Studies in high-income countries have shown inverse associations between adiposity and cognitive performance in children. We aimed to examine the relationship between adiposity and cognitive function in Indian children.
At a mean age of 9.7 years, height, weight, triceps and subscapular skinfold thicknesses and waist circumference were recorded for 540 children born in Mysore, India. Body fat percentage was estimated using bio-impedance. Cognitive function was assessed using 3 core tests from the Kaufman Assessment Battery for children-II edition and additional tests measuring learning, short-term memory, reasoning, verbal and visuo-spatial abilities, attention and concentration. Data on the parents’ socio-economic status, education, occupation and income were collected.
According to WHO definitions, 3.5% of the children were overweight/obese (BMI>+1SD) and 27% underweight (BMI<−2SD). Compared to normal children, overweight/obese children scored higher in tests of learning/long-term retrieval, reasoning and verbal ability (unadjusted p<0.05 for all). All the cognitive test scores increased with increase in BMI and skinfold thickness, (unadjusted β=0.10 to 0.20 SD; p<0.05 for all). The effects, though attenuated, remained mainly significant after adjustment for age, sex and socio-economic factors. Similar associations were found for waist circumference and percentage body fat.
In this Indian population, in which obesity was uncommon, greater adiposity predicted higher cognitive ability. These associations were only partly explained by socio-economic factors. Our findings suggest that better nutrition is associated with better cognitive function, and that inverse associations between adiposity and cognitive function in high-income countries reflect confounding by socio-economic factors.
Adiposity; Children; Cognitive function; India; Birth cohort
Background and objective
Genetic factors alone cannot explain the risk of developing coeliac disease (CD). Children born in summer months are likely to be weaned and introduced to gluten during winter when viral infections are more frequent. Earlier studies on birth season and CD are limited in sample size and results are contradictory.
Case-control study. We used biopsy reports from all 28 Swedish pathology departments to identify individuals with CD, defined as small intestinal villous atrophy (n=29,096). The government agency Statistics Sweden then identified 144,522 controls matched for gender, age, calendar year and county. Through conditional logistic regression we examined the association between summer birth (March-August) and later CD diagnosis (outcome measure).
Some 54.10% of individuals with CD vs. 52.75% of controls were born in the summer months. Summer birth was hence associated with a small increased risk of later CD (Odds ratio: 1.06; 95%CI=1.03–1.08; p<0.0001). Stratifying CD patients according to age at diagnosis, we found the highest OR in those diagnosed before age 2 years (OR=1.17; 95%CI=1.10–1.26), while summer birth was not associated with a CD diagnosis in later childhood (age 2–18 years: OR=1.02; 95%CI=0.97–1.08), but had a marginal effect on the risk of CD in adulthood (age ≥18years: OR=1.04; 95%CI=1.01–1.07).
In this study, summer birth was associated with an increased risk of later CD, but the excess risk was small, and general infectious disease exposure early in life is unlikely to be a major cause of CD.
celiac; coeliac; epidemiology; risk factors; seasons; viral infection
Developmental disabilities, emotional disorders, and disruptive behaviour disorders are the leading mental health related causes of the global burden of disease in children aged below ten years. This article aims to address the treatment gap for child mental disorders through synthesizing three bodies of evidence: the global evidence base on the treatment of these priority disorders; the barriers to implementation of this knowledge; and the innovative approaches taken to address these barriers and improve access to care. Our focus is on low resource settings, which are mostly found in low and middle income countries (LMIC). Despite the evidence base on the burden of child mental disorders and their long-term consequences, and the recent mhGAP guidelines which testify to the effectiveness of a range of pharmacological and psychosocial interventions for these disorders, the vast majority of children in LMIC do not have access to these interventions. We identify three major barriers to implementation of efficacious treatments: the lack of evidence on delivery of the treatments; the low levels of detection of child mental disorders; and the shortage of skilled child mental health professionals. The evidence base on implementation, although weak, supports the use of screening measures for detection of probable disorders, coupled with a second stage diagnostic assessment, and the use of non-specialist workers in community and school settings for the delivery of psychosocial interventions. The most viable strategy to address the treatment gap is through empowerment of existing human resources who are most intimately concerned with child care, including parents, through innovative technologies such as mobile health, with the necessary skills for the detection and treatment of child mental disorders.
To examine whether delivery by caesarean section is a risk factor for childhood obesity.
Prospective pre-birth cohort study (Project Viva).
Eight outpatient multi-specialty practices based in the Boston, Massachusetts area.
We recruited women during early pregnancy between 1999 and 2002, and followed their children after birth. We included 1255 children with body composition measured at 3 years of age.
Main outcome measures
Body mass index (BMI) z-score, obesity (BMI for age and sex ≥ 95th percentile), and sum of triceps + subscapular skinfold thicknesses, at 3 years of age.
284 children (22.6 percent) were delivered by caesarean section. At age 3, 15.7% of children delivered by caesarean section were obese, compared with 7.5% of children born vaginally. In multivariable logistic and linear regression models adjusting for maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, birth weight, and other covariates, birth by caesarean section was associated with a higher odds of obesity at age 3 (OR 2.10, 95%CI 1.36 to 3.23), higher mean BMI z-score (0.20 units, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.33), and higher sum of triceps + subscapular skinfold thicknesses (0.94 mm, 95% CI 0.36 to 1.51).
Infants delivered by caesarean section may be at increased risk of childhood obesity. Further studies are needed to confirm our findings and to explore mechanisms underlying this association.
Some studies show that greater parental control over children’s eating habits predicts later obesity, but it is unclear whether parents are reacting to infants who are already overweight.
To examine the longitudinal association between maternal feeding restriction at age 1 and body mass index (BMI) at age 3 and the extent to which the association is explained by weight for length (WFL) at age 1.
We studied 837 mother–infant pairs from a prospective cohort study. The main exposure was maternal feeding restriction at age 1, defined as agreeing or strongly agreeing with the following question: “I have to be careful not to feed my child too much.” We ran multivariable linear regression models before and after adjusting for WFL at age 1. All models were adjusted for parental and child sociodemographic characteristics.
100 (12.0%) mothers reported feeding restriction at age 1. Mean (SD) WFL z-score at age 1 was 0.32 (1.01), and BMI z-score at age 3 was 0.43 (1.01). Maternal feeding restriction at age 1 was associated with higher BMI z-score at age 3 before (β 0.26 (95% CI 0.05 to 0.48)) but not after (β 0.00 (95% CI −0.17 to 0.18)) adjusting for WFL z-score at age 1. Each unit of WFL z-score at age 1 was associated with an increment of 0.57 BMI z-score units at age 3 (95% CI 0.51 to 0.62).
We found that maternal feeding restriction was associated with children having a higher BMI at age 3 before, but not after, adjusting for WFL at age 1. One potential reason may be that parents restrict the food intake of infants who are already overweight.
To characterise fetal brain growth in children with specific language impairment (SLI).
A nested case–control study.
Perth, Western Australia.
Thirty children meeting criteria for SLI at age 10 years were individually matched with a typically developing comparison child on sex, non-verbal ability, fetal gestational age, maternal age at conception, smoking and alcohol intake during pregnancy.
Main outcome measures
Occipitofrontal head circumference (HC) was measured using ultrasonography at approximately 18 weeks gestation. Femur length provided a measure of fetal length. Occipitofrontal HC was measured at birth and at the 1-year postnatal follow-up using a precise paper tape measure, while crown-heel length acted as an index of body length at both time points. Raw data were transformed to z-scores using reference norms.
The SLI group had a significantly smaller mean HC than the typically developing comparison children at birth, but there was no group difference at 18 weeks gestation or at the 1-year postnatal follow-up. Individual analyses found that 12 SLI children had an HC z-score less than −1 at birth, with three of these cases meeting criteria for microcephaly. There was no group difference in the indices of overall body size at any time point.
Children with SLI are more likely to have a small HC at birth but not at 18 weeks gestation or infancy, suggesting growth asynchrony in brain development during the second half of pregnancy.
Most babies receive at least some formula milk. Variations in formula-feeding practices can have both short- and long-term health consequences. We systematically reviewed the literature on parents’ experiences of bottle-feeding to understand how formula-feeding decisions are made.
We systematically searched for and appraised relevant English-language papers identified by searching 12 electronic databases, reference lists and related articles and by contacting first authors of included papers. We analysed and synthesised the included studies using a combination of narrative and thematic approaches. Consensus on the final inclusion, interpretation and synthesis of studies was reached across the research team.
Six qualitative studies and 17 quantitative studies (involving 13,263 participants) were included. Despite wide differences in study design, context, focus and quality, several consistent themes emerged. Mothers who bottle-fed their babies experienced negative emotions such as guilt, anger, worry, uncertainty and a sense of failure. Mothers reported receiving little information on bottle-feeding and did not feel empowered to make decisions. Mistakes in preparation of bottle-feeds were common. No studies examined how mothers made decisions about the frequency or quantity of bottle-feeds.
Inadequate information and support for mothers who decide to bottle-feed may put the health of their babies at risk. While it is important to promote breastfeeding, it is also necessary to ensure that the needs of bottle-feeding mothers are met.
Infant feeding; formula milk; experiences; qualitative methods; systematic review
In order to assess the extent to which children in the United Kingdom (UK) will follow the UK-WHO head circumference standard, we used head circumference data from the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS; n=3159) and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC; n=15,208) in children age 0-36 months, converted into z-scores using both the UK-WHO or UK1990 references. Rapid head growth was defined as crossing upwards through 2 major centile bands (1.33 SD). The UK-WHO standard identified many more infants with heads above the 98th centile compared to the UK1990 reference (UK-WHO 6% to 16% of infants at various ages, UK1990 1% to 4%). Rapid head growth in the first 6 to 9 months was also much more common using the UK-WHO standard (UK-WHO: 14.6% to 15.3%; UK1990: 4.8% to 5.1%). Practitioners should be aware of these findings to avoid unnecessary referrals.
ALSPAC; head circumference; growth charts; macrocephaly; microcephaly; hydrocephalus
Folate supplementation is recommended for pregnant women to reduce the risk of congenital malformations. Maternal intake of folate supplements during pregnancy might also influence childhood immune phenotypes via epigenetic mechanisms.
To investigate the relationship between folate supplements in pregnancy and risk of lower respiratory tract infections and wheeze in children through 18 months of age.
In the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, questionnaire data collected at several time points in pregnancy and after birth, from 32,077 children born between 2000 and 2005, were used to assess effects of folate supplements during pregnancy on respiratory outcomes up to 18 months of age, accounting for other supplements in pregnancy and supplementation in infancy.
Folate supplements in the first trimester were associated with increased risk of wheeze and respiratory tract infections up to 18 months of age. Adjusting for exposure later in pregnancy and in infancy, the relative risk of wheeze for children exposed to folic acid supplements in the first trimester was 1.06 (95% confidence interval: 1.03, 1.10), for lower respiratory tract infections the relative risk was 1.09 (95% confidence interval: 1.02, 1.15), and for hospitalizations for lower respiratory tract infections the relative risk was 1.24 (95% confidence interval: 1.09, 1.41).
Folic acid supplements in pregnancy were associated with a slightly increased risk of wheeze and lower respiratory tract infections up to 18 months of age. Results support possible epigenetic influences of methyl donors in maternal diet during pregnancy on respiratory health in children.
Dietary Supplements; Folic acid; Pregnancy; Respiratory Tract Infections; Wheezing
As the proportion of children living low malaria transmission areas in sub-Saharan Africa increases, approaches for identifying non-malarial severe illness need to be evaluated to improve child outcomes.
As a prospective cohort study, we identified febrile paediatric inpatients, recorded data using Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) criteria, and collected diagnostic specimens.
Tertiary referral centre, northern Tanzania.
Of 466 participants with known outcome, median age was 1.4 years (range 2 months–13.0 years), 200 (42.9%) were female, 11 (2.4%) had malaria and 34 (7.3%) died. Inpatient death was associated with: Capillary refill >3 s (OR 9.0, 95% CI 3.0 to 26.7), inability to breastfeed or drink (OR 8.9, 95% CI 4.0 to 19.6), stiff neck (OR 7.0, 95% CI 2.8 to 17.6), lethargy (OR 5.2, 95% CI 2.5 to 10.6), skin pinch >2 s (OR 4.8, 95% CI 1.9 to 12.3), respiratory difficulty (OR 4.0, 95% CI 1.9 to 8.2), generalised lymphadenopathy (OR 3.6, 95% CI 1.6 to 8.3) and oral candidiasis (OR 3.4, 95% CI 1.4 to 8.3). BCS <5 (OR 27.2, p<0.001) and severe wasting (OR 6.9, p<0.001) were independently associated with inpatient death.
In a low malaria transmission setting, IMCI criteria performed well for predicting inpatient death from non-malarial illness. Laboratory results were not as useful in predicting death, underscoring the importance of clinical examination in assessing prognosis. Healthcare workers should consider local malaria epidemiology as malaria over-diagnosis in children may delay potentially life-saving interventions in areas where malaria is uncommon.
Perinatal conditions make the largest contribution to the burden of disease in low-income countries. Although postneonatal mortality rates have declined, stillbirth and early neonatal mortality rates remain high in many countries in Africa and Asia, and there is a concentration of mortality around the time of birth. Our article begins by considering differences in the interpretation of ‘intervention’ to improve perinatal survival. We identify three types of intervention: a single action, a collection of actions delivered in a package and a broader social or system approach. We use this classification to summarise the findings of recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses. After describing the growing evidence base for the effectiveness of community-based perinatal care, we discuss current concerns about integration: of women’s and children’s health programmes, of community-based and institutional care, and of formal and informal sector human resources. We end with some thoughts on the complexity of choices confronting women and their families in low-income countries, particularly in view of the growth in non-government and private sector healthcare.
Several studies have suggested a beneficial effect of infant breast-feeding on childhood cognitive function. Our main objective was to examine whether duration of breast-feeding and age at introduction of complementary foods are related to cognitive performance in 9-10 year old school going children in South-India.
We examined 514 children from the Mysore Parthenon birth cohort for whom breast-feeding duration (6 categories from <3 to ≥18 months) and age at introduction of complementary foods (4 categories from <4 to ≥6 months) were collected at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year annual follow-up visits. Their cognitive function was assessed at a mean age of 9.7 years using 3 core tests from the Kaufman Assessment Battery for children and additional tests measuring long-term retrieval/storage, attention and concentration, visuo-spatial and verbal abilities.
All the children were initially breast-fed. The mode for duration of breast-feeding was 12-17 months (45.7%) and for age at introduction of complementary foods 4 months (37.1%). There were no associations between longer duration of breast-feeding, or age of introduction of complementary foods, and cognitive function at 9-10 years, either unadjusted or after adjustment for age, sex, gestation, birth size, maternal age, parity, socio-economic status, parents’ attained schooling, and rural/urban residence.
Within this cohort, in which prolonged breast-feeding was the norm (90% breast-fed ≥6 months and 65% breast-fed for ≥12 months), there was no evidence suggesting a beneficial effect of longer duration of breast-feeding on later cognitive ability.
Breast-feeding; Complementary foods; Children; Cognitive performance; India
Infants who cry a lot, or are unsettled in the night, are common sources of concern for parents and costly problems for health services. The two types of problems have been linked together and attributed to a general disturbance of infant regulation. Yet the infant behaviours involved present differently, at separate ages and times of day. To clarify causation, this study aims to assess whether prolonged crying at 5–6 weeks (the peak age for crying) predicts which infants are unsettled in the night at 12 weeks of age (when most infants become settled at night).
Data from two longitudinal studies are analysed. Infant crying data were obtained from validated behaviour diaries; sleep-waking data from standard parental questionnaires.
A significant, weak relationship was found between crying at 5–6 weeks and 12-week night waking and signalling in one study, but not the other. Most infants who met the definition for prolonged crying/colic at 5–6 weeks were settled during the night at 12 weeks of age; they were not more likely than other infants to be unsettled.
Most infants who cry a lot at 5–6 weeks of age ‘sleep through the night’ at 12 weeks of age. This adds to evidence that the two types of problematic behaviour have different causes, and that infant sleep-waking problems usually involve maintenance of signalling behaviours rather than a generalised disturbance.
Despite recent overall improvement in the survival of under-five children worldwide, mortality among young infants remains high, and accounts for an increasing proportion of child deaths in resource-poor settings. In such settings, clinical decisions for appropriate management of severely ill infants have to be made on the basis of presenting clinical signs, and with limited or no laboratory facilities. This review summarises the evidence from observational studies of clinical signs of severe illnesses in young infants aged 0–59 days, with a particular focus on defining a minimum set of best predictors of the need for hospital-level care. Available moderate to high quality evidence suggests that, among sick infants aged 0–59 days brought to a health facility, the following clinical signs—alone or in combination—are likely to be the most valuable in identifying infants at risk of severe illness warranting hospital-level care: history of feeding difficulty, history of convulsions, temperature (axillary) ≥37.5°C or <35.5°C, change in level of activity, fast breathing/respiratory rate ≥60 breaths per minute, severe chest indrawing, grunting and cyanosis.
Sex chromosome trisomies (SCTs) are found on amniocentesis in 2.3–3.7 per 1000 same-sex births, yet there is a limited database on which to base a prognosis. Autism has been described in postnatally diagnosed cases of Klinefelter syndrome (XXY karyotype), but the prevalence in non-referred samples, and in other trisomies, is unclear. The authors recruited the largest sample including all three SCTs to be reported to date, including children identified on prenatal screening, to clarify this issue.
Parents of children with a SCT were recruited either via prenatal screening or via a parental support group, to give a sample of 58 XXX, 19 XXY and 58 XYY cases. Parents were interviewed using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales and completed questionnaires about the communicative development of children with SCTs and their siblings (42 brothers and 26 sisters).
Rates of language and communication problems were high in all three trisomies. Diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were found in 2/19 cases of XXY (11%) and 11/58 XYY (19%). After excluding those with an ASD diagnosis, communicative profiles indicative of mild autistic features were common, although there was wide individual variation.
Autistic features have not previously been remarked upon in studies of non-referred samples with SCTs, yet the rate is substantially above population levels in this sample, even when attention is restricted to early-identified cases. The authors hypothesise that X-linked and Y-linked neuroligins may play a significant role in the aetiology of communication impairments and ASD.
To assess whether serial measurements of childhood body mass index (BMI) give clinically useful predictions of the risk of developing adult metabolic syndrome and impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes.
Follow-up of a community-based birth cohort in Delhi, India.
1,492 men and women aged 26-32 years whose BMI was recorded 6-monthly throughout childhood.
Main outcome measures
The predictive value of childhood BMI for adult metabolic syndrome (MS) defined using waist circumference, blood pressure and fasting glucose, triglyceride and HDL-cholesterol concentrations, and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and diabetes (DM) diagnosed by oral glucose tolerance tests.
Twenty-five percent of subjects had MS and 15% had IGT/DM. Both outcomes were associated with greater childhood BMI gain (MS: OR 1.63 [95% CI 1.44 to 1.85]; IGT/DM: 1.39 [1.20 to 1.60] per unit increase in within-cohort BMI SD-score between 5-14 years). Best predictions of adult disease were obtained using a combined test comprising i) any increase in BMI SD-score between 5-14 years and ii) a BMI SD-score >0 at 14 years (MS: sensitivity 45%, specificity 78%; IGT/DM: 37%, 73%). Likelihood ratios were low (MS: 1.4-2.0; IGT/DM: 1.2-1.4). A single high BMI measurement at 14 years (overweight or obese, International Obesity Task Force criteria) was highly specific but insensitive (MS: sensitivity 7%, specificity 97%; IGT/DM: 8%, 97%). Charts for plotting BMI SD-scores through childhood were produced.
Serial measurements of childhood BMI give useful predictions of adult risk and could guide advice to children and parents on preventing later disease.
Childhood body mass index; type 2 diabetes; metabolic syndrome; predictions
To document distinct patterns of language use by bilingual children (use of an alternative language exclusively, LE, or along with English, BIL). To establish how these patterns affect onset of stuttering, school performance and recovery rate relative to monolingual speakers who stutter (MONO).
Clinical referral sample with cases classified by speech-language therapists. Supplementary data obtained from speech recordings, interviews with child and family.
South-East England, 1999-2007.
Children aged 8-12 plus who stuttered (monolingual and bilingual) and fluent bilingual controls (FB).
Main outcome measures
Participants’ stuttering history, SATS scores, measures of recovery or persistence of stuttering.
The sample of 317 children had 69 bilinguals (prevalence rate of bilingualism in the stuttering sample was 21.8%). 38 children used a language other than English primarily or exclusively in the home and 36 of these (94.7%) bilinguals who stuttered did so in both their languages. There were fewer LE than BIL stuttering children at time of first referral to clinic (of the bilinguals who stuttered, 15/38, 39.5%, were LE and 23/38, 60.5%, were BIL). The reverse was the case in the fluent control sample (of the bilinguals who did not stutter, 28/38, 73.7%, were LE and 10/38, 26.3%, were BIL). The association between stuttering and bilingual group (LE/BIL) was significant by χ2 and this is consistent with a higher chance of stuttering for BIL than LE speakers. For speakers who stuttered, age of stuttering onset for LE and BIL was similar to that reported for MONO groups (4 years 9 months, 4 years 10 months and 4 years 3 months for LE, BIL, MONO respectively) and males were affected in each of these groups to about the same extent (the male/female ratio was 4.1:1, 4.75:1 and 4.43:1 for LE, BIL and MONO respectively). For the 29 children who were old enough to complete the assessments, educational achievement at key stages one and two was not affected by either form of bilingualism relative to the MONO and fluent bilingual groups. For these same children, recovery rate for LE and MONO controls was significantly higher by χ2 than for those who were BIL since birth (recovery rate for LE and MONO together was 55%, and for BIL was 25%).
There was an increased chance of stuttering onset for BIL children. The chances of recovery from stuttering were lower for BIL speakers than for LE and MONO speakers.
Bilingualism; persistence; recovery; stuttering
To establish incidence rates, clinic referrals, hospitalisations, mortality rates and baseline determinants of morbidity among infants in an Indian slum.
A community-based birth cohort with twice-weekly surveillance.
Vellore, South India.
452 newborns recruited over 18 months, followed through infancy.
Main outcome measures
Incidence rates of gastrointestinal illness, respiratory illness, undifferentiated fever, other infections and non-infectious morbidity; rates of community-based diagnoses, clinic visits and hospitalisation; and rate ratios of baseline factors for morbidity.
Infants experienced 12 episodes (95% confidence interval (CI) 11 to 13) of illness, spending about one fifth of their infancy with an illness. Respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms were most common with incidence rates (95% CI) of 7.4 (6.9 to 7.9) and 3.6 (3.3 to 3.9) episodes per child-year. Factors independently associated with a higher incidence of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness were age (3-5 months), male sex, cold/wet season and household involved in beedi work. The rate (95% CI) of hospitalisation, mainly for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, was 0.28 (0.22 to 0.35) per child-year.
The morbidity burden due to respiratory and gastrointestinal illness is high in a South Indian urban slum, with children ill for approximately one fifth of infancy, mainly with respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses. The risk factors identified were younger age, male sex, cold/wet season and household involvement in beedi work.
To examine UK country and regional differences, within England only, in childhood overweight (including obesity) at three years and determine whether any differences persist after adjustment for individual risk factors.
Nationally representative prospective study
England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland
13 194 singleton children from the UK Millennium Cohort Study with height and weight data at age three years.
Main outcome measure:
Overweight (including obesity) was defined by the International Obesity TaskForce cut-offs for body mass index, which are age and sex specific.
At three years, 23.0% (3102) of children were overweight or obese. In univariable analyses, children from Northern Ireland (odds ratio 1.30, 95% Confidence Interval 1.14 to 1.48) and Wales (1.26, 1.11 to 1.44) were more likely to be overweight than children from England. There were no differences in overweight between children from Scotland and England. Within England, children from the East (0.71, 0.57 to 0.88) and South East regions (0.82, 0.68 to 0.99) were less likely to be overweight than children from London. There were no differences in overweight between children from other English regions and children from London. These differences were maintained after adjustment for individual socio-demographic characteristics and other risk factors for overweight.
UK country and English regional differences in early childhood overweight are independent of individual risk factors. This suggests a role for policies to support environmental changes that remove barriers to physical activity or healthy eating for young children.
obesity; preschool children; public policy
The under-5 mortality rate in most developing countries remains high yet many deaths could be averted if available knowledge was put into practice. For seriously ill children in hospital investigations in low-income countries commonly demonstrate incorrect diagnosis and treatment and frequent prescribing errors. To help improve hospital management of the major causes of inpatient childhood mortality we developed simple clinical guidelines for use in Kenya, a low-income setting. The participatory process we used to adapt existing WHO materials and further develop and build support for such guidelines is discussed. To facilitate use of the guidelines we also developed job-aides and a 5.5 days training programme for their dissemination and implementation. We attempted to base our training on modern theories around adult learning and deliberately attempted to train a ‘critical mass’ of health workers within each institution at low cost. Our experience suggests that with sustained effort it is possible to develop locally owned, appropriate clinical practice guidelines for emergency and initial hospital care for seriously ill children with involvement of pertinent stake holders throughout. Early experience suggests that the training developed to support the guidelines, despite the fact that it challenges many established practices, is well received, appropriate to the needs of front line health workers in Kenya and feasible. To our knowledge the process described in Kenya is among a handful of attempts globally to implement inpatient or referral care components of WHO / UNICEF’s Integrated Management of Childhood Illness approach. However, whether guideline dissemination and implementation result in improved quality of care in our environment remains to be seen.
Small hospitals sit at the apex of the pyramid of primary care in many low-income country health systems. If the Millennium Development Goal for child survival is to be achieved hospital care for severely ill, referred children will need to be improved considerably in parallel with primary care in many countries. Yet we know little about how to achieve this. We describe the evolution and final design of an intervention study attempting to improve hospital care for children in Kenyan district hospitals. We believe our experience illustrates many of the difficulties involved in reconciling epidemiological rigour and feasibility in studies at a health system rather than an individual level and the importance of the depth and breadth of analysis when trying to provide a plausible answer to the question - does it work? While there are increasing calls for more health systems research in low-income countries the importance of strong, broadly-based local partnerships and long term commitment even to initiate projects are not always appreciated.
To determine the accuracy of a low cost, spring calibrated, hand held scale in classifying newborns into three weight categories (>2500 g, 2000−2499 g, ,2000 g).
The test device was compared to a gold standard digital baby scale with precision to 2 g. In Sarlahi district, Nepal, 1890 newborns were eligible for the study. Measurements were collected for both the test device and the digital scale from 1820 (96.3%) newborns.
The overall low birth weight (LBW) prevalence rate for the gold standard digital scale was 28.1% (511/1820). Sensitivity (93.7%) and specificity (97.6%) of the test device was high compared to LBW classifications based on digital weight measurements. Classification of infants into the ,2000 g category was 5.0% and 4.7% for the gold standard and test device, respectively. Sensitivity and specificity of the test device in identifying infants ,2000 g was 87.8% and 99.6%, respectively. Positive predictive values were high (.91%) for both weight categories
This low cost, simple-to-use device classified infants into weight categories with a high degree of consistency and accuracy that exceeds that of surrogate measures. This new device is useful for identifying and targeting life saving interventions for LBW, high risk infants in settings where infants are born in the home and conventional weighing scales are unavailable.
To identify children at risk for in-hospital mortality following tracheotomy.
Retrospective cohort study.
25 746 876 US hospitalisations for children within the Kids’ Inpatient Database 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006.
18 806 hospitalisations of children ages 0–18 years undergoing tracheotomy, identified from ICD-9-CM tracheotomy procedure codes.
Main outcome measure
Mortality during the initial hospitalisation when tracheotomy was performed in relation to patient demographic and clinical characteristics (neuromuscular impairment (NI), chronic lung disease, upper airway anomaly, prematurity, congenital heart disease, upper airway infection and trauma) identified with ICD-9-CM codes.
Between 1997 and 2006, mortality following tracheotomy ranged from 7.7% to 8.5%. In each year, higher mortality was observed in children undergoing tracheotomy who were aged <1 year compared with children aged 1–4 years (mortality range: 10.2–13.1% vs 1.1–4.2%); in children with congenital heart disease, compared with children without congenital heart disease (13.1–18.7% vs 6.2–7.1%) and in children with prematurity, compared with children who were not premature (13.0–19.4% vs 6.8–7.3%). Lower mortality was observed in children with an upper airway anomaly compared with children without an upper airway anomaly (1.5–5.1% vs 9.1–10.3%). In 2006, the highest mortality (40.0%) was observed in premature children with NI and congenital heart disease, who did not have an upper airway anomaly.
Congenital heart disease, prematurity, the absence of an upper airway anomaly and age <1 year were characteristics associated with higher mortality in children following tracheotomy. These findings may assist provider communication with children and families regarding early prognosis following tracheotomy.
Maternal depression is common among mothers of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants. In a cohort of mother-VLBW infant dyads followed to preschool age, we assessed the impact of maternal depression on mothers’ perceptions of their children’s social aptitude, and reported participation in age-appropriate preschool activities.
Longitudinal multivariable analysis of a nationally representative sample of VLBW infants in the United States. Models were adjusted for children’s developmental abilities according to the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Mental Development Index.
800 VLBW singletons (mean gestational age 28.9 weeks) were analyzed. During the preschool years, depressed mothers perceived their children’s social abilities more negatively than non-depressed mothers. Specifically, they saw their children as less likely to be able to share with others (aOR 0.37, 95% CI 0.14, 0.96), make friends (aOR 0.58 95% CI, 0.35, 0.96), or play independently (aOR 0.30 95% CI, 0.16, 0.58). These negative perceptions were not shared by the children’s preschool teachers. Children of depressed mothers were also less likely to participate in age-appropriate preschool activities (aOR 0.30 95% CI, 0.16, 0.58). Each of these associations either lost significance or were substantially attenuated in a separate population of former healthy term infants.
Among former VLBW infants, maternal depression is associated with negative perceptions of children’s social abilities and decreased participation in preschool activities. Maternal mental health should be considered in ongoing efforts to maximize the social-emotional development of preterm infants.
prematurity; maternal depression; vulnerable child