Pediatric Academic Societies' Annual Meeting, April 29-May 2, 2006
The Pediatric Academic Societies held their annual meeting April 29 to May 2 in San Francisco. The meeting attracted more than 6,200 pediatricians, medical researchers and academics, according to program chairwoman Sherin Devaskar, M.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles.
The group includes four organizations devoted to children's health: the Society for Pediatric Research, the American Pediatric Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, as well as 10 alliances of subspecialties from pediatric endocrinology to nephrology.
Devaskar said the meeting was a "huge success. It's a big tent for academic pediatricians. It brings together all pediatricians, and helps us focus on the major problems affecting children and come up with strategies to address them in the future."
Philip Shaul, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and president of the Society for Pediatric Research, gave an address on the dwindling federal support for research on children. "The National Institute of Child Health, part of the NIH, has very limited funding compared to all other adult institutes," Devaskar said. "This puts into perspective the fact that research affecting children is not considered as important as research on adults, because the funding has been marginalized."
A major focus on the meeting was access to health care for children. "It should be universal, but that is not the case in many parts of the country, and there is growing concern that many children are unable to access health care, especially as the Medicaid budget cuts hit everyone," said Devaskar.
Premature infants were another important topic addressed at the meeting, Devaskar said. "There were discussions of what can be done for near-term infants born at 34 to 36 weeks (short of the full 40 weeks) who appear big but get in trouble," Devaskar said. "They are at quite high risk, and there is a lot of concern about those who fly under the radar screen and go into well-baby nurseries, but are a high-risk population."
Other research presented at the meeting focused on magnetic resonance imaging of the brain in premature and full-term babies for the early detection of brain damage, Devaskar said. Another study focused on body cooling to help minimize brain damage caused by asphyxia during birth.
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