On the Pulse

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A lesson one boy who received a new kidney can teach the world

Alan Louie PosedTwelve-year-old Alan Louie has been in and out of hospitals since he was a baby. Born with kidney disease and renal failure, Alan is no stranger to blood draws, medications and doctors. For him, it has always been a part of his family’s routine. He’s never viewed himself as being sick though, and it’s something his mother, Ann Marie Louie, has always encouraged him to believe: He can do anything.

It only makes sense that Alan’s motto in life would be, “Why not me?” – a phrase he picked up from one of his role models, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

It’s a message he’d like to pass along to others facing a similar circumstance, one that he believes is especially important now, in recognition of Organ Donor Awareness Month. Read full post »

Boy gets smile for his 12th birthday

Christian smiling at soccer practice right before his birthday.

Christian at soccer practice before his birthday.

Christian Roberts was as excited for his 12th birthday as any child would be. But this April marked a very special occasion. It was the first time he could express that excitement with a smile.

Twelve years ago, Christian was born deaf and with bilateral facial paralysis due to a rare genetic anomaly called CHARGE Syndrome. For his entire life, the happy, playful Dallas boy who loved video games and LEGO bricks couldn’t move his facial muscles to smile. Christian wanted nothing more than to better communicate with his family, and with others who don’t know sign language.

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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.

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