On the Pulse

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New law highlights need for pediatric research funding

gabbi“Stop talking and start doing.”

The 10-year-old Virginia girl who spoke these words to lawmakers helped increase funding for pediatric research this year with the passing of a new law, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute is celebrating the news.

“Pediatrics gets a very small share of the National Institutes of Health budget, certainly not proportional to the number of children in the United States,” says Jim Hendricks, PhD, president of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “Any dollars that make their way to pediatric research may help our patients and other children around the world.”

A little girl makes a difference

Fifth grader Gabriella Miller became a widely celebrated childhood cancer activist during her 11 month battle with brain cancer. In the weeks before her death on Oct. 26, she urged lawmakers to increase support of pediatric research.

“We need action,” she said during an interview for a cancer awareness documentary. Read full post »

Study: Combining psych meds can cause more side effects in kids

medsParents can be understandably nervous when learning the potential side effects of a medication prescribed to their child, but those risks are often outweighed by the medication’s perceived benefit. Researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital are studying psychiatric medications to make sure the medicines they prescribe do less harm than good.

Robert Hilt, MD, is a child psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital who has successfully treated many children with psychiatric medications. Hilt began his medical career as a pediatrician and was initially reluctant towards prescribing psychiatric medications until he observed children benefiting from their use. His concern about the frequency of side effects from such treatments inspired him to lead a new study to measure the frequency and severity of side effects in children and adolescents taking psychiatric medicines.

“Typically, data reported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on medication side effects is based on six to eight week studies using a single drug for a single problem,” Hilt said. “But kids often have multiple conditions and may use several medications for years. We wanted to know how many of those kids were having side effects.”

More medications can mean more side effects

Parents across the country, whose children were prescribed psychiatric medications, completed an online survey for Hilt’s study reporting potential drug effects including increased appetite, sedation, insomnia, stomachache or headache. Most participants – 84 percent – reported their children had some side effects. The number of effects, and overall severity of them, increased with the number of psychiatric medications the children were taking.  Read full post »

Making a positive parenting pledge: Three dads share their perspectives

Austin JenkinsThe idea of positive parenting may sound simple, but throughout the month of April, in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, it holds a special significance. As the popular saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and Seattle Children’s Hospital believes that in banding together as a community, the prevalence of child abuse can be decreased.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parental feelings of isolation, stress and frustration are major causes of child abuse and mistreatment in the U.S., which is why Seattle Children’s is asking parents, caregivers and community members to take a moment to make a positive parenting pledge. Whether it’s being patient with a crying child or embracing the turbulence of parenting, the pledges represent a promise, not just for parents, but also for members of the community. By encouraging parents and empathizing with their daily struggles, a community can be built with a foundation rooted in parental support, instead of judgement.

And this April, Seattle Children’s is focusing on an extraordinary group of caregivers that don’t get as much recognition: fathers.

Read full post »

Knowing when a child’s stomachache is something more

Your child has a stomachache that just won’t go away. He doesn’t want to go to school. He may even have physical symptoms such as fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. But is the cause of his pain a medical condition?

“Unless the symptoms have been present for four months or longer, and there is significant weight loss and/or blood in the vomit or stool, there is a less than a 1 percent chance that there is something medically wrong with the child,” said Jeffrey Fahl, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Read full post »

Teenology 101: When teens can’t find a job

Recently, a report by the Brookings Institute came out about the dismal labor market for teens (and, for that matter, young adults). Particularly for high-school age teens, job opportunities are few and far between. In fact, employment rates dropped almost 50 percent for 16-19 year olds between 2000 and 2011.

Of course, we know the job market itself was shaken up by the recent recession. Also, the report points out that a small portion of the drop in employment is due to a rise in school enrollment, which is good news!

Read full post »