On the Pulse

New Hope for HIV Treatment: Empowering the Immune System Through Immunotherapy

Tranisha Arzah, 26, was born with HIV and works as an HIV educator.

People who acquire HIV can lose a critical function in their body: their immunity. Left untreated, HIV infects the immune system and disables a person’s ability to fight infections, which can turn the common cold into a death sentence. Antiviral treatment can prevent this from happening, but if medications are stopped the virus comes back almost immediately.

Currently, one out of every 200 American adults lives with HIV. As doctors, scientists and advocates gather in South Africa this week at the International AIDS Conference, researchers at Seattle Children’s have been thinking hard about how to kick HIV, and they have an ambitious goal: They want to develop an immunotherapy that harnesses the power of the immune system to kill and resist HIV.

“Immunotherapy has been successful in treating cancer and we’re optimistic that we can take that same technology and apply it to HIV,” said Dr. Thor Wagner, an infectious disease specialist and pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “The hope is that in the future we’ll be able to take an HIV-positive person’s T cells and re-engineer them to attack and resist the virus.” Read full post »

How Violence in Video Games and Media Harm Child Development

A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics calls for action to reduce children’s exposure to violent video games and media. The report also calls on the gaming and media industries to create shows and games for children that do not contain violence.

“Children are not only viewing violence, but with virtual reality games they are actively engaging in a realistic and immersive violent experience,” said Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and lead author of the new AAP policy. “A media diet is as important as a food diet. Pediatricians and families need to have thoughtful conversations about a child’s media intake.” Read full post »

Animal Safety: Teach Kids Smart Habits Around Animals

Supervision is key to preventing injuries to children around animals.

Summer equals outdoor time for many families, and that often means more face time with animals as well.

Dr. Tony Woodward, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, has seen children who have been injured by or become ill after contact with animals throughout his career in the emergency department. He offers advice and tips to families about keeping kids safe around animals.

“Most animals don’t understand humans and how we operate,” Woodward said. “Combine that with an excited or inquisitive young child who has no concept of harm, and we see kids get hurt.” Read full post »

Children’s Soy Consumption Linked to Increased Kawasaki Disease Risk

Ewan Hart, 2, with his sister. Ewan was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease after he was hospitalized at Seattle Children’s when he developed a sudden fever that would not come down.

Some parents feed infants and children soy formula and products because they believe they are a healthy alternative to dairy, especially if a child is lactose intolerant. But new research published in the journal Nutrition Research shows that high soy consumption in infants and young children leads to an increased risk of Kawasaki disease, an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in arteries and can result in irreversible and devastating damage to the heart.

Kawasaki disease affects about 7,000 infants and children in the U.S. each year. Although the disease can occur in children of all races, those of Asian descent are at substantially higher risk.

“It’s concerning that high consumption of foods like tofu, soy formula, edamame and other soy products is a risk factor for Kawasaki disease,” said Dr. Michael Portman, a pediatric cardiologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who was the lead author of the study. “This should be a concern for all families with young children, but particularly those of Asian heritage because their traditional diets use a lot of soy.” Read full post »

Meet Noelia, The Artist Who Designed Kasey Kahne’s Newest No. 5 Race Car

Noelia 1What is covered in spots, red and blue stripes, has a skyline and a music scale? The answer: Kasey Kahne’s newest No. 5 race car. This July at Daytona International Speedway, Kahne will drive the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS with a very special paint scheme that’s guaranteed to turn a few heads. But, what makes the car truly unique is the fact that it was designed by 8-year-old Noelia Gutierrez, a cancer patient at Seattle Children’s.

Noelia’s car design was inspired by all her favorite things – Barcelona FC soccer team, jaguars, singing and Seattle’s iconic skyline.

Her hope is that all of her favorite things will inspire Kahne as he races to reach the checkered flag. Read full post »

Revolutionary Surgery Helps Little Girl Breathe Without a Tracheostomy For the First Time

Hannah Schow,11, with mother, Jennifer Schow.

Hannah Schow,9, with mother, Jennifer Schow.

There were only a few weeks to go in Jennifer Schow’s seemingly normal pregnancy when her world turned upside down.

She noticed she’d been gaining weight suddenly, more than she thought was expected. Her doctor said everything seemed fine, but something didn’t feel right.

Feeling uneasy, she and her husband got a second opinion and the news they received confirmed their fears.

“I could see the baby’s face on the ultrasound screen,” said Schow. “I joked that it looked like her ear was missing.”

The ultrasound technician became quiet and said she’d be right back. That’s when Schow knew there was something seriously wrong. Read full post »

Treating Patients With Autism in the Emergency Department

Dr. Eileen Klein, attending physician and co-director of Emergency Medicine Research, will speak about the challenges families and children with autism face in navigating the emergency department.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are becoming a larger proportion of Seattle Children’s patients, challenging providers to develop new tactics to meet their unique needs.

This year’s Pediatric Bioethics Conference, “Autism Re-examined: Ethical Challenges in Care, Support, Research and Inclusion,” will focus on the challenges and special requirements of treating these patients.

Dr. Eileen Klein, attending physician and co-director of Emergency Medicine Research at Seattle Children’s Hospital, is a featured speaker at this year’s conference. She gave On the Pulse a sneak preview of her presentation plans, what she’s most looking forward to and what she hopes to learn. Read full post »

Just Ask: Are Your Firearms Stored Safely?

The first day of summer marks a season when kids often spend more time at the homes of friends and other family members. Before children head off for playdates or childcare in another home, parents often ask common safety questions about the house their child will be visiting like “Who else will be home?” “Are there pets in the house?” Or, “Can I install the car seat in your car before I leave?” There’s one other important question parents should add to the list: “Is there an unlocked firearm in your house?” Read full post »

Care Team Brings Prom to Teenager Waiting for a New Heart, Helps Her Attend Graduation With a Second Chance at Life

Bella Anderson, 18, missed nearly two months of her senior year waiting for a heart at Seattle Children's.

Bella Anderson, 18, missed nearly two months of her senior year waiting for a heart at Seattle Children’s.

Isabella (Bella) Anderson, 18, was running out of time. Her heart was failing and doctors didn’t know how much more it could withstand. She needed a change in luck and some good news.

Finally, Bella got just that: a surprise and the news she’d been waiting for.

A long road to transplant

At only 10 years old, Bella went to see the doctor for strep throat, but doctors found something more alarming: a heart murmur. She was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle’s wall.

From that day forward, she was monitored closely by Seattle Children’s Heart Center, one of the best pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery programs in the U.S., and the top-ranked program in the Pacific Northwest, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Unfortunately, as time progressed, so did her heart condition. Cardiomyopathy reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively and can lead to congestive heart failure.

Slowly, her heart began to fail. Read full post »

Dr. Jeff Sperring Reacts to Orlando Tragedy: Encourages Community to Celebrate Diversity

Jeff Sperring

Dr. Jeff Sperring, Chief Executive Officer of Seattle Children’s, reacts to the Orlando tragedy. 

Like all of you, I was heartbroken this weekend to hear about the tragedy that happened in Orlando. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts go out to the families, friends and communities who were so deeply affected in Florida and well beyond.

Hate can never be a part of our actions. Equally, hate should never be a part of our reactions. In the midst of this senseless act by a single person, we must use this time to reaffirm our commitment to each other. Our diversity, unity and tolerance create a light that cannot be overshadowed by anything that would aim to divide us.

At Seattle Children’s, we are a better team because we are different. We are a stronger team and a stronger community because we celebrate our differences and allow them to bring us together. I am proud to be part of the Seattle Children’s team that welcomes, includes and respects all of our patients, families and team members — for who we are, where we’re from and how we live and worship. Read full post »