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What's New in Pediatrics

What's up, doc? Pediatric updates on vaccines, autism & car seat safety

Pennsylvania's Vaccine Rates

Is the Delaware Valley courting another preventable-disease outbreak? In the wake of this winter’s widespread measles flare-up, the Pew Charitable Trust calculated Pennsylvania’s vaccination rate among Kindergarten-enrolled children to be the country’s second-lowest: With only 85 percent of school children vaccinated (the CDC wants to see at least 90 percent), PA ranks an alarming 49th nationwide, besting only Colorado. 

Although New Jersey and Delaware allow for the same religious exemptions to vaccinations as Pennsylvania, they don’t allow for the general “philosophical” exemptions the Keystone State also permits, which result in a more-than-doubled rate of opt-outs. They therefore rank well in the nationwide list, at No. 11 (NJ) and No. 16 (DE). 
It bears repeating that vaccines protect kids and the entire public at large from dangerous diseases and have no scientifically proven link to autism. Make sure to speak with your pediatrician about any vaccine concerns you may have.

Autism & Parents' Age

A new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry reports that children born to older parents exhibit higher rates of autism. Maybe more surprising was an attending rise in incidences of autism among the children of teen moms and parents with a wide age gap between partners.

  • The risk of autism in children born to fathers older than 50 is 66 percent higher than that of children born to fathers in their 20s.
  • The rate of autism in children born to mothers in their 40s is 15 percent higher than that of children born to mothers in their 20s.
  • Mothers in their 20s have better chances against autism than even teen moms, whose children have an autism rate that’s 18 percent higher.

Car Seat Safety

In a new Journal of Pediatrics study, experts stress that car seats, baby swings, bouncers and any other sitting or carrying devices should not be used as alternatives to cribs. To avoid accidental 
asphyxiation, the leading cause of death reported in car seats and carriers: 

  • Children should never be left unattended in car seats, whether asleep or awake.
  • Make sure all belts and harnesses are properly fastened, taut enough to prevent infants and toddlers from twisting or squirming yet not constricting.
  • Children should remain in rear-facing car seats until they are 2 years old and 30 lbs. — a guideline that will become law in New Jersey come September. 
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