On the Pulse

Incoming college students who don’t plan to drink likely to remain low-risk drinkers

A team of our (smart) researchers from SMAHRT descended on Washington, D.C. last weekend for the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. SMAHRT = Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team, which is based at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. This week, we’ll feature some of their new research. Megan Moreno, MD, leads the group and is a senior author on all of the research studies. Some of the researchers are based at other academic institutions, demonstrating the collaborative spirit of SMAHRT.

Hand rejects a glass of beer

Drinking is a common activity among college students, and excessive alcohol consumption has negative consequences such as unintentional injuries and assault. College freshmen are an interesting group to observe from a research angle, as heavy drinking increases significantly from pre-college to the first semester of college.

Why do college freshmen start to drink?

Most freshmen are on their own for the first time, with increased freedom and independence. They want to fit in with new friends who drink, or they may turn to alcohol to cope with stressful situations in a new environment. Students who were heavy drinkers in high school have been found to be especially at risk in college for heavy drinking and experiencing related negative consequences.

What happens to those students who enter college planning to refrain from drinking? Do they stay away from alcohol as they had planned, or do they give in to peer pressure and change their minds about drinking? If so, do they drink heavily or just socially?

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Problematic Internet use among teens, and how to measure it

A team of our (smart) researchers from SMAHRT descended on Washington, D.C. last weekend for the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. SMAHRT = Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team, which is based at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. This week, we’ll feature some of their new research. Megan Moreno, MD, leads the group and is a senior author on all of the research studies. Some of the researchers are based at other academic institutions, demonstrating the collaborative spirit of SMAHRT.

Internet connection The concept of “problematic Internet use” has been kicked around for the last 10 years or so. Are younger people using the Internet too much? Are certain online behaviors harmful for teens and young adults? My research focuses on adolescent health and Internet use, and how we can help teens who might be struggling.

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What Facebook tells us about college students and alcohol dependence

A team of our (smart) researchers from SMAHRT descended on Washington, D.C. last weekend for the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. SMAHRT = Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team, which is based at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. This week, we’ll feature some of their new research. Megan Moreno, MD, leads the group and is a senior author on all of the research studies. Some of the researchers are based at other academic institutions, demonstrating the collaborative spirit of SMAHRT.

Alcohol bottles, distressed young adult

As a recent undergraduate at one of the top party schools in the United States – Princeton Review’s words, not mine – I have had the opportunity of witnessing worrisome alcohol use at high levels. Freshman year, I can’t count the number of times I came across a person passed out in the bathroom or the number of times I heard the phrase “I’m not drunk yet, let’s take 2,3,4,5 shots. I want to get wasted.”

In college, you definitely learn how to deal with daunting situations like this right away. Alcohol can cause people to do some scary and uncharacteristic things. I think this is what drew me to studying college students with alcohol dependence issues. Additionally, dependence has been correlated with a plethora of life problems, health problems, social problems, and emotional problems, all of which overlap to make a very interesting and worthy topic to study.

It is unique that such a small portion of the population—less than four percent in the U.S., according to a 2006 study—falls into the dependent category. Why? What is it about them? And could Facebook help us reach them before they develop a problem?

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Cigarettes are gateway to marijuana, study suggests

A team of our (smart) researchers from SMAHRT descended on Washington, D.C. last weekend for the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. SMAHRT = Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team, which is based at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. This week, we’ll feature some of their new research. Megan Moreno, MD, leads the group and is a senior author on all of the research studies. Some of the researchers are based at other academic institutions, demonstrating the collaborative spirit of SMAHRT.

Cigarette

Teen smokers who rationalize the use of cigarettes by saying, “At least I’m not doing drugs,” may not always be able to use that line. New research presented Sunday, May 5, supports the theory that cigarettes are a gateway drug to marijuana.

“Contrary to what we would expect, we also found that students who smoked both tobacco and marijuana were more likely to smoke more tobacco than those who smoked only tobacco,” said study author Megan Moreno, MD, investigator at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington.

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Lawyers team with doctors to help patients navigate legal system and get the care they need

Medical Legal PartnershipWhen 14-year-old Ryan Hribernick of Shoreline, Wash., started having trouble propelling his manual wheelchair, his healthcare team at Seattle Children’s recommended he add power-assist devices to give his wheels an extra boost.

But instead of approving the modification, Washington state – which pays for a portion of Ryan’s medical equipment through Medicaid – offered him a motorized wheelchair.

Not a good solution, says Susan Apkon, MD, chief of rehabilitation medicine at Children’s.

“Pushing a manual wheelchair helps Ryan maintain upper body strength and overall health,” says Apkon. “He needs power-assist wheels to safely go up and down ramps and keep pace with his friends, but he doesn’t need a motorized wheelchair to do this.”

Ryan’s mom, Kristina Ray, was concerned about the social and emotional impact on her son, who has cerebral palsy and is successfully navigating life – and middle school – with a disability. “More than anything, Ryan wants to fit in,” she says. “Putting him in a power chair would make him stick out.”

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Liver transplant unlocks new life for girl with propionic acidemia

Kaitlin Burns_liver transplantIn a northern California suburb in 1999, Kaitlin Burns was born very sick, that much was certain. She was extremely lethargic, vomited non-stop and soon wouldn’t eat anything. When her family finally received a diagnosis two weeks after her birth, the news was devastating.

Kaitlin was diagnosed with propionic acidemia, a rare, inherited metabolic disorder that affects about one in 100,000 in the United States. Propionic acidemia prevents the body from processing protein properly, leading to an abnormal buildup of a group of acids known as organic acids. Abnormal levels of organic acids in the blood, urine and tissues can be toxic and can cause serious health problems.

Michelle Burns, Kaitlin’s mother, recalls how the local hospital at the time was their second home. “During the first year of her life, I can’t even count on my fingers and toes how many trips we made,” she explains.

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Researchers uncover more genetic clues to help understand what triggers Type 1 diabetes

white blood cell

Last year, researchers from Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason identified new clues about how a common genetic change in a gene called PTPN22 may predispose children and adults to develop autoimmune conditions, including type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus.

Now, this group—in conjunction with researchers from the University of Washington—has taken the research one step further and determined more precisely how PTPN22 alters lymphocyte function, using animal models that very closely model human diabetes. Understanding this process could be crucial for both predicting which individuals are at risk to develop diseases like diabetes and also for designing new therapies.

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Doctor offers spring safety tips for parents and kids

Kids on trampoline

The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and kids are spending more time outdoors. It is spring time – a season for hiking, grilling, gardening and outdoor fun. But with spring also comes the occasional bump, bruise, bite, rash and fall. How can parents help their kids avoid injury?

Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of the division of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, offers advice for keeping kids healthy and out of the emergency room.

 

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Patients move into Building Hope expansion

Russell Wilson Building Hope

On Sunday, April 21, care teams moved patients into new cancer and critical care units in the Building Hope expansion, including the country’s first teen and young adult inpatient cancer unit. Patients, hospital leadership and staff, and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson helped celebrate the opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The expanded emergency department opened to patients Tuesday, April 23. The new ED has 38 exam rooms and features a new model of care that will reduce wait times and allow patients to be seen by a nurse right away.

The video below offers a behind-the-scenes look at the first patients moving into Building Hope.

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Building Hope, Part 5: Meet the people behind the design

Building HopeMore heads are better than one—especially when it comes to designing Seattle Children’s new expansion, Building Hope. Children’s brought together a unique advisory board made up of patients, families and hospital staff to provide feedback throughout the design process.

With Building Hope, Children’s wanted to create an environment that would support the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of healing. Who better to understand the subtleties of the patient experience than actual patients and their families?

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