Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Pediatricians’ group lifts embargo on new cholesterol screening guidelines after AP story runs

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is lifting the embargo on an announcement scheduled for Sunday. From an email that went out a little while ago:


Friday, Nov. 11, 2011

Effective immediately, the American Academy of Pediatrics is lifting the embargo on “The Expert Panel Report on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents.” A wire service report including some details of the new guidelines was published Thursday, ahead of Sunday’s embargo. The AAP is lifting the embargo to allow other news outlets to fully report on the new recommendations.

The guidelines are now posted on the Pediatrics website at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/site/misc/2009-2107.pdf

Here’s the AP report, published yesterday.

I had emailed the AAP about the potential break a few minutes before their email went out, to ask if they were considering it a break, or whether there will be sanctions. I’ll update with anything I hear back. [Please see update at end.]

The guidelines are likely to be controversial. The US Preventive Services Task Force doesn’t recommend screening of any kids for cholesterol levels, as Reuters Health’s Fred Joelving noted last year in a story about a study that informed the new AAP guidelines. In fact, a study out the very next week found that kids’ high cholesterol levels tend to drop naturally.

Addendum, 12:20 p.m. Eastern, 11/11/11: It’s worth noting that the embargoed press release about the new guidelines seems to have gone out just a short while before the AP story, which has a lot of reporting and context that would have been difficult to do that quickly. So it appears the AP was working on this long before the release went out. I’ve asked the news agency for comment.

Update, 2:30 p.m. Eastern, 11/11/11: AP Health & Science Editor Kit Frieden tells Embargo Watch the story was no embargo break:

…this was the result of dogged reporting by AP Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione that began more than a week earlier. Her story anticipating the new guidelines was the result of good reporting and source work.

The Associated Press broke no embargo. Marchione had no embargoed materials when she wrote her story. We were surprised to see the Academy lift the embargo based on our story.

Update, 4:45 pm Eastern, 11/11/11: Headline corrected from “AP breaks…” to better reflect what happened.

Hat tip: Rachael Rettner

Written by Ivan Oransky

November 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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