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NPA Press Release

Parents Say No to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

American Journal of Nursing reports confusion among health professionals, while parents refuse to accept American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines that allow children in school with lice and nits.

Contact Information
Jane Cotter

National Pediculosis Assoc.
781-449-6487 x109

“A year after the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called on schools to end no-nits policies … little has changed except the intensity of the debate…” reported John O’Neil in the September 2, 2003 Science Section of the New York Times.

The current issue of the American Journal of Nursing acknowledges the continuing confusion and controversy over head lice among health care professionals, -- but there is no debate among parents who do not want their children infested, unnecessarily at risk of being infested, or “treated” with pesticides.

And families are making their voices heard financially as sales of pediculicides have declined significantly over the past several years – 15% in the last year alone.

Parents are better informed and no longer willing to buy more of a product that failed to work the first time or, more importantly, could negatively impact the health of their child.

In 2002, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published guidelines for clinicians that recommended:

  • pesticide treatments

  • allowing children in school with lice and nits,

  • eliminating screening for head lice in school.

The New York Times article says AAP's Dr. Barbara Frankowski, Chairman on School Health, says people get "hot and bothered" because lice are "yucky."

Deborah Z. Altschuler, President of the National Pediculosis Association (NPA)says, "It is presumptuous and unfair to expect a public that spends billions of dollars annually on hair care products, to look the other way when someone they are with, or they themselves are infested with lice."

Many are disappointed and perplexed by AAP's abandonment of traditional communicable disease prevention measures, and the fact that AAP recommends potentially harmful treatments known to be ineffective because of lice resistance.

For these and other reasons, their guidelines have become suspect and a source of controversy among health professionals.

However there is no confusion for the true experts -– the parents -- who were first to identify and report lice resistance in the mid-'90s and the first to unite against the AAP Guidelines. Parents apparently know and want better.

So does John Smithkey, RN, BSN, a school nurse in Canton, Ohio who disagrees with the AAP’s position against screening in school for lice and nits. Smithkey says that school nurses screen for many important health issues and do it effectively without disruption.

He states: “It is the most economical and effective way to both find cases of head lice as well as teach parents and students about this age old health problem in a positive way.”

Angela Weathersbee of Sebastian, Florida was outraged when her school district dropped their No Nit Policy as a result of the AAP recommendation.

She united local parents and demanded that the school committee rescind the change. Their grass-roots effort was successful with other communities following the lead.

In a recent poll by a midwest NBC television affiliate, over 85% of the parents responded that children should not be allowed in school with lice and nits.

September 2003 marks the 19th Annual Back-to-School Head Lice Prevention Campaign. Sponsored by the National Pediculosis Association, a non profit organization, the campaign is also known as the “All Out Comb Out” which kicks off each school year with education and awareness in advance of outbreaks.

Being informed along with enabled to accomplish routine screening, early detection and manual removal of lice and nits continues to be the best defense against head lice.

Reliance upon ineffective or potentially harmful products keeps children infested, and forces communities into a crisis mentality.

Each person brings unique health risks to the treatment decision. The NPA knows of no chemical agent, natural or otherwise that is 100% safe as well as effective against both lice and their eggs. This makes thorough lice and nit removal crucial for effective lice control.

Until independent scientific research documents a safe and effective chemical agent for head lice treatment, the NPA will continue to recommend its proactive approach.

Visit the NPA’s website to find how you can participate in the “All Out Comb Out” as well as find the NPA’s No Nit Policy, Jesse’s Project and educational and easy-to-download information helpful for parents and health professionals alike.

“Because it’s not about lice, it’s about kids.”

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