Study Supports Rabies Immunoglobulin for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis in Kids

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – In children with confirmed or suspected rabies, human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) appears to be an effective part of the post-exposure prophylactic (PEP) treatment, researchers say.

“We know the incidence of kids being exposed to animals that may transmit rabies is high,” Dr. Novinyo Amega of Kedrion Biopharma, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, told Reuters Health by email. “However, little data exist that can help clinicians better understand the safety profiles of the various HRIG products currently available.”

Dr. Amega and colleagues conducted a phase-4 prospective, single-arm clinical trial of KEDRAB, an HRIG distributed by Kedrion Biopharma and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017, in 30 patients under 17.

All participants had confirmed or suspected rabies exposure in which PEP was indicated. This included standard-of-care wound washing, passive immunization with HRIG, and induction of active immunity through initiation of the rabies vaccine series. No placebo group was used, as this would have been ethically unacceptable due to the high fatality rate of rabies, the researchers say.

Participants received 20 IU/kg of HRIG150 (150 IU/mL) infiltrated into the wound site or sites. Any remainder was injected intramuscularly, concomitantly with the first of a four-dose series of rabies vaccine. Rabies virus neutralizing antibody (RVNA) titers and tolerability were assessed on day 14 following administration of the last vaccine dose.

There were no serious adverse events, rabies infections, or deaths, the researchers report in Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics. Twelve participants experienced a total of 13 adverse events deemed related to the study treatment, but all were mild.

By day 14, RVNA levels had reached at least 0.5 IU/mL in all but two of the participants. However, say the investigators, testing was “not repeated subsequently; thus, it remains possible that the two subjects that did not attain the cutoff by day 14 seroconverted by day 30.”

The study results have been submitted to the FDA for review, Dr. Amega said, adding, “we are pleased to see that top-line results of this pediatric study support KEDRAB’s safety profile. Importantly, we believe that meeting the primary objective of this study could further differentiate KEDRAB from other currently available HRIGs in the U.S.”

Kamada Ltd, which manufactures KEDRAB, and Kedrion Biopharma funded the study. Most of the authors are employees of these companies.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3u3cvhH Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, online February 9, 2021.

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Surprise! Celebrities Who Secretly Welcomed Children

Jessica Chastain and Rashida Jones recently welcomed children under the radar, joining a long list of celebrities with “secret” babies. Scroll down to learn about their covert additions — and to get the skinny about other stars whose pregnancies went undetected.

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Oxford Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Study in Children

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Oxford University is starting a COVID-19 vaccine study with children and young adults between ages 6 and 17.

At Oxford and three partner sites in London, Southampton, and Bristol, the phase 2 clinical trial will test whether kids and teens have a good immune response to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Previous trials have shown that the shot is safe in children.

“While most children are relatively unaffected by coronavirus and are unlikely to become unwell with the infection, it is important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people as some children may benefit from vaccination,” Andrew Pollard, PhD, the chief investigator for the trial and a professor of pediatric infection and immunity at Oxford, said in a statement.

The new trial will enroll 300 volunteers, with up to 240 receiving the vaccine. The control group will receive a meningitis vaccine, which is safe in children and produces similar side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine, such as a sore arm.

COVID-19 vaccine trials have included children over age 12, so this marks the youngest group to be tested so far. Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen have announced plans to start trials in younger children this spring, according to The Washington Post. Widespread vaccination in children likely won’t occur until 2022, the newspaper reported.

The trial launched on Friday, and the first vaccinations are expected by the end of the month. Parents can visit Oxford’s COVID-19 Vaccine Trial website to sign their children up for the study.

“This study will play an important role in helping to protect children in the future,” Grace Li, a pediatric clinical research fellow for the Oxford Vaccine Group, said in the statement.

“We’ve already seen that the vaccine is safe and effective in adults, and our understanding of how children are affected by the coronavirus continues to evolve,” she said.

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Hope for children with bow hunter syndrome

children

Fusing the neck’s top two vertebrae can prevent repeat strokes in children with bow hunter syndrome, a rare condition that affects a handful of U.S. pediatric patients each year, UT Southwestern researchers suggest in a recent study. The finding, published online in Child’s Nervous System, offers a new way to treat these children and protect them from potentially lifelong neurological consequences.

Bow hunter syndrome—so named because of the head’s position when a person is shooting an arrow—is a condition affecting children and adults in which turning the head compresses blood vessels supplying the back of the brain from the vertebral artery. In adults, this condition is usually caused by a bone spur on the neck and presents with temporary symptoms of fainting, dizziness, headache, or tinnitus that resolve when the head turns back to a neutral position.

But for children with bow hunter syndrome, the cause is often unclear, and they have a far different and more serious presentation, explains study leader Bruno P. Braga, M.D., assistant professor of neurological surgery and pediatrics at UTSW and an attending physician at Children’s Health. This condition is only discovered when these young patients suffer a tear in the vertebral artery, which spills out blood clots that subsequently cause a stroke. Even after this tear heals, it leaves a weak spot that is vulnerable to re-tearing and potentially causing additional strokes.

“Strokes in children are exceedingly rare, and those caused by bow hunter syndrome are even rarer,” says Braga, also a member of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute. “Because this condition is so uncommon, it is often underdiagnosed. In addition, the best way to treat it and prevent subsequent strokes has been unknown.”

In the study, Braga and his colleagues outline a new method that they developed at UTSW and Children’s Health that they used to prevent repeat strokes in 11 children with bow hunter syndrome. These patients, ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years, were all diagnosed with a stroke after showing a combination of neurological symptoms, such as vomiting, headache, impaired coordination, and dizziness.

After tracing the cause of their strokes to a tear in the vertebral artery at the top of the neck, doctors prescribed the standard treatment: placing these patients in a neck brace and giving them anti-clotting drugs, which help the artery to heal. Most children with this type of stroke are not investigated further and its cause is never discovered; consequently, many can have recurrent strokes. To see if the tear was caused by bow hunter syndrome, Braga and his colleagues tested the children after three months using a dynamic angiogram, a special type of X-ray that provides a map of the blood’s circulation during head rotation. When these patients’ heads turned gently from side to side, the researchers saw compression in one or both of their vertebral arteries at the site of the previous tear—a hallmark of bow hunter syndrome. Most importantly, their study identified one specific segment and configuration of the vertebral artery that is highly suggestive of the disease.

To alleviate this compression and help prevent a subsequent stroke, Braga and his colleagues fused the top two vertebrae using surgical screws. Although spinal fusion is often performed for other conditions in children, such as scoliosis, it had rarely been used for bow hunter syndrome, Braga says.

Possible risks and complications from the procedure include injury to the vertebral artery or spinal cord, leading to stroke or spinal cord injury, infection, abnormal growth of the spine, inability to fully rotate the neck, or need for revision surgery.

The fusions were successful in each of the children, with minimal blood loss and just one post-surgical complication—a superficial wound infection treated with antibiotics. None of the children had blood vessel or neurological injuries. Although each child was on anti-clotting therapy after their stroke and leading up to surgery, they all discontinued this therapy just before surgery and never used it again. Interestingly, the researchers note, patients younger than 10 had no apparent restrictions in head rotation after surgery.

Over up to five years of follow-up, none of these patients has had a repeat stroke, Braga says—suggesting that spinal fusion could offer a permanent solution to protect young patients with bow hunter syndrome from future strokes.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder & Allergies

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term for developmental conditions that affect communication, behaviour and social interaction. Typically, symptoms start to be seen in young children (before 3 years) and persist throughout life. Affected individuals tend to have an altered perception of the world and have key social differences that cause issues with understanding and relating to other people. As ASD is a spectrum, the severity of symptoms or traits can vary tremendously, with some having intellectual disabilities, whereas others are high functioning and may have above normal intelligence (known as Asperger’s).

The exact causes of ASD are still poorly understood, though an atypical brain development is thought to be the cause of many of the symptoms. There is evidence that ASD can run in families and may have a genetic basis in some cases. Other causes are thought to be attributed to the mother’s health during pregnancy e.g. infection, toxic metal poisoning, teratogen/alcohol exposure and usage of SSRIs during pregnancy.  

What are Allergies?

An allergy is an adverse reaction of the body’s immune system to certain substances (allergens), which can be certain types of food (see Food Allergies Explained), dust, latex, mould, pollen and animal dander. Allergies are mediated by immunoglobulins in the body, notably IgE, though other immunoglobulins can also be involved.  

Allergies are common, affecting around a quarter of people in the UK at some point in their lives. Children tend to suffer from more allergies, though they can grow out of them as they age. However, other allergies can be acquired later in life to things that were not previously a cause of allergy.

Image Credit: Jim Vallee / Shutterstock

The key symptoms of an allergic reaction (the body’s response to an allergen) can include the development of a rash, sneezing, runny or blocked nose, wheezing and exacerbation of asthma or eczema. These are usually mild and disappear once the allergen is removed, however, in extreme cases, a more severe reaction known as an anaphylactic shock can occur, which is a medical emergency if not treated urgently.

Allergies can usually be managed by the usage of over the counter medications such as sprays, drops, creams and inhalers. Anti-histamines can minimize the severity of symptoms.

It is important to note the differences between an allergy, sensitivity and intolerances. A sensitivity is an enhanced exaggerative effect of an ordinary substance such as coffee, which can lead to palpitations, for example. An intolerance is where large amounts of a substance, such as milk (lactose intolerance), can lead to diarrhoea or vomiting, but not activate the immune system.

Allergies in People with ASD

Several studies have found a abnormal immune function in individuals with ASD. This is manifested with an increased frequency of recurrent infections and autoimmunity in children with ASD. This is supported by large cohort studies, which have found increased levels of IgE and IgG in children with ASD. Although allergies are common in children, the immune dysfunction seen in some children with ASD may predispose affected children to higher rates of allergies compared to non-ASD children.

A recent study by Guifeng and colleagues (published in JAMA Network in 2018); found a significant positive correlation between allergies and ASD in children. Children with ASD were twice as likely to have a food allergy as children without ASD. This study is purely observational, and causality cannot be determined, though the strong association between ASD and allergy in 200,000 children does provide strong evidence to suggest the two are strongly related.  

As to whether ASD causes allergy (specifically food allergy), or whether allergies cause ASD, or whether both conditions are related to some third factor, is debatable. Some studies have shown that gastrointestinal complaints are higher amongst children with ASD compared to those without. It is therefore speculated that food allergy development may be attributed to gut microbiome alterations and immune activation as a result, which impairs brain development and function through the gut-brain axis (enteric nervous system).

In summary, the rates of allergies; especially food allergies, are much higher in children and individuals with ASD compared to those who do not have ASD. Some hypothesize that an impaired immune system, coupled with alterations in the gut, may affect brain development as well as allergy development. More research is needed to better describe the association between allergies and ASD.

Sources:

  1. NHS.uk, 2019. What is autism? https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/what-is-autism/
  2. NHS.uk, 2019. Allergies. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergies/
  3. Guifeng et al, 2018. Association of Food Allergy and Other Allergic Conditions With Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children. JAMA Netw Open. 1(2):e180279. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6324407/

Further Reading

  • All Allergy Content
  • What are Allergies?
  • Different Types of Allergies
  • Old Friends Hypothesis
  • What is the Microbial Diversity Hypothesis?
More…

Last Updated: Jul 30, 2019

Written by

Osman Shabir

Osman is a Neuroscience PhD Research Student at the University of Sheffield studying the impact of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease on neurovascular coupling using pre-clinical models and neuroimaging techniques.

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Identifying Early Childhood Brain Cancer

Second, to leukemia, a pediatric brain tumor is the most common form of malignancy in children.

Studies have identified that certain normal brain cells, which appear much earlier than they are expected in fetal development, undergo neoplastic transformation to develop malignant brain tumors later in life.  

Image Credit: MASTER VIDEO/Shutterstock.com

What is a childhood brain tumor?

Childhood brain cancers are usually classified according to the site of origin, or the age of diagnosis. Based on the site of origin, brain cancers are of two types: supratentorial or infratentorial tumors.

Based on the age of diagnosis, congenital brain tumors (diagnosed within 60 days of life) and infant brain tumors (diagnosed before age of 1 year) are the most commonly classified ones.   

The incidence of childhood brain cancer varies from 1 – 5 per 100,000 children worldwide, with the highest prevalence in the United States. The prognosis of childhood brain cancer is very poor, with an overall survival rate of less than 30%. Such a poor prognosis is mainly associated with the type of malignant lesion, size and location of the tumor, and therapeutic side effects.     

The most common form of childhood brain tumor is medulloblastoma, which occurs before the age of 10 years. Medulloblastomas develop in the cerebellum and are highly heterogeneous.

According to the World Health Organization classification of brain tumors, 4 types of medulloblastomas have been identified: wingless, sonic hedgehog, group 3, and group 4.    

What are the risk factors for childhood brain tumors?

Both genetic and environmental factors are responsible for the development of childhood brain tumors. Having a family history of brain tumors increases the chance of cancer development.

Another vital risk factor is parental age; studies have shown that babies born to mothers who are older than 40 are at higher risk of developing astrocytoma and ependymoma.    

Children with leukemia who receive a high dose of radiation are also at higher risk of developing brain cancer. In addition, there is a correlation between childhood exposure to infections and the risk of brain cancer development.

How does cancer develop?

The transformation of normal cells into cancerous cells occurs due to aberrant cellular signaling, which leads to increased cell growth and migration and reduced cell death. In simple terms, certain cells gain the capacity to escape cellular signaling pathways that control or maintain the balance between cell growth and death.

Genetic mutations are the main reason behind the neoplastic or cancerous transformation. The most frequently mutated genes are those controlling cell proliferation, such as genes that encode growth factors. In addition, genes that trigger cell death pathways (tumor suppressor genes) undergo mutations that make them inactive.

How does childhood brain cancer develop?

Despite being the leading cause of non-accidental death in children, the mechanism of the childhood brain cancer development and progression is still unclear.

In this context, a recent study using mouse models has identified certain normal cells that are believed to undergo the neoplastic transformation process and develop childhood brain cancers. These cells initially appear in the embryonic development stage much earlier than they are expected.

The cerebellum in the brain is the most common location of childhood brain cancer. The investigation of more than 30 types of cells in the mouse cerebellum has led to the identification of certain normal cells that are predisposed to neoplastic transformation.

To get more information about the biological nature of these cells, the study has employed single-cell sequencing technology that allows in-depth analysis of individual cells.

The study findings have revealed that specific cell populations are involved in developing different types of childhood brain cancers. For example, Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma, group 3 medulloblastoma, and group 4 medulloblastoma transcriptionally resemble granule cells, Nestin+ stem cells, and unipolar brush cells of the cerebellum, respectively.

In addition, it has been found that large tumors contain diverse cell populations with diverse differentiations. This indicates the highly complex and heterogeneous nature of childhood brain tumors.  

The series of events responsible for the onset of cancer can start occurring in humans at six weeks in the uterus. This indicates that the process of developing brain tumors can be initiated long before the tumors are diagnosed clinically.

Another very interesting study has revealed that genetic mutations that are responsible for childhood brain cancer development occur in the very early stages of fetal development. The study has identified specific cell populations in the pons and forebrain (brain areas where high-grade brain tumors develop) that undergo growth arrest rather than developing normally. These cells are ultimately transformed into cancerous cells.  

How can the new findings benefit children with brain cancer?
 

The knowledge about the mechanism of brain cancer development can impact medical science in many ways. In addition to better understanding the nature of childhood brain tumors, these findings are useful in differentiating the normal healthy cells from the cell populations that are susceptible to cancerous transformation.

The investigation of the physiological properties of the variety of cells within a single tumor can open up new paths toward the development of new therapeutic interventions.

Sources

  • NCBI. 2019. Cancers, childhood brain tumors. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535415/
  • McGill University Health Centre. 2019. The unanticipated early origins of childhood brain cancer.muhc.ca/…/unanticipated-early-origins-childhood-brain-cancer
  • Vladoiu MC. 2019. Childhood cerebellar tumors mirror conserved fetal transcriptional programs. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1158-7
  • Scitable. 2014. Cell Division and Cancer. www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/cell-division-and-cancer-14046590/
  • McGill University Health Centre. 2019. Cellular origins of pediatric brain tumors identified.muhc.ca/…/cellular-origins-pediatric-brain-tumors-identified

Last Updated: Apr 14, 2020

Written by

Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta

Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta is a science communicator who believes in spreading the power of science in every corner of the world. She has a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree and a Master's of Science (M.Sc.) in biology and human physiology. Following her Master's degree, Sanchari went on to study a Ph.D. in human physiology. She has authored more than 10 original research articles, all of which have been published in world renowned international journals.

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Gene Editing for Muscular Dystrophy

Skip to:

  • Research in gene editing in the muscle cells
  • Types of Muscular Dystrophy that have been researched
  • What is genome editing, and why is it useful to patients with Muscular Dystrophy?
  • CRISPR as a correction technique
  • Concerns in research

Muscular Dystrophies are a group of genetic conditions characterized by muscle weaknesses. They are genetic conditions and have different sub-categories depending on which area of muscle mass is affected. Muscular Dystrophy is caused as a result of the dystrophin gene mutating; as the abnormal genes exist, there is an interference with proteins in the muscle, meaning they do not form in the same way as a healthy muscle mass would.

In the first instance, a single group of muscles is typically found to deteriorate then the condition spreads more widely throughout the muscles in the body. As a result, there is a loss of mobility and premature muscle failure.  

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Research in gene editing in the muscle cells

As the disease is a genetic condition, research can be completed on the genetic system. Mutations in the muscle cells are what cause this abnormal fatality of the muscle. Research is consistently looking into cutting the mutations to restore the cells and prevent a premature fatality. Research is still relatively new and improving.

Types of Muscular Dystrophy that have been researched

There are several forms of Muscular Dystrophy; Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Becker, Myotonic, Facioscapulohumeral, Congenital, and Limb-girdle. Symptoms vary with the type of Muscular Dystrophy. Some Muscular Dystrophies are more common in children and some increase with age. However, all are genetic and inherited conditions.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is the most common and most researched condition with respect to possible gene editing. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy typically has its onset in males around four years old. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy stops the potential for the production of the protein dystrophin. Muscle deterioration occurs, and the muscle cells eventually die. In children, in particular, they lose the ability to walk, and essential muscles stop functioning from a young age.

What is genome editing, and why is it useful to patients with Muscular Dystrophy?

Genome editing is a new technique in molecular biology. The genes are modified in a way in which traits and physical conditions can be corrected. Scientists use technologies that can cut DNA to edit or change DNA. In the case of Muscular Dystrophy, DNA is cut to stop early mutation of cells.

Research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy has used a large mammal model to test genome editing. At present, analysis is being carried out to ultimately find a cure for the condition, as currently there is no cure, leading to loss of muscle function to premature death. In the first instance, gene editing has been used to correct small faults in adult cells. However, the technique is very new in the introduction into research; therefore, it has not been tried and tested on human subjects; instead, mammals with similar genetic structures are researched.

CRISPR as a correction technique

Correction to a mutation in muscle stem cells has used the gene-editing technique called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR). CRISPR creates the possibility for correction of the genetic mutation in the cells, the mutation of the cells that are responsible for the disorder. Correcting the mutation in stem cells means that the regenerated cells from the edited stem cells will no longer carry the mutation.

molekuul_be | Shutterstock

MDX mice are regularly studied in modeling Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy disease, using the CRISPR technique in gene editing, as they have similar muscle developments as humans. The mice exhibit compulsive deterioration and regeneration of myofibers, which is similar to that of Muscular Dystrophy. MDX mice have the disease phenotype but it is milder compared to humans. CRISPR technique is used before the mice can be tested in the clinic in order to be as close to human cell developments in patients with Muscular Dystrophy.

Similarly, a golden retriever dog has been studied in relation to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy as they have the nearest pathological counterpart of the disease. Advances in gene editing and replacement may help bring about successful treatments for human genetic disorders.

Concerns in research

Thus far, research on gene editing in Muscular Dystrophy has been limited. There is also a concern that, because muscle cells can wear out over time, relapses may be possible even after successful gene editing.

Thus far, the MDX mouse model findings have not been translated into human studies. Mouse symptoms are not the same as that of humans as they do not have the same gene mutations as they are genetically modified for scientific purposes. In addition, there is a lack of severe phenotypes in the MDX genotype; therefore, it is difficult to understand the side effects and symptoms of gene-editing when it comes to a human subject.

The use of the mouse model in some instances is not useful, as the mouse model differs in many ways compared with the human disease.

Research can still be deemed useful as the model can be utilized to ensure results can be taken. Focusing on the smaller aspects of the study and analysing the movements of the mice instead of the overall genetic results it can change the perspective of genome editing in small mammals to then be used in human studies.

References:

  • https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/policy-issues/what-is-Genome-Editing
  • Nance, M., et al (2019). AAV9 Edits Muscle Stem Cells in Normal and Dystrophic Adult Mice. Molecular Therapy, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31327755
  • https://www.musculardystrophyuk.org/your-stories/understanding-genome-editing/
  • Yucel, N., et al., 2018. Humanizing the mdx mouse model of DMD: the long and the short of it. NPJ Regenerative medicine. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41536-018-0045-4

Further Reading

  • All Genetic Engineering Content
  • Gene Editing Techniques: ZFNs, TALENs or CRISPR?
  • GFP-tagging in Fluorescence Microscopy
  • Gene Knockin
  • Transcription Activator-like Effector Nucleases (TALENs)
More…

Last Updated: Feb 13, 2020

Written by

Francesca Burton, B.Sc.

Francesca majored in Psycholinguistics, focusing on the science behind language learning and production. She holds a Bachelor's of Science (B.Sc.) in Linguistics and the English language from Bangor University, UK. She enjoys writing about the recovery and development of language, as well as other areas of medicine.

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Parents must be aware of these evolving education trends

Not only teachers, but even parents need to keep a close eye on the upcoming trends in the educational front to prepare their kids for any eventuality

By Amit Mishra

The COVID-19 crisis has turned our world upside down affecting almost every sector. The year gone by has been very challenging for one and all but students in particular have been more impacted. Given the current scenario, it’s tough to know exactly what the upcoming school year would look like. The best way is to keep up to date on current trends in the educational sphere so that you can get back to school more informed, irrespective of whether you’re in a classroom or teaching at a distance.

In a new era of innovation, education is not limited to the curriculum. Parents want their children to be more self-dependent, learn entrepreneurial and life skills so as to be ready to cope with challenges which life throws at them. Moving from a job seeker mindset to an entrepreneurial mindset, confident enough to build their own career choices. Technology has created a major impact on the learning and teaching methodologies and many ideas have emerged on how education will evolve in this new ‘Stay at Home’ era. Not only teachers but even parents need to keep a close eye on the upcoming trends in the educational front to prepare their kids for any eventuality. Educational institutions will also need to embrace new and innovative trends in 2021 that will positively impact students, teachers, and parents alike.

Some evolving trends in education, such as shifting from STEM to STEAM, cultivation of empathy, industry-based learning, customised learning plan, integrated learning techniques, entrepreneurial learning and life skill development.

Shifting from STEM to STEAM

While a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)-based curriculum that prepares students to enter the workforce with practical, high-demand skills is more familiar with students and parents alike. However, adding the arts alongside these subjects (thus creating STEAM: STEM plus arts) can significantly improve the academic performance of your students.

For example, an arts assignment when combined with math and science lessons can help low-achieving students understand STEM subjects better. In addition, it improves creativity—a useful skill for any academic subject. STEAM curriculum is also shown to provide a well-rounded and practical education than STEM alone.

Cultivating empathy

A positive character encompasses compassion for others, good communication skills, empathy, and a good relationship with fellow classmates.

Empathy is extremely crucial to build up a trusted and friendly relationship among students which will help them in future relationships as adults. The teachers must encourage interaction among students and include more group activities on a regular basis.

The schools which focus on cultivation of empathy have higher achieving students as their outcome.

Industry-based learning

While we all agree that work will never be the same, even if we do not yet know all the ways in which it will be different. However, parents and teachers must strive to prepare kids to face any problems that may come their way.

Gone are the days when students sat passively at desks while professors lectured endlessly, expecting the class to soak up all the knowledge.

A project-based learning approach allows students to collaborate, think critically and work in a group to develop innovative projects and come up with solutions to complex problems. All of these skills are must haves for any career choices to make in future and even prepares them for their journey to entrepreneurship right through college if they want to pursue it.

Companies today are offering industry-relevant projects to students so that they can adapt to a new way of learning while learning the skills expected by the corporate world.

Integrated learning approach

Integrated learning approach offers a mix of classroom learning with some amount of direct teacher intervention and partially through self-directed activities. It might be perfect if students are learning from both school and home next year.
As it is still difficult to say how and when students will get back to schools, many experts in the field believe that a blended learning approach will surely see a significant rise this academic year.

Customised Learning

Personalized learning has been on the rise for the past few years, more so to support individual student progress because each child can move at their right pace. In addition, adaptive software programs offer teachers the flexibility to use the same program for all students in their classroom—including those with learning disabilities.

The bottomline

As guardians of their future, let’s prepare our kids to learn how to tide off this crisis with an entrepreneurial mind-set by imparting the right mix of education and technology at hand while giving them the opportunity to chase their dreams with immense confidence.

Modelling entrepreneurial skills early in children

Entrepreneurship skills turn children into leaders, therefore, it is necessary to impart these skills early in childhood. A future thought leader in whatever sector, role or career choice they choose, your ward will stand out from the crowd. Today, with the uncertainty in regular jobs, the upcoming gig economy and constant upgradation of technology, these skills will help sail through the tough times.

Parents play a critical role in passing on essential skills and knowledge to children and regular mini lessons on these skills can encourage their creativity and observation skills. Other routine activities to impart life skills include taking them along to banks and stores, making a purchase and demonstrating negotiating skills. Children’s minds are very receptive, hence parents can impart some skills or virtues through their daily activities. Parents can play a very important role in developing self-esteem, resilience, empathy, industriousness, problem-solving attitude, creativity, and optimism. With these virtues children can make themselves impactful thought leaders of the future.

(The writer is Co-Founder, Kidzpreneur)

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Children with cerebral palsy in rural Uganda have 25 times higher risk of premature death

Children with cerebral palsy in rural Uganda have 25 times higher risk of premature death

A new study by researchers from Karolinska Institutet and Makerere University reveals that children with cerebral palsy in rural Uganda have 25 times higher risk of premature death. The main causes of death were malaria and anemia. The study is to this date the largest study conducted on cerebral palsy in Africa and was published in PLoS One.

The children with severe malnutrition and severe motor impairments were the most likely to die. The study reveals that interventions to prevent malaria infections such as the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, coupled with caregiver training and support, including best feeding practices and simple measures to prevent other infections, could potentially reduce mortality in children with Cerebral palsy in this region.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a developmental disorder and the most common cause of childhood physical disability globally. CP is severalfold more prevalent in low-income and middle-income countries like Uganda compared to e.g., Europe, as demonstrated in the findings of an earlier study conducted in 2015.

However, the researchers noted a lower prevalence in the older age group (8-17 years) than younger age group (2-7 years). To get a better understanding this follow-up study was carried out at the Iganga-Mayuge Health and Demographic Surveillance Site in Eastern Uganda. Earlier in 2015, the researchers screened 31,756 children and identified 97 who were diagnosed as having CP. The children with CP were followed up in 2019 and compared with an age-matched sample of the Demographic Surveillance Site general non-CP population.

“We found that the death rate was 25 times higher in children with CP, compared to the general non-CP population sample. In the CP group, females, and older children (10-18 years) had the highest relative risks of death in relation to the non-CP general population. Furthermore, in children with CP, there was an almost seven times risk of death in those with severe motor impairments compared to those with milder ones.”, says Dr. Angelina Kakooza-Mwesige of Makerere University.

The causes of death in the children with CP, were from common conditions like anemia, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea with a background of malnutrition. In fact, the children with severe malnutrition had a more than three times higher risk of death than those without severe malnutrition. This means that children with CP, and likely other developmental disabilities, have been left out of the powerful interventions that have reduced child mortality from the above-mentioned conditions in the recent decades.

“These results show that Universal Health Coverage is just a slogan, and health care and schooling are not reaching these children,” says Angelina Kakooza-Mwesige.

“We have in our previous studies shown that children with cerebral palsy in Uganda lack access to health care and schooling, and in this study we can see the results of this neglect on these children. Most families have not received support on how to care for their disabled children, and they do not have the money to seek professional care on their own. There is an urgent need for interventions to support their access to health care and education,” says Carin Andrews researcher at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Karolinska Institutet.

Targeted interventions to reduce mortality in the CP child population are needed, such as the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets to prevent malaria infections, provision of easy to use, locally available nutritious foods coupled with caregiver information and support. There is a need to reinforce and review the existing laws and policies for all children’s right to health care and schooling, which should include children with disabilities.

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Preemie-born parents linked to children with autism

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In a study of medical registry records of nearly 400,000 parent-child pairs from Denmark, a Yale School of Public Health study found that parents who were themselves born very prematurely were nearly twice as likely to have children with autism spectrum disorder.

The study, recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, provides solid evidence that autism spectrum disorder risk factors can span multiple generations—a new hypothesis that previously lacked much empirical evidence in humans. According to senior author Zeyan Liew, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, these findings can help spark further research into the underlying mechanisms of autism risk transmission in families.

“It’s already well established that preterm birth and low birth weight of the child are risk factors for autism,” he said. “But this is the first study to show that parental preterm birth and low birth weight might carry some risk for their future offspring as well.”

For their research, Liew and his team evaluated data collected from families across Denmark from 1978 to 2017 as part of its central medical records database. Researchers linked birth records of the parents to the medical records in their offspring to investigate whether there is a link between neonatal characteristics of the parents and autism spectrum disorder risk in their children. Their results suggest that women and men who were born at less than 37 weeks or low birth weight were more likely to have children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder than those without adverse birth characteristics. The study authors reported that some other possible multigenerational risk factors they analyzed, such as grandparents’ education, place of residence, and their age at the time of pregnancy, only contributed minimally to the observed associations.

It remains unclear how exactly autism spectrum disorder risks travel across generations, but Liew said he has some hypotheses. For one, there has been growing evidence showing that changes in gene activity in response to environmental stimuli could be inherited across generations without changing the underlying DNA sequences—a phenomenon known as epigenetic inheritance. “These adverse characteristics at birth may act as a proxy measure of possible heritable epigenetic modifications as a result of harmful prenatal exposures affecting early life growth, which could help explain the multigenerational transmission of disease risk we observed,” Liew said.

Parents who were born with unfavorable characteristics may also be more likely to encounter challenges in the physical, mental, reproductive, or social domains of health in childhood and adulthood. Liew and his group evaluated these factors and found that educational achievement and mental health status of the parents before pregnancy played a small mediating role in the observed associations.

Genetics and other environmental or household factors shared across generations could play a part as well, but the researchers did not have that information for their sample in this study.

Liew and his team plan to do more research in this area to see if the same conclusions hold in other parts of the world and in other populations, with additional considerations of potential methodological challenges of conducting multigenerational studies like this.

“From previous studies, a lot of the findings that we’ve seen in Denmark hold up in other countries as well,” he said. “We think that this is not specific to Denmark, but we need more evidence from other places.”

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