5; 95% CI 1·5–4·1). A clinical diagnosis of malaria, and malaria parasites seen on blood smear, were not associated with increased risk of death. This study only captured in-hospital childhood deaths, and likely missed a substantial number of additional deaths that occurred at home.
Nontyphoidal Salmonella and Shigella are associated with mortality among rural Kenyan children with diarrhea who access a hospital. Improved prevention and treatment of diarrheal disease is necessary. Enhanced surveillance and simplified laboratory diagnostics in Africa may assist clinicians in appropriately treating potentially fatal diarrheal illness.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Diarrhea—passing three or more loose or liquid stools per day—kills about 1.5 million young children every year, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. Globally, it is the second leading cause of death in under-5-year olds, causing nearly one in five child deaths. Diarrhea, which can lead to life-threatening dehydration, is a common symptom of gastrointestinal infections. The pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and parasites) that cause diarrhea spread through contaminated food or drinking water, and from person to person through poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation (unsafe disposal of human excreta). Interventions that prevent diarrhea include improvements in water supplies, sanitation and hygiene, the promotion of breast feeding, and vaccination against rotavirus (a major viral cause of diarrhea). Treatments for diarrhea include oral rehydration salts, which prevent and treat dehydration, zinc supplementation, which decreases the severity and duration of diarrhea, and the use of appropriate antibiotics when indicated for severe bacterial diarrhea.
Why Was This Study Done?
Nearly half of deaths from diarrhea among young children occur in Africa where diarrhea is the single largest cause of death among under 5-year-olds and a major cause of childhood illness. Unfortunately, although some of the risk factors for death from diarrhea in children in sub-Saharan Africa have been identified (for example, having other illnesses, poor nutrition, and not being breastfed), little is known about the relative contributions of different diarrhea-causing pathogens to diarrheal deaths. Clinicians need to know which of these pathogens are most likely to cause death in children so that they can manage their patients appropriately. In this cohort study, the researchers characterize the causes and risk factors associated with death among young children hospitalized for diarrhea in Nyanza Province, western Kenya, an area where most households have no access to safe drinking water and a quarter lack latrines. In a cohort study, a group of people with a specific condition is observed to identify which factors lead to different outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled all the children under 5 years old who were hospitalized over a two-year period for diarrhea at two district hospitals in Nyanza Province, tested their stool samples for diarrhea-causing viral and bacterial pathogens, and recorded which patients died in-hospital. They then used multivariable regression analysis (a statistical method) to determine which risk factors and diarrheal pathogens were associated with death among the children. During the study, 1,146 children were hospitalized, 107 of whom died in the hospital. 10% of all the stool samples contained nontyphoidal Salmonella, 4% contained Shigella (two types of diarrhea-causing bacteria), and 19% contained rotavirus. By contrast, 22% of the samples taken from children who died contained nontyphoidal Salmonella, 11% contained Shigella, 9% contained rotavirus, and 5% contained Campylobacter (another bacterial pathogen that causes diarrhea). Compared to survivors, infants (children under 1 year of age) who died were nearly seven times more likely to have nontyphoidal Salmonella in their stools and children under 5 years old who died were five and half times more likely to have Shigella in their stools but less likely to have rotavirus in their stools. Other factors associated with death included being malnourished, having oral thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth), having previously sought hospital care for diarrhea, and being dehydrated.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, among young children admitted to the hospital in western Kenya with diarrhea, infections with nontyphoidal Salmonella and with Shigella (but not with rotavirus) were associated with an increased risk of death. Because this study only captured deaths in hospital and most diarrheal deaths in developing countries occur at home, these results may not accurately reflect the pathogens associated with overall childhood diarrheal deaths. In addition, they may not be generalizable to other geographical regions. Nevertheless, given that that there are currently no vaccines available for most bacterial diarrheal diseases, these findings highlight the importance of Kenya and other developing countries implementing effective strategies for the prevention and management of diarrheal diseases in children such as increasing access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene, and community-level promotion of the use of oral rehydration solution and zinc supplements. They also suggest that enhanced surveillance and simplified laboratory diagnostics for diarrheal pathogens could help clinicians identify those children presenting to hospital with diarrhea who are at high risk of death and prioritize their treatment.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information on diarrhea (in several languages); its 2009 report with UNICEF Diarrhea: why children are still dying and what can be done, which includes the WHO/UNICEF recommendations for the treatment and prevention of diarrhea in children, can be downloaded from the Internet
The children's charity UNICEF, which protects the rights of children and young people around the world, provides information on diarrhea (in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3389023  PMID: 22802736
10.  Models of care for orphaned and separated children and upholding children’s rights: cross-sectional evidence from western Kenya 
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to approximately 55 million orphaned children. The growing orphan crisis has overwhelmed many communities and has weakened the ability of extended families to meet traditional care-taking expectations. Other models of care and support have emerged in sub-Saharan Africa to address the growing orphan crisis, yet there is a lack of information on these models available in the literature. We applied a human rights framework using the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to understand what extent children’s basic human rights were being upheld in institutional vs. community- or family-based care settings in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya.
The Orphaned and Separated Children’s Assessments Related to their Health and Well-Being Project is a 5-year cohort of orphaned children and adolescents aged ≤18 year. This descriptive analysis was restricted to baseline data. Chi-Square test was used to test for associations between categorical /dichotomous variables. Fisher’s exact test was also used if some cells had expected value of less than 5.
Included in this analysis are data from 300 households, 19 Charitable Children’s Institutions (CCIs) and 7 community-based organizations. In total, 2871 children were enrolled and had baseline assessments done: 1390 in CCI’s and 1481 living in households in the community. We identified and described four broad models of care for orphaned and separated children, including: institutional care (sub-classified as ‘Pure CCI’ for those only providing residential care, ‘CCI-Plus’ for those providing both residential care and community-based supports to orphaned children , and ‘CCI-Shelter’ which are rescue, detention, or other short-term residential support), family-based care, community-based care and self-care. Children in institutional care (95%) were significantly (p < 0.0001) more likely to have their basic material needs met in comparison to those in family-based care (17%) and institutions were better able to provide an adequate standard of living.
Each model of care we identified has strengths and weaknesses. The orphan crisis in sub-Saharan Africa requires a diversity of care environments in order to meet the needs of children and uphold their rights. Family-based care plays an essential role; however, households require increased support to adequately care for children.
PMCID: PMC4021203  PMID: 24685118
Orphans; Vulnerable children; Sub-saharan africa; Kenya; Street children; Children’s rights
11.  Effect of handedness on the occurrence of semantic N400 priming effect in 18- and 24-month-old children 
It is frequently stated that right-handedness reflects hemispheric dominance for language. Indeed, most right-handers process phonological aspects of language with the left hemisphere (and other aspects with the right hemisphere). However, given the overwhelming majority of right-handers and of individuals showing left-hemisphere language dominance, there is a high probability to be right-handed and at the same time process phonology within the left hemisphere even if there was no causal link between both. One way to understand the link between handedness and language lateralization is to observe how they co-develop. In this study, we investigated to what extent handedness is related to the occurrence of a right-hemisphere lateralized N400 event related potential in a semantic priming task in children. The N400 component in a semantic priming task is more negative for unrelated than for related word pairs. We have shown earlier that N400 effect occurred in 24-month-olds over the right parietal-occipital recording sites, whereas no significant effect was obtained over the left hemisphere sites. In 18-month-olds, this effect was observed only in those children with higher word production ability. Since handedness has also been associated with the vocabulary size at these ages, we investigated the relationship between the N400 and handedness in 18- and 24-months as a function of their vocabulary. The results showed that right-handers had significantly higher vocabulary size and more pronounced N400 effect over the right hemisphere than non-lateralized children, but only in the 18-month-old group. We propose that the emergences of right-handedness and right-distributed N400 effect are not causally related, but that both developmental processes reflect a general tendency to recruit the hemispheres in a lateralized manner. The lack of this relationship at 24 months further suggests that there is no direct causal relation between handedness and language lateralization.
PMCID: PMC4009411  PMID: 24808875
semantic priming; ERPs; N400; handedness; vocabulary; children
12.  Perceived and desired weight, weight related eating and exercising behaviours, and advice received from parents among thin, overweight, obese or normal weight Australian children and adolescents 
Thin children are less muscular, weaker, less active, and have lower performance in measures of physical fitness than their normal weight peers. Thin children are also more frequently subjected to teasing and stigmatization. Little is known about thin children's weight perceptions, desired weight and attitudes and behaviours towards food and exercise. The study aimed to compare perceived weight status, desired weight, eating and exercise behaviours and advice received from parents among thin, overweight, obese or normal weight Australian children and adolescents.
The sample included 8550 school children aged 6 to 18 years selected from every state and territory of Australia. The children were weighed, measured and classified as thin, normal, overweight or obese using international standards. The main outcome measures were perceived and desired weight, weight related eating and exercising behaviours, and advice received from parents.
The distribution of weight status was - thin 4.4%; normal weight 70.7%; overweight 18.3%; and obese 6.6%. Thin children were significantly shorter than normal weight, overweight or obese children and they were also more likely to report regularly consuming meals and snacks. 57.4% of thin children, 83.1% of normal weight children, 63.7% of overweight and 38.3% of obese children perceived their weight as "about right". Of the thin children, 53.9% wanted to be heavier, 36.2% wanted to stay the same weight, and 9.8% wanted to weigh less. Thin children were significantly less likely than obese children to respond positively to statements such as "I am trying to get fitter" or "I need to get more exercise." Parents were significantly less likely to recommend exercise for thin children compared with other weight groups.
Thin children, as well as those who are overweight or obese, are less likely than normal weight children to consider their weight "about right'. Thin children differ from children of other weights in that thin children are less likely to desire to get fitter or be encouraged to exercise. Both extremes of the spectrum of weight, from underweight to obese, may have serious health consequences for the individuals, as well as for public health policy. Health and wellness programs that promote positive social experiences and encourage exercise should include children of all sizes.
PMCID: PMC3132157  PMID: 21703026
13.  Acute neuropharmacological effects of atomoxetine on inhibitory control in ADHD children: A fNIRS study 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2014;6:192-201.
The object of the current study is to explore the neural substrate for effects of atomoxetine (ATX) on inhibitory control in school-aged children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). We monitored the oxy-hemoglobin signal changes of sixteen ADHD children (6–14 years old) performing a go/no-go task before and 1.5 h after ATX or placebo administration, in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. Sixteen age- and gender-matched normal controls without ATX administration were also monitored. In the control subjects, the go/no-go task recruited the right inferior and middle prefrontal gyri (IFG/MFG), and this activation was absent in pre-medicated ADHD children. The reduction of right IFG/MFG activation was acutely normalized after ATX administration but not placebo administration in ADHD children. These results are reminiscent of the neuropharmacological effects of methylphenidate to up-regulate reduced right IFG/MFG function in ADHD children during inhibitory tasks. As with methylphenidate, activation in the IFG/MFG could serve as an objective neuro-functional biomarker to indicate the effects of ATX on inhibitory control in ADHD children. This promising technique will enhance early clinical diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in children, especially in those with a hyperactivity/impulsivity phenotype.
•We assessed the effects of atomoxetine administration to ADHD children using fNIRS.•Normal healthy control subjects recruited the right IFG/MFG during go/no-go tasks.•Pre-medicated ADHD children exhibited reduced right IFG/MFG activation.•The activation was acutely normalized by atomoxetine, but not by placebo.•The right IFG/MFG activation may serve as an objective neuro-functional biomarker.
PMCID: PMC4215398  PMID: 25379431
Cortical hemodynamics; Developmental disorder; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Optical topography; Stop signal task
14.  Health and human rights in today’s fight against HIV/AIDS 
AIDS (London, England)  2008;22(Suppl 2):S113-S121.
The development of the health and human rights framework coincided with the beginning of the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS. Since then, the international community has increasingly turned to human rights language and instruments to address the disease. Not only are human rights essential to addressing a disease that impacts marginalized groups most severely, but the spread of HIV/AIDS itself exacerbates inequality and impedes the realization of a range of human rights. Policy developments of the past decade include the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ General Comment on the ‘Right to Health’, the UN Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, and the UN’s International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, among others. Rights-related setbacks include the failure of the Declaration and its 5-year follow-up specifically to address men who have sex with men, sex workers, and intravenous drug users, political restrictions placed on urgently needed US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funds, and the failure of many countries to decriminalize same-sex sex and outlaw discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. Male circumcision as an HIV prevention measure is a topic around which important debate, touching on gender, informed consent and children’s rights, serves to illustrate the ongoing vitality of the health and human rights dialogue. Mechanisms to increase state accountability for addressing HIV/AIDS should be explored in greater depth. Such measures might include an increase in the use of treaty-based judicial mechanisms, the linking of human rights compliance with preferential trade agreements, and rights requirements tied to HIV/ AIDS funding.
PMCID: PMC3356156  PMID: 18641463
circumcision; human rights; male; social justice; women’s rights; United Nations
15.  Longitudinal Changes in Cortical Thickness in Children after Traumatic Brain Injury and their Relation to Behavioral Regulation and Emotional Control 
The purpose of this study was to assess patterns of cortical development over time in children who had sustained traumatic brain injury (TBI) as compared to children with orthopedic injury (OI), and to examine how these patterns related to emotional control and behavioral dysregulation, two common post-TBI symptoms. Cortical thickness was measured at approximately 3 and 18 months post-injury in 20 children aged 8.2 to 17.5 years who had sustained moderate-to-severe closed head injury and 21 children aged 7.4 to 16.7 years who had sustained OI. At approximately 3 months post-injury, the TBI group evidenced decreased cortical thickness bilaterally in aspects of the superior frontal, dorsolateral frontal, orbital frontal, and anterior cingulate regions compared to the control cohort, areas of anticipated vulnerability to TBI-induced change. At 18 months post-injury, some of the regions previously evident at 3 months post-injury remained significantly decreased in the TBI group, including bilateral frontal, fusiform, and lingual regions. Additional regions of significant cortical thinning emerged at this time interval (bilateral frontal regions and fusiform gyrus and left parietal regions). However, differences in other regions appeared attenuated (no longer areas of significant cortical thinning) by 18 months post-injury including large bilateral regions of the medial aspects of the frontal lobes and anterior cingulate. Cortical thinning within the OI group was evident over time in dorsolateral frontal and temporal regions bilaterally and aspects of the left medial frontal and precuneus, and right inferior parietal regions. Longitudinal analyses within the TBI group revealed decreases in cortical thickness over time in numerous aspects throughout the right and left cortical surface, but with notable “sparing” of the right and left frontal and temporal poles, the medial aspects of both the frontal lobes, the left fusiform gyrus, and the cingulate bilaterally. An analysis of longitudinal changes in cortical thickness over time (18 months – 3 months) in the TBI versus OI group demonstrated regions of relative cortical thinning in the TBI group in bilateral superior parietal and right paracentral regions, but relative cortical thickness increases in aspects of the medial orbital frontal lobes and bilateral cingulate and in the right lateral orbital frontal lobe. Finally, findings from analyses correlating the longitudinal cortical thickness changes in TBI with symptom report on the Emotional Control subscale of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) demonstrated a region of significant correlation in the right medial frontal and right anterior cingulate gyrus. A region of significant correlation between the longitudinal cortical thickness changes in the TBI group and symptom report on the Behavioral Regulation Index was also seen in the medial aspect of the left frontal lobe.
Longitudinal analyses of cortical thickness highlight an important deviation from the expected pattern of developmental change in children and adolescents with TBI, particularly in the medial frontal lobes, where typical patterns of thinning fail to occur over time. Regions which fail to undergo expected cortical thinning in the medial aspects of the frontal lobes correlate with difficulties in emotional control and behavioral regulation, common problems for youth with TBI. Examination of post-TBI brain development in children may be critical to identification of children that may be at risk for persistent problems with executive functioning deficits and the development of interventions to address these issues.
PMCID: PMC3322311  PMID: 22266409
traumatic brain injury; child; imaging; volumetrics; longitudinal; behavior; emotion; frontal lobes; cortical thickness
16.  The Limits of Autonomy: The Belmont Report and the History of Childhood 
This article examines the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research recommendations on children as research subjects in the context of the history of American childhood. The Commission's deliberations took place during the post-World War II period of rapid changes in understandings of childhood and adolescence, brought on in part by school children's highly visible roles as risk-taking protagonists in the polio vaccine trials and the civil rights movement; by the children's rights movement and court decisions granting children and adolescents greater autonomy in divorce cases and in delinquency and mental health hearings, among other rights; and finally by a renewed movement for child protection led by parents of disabled children and by polio survivors themselves. The National Commission's final recommendations emphasized the need for parents to approve, for children above age seven to assent to research, and for children in special care (either medical, psychiatric, or because they were orphans or had committed juvenile crimes) generally to be subjects of research only if there was some direct connection between the reasons for their special care and the objectives of the research. Ultimately, in these recommendations, the National Commission charted a middle ground between the children's rights movement, which advocated enhanced self-determination for children, and the disability rights movement, which urged greater protection for children.
PMCID: PMC2998285  PMID: 20418274
National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research; children as research subjects; autonomy; informed consent; research ethics; civic childhood
17.  Jehovah's Witnesses in the emergency department: what are their rights? 
Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ  2005;22(12):869-871.
The Jehovah's Witnesses Society is best known to outsiders for its refusal of blood products, even when such a refusal may result in death. Since the introduction of the blood ban in 1945, Jehovah's Witness (JW) parents have fought for their rights to refuse blood on behalf of their children, based on religious beliefs and their right to raise children as they see fit. Adolescent JWs have also sought to refuse blood products based on their beliefs, regardless of the views of their parents. Adult JWs have fought to protect their autonomy when making both contemporaneous and advance treatment refusal. The refusal of blood products by JWs raises ethical and legal dilemmas that are not easily answered. Do an individual's rights (namely bodily control, right to privacy, right to decide about life/death issues, right to religious freedom) outweigh society's rights (namely the preservation of life, the prevention of suicide, the protection of innocent third parties, and the maintenance of the ethical integrity of the medical profession)? Does the right to choose outweigh the value of human life? For doctors, conflict occurs between the desire to respect patient autonomy and the need to provide good medical care. The Watchtower Society (the JW governing body) imposes a strict code of moral standards among its members, and it is unlikely that individual JWs are making truly autonomous decisions about blood transfusions. While young children and adolescents are protected by the courts and conscious adults are afforded autonomy, dilemmas still arise in the emergency situation. This article examines the rights of young children, adolescents, and adults, focusing in the latter half on adults in the emergency situation.
PMCID: PMC1726617  PMID: 16299196
18.  Volumetric changes in hippocampal subregions and their relation to memory in pediatric nonlesional localization-related epilepsy 
Epilepsia  2014;55(4):519-527.
Developmental differences in structure and function have been reported along the hippocampal subregions. The aims of this study were to determine if there were volumetric differences in hippocampal head (HH), body (HB), tail (HT), and total hippocampus (TotH)) in children with nonlesional localization-related epilepsy relative to controls, and the relation between hippocampal subregions with episodic memory and clinical parameters.
Forty-eight children with nonlesional localization-related epilepsy, consisting of 29 left-sided and 19 right-sided epilepsy, and 27 healthy controls were recruited. All patients and controls underwent volumetric T1-weighted imaging, and verbal and nonverbal memory testing. The volume of hippocampal subregions was compared between patients and controls. The associations between left hippocampal subregions with verbal memory; right hippocampal subregions with nonverbal memory; and hippocampal subregions with age, age at seizure onset, and seizure frequency were assessed.
Patients with left-sided epilepsy had smaller left HH (p = 0.003) and HB (p = 0.012), right HB (p = 0.021) and HT (p = 0.015), and right TotH (p = 0.020) volumes. Those with right-sided epilepsy had smaller right HT (p = 0.018) volume. There were no statistically significant differences between verbal and nonverbal memory in left-sided and right-sided epilepsy relative to controls (all p > 0.025). In left-sided epilepsy, there was a significant association between left HH volume with verbal memory (β = 0.492, p = 0.001). There was no significant association between left and right hippocampal subregions with verbal and nonverbal memory, respectively, in right-sided epilepsy and controls (all p > 0.002). In left-sided and right-sided epilepsy, there was no significant association between hippocampal subregions with age, age at seizure onset, and seizure frequency (all p > 0.002).
We have found hippocampal volume reduction, but did not identify a gradient in the severity of volume reduction along the hippocampal axis in children with localization-related epilepsy. Further study is needed to clarify if there are volumetric changes within the cornu ammonis subfields and dentate gyrus.
PMCID: PMC3998983  PMID: 24512445 CAMSID: cams4219
Hippocampus; Localization-related epilepsy; Pediatric
19.  Spatial analysis after perinatal stroke: patterns of neglect and exploration in extra-personal space 
Brain and Cognition  2012;79(2):107-116.
This study was conducted to determine whether school-aged children who had experienced a perinatal stroke demonstrate evidence of persistent spatial neglect, and if such neglect was specific to the visual domain or was more generalized. Two studies were carried out. In the first, 38 children with either left hemisphere (LH) or right hemisphere (RH) damage and 50 age-matched controls were given visual cancellation tasks varying in two factors: target stimuli and stimulus array. In the second study, tactile neglect was evaluated in 41 children with LH or RH damage and 72 age-matched controls using a blindfolded manual exploration task. On the visual cancellation task, LH subjects omitted more target stimuli on the right, but also on the left, compared with controls. Children with RH lesions also produced a larger number of omissions on both the left and right sides than controls, but with poorer performance on the left. On the manual exploration task, LH children required significantly longer times to locate the target on both sides of the board than did controls. RH children had significantly prolonged search times on the left side, but not on the right, compared with controls. In both tasks, LH subjects employed unsystematic search strategies more often than both control and RH children. The search strategy of RH children also tended to be erratic when compared to controls, but only in the random arrays of the visual cancellation tasks; structure of the target stimuli improved their organization. These results demonstrate that children with early LH brain damage display bilateral difficulties in visual and tactile modalities; a pattern that is in contrast to that seen in adults with LH damage. This may result from disorganized search strategies or other subtle spatial or attentional deficits. Results of performance of RH children suggests the presence of contralateral neglect in both the visual and tactile modalities; a finding that is similar to the neglect in adult stroke patients with RH lesions. The fact that deficits in spatial attention and organizational strategies are present after very early focal damage to either the LH or the RH broadens our understanding of the differences in functional lateralization between the immature and mature brain. These results also add to evidence for limitations to plasticity in the developing brain. Our findings may have therapeutic and rehabilitative implications for the management of children with early focal brain lesions.
PMCID: PMC3381944  PMID: 22475578
spatial neglect; perinatal stroke; extrapersonal space; tactile neglect; visual neglect
20.  Characteristics of being hospitalized as a child with a new diagnosis of type 1 diabetes: a phenomenological study of children’s past and present experiences 
BMC Nursing  2015;14:4.
Our understanding of children and childhood has changed over the last few decades, which may have an impact on children’s conditions in hospitals. Children’s rights have been strengthened by the “Convention on the Rights of the Child” and ward regulations. The aim of this Norwegian study was to identify potential characteristics of children's lived experience of being hospitalized diagnosed with type 1 diabetes today and from a retrospective view in the period 1950–1980, despite the many obvious external changes.
This study presents a further analysis of data from two previous phenomenological studies. The first had a retrospective perspective, and the second assumed a contemporary perspective. Twelve adults and nine children who had been hospitalized for newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes at the age of approximately 6–12 years old participated. The adults relayed narratives from their childhood memories through interviews, and the study with the children was designed as a combination of observations, in-depth interviews, and photographs. A hermeneutic phenomenological method was used in the analysis.
The analysis revealed a meaning structure that described a tension between vulnerability and agency in the experiences of being hospitalized as a child, both past and present. The experiences may further be characterized as alienation versus recognition and as passivity versus activity, relating to both the hospital environment and the illness.
To a greater extent than ever, children today tend to experience themselves as active and competent individuals who can manage their own illness. Previously, children seemed to experience themselves as more vulnerable and less competent in relationship to their environment and illness. Presently, as before, children appear to desire involvement in their illness; however, at the same time, they prefer to share responsibility with or hand over responsibility to adults. However, living with diabetes was and remains demanding, and it affects children’s lifeworld. Balancing the children’s vulnerability and agency seems to be the best way to care for children in hospitals. In this article, we thus argue for a lifeworld-led approach when caring for hospitalized children, paying attention to both their vulnerability and agency.
PMCID: PMC4299564  PMID: 25606024
Childhood; Vulnerability; Agency; Hospital environment; Lifeworld phenomenology; Chronic illness
21.  Clinical and neuroanatomical predictors of cerebellar mutism syndrome 
Neuro-Oncology  2012;14(10):1294-1303.
Cerebellar mutism syndrome (CMS) is an important medical challenge in the management of pediatric posterior fossa brain tumors, because it occurs in a subset of children following tumor resection. A definitive clinical profile and neuroanatomical substrate associated with CMS remains unclear. We investigated the relationship between presurgical and clinical variables and the incidence of CMS, along with diffusion tensor imaging, to characterize the integrity of cerebello-thalamo-cerebral white matter pathways. Seventeen children with posterior fossa tumors and CMS, 34 children with posterior fossa tumors without CMS, and 28 healthy children were enrolled in this study. Bilateral cerebello-thalamo-cerebral pathways were delineated and segmented into anatomical regions. Mean integrity measures for each region were compared among children with CMS, children without CMS, and healthy children. Left-handedness, medulloblastoma histology, and larger tumor size distinguished between patients with CMS and patients without CMS (P < .04). Right cerebellar white matter within the cerebello-thalamo-cerebral pathway was compromised in children with CMS relative to children without CMS and healthy children (P < .02). We provide a potential schema for CMS risk among children treated for posterior fossa tumors. Left-handed children treated for medulloblastoma may be the most at risk for CMS, and unilateral, localized damage within the cerebello-thalamo-cerebral pathway at the level of the right cerebellum is implicated in the presentation of CMS. This disruption in communication between the right cerebellum and left frontal cortex may contribute to speech-language problems observed in children with CMS. Our findings may be relevant for surgical planning and speech-language therapy to mitigate symptoms of CMS.
PMCID: PMC3452341  PMID: 22952198
cerebellar mutism syndrome; cerebello-thalamo-cerebral pathway; diffusion tensor imaging; posterior fossa syndrome; posterior fossa tumors
22.  Increased Cerebral Blood Flow Velocity in Children with Mild Sleep-Disordered Breathing 
Pediatrics  2006;118(4):e1100-e1108.
Sleep-disordered breathing describes a spectrum of upper airway obstruction in sleep from simple primary snoring, estimated to affect 10% of preschool children, to the syndrome of obstructive sleep apnea. Emerging evidence has challenged previous assumptions that primary snoring is benign. A recent report identified reduced attention and higher levels of social problems and anxiety/depressive symptoms in snoring children compared with controls. Uncertainty persists regarding clinical thresholds for medical or surgical intervention in sleep-disordered breathing, underlining the need to better understand the pathophysiology of this condition. Adults with sleep-disordered breathing have an increased risk of cerebrovascular disease independent of atherosclerotic risk factors. There has been little focus on cerebrovascular function in children with sleep-disordered breathing, although this would seem an important line of investigation, because studies have identified abnormalities of the systemic vasculature. Raised cerebral blood flow velocities on transcranial Doppler, compatible with raised blood flow and/or vascular narrowing, are associated with neuropsychological deficits in children with sickle cell disease, a condition in which sleep-disordered breathing is common. We hypothesized that there would be cerebral blood flow velocity differences in sleep-disordered breathing children without sickle cell disease that might contribute to the association with neuropsychological deficits.
Thirty-one snoring children aged 3 to 7 years were recruited from adenotonsillectomy waiting lists, and 17 control children were identified through a local Sunday school or as siblings of cases. Children with craniofacial abnormalities, neuromuscular disorders, moderate or severe learning disabilities, chronic respiratory/cardiac conditions, or allergic rhinitis were excluded. Severity of sleep-disordered breathing in snoring children was categorized by attended polysomnography. Weight, height, and head circumference were measured in all of the children. BMI and occipitofrontal circumference z scores were computed. Resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure were obtained. Both sleep-disordered breathing children and the age- and BMI-similar controls were assessed using the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), Neuropsychological Test Battery for Children (NEPSY) visual attention and visuomotor integration, and IQ assessment (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence Version III). Transcranial Doppler was performed using a TL2-64b 2-MHz pulsed Doppler device between 2 PM and 7 PM in all of the patients and the majority of controls while awake. Time-averaged mean of the maximal cerebral blood flow velocities was measured in the left and right middle cerebral artery and the higher used for analysis.
Twenty-one snoring children had an apnea/hypopnea index <5, consistent with mild sleep-disordered breathing below the conventional threshold for surgical intervention. Compared with 17 nonsnoring controls, these children had significantly raised middle cerebral artery blood flow velocities. There was no correlation between cerebral blood flow velocities and BMI or systolic or diastolic blood pressure indices. Exploratory analyses did not reveal any significant associations with apnea/hypopnea index, apnea index, hypopnea index, mean pulse oxygen saturation, lowest pulse oxygen saturation, accumulated time at pulse oxygen saturation <90%, or respiratory arousals when examined in separate bivariate correlations or in aggregate when entered simultaneously. Similarly, there was no significant association between cerebral blood flow velocities and parental estimation of child’s exposure to sleep-disordered breathing. However, it is important to note that whereas the sleep-disordered breathing group did not exhibit significant hypoxia at the time of study, it was unclear to what extent this may have been a feature of their sleep-disordered breathing in the past. IQ measures were in the average range and comparable between groups. Measures of processing speed and visual attention were significantly lower in sleep-disordered breathing children compared with controls, although within the average range. There were similar group differences in parental-reported executive function behavior. Although there were no direct correlations, adjusting for cerebral blood flow velocities eliminated significant group differences between processing speed and visual attention and decreased the significance of differences in Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function scores, suggesting that cerebral hemodynamic factors contribute to the relationship between mild sleep-disordered breathing and these outcome measures.
Cerebral blood flow velocities measured by noninvasive transcranial Doppler provide evidence for increased cerebral blood flow and/or vascular narrowing in childhood sleep-disordered breathing; the relationship with neuropsychological deficits requires further exploration. A number of physiologic changes might alter cerebral blood flow and/or vessel diameter and, therefore, affect cerebral blood flow velocities. We were able to explore potential confounding influences of obesity and hypertension, neither of which explained our findings. Second, although cerebral blood flow velocities increase with increasing partial pressure of carbon dioxide and hypoxia, it is unlikely that the observed differences could be accounted for by arterial blood gas tensions, because all of the children in the study were healthy, with no cardiorespiratory disease, other than sleep-disordered breathing in the snoring group. Although arterial partial pressure of oxygen and partial pressure of carbon dioxide were not monitored during cerebral blood flow velocity measurement, assessment was undertaken during the afternoon/early evening when the child was awake, and all of the sleep-disordered breathing children had normal resting oxyhemoglobin saturation at the outset of their subsequent sleep studies that day. Finally, there is an inverse linear relationship between cerebral blood flow and hematocrit in adults, and it is known that iron-deficient erythropoiesis is associated with chronic infection, such as recurrent tonsillitis, a clinical feature of many of the snoring children in the study. Preoperative full blood counts were not performed routinely in these children, and, therefore, it was not possible to exclude anemia as a cause of increased cerebral blood flow velocity in the sleep-disordered breathing group. However, hemoglobin levels were obtained in 4 children, 2 of whom had borderline low levels (10.9 and 10.2 g/dL). Although there was no apparent relationship with cerebral blood flow velocity in these children (cerebral blood flow velocity values of 131 and 130 cm/second compared with 130 and 137 cm/second in the 2 children with normal hemoglobin levels), this requires verification. It is of particular interest that our data suggest a relationship among snoring, increased cerebral blood flow velocities and indices of cognition (processing speed and visual attention) and perhaps behavioral (Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function) function. This finding is preliminary: a causal relationship is not established, and the physiologic mechanisms underlying such a relationship are not clear. Prospective studies that quantify cumulative exposure to the physiologic consequences of sleep-disordered breathing, such as hypoxia, would be informative.
PMCID: PMC1995426  PMID: 17015501
sleep disordered breathing; cerebral blood flow; transcranial Doppler; executive function; neuropsychological function
23.  The Effect of Adding Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food to a General Food Distribution on Child Nutritional Status and Morbidity: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001313.
Lieven Huybregts and colleagues investigate how supplementing a general food distribution with a fortified lipid-based spread during a seasonal hunger gap in Chad affects anthropometric and morbidity outcomes for children aged 6 to 36 months.
Recently, operational organizations active in child nutrition in developing countries have suggested that blanket feeding strategies be adopted to enable the prevention of child wasting. A new range of nutritional supplements is now available, with claims that they can prevent wasting in populations at risk of periodic food shortages. Evidence is lacking as to the effectiveness of such preventive interventions. This study examined the effect of a ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF) on the prevention of wasting in 6- to 36-mo-old children within the framework of a general food distribution program.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a two-arm cluster-randomized controlled pragmatic intervention study in a sample of 1,038 children aged 6 to 36 mo in the city of Abeche, Chad. Both arms were included in a general food distribution program providing staple foods. The intervention group was given a daily 46 g of RUSF for 4 mo. Anthropometric measurements and morbidity were recorded monthly. Adding RUSF to a package of monthly household food rations for households containing a child assigned to the intervention group did not result in a reduction in cumulative incidence of wasting (incidence risk ratio: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.67, 1.11; p = 0.25). However, the intervention group had a modestly higher gain in height-for-age (+0.03 Z-score/mo; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.04; p<0.001). In addition, children in the intervention group had a significantly higher hemoglobin concentration at the end of the study than children in the control group (+3.8 g/l; 95% CI: 0.6, 7.0; p = 0.02), thereby reducing the odds of anemia (odds ratio: 0.52; 95% CI: 0.34, 0.82; p = 0.004). Adding RUSF also resulted in a significantly lower risk of self-reported diarrhea (−29.3%; 95% CI: 20.5, 37.2; p<0.001) and fever episodes (−22.5%; 95% CI: 14.0, 30.2; p<0.001). Limitations of this study include that the projected sample size was not fully attained and that significantly fewer children from the control group were present at follow-up sessions.
Providing RUSF as part of a general food distribution resulted in improvements in hemoglobin status and small improvements in linear growth, accompanied by an apparent reduction in morbidity.
Trial registration NCT01154595
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Good nutrition during childhood is essential for health and survival. Undernourished children are more susceptible to infections and are more likely to die from common ailments such as diarrhea than well-nourished children. Globally, undernutrition contributes to about a third of deaths among children under five years old. Experts use three physical measurements to determine whether a child is undernourished. An “underweight” child has a low weight for his or her age and gender when compared to the World Health Organization Child Growth Standards, which chart the growth of a reference population. A “stunted” child has a low height for his or her age; stunting indicates chronic undernutrition. A “wasted” child has a low weight for his or her height; wasting indicates acute undernutrition and can be caused by disasters or seasonal food shortages. Recent estimates indicate that about a fifth of young children in developing countries are underweight, and one third are stunted; in south Asia and west/central Africa, more than one tenth of children are wasted, a condition that markedly increases the risk of death.
Why Was This Study Done?
In emergency situations, international organizations support affected populations by providing “general food distributions.” Recently, there have been claims that the provision of targeted nutritional supplements within a general food distribution framework effectively prevents child wasting, but there is little evidence to support these claims. In this cluster-randomized controlled trial, the researchers investigate the effect of a targeted daily dose of a “ready-to-use supplementary food” (RUSF; a lipid-based nutrient supplement) on indicators of undernutrition in 6- to 36-month-old, non-wasted children in Chad, a country beset by a severe food crisis. Political instability in this central African country has severely reduced the nutritional status of children, and annual droughts, which affect crop production, cause a “hunger gap” between June and October. In a recent survey, one fifth of children in Chad were wasted at the beginning of this hunger gap. A cluster-randomized trial randomly assigns groups of people to receive alternative interventions and compares the outcomes in the differently treated “clusters.”
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned fourteen household clusters in the city of Abeche, Chad, to the trial's intervention or control arm. All the households received a general food distribution that included staple foods; eligible children in the intervention households were also given a daily RUSF ration between June and September 2010. The researchers regularly measured the children's weights and heights, recorded illnesses reported by caregivers, and measured each child's blood hemoglobin level before and after the intervention to assess their risk of anemia, an indicator of poor nutrition. The addition of RUSF to the household food rations did not significantly reduce the cumulative incidence of wasting. That is, although fewer children in the intervention group became wasted during the trial than in the control group, this difference was not statistically significant—it could have happened by chance. However, compared to the children in the control group, those in the intervention group had a significantly greater gain in height-for-age (equivalent to a difference in height gain of 0.09 cm/month), slightly higher hemoglobin levels at the end of the study, which significantly reduced their anemia risk, and a significantly lower risk of self-reported diarrhea and fever.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although targeted RUSF provided as part of a general food distribution had no significant effect on wasting in young children in Abeche, Chad, the intervention improved their hemoglobin status and linear growth, and reduced illness among them. Why didn't targeted RUSF prevent wasting effectively in this trial? Maybe the effect of RUSF was diluted out by the effect of the general food distribution or maybe the trial was too short to see a clear effect. Most importantly, though, the trial may have been too small to see a clear effect—the researchers were unable to enroll as many children into their trial as they had planned because of political instability in Chad, and this probably limited the trial's ability to detect small differences between the control and intervention groups. Nevertheless, because these findings provide no clear evidence that adding RUSF to a household food ration effectively prevents wasting, alternative ways to prevent acute malnutrition in Chad and other vulnerable regions of the world should be investigated.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Kathryn Dewey and Mary Arimond
Action Contra la Faim–France has a web page that describes the situation in Chad
The United Nations Childrens Fund, which protects the rights of children and young people around the world, provides detailed statistics on child undernutrition; it has detailed information, including videos, about the current food crisis in Chad and the Sahel
The WHO Child Growth Standards are available (in several languages)
The United Nations provides information on ongoing world efforts to reduce hunger and child mortality
The World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide; its website provides detailed information about malnutrition in Chad, including a video of the current food crisis in the country
Starved for Attention is an international multimedia campaign launched in 2010 by Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) and the VII Photo agency to rewrite the story of childhood malnutrition; information about MSFs work in Chad to tackle malnutrition is available
PMCID: PMC3445445  PMID: 23028263
24.  Children with Autism Show Reduced Somatosensory Response: An MEG Study 
Lay Abstract
Autism spectrum disorders are reported to affect nearly one out of every one hundred children, with over 90% of these children showing behavioral disturbances related to the processing of basic sensory information. Behavioral sensitivity to light touch, such as profound discomfort with clothing tags and physical contact, is a ubiquitous finding in children on the autism spectrum. In this study, we investigate the strength and timing of brain activity in response to simple, light taps to the fingertip. Our results suggest that children with autism show a diminished early response in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1). This finding is most evident in the left hemisphere. In exploratory analysis, we also show that tactile sensory behavior, as measured by the Sensory Profile, may be a better predictor of the intensity and timing of brain activity related to touch than a clinical autism diagnosis. We report that children with atypical tactile behavior have significantly lower amplitude somatosensory cortical responses in both hemispheres. Thus sensory behavioral phenotype appears to be a more powerful strategy for investigating neural activity in this cohort. This study provides evidence for atypical brain activity during sensory processing in autistic children and suggests that our sensory behavior based methodology may be an important approach to investigating brain activity in people with autism and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Scientific Abstract
The neural underpinnings of sensory processing differences in autism remain poorly understood. This prospective magnetoencephalography (MEG) study investigates whether children with autism show atypical cortical activity in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) in comparison to matched controls. Tactile stimuli were clearly detectable, painless taps applied to the distal phalanx of the second (D2) and third (D3) fingers of the right and left hands. Three tactile paradigms were administered: an oddball paradigm (standard taps to D3 at an inter-stimulus interval (ISI) of 0.33 and deviant taps to D2 with ISI ranging from 1.32–1.64s); a slow-rate paradigm (D2) with an ISI matching the deviant taps in the oddball paradigm; and a fast-rate paradigm (D2) with an ISI matching the standard taps in the oddball. Study subjects were boys (age 7–11 years) with and without autism disorder. Sensory behavior was quantified using the Sensory Profile questionnaire. Boys with autism exhibited smaller amplitude left hemisphere S1 response to slow and deviant stimuli during the right hand paradigms. In post-hoc analysis, tactile behavior directly correlated with the amplitude of cortical response. Consequently, the children were re-categorized by degree of parent-report tactile sensitivity. This regrouping created a more robust distinction between the groups with amplitude diminution in the left and right hemispheres and latency prolongation in the right hemisphere in the deviant and slow-rate paradigms for the affected children. This study suggests that children with autism have early differences in somatosensory processing, which likely influence later stages of cortical activity from integration to motor response.
PMCID: PMC3474892  PMID: 22933354
Cognitive Neuroscience; Event Related Potential; School age; Low-level perception; Magnetoencephalography
25.  Basal ganglia morphometry and repetitive behavior in young children with autism spectrum disorder 
Scientific Abstract
We investigated repetitive and stereotyped behavior (RSB) and its relationship to morphometric measures of the basal ganglia and thalami in 3-4 year old children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; n=77) and developmental delay without autism (DD; n=34). Children were assessed through clinical evaluation and parent report using RSB-specific scales extracted from the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), the Autism Diagnostic Interview, and the Aberrant Behavior Checklist. A subset of children with ASD (n=45), DD (n=14) and a group of children with typical development (TD; n=25) were also assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Children with ASD demonstrated elevated RSB across all measures compared to children with DD. Enlargement of the left and right striatum, more specifically the left and right putamen, and left caudate, was observed in the ASD compared to the TD group. However, nuclei were not significantly enlarged after controlling for cerebral volume. The DD group, in comparison to the ASD group, demonstrated smaller thalami and basal ganglia regions even when scaled for cerebral volume, with the exception of the left striatum, left putamen, and right putamen. Elevated RSB, as measured by the ADOS, was associated with decreased volumes in several brain regions: left thalamus, right globus pallidus, left and right putamen, right striatum and a trend for left globus pallidus and left striatum within the ASD group. These results confirm earlier reports that RSB is common early in the clinical course of ASD and, furthermore, demonstrate that such behaviors may be associated with decreased volumes of the basal ganglia and thalamus.
PMCID: PMC3110551  PMID: 21480545

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