Archive for 2012

5 New Year’s resolutions to keep kids healthy in 2013

Five doctors at Seattle Children’s offer their top tips for keeping kids healthy in the new year. Their suggestions range from protecting kids against the flu and environmental toxins, to helping them get the rest they need to succeed.

Make one of these your family’s 2013 New Year’s resolution:

1. Protect your whole family against the flu

Doug Opel, MD, MPH, general pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says “It’s not too late, but don’t wait” to get a flu shot. Opel advises parents to vaccinate their children and themselves against the flu, a contagious virus that infects the nose, throat and lungs, and can cause fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

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Developmental Delays Found in Children with Deformational Plagiocephaly

More developmental monitoring of children with skull deformation needed, researchers say

Top of head of child with deformational plagiocephaly (drawn by Huang MHS)

As many as 30 percent of all infants may have deformational plagiocephaly, also known as positional plagiocephaly, which is characterized by asymmetry and flattening of the head caused by external pressures. In previous studies, infants and toddlers with this condition have been shown to experience delays in development compared to unaffected children.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute wanted to find out if these developmental delays persisted as children grew older. The researchers studied the development of 224 children with deformational plagiocephaly from infancy ( months, on average) through 36 months of age, comparing them to 231 unaffected children. This is the first scientifically rigorous study to examine development in preschool-age children with deformational plagiocephaly compared to a control group of kids without the condition.

Results of the study were published today in the journal Pediatrics. The findings indicate that children with deformational plagiocephaly continued to score lower on development measures than unaffected children at age 36 months.  Differences between children with and without deformational plagiocephaly were largest on measures of language and cognition, and smallest on measures of motor skills such as balance, jumping and running. Read full post »

Celebrating the holidays at Seattle Children’s Hospital

For families with sick babies and kids, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time. At Seattle Children’s, staff, volunteers, family members and the community find creative ways to bring the holidays to the hospital.

Here’s a sampling of some of their efforts this year:

HAM’ing it up with Santa Claus

Staff at Children’s have a unique connection to the man at the North Pole. With the help of a HAM radio, patients tell Santa their Christmas wishes and ask their most pressing questions.

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Doctors’ toy safety tips for the holidays

With an abundance of toys to choose from this holiday season, many parents may find themselves asking which toys are best for their young kids. Pediatricians encourage parents – and anyone buying a gift for a baby or child – to think safety first.

Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of the division of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says parents should read toy labels, remove possible hazards, and expect the unexpected when it comes to kids and toys.

“Parents should remember that children don’t perceive toys the same way we do and often don’t use them as we might expect,” says Woodward. “If a toy can be misused, chewed on, eaten, swallowed or thrown at someone, it will be. Parents should ensure that if those things do happen, the child won’t be injured.”

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Coping with Safety Concerns As Kids Go Back to School

Following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that has shocked the world, many families may feel uneasy as their children return to school this week. Not only has the tragedy made some parents question their children’s safety at school, but children and teens may also find it difficult to return to their normal routine as they remain concerned about the events that took place.

Seattle Children’s pediatrician and blogger Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson provides helpful advice in her Seattle Mama Doc post about how parents can support their children as well as themselves in the next few days and weeks ahead.

Below you will find a brief sampling of Dr. Swanson’s helpful tips for parents. For the complete list, visit her Seattle Mama Doc post, “Going Back to School Monday.”

  • Remember your child’s school is safe – Random shootings are an anomaly and it is important to remind yourself that this tragedy was an exception.
  • Get the information you need – Reach out to your child’s school to ensure there are good safety measures in place.
  • Step back from media reports – Any overwhelming informational stream can increase anxiety and heartache.
  • Listen to your children before you speak – Ask what your children have heard and how it makes them feel. If your children don’t speak about it, begin the conversation and ask open-ended questions.
  • Discuss the safety measures you take in your own home and at school to protect your children from harm.
  • Check in with your child when they get home from school – Ask open-ended questions to see what they’ve learned or how they’re feeling and continue to check in over the next few weeks. Read full post »

Ban on mercury in vaccines would hurt children in developing countries

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) today reiterated its concern that a proposed mercury ban by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) could have devastating effects on the world’s most vulnerable children. The proposal includes a ban on thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative used in vaccines in many developing countries.

The AAP and the World Health Organization said that the proposed ban would threaten access to vaccines for children in poor countries – where the risk from vaccine-preventable diseases remains high.

Ed Marcuse, MD, MPH, associate medical director for quality improvement at Seattle Children’s Hospital and member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biologics Advisory Committee, said that the serious health risks that would result from a ban on thimerosal in vaccines far outweigh the potential environmental benefits.

“The proposed ban would have the potential to enormously increase the cost of vaccines, making them inaccessible to many of the world’s children,” says Marcuse.

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Connecticut school shooting – Helping kids cope with violence in the news

On the heels of Tuesday’s mall shooting in Oregon, this morning a tragic mass shooting unfolded at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Just like adults, kids are exposed to news coverage of violence or hear about it from friends, and they are likely to have fears and questions. Studies show that children can suffer long-term emotional damage from exposure to violence in news coverage.

Dr. Bob Hilt, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says parents should be prepared to help their children deal with traumatic events, such as natural disasters and acts of violence.

How to help your kids cope with violence

Dr. Hilt suggests parents follow these tips to help their kids process traumatic events:

  1. Control what kids are seeing and hearing. Limit the amount and type of news coverage your child is exposed to. If the TV is on, make sure you watch with your kids so you can answer any questions they might have about what they’re seeing. Younger kids don’t have the ability to contextualize traumatic events. A child might personalize an event and worry that it might happen to his family. While teens are better able to emotionally process violence and disasters, they might still have questions. Make sure to check in with your older children as well.

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One Step Closer to a Cure for Leukemia without Chemotherapy or Radiation

At most hospitals, children with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who aren’t responding well to chemotherapy would be running out of options. But Seattle Children Research Institute’s researchers are one step closer to finding a cure.  Starting this month, patients who have relapsed ALL will have the option of participating in a new clinical trial if they are not responding to chemotherapy and have a less than 20 percent chance of survival. 

Harnessing life-saving cells in patients’ blood

The new treatment—called cellular immunotherapy—involves drawing blood from the patient, reprogramming their infection-fighting T cells to find and destroy cancer cells, and infusing the blood back into their body.

T cells attack neuroblastoma tumor cells

Only three other institutions in the country are conducting this type of clinical trial, which involves using a specialized high-tech facility to manufacture the personalized therapy using each patient’s blood. 

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Building Hope, Part 1: Top Ten Features of Cancer Inpatient Unit

Cancer Patient Room

In April 2013, Seattle Children’s will open Building Hope, a new  facility that will house a new cancer inpatient unit with 48 single patient rooms. Additionally, Building Hope will include 32 private rooms for critical care treatment and a new Emergency Department.

The cancer care space will span two floors and offer several features that will make a patient and their family’s stay as personalized and comfortable as possible.

A 16-bed teen and young adult cancer space will occupy its own floor, where patients will benefit from the support of their peers in an age-appropriate environment. No other hospital in the United States currently offers a dedicated inpatient unit of this size for the care of teens and young adults with cancer.

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Cure for Pain: How physical therapy helped Pasco pre-teen get her life back

Chloe SchmidtIf there’s one thing 12-year-old Chloe Schmidt of Pasco, Wash., is thankful for this holiday season, it’s the absence of pain.

For her mom, Erin, it’s the Pain Rehabilitation Program at Seattle Children’s – and the physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, nurses and physicians who helped her daughter move past the pain that derailed her life earlier this year.

Chloe’s downward pain spiral started with a cat bite in January. By February, she had body aches that her pediatrician blamed on growing pains. A week later it morphed into a searing, all-over pain.

That’s when Erin scooped Chloe off the floor and rushed her to a local emergency room.

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