2019-20 TOW #8: Promoting First Relationships in Pediatric Primary Care (PFR-PPC)

We’ve been fortunate to offer training to residents in a relationship-based parenting approach called Promoting First Relationships (PFR). PFR was developed at UW and has been shown to improve caregiver responsiveness and child outcomes, especially for children in foster care. Huge thanks to the team who helped adapt PFR for our residency training.

Materials for this week:

Take-home points:

  1. Why are early relationships so important to children’s development? Research in neurodevelopment, toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences, early child and brain development, and infant mental health continues to demonstrate the critical nature of the early caregiver-child relationships as a driver of physical, social, and emotional wellbeing.
  2. What are the fundamental infant and early childhood mental health concepts that inform the PFR approach? 1) Importance of early attachment and parental attunement and reciprocity, 2) responsive caregiving including noticing and understanding child cues and how they help children regulate, 3) need for caregivers to provide co-regulation for children’s big emotions, especially those emerging at 9-24 months of life, 4) reframing challenging behavior as stemming from unmet physical, social or emotional needs
  3. How can we as pediatricians help with developing children’s primary caregiver relationships? We are uniquely positioned to influence early relationships from our knowledge of child development, our trusted relationship with families, and the frequency of wellness visits during early childhood. Pediatric care providers are often the only service provider that sees new families in the first year of life. We can observe attachment and relationships in the office and provide positive feedback to parents about how they are helping their children through attunement, response, understanding, and co-regulation.
  4. What are the PFR strategies and why are they used? PFR strategies include Joining, Positive Feedback, Positive Instructive Feedback, and Supportive Reflective Capacity. These strategies are designed to help medical providers increase parent or caregiver’s feelings of competence, confidence and joy, so they are better able to support their child’s social emotional development. One of the reasons I really appreciate this program is the focus on developing parents’ strengths and joy in their parenting. I have noticed I enjoy visits more when I am attuned to the relationships and “catching them doing well” in modeling effective approaches with their children.

2019-20 TOW #7: Immunizations

A huge thanks to our amazing immunization experts Drs. Doug Opel and Annika Hofstetter for developing materials for next weeks’ TOW on immunizations. This is a timely topic given the measles outbreaks and back-to-school visits, and the relatively lower immunization rates for WA state compared to national rates. Hopefully, thanks to our colleagues here, we will continue to make inroads to protect our children.

Teaching materials for immunizations:

Take-home points:

  1. Why are issues around immunizations so important to know well as pediatricians? Immunizations are arguably the biggest success story of public health in the 20th century and the most important component of the recommended well child visit schedule. While vaccine safety has been extensively studied, no vaccine is 100% safe or 100% effective. This has contributed to the controversies around vaccines. Yet, we know vaccines are overwhelmingly effective to decrease morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases.
  2. How many parents are vaccine hesitant? While only about 1% of parents are anti-vaccine (choosing no vaccines), about 1/3 are considered vaccine hesitant, and the vast majority (about 2/3) are vaccine accepters. Vaccine-hesitant parents are the ones where we may have the most influence to change their approach/decision.
  3. How is it best to bring up the topic of vaccines in clinic? As Doug Opel and team identified in a study in Pediatrics (see above), choosing a “presumptive stance” (i.e., “today your child is due for these vaccines”) rather than a more collaborative approach (e.g. “what vaccines did you want to give today?”) was associated with more likelihood of vaccines being accepted by parents. It’s always important to use good general communication skills including being open to questions, honest, respectful of parents, and not coming across as offended or defensive. The CHOP vaccine app has helpful info for parents as well.
  4. Why have vaccines developed such a negative reputation? Partly it’s because there are many more of them and that’s been worrisome to some parents. But mostly it’s been related to vaccines, especially MMR, being wrongly associated with causing autism. The study that first suggested this association was published in the Lancet and was eventually retracted as people recognized the poor study design and even falsified data. The lead author had his medical license revoked. Unfortunately, the repercussions of this unethical study were incredibly detrimental, and we are still dealing with them.
  5. What are the most controversial ingredients in vaccines? Those that have specifically raised concerns are thimerosol (a preservative that was taken out of most vaccines despite lack of evidence that it could cause neurological problems), aluminum (an adjuvant that helps vaccines work better – concentrations are less than what a baby ingests in breastmilk by age 6 months), animal-derived gelatin (used as a stabilizer in some vaccines – objectionable to some people in Muslim faith though there have been statements from imams that they can be given) and aborted fetal material (used as cell strains to grow MMR, varicella – of special concern to devout Christians or Catholics – the Vatican has said parents could accept these vaccines).

2019-20 TOW #6: Formula feeding

As a companion topic to last week’s review on breastfeeding, we are taking some time to learn about formula feeding. While breastfeeding is recommended as the optimal nutrition for babies, there are families for whom this is not an option (see commentary below from a pediatrician who was not able to breastfeed her baby); parents rely on us to have expertise on formula feeding as well.

Teaching materials for this week:

Take-home points about formula feeding:

  1. How much formula to provide? after the first few weeks of life, for every 1 kg (or 2 pounds) babies drink ~1 ounce of formula, up to about 7-8 ounces (I usually say closer to 6 ounces is optimal), every 3-4 hours. This amount approximates the baby’s stomach capacity and will meet metabolic needs of an otherwise healthy infant (which is ~100kcal/kg/day in babies <10 kg). Babies should be gaining 25-30g/day through 3 months, then 15-20g/day from 3-6 months (see helpful table in case discussion). Total intake in the day should be no more than 32oz. There is some evidence that using larger bottles (>=6 oz) at 2 months may be associated with feeding too much at one time, and with more rapid weight gain/overweight at 6 months.
  2. Parents often ask about how to choose a formula-what should we say?: Although claiming unique properties, all of the major standard formulas commercially available are essentially similar and contain enough vitamins and minerals to meet babies’ needs. If fully formula-fed, vitamin D should be adequate to meet 400 IU daily. There should never be an indication to use “low-iron” formulations. There is mixed evidence on whether adding long-chain fatty acids DHA and ARA to formulas has benefit for vision and cognition; nonetheless, these are now routinely added to most formulas in the US. Check out info for parents on choosing a formula from the AAP healthychildren website on choosing a formula
  3. What are recommendations for preparing formula? This is important to know and families should follow labels carefully. (I will always remember a baby brought to us at clinic seizing and hypoxic from hyponatremia due to inproperly mixed formula.) For powdered formula, it is typically 1 scoop for every 2 ounces. Fill the water first, then add the powder. In places with safe drinking water, standard tap water can be used without boiling (heavy boiling may increase concentrations of lead, in fact). Be cautious about well water – this should be tested for lead and other heavy metals. There is some concern about mild fluorosis if formula is mixed with fluoride-containing water – in which case you can sometimes mix with bottled water. At room temperature, discard formula not used within 2 hours. Refrigerated formula should be discarded after 24 hours.
  4. When should we consider switching formulas? Most infants tolerate standard formulas and do not require switching. Parents often ask about switching formulas when babies have irritability and colic, which are unlikely to improve because of a formula change. Infants with specific GI symptoms, such as diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool, and excessive gas are more likely to benefit from a formula switch.
  5. When should infants have special formulas? Soy-based formulas can treat some cow-milk formula intolerance, whether from lactose intolerance or cow milk protein allergy. Infants that have an IgE-mediated cow milk allergy may switch to soy-based formula, though up to half of infants allergic to cow’s milk may also not tolerate soy. In these cases, hydrolyzed formulas are required (such as Alimentum, Nutramigen, Pregestamil, and Neocate). These formulas are 3-4 times more expensive and may require prescriptions to be covered by insurance/WIC, though most are available over the counter. (See the helpful table to review these in the article above).