IVF Babies May Face Greater Odds of Cancer
Babies conceived by in vitro fertilization appear likelier to get cancer by age 19 than children conceived naturally, according to a study of more than 2 million Swedish births over about 20 years published in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers found that 53 out of nearly 27,000 IVF babies studied developed childhood cancer compared with 38 that would be expected in non IVF children, the Associated Press reports, representing a 42 percent increased risk. Lead author Bengt Kallen of the University of Lund in Sweden told the AP that the finding may have something to do with parents' fertility problems and genetics—not likely because of IVF itself. The actual risk of cancer for IVF babies, however, remains below .2 percent, or less than 1 in 500.
Kids' Vision Tests Don't Catch Common Eye Problems
Eye tests commonly used in schools and pediatricians' offices don't do a good job of finding vision errors like farsightedness and astigmatism in school-aged kids, even though they're great at catching nearsightedness, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute reports. That's the news from researchers in Australia, who tested 12-year-olds with the usual eye chart test, in which children read a chart with letters in ever-smaller sizes.
School troubles could be a sign of undiagnosed farsightedness because the condition can make reading difficult, according to David Hunter, ophthalmologist-in-chief at Children's Hospital Boston. How can parents tell if a child needs more than that test? Parents need to think about vision testing at two points in a child's life, according to Hunter: in the preschool years, when children can lose vision permanently due to amblyopia (lazy eye), and in the school years, when vision problems can interfere with reading the board, books, and computer screens.
The Australians tested 4,497 children with both the "visual acuity" eye chart test, and autorefraction, in which eyes are dilated with eye drops, and a machine measures the amount of correction needed to focus light on the retina at the back of the eye. The eye chart test caught more than 90 percent of children with myopia, or nearsightedness. But children with farsightedness, or hyperopia, can read a wall chart just fine. [Read more: Kids' Vision Tests Don't Catch Common Eye Problems.]
A 'Best' Hospital for Cystic Fibrosis Kids
Waiting to be ushered into an outpatient examination room at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Alicia Lang doesn't chatter on like most 18-year-old girls. She speaks in bursts, interrupting herself every few seconds with a small hoarse cough and shallow gulp of air. As casually as such a subject can be raised, she mentions that she is considering a transplant to replace her broken lungs, which have lost nearly two-thirds of their capacity, writes U.S. News's Avery Comarow.
Lang has cystic fibrosis. The genetic condition churns out gluey mucus that will clog and inexorably shut down the lungs if not jarred loose and hocked up at least twice a day. That entails half-hour sessions of gentle thumps at more than a dozen prescribed locations on the back and chest, or wearing a vibrating vest powered by an air hose, or using a handheld "positive expiratory pressure" device. The sessions are punctuated with vigorous "huff coughs" to expel the sticky stuff. CF children learn the technique as toddlers.
There's more. The mucus blocks the ducts in the pancreas that release vital digestive enzymes generated by the organ. To prevent malnutrition, downing handfuls of enzyme capsules is mandatory before eating so much as a cracker or drinking a glass of milk. Many children still can't absorb the amount of nutrients they need, and must have a high-calorie supplement dripped into their stomach at night through a port in their belly or a tube down their nose. About half of those with the condition, including Lang, develop CF-related diabetes because of gummed-up ducts in the pancreas and have to take insulin injections. [Read more: A 'Best' Hospital for Cystic Fibrosis Kids.]
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