March 2023 Medical Minute
Reach Out and Reach KC's March 2023 Medical Minute with Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC
March is blowing in like a lion, based on the view out my window! In pediatric clinics, fewer children are coming in ill with the dreaded respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Of course, kiddos and adults who got their flu vaccines had much lower risk of severe illness/hospitalization with influenza this season…Yay for vaccine science! Now, more work is needed to encourage families to immunize their children with the effective Covid-19 vaccines – these also greatly reduce risk of severe illness/hospitalization for kids and adults. Definitely contact me with your concerns about immunizing your kids! firstname.lastname@example.org. Many people who have had Covid illness are suffering from a myriad of long-term symptoms, including major changes in the brain! (See Sutherland article in March 2023 Scientific American.*)
Now, on to very exciting research showing the importance of parent-child language interactions and early brain development! The Reach Out and Read model targets concerns that children who are NOT in a language rich environment experience delays in their language development. SO, providers’ targeted message to caregivers is the importance of book sharing every day – as a strategy to provide a language rich environment for our most at-risk children! This study** recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience by Huber and colleagues observed families interacting with their infants from 6 through 24 months. MRIs were done at 2 years to look at white matter development. (White matter is the bundles of axons or connecting fibers that carry electrical signals to the neurons. Other research reminds us that in infants, millions of new connections are made per minute!) The Huber group found that the amount of parent-infant turn-taking during home language interactions correlated with myelination of language related white matter pathways through age 2 years. This is yet another study that confirms the critical importance of reading/talking/singing to one’s baby! Your continued monthly donations allow Reach Out and Read KC to provide a proven tool – that new book - to hundreds of physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants in our network that facilitates our conversations with families regarding the importance of talking with their babies!
*Sutherland S. Long covid looks like neurologic disease, helping doctors to focus treatments. Scientific American. March 2023: 328(3)
**Huber E, Corrigan NM, Yarnykh VL, Ramírez NF, Kuhl PK. Language experience during infancy predicts white matter myelination at age 2 years [published online ahead of print, 2023 Feb 6]. J Neurosci. 2023;JN-RM-1043-22. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1043-22.2023