Archive for November 2012

Monthly Archive

Exposure to Low Levels of Air Pollutants has Modest Effect on Fetal Growth

Several studies conducted in Los Angeles and New York City have identified high concentrations of air pollution as harmful to a developing fetus, but there have been few studies of traffic-related air pollution and birth outcomes in areas that have low to moderate air pollution.  Now, a team led by Sheela Sathyanarayana, MD, MPH, of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, has found modest effects on fetal growth in the Puget Sound Air Basin, a region in Washington state with low overall air pollutant concentrations.

Traffic in Seattle

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Infant Brains More Engaged When Playing with Interactive Toys: Study

Child watching TV

Most children watch TV before age two, typically starting at about five to nine months. That’s despite the fact that recent guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics discourage television or video viewing by infants before the age of two. Encouraged by disputed claims that videos can benefit an infant or toddler’s educational development, the infant digital video disc (DVD) business has become a $500 million industry in the U.S.

First Study to Look at Brain Chemistry in Infants

However, a new study conducted by investigators at Seattle Children’s Research Institute suggests that video watching causes different brain reactions than simple interactive games, such as playing with building blocks. The purpose of the research was to test whether there are quantifiable differences in the levels of cortisol between a known beneficial and traditional type of play and one that is new and relatively understudied.

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Not all Adolescents Who Screen Positive for Depression Need Treatment: Study

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended in 2009 that primary care clinicians should screen adolescents for depression.  But a positive result or screen does not mean that every young person needs active treatment—including psychotherapy and medication—for depression, based on a new study led by Laura Richardson, MD, MPH, of Seattle Children’s Research Institute.  The study, “Predictors of Persistence Following a Positive Depression Screen among Adolescents,” was published November 19 in Pediatrics.

Teen sitting on the floor and thinking

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The Fastest Tests Beyond the West: Inside Seattle Children’s Lab

We’re approaching flu season, a time when you hear a lot about the importance of getting a flu shot, and parents get nervous about children catching the flu.  Heck, even parents get nervous about being sick. 

Speedy testing for the flu can help ease anxiety for parents – it might be just a common cold, after all.  And if it’s not, a fast diagnosis means a child receives the right treatment promptly.

Fastest in the Nation

Seattle Children’s laboratory is the fastest in the nation for producing respiratory virus results.  It’s a fact that Mike Astion, MD, PhD, medical director of Lab Medicine, is pretty proud of.  He and his team have made a lot of progress to reach that goal in recent years.

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A Family’s Journey: Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital

 

In October 2010, Heather Landis received a phone call no expectant mother ever wants to receive. At five months pregnant with their second child, the doctor told Heather and her husband Dale that the baby girl they were expecting would be born with a cleft lip and palate, birth defects that occur early in pregnancy. After the initial shock of the diagnosis, the Landis’s began preparing themselves for the difficult road that awaited them. Struggling with her emotions, Heather put what she was feeling into a candid and personal blog detailing the months before and after the birth of her daughter, Danielle.

Her blog detailed Danielle’s trips to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Dr. Hitesh Kapadia initiated the repair process using a nasoalveolar molding (NAM) device – a non-surgical method of reshaping the gums, lips, and nostrils  of children with large cleft lips and palates prior to surgery. Following months with the NAM, the craniofacial team lead by Dr. Raymond Tse performed multiple surgeries to correct Danielle’s cleft lip and palate. Danielle is currently doing very well and her cleft lip and palate were successfully repaired by Danielle’s care team. The team’s courageous efforts, collaborative spirit, and amazing success also inspired Dale to apply for a job at Seattle Children’s, where he works today.

The Landis’ story is told in a compelling photo slideshow narrated by Heather, using entries from her months of blog posts and photos taken by the family during their difficult – but ultimately successful – journey.  

If you’d like to arrange an interview with Heather or Dale Landis, or a member of Danielle’s care team, please contact Children’s PR team at 206-987-4500 or at press@seattlechildrens.org.

Five Days, Four Heart Transplants

Heart transplant recipients (clockwise, from top left): Brooke Naab, Hannah Campbell, Batul Al-Salami and AJ Baird.

In one five-day span this September, four patients – one teenager and three critically ill infants – received life-saving heart transplants at Seattle Children’s.

For four families, the week meant the end of an agonizing wait and the start of a new life.

To perform four transplants in five days is very unusual, says Dr. Lester Permut, heart surgeon and interim chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Seattle Children’s. “But these are situations we train for.”

The first notification came at the end of a busy Friday: A donor heart was available for 6-month-old AJ Baird, who had spent half his short life waiting for a heart in Children’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU).

A team from Children’s – two heart surgeons and a transplant nurse – set out immediately to get the donor heart while a team led by Dr. Permut and another heart surgeon, Dr. Michael McMullan, readied AJ at Children’s. The transplant surgery started early on Saturday, Sept. 22.

The team was finishing AJ’s surgery when the beeper went off again: a heart was available for 14-year-old Batul Al-Salami, who has been followed by the Heart Center since birth.

Then it happened again, and again, until Wednesday, Sept. 26. By then, the team had completed a total of four heart transplants – more than Children’s had ever done in a single week.

The cluster of transplants made for an exhilarating week.

“When a heart comes up for one of our patients, we’re excited about it and the energy from that sustains us,” says Dr. Permut, who traded the role of lead and assistant surgeon with Dr. McMullan for all four surgeries.

“It was a tour de force for a big group of people,” adds Dr. McMullan. “It took an incredible team and a very good system to pull this off.”

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A Serious Warning: Energy Drinks for Children and Teens

We all want our kids to lead vibrant, active lives, because childhood is such a dynamic time of discovery and participation.

But there are healthy – and unhealthy – ways to ensure that this happens.

One of my concerns right now is that caffeine is playing an unhealthy role in the diets of too many children and adolescents. Teens, for example, shouldn’t consume more than 100 mg of caffeine per day. (The recommended caffeine ceiling for adults is about 400 mg per day.)

Unfortunately, there’s a problem with certain energy drinks that exceed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) mandated limit of 71 mg of caffeine for a 12-ounce soda.

Energy drinks are sold as nutritional supplements, so they’re not regulated as foods.  As a result, their labels often don’t reveal the exact amount of caffeine in each drink. And, in addition to caffeine, energy drinks may contain other stimulants, such as taurine and guarana, a caffeine containing plant.

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