While most women have uncomplicated pregnancies and healthy babies, Saint Peter’s offers the expertise and experience, and resources should complications arise. Our knowledgeable medical staff of specialized doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals care for women throughout pregnancy and attend to the needs of children from the minute they are born.
Here are some of the top reasons parents choose Saint Peter’s:
Antenatal Testing Unit – The Antenatal Testing Unit in the Perinatal Center at Saint Peter’s University Hospital is one of the largest of its type in the country. Staffed by highly specialized sonographers who are all Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) certified, it is nationally renowned and accredited by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and the Fetal Medicine Foundation
Maternal Fetal Medicine Research Division – It participates in a variety of research projects . As such it is part of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Units, (MFMU), a group of 14 large hospitals across the country that works together to carry out clinical trials.
Columbia University Consortium – Saint Peter’s is part of the consortium of hospitals in the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania area that work on studies designed to improve pregnancy outcomes.
Prematurity Assessment and Prevention Program – The Infant Prematurity Assessment and
Prevention Program is a multidisciplinary program with experts in Maternal Fetal Medicine, Perinatal and Pediatric Pathology, Genetic Medicine, and Obstetric and Internal Medicine for women who have had one or more premature births.
Neonatal Intensive Care – The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital operates one of the largest, most advanced neonatal intensive care units (NICU) in the country. Our state-designated Regional Perinatal Center is renowned throughout New Jersey for the exceptional level of high-risk maternity and neonatal care provided.
Pediatric Specialties – Unlike many smaller NICUs Saint Peter’s has a wide range of pediatric specialists including pediatric surgeons, endocrinologists, nephrologists, geneticists, full-time anesthesiologists, and many others. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Cardiac Center at Saint Peter’s provides board-certified pediatric cardiologists and technologists to help care for infants and children with heart disease.
Genetic Medicine – The Medical Genetics and Genomic Medicine division at Saint Peter’s University Hospital provides comprehensive clinical genetic services, including counseling, diagnosis and treatment of rare inherited conditions, including birth defects, chromosome abnormalities, cancer, and metabolic disease.
Visit http://www.saintpetershcs.com/maternity/ to learn more about our maternity services.
The recent report on the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in the United States presented statistics that are once again alarming. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report saying one in 68 children nationally has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD.) This newest estimate is based on the CDC’s evaluation of health and educational records of all 8-year-old children in 2010 in 11 states, including New Jersey. New Jersey reported the highest rates, with one in 45 children and one in 28 boys identified as having an autism spectrum disorder. The national rate increase is a 30% jump from the previously released statistics of one in 88 children.
The report shows that autism continues to be more prevalent among boys – five times more likely in boys than girls. One in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls nationwide were identified with an ASD in this latest report. Although autism can be reliably established as early as 18 months, another report finding points to the average age of diagnosis remaining at four years of age. One notable new report finding is that more children identified with an ASD have average or above average intelligence, from one-third in 2002 to half in 2010.
Because April is Autism Awareness Month, we’d like to share answers to the most frequently asked questions about autism.
What causes autism?
A lot of research is being conducted to try to answer this question. In a minority of individuals, autism is a sign of an underlying genetic condition. However, in most cases the cause is unknown.
How common is autism?
Autism is considered to be the fastest growing developmental disability diagnosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 1 in 68 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder and that boys are much more likely to be affected than girls.
(See: http://www.cdc.gov for more information.)
How is autism diagnosed?
The diagnosis of autism is based on a child’s behaviors. Currently, there is no medical test (e.g., blood test, X-ray, or MRI) that can make a diagnosis of autism. Doctors may order genetic testing to look for a genetic cause, and they may recommend other tests or studies to help determine if conditions such as seizures also are present.
When professionals evaluate a child to see if the child has autism or a related diagnosis, they look for difficulties in three areas that are explained below – social interaction, communication, and unusual interests/behaviors.
Social Interaction: Young children with autism have difficulty with the give-and-take of social interactions. Compared to children who are developing more typically, they may be less likely to sustain eye contact with caregivers, to turn when their name is called, to enjoy games like peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake, or to approach other children to play. They may enjoy being held by their parents or engaging in active play (e.g., chase or tickle games) but show less social interest and responsiveness than you would usually see in young children without developmental concerns.
Communication: Children with autism are often slower to use single words and phrases than expected. They are also less likely to use common gestures, such as pointing to make requests or to direct a caregiver’s attention to interesting sights or sounds. Some children may develop language at the expected times but show regression or loss of language skills around 18 to 24 months. Losses of skill may include a decrease in social interest, as well as a loss of the words or phrases they had previously used. Children who do develop language may show unusual patterns of speaking, such as repeating or echoing phrases they hear people say or that they hear on television or videos. They may ask for things they want but have great difficulty carrying on simple conversations.
Behavior and Interests: Young children with autism often show a more narrow range of play interests than their peers and demonstrate more repetitive behaviors. For example, they may focus on lining up or spinning objects rather than pretending to feed a doll or teddy bear. They may also seem preoccupied with certain objects or insist on following particular routines. In addition, they may repeat specific movements, such as flapping their hands, rocking, or running back and forth.
Are there other behaviors or features that go along with autism spectrum disorders?
A number of behaviors go along with autism spectrum disorders. For example, it is common for children with ASD to demonstrate a high activity level and unusual sensory behaviors. They may have a short attention span for non-preferred activities but be able to focus on objects that they like for long periods of time. They may also be picky eaters and/or have difficulty sleeping. Finally, they may show differences in processing information they take in from their senses. That is, they may be over-sensitive or under-sensitive to things they hear, see, touch, taste, or smell. For example, a child with an ASD might not turn when his name is called but can hear a key turning in a lock in another room.
Do all children with autism have significant developmental delays?
No, there is a very wide range of abilities in cognitive or thinking skills among children on the autism spectrum. Some children with autism are above average or even gifted.
Where should I start to find help?
Early Intervention: Children less than three years old
New Jersey Early Intervention System: For children birth to three (NJEIS) 1-888-653-4463. A child will qualify for services based on the degree of delay and diagnosis. A child who enters the NJEIS with appropriate documentation of a diagnosis of an ASD is presumptively eligible for the system. Children who do not have a documented diagnosis of ASD prior to referral are evaluated for eligibility according to NJEIS rules, policies and procedures. http://nj.gov/health/fhs/eis/policies.shtml. The early intervention program will help families transition to school based programs after the child turns three years old.
Child Study Team (CST): For children over three who have not been in the early intervention program, the first step is a referral for a Child Study Team evaluation. A Child Study Team is located in each public school district and consists of educational professionals set out to ensure evaluation, advocacy, support, and intervention of children with special learning needs. These include school psychologists, school social workers, and a learning disabilities teacher-consultant (LDT-C). A letter should be submitted to the supervisor of Special Education (information can be found on the district’s website). Evaluations by the CST look at how your child is doing in school. This may include identifying behavior that affects their school performance, intelligence (IQ) testing, and mental health evaluation. Sometimes other types of evaluations will have to be done, such as medical/health, speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychiatric, neurological, and developmental-behavioral. Evaluations are paid for by the school district. When the evaluations are completed, a written report, the Individualized IEP, is developed. www.state.nj.us/education/specialed/form/prise/prise
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHHS): New Jersey has made a commitment to assist families caring for children with complex, long-term medical and developmental disabilities such as autism. For these “special needs” children, prompt attention to their condition early in life helps assure they will lead healthier lives when they are older. The NJDHSS supports statewide referral networks that provide comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, patient and family education, and counseling for children and adults living with special child health services such as autism. http://www.state.nj.us/health/fhs/sch/index
Primary Care Providers: Discuss with your pediatrician or healthcare provider your concern and ask for referrals for appropriate evaluations. Pediatricians are trained to look for red flags for autism in young children and may provide autism screening questionnaires in the office. Pediatricians will continue to follow the medical needs of your child. http://www.aap.org/publiced/autismtoolkit.cfm
What areas should we focus on in our intervention plan?
The IFSP or IEP should address the areas that are challenging for your child. With ASDs, this often means helping your child develop practical communication skills, improve social interest and interactions with children and adults, develop play skills and imagination, decrease problem behaviors, and promote overall learning and thinking skills. Since transitions are often difficult for children with ASDs, the IFSP or IEP may also include strategies to help your child smoothly manage his or her daily schedule. Even though children with ASDs share certain features, your child will have unique strengths and needs. Consequently, no two intervention plans should be identical. As the names suggest, the IFSP or IEP should be “individualized” and designed specifically for your child.
Visit our website for more information about autism treatment at Saint Peter’s University Hospital.