US Preterm Birthrate Decreasing but Still Higher Than Most Developed Nations: According to the newly released March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, preterm births in the United States have dropped to the lowest levels in a decade, falling to 11.7% which is still considered too high. The March of Dimes goal of 9.6% was met by Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire and Maine which earned them an “A” on the report card however, the US as a whole received a “C”. A decrease in preterm births not only means healthier babies, but also decreases health care and other economic costs. To see your state’s report visit the March of Dimes website: State-by-State Prematurity Report Cards
Early Intervention and Decreased Symptoms of Autism: A recent study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry used the Denver Early Start Model (ESDM) to determine whether early intervention can decrease symptoms of autism. The ESDM combines applied behavioral analysis with developmental, play based and relationship based approaches. The study looked at 48 children between the ages of 18 and 30 month of age and provided half of them with 20 hours a week of the ESDM for two years and provided their parents training on treatment delivery. The other half of the children received various community based interventions. Children who received ESDM showed improved social communication, a decrease in social pragmatic problems and an increase in brain activation, demonstrating normalization of brain activity when viewing faces. The study was recently discussed in an EdWeek Blog on Early Autism Intervention
Pregnancy Delay May Be Related to Pollutants: A National Institutes of Health study found that couples with higher levels of PCBs and related pollutants may take longer to become pregnant. The study adds that this link needs to be confirmed by additional research. For more information see the November 14, 2012 NIH News Report
Flame Retardants May Cause Developmental Delays in Children: Research done at the University of California Berkley found that there is a link between children with reduced IQ, poorer fine motor skills and a lower attentions span and prenatal and childhood exposure to flame retardant compounds. The study focused on PBDE’s which are often found in various consumer products including carpets, foam furniture and electronics. The chemicals are inhaled or ingested though dust after they leach into the environment. While some types of PDBEs have now been banned, they are still present in products made before 2004. The best ways to decrease exposure are to wash hands regularly, vacuum and damp mop frequently, and seal tears in upholstered furniture. For more detailed information about the study see the Study Abstract published November 15, 2012 in Environmental Health Perspectives.