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Health & wellness

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Young-adult asthmatics get worse care than teens

Parents of teens with asthma can remind them to take medications, fill their prescriptions, and make appointments with pediatricians who probably know the child well. But a few years later, when the young adult has left home for college or to live independently, that oversight is gone — and their care can suffer.

Twenty-nine percent of young adults with asthma received treatment at an emergency room during the previous year, compared with 19 percent of younger teenagers with the condition, according to an analysis of national survey data collected between 1999 and 2009. Losing health insurance coverage is a major — but not the only — factor in this declining care, the study found.

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The research, led by Dr. Kao-Ping Chua of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, suggests that many young people wait for a medical crisis rather than seeking preventive care from primary care doctors they may not know well.

BOTTOM LINE: Adults with asthma in their early 20s may not receive good care for their condition because they are more likely to be uninsured and less likely to see a primary care doctor.

CAUTIONS: The national Medical Expenditure Panel Survey was based on phone interviews with the parents of teens and the young adults living on their own — not gathered from insurance claims data, which might have been more reliable.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Pediatrics, May 2013

Migraines in kids tied to colic in infancy

Colic strikes as many as one in five infants, and their crying jags make everyone in the family miserable. The assumption has long been that colic is caused by digestive problems. But a new study asks whether colic could be a form of early migraines. Led by researchers at APHP-Hospital Robert Debré in Paris, the study looked at 208 children with migraines, 120 diagnosed with tension headaches, and 471 others who had come to a pediatric emergency room with problems other than a headache.

Nearly three-quarters of the children with migraines had been colicky as infants, according to their medical records, compared with a third of children with tension headaches and a quarter of those without headaches, the study found.

According to researchers at Northwestern University, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, both migraine and colic can be triggered by a lack of sleep, and go away after resting. Colic may end around 3 months of age, as it usually does, because that’s when infants develop a clear sleep-wake cycle, they hypothesize.

BOTTOM LINE: Infants who have colic are more likely to have migraines in childhood and adolescence.

CAUTIONS: The study did not follow the children from infancy — the most reliable type of research — and considered only children with migraines bad enough to bring them to the emergency room, so it may not be generalizable to all children.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Medical Association, April 17

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