Stories about: parenting

Parents are generally open to placebo use in children – with caveats

placebo use in children

Placebos are a key ingredient of any controlled clinical trial, the yardstick against which experimental drugs are measured. Placebos are also increasingly used as a treatment in their own right, as studies show that they make people feel better through a “mind-body” effect. But do parents find placebos acceptable for their children? A study published today by The Journal of Pediatricsled by Boston Children’s Hospital, found the answer is mostly yes, provided ethical guidelines are followed.

“The question of placebos is more complex when it comes to children, since parents must make medical decisions on their behalf,” says Vanda Faria, PhD, a research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Center for Pain and the Brain and first author on the study. “Large placebo responses have been seen in a variety of pediatric conditions, and parent’s perceptions can influence how well placebos work. At the same time, little is still known about the potential harms of prolonged drug therapy on children’s development. Sometimes, the best intervention might not involve pharmacotherapy.”

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BabySee: Mobile app lets you see through an infant’s eyes

David Hunter, MD, PhD, chief of Ophthalmology at Boston Children’s Hospital, gets a lot of questions from parents, but the number one question is: “What can my baby see?”

That depends. How old is the baby?

Five days after birth, she might see something like the image at left; at 3 months, the image at right:

BabySee 5 days and 3 mos

At 6 months and 9 months, there’s increasing color and resolution:

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Holiday books 2: Evidence-based reading and ranting

As part two of our series of Friday holiday book posts, we’re featuring some reader suggestions. Among these are some of the most popular books now at Children’s Hospital Boston, as judged by their turnover. “We can’t keep them in the library,” says head librarian Alison Clapp.

The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years, by Sonia Shah (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010). Vampires may be all the rage in some circles, but they cannot compete against female mosquitoes risking a life-ending swat to acquire a drop of precious blood to nourish their eggs.

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