On the Pulse

Lung Liquid Similar to One Used in Movie “The Abyss” Saves Infant’s Life, Doctors Encourage FDA Approval of Clinical Trials

Elise Pele had been in labor for hours awaiting the arrival of her baby girl, Tatiana, on the evening of Aug. 29. Elise remembers wanting desperately to hear her baby cry – a sign that everything was ok. But that cry never came. She saw Tatiana for only a few seconds before nurses rushed her to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at a local hospital.

“I instantly knew something wasn’t right and I was terrified,” Elise said. “The doctors told me my baby wasn’t breathing right and had to be transferred to Seattle Children’s.”

Tatiana experienced meconium aspiration syndrome where she inhaled a mixture of meconium (stool) and amniotic fluid during labor due to stress, which obstructed and irritated her airways, leading her down a path where doctors thought she would likely die. Read full post »

Grateful for the Ability to Walk, Makenna Raises Money for Seattle Children’s

Wenatcee Wagon DriveFour years ago, Makenna Schwab, 12, and her mother Melissa Schwab began brainstorming ways they could give back to Seattle Children’s Hospital, their home away from home throughout Makenna’s childhood.

“I wanted do give back to the hospital that gave so much to me,” said Makenna. “Because of Seattle Children’s, I can walk and live independently.”

In 2011, Makenna decided to raise money for Seattle Children’s by selling lemonade and cookies. She raised more than $6,700 that first year, but the Schwab family didn’t want to stop there, and a yearly tradition was born.

In 2012, Makenna collected 650 new toys for Seattle Children’s. She wanted to cheer up kids who had to spend the holidays in the hospital. The following year she wanted to do even more. She sold 530 dozen donuts, and collected more than $7,500 for the hospital. Read full post »

Baby Nolan Stars in runDisney Video, Gives Hope to Other Families

Remember baby Nolan Wyatt who was training for the runDisney Diaper Dash? We shared his heart-warming story in October, and the last time we spoke with the Wyatt family they were training for the race, which is part of the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort. While Nolan may not have finished first, he’s now the star in a runDisney video. Their message: “There’s always hope.” Read full post »

Common Tumors, Better Treatments: Researchers Discover Why a Blood Pressure Medication Shrinks Infantile Hemangiomas

Researchers at Seattle Children’s are constantly asking questions and investigating new treatments with the goal of improving care for our patients. Two investigators from Seattle Children’s Research Institute recently came together to determine the best therapy for children suffering from infantile hemangiomas.

A breakthrough treatment

Before she took propranolol, hemangioma tumors covered Shakira Locke's face and neck - and blocked her esophagus and airway. After being treated at age 2, Shakira now breathes and eats normally.

Before she took propranolol, hemangioma tumors covered Shakira Locke’s face and neck – and blocked her esophagus and airway. After being treated at age 2, Shakira now breathes and eats normally.

Right after Lorene Locke gave birth to her daughter Shakira, she noticed what looked like a rash on the newborn’s face. Three weeks later, doctors found an abnormal clump of vessels, called an infantile hemangioma, growing out of control inside Shakira’s throat and on her neck, face and ear, blocking her airway and leaving her gasping for air.

While most hemangiomas go away on their own and don’t cause problems, children like Shakira need multiple surgeries and procedures to remove the growths. Dr. Jonathan Perkins, an otolaryngologist and an investigator at the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, has spent years studying hemangiomas in search of a less-invasive approach. When French researchers discovered that a blood pressure medicine called propranolol could shrink away hemangiomas, Perkins found the breakthrough he was waiting for. Read full post »

Study: Half of Children with Abusive Head Injuries Will Die Before Adulthood

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Children are at greatest risk for abusive head injuries between about 2 weeks and 4 months of age, when they cry the most and cannot always be soothed.

It’s well understood that head injuries are harmful to children, but just how serious are the effects?

A new study published in Pediatrics reports half of children who experience a severe abusive head trauma before the age of 5 will die before their 21st birthday. The study, led by Ted Miller of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, also reports the quality of life of children who survive severe head injuries is cut in half.

Dr. Kenneth Feldman, a primary care doctor at Seattle Children’s Hospital and former chair of the hospital’s Child Protection Program, was not surprised by the results of the study.

“These findings are in line with what we’ve experienced in clinical care,” said Feldman, who is also an investigator with the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “Abusive head injuries have devastating affects. We know that of the infants that survive these kinds of head injuries, about a third develop life-threatening neurological disorders, another third have moderate dysfunction and the remainder appear healthy, but may experience significant problems in school.” Read full post »

Families Find Hope in Success of Cancer Immunotherapy

Researchers at Seattle Children’s are sharing their success thus far in treating leukemia using immunotherapy – a technology that uses the body’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells. While scientists are excited about progress of these clinical trials, no one is more grateful for this research than the families of the patients who have benefitted from it.

A tiny girl, a tough decision

Greta Oberhofer with her parents Andy and Maggie and her sister Charlotte.

Greta Oberhofer with her parents Andy and Maggie and her sister Charlotte.

In March of this year, Andy and Maggie Oberhofer, of Portland, Ore., faced the most difficult dilemma of their lives. Their baby daughter, Greta, was dying. She had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was just 3 months old and standard treatments were not working. Her family prepared for the worst.

“Greta had barely survived chemotherapy and a transplant,” Andy Oberhofer said. “We didn’t want her to suffer any more if she couldn’t be cured. We found ourselves considering end-of-life care for our 1-year-old daughter.”

But then, Greta’s family found hope. Greta qualified for a cancer immunotherapy trial at Seattle Children’s Hospital designed to treat leukemia patients who have relapsed after a transplant. This innovative technology reprograms the body’s T cells and reintroduces them into the immune system, where they hunt down and destroy cancer cells.

“Immunotherapy just made sense to us,” said Oberhofer. “We believed it could work.” Read full post »

Act Now to Protect Your Family From the Seasonal Flu

Child with fluIf you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about seasonal influenza, or the flu, and the important steps you should take to protect your child. Flu season can range from October through May, but most cases of the flu in the U.S. occur between December and February.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu complications. And there is not only the threat of hospitalization; in some rare cases the flu can become fatal. During the 2013-2014 flu season, the CDC reported more than 100 flu-related deaths in children.

With this in mind, it’s time to consider a very important safety measure: vaccination. Read full post »

Sports Medicine Doctors Use Their Own Unique Experiences to Relate to Kids and Teens

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Drs. Burton, Lockhart and Quitiquit (left to right)

Treating an athlete with a sports inquiry can present a unique challenge to a sports medicine doctor. How do you get a young athlete back into the game as soon as possible, but as safely as possible? It’s a question that can be a difficult one to bridge with an athlete eager to get back to play, especially if it means missing time on the field or court. Parents, coaches, and teammates are all counting on them! But that’s what gives Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Drs. Monique Burton, John Lockhart and Celeste Quitiquit an edge. They’ve all been there.

As former Division I athletes, the trio knows what it’s like to suffer an injury, to push through pain, to the feel pressure of coaches or peers and the feeling of isolation that can come with an injury.

“We not only have the medical training to treat young athletes as pediatricians and sports medicine specialists, but as former Division I athletes who have dealt with our own injuries, we have a perspective that many people might not have,” said Lockhart, who was a wrestler at the University of Illinois. “Name almost any injury, or the vast majority of what we see, and I bet I’ve been through it – concussions, back pain, broken bones, knee problems, torn ligaments. I understand what it feels like when I’m helping one of my patients make a challenging decision, like to have surgery or not. I’ve been in their position making the same decisions.” Read full post »

Is Thank You Enough?

You may remember Kat Tiscornia from September of last year when she shared her experience of battling Ewing sarcoma and becoming “Titanium Girl.” Kat, now a sophomore at Mercer Island High School, asked On the Pulse if she could share an important message with those who cared for her at Seattle Children’s. We think you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we did.

Thank you. It’s just two simple words. In some languages it’s just one, gracias or merci for example. I was brought up to say thank you all the time. Thank you to my teachers, my coaches, my bus driver and the store clerk behind the counter. Are these two words really enough though? What if it’s a big thank you? What if the people you want to thank are the reason you are standing here today?

In March 2013 I was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. I was at Seattle Children’s Hospital when I first met my oncologist, Dr. Doug Hawkins. I will never forget that day. He had to deliver the worst news of my life. However, as he told me that I had a cancerous tumor in my leg, his voice was full of compassion, patience and honesty. He was honest about how hard this journey I was about to embark on was going to be. I remember being very scared that day, but I never felt hopeless. He had a plan for me and I trusted him. Thank you, Dr. Hawkins. Read full post »

Overloaded on Hidden Sugar

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When it comes to the holiday season, sugar is everywhere, particularly in desserts and holiday candy. But did you know that sugar is also added to many everyday foods, including soups and yogurt?

“Many people are unaware of just how pervasive added sugar is in our foods,” said Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “It isn’t just cookies and soda, it’s being added to many foods that most people wouldn’t consider as sweets.”

The result: the average American adult is consuming three times more sugar than is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) – 76.7 grams per day versus the recommended 25 grams per day, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“The problem with sugar is that it presents a variety of risks to our health,” said Grow. “Some are more obvious, in the sense that more sugar means more calories which can contribute to weight gain. Weight gain leads to obesity, and can bring along many health problems like diabetes. But an excess amount of sugar also affects our long term health by altering our metabolism and causing inflammation.”

Read full post »