1579 e-Letters

  • Response to Haisma S-M, et al. Arch Dis Child 2020;105:996–998.

    I read with great interest the article by Haisma et al. that reports on fecal calprotectin instability.(1) The authors are to be commended on their study. However, some points deserve comment.

    The authors tested the stability of calprotectin after the stool was homogenized. The clinical relevance of this is unclear since what is important is the stability of calprotectin in stool after collection and before analysis. The studies that have evaluated fecal calprotectin stability in this situation are in alignment; calprotectin is stable in unprocessed stool at room temperature for at least 3 days with some studies suggesting up to a week (for review see D’Amico et al.).(2)

    No support is provided for the statement by Haisma et al. that calprotectin instability in stool samples sent by mail may lead to errors in treat-to-target strategies. Indeed, the literature says otherwise.

    1. Haisma SM, van Rheenen PF, Wagenmakers L, Muller Kobold A. Calprotectin instability may lead to undertreatment in children with IBD. Arch Dis Child. 2020;105:996-8 doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2018-316584 [published Online First: 2019/01/19].
    2. D'Amico F, Rubin DT, Kotze PG, et al. International consensus on methodological issues in standardization of fecal calprotectin measurement in inflammatory bowel diseases. United European Gastroenterol J. 2021;9:451-60 doi: 10.1002/ueg2.12069 [published Online First: 2021/05/08].

  • Response to 'Observations'

    Dear Dr Howells,


    Thank you for your Rapid Response to our publication, ‘Language in 2-year-old children born preterm and term: a cohort study’ in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. We appreciate the opportunity to provide clarity on the points you raised.


    1. Infants in this study were recruited one to two weeks following birth as it was part of a larger longitudinal cohort study aimed at understanding early neurobehavioural and brain development. Medical staff recommended that infants were not approached if the infants were medically unstable or parents had previously requested not to be approached regarding research studies at this early stage.
    2. Due to the size of the sample, we did not perform subgroup analysis by gestational age at birth within the preterm cohort. We appreciate that the distribution of gestational age at birth is of interest, and provide this in the table below



    Gestational age in completed weeks

    Number of children

    Percent of very preterm group




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  • The hidden impact of prescribing Pen V

    Let us not forget the not insignificant number of children who present to their GP within a day of discharge from hospital with their parents reporting they cannot or will not swallow the unpalatable liquid. The cost of GP time, community pharmacy time and prescribing a second, more palatable, antibiotic all adds up and needs to be taken into consideration.

  • Parents' need for online information about methylphenidate may differ from that described by England and Tuthill.

    England and Tuthill deserve congratulation for highlighting the need to review the accuracy of drug information on the web. It is encouraging to see an apparent improvement in the quality of online information since we considered this question (Akram et al, 2007) but difficulties in study design would appear to limit the application of these findings. When online information for families is being rated it is important to distinguish between websites geared to the lay reader and those designed for professional reference, which may not be designed specifically to be readable and accessible.

    A more ‘lay person’ centred methodology would also suggest that there is more to accuracy of patient information than a ‘correct’ listing of side effects found in a formulary written for prescribers. In line with General Medical Council guidance on consent (GMC, 2020, Para 23), families need information that correctly highlights common side effects and high risk rare events. A website may miss some, less severe, rare side effects and include some side effects that are not recorded in the formulary without necessarily reducing accuracy in a clinically meaningful way.

    In this important and topical area for clinical research authors would do well to use established methodologies. For example DISCERN (Charnock et al, 1999) still provides a valuable basis for rating the quality of information.

    Akram G, Thomson AH, Boyter A, Morton MJS.
    Characterisation and evaluat...

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  • CAMHS seeing an increase in girls presenting with Tics

    We welcome this article by Heyman et al (2021) in last weeks Archives of Diseases in Childhood in particular the explanation of 'functional tic-like attack disorder'. In our community CAMHS in Bedfordshire, we too have noticed an increase in referrals or enquiries asking about medication and management of tics in young girls. In some cases the tics have started since lockdown in girls who are already being seen by CAMHS for other mental health issues such as anxiety or Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Although most of our patients report an increase in motor tics, we have also been made aware of vocal tics increasing. Normally the tics include noises such as clearing of the thorat or high pitched noises.
    In February this year we also cofacilitated a local support group for parents with children with Tourettes Syndrome (Beds, Herts and Bucks Parent Tourette Syndrome Group) with a view to understanding how they were coping in the pandemic. We were surprised to see that so many of the attendess had daughters with Tics and Tourettes and almost all said their daughters struggled with increase in anxiety and worsening of tics. It was interesting to hear that a number of boys with Tourettes coped better as there was lack of pressure from going to school and they were allowed more time with online gaming, although those with associated ADHD understandably struggled being confined to their homes. We would agree that the tics serve some sort of function in that it is an...

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  • Thanks for a great piece

    Dear Anon

    Thanks fir a simple but powerful effective piece.. It shows the human factors that motivate healthcare workers, cause parents barriers and makes a powerful point:
    Children are our patients, not parents .

  • Change in referral pathway?

    I submitted this response below and see that it has not been published and have had no response to indicate why this would be so. My email address has changed from jamie.houston@nhs.net .
    In discussion with colleagues from across Scotland, no significant increase in numbers of infants of Abusive Head Trauma have been referred to medical child protection services was noted during 2020.

    My original eLetter was submitted on 08 Jul 2020:

    I share concerns about the impact of Covid, and note that we have seen an increase in NAI referrals over recent months (but not AHT). Given that the number of cases in this institution was so low in previous years, I wonder if there has been a change in referral patterns with GOSH admitting more general PICU cases than usual. Has there been an impact from other PICUs in London that were caring for adults during the peak?

  • Don't forget chorea

    Any new, sudden onset of tics or "tic-like" attacks should prompt consideration of Sydenham's chorea. The typical age range for Sydenham's chorea is 5-15yrs, with females more commonly affected, especially in adolescence, which fits with the group described [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2009.11.015].

    Neuropsychiatric signs, such as emotional lability, obsessive-compulsive signs, anxiety, and attention deficit often precede the chorea but may mistakenly lead to a presumption of a functional disorder. It can be difficult for non-specialists to distinguish different kinds of involuntary movements, and this may explain why delayed diagnosis is common in Sydenham's chorea [http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2015-308693].

    The importance of establishing Sydenham's chorea as a cause is of course so that appropriate treatment can be given, including antibiotics and medication to control the chorea, but also to diagnose and treat co-existing rheumatic heart disease.

  • Excessive sensory stimulation causing dysregulation resulting in tic like disorder

    Have the authors consider the increased duration and nature of screen time as a trigger for these tic like disorders.
    This would have implications for both prevention and treatment.
    Is it correct that 'stress' as a trigger is one hypothesis only of functional symptoms that are not medically understood? Was there a comparison made for anxiety and stress is a matched group who did not developed these symptoms?
    It is likely that the increase in social media posts and searches for tic disorders and Tourette's reflects their increased incidence rather than is causative. While is possible that the 'validation' does prolong or maintain the episodes it may be preferable to isolation and exclusion.

  • Covid-19 and tics

    I read with interest the article ‘Covid-19 related increase in childhood tics and tic-like attacks’ by Heyman et al. It would seem the me that the premise that such a high increase in the prevalence of tics and Tourette’s in adolescent females is related to pandemic related stress is somewhat too simplistic. Their conclusion would seem very plausible in those with a predisposition or vulnerability to motor and phonic tics but including all these new cases under the umbrella of just ‘anxiety’ appears dismissive of other potential aetiological factors. The temporal relation to the Covid pandemic cannot simply be attributed to the psychological effects of pandemic related stress. Have any of these kids been tested for Covid antibodies to confirm or exclude that they have not been infected, possibly asymptomatically. Perhaps even more importantly have they been investigated for the presence of anti- neuronal antibodies which would be indicative of a possible autoimmune link that might explain this sudden surge in tics/Tourette’s. This PANS type possibility needs to be fully evaluated before attributing this increase in new onset of severe tics and tic-like attacks as a functional manifestation of the Covid-19 pandemic.