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December 3, 2009
With the number of doctor visits for H1N1 continuing to drop sharply, it looks like it's safe to say that the swine flu pandemic has peaked for now, at least in the United States. That's great news for worrywart parents like me, because it means our children are less likely to fall ill. It also increases the odds that people who really need H1N1 vaccine—pregnant women and kids with asthma and other chronic health problems—can get it. That's still important, because children are still getting sick and dying, and there may well be a new spike of H1N1 cases in the new year.
As of December 1, 59 million doses of H1N1 vaccine had been shipped, according to federal vaccine supply data released yesterday. That's progress, but H1N1 vaccine is still too hard to get. Montgomery County, Md., where I live, is offering just three H1N1 shot clinics this month. But most places do seem to be doing a better job of making the vaccination process easier. Rather than make pregnant women and small children stand in line for hours, as I did when I got my daughter vaccinated back in October, my county is now taking advance reservations by phone. Now, that's customer service! I'm looking forward to the day when booking a flu shot is as easy as booking a restaurant reservation online, but we're not there yet.
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December 2, 2009
The good news is that it looks like very early intervention programs for children with autism really do help. The bad news is that services can be hard to find, and expensive.
Toddlers who participated in a study testing the Early Start Denver model for early intervention showed improved language skills and IQ, compared with children who didn’t get the specialized training, which emphasizes social skills and communication. The intensive therapy, which included 20 hours a week at home with a trained therapist and additional time working with parents, increased the IQ of the children by 18 points, compared with 7 IQ points in children who got more standard therapy.