On the Pulse

Preventing Obesity with Mindful Eating

Traditional advice for helping families ensure their children and teens maintain a healthy weight begins with a focus on balancing calories consumed from food and beverages with calories used through physical activity and growth. Dr. Lenna Liu, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and Child Wellness Clinic, uses a slightly different approach to support families with the complex issue of weight management. She starts by encouraging families to adopt a mindful approach to eating. Read full post »

A Miracle in the Making

Greta Oberhofer’s leukemia is in remission thanks to T-cell immunotherapy developed at Seattle Children’s.

Greta Oberhofer survived a bone marrow transplant for leukemia when she was just 8 months old — but the side effects nearly killed her. Then, six months later, her family’s worst fears came to life.

“My husband put the doctor on speaker phone — he told me Greta relapsed and that her prognosis was bad,” remembers her mother, Maggie Oberhofer. “She had already suffered so much with the chemotherapy and transplant, and we didn’t want to put her through that again. We didn’t know what to do.”

The Oberhofers — who live in Portland — were considering hospice for Greta. Then they heard that Seattle Children’s Dr. Rebecca Gardner was testing a therapy that uses reprogrammed immune cells to attack certain kinds of leukemia.

“Dr. Gardner said not to give up because her therapy was putting kids like Greta in remission, and that the side effects were often a lot easier to tolerate,” Oberhofer says. “We suddenly had a way forward.”

A few months later, the Oberhofers watched Greta’s reprogrammed cells drip into her body. Two weeks after that, her cancer was in remission.

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Tumor Paint Brings Light to Toddler’s Brain Tumor

Hunter Coffman, 2, with his family.

Hunter Coffman, 2, with his family.

In December of last year, Laura Coffman began to notice that something wasn’t quite right with her 2-year-old son, Hunter. He was leaning to one side and seemed to lose his balance easily. When he became lethargic and started vomiting a few days later on Dec. 28, she knew it was time to see the pediatrician.

After all standard tests came back normal, they were sent to Seattle Children’s for further testing and to find an answer. Unfortunately, it was far worse than anything Coffman could have imagined.

“What I thought was probably just Hunter being a wobbly toddler with a virus turned out to be a brain tumor,” said Coffman. “I will never forget that day. It was the most traumatic six hours of our lives.” Read full post »

How a Teddy Bear is Helping in the Battle Against Cancer

erin-with-t-bearHe may not be able to fly, or be as fast as the speed of light, but for children who have been diagnosed with cancer at Seattle Children’s, the cuddly teddy bear who wears a mask and purple cape is still a super hero to them – he gives them strength. His name is T-Bear and he’s bringing hope to children with cancer.

Meet T-Bear, He’s more than just a teddy bear

Catherine Lindgren, director of the Therapeutic Cell Production Core (TCPC) and its’ team at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, had an idea to make a life-changing moment feel a little more personal for cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy, a new treatment that harnesses a patient’s own immune system to seek and destroy cancer. Lindgren wanted every child to know they aren’t alone – that they have a team of support around them. And so, T-Bear was born.

“Teddy bears are historically comforting to sick children,” said Lindgren. “We wanted families to know we’re on their team, and together, we’re Strong Against Cancer.” Read full post »

Researchers Identify Better, Cost-Effective Depression Treatment for Teens

Researchers have identified a cost-effective way to treat depression in teens with a collaborative care approach.

Depression is one of the most common mental health issues a teenager can face. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 2.8 million adolescents ages 12 to 17 in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in 2014, or 11.4% of adolescents that age.

Depression can create a huge cost burden on patients and institutions, and for teenagers that includes issues like missed school and the costs of healthcare for families. A new study in JAMA Pediatrics, led by Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Group Health Cooperative, identifies a cost-effective treatment that yields promising results for depressed teens.

“We used a collaborative care approach to treat teen depression, which included having a depression care manager who worked with the patient, family and doctors to develop a plan and support the teen in implementing that plan,” said Dr. Laura Richardson, an adolescent medicine physician and researcher at Seattle Children’s and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington. “We were pleased to find that this collaborative approach was significantly more effective in treating depression than standard care with only a small increase in costs.” Read full post »

Researchers Identify Concussion Treatment for Persistent Cases in Children

Carmen Einmo, 16, suffered a concussion after falling off a horse. A new study shows that incorporating psychological care and coordinated care improves outcomes for adolescents with persistent concussion symptoms.

Concussions can create a host of symptoms—headache, dizziness, moodiness, upset stomach and other issues. In most cases, those symptoms eventually dissipate, but about 15% of young people who get concussions struggle with persistent symptoms despite seeing doctors and receiving medical care. The ongoing symptoms interfere with school, social life and physical activity.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute published a study today in the journal Pediatrics showing a new intervention for adolescents with persistent post-concussive symptoms that improved health and wellness outcomes significantly. The approach combines cognitive behavioral therapy and coordinated care among providers, schools, patients and families.

“We were pleased to find that using an approach that adds a psychological care component to treating concussions and providing coordination of care in areas of the patient’s life significantly improved outcomes,” said Dr. Cari McCarty, a psychologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who led the study. “This new approach aims to improve the quality of life for patients who were otherwise left to deal with unrelenting concussion symptoms.” Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Research Institute Celebrates a Decade of Children’s Health Innovations

Seattle Children’s Research Institute is celebrating 10 years with a Science Block Party on Saturday Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

As one of the nation’s top five pediatric research centers and one of only 31 centers in the world dedicated to pediatric research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute has made tremendous strides since it opened its doors 10 years ago. From pioneering cystic fibrosis treatments to cutting-edge cancer therapies, our researchers have made their mark in helping to prevent, treat and eliminate childhood disease.

On Saturday, Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the public is invited to a free Science Block Party for kids and adults to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the institute in downtown Seattle. Kids, parents and community members will have the chance to meet researchers and play games that illuminate how medical advancements happen in our labs and clinics.

“The Seattle community has supported us every step of the way as we search for better treatments and new cures for pediatric diseases,” said Dr. Jim Hendricks, president of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “In celebrating our 10th anniversary in downtown Seattle, we thank the doctors, researchers, families, patients and donors who have helped advance science to improve children’s lives.”

As the institute celebrates 10 years, On the Pulse takes a look at some of the most exciting pediatric innovations and discoveries. Read full post »

Stamm Camp Celebrates 50 Years of Bringing Camp to Medically Complex Children

Going to summer camp can be perceived as a childhood rite of passage. It’s a place for kids to cut loose and embrace their independence for a few special days. Whether it’s participating in new activities like fishing or archery, or bonding with fellow campers — camp can be a magical place that creates memories that last a lifetime.

Unfortunately for some kids who have medically complex conditions, the idea of going to summer camp doesn’t seem like an option. It can be especially true for children who require a wheelchair or rely on ventilators or feeding tubes to keep their health stable.

It wasn’t an option until a doctor from Seattle Children’s, Dr. Stanley Stamm, came up with a remarkable idea 50 years ago — create a summer camp catered specifically for kids who face serious medical challenges.

Every August since 1967, Seattle Children’s Stanley Stamm Summer Camp has given children with complex medical conditions the chance to step out of their diagnoses to “just be kids.”

Funded exclusively by generous donors so kids can attend for free, the week-long sleepover camp has become a powerful opportunity for campers to connect with peers, as well as former campers turned volunteers who understand what it’s like to live with a chronic illness.

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Preventing Tragedy by Empowering Teens to React to Troubling Social Media Posts From Peers

Researchers in Seattle and Portland believe web and mobile tools could be used by young people to respond effectively to concerning social media content they see from their peers.

What if a text message could prevent the next violent tragedy, or prevent a despondent teen from dying due to suicide? Two research teams hope that new mobile and web tools could do exactly that.

Distraught young people often turn to social media as an outlet and write posts about having thoughts of self-harm, violence or other concerning issues. The audience for these posts is often a troubled teen’s young peers who are left to grapple with the content and what to do about it.

Dr. Megan Moreno, a pediatrician in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, studies how young people use social media. A shared interest in adolescent health and social media sparked a collaboration between Moreno and Dr. Stephanie Craig Rushing, a researcher at the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board’s Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center, that aimed to empower young people to react to troubling social media content. Read full post »

Study Links Chemical in Plastics to Genital Abnormalities in Baby Boys

A new study shows that pregnant women’s exposure to a chemical commonly found in plastic is directly linked to abnormalities in newborn boys’ reproductive organs.

Doctors and researchers know that man-made chemicals commonly found in plastics, foods, personal care products and building materials can interfere with how hormones like estrogen and testosterone work in the body.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Research now shows that pregnant women’s exposure to a particular endocrine-disrupting chemical called diethylhexyl pthalate (DEHP) is directly linked to abnormalities in newborn boys’ reproductive organs.

Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatric environmental health researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who led the study, sat down with On the Pulse to answer some questions about the findings. Read full post »