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What's New in Pediatrics

New Medications and Treatment Options for Children

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Updated November 25, 2005

The year 2001 and early 2002 are shaping up to be pretty good for the field of Pediatrics. There were many new medications introduced with official FDA approval for use in younger kids, unlike earlier years when Pediatric dosages had to be estimated based on the adult dose.

Among the new medications are new once daily treatments for ADHD, improved and easier to use medications for asthma, and new treatments for children with eczema who don't respond to steroids. New, stronger antibiotics and new vaccines also help to treat and prevent infections in children.

Other advances include a new infant formula, Enfamil LIPIL™, which has DHA and AA, and a flavoring for bad tasting medicines, FLAVORx™, which can help medications taste better and make it easier to get your child to take them.

Although many physicians are against drug companies directly marketing their new products to consumers, that is sometimes the only way for parents to know that a new treatment is available for their kids. Simply relying on your Pediatrician to keep you informed is not always practical, since they may not be aware of new products, or if they feel you are doing very well, they might not consider trying something new with your child.

Should you change your child, or start off with, a newer medication? If your child isn't doing well with his current treatment regimen, then a newer medication might be better. If his symptoms or illness are very well controlled and he is not having side effects, then changing to a newer medication will likely not be necessary. Keep in mind that there are usually no generic equivalents of the newer medications, so they will likely be more expensive then older medications.

And new doesn't always mean better. Drug companies often seem to come out with new versions of their medications once they approach the time that a generic version will be available...

ADHD Medications

There are many new medications available for kids with ADHD. They include once daily versions of stimulants, so that children do not need to take a dose at school or in the afternoon. These long acting medications for ADHD include Concerta™, a long acting form of methylphenidate (Ritalin™), available as an 18, 36 and 54mg tablet. Adderall XR™ is a long acting form of Adderall™, and is available as a 10, 20, and 30mg capsule. Unlike Concerta™, if your child can't swallow pills, the Adderall XR™ capsules can be opened and sprinkled onto something that he can simply eat. Metadate CD™ is another long acting form of Ritalin™.

Focalin™ is another new form of Ritalin™. Unlike the other new medications, this is a short acting stimulant.

Asthma

Among the biggest advances in the prevention of asthma was the introduction of Advair™. Available in two strengths, it combines the medications Flovent™ and Serevent™ into one easy to use dry powder inhaler, which is usually easier to use than a metered dose inhaler. If your child is already on both Flovent™ and Serevent™, or if he has poorly controlled asthma, then you might ask your Pediatrician about Advair™.

Another new preventative medication is Pulmicort Respules™. Although steroid inhalers have long been used to prevent asthma, for younger children, it meant using a spacer and mask, which isn't always very well tolerated. Or the child was on Intal 3-4 times a day. Pulmicort Respule™s allow you to give your child a preventative steroid medication with your nebulizer just once or twice a day.

Many children take albuterol to treat their asthma symptoms. This medication, while very helpful, does have the unwanted side effects of making some children shaky, hyperactive or nervous. If your child does not tolerate albuterol very well, then the new medication Xopenex™ might be a good alternative. Although not any more effective than albuterol, it does have less side effects in most children.

Foradil™ is a new long acting bronchodilator for prevention of asthma symptoms and exercise induced asthma. It has a unique delivery device, in which a capsule is placed in the inhaler and then punctured to release the powder. Unlike other dry powder inhalers, such as the Serevent Diskus™, the Foradil™ inhaler makes it easy to verify that the child actually got the dose, since afterwards, the capsule is empty.

Although not specifically for asthma, there is also a new oral steroid, Orapred™, that is better tasting than Prelone™ and other steroids. If you have a hard time getting your child to take an oral steroid, then Orapred might be a good alternative for you.

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