Recurrent thrush treatment ineffective
The most commonly recommended treatment for recurrent thrush, or vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), is not particularly effective, say researchers from Monash University’s Department of General Practice, with most guidelines recommending a standard 6-month treatment with fluconazole, despite the fact that more than half of women treated relapsed within 12 months. Alexia Matheson and Professor Danielle Mazza reviewed five international treatment guidelines for recurrent thrush and found that they were of mixed quality, with only one guideline suggesting a regimen that had greater success than the standard 6 months of anti-fungals. Matheson and Mazza wrote that although most guidelines agreed, the results from this treatment were disappointing and more research was needed. “Current international guidelines for recurrent VVC are consistent in terms of their definition of the condition, diagnostic techniques and utilising induction and maintenance therapy as the treatment of choice. However, the regimen suggested by most guidelines (fluconazole weekly for 6 months) is not particularly effective; only 42.9% of patients are disease free after 12 months. An alternative regimen put forward by one of the guidelines cites a 77% cure rate after 12 months. Most guidelines lacked specific recommendations for the induction part of induction and maintenance treatment.” The review was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
The effect of a parent’s touch on a baby’s brain
Babies’ earliest experiences of touch affect how their brains respond to gentle touch later, according to US research published in Current Biology. The study looked at the impact of touch on the brain responses of 125 infants – both premature and full-term babies. The researchers used a soft EEG net to measure the babies’ brain responses to a puff of air compared to a “fake” puff, before the babies were discharged from the hospital. They found that preterm babies’ brains generally had a reduced response to gentle touch compared with those of full-term babies, but when the babies in neonatal intensive care units had spent more time in gentle contact with their parents or health care providers, their brain response was stronger. In contrast, the more painful the medical procedures premature infants had had to endure, the less their brains responded to gentle touch later. Based on the findings, the researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center are now designing new ways to provide positive touch in the neonatal intensive care unit. They’re also investigating how a baby’s brain response to touch interacts with their brain response to the sound of a person’s voice.
Earlier diagnosis of autism using blood test
A new blood test can determine if a child is on the autism spectrum with 96% accuracy, according to researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. Previous research had found that there are differences in a specific metabolic pathway – associated with adaptive behaviour – in children with autism compared with those without. The authors wrote that their method (based on modelled data taken from blood samples) might allow for diagnosis under the age of 2 years, which is currently not possible as assessments by developmental paediatricians and psychologists are mostly based on behaviour. Earlier diagnosis is usually considered to have a better outcome in the long run, so using this new method alongside psychometric tests could be a great help in diagnosing children with autism. In the study, published in PLOS Computational Biology, the researchers presented a method to identify a child as being on the autism spectrum based on concentrations of specific substances found in a blood sample. These substances are produced by metabolic processes known as the folate-dependent one-carbon metabolism and transulfuration pathways, both of which are altered in children with autism. The scientists used blood sample data, collected at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, from 83 children with autism and 76 neurotypical children, all between 3 and 10 years old. With the help of advanced modelling and statistical analysis tools, the metabolic data allowed the researchers to correctly classify 97.6% of the children with autism and 96.1% of the neurotypical children. The authors acknowledged that further research is needed to confirm the findings.
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