Antibiotic use drops

•We've long been warned about the dangers of antibiotic overuse, Now, it seems the penny has finally dropped. A report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests antibiotic use in children is falling, although they still remain a popular treatment.

•A team from the FDA studied a national database of U.S. drug prescriptions for children younger than 17 between 2002 and 2010 and found in this period they fell by around 9 percent. Prescriptions for antibiotics dropped further still, by 14 percent, although they still made up a quarter of the total. Overuse of antibiotics is a concern because it can lead to bacterial resistance.

•Meanwhile, prescriptions for drugs to treat allergies, pain and colds also decreased, while those for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder soared by 46 percent.

New test for autism

•Patterns of electrical brain activity in the brain could provide a new test for diagnosing classical autism.

•At present, a diagnosis is made by assessing a child's behavior and clinical history. The new electroencephalogram (EEG) test, in which 24 electrodes are placed on a child's scalp, was developed at Boston Children's Hospital in Massachusetts.

•It identified 33 patterns of electrical connectivity between pairs of brain regions that were strikingly and consistently different in 430 children with autism aged 2 to 12, compared with 554 neurotypical controls. A key feature of autism is thought to be poor connectivity between areas linked to language.

•The results now need to be compared against those for conditions with which autism could be confused, such as Asperger's syndrome.