Research

All Articles in the Category ‘Research’

Microcephaly: Neurologists Answer Questions in Light of Zika Outbreak

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus and its potential link to birth defects a global health emergency. Zika virus is carried mainly by a species of mosquito called Aedes aegypti.

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus and its potential link to birth defects a global health emergency. Scientists are studying if the spread of Zika in Latin America is linked to the increased rates of microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads. Zika virus is transmitted mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito.

Dr. William Dobyns and Dr. Ghayda Mirzaa are pediatric neurogeneticists and researchers at the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who treat and study microcephaly. On the Pulse sat down with them to discuss microcephaly.

Q: What is microcephaly?

Mirzaa: Microcephaly is a condition in which a fetus or baby’s head size is abnormally small, defined as more than two standard deviations below average. The smaller head size reflects abnormal or decreased brain growth. Microcephaly affects about 2% of newborns, while severe microcephaly, defined as a head size more than three standard deviations below average, is seen in less than 0.1% of newborns.

Microcephaly occurs as the only birth defect in many children, but it can also occur with a wide range of additional abnormalities including other brain defects. When a baby has microcephaly, a neurologist or geneticist will order tests to determine the cause. Read full post »

Chronic Migraines in Kids: A Family Works Past the Pain With Seattle Children’s Researcher

Tyler Stewart has struggled with chronic migraines all his life. With Dr. Emily Law’s behavioral treatment, he has new tools to reduce the migraines.

Tyler Stewart was 5 when he had his first migraine. He stepped out of class to get a drink of water, got a headache and vomited. His mom, Kelly Stewart, got a call from the school. The nurse suspected Tyler had a migraine.

Tyler, now 15, says chronic pediatric migraines affected his entire childhood experience, from school to sports.

“The day I had my test to qualify for my black belt in tae kwon do, I had a migraine,” he said. “I got the black belt, but I had to push through a migraine to do it.”

This past summer, Tyler began to see Dr. Emily Law, a psychologist in Seattle Children’s Pain Medicine program and a researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. She studies the use of behavioral interventions and screening tools in treating pediatric migraines, and recently received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to support her research. Read full post »

Discovery Portal Invites Visitors to Explore Extraordinary Pediatric Research

Seattle Children’s Research Institute is hosting an open house for its new visitor center showcasing research for life-saving cures and advances in pediatrics.

Seattle Children’s Research Institute is home to some of the world’s most inventive and successful pediatric researchers, who work every day to find lifesaving cures and address health issues that affect children around the world.

This institute has opened its Discovery Portal visitor center, a place for the community, patients and donors to experience how researchers are making a difference for children in Seattle and around the globe. The new visitor center showcases research for life-saving cures and advances in pediatric research.
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NIH funds $2 million obesity treatment study at Seattle Children’s Research Institute

The SHIFT study is a great opportunity for families starting the New Year thinking about weight loss and healthy habits.

Many people begin the New Year with a commitment to better health and weight loss. At Seattle Children’s Research Institute, we’re doing the same by launching an obesity treatment study using long-term interventions that provide children and parents with focused guidance and education to help them reach and sustain weight loss goals.

The study, known as the SHIFT study (Success in Health: Impacting Families Together) takes place over a five-month period in which children ages 7-11 and their parents meet weekly for intensive sessions at regional clinics.

“This study is a great opportunity for one-on-one attention and group support for families who are starting this New Year thinking about weight loss and healthy habits,” said Dr. Brian Saelens, Principal Investigator and director of the study. “Past results using this intensive method showed promise, and we are excited to expand this research with NIH support.” Read full post »

Study: Teens Use Covert Self-harm Hashtags on Instagram That Escape Content Advisory Filters

Dr. Megan Moreno found that teens posting about self-harm, which includes behavior such as intentional cuts or burns on the wrists, arms, legs or belly, were able to outmaneuver Instagram warning labels.

Teens on social media post about their comings and goings—pictures, videos, music and news. But according to a new study from Seattle Children’s Research Institute, some teens are using stealthy hashtags and secret languages on Instagram, a popular picture-sharing app, to create online self-harm communities and trends that encourage dangerous behavior. By doing so, they circumvent Instagram safeguards for self-harm and other dangerous material.

The new research illustrates what content is present on Instagram and details how parents or concerned adults can decipher the meaning of unclear terms they see on their teens’ profiles.

Dr. Megan Moreno, an adolescent medicine physician who studies social media and adolescent health at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, found that teens posting about self-harm, which includes behavior such as intentional cuts or burns on the wrists, arms, legs or belly, were able to outmaneuver Instagram warning labels. Despite the social media app’s attempts to discourage the posts by providing warnings and blocking certain hashtags, adolescent users continued the conversations by developing new hashtags.

“We found that only one third of self-harm hashtags on Instagram generated warning labels,” Moreno said. “Adolescents’ use of unusual terms, such as ‘blithe’ and odd spellings such as ‘self-harmmm,’ allowed them to subvert detection and warning labels.” Read full post »

Research Linking Antidepressants and Autism: What Parents Need to Know

Dr. Bryan King

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is on the rise, but researchers are still searching for explanations as to why. A new study out today in JAMA Pediatrics , linking the use of antidepressants during pregnancy to an increased risk of autism in children, is just another brick in a path toward understanding risk factors associated with autism in general, said Dr. Bryan King, program director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center and Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, but it’s not the answer.

King sat down with On the Pulse to answer questions about the study. Read full post »

Safe Holiday Toys: What Parents Should Look For When Choosing Gifts For Kids

Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana says wood toys are a better choice than plastic for babies and toddlers who put things in their mouths.

While families shop for fun toys this holiday season, they should also make sure those toys are safe. On the Pulse sat down with Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatrician and expert in children’s environmental health, to talk about safety in children’s toys and what to look for in gifts for little ones.

Q: Are there materials that parents should avoid for babies and toddlers?

A: Babies and toddlers put a lot of things in their mouths, so plastics are not a good choice for little ones ages 0-3. Plasticizers expose kids to man-made chemicals that affect hormones like estrogen and testosterone. These chemicals can potentially interfere with normal growth and brain development. Children have higher intakes of these chemicals compared to adults because of behaviors like putting things in their mouths and breathing faster than adults. Read full post »

The Science of Gratitude and How Kids Learn to Express It

Scientists at Seattle Children’s Research Institute describe the neuroscience behind gratitude and how kids learn it.

What happens in our brains and bodies when we feel gratitude? We get a fuzzy feeling when we give thanks or receive it because we did something nice. But why does gratitude feel good? And how can families teach kids to express this sentiment?

Dr. Susan Ferguson, a neuroscientist at the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, says the feeling of gratitude activates several parts of the brain. The ventral tegmental area is a part of the brain associated with reward and motivation. The hypothalamus is associated with basic tasks such as eating, sleeping, hormone secretion and stress. The septum is associated with bonding. When we feel and express thanks, these parts of the brain light up.

“Research shows that gratitude is linked with feelings of reward, improved sleep and decreased depression and anxiety,” Ferguson said. “There are measurable benefits to mental health and interpersonal relationships when humans feel gratitude.” Read full post »

Using Big Data to Predict and Prevent Preterm Birth

Photo for BlogWorldwide, preterm birth is the leading cause of death for all children under age 5, taking the lives of more than 1.1 million children every year. Now, new research utilizing the emerging field of systems biology aims to harness big data in an effort to reduce the global burden of preterm birth.

Seattle is well known as a technology hub, and big data has become an area of great focus and opportunity. Advances in technology now allow for analysis of data sets that would have been much more difficult to accomplish just 10 years ago.

The Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, is announcing three new projects that will use big data to help discover the root causes of preterm birth and identify potential targets for interventions to improve pregnancy health. In this case, big data is defined as large and complex data sets generated from biological components like molecules and cells, which require computational and mathematical modeling to interpret. Read full post »

Screen Time, Holiday Time, Family Time: Tips For Parents On Tech Toys This Holiday Season

Dr. Dimitri Christakis says not all screen time is bad for children, but it’s important to be familiar with the content and manage the time kids spend on screen toys.

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced it is revising recommended screen time guidelines for kids. Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, offers parents advice on how to manage screen time and what to consider when shopping for children this holiday season.

Q: What should parents make of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) decision to revise screen time guidelines?
A: This is an acknowledgement that for kids growing up today, screen time is a constant part of their lives: At home, at school, when visiting friends, on the airplane, in cars. Digital products have permeated every part of kids’ days, so the revised guidelines ought to help families manage digital engagement.

The good news is that not all screen time is bad. But it’s important for parents to understand that kids are going through critical cognitive, social and emotional developmental phases, and screen time influences that development. Read full post »