1579 e-Letters

  • Improving outcomes for children with asthma: role of national audit

    Dear Editor

    In their report “Improving outcomes for children with asthma: role of national audit”(1), Sinha et al highlight the fact that the UK has one of the highest mortality figures from childhood asthma for high-income countries worldwide. They detect complacency regarding childhood asthma, and call for a targeted proactive model to improve matters.
    The possible explanation for their observations regarding clinic attendance may be relevant to these wider issues.
    The most likely explanation is that parents had not been given adequate safety netting advice regarding how to recognise and treat acute attacks. Such safety netting should have included parent- initiated steroids. Had this safety netting been in place, each of the cases reported would have already been started on oral steroids.
    Another possibility is that the parents had not even been told that their child had asthma, or that asthma can kill. Many units seem to make children “earn” a diagnosis of asthma, after several years of being labelled “Viral associated wheeze”.

    In my experience working as a locum around the UK, most units stop short of permitting parent- initiated steroids. Parents are simply told to use up to 10 puffs of a beta agonist and if this doesn’t work to “Seek medical advice”. However, this policy fails to recognise that severe attacks can occur in situations where medical help is not close at hand, for instance on holidays in remote places or abroad. Surely we...

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  • Functional Abdominal Pain

    I read with interest the review on functional abdominal pain and link to anxiety. However, there is no mention of the potential aetiology for anxiety.
    In our school age paediatric neurodevelopmental clinic , children and young people with diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder often present with escalating levels of anxiety in relation to school attendance that is reflected in a range of physical symptoms that may include abdominal pain, headaches and sleep disturbance . Indeed ,they have often been under the care of the acute paediatric service and prescribed a variety of medications. School attendance has often been affected and/or there have been concerns about learning and behaviour leading to referral to the Neurodevelopmental /Community Paediatric clinic
    Once reasonable adjustments and environmental modifications have been implemented to support the individual , anxiety diminishes and physical symptoms improve. This has been most noticeable during the recent lockdown with many young people with ASD flourishing without the incapacitating anxiety that is associated with the busy, complex, social environment of school.
    A detailed psycho - social and neurodevelopmental history and consideration of the possibility of Autism Spectrum Disorder is likely to be helpful for this group of children and young people.

  • Comparisons of febrile infant prediction rules

    Prediction rules to identify young febrile infants with serious bacterial infections (SBI) have been developed by investigators globally. Comparisons of these rules should be conducted by independent parties to avoid conflicts of interest. Two newer prediction rules use procalcitonin (PCT) as an important variable: one rule,[1] created by the authors of the Velasco[2] paper, and the PECARN Febrile Infant Rule[3] created by the authors of this letter. There are important methodological issues which must be considered when evaluating Velasco’s validation of the PECARN study. 1) The Velasco study was a retrospective analysis of a registry at one hospital in Spain, while the PECARN study was prospectively conducted at 20 centers in the United States and analyzed by an independent data center (mitigating investigator bias). 2) The rate of SBI in the Velasco study was 20.5%, much higher than the 9.3% reported by the PECARN study[3] and other investigators.[4] This suggests a different patient population or SBI epidemiology than ours, and/or enrollment bias. 3) Although the PECARN rule (using the urinalysis, absolute neutrophil count [ANC] and PCT) was derived on febrile infants 0-60 days-old, we recommend implementation only on 29-60 day-old infants, as suggested in our article.[3] In the supplement to our article, the PECARN rule using rounded cutoffs (ANC of 4000 cells/mm3 and PCT of 0.5 ng/mL) for simplicity, safety and to decrease the risk of overfitting, performed with simi...

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  • Returning paediatrics to child centred care

    Scott-Jupp et al. recent paper (Effects of consultant residence out-of-hours on acute paediatric admissions1) appeared relevant to myself as a junior doctor at the end of my training. I am interested to know whether there was learning from the resident consultant around discharge behaviour to better understand the differences?

    There were approximately 40% of admissions that stayed less than 12 hours and this group were more likely to be discharged when a consultant was resident. There was no significant difference in discharge rates in children who stayed more than 12 hours1.

    Should the less ill children be attending acute services anyway? Would a service consisting of resident consultants feed into propping up the acute pathway for less ill children?

    A prospective observational study found up to 42.2% of ED presentations over a 14 day period were judged to have been totally avoidable if the family had had better health education2. Studies have previously looked at the appropriateness of paediatric OPD new referrals and suggest that at least 39% of them could be managed by primary care3.

    I wonder whether the expansion of paediatric consultant posts due to increased ED attendance have unwittingly made secondary care reluctant to challenge the status quo of paediatric care delivery despite clear evidence that hospital is not always appropriate? If paediatric ED attendance starts to go down, would the current system become redundant? Other models...

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  • Necrosis of infantile haemangioma is more likely related to natural history rather than to propranolol therapy

    To the editor
    We appreciated the Images in paediatrics ‘Necrosis of infantile haemangioma with propranolol therapy’ by Grech and colleagues1. Nevertheless, we take exception to the Authors’ statement that necrosis is due to propranolol induced-involution for several reasons: first of all, the infant was not receiving a full-dose medication (1.5 mg/kg/day) when propranolol should be given at minimum 2 mg/kg/day. Furthermore, the milestone study by Léauté-Labrèz et al showed that a daily regimen of 3 mg/kg is safe and effective in reducing haemangiomas in a cohort of 456 infants2. We do believe that considering the low dose and the proliferative phase the infant was in3, necrosis was most likely due to natural evolution of the haemangioma than drug-induced involution. The authors do not give precise measurements of the scalp lesion before and during treatment, so it is not clear how much the lesion diminished in size. In view of previous considerations, it is difficult to rule out that the lesion might just have followed its natural course. As a matter of fact, both prematurity and female gender are well known risk factors associated with ulceration4.As the authors properly underline, propranolol therapy is the treatment of choice for infantile haemangioma (IH) and adverse effects as hypoglycemia, hypotension and bradycardia are widely known. Ulceration is the most common complication of IH and so that it could be even considered an indication to continue rather than...

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  • Misuse and alarmist use of the word pandemic

    Sidpra et al1 reported seeing 10 patients with suspected abusive head trauma between 23 March and 23 April 2020, when previously their unit only saw 0.67 cases per month. They concluded that this indicated a pandemic. In support, they cited (providing an incorrect journal name) a published review suggesting an increased risk of family violence2, but in fact the review cited referred to decreasing reports of child abuse and neglect during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Sidra et al made no mention of the likely explanation for their observations, namely a change in referral patterns. A number of children’s wards in hospitals in London and elsewhere in the UK have been taken over by adult Covid-19 patients, coupled with the closure of some paediatric urgent care centres and emergency departments, resulting in the diversion of ill children to other centres.

    If, as is suggested, the apparent 1493% increase in inflicted head injury cases is indeed the result of adverse psychosocial factors resulting from efforts to reduce Covid-19 transmission, then one would expect paediatric services worldwide to be deluged with other types of inflicted injury, which as yet has not been reported.

    Without other supporting data, and only using information from a single unit, we are not convinced that there is a sound case for the authors' conclusion that these 10 cases represent a ‘pandemic’. The word pandemic means a disease that is prevalent over a whole country or the whole...

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  • Where have all the children gone? Home. Why?

    Dear Editor

    Congratulations and thanks to Isba R et al on documenting the impact of Covid-19 on attendances to UK paediatric emergency departments and assessment units in lockdown [1]. Their data is mirrored by that collected by RCPCH [2] and Italy [3] They ask “Where have all the children gone?”
    As they point out the first concern was that children with serious illness were not being brought to hospital. RCPCH data suggests this is the minority of cases. [2] Other questions we should ask are, “Has the balance of benefit for families tipped in favour of staying away from hospital? Is there any evidence that supports that hypothesis?”
    RCPCH State of Child Health [4] documented a paediatric population with less acute illness but attending hospital more: the “Worried Well”. Furthermore whilst child physical health is improving mental and emotional wellbeing is deteriorating. [4]
    We must watch mortality and morbidity closely. To date there is no data to suggest this has increased in children. If it does not increase then we should ask ourselves the uncomfortable question, “Have we over diagnosed physical illness and contributed to anxiety?” Put another away, “Have UK paediatricians contributed to the anxiety of a population?”
    As we, “Reset, Restore and Recover,” [5] we must not shy away from considering this uncomfortable possibility as we address the secondary affects of the pandemic [6]. We must revaluate the relative risk of all childhood di...

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  • Protect children from Covid-19: the “secondary pandemia”

    Dear Editor,
    Ladhani SN et al (1) underline during the pandemic from Covid-19 the importance of reporting pediatric population surveillance data, and the pediatricians are encouraged to get involved with research and clinical trials to better understand the immunopatho-physiology and identify effective treatments for COVID-19 in children.

    However, as the authors themselves point out, the Covid-19 pandemic has been shown to be much milder as clinical manifestations in the infant and child than in the adult. Bhopal S et al (2) examined mortality data for 0-19 year olds, showing that across France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States there were 44 deaths from covid-19 in 0-19 year olds (total population 135.691.226) up to 19 May 2020. Over a normal three month period, in these countries, published Global Burden of Disease data estimate that more than 13.000 deaths would be expected from all causes in this age group, including over 1000 from unintentional injury and 308 from lower respiratory tract infection including influenza.

    Because of their isolation, children are having documented risks that we are getting used to calling Covid-19 side effects or secondary pandemic (3,4): from delays in diagnosing some clinically relevant diseases (5), to educational deprivation (6), to the care needs of certain categories of children fragile with social and health needs that have interrupted their care project. The deep risk that...

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  • Surfactant administration via laryngeal mask in preterm infants: a word of caution

    We read with interest Dr. Smee et al.’s article on surfactant administration via laryngeal mask (LMA) in infants with respiratory distress syndrome: an intriguing topic, suggesting a minimally invasive approach to ensure a well-established therapy.
    The authors stated that “use of LMA to administer surfactant is feasible in infants ≥ 1200g, reducing the need for intubation and mechanical ventilation”. (1) Despite a recent meta-analysis showing that this approach may have some advantages on short term outcomes, (i.e. reduction in need for intubation and mechanical ventilation), available evidence was based on small, poor-quality studies. (2)
    In addition, there are many unanswered questions on the application of this approach in neonates. It is not known which supraglottic airway device (SAD) may be best suited (there are at least 7 different types of commercially available size-1 SADs), the characteristics of the cuff (inflatable or not-inflatable) and the most appropriate size, (3,4) whether a catheter inside the mask should be used and if yes, where the catheter’s tip should be positioned (proximally or distally), under vision or blindly. There is uncertainty on whether the patient needs mild sedation, general or topical anesthesia, or nothing at all, and around the best mode to support respiratory efforts and potential complications (i.e. hypoxia or bradycardia) during the procedure. (1)
    The authors also reported that “LMAs to fit the more immature infan...

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  • Low Prevalence of Kingella kingae Infections in UK Children


    Low Prevalence of Kingella kingae Infections in UK Children

    Pablo Yagupsky, MD
    Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Soroka University Medical Center, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

    Corresponding Author: Pablo Yagupsky, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Soroka University Medical Center, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel 84101. Phone number: (972) 506264359. Fax number: (972) 86403541. e-mail: PYagupsky@gmail.com

    Dear Editor:
    In a recent article, Abeywickrema et al. summarized 10 years of pediatric joint and bone infections in Oxford, and concluded that Staphylococcus aureus was the most common etiology [1]. Although this concept was widely accepted in the past, the increasing use of sensitive nucleic acid amplification tests has demonstrated that Kingella kingae is the leading agent of skeletal system infections in the 6-48 month-old population, causing up to 88% of the cases in this age group [2]. Abeywickrema et al., however, isolated the bacterium in only 3 of the 74 (4%) patients in whom the etiology could be determined [1]. Kingella kingae is notoriously fastidious and the traditional culture methods and microscopy employed by the researchers are usually unable to detect its presence in joint and bone exudates [3]. Invasive K. kingae infections other than endocarditis are characterized by a mild local and systemic inflammation: fev...

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