Number Of Cases Of Mysterious Polio-Like Illness In Children Climbs To Record High, Well Above Previous Years
What's more, CDC officials say many children have lasting paralysis, and close to half the kids diagnosed with it this year were admitted to hospital intensive care units. In other public health news: CRISPR and gene editing ethics; screen time for kids; telemedicine; suicide; and more.
The Associated Press:
Record Count Reported For Mysterious Paralyzing Illness
This year has seen a record number of cases of a mysterious paralyzing illness in children, U.S. health officials said Monday. It's still not clear what's causing the kids to lose the ability to move their face, neck, back, arms or legs. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after the children had a fever and respiratory illness. No one has died from the rare disease this year, but it was blamed for one death last year and it may have caused others in the past. (Stobbe, 12/10)
Cases Of Polio-Like Illness Hit Record High
The CDC confirmed 22 cases in 2015 and 149 in 2016. In 2017, the CDC confirmed 35 cases. AFM, a serious condition that affects the nervous system, is still rare, the CDC said. Most AFM patients had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before developing AFM. The CDC still does not know the cause of AFM, however. (Hellmann, 12/10)
Amid Ethics Outcry, Should Journals Publish 'CRISPR Babies' Paper?
Like researchers everywhere, He Jiankui — the scientist in China who claims to have used CRISPR to edit embryos to create babies protected from HIV — is eager to publish scientific papers. It is, after all, a publish-or-perish world — although in He’s case, his fate at home may rest more with what the Chinese government thinks of his behavior than what a peer reviewer says about his work. As STAT reported Monday, He shopped around a manuscript earlier this fall about using CRISPR to edit genes for a different purpose — to prevent an inherited condition that causes sky-high cholesterol levels — but it was rejected because of ethical and scientific shortcomings. And two weeks ago, in the face of withering criticism over his lack of transparency, He told the International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong that he had submitted a paper on the “CRISPR babies” work to a journal. (Marcus, 12/11)
The New York Times:
Is Screen Time Bad For Kids’ Brains?
A generation ago, parents worried about the effects of TV; before that, it was radio. Now, the concern is “screen time,” a catchall term for the amount of time that children, especially preteens and teenagers, spend interacting with TVs, computers, smartphones, digital pads, and video games. This age group draws particular attention because screen immersion rises sharply during adolescence, and because brain development accelerates then, too, as neural networks are pruned and consolidated in the transition to adulthood. (Carey, 12/10)
The Washington Post:
Telemedicine Surging In US But Still Uncommon
Although telemedicine visits have increased sharply in the United States in recent years, the vast majority of American adults still receive care from doctors in person rather than via remote technology, a new study suggests. The goal of telemedicine is to help improve access to specialty care, particularly in rural, underserved areas of the country, researchers note in JAMA. As of 2016, 32 states have passed “parity” laws requiring insurance coverage and reimbursement for telemedicine visits. (Rapaport, 12/11)
As U.S. Suicides Rates Rise, Hispanics Show Relative Immunity
Overtaken by feelings of anxiety and despair, and increasingly lonely after the last of her older sisters left for college, Sarai had been cutting her arms. She wore long sleeves, even on warm days, so her mother and friends wouldn’t see the marks. “I thought every time I did it, that it would let out some of the frustration and anger and sadness that I had,” said Sarai, a 15-year-old Latina in Southern California who requested that her full name not be used. (Huff, 12/10)
If You Have A Mental Illness, Should You Tell Your Employer? The Answer Isn't Cut And Dry
For Taylor Nieman, who has bipolar disorder, holding down consistent work has proven difficult, and she has struggled deciding whether or not to tell employers about her illness — a choice psychologist and lawyer Susan Goldberg says is difficult to make due to a variety of factors. (O'Dowd, 12/10)