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Child And Teen Health

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Pfizer is asking U.S. regulators to authorize its updated COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 5. The youngest tots already are supposed to get three extra-small doses of the original vaccine as their primary series. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said Monday that if the Food and Drug Administration agrees, the updated vaccine would be used for the third shot. The FDA already has cleared COVID-19 vaccines tweaked to better target omicron as boosters for everyone 5 and older.

The nation's first trial over a ban on gender-confirming care for children has ended and is now in the hands of a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Jay Moody didn't indicate Thursday when he would rule on whether to overturn Arkansas' ban, which he temporarily blocked last year. Arkansas wrapped up its case with testimony from a pediatric endocrinologist who is opposed to providing such treatment to transgender children. Most major medical groups have opposed the Arkansas law that prohibits doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone younger than 18.

The nation's first trial over a ban on gender-confirming care for children has ended and is now in the hands of a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Jay Moody didn't indicate Thursday when he would rule on whether to overturn Arkansas' ban, which he temporarily blocked last year. Arkansas wrapped up its case with testimony from a pediatric endocrinologist who is opposed to providing such treatment to transgender children. Most major medical groups have opposed the Arkansas law that prohibits doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone younger than 18.

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The landmark trial over Arkansas' ban on gender-affirming care for children has resumed. A psychiatrist was called to the stand by the state on Monday as it defended its ban on doctors providing gender-affirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under the age of 18. A federal judge last year temporarily blocked the law, which also would have banned doctors from referring patients elsewhere for such care. The psychiatrist who testified Monday criticized the use of such care for trans youth, but also said he was concerned about the impacts of the law cutting off treatments for some children.

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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she and her husband Dan have tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Vietnam. Brown said on Twitter Saturday afternoon that both of them are recuperating at home. She said while it means their Thanksgiving plans have changed, they are grateful for effective vaccines and booster shots that help ensure their symptoms don't become serious. Brown was overseas for the Vietnam-United States Trade Forum. Oregon officials have warned that the combined effects of COVID-19, the flu and RSV could strain hospitals in the coming months. Brown declared a state of emergency Monday to aid hospitals as viral infections and hospitalizations rise among infants and children.

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Alabama has asked an appellate court to let the state outlaw the use of puberty blockers and hormones to treat transgender children. Some parents argued the measure violates their right to make decisions about their children’s health care. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Friday in Alabama’s appeal of a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law that would make it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to give the medications to assist transgender minors in their transition. The arguments in Alabama come three months after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to keep similar Arkansas law on hold.

A rapidly intensifying flu season is straining U.S. hospitals already overburdened with patients sick from other respiratory infections. The government reported Friday that more than half the states are reporting high or very high levels of flu, unusually high for this early in the season. This is happening when children’s hospitals already are dealing with a surge of illnesses from RSV, a common cause of coldlike symptoms that can be serious for infants and the elderly. And COVID-19 is still sending people to the hospital. One Atlanta ER doctor describes the mix as a “viral jambalaya.”

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The Indian Health Service says all tribal members covered by the federal agency will be offered a vaccine at every appointment, when appropriate. Tursday's announcement of the new vaccine strategy said that throughout the coronavirus pandemic, American Indians and Alaska Natives have had among the nation's highest COVID-19 vaccination rates. But Indigenous people are especially vulnerable to vaccine-preventable illness. IHS officials recently noticed fewer patients were getting the vaccine. Patients have also fallen behind in jabs for childhood diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella as well as shingles shots for older adults and flu shots for all.

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The Palestinian Health Ministry says Israeli forces shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian girl during a pre-dawn raid in the occupied West Bank. The shooting drew condemnation from the United Nations and rights groups. The Israeli military says soldiers opened fire on a vehicle that was accelerating toward them after they signaled for it to stop. It says Monday's incident is under review. Palestinians and rights groups accuse Israeli soldiers of using excessive force with Palestinians, without being held accountable. The military says it contends with complex, life-threatening scenarios. Israeli-Palestinian tensions have been high for months, with the Israeli military carrying out nightly raids in the West Bank.

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Abortion rights supporters secured another win Thursday as voters in Montana rejected a ballot measure that would have forced medical workers to intercede in the rare case of a baby born after an attempted abortion. The result caps a string of ballot defeats, months after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade galvanized abortion-rights voters. Michigan, California and Vermont voted to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitutions, and Kentucky voters rejected an anti-abortion amendment in a tally that echoed a similar August vote in Kansas.

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Montana voters have rejected a legislative referendum that raised the prospect of criminal charges for health care providers unless they take “all medically appropriate and reasonable actions” to preserve the life of an infant born alive, including after an attempted abortion. Opponents argued the proposal could rob parents of precious time with infants who are born with incurable medical issues if doctors are forced to attempt treatment. Supporters said the proposed law was meant to prevent the killing of infants outside the womb in the rare case of a failed abortion, something that is already is illegal.

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A toddler is thriving after doctors used a novel technique to treat her before she was born for a rare genetic disease. The girl, now 16 months, began receiving the critical protein her body can't make while still in the womb.  The treatment was delivered through a needle inserted through the mother’s abdomen and guided into a vein in the umbilical cord. The disease killed two of the girl's sisters before they turned 3. She was treated at an Ottawa hospital with a treatment plan pioneered by a doctor in San Francisco through an unusual collaboration.

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Montana Republican Matt Rosendale won a second term in the U.S. House on Tuesday as he fended off a pair of challengers in the race for a newly drawn district representing the eastern portion of the state. Rosendale emerged during his first term as a hard-right conservative. He’s backed Trump’s false statements about the 2020 election and recently voted against U.S. support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, citing what he said are more pressing security needs along the southern border. The other race in the eastern district featuring Ryan Zinke was too early to call.

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