On the Pulse

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New Radiation Therapy Gives Hope to Children with Neuroblastoma

Rene Soto Taylor has done his best, and has put in his all to overcome cancer. At only 8 years old, he’s been through countless treatments to try to rid his body of the most common and most difficult type of solid tumor to treat in children – neuroblastoma. Today, Rene is hoping doctors have finally found the treatment that will conquer his disease: I-131-MIBG therapy.

A relatively new form of therapy, I-131-MIBG therapy delivers radiation directly to tumors, killing the cancer cells. This type of therapy concentrates the radiation at the site of the cancer, which means fewer long-term risks for patients. Read full post »

Enterovirus: What Parents Need to Know

By now you’ve probably seen news reports about the outbreak of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) that’s been sweeping across the country, resulting in many children being hospitalized for difficulties with breathing. While there are no confirmed cases of EV-D68 in Washington state, Seattle Children’s has seen cases of severe respiratory disease in many patients who have tested positive for enterovirus or rhinovirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is doing further testing to determine if any of these cases are EV-D68.

The primary message for parents worried about their own children: Be on alert, wash hands frequently, and see a doctor or take your child to an emergency room immediately if he or she is having difficulty breathing or wheezing.

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Study Finds 11.4 Million Unnecessary Antibiotics Prescribed to Children

IstockimageSMALLAntibiotics can be used as life-saving therapies, but many experts believe they are prescribed more frequently than they should be. This practice puts individuals at risk of dangerous side effects and exposes the public to drug-resistant bacteria.

To better understand how antibiotics should be prescribed, Dr. Matthew Kronman, an infectious disease expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a member of Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research, led a study published today by the American Academy of Pediatrics, addressing how antibiotics are used to treat common respiratory infections. He discovered there are approximately 11.4 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions written to children and teens each year in the United States.

We asked Kronman the following questions to learn more about the overprescribing of antibiotics and his recently published research:

Why aren’t antibiotics appropriate to treat all respiratory infections?

Kronman: Respiratory infections are one of the most common reasons children and adolescents receive prescriptions for antibiotics, but not all of these illnesses benefit from antibiotic use. Antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections. Many respiratory infections are viral, and therefore, not helped by antibiotics. Read full post »

Meet Seattle Children’s Research Scientists

Have you ever wondered what kind of research is happening at Seattle Children’s? Seattle Children’s Research Institute is giving you a glimpse inside the hospital and labs in the new video series “Faces of Research.”

In two-minute videos, KOMO News’ Molly Shen talks with eight Children’s scientists and doctors about their work to better understand, treat and cure the diseases, conditions and health issues that affect children such as epilepsy, liver disease, HIV, congenital heart defects, mitochondrial disease, cancer, disorders of the immune system, and disparities in physical activity and nutrition.

The videos feature: Drs. Rebecca Gardner, Franck Kalume, Lisa Maves, Jason Mendoza, Karen Murray, Albert Quintana, Troy Torgerson and Thor Wagner.

Watch the videos below or see them all online.

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Later Start Times for Secondary Schools and Changing the Culture of Sleep

Later Start Times for Secondary Schools

New data suggests that adolescents in the U.S. are chronically sleep-deprived. Doctors recommend the average teenager get between 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep on school nights, but a recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 87 percent of high school students were sleeping far less.

That’s a real concern for parents and caregivers, as sleep deprived teenagers run an increased risk of physical and mental health problems, car accidents, as well as declining academic performance. But with homework and school start times as early as 7:30 a.m. in some parts of the country, is it even possible for teens to get the sleep they need?

“No, it’s not possible,” said Dr. Cora Collette  Breuner, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and co-author of a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement that recommends all middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later.

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Teen Preserves Dreams of Motherhood After Cancer Relapse

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Shannon Keating, 16, before cancer diagnosis.

Shannon Keating always imagined that she would be a mom some day, but she didn’t expect she’d be treated at a fertility clinic at age 17. Shannon was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma as a high school sophomore, was successfully treated and then relapsed nine months later. As she prepared to fight for her life a second time, experts at Seattle Children’s Hospital helped her preserve her dream of being a parent one day.

A devastating diagnosis

Shannon was first diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in March 2013, after she discovered a lump on her neck. The treatment was six months of less-aggressive chemotherapy that oncologists did not believe would affect her fertility.

“I was relived that this therapy was less toxic, but when it was finished I didn’t feel like I was done,” Shannon said. “I had this feeling hanging over my head. I believed my cancer would come back.”

Unfortunately, Shannon was right. That December, her cancer relapsed. Facing a life-threatening illness once again, she learned her second round of treatment would be more aggressive and could cause infertility. Doctors offered her the opportunity to freeze her eggs so that she might later become pregnant using in-vitro fertilization, but Shannon was initially overwhelmed. Read full post »

Stanley Stamm Camp is More Than a Camp for Kids with Serious Illnesses

Nestled serenely in the woods of the Pacific Northwest near Mt. Rainier is a unique camp for kids. Stanley Stamm Summer Camp is week-long, sleepover camp for children with serious illnesses, ages 6 to 14 years old who are patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital. From cystic fibrosis to congenital heart disease, Stanley Stamm Camp can care for children with terminal or chronic medical conditions who may be unable to attend other camps due to their medical needs.

Stanley Stamm Camp 086 - Boating

Founded in 1967 by Dr. Stanley Stamm, a Seattle Children’s cardiologist and quiet hero, the camp has transformed since it’s inception to something truly magical and memorable. “The camp started very small, with only a few volunteers,” said Stamm. “Today, we have about 100 campers and more than 200 volunteers. They are truly the spirit of the camp. It’s been nearly 50 years since we started, and it will hopefully continue long after I’m gone.” Read full post »

How Cancer Shaped Heather Into Who She is Today

In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, 26-year-old Heather Wick talks about having cancer at the age of 18 and how the experience influenced who she is today.

Heather Wick with her son Daniel

Heather Wick with her son, Daniel

Until beginning to write this post, I had never really thought about how generic introductions are. Name, age, job title, where you live, whose wife or mom you are…how much do you share to tell a person who you are? My introduction is fairly typical, Heather Wick, 26 years old, nanny, lives in Monroe, Alan’s wife and Danny’s mom…oh and CANCER SURVIVOR.

At this point in exchanging pleasantries I often get, “Oh my gosh… you had cancer?! You’re so young!” and then I begin to walk my curious new friend through my journey. Why don’t I just leave out the cancer survivor bit and make things quick and simple you ask? Well because I am proud to be a cancer survivor. That title is as much a part of me as my name is. So, new friends, I invite you to walk through a shortened and condensed version of my journey here, on the blog for the hospital that saved my life.

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What Do Teens Think About Online Privacy?

Dr. Megan Moreno.

Dr. Megan Moreno, investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development and adolescent medicine expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Today’s teens are the first “digital natives” who have grown up with the internet. So much of what they learn about online safety comes from their peers, but what lessons are they teaching one another? To find out, Dr. Megan Moreno, an investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development and adolescent medicine expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital, led a study to discover what teens felt were key safety issues and what messages they could be sharing with their peers. She shares her findings here:

Most teens today, including those I see in clinic each week, spend time on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. While these sites provide adolescents with numerous benefits, including social support and exposure to new ideas, there are also risks of internet use, such as cyberbullying and invasion of privacy. Educating adolescents about how to protect their privacy and use the internet safely may prevent many risks. However, there aren’t any widespread, tested and comprehensive resources available to teach these skills to teens because the internet is still a relatively new phenomenon. Most teens say they learn about internet safety from their peers, but it’s unclear what lessons they may be learning in this way.  Our research team led a study to discover what teens felt were key safety issues and what messages they could be sharing with their peers. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Seeks to Answer Mysteries of Mitochondrial Disease

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Brenda Senger and her daughter Tessa.

Tessa Senger, of Spokane, Wash., appeared to be a perfectly healthy child until she began having seizures at age 4. Her mother, Brenda Senger, took Tessa to a local neurologist, who diagnosed her with epilepsy. But the treatments prescribed to Tessa did not lessen her seizures, which were occurring up to 50 times each day. Tessa grew weaker and began losing weight.

“I felt helpless,” her mom said. “I just wanted her seizures to stop and for her to start growing again.”

Eventually, Tessa was referred to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Dr. Russell Saneto, director of the Mitochondrial Medicine and Metabolism Care Team at Seattle Children’s and an investigator at Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Developmental Therapeutics, diagnosed her with a mitochondrial disease. Saneto prescribed a vitamin cocktail and seizure medications that changed Tessa’s life. The tiny girl, who weighed just 35 pounds until age 6, finally started gaining weight and her seizures stopped almost completely. Tessa is now 15 years old and has only had two seizures since second grade. She is healthy enough to begin reducing her seizure medications.

“Tessa is just thriving year after year,” Senger said. “I am thankful every day that we found Dr. Saneto and the support of Seattle Children’s Hospital.”

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