WHATS NEW AT AGOURA-WEST VALLEY PEDIATRICS?
DISNEYLAND MEASLES OUTBREAK
We have been receiving several calls regarding the recent measles outbreak. At present, there have been over 60 cases, the youngest being 7 months. Most of those infected were not immunized and it is suspected that the source was a foreign visitor.
We recommend that any of our patients who are not immunized should call the office to receive the MMR vaccine. This vaccine is safe and highly effective, providing 95% protection with one dose and 98-99% protection after a second.
At present, no children who are under 1 year of age or unvaccinated should visit Disneyland.
The following are two links which will provide more information:
12/4/14. We now have a large supply of all the influenza vaccines.
Despite today's announcement that half of the tested H3N2 strain of the virus has mutated, and that this year's flu vaccine might not be as effective as last year, we are still encouraging as many people as possible to get vaccinated. The CDC expects a nasty flu season, so please protect yourselves and your children.
YOU MAY CALL TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR THE NASAL INFLUENZA
As we did last year, we will be using the newer quadrivalent vaccine providing a broader protection against expected strains of the influenza. Because antibody levels wane to 50% of their original levels 6 - 12 months after each vaccination, optimal protection requires giving yearly boosters. This year's vaccine is unchanged from the one provided last year.
We encourage all parents to get their own flu vaccine - this is especially important if you child is less than 6 months in age.
All children, over six months of age, should be protected. This year, we are recommending the nasal mist for those asthma-free children between 2 and 8 years of age.
Effective April 1, 2014, we are contracted with the new Anthem Blue Cross PPO Individual plans on and off the exchange.
Spot Vision Screening
We now have two, state of the art vision screeners, which allow us to detect ocular problems in infants and younger children. The screen, which only takes a few seconds to perform, and can be done in infants as young as 6 months, will give us the opportunity to identify those infants and children with refractive errors (myopia and hyperopia), astigmatism (irregular curvature), anismetropia (unequal refraction), eye alignment problems (strabismus), anisocoria (unequal pupil size), ptosis (drooping eyelid) and cataracts. No response is required from the child making "photoscreening" an invaluable tool in non-verbal young children. Approximately 1-1.5 % of the population have amblyopia (impaired vision). We are excited that we are now able to identify these children and refer them for early treatment. You can learn more at: spotvisionscreening.com
Melanoma Rates Increasing in Children
Deadly skin cancer still rare in kids, but long-term study found 2 percent yearly increase among whites.
By Denise Mann
While melanoma in children is still extremely rare, the rate increased by about 2 percent per year from 1973 to 2009 among U.S children from newborns to age 19. Melanoma accounts for up to 3 percent of all pediatric cancers, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. According to the study, 1,317 children were diagnosed with melanoma during the study time frame. Of these, 1,230 children were white.
Because the number of melanoma cases among other racial and ethnic groups was so small, researchers focused the analysis on white children. The biggest jump in melanoma rates was seen among adolescents aged 15 to 19, especially girls, the study showed.
The new findings were published in the May print issue of Pediatrics. Recent studies have also shown that melanoma is on the rise among adults as well. Exactly what is driving these trends is not fully understood, but increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation from both the sun and tanning booths as well as greater awareness of melanoma may be responsible, according to study authors led by Jeannette Wong of the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
The researchers used a database to capture trends in childhood melanoma, but they did not have any information on participants' tanning habits or sun exposure history. Boys were more likely to develop melanomas on their face and trunks, while girls were more likely to have melanoma on their lower legs and hips, the investigators found. Other risks for melanoma among children and adults include fair skin, light-colored hair and eyes, moles, family history of melanoma and a history of sunburns.
Dr. Amy Forman Taub, a dermatologist in Lincolnshire, Ill., said that tanning behaviors have a lot to do with the increasing rates of melanoma in children and adults. "It's the tanning booths and the fact that we go away on vacation where we are exposed to a lot of intense sun," she said. Genes may also play a role, suggested Taub, who was not involved in the new study. Melanoma in kids looks pretty similar to melanoma in adults, Taub said. They have irregular borders, are asymmetrical -- if you cut them in half, you would not get two equal sides -- have uneven colors, and a diameter that is greater than 6 millimeters (about one-fifth of an inch).
"Parents should be aware of any new or changing moles in their children," she advised.
Choosing a sunscreen that blocks both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays and reapplying it frequently is important, she said. Sun- smart clothing can also help protect children.
Dr. Ana Duarte, director of pediatric dermatology at Miami Children's Hospital, agreed. "Early diagnosis of melanoma is beneficial," she said, and the importance of protection can't be overstated. "Sunscreen and or sun protection are so important for children," Duarte said, and whatever you do, "don't ignore changing moles, even in children, because melanoma can occur in kids." "It is rare, but children do get melanoma," Green said. "When in doubt, get it checked out. The good news is that we know how to prevent melanoma, and when we catch it early, we have really good cure rates." More information:
What does melanoma look like? Find out at the Skin Cancer Foundation. Last Updated: April 03, 2013
Electronic Health Records
If you have young children you may already have noticed your doctor using a computer to access your child's health records and e-prescribe medications. In the summer of 2012 we began the process of slowly transferring all our charts to electronic records. From the start we realized this would be a huge undertaking and anticipate it will take 1-2 years to fully implement. Once completed , in September 2014, EHR will provide us with greatly improved patient records. We are making every effort to minimize any inconvenience to our patients during this transition.
Agoura West Valley Pediatrics welcomed Carmel, as our new Office Manager in 2011. She has over 20 years of experience in the medical field, specializing in practice management and medical billing. She lives in Woodland Hills and grew up in the Los Angeles area. She is married with three kids. Her son recently graduated from UC Berkeley, her daughter attends Jackson State University, and her youngest daughter attends Taft High School. Carmel spends most of her spare time cheering at her daughter’s club soccer games, reading, and writing.
Healthcare Reform... 2011 changes...
Preventive Services Covered Under the Affordable Health Care Act All Insurance plans now cover the cost of getting a yearly wellness physical for children. Regardless of your insurance plan, there will not be a co-pay, co-insurance, and/or a deductible applied to annual physicals, if your insurance effective date was after September 23, 2010. However, if your plan effective date was before 9/23/10, you should contact your plan to find out if you have 100% coverage for annual physicals because some plans regardless of your effective date, provide 100% coverage.
Motion Picture Patients
We want you o be aware that there have been two recent changes in your children's health care coverage: 1) Motion Picture now allows patients to get their annual physicals by their pediatricians up to age 18.
AAP Reaffirms Breastfeeding Policy
Breastfeeding should be considered a basic health issue, rather than a lifestyle choice, and as such, the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirms its recommendations for exclusive breastfeeding for a baby's first six months of life, according to a policy statement published online Feb. 27 in Pediatrics. MONDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Breastfeeding should be considered a basic health issue, rather than a lifestyle choice, and as such, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms its recommendations for exclusive breastfeeding for a baby's first six months of life, according to a policy statement published online Feb. 27 in Pediatrics.
Arthur I. Eidelman, M.D., and colleagues from the AAP Section on Breastfeeding reviewed recent research and literature to update the evidence for breastfeeding recommendations.
The AAP reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for a baby's first six months, followed by continued breastfeeding with the introduction of complementary foods. Continuation of breast feeding is recommended for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant. To avoid mislabeling infants as underweight or failing to thrive, they should be monitored using the World Health Organization Growth Curve Standards. The AAP calls upon hospitals and pediatric practices to advocate and support proper breastfeeding practices.
"Breastfeeding and the use of human milk confer unique nutritional and non-nutritional benefits to the infant and the mother and, in turn, optimize infant, child, and adult health as well as child growth and development," the authors write. "Thus, infant feeding should not be considered as a lifestyle choice but rather as a basic health issue."
Boys should get HPV vaccination too
Parents have been hearing a lot about the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine. But what was once designed solely for girls and young women up to the age of 26 to protect them from different strains of the virus, is now also being strongly recommended for younger boys.
Following in the footsteps of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending females and males at 11 to 12 years of age have routine HPV vaccinations. Doctors say the vaccine is most effective if administered before a child becomes sexually active, and responds better in the bodies of younger children, usually between the ages of 9 to 15.
HPV is known to be the root cause of cervical cancer in women, and HPV can lead to other health problems in both females and males, including genital warts and mouth and throat cancers. Young men diagnosed with HPV have also developed penile cancer and even anal cancer. These viruses, found primarily in sexually active adolescents and young adults, are the most common sexually transmitted viruses in the United States.
It was also stressed in the AAP recommendations that young men having sex with other young men should be particularly careful and consider being vaccinated.
The policy paper recommended that men 20 to 26 years old who have not been vaccinated for HPV, or who have not completed their series of HPV shots (the vaccine is administered in three doses), should do so as soon as possible. That’s because the CDC estimates about 7,000 HPV associated cancers in the U.S. could be prevented in young men by the HPV vaccine each year.
The AAP made their decision based on data provided by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on vaccine efficacy, safety and cost effectiveness.
Although some parents have been reluctant to have their children inoculated with another vaccine because of possible side effects, such as weakness, fever, tingling, itching and hives, researchers say the benefits outweigh the risks.
Cholesterol Testing is Now recommended For All Children
The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all children from ages 9-11 get a screening blood test for cholesterol levels. This replaces the prior practice of doing cholesterol testing only on selectchildren who have greater risk of having high cholesterol (such as a family history of high cholesterol, being overweight, having high blood pressure, or other health conditions).
Since high cholesterol levels can be found in childhood and early signs of atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries") can be found in children prior to age 18, the hope is that long term complications might be prevented with early attention and intervention in these children. We will be starting to screen all children starting at their 9th birthday. For more information, click on the following link to the AAP's "Healthy Children" website on this subject: Cholesterol Testing in Children (weblink)