Local News Politics

U of L Professor Joins Others in Calling for Change to Fever Treatments for Children

A University of Louisville professor has joined several other doctors in challenging the conventional wisdom regarding fevers in children.

Dr. Jan Sullivan has co-authored a consensus statement in the latest Journal of Pediatrics. The statement says doctors and parents should not necessarily worry about treating a fever if a child is sick. Rather, she says they should treat other symptoms and make sure the child is comfortable.

“Historically, parents have been very concerned that a fever would cause their child to have seizures or cause their child brain damage, and that’s not necessarily true,” she says. “So I’m hoping parents and healthcare providers will re-look at their practice in how they treat fever and not necessarily just try and maintain a normal number, but really look for other things in treating children.”

Sullivan says a fever can help the immune system fight illness. She says this doesn’t apply to children under three months old or those with other medical conditions.

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U of L Study Focuses On Vaccines And Brain Development

University of Louisville researchers have concluded that there is no benefit to delaying a child’s immunizations during the first year of life.

The U of L study focused on the effect of the vaccinations on brain development.

Lead author and pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Smith says it was prompted by parental concerns about vaccine safety in general.

“The latest concern was that children are receiving too many vaccines too soon,” he said. “In fact, some parents were coming into the office with these so-called alternative immunization schedules that differ substantially from the recommended schedule. The pediatricians were asking us, ‘what do we tell these people, is there any evidence behind this, are there talking points we can give such parents?'”

Smith says while it’s not intended to be the final word on vaccine safety, researchers found no evidence to suggest that multiple vaccines in the first year of of life affect cognitive abilities later.

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

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New Program Addresses Childhood Obesity

The University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics has launched a new program to help combat childhood obesity in a state that has more overweight children than 48 others. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The program — called Healthy for Life — is housed in the Children’s Hospital Foundation Building downtown (601 S. Floyd St.) and has a staff with doctors, a dietician, exercise physiologist and psychologist. And it’s been busy since it started in mid-July, says medical director Brooke Sweeney.

“Here, we’ve seen, in our time, 100 patients and only one of them has not had a secondary complication of obesity,” Sweeney says. “Half of them have early signs of diabetes. Half have abnormal cholesterols. A third have elevated blood pressures and a third have problems with sleep.”

She says those children range from ages 2 to 18.

The program was launched after U of L Department of Pediatrics staff saw serious health problems in children in which obesity played a major role.

“Our pediatric nephrologists, Dr. Dianne Muchant, went to other specialists and said, ‘Boy we see a lot of kids who are coming in with complications of obesity, and I feel like I can’t address the real issues going on. All I can do is treat that complication instead of really having a chance to deal with all of the lifestyle issues that go with it,'” Sweeney says.

The program provides children and their families with counseling from the staff. Sweeney says the approach is cutting edge.

“We’re using the things we know do help: multidisciplinary family-centered care particularly for kids,” she says. “We also use coaching theory so we call and talk to people quite a bit on the phone to encourage them along the way, to help support them as they’re trying to make changes.”

The program is supported by a half a million dollar grant from Passport Health Plan, a Medicaid managed care plan and space donated by Kosair Children’s Hospital. The program also is supported by the Kentucky Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the YMCA of Greater Louisville. Those covered by Passport Health Plan can participate in the program and some health insurance companies will cover some costs to participants.

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New Pediatric Program at UK Pairs Doctors and Lawyers

A new program at Kentucky Children’s Hospital and the University of Kentucky’s pediatrics department could help low income children tackle health problems with the help of both doctors and lawyers.  Program director Doctor Kim Northrip says low income children’s health can be affected by their living and family situations. She says doctors can heal the body, but lawyers can heal the family.

“Mostly what we’re doing is called preventative law, just like preventative medicine, to help that family not have to move out of that apartment, or not lose that apartment, or not to lose their job,”says Northrip.

Northrip says this kind of collaboration is a first for Kentucky.  The model began in Boston and now there are dozens of similar programs throughout the country.