Purpose of review: Published studies during the past year about three topics important to the pediatric clinician-- immunizations, neonatal jaundice, and animal-induced injuries-are concisely reviewed.
Recent findings: Recent updates regarding vaccines including the questionable link with autism, implementation of universal influenza vaccination for young children, the efficacy of pneumococcal vaccine against invasive disease, and new information on pertussis, varicella, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, and rotavirus vaccination are discussed. No association between measles/mumps/rubella vaccine or thimerosal-containing pertussis vaccine and autism is evident. Universal influenza vaccination for children 6 to 23 months of age will be recommended for the 2004-2005 flu season, and this implementation should reduce significant school absenteeism as well as complications seen last year including encephalopathy, seizures, respiratory failure, and pneumonia. Pneumococcal vaccine significantly reduces rates of invasive pneumococcal vaccine in healthy and HIV-infected children, although it does not appear to greatly affect otitis media rates. A reduction in post-vaccine febrile seizures appears to be present since the introduction of acellular pertussis vaccine. Multiple outbreaks in varicella have been reported since the introduction of the varicella vaccine, and a booster vaccination may be necessary in the future. Methods for detecting and preventing severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia are reviewed, as well as anticipated recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics for the detection and management of hyperbilirubinemia. High bilirubin levels in preterm infants may result in hearing dysfunction and developmental impairment. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended a higher level of monitoring for newborn jaundice and treatment of hyperbilirubinemia in an effort to prevent kernicterus and sequelae from elevated bilirubin levels, including post-discharge follow-up appointment by day 3 to 5 of age. Dog bites in children with resultant post-traumatic stress disorder, rabies, and salmonellosis from pet reptiles in the home are also addressed. Clinicians need to be aware of the risk for rabies bites, need to recognize that dog bites in children appear to cause post-traumatic stress disorder in more than half of cases, and need to know how to educate patients on how to prevent salmonellosis from pet reptiles and amphibians.
Summary: Progress has been made in immunizations, especially immunization for influenza, pneumonia, and pertussis. It is recommended that monitoring for neonatal hyperbilirubinemia be more thorough to prevent the consequences of this condition. Rabies, post-traumatic stress disorder from dog bites, and salmonellosis associated with pet reptiles constitute an important area for patient education.