Updates

June 1, 2007

Inhalant abuse* US flu immunization rates * Lead testing * FDA news * Probiotics for newborns * Mediterranean diet

Be on the lookout for inhalant abuse

A clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics warns: Pediatricians need to be more aware of inhalant abuse, which is "an important, yet under-recognized form of substance abuse" (Pediatrics: 119:5;1009). The report cites new data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicating that more than one million adolescents and teens used inhalants as a form of substance abuse in 2005.

Many of the products being abused are common household items such as glue, air freshener, aerosol computer cleaning products, paint, rubber cement, antiperspirants, hair spray, nail polish remover, and butane. Some of the typical terms that are used to describe this behavior are "sniffing," "snorting," "huffing," "glading," and "dusting."

The report's authors said increased research is needed on this health care problem. It recommends that pediatricians become more knowledgeable about inhalant abuse, contact their local poison control center to find out about trends, learn more about the health consequences, educate the public and serve as a community resource, and provide information to their patients.

More lead testing needed for younger women

While it's widely known that exposure to high concentrations of lead causes health hazards, results from a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that there is evidence of adverse health effects from moderate-and low-level blood lead concentrations as well. The report summarizes 2004 surveillance data pertaining to elevated blood lead levels (BLLs) among females between the ages of 16-44, in 37 states that participate in the CDC's Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program (MMWR 2007:56;397).

According to the CDC, public health authorities use higher levels to define problematic BLLs in nonpregnant females than children, and a lower level for pregnant females. This difference raises a red flag for the CDC, since approximately one third to one half of all US pregnancies are unplanned, and lead crosses the placenta unencumbered.

Women of childbearing age who are occupationally exposed to lead in battery manufacturing and certain other industries are at greater potential risk of elevated BLLs, with many such cases often not reported or unrecognized. The CDC says that increased efforts are needed to identify these at-risk women, to make them aware of the potential risk to their offspring, and to counsel them about safety regulations and the need for routine blood lead level concentrations.

Adverse health effects in infants born to women with moderately elevated blood levels (10-15 μg/dL) include preterm birth, decreased gestational maturity, lower birth weight, reduced postnatal growth, and an increased incidence of minor congenital abnormalities.

No clear link between fruit juice and overweight

Children who consume 100% pure fruit juice are not any more likely to be overweight than children who don't drink any, and those who do get more nutritional benefits, researchers say.

Studying data from over 3,600 children, ages 2 to 11, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999-2002, the scientists found that children who drank 100% pure fruit juice had higher intakes of energy, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins C and B6, potassium, riboflavin, iron, and folate, and also took in less sodium, fats, and sugars than those who did not drink 100% juice.