Author: Claire McCarthy

Yes, PCPs can help youth with smoking, but can we get incentives to align?

Teen girl smoking cropped-shutterstock_108536432Claire McCarthy, MD, has been a primary care pediatrician and writer for more than 20 years. She blogs for the Huffington Post, Boston.com and the Children’s pediatric health blog, Thriving. She practices at the Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center. Follow her on Twitter @drClaire.

When I read about the report from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force saying that pediatricians can “move the needle” when it comes to youth smoking, I had a few different reactions.

My first reaction was:  Cool! I don’t want youth to smoke. We all know the health problems it causes. It’s good to know that we can make a difference.

My second reaction, as I thought about it more, was:  Duh. Of course we can make a difference. We primary care pediatricians are perfectly positioned to influence the health behaviors of youth. We have relationships with them and their parents. We see them regularly, we have the opportunity to build trust and to get to know and understand them. We talk to them about all aspects of their health and well-being. While they don’t always listen to us, there’s always the chance they will.

And then, as I thought about it even more, my reaction was:  Is anyone going to help us do it?

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Study reveals the social justice problem of autism—and poses new questions for researchers

Some children with autism are "bloomers" and are able to move to the high-functioning category. They're also more likely to have mothers who are white and educated.

A child with autism is more likely to do well if his mother is white and educated.

This is the message of a study just released in the journal Pediatrics, and it’s something we need to pay attention to—now.

Researchers from Columbia University wanted to find out what happens to children with autism over time. So they looked at the records of more than 6,000 children with autism who were enrolled in California’s Department of Developmental Services  (DDS). To get into DDS they had to be referred, and their diagnosis had to be confirmed by someone with expertise in autism.

What they found was that when it came to social and communication skills, for the most part the kids fell into groups ranging from low-functioning to high-functioning. The kids did make progress; the most rapid gains were before age six, and the high-functioning kids tended to make more progress than the low-functioning ones. Even as they made progress, they tended to stay in the group they started in—with one notable exception. That exception was a group the researchers called the “Bloomers.”

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