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Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® Study Sheds New Light On Pediatric Head Lice Treatment

lice_nadine_cropJune 22, 2015 10:44 AM
A new study conducted by the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack University Medical Center, challenges the long-held assumption that pesticide-based lice treatments are the best way to eradicate infestations. The study concludes that dimethicone – a colorless, odorless silicone-based liquid – could be the answer for an effective, safe treatment option in pediatric patients.  The study appears to be the first in the U.S. to partner with school nurses in a clinical trial on head lice. Six schools across New York and New Jersey enrolled students in a two-week trial on the dimethicone product LiceMD. The study found that after only one day of treatment, 98.3 percent of children were lice-free. The study was published in BMC Pediatrics June 2015 edition.

  “Our center’s mission is to identify, control and ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children's health.  Lice are benign, so it never made any sense that the conventional treatment of pesticides could be exposing kids to something far worse than lice. That's why we conducted a clinical trial to find a safer, pesticide-free alternative that is effective at eliminating the lice without the potential to harm our children.” said Deirdre Imus, president and founder of the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®. 

Head lice affects six to 12 million Americans – mostly children - each year.  With concerns about increasing pesticide resistance and the potential health effects of pesticides, some parents and pediatricians have been searching for effective, safer options. Potentially neurotoxic pesticides have been linked to lower IQ, diminished attention span, other neurodevelopmental issues and childhood cancers.

“It’s encouraging to see dimethicone listed as an alternative treatment in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2015 Clinical Report on head lice, and to now have research findings that show this treatment is essentially as effective as the pesticide-based ones. This expands the treatment options for pediatricians, school nurses, and families, who are on the front lines of this common childhood condition,” said Jeffrey Boscamp, M.D., vice president and chief academic officer, HackensackUMC, chairman and physician-in-chief, Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital at HackensackUMC.

“Parents want the safest possible solution for their kids, one that works with the fewest side effects. This is an option that fits this need well,” said the study’s principal investigator, Lawrence Rosen, M.D., medical advisor at The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® (DIEHC) at HackensackUMC. “Dimethicone should be considered a first-line treatment for head lice,” said Dr. Rosen.

“This a game changer for parents who are looking for a pesticide-free product. Our team is grateful to the many school nurses and parents who were enthusiastic, key partners in this research,” said the study’s senior author, Erin S. Ihde, MA, CCRP of the DIEH, at HackensackUMC.


About The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at HackensackUMC       

The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack University Medical Center  represents one of the first hospital-based programs whose specific mission is to identify, control and ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children's health. HackensackUMC began its journey towards environmental health and sustainability more than a decade ago with the help of Deirdre Imus, beginning with the Greening The Cleaning® program in 2001, which promotes the use of nontoxic cleaning products and in 2005 with the design and construction of one of the first green hospitals in the country, which was named one of America’s Top Green Hospitals by National Geographic’s The Green Guide.   In 2015, through the efforts of the Environmental Health Center, HackensackUMC earned Practice Greenhealth’s highest honor as a 2015 Environmental Excellence Award winner, earning recognition for a second year in a row, as one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country.

About Hackensack University Medical Center

HackensackUMC, a nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is the flagship hospital of Hackensack University Health Network, one of the largest health networks in the state comprised of 1,250 beds, nearly 10,000 employees and 2,700 credentialed physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey and is proud to be among one of 30 hospitals to have received 10 or more (11) nationally-ranked specialtiesinU.S. News & World Report’s 2014-15 Best Hospital rankings. One of only five of these hospitals was rated “High Performing” in all categories of Best Hospitals for Common Care in 2015. HackensackUMC is one of Healthgrades America's 50 Best Hospitals™ for nine years in a row, and received the Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™ 13 years in a row. The medical center has also been named a Leapfrog Top Hospital, is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 23 Gold Seals of Approval™ by the Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and was Official Medical Services Provider to The Barclays PGA Golf Tournament and the NY/NJ Super Bowl XLVIII Host Committee. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events. To learn more, visit:   



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