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AACC Pilot Studies Begin to Measure What Is Normal in Children's Development

HOUSTON, July 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- AACC's Pediatric Reference Range Committee (PRRC) is performing two pilot studies to establish crucial pediatric reference intervals as part of the National Children's Study. Researchers speaking at AACC's 2013 Annual Meeting will discuss preliminary findings from these studies and underscore their importance to improving pediatric healthcare. Without solid numbers to interpret lab results, clinicians don't have a clear picture of age-appropriate biochemical indicators of normal childhood development.

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Interpreting certain lab test results in children has been challenging due to the lack of pediatric reference intervals, which show the distribution of normal values in a diverse, healthy population. Hospitals have traditionally based reference ranges on values from hospitalized children, adjusted for outliers, and on small studies that have not yielded robust data. The AACC pilot studies will provide statistically reliable data that meets industry standards for establishing reference ranges.

"One of the problems that we've always had in children's hospitals is that you don't have healthy children in the hospital, so you can't comfortably use that data," said AACC PRRC chair and session moderator, Michael Bennett, PhD, FRCPath, director of the Michael J. Palmieri Metabolic Laboratory at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "With a large cohort of healthy children from across the country, the National Children's Study offers laboratorians a unique opportunity to develop good reference ranges and also to understand better how the biomarkers that we measure in our labs reflect normal childhood development."

Bennett will be joined by the studies' principal investigators. Dr. Patricia Jones, clinical director of the chemistry and metabolic disease labs at Children's Medical Center of Dallas and professor of pathology and medical laboratory science at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has been investigating reference intervals for four steroid hormones, 17-hydroxy-progesterone, androstenedione, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA–sulfate. Imbalances in these hormones can cause congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which affects development of sexual characteristics in children and in severe forms leads to life-threatening sodium insufficiency. "This is one of those areas where reference intervals, particularly in the first months of life, are very, very important, yet we just don't have a lot of information from normal children because it's so difficult to get samples from newborns," said Jones.

Dr. Dennis Dietzen, medical director of the core laboratory at St. Louis Children's Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is developing reference ranges for 35 amino acids, which play a key role in physical and cognitive development. "Our work with the National Children's Study will enable us to measure not only variation occurring between children over time but also within the same child. This will help detect subtle but important changes in some amino acids in each pediatric patient, leading to much better monitoring of development and improved detection and treatment of abnormalities," said Dietzen.

Press Briefing

AACC Annual Meeting registration is free for members of the media. Reporters can register online here:

AACC's Pediatric Reference Range Pilot Studies: Measuring Childhood Development.
Tuesday, July 30
11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
George R. Brown Convention Center
Room 322B
Houston, Texas

About AACC Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo
AACC's Annual Meeting offers 5 days packed with opportunities to learn about exciting science. Plenary sessions feature expert presentations on hot topics such as the role of insulin in obesity, the function of "junk" DNA in human development, the controversy over vitamin D intake recommendations, patient-based therapeutics discovery, and the impact of microbial symbionts on human health.

At the 2013 AACC Clinical Lab Expo, more than 625 exhibitors will fill the show floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center with displays of the latest diagnostic technology, including but not limited to automation, information systems, point-of-care, and biotech.

About AACC
Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) brings together more than 50,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of breaking laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit

Molly Polen
Director of Communications & PR
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