Medical Research Update

Article excerpt

NEW AAP RECOMMENDATIONS, AIMED AT CAREGIVERS, ADDRESS CHILD DEVELOPMENT WHILE IN FOSTER CARE

According to research by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a growing number of the children being introduced into the foster care system have "complicated and serious physical, mental, and developmental health problems." To address this situation, the AAP has set down new recommendations to be followed by potential caregivers. The new policy places a high importance on the caregiver-child relationship, and is designed to "ensure optimal brain development" starting in the child's "critical early years" (under age 5). Below is a summary of the recommendations:

* The physical, emotional, and developmental needs of a child depend greatly on caregiver nurturing.

*Pediatricians need to do more to encourage caregivers to mix frequent love and attention with necessary discipline. Caregivers should also be encouraged to stimulate the child through verbal conversation, holding reading books, music, and play.

* Consistent and predictable childcare is vital to the child. Home-placement changes, on the other hand, can be detrimental.

* The needs of the child should always come first-even before the needs of the biological parents-when foster care placement is being considered.

* The ability of a child to deal with internal and external stress is directly related to that child's attachment to his/her caregiver and the child's developmental level.

* Based on results of periodic evaluations of their strengths and needs, children in foster care should receive the appropriate services and any other supports necessary to make foster care a healing process.

For a closer look at these recommendations, see the November 2000 issue of Pediatrics.

A VIRUS THAT MAY ONE DAY HELP TREAT MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY

New research coming out of the University of Pittsburgh suggests that scientists are getting closer to treatment for the most common form of muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

In the study, a genetically altered virus called adeno-associated virus was injected into the calf muscles of mice that lacked dystrophin protein. Dystrophin protein is necessary for muscle function but one that people with Duchenne lack. In 90 percent of the treated tissue, the virus induced production of the protein. Research is currently under way on how this protein can be administered into the rest of the body's muscle groups.

Admitting that "results from animal trials cannot directly translate to humans," and that human trials are several years away, Dr. …