Important pediatric news

October 1, 2007

SCHIP renewal * Preteen vaccination * FDA news * Global news

Battle lines drawn on funding for SCHIP

On October 3, President Bush vetoed legislation passed by Congress reauthorizing SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Plan). Funding for the politically popular program expired September 30; however, in anticipation of the veto, both chambers approved "stopgap" funding to support the program at current levels through the middle of November. While the President supports renewal of the program in principle, asking for a $5 billion increase, he disagrees with some of the bill's provisions.

The legislation called for an additional $35 billion in funding over the next five years, bringing the total cost of the program to $60 billion. This would have expanded health care coverage to 10 million low-income children-about 4 million more than are currently enrolled in the program. The increase in funding came from a 61 cent-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes. The President is against this level of funding, saying that expanding SCHIP is a path toward government-sponsored health care. He also does not support the use of a regressive tax to pay for the program.

Preteen vaccines recommended

A campaign urging parents of preteens (11- and 12-year-olds) to have them inoculated with three vaccines at a well visit was initiated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

The three vaccines are MCV4, to prevent meningitis, Tdap, a booster for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, and for girls, HPV to protect against cervical cancer. Educational information with facts about the diseases and vaccines are available in English and Spanish for clinicians, and parents. Materials can be accessed at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/preteen/.

Updated guidelines on diagnosing and treating asthma

The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP), coordinated by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, have issued updated guidelines for controlling asthma. The update offers a new strategy for assessing and monitoring asthma, new guidance on medications, new recommendations on patient education, and new advice to help control the environmental triggers that can cause an attack.

The "Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR 3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma – Full Report, 2007," builds on earlier guidelines with expanded and revised asthma management charts for three age groups: 0 to 4 years, 5 to 11 years, and 12 years and older. The 5- to 11-year-old age group was added (earlier guidelines included this age group with adults) as a result of new evidence on drugs for this age group, as well as indications suggesting that children may respond differently than adults to asthma medications.

A summary of EPR 3 is expected in December 2007. More information for health care professionals, including a copy of the full report, is available at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/index.htm .

New program to study causes and treatment of autism

The National Institutes of Health is funding a new research program called The Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE). ACE consolidates two existing autism programs, the Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment and the Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism, in an effort to uncover the causes of autism spectrum disorders and identify new treatments.