The 38th Bubble Wrap

Cite this article as:
Leo, G. The 38th Bubble Wrap, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2020. Available at:

With millions upon millions of journal articles being published every year, it is impossible to keep up.  Every month we ask some of our friends from PERUKI (Paediatric Emergency Research in the UK and Ireland) to point out something that has caught their eye.

The 32nd Bubble Wrap

Cite this article as:
Grace Leo. The 32nd Bubble Wrap, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2019. Available at:


Article 1: Should we worry about fever after Meningococcal B immunisations?

Campbell G, Bland RM, Hendry SJ. Fever after meningococcal B immunisation: A case series. J Paediatr Child Health. 2019; 55: 932-937. doi:10.1111/jpc.14315

Why does it matter?

Meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia remain is one of the most serious bacterial infections (SBI). In Australia, the government subsidised vaccine schedule includes Meningococcal ACWY however Meningococcal B vaccine (Bexsero) can be purchased ($250-$500) for children 6 weeks to 11 years. It is an immunogenic vaccine, and paracetamol is recommended on the day of immunisation, but how can we be sure the fever is due to the infection and not something more sinister?

What’s it about?

A prospective case series from the ED at Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow was performed on patients presenting between 2016-17. They identified 92 eligible infants under 3 months presenting with fever within 72 hours of Bexsero immunisations. The youngest infant was 7 weeks old.

Of these patients, 76 infants were discharged within 24 hours with majority undergoing at least one investigation (FBC, CRP, Urine MCS, NPA). Only 16 children of the 66 admitted remained in hospital for > 24 hours, with 12 undergoing an LP and completing 48 hours of IV antibiotics.

In this study, 26 children had an NPA performed with 12 positive for at least 1 virus, and one child represented with bronchiolitis.

Only one child in the cohort had SBI with an E.coli UTI. This infant also had a significantly elevated CRP and WCC compared with the other patients, and their fever started 54 hours after immunisation. The remainder had negative CSF, urine and blood cultures.

Clinically Relevant Bottom Line

Fever in the first 24 hours following the 2 month Meningococcal B vaccine is expected, and depending on the clinical exam and partial septic work up results, may be discharged home with reassurance. The key is to always be weary of the unwell looking infant and those whose fevers persist, as a full septic work up and IV antibiotics should be considered.

Reviewed by: Tina Abi Abdallah


Article 2:  Does iron fortified formula for Infants make a difference?

Gahagan S, et al. Randomized Controlled Trial of Iron-Fortified versus Low-Iron Infant Formula: Developmental Outcomes at 16 Years. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2019 June [epub] doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2019.05.030

Why does it matter?

Iron deficiency anaemia in infancy has long-term effects on the developing brain.  It is the most common nutrition disorder in the world.  Therefore, many countries routinely supplement infant formula with iron.  Recommendations for iron concentrations in infant formulas differ between guidelines, ranging from 4-12mg/L.Australian formulas generally contain between 6.7-9 mg/L.  There has been no study comparing the effects of iron-fortified formula vs low-iron formula on cognitive outcomes. 

What’s it about? 

Six-month old infants who did not have iron deficiency anaemia, were recruited from community clinics in Santiago, Chile.  They were randomised to iron-fortified (12mg/L) or low-iron (2.3mg/L) formula for 6 months and were followed-up at 16 years of age.  Of the 405 participants, those who randomised to iron-fortified formula (n=216) had lower scores than those randomised to low-iron formula (n=189) in 8 of the 9 tests.  Three of the 8 were statistically significant, and were in the domains of visual memory (p=0.02), arithmetic achievement (p=0.02) and reading comprehension achievement (p=0.02).  For visual motor integration, it was found that those with low haemoglobin at 6-months of age who received iron-fortified formula, outperformed those with low-iron formula.  The opposite was also true, with those with high haemoglobin at 6 months, receiving iron-fortification underperforming those with low-iron formula.  Animal studies have shown concern regarding the possibility of iron neurotoxicity in the growing infant, as well as the effects of iron exposure in early life on brain aging and neurodegenerative disease outcomes.

Clinically Relevant Bottom Line

This study from Chile suggests that  adolescents who received iron-fortified formula as infants from 6 to 12 months of age had poorer cognitive outcomes compared with those who received a low-iron formula. This could be related to iron neurotoxicity and there is a need for further studies to investigate the optimal level of iron supplementation in infancy.  Although on a public health level it may not be feasible, it may be ideal to individualise the optimal amount of iron for supplementation based on baseline haemoglobin or iron measures. 

Reviewed by: Lorraine Cheung

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition recommends 10-12mg/L from birth. European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition recommends 4-7 mg/L.


Article 3: Introducing paediatric procedural sedation in low-resource countries

Schultz, M & Niescierenko, M. Guidance for Implementing Pediatric Procedural Sedation in Resource-Limited Settings. Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine, 2019 In Press; doi: 10.1016/j.cpem.2019.06.004

Why does it matter?

Since its introduction, much research has demonstrated the safety and benefit of paediatric procedural sedation (when used with the proper monitoring). The benefits of procedural sedation include reduced procedure time and error rates; increased comfort of patients, parents and health care professionals; and reduced need for general anaesthesia for minor procedures. While paediatric procedural sedation is part of routine practice in high-income countries (HIC), it is almost non-existent in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). The paper claims this is mainly due to a lack of skilled providers, not for lack of need. Providing proper clinical training to health providers in LMIC would help provide safe and adequate analgesia for children undergoing minor procedures.

What’s it about?

The authors of the paper have devised a paediatric procedural sedation curriculum, which was piloted at John F. Kennedy Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. The pilot curriculum focuses solely on the use of ketamine, as it is cheap, widely available in Africa, has multiple routes of administration and is safe for use in children. The curriculum also allows for a single-practitioner method of procedural sedation, which is key in LMIC where there are limited number of health providers compared to the patient load. The curriculum is divided in three 2-hour sessions which consist of (1) introduction to procedural sedation, (2) resuscitation and management of adverse effect, and (3) monitoring and conclusion. All required teaching supplies were restricted to printed handouts, poster paper, markers and low-fidelity simulation equipment, thus eliminating the need for computers, software and electricity. Participants of this curriculum were 15 paediatric and surgical residents.

Clinically relevant bottom line

I was  fascinated with how the authors came up with this pilot curriculum for the Liberian hospital. Not only did they have to think about the costs of the individual piece of equipment in the sedation kit, but they also took into consideration the variable availability of electricity, the type of possible monitoring during sedation, and the scarcity of personnel. Too often we forget how lucky we are to have access to so many resources! The rollout of safe and routine paediatric procedural sedation is ongoing in Liberia and this is an initial step toward enabling safe procedural sedation for children living in LMIC.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Moon


Article 4: Supporting parents to CEASE smoking

Nabi-Burza E, Drehmer JE, Hipple Walters B, et al. Treating Parents for Tobacco Use in the Pediatric Setting: The Clinical Effort Against Secondhand Smoke Exposure Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatr. Published online August 12, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.2639

Why does it matter?

Exposure of children to secondhand and even thirdhand smoke (from toxins absorbed in clothing, carseats) is a serious public health issue. Smoke from cigarette smoke contains about 4000 chemicals, over 50 of which are known carcinogens. Second hand smoke increases the risk of children having SIDS, ear and respiratory infections, asthma exacerbations and teeth problems.

What’s it about?
The CEASE intervention (Clinical Effort Against Secondhand Smoke Exposure Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial) was developed between the AAP  and Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program, and the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Child and Adolescent Health Research and Policy. It focuses on 3 of the 5 As of tobacco cessation – Ask, Assist and Arrange Follow Up.

In this cluster RCT study run by the AAP, the CEASE intervention was delivered in paediatric clinics in 5 American states. The CEASE intervention included a smart tablet questionnaire, educational pamphlets and aids and training for staff to help screen for tobacco use and offer treatment to parents. Treatments were referral to a Quitline and/or provision of nicotine replacement therapy.
The study looked at the effectiveness and sustainability of this CEASE intervention 2 weeks and 2 years post start of intervention.

In a population of 8184 parents screened, 27.1% in the intervention group and 23.9% in the control group were smokers. Engagement in a treatment practice was 44.3% in the group vs 0.1% in the control. In the 2 year follow up of 9794 parents screened, 24.4% and   of the parents were smoking in the intervention and control practices respectively. There was a reduction in smoking prevalence in the intervention practices of 2.7% compared to an increase of 1.1% in the usual care control group. The NNT to treat to reduce one smoker was 27 individuals. For confirmed cessation (saliva tested, at least quit for 1 week), the NNT was 18.

The bottom line

We might take a smoking history routinely, but how often do we reach the next step of advising or assisting parents to quit? This trial shows that simple interventions can help improve uptake of treatment. Every parent who quits is one less child exposed to dangerous chemicals from tobacco smoke. The CEASE resources are freely available for use and adaptation So why not move from contemplation to action and take the time to adopt a meaningful change in your own practice? There’s help on hand and it may be easier than you think to start!

Reviewed by: Grace Leo


If we have missed out on something useful or you think other articles are absolutely worth sharing, please add them in the comments! We are also looking to expand the Bubble Wrap team so please contact us if you’re interested in this! That’s it for this month. Many thanks to all of our reviewers who have taken the time to scour the literature so you don’t have to. 

The 14th Bubble Wrap

Cite this article as:
Grace Leo. The 14th Bubble Wrap, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2018. Available at:

With millions upon millions of journal articles being published every year it is impossible to keep up.  Every month we ask some of our friends from PERUKI (Paediatric Emergency Research in UK and Ireland) to point out something that has caught their eye.

ED attendance following MenB vaccination

Cite this article as:
Ian Lewins. ED attendance following MenB vaccination, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2017. Available at:

In September  2015, the UK introduced the 4Conjugate Meningococcal B vaccine to the routine immunisation schedule, to be given at 2 and 4 months of age. Those of us who’ve witnessed the devastating effects of meningococcal sepsis welcomed this warmly. There was however a small catch. It was recognised that one of the effects of the vaccination was to produce a fever in the recipient shortly after administration, and parents were advised to give paracetamol.

This of course posed a dilemma to the ED physician met with a febrile infant post immunisation. Was the fever solely vaccine related or was it the presentation of a serious bacterial infection? Somewhat unhelpfully there was no, and still is no, national guidance on what to do. Do we assume all fevers are vaccine related and risk missing a septic infant, or do we assume all are possibly septic and risk over-treating?

Several teams in the UK are currently auditing their practices and publishing their findings. The first group to do so was in Northern Ireland  – publishing their findings in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. This is an important start to collecting data to allow us to come up with some guidance and to this end I have summarised the paper in the following infographic.


A gentle nudge…

Cite this article as:
Tessa Davis. A gentle nudge…, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2017. Available at:

Children have a right to receive healthcare regardless of the decisions made by their parents. This week, the RACP released a further statement citing refusal to treat patients for non-vaccination as ‘unethical coercion’. Whilst the majority of paediatricians are clear on the benefits of vaccinations, parents can choose not to vaccinate their children. Under the No Jab No Pay policy, this choice can lose them their right to Child Care Rebate. However, it should not lose them their right to receive healthcare. A poll by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne found that 17% of children who were not fully vaccinated had been refused healthcare by a provider. But what does ‘refused’ actually mean? And does the RACP’s statement leave us confused rather than providing clarity?


What was the poll?

The Australian Child Health Poll team at RCH is led by Dr Andrea Rhodes. It runs a quarterly poll on contemporary child health issues by conducting national surveys across Australia. The latest poll, released earlier this week, looked at vaccination perspectives of Australia families.

Data was collected from 1945 parents (with 3492 children). They were asked questions relating to the vaccination status of their children and attitudes to vaccinations.


What were the key findings on refusal of care?

  • 95% of the children were fully up to date with their vaccinations
  • 30% of parents had some concerns about vaccination
  • 9% of parents did not agree that “…it was important to vaccinate their child to protect the community (herd immunity)”
  • Of those not up-to-date, 17% had been refused healthcare (29 children)


Why are children not up-to-date with their vaccinations?

24% had delayed some vaccinations due to to minor illnesses, and there were misconceptions about when to delay.  36% thought that vaccines should be delayed in child with a runny nose but no temperature, and 47% thought they should be delayed if the child was on antibiotics. 22% thought vaccines should be postponed due to a local reaction from a previous vaccination.

18% had a preference against vaccinations, and perhaps worryingly 10% thought that vaccinations were linked to autism and a further 30% felt unsure about the link.

22% had delayed because of barriers to education and access. Half of these struggled to attend for vaccination and the other half had questions about vaccinations that they were unable to get answered. This emphasises the importance of our role. This sizeable group needs our input as paediatricians – to offer information, be open to discussion and assist with making vaccinations accessible.


What can we take from this?

This is the first poll in Australia providing information about refusal to provide healthcare.

Our role as paediatricians is to provide healthcare for each child regardless of their circumstances and certainly regardless of any actions of their parents. This poll makes it clear that there is a sizeable group of parents with uncertainty about vaccination who are interested in engaging and accessing services. We would be doing them a disservice by refusing to treat their children. And even where parents have made a specific decision not to vaccinate, we still have a duty to provide healthcare for their children. It is only by keeping the channels open that we can support, educate, and engage.

The RACP has released a clear statement on this which reinforces their Immunisation Position statement.

It is inappropriate to refuse to treat unvaccinated children, firstly because it represents unethical coercion and secondly because the children will be further disadvantaged.

Yes, we know that vaccinations are beneficial. And yes, we want to increase vaccination rates and ensure our patients are vaccinated. However, by denying unvaccinated children healthcare we are disadvantaging them even further. The RACP goes as far as to call this ‘unethical coercion’. We need to provide healthcare and not use it as bargaining chip.

However, the concept of refusal may not be clear cut. This poll did not collect data on the circumstances of refusal so we do not know which provider has refused treatment or how that refusal has occurred. It is possible that parents perceive that healthcare professionals are not happy to treat them and classify this as outright refusal.

Research in the US has shown that providers worry that unvaccinated children will pose a risk to young babies in their waiting rooms, or that the unvaccinated child themselves is at risk of catching a serious infection. These are reasonable concerns and therefore steps may need to be taken to minimise these risks. If unvaccinated children need to sit separately, could this constitute refusal in the eyes of parents? If the parents have to engage in an awkward 10 minutes of discussion with the paediatrician about the benefits of vaccination, could this constitute refusal in the eyes of the parents?

So the answer is not as clear cut as the RACP’s statement makes it seem. Of course we should not refuse to treat a child because their parents didn’t vaccinate them. But it is also our role to encourage vaccinations and to engage in discussion about the benefits of vaccination. This engagement may make vaccine-refusers feel uncomfortable and affect their perception of our willingness to provide healthcare. This is not the same as refusal to treat.