New Depression Screening Recommendations for Adolescents

March 14th, 2018

Teenage girl looking sadThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued updated guidelines that call for a yearly depression screening for all adolescents.

New Guidelines

The AAP recommends depression screening for all children between the ages of 12 and 21.

The guidelines according to the AAP are intended to assist primary care “clinicians in the identification and initial management of adolescents with depression in an era of great clinical need and shortage of mental health specialists.”

In the first update to guidelines in 10 years, pediatricians are encouraged to talk to their young patients alone.

Most pediatricians use a self-reported questionnaire for teens to fill out, including information on whether or how often they are feeling down, depressed or hopeless, and whether they have little interest or pleasure in doing things. Sleep patterns are also examined.   

Currently, about 50 percent of adolescents with depression are diagnosed before reaching adulthood and as many as two in three depressed teens don’t get care, according to the AAP.

Signs and Symptoms

Childhood depression is different from normal “blues” and everyday emotions that occur as a child develops. Children with depression may display these symptoms:

  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in grades, getting in trouble at school or refusing to go to school
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Frequent sadness or crying
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection 
  • Loss of energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Physical complaints (such as stomachaches and headaches) that don’t respond to treatment
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities

When symptoms last for a short period of time, it may be a passing case of “the blues.” But if they last for more than two weeks and interfere with regular daily activities, your child may have a depressive disorder.

Depression in children can be caused by any combination of factors that relate to physical health, life events, family history, environment, genetic vulnerability, and biochemical disturbance.

As many as two to three percent of children ages six to 12 and six to eight percent of teens may have serious depression.  

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March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month

March 8th, 2018

National Colon Cancer Awareness Month BannerNearly 90 percent of colon cancer is treatable and survivable if diagnosed in its early stages.  As March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, take the time to learn about this disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), which is the final part of your digestive track. Most cases of colon cancer begin as small noncancerous clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time, some of these polyps become colon cancers.

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer are:

  • A change in bowel habits
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t completely empty
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain: Be aware of discomfort that does not go away or cramping that gets worse.
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness or fatigue: You might feel tired all the time and have pale skin as a result. If your energy level drops or you begin to lose weight for no reason, take note of when these changes occur and contact your doctor.

Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for colon cancer are:

  • Alcohol: Heavy use of alcohol increases your risk of colon cancer.
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps: If you’ve already had colon cancer or adenomatous polyps, you have a greater risk of colon cancer in the future.
  • A sedentary lifestyle: If you’re inactive, you’re more likely to develop colon cancer.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes and insulin resistance have an increased risk of colon cancer. 
  • Family history of colon cancer: You are likely to develop colon cancer if you have a parent, sibling or child with the disease.
  • Inflammatory intestinal condition: Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can increase your risk of colon cancer.  
  • Low-fiber, high-fat diet: Colon cancer and rectal cancer may be associated with a diet low in fiber and high in fat and calories.
  • Obesity: People who are obese have an increased risk of colon cancer.
  • Older age: The majority of the people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50.

Prevention is key, so make sure to keep up a healthy lifestyle and schedule your routine colonoscopy!

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to spread the word on National Colon Cancer Awareness Month! You can help by sending this blog post on to friends and colleagues. A little bit of effort can go a long way. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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New Blood and Urine Tests Could Help Diagnose Autism

February 28th, 2018

Blood testBritish researchers believe they have developed the first blood and urine tests that can confirm autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children.

New Study

The study published in the journal, “Molecular Autism,” looked at damaged proteins in the brain. Researchers recruited children between the ages of five and 12. Thirty-eight children, 29 boys and nine girls, were diagnosed as having ASD and a control group of 31 children, 23 boys and eight girls—did not have the diagnosis.

Researchers found chemical differences between the two groups. Children with ASD had higher levels of the oxidation marker dityrosine and sugar-modified compounds called “advanced glycation endproducts” in the protein.

Researchers plan to repeat the study with other groups of children, including assessing if the test can identify ASD in children younger than five years old.

Experts caution that the tests are far from becoming available clinically and that more research needs to be done.    

Signs and Symptoms of ASD

Autism spectrum disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing a problem in social interactions and communication.

The term “spectrum” in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity. Often, children show symptoms of autism within the first year. Each child with ASD is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior and level of severity—from low functioning to high functioning.

A child or adult with ASD may have problems with social interaction and communication skills, including:

  • Can’t start a conversation or keep one going or only starts one to make a request
  • Doesn’t appear to understand simple questions or directions
  • Doesn’t express emotions or feelings  and appears unaware of others feelings
  • Doesn’t speak or has delayed speech, or loses previous ability to say words or sentences
  • Fails to respond to his or her name or appears not to hear you at times
  • Has difficulty recognizing nonverbal cues, such as interpreting other people’s facial expressions, body posture or tone of voice
  • Has poor eye contact and lacks facial expression
  • Inappropriately approaches a social interaction by being passive, aggressive or disruptive 
  • Repeats words or phrases verbatim, but doesn’t understand how to use them
  • Resists cuddling and holding, and seems to prefer playing alone, retreating into his or her own world
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone of rhythm and may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech

A child or adult with ASD may have limited, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities, including:

  • Develops specific routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change
  • Doesn’t engage in imitative or make-believe play
  • Fixates on an object or activity with abnormal intensity or focus
  • Has problems with coordination or has odd movement patterns, such as clumsiness or walking on toes, and has odd, stiff, or exaggerated body language
  • Is fascinated by the details of an object, but doesn’t understand the overall purpose or function of the object
  • Is unusually sensitive to light, sound or touch, yet may be indifferent to pain or temperature     
  • Performs activities that could cause self-harm, such as biting or head-banging
  • Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand flapping

In the United States, more than 3.5 million people live with ASD, according to the Autism Society.

What IAA has to Say

The number of children with ASD is rising. It is not clear whether this is due to better detection and reporting or a real increase in the number of cases, or both. Regardless, Insurance Administrator of America wants people to better understand this disorder. Just think of IAA as your third party health information connection, here to keep you in the know about the world of healthcare.

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New Study Finds Increase in Kidney Stones

February 21st, 2018

Kidney stones are on the rise, a new study suggests.Kidney with a thermomater in mouth

New Study

Kidney stones may be increasing among both men and women in the United States. A study published on Monday, February 12, in the journal “Mayo Clinic Proceedings,” looked at the prevalence of kidney stones over a period of almost three decades—from 1984 to 2012.

Kidney stones increased more than fourfold among women and more than twofold among men, the study found.

Young women ages 18 to 39 had the highest increase in cases, jumping from 62 to 252 cases from 1984 to 2012.

What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salt that form inside of your kidneys. Stones often form when urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together.

 Kidney stones often have no definite single cause, although several factors may increase your risk:

  • Being obese
  • Certain diets: Eating a diet that’s high in protein, sodium and sugar may increase your risk of certain types of kidney stones.
  • Dehydration: Not drinking enough water everyday can increase your risk of kidney stones.
  • Digestive diseases and surgery: Gastric bypass surgery and inflammatory bowel disease can cause changes in the digestive process that affect your absorption of calcium and water, increasing the levels of stone forming substances in your urine.
  • Family or personal history: If someone in your family has kidney stones, you’re more likely to develop stones too. Also, if you’ve already had one or more kidney stones, you’re at an increased risk of developing another.
  • Other medical conditions: Diseases and conditions that may increase your risk of kidney stones include renal tubular acidosis, cystinuria, hyperparathyroidism, certain medications and some urinary tract infections.

Common types of kidney stones are:

  1. Calcium oxalate: The most common type of kidney stone, which is created when calcium combines with oxalate in the urine. Inadequate calcium and fluid intake as well as other conditions, may contribute to their formation.
  2. Uric acid: This is another type of common kidney stone. Foods such as organ meats and shellfish have high concentrations of a natural chemical compound known as purines. High purine intake leads to a higher production of monosodium urate, which under the right conditions may form kidney stones.
  3. Struvite: These stones are less common and are caused by infections in the upper urinary tract.
  4. Cystine: These stones are rare and tend to run in families.  

It is estimated that one in 10 people will have a kidney stone at some time in their lives.

Signs and Symptoms

A kidney stone may not cause any symptoms until it moves around within your kidney. At that point, you may experience these signs and symptoms:

  • Cloudy or foul smelling urine
  • Fever and chills if an infection is present
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain on urination
  • Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • Pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin
  • Persistent need to urinate
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs
  • Urinating small amounts

Pain caused by a kidney stone may change, for instance, shifting to a different location or increasing in intensity-as the stone moves through the urinary tract.

Stones usually cause no permanent damage if they are recognized in a timely fashion

What IAA has to Say

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For the First Time in History, Gerber Spokesbaby has Down Syndrome

February 14th, 2018

Gerber baby logoEighteen month old Lucas Warren made history on February 7, 2018. He is the first child with Down syndrome to become Gerber’s “spokesbaby of the year” in its 91 year history.

Gerber picked Warren from more than 140,000 entries to its photo search contest. This means that Warren’s parents will get a $50,000 prize and he will appear on Gerber’s social media channels and will be featured in Gerber ads throughout the year.

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a set of physical and mental traits caused by a gene problem that happens before birth. It is caused by a problem with a baby’s chromosomes. Normally a person has 46 chromosomes, but most people with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes. This is due to abnormal cell division resulting in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21.  

These genetic variations can cause Down syndrome:

  1. Trisomy 21: About 95 percent of the time, Down syndrome is caused by Trisomy 21—the person has three copies of chromosome 21, instead of the usual two.

  2. Mosaic Down syndrome: A person has only some cells with an extra copy of chromosome 21.

  3. Translocation Down syndrome: This can occur when a portion of chromosome 21 becomes attached (translocated) onto another chromosome. These children have the usual two copies of chromosome 21, but they also have additional genetic material from chromosome 21 attached to another chromosome.

Down syndrome is the most common genetic chromosomal disorder and cause of learning disabilities in children.

Signs and Symptoms

Children and adults with Down syndrome have distinct features. Some of the more common features include:

  • Broad, short hands with a single crease in the palm
  • Excessive flexibility
  • Flattened face
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Protruding tongue
  • Relatively short fingers and small hands and feet
  • Short height
  • Short neck
  • Small head
  • Tiny white spots on the colored part of the eye
  • Unusually shaped or small ears
  • Upward slanting eyelids

Most children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate cognitive impairment. Language is delayed and both short and long-term memory is affected.

What IAA has to Say

The new Gerber spokesbaby has shown that people with special needs can do anything! Insurance Administrator of America hopes that that message can be spread. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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