Children are most vulnerable to all kinds of sicknesses. For example, when a child contracts acute lymphocytic leukemia in 1975, his chances of dying within the next five years is very high. Fortunately today, millions of kids around the world have more chances of living because pediatric health research has advanced to the point where prevention strategies and cures for many types of children’s diseases were tried and tested. In this regard, some of the significant achievements in the field of pediatric health is being highlighted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Here are some of these incredible achievements.
1) Development of life-saving immunizations
After conducting voluminous research, together with safety and efficacy tests, the widespread use of the first rotavirus vaccine was finally approved in 2006. According to the studies, young infants are the ones most vulnerable to Hib severe infections because their immune systems are not yet well developed. The creation of a multi-dose schedule of vaccine was necessary to protect infants from Hib infection.
The first dose of the vaccine was given to 2 month old babies. After the initial vaccination, the annual cases of Hib infection were reduced by 99 percent. Today, only countries in the third world where this type of vaccination is not routine, experience the majority of Hib infections. The studies indicated that gastroenteritis was reduced by 86 percent after getting the full schedule of rotavirus vaccines. Gastroenteritis hospitalization, the study also showed, decreased by 96 percent.
2) Treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia
Different types of treatments and medications were developed through cancer research that can kill cancer cells. These researches focused on the different combinations of medications to cure acute lymphocytic leukemia. This resulted in the development of a standard protocol called induction chemotherapy. The therapy calls for the use of cortico-steroid, L-asparraginase and vincristine for a period of 2 to 3 years. Results of this 40-year research showed that almost 90 percent of children newly diagnosed with ALL are expected to have more than 5-year survival rate.
The most common type of cancer that afflicts children is acute lymphocytic leukemia. Approximately 2,900 adolescents and children are diagnosed with this disease in the United States. If a child is diagnosed with ALL in 1975, the expected result is death. Only around 60 percent of children diagnosed with ALL less than 15 years old survived the disease after 5 years, while approximately 28 percent of those above 15 years old survived after 5 years.
3) Increased life expectancy for chronic disease
Research and studies have shown that there is an inheritance pattern of sickle disease. This is why there exists a routine check for this disease in all U.S. infants. Hydrixyurea was developed through medical research and studies. This life-saving medication is found to increase fetal hemoglobin which helps the red blood cells to maintain their right shape, to be stronger, and also to help decrease the effects of sickle cell disease. As a result, life expectancy for those afflicted with sickle cell disease increased to over 40 years old.
4) Saving the lives of premature babies
Studies revealed that by installing surfactant in the lungs of premature animals, respiratory distress will be decreased. In line with this finding, clinical trials were made to give supplementary surfactant to new born infants with RDS. This led to the approval of its widespread use by the FDA in 1990. As a result, infant deaths caused by RDS were reduced by 41 percent from 1985 to 1991. As a backgrounder, the main cause of newborn deaths around the world is prematurity.
5) Development of “Back to Sleep” to reduce SIDS
Research on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome revealed that when newborns are put to sleep on their tummies, their chances of dying due to SIDS doubles up. This is the reason why the “Back to Sleep” campaign was launched in 1994. This campaign was initiated by four institutions focused on child care, namely, the Services Administration and SIDS groups, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the National Institute of Child Health and Development.
SIDS, which is also called crib death, happens without warning. With the “Back to Sleep” campaign, the instances of crib deaths have significantly decreased. In 1993, about 4,000 infants in the U.S. died due to SIDS. But after this campaign, SIDS deaths dropped to only 2,000 since 2010.