eLetters

1520 e-Letters

  • Response to letter re: ‘Improving newborn and infant screening’

    We thank Dr Cliona M Ni Bhrolchain  for her interest in our paper and her comments.  With the exceptions of newborn hearing and blood spot screening,  there is unacceptably wide variation at local level and a lack of commitment at national level in implementation and monitoring of preventive child health programmes.   We suggest that this is just one manifestation of a wider problem - the serious inadequacy of NHS investment  in leadership, education and training, both in general practice and in the specialties.  Morale is low and there are chronic shortages of staff with the relevant skills, when medicine is changing and public expectations rising faster than ever before. 

    David Hall and David Sowden (affiliations as on our original paper)

  • TRAMADOL: PATIENT SAFETY COMES FIRST IN CHILDREN

    I refer to the paper published by Palmer et al in Archives Diseases Childhood March 20181 that states the recommendation to avoid tramadol when breastfeeding and the contraindication to its use in children (including neonates) is inappropriate in their view. 1
    I disagree with the authors that tramadol is a safe for babies of breastfeeding mothers. Their conclusion, in my opinion, is premature and not adequately evidence-based. While they acknowledge, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported cases, they ignore the serious warnings by both Manufacturer and FDA about administering tramadol to children and breast-feeding mothers. There is increasing concern that narcotics used for treating pain in breastfeeding mothers may increase the risk of adverse effects in newborns, including excessive sedation and respiratory depression. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the FDA and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advocate against the use of codeine and tramadol in women who are breastfeeding because their babies may suffer adverse reactions, including excessive sleepiness, difficulty breathing, and potentially fatal breathing problems. 2-5 Patient safety should be foremost in our minds in making any recommendations that are contrary to Manufacturer, FDA, and AAP recommendations. It would be difficult to justify use of tramadol in a breastfeeding mother in the event of litigation arising from adverse effects of tramadol in the baby...

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  • Over-estimation of association between SUDIC and chronic conditions

    We welcome the paper by Verfurden et al1 on avoidable mortality from RTI and SUDIC with chronic conditions. We do not doubt the conclusion that chronic conditions are strongly associated with deaths from RTI, but disagree with the conclusion that chronic conditions are also associated with SUDIC or the need for changes to death certification.
    The study excludes deaths of infants less than 2 months old; however the peak age for unexplained infant deaths (classified as SIDS or unascertained) is 6 weeks. Data from England for the years 2004-10 show that 45% of unexpected infant deaths occurred prior to 2 months of age2, with the exception of those infants with congenital anomalies it is unlikely that these infants will have been diagnosed with a chronic condition by the time of death. Due to these issues, the study is likely to have significantly over-estimated the association of chronic conditions with SUDIC and we would invite the authors to revise their conclusion.
    The authors suggest that death registrations and hospital databases should categorise deaths as expected or unexpected to help identify potentially preventable deaths. Child Death Overview Panels in England review all deaths, determining modifiable factors; and these reviews are to be collated nationally by the new established National Child Mortality Database. A similar system of Child Death Reviews has already been recommended by the Scottish Government. It would seem more sensible to fully embrace...

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  • Palivizumab for children with Down syndrome: is the time right for a universal recommendation?

    In their editorial Paes and Mitra suggest that all patients with down syndrome (DS) <2 years should be considered to give palivizumab (Synagis®) to prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. We agree with the authors that DS children are at increased risk to develop RSV infections. However, we do not agree with their recommendation for palivizumab prevention in all DS children <2 years. In our opinion there is insufficient evidence on the efficiency and cost effectiveness and the recommendation is therefore premature.
    For the evaluation of preventive interventions the incidence and the absolute risk of acquiring the disease, and the effectiveness of the proposed intervention are important factors. The reported incidence of clinical relevant RSV infections in the general population in western countries is about 18/1,000 in newborns <2 months, 17/1,000 in children <6 months and 3/1,000 in children <5 years ( 2,3). Considering a relative extra risk of 5.5 in DS children (1) the calculated RSV incidence is 99/1,000 <2 months ( one out of 10) , 94/1,000 <6 months and 17/1,000 <5 years, respectively. The effectiveness of prevention of clinical treatment in premature children with palivizumab is about 50% (4). The extrapolated number needed to treat (NNT) for newborns with DS is 20 to prevent one hospitalization due to RSV infection. But what is the harm of this treatment as 19 out of 20 DS newborns will be given 114 injections per year...

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  • Relevance of specific HLA-DQ allelic components in the screening strategies for pediatric Celiac Disease

    We read with interest the recent article published by Binder E et al. [1], describing the HLA-DQ analysis performed in 1624 asymptomatic children affected with type I Diabetes Mellitus (DMT1), in order to assess their predisposition to develop Celiac Disease (CD). They reported that 1344 (82.8%) patients resulted to be "HLA-DQ2 and/or -DQ8 positive", whereas 280 (17.2%) were negative: among the former group, a biopsy-proven CD diagnosis was documented in 3.6% of cases and, interestingly, even 7 patients in the second group (corresponding to 2.5%) resulted to be celiac. [1]
    Thus, these two percentages are not so different and one might conclude that the HLA-DQ asset is not a necessary - even if not sufficient - genetic background, contrary to what is well known. [2] Indeed, the absence of alleles coding MHC-DQ2 and/or MHC-DQ8 heterodimers, is associated with an almost absolute negative predictive value with respect to CD. Therefore, in order to solve this apparent mismatch, it would be useful if the authors can show the complete and high-resolution HLA-DQA1 and, in particular, HLA-DQB1 typing: indeed, these 7 “HLA-DQ2 and/or -DQ8 negative” CD children may not carry all alleles coding any complete MHC-DQ2 and/or MHC-DQ8 molecule, but they may have one or two allelic variants conferring CD risk anyway, such as HLA-DQB1*02, which codes the beta chain of MHC-DQ2 heterodimer. Indeed, according to several studies, the isolate presence of one or two copies of this...

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  • The educational value of Saccades

    Many thanks for your response to the editorial ‘What are you looking at?’, which highlights some important principles for this extensively studied research area (despite being a relatively new field in healthcare) [1]
    Despite the emergence of new methods to analyse gaze behaviour terminology has not been revised to reflect scientific advances. A recent article by Hessels et al. outlined significant inconsistencies in the definitions of fixations and saccades held by eye movement researchers and highlighted the conceptual confusion surrounding these terms.[2]

    The term saccade is derived from the French for ‘jerk’. The phrase appears to have been coined by Emile Javal, a French ophthalmologist, in the 1800’s.[3] By 1916 it had been accepted into the English literature.[4]

    Saccades are frequently defined in the literature as rapid, ballistic movements of the eyes that abruptly change the point of fixation.5 Definitions have included;

    ‘Rapid eye movements used to voluntarily move gaze from one target of interest to another.’[6]

    ‘Ballistic movements, 20-150ms long, reaching a velocity up to 800°/s. They direct the eye so that external visual objects are projected onto the fovea.’[7]

    ‘Rapid eye movements used in repositioning the fovea to a new location in the visual environment.’[8]

    The term ballistic refers to the fact that the saccade-generating system cannot respond to subsequent changes in the position of a target during th...

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  • Improving newborn and infant screening

    Hall and Sowdon regret that the Newborn Infant Physical Examination (NIPE)/child health surveillance (CHS) programme fails to deliver improved outcomes for developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), contrasting with the success of other screening programmes. I would like to make some proposals for improvement.

    Current NIPE standards are focused on timeliness of the screening pathway and explicitly exclude treatment outcomes as ‘outside the screening pathway’1. Yet potential outcome measures are routinely available for three of the four NIPE screening programmes and shown to be measurable for two of these. McAllister et have demonstrated that records of surgical intervention for DDH can be used to show variation in outcomes2. Similarly, the NHS Atlas of Variation has demonstrated that age at orchidopexy can be used for undescended testis (UDT)3. Surgery for congenital cataract could be used in the same way. While I accept that definitions and actual measures might need some discussion to reach a national consensus, measuring these outcomes is possible from routine data.

    McAllister et al conclude that dedicated leadership of the DDH screening programme is associated with improved outcomes. This has also been shown for UDT4. Unfortunately, clinical leadership of the Healthy Child Programme (HCP) has been dismantled in recent years and the RCPCH recorded a community paediatric HCP lead in only 16% of services in 2015.

    Lastly poor outcomes may indicate...

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  • Cardiac Screening: Pulsatility Index, Population Studies and False-Positive Rates

    We thank Nitzan et al for their comments in relation to our article on use of pulsatility index (PI) in screening for critical congenital heart disease (Searle 2018). In particular, we are grateful that they draw further attention to the potential for current screening to miss critical lesions, such as coarctation of the aorta. Given the progressive nature of these pathologies, it is an extremely difficult challenge to design an acceptable screening tool, which highlights all affected babies in appropriate time. Despite strong biological plausibility, current evidence is unclear whether pulsatility index can translate into such a tool.

    We fully agree that the local quality of both antenatal and postnatal screening significantly affects the measured benefit of pulsatility index. Several articles draw the distinction here between ‘tertiary’ and ‘non-tertiary’ units, though it may be more accurate to distinguish ‘better resourced’ from ‘less resourced’ settings, particularly in relation to antenatal scanning. As described in our original article, the apparent potential of PI screening in ‘less resourced’ settings seems strong, especially since many pulse oximetry sensors already measure it. Both Schena et al (2017) and Granelli & Ostman-Smith (2007) highlight a small but important population of babies not detected by standard screening, but with abnormal pre-morbid pulsatility indices. It seems incongruous, however, to extrapolate a single extra case detected by th...

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  • Re: letter Meningococcal meningitis presenting postinfant group B meningococcal immunisation. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2018-316341

    M Nadeem
    1. Department of Paediatrics, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin 24, Ireland
    2. Trinity College Dublin

    Corresponding author: M Nadeem, Department of Paediatrics, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin 24, Ireland

    So et al1 reported a case of meningococcal group W meningitis in an infant who presented within 24 hours of receiving group B meningococcal vaccine (4CMenB). Fever and focal seizure, which required two doses of intravenous lorazepam, have been reported at the time of presentation. Intravenous ceftriaxone was commenced for suspected sepsis. CSF PCR was positive for capsular group W meningococcus. With respect to the focal seizure in a febrile infant, whether viral encephalitis was excluded and whether antiviral was commenced pending the exclusion of herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) are questions that were not addressed in the present case.

    At the time of presentation, it may not be possible to clinically differentiate encephalitis from meningitis, as either syndrome may have common features including fever, headache and meningism.2 Children with encephalitis may present with fever, seizures and focal neurological signs.2 3 Moreover those with HSE may experience a progressively deteriorating level of consciousness with fever, focal seizures or focal neurological abnormalities in the absence of any other cause.2 4 However the absence of fever2 5 or the lack of altered states of consciousness5 at presentation does not exclude...

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  • Perfusion index and undiagnosed critical left-sided obstructive heart defects.

    The review by Searle et al “Does pulsatility index add value to newborn pulse oximetry screening for critical congenital heart disease?" (Searle 2018), provides a comprehensive overview of the current evidence regarding the addition of perfusion index to the CCHD screening algorithm.
    The authors’ main concern is that adding pulsatility index (perfusion index, PI) will not significantly improve the current detection rate which is already quite high. As a proof, they cite the work of the large trial by Schena et al, (Schena 2017) that found one additional case of CCHD in 42,169 babies examined. The authors conclude that incorporating PI into current screening algorithms provides little additional benefit in detecting CCHD and confers a high false positive rate.
    We would like to voice several comments regarding this article:
    First, in the study of Schena et al, CCHD was suspected before screening in 36/38 cases in tertiary centers. This is the main reason that PI (and pulse oximetry screening) did not have any additional value in tertiary centers. In this study, only 23.6% of the neonates were born in non-tertiary center. We suggest that an alternative way to describe the results is that in non-tertiary centers, pulse oximetry detected 2 cases and PI detected an additional 1 case per approximately 10,000 screened neonates. Therefore, adding PI to the screening algorithm improved the detection rate by 50%. Moreover, the 2 cases detected by pulse oximetry...

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