On the Pulse

Diagnosing Kawasaki disease: “Grey’s Anatomy” mirrors real-life

Sarah Chalke, actressA story every mother needs to see, inspired by real-life events. This promotion for an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” may sound dramatic, but when your child is ill and a diagnosis doesn’t happen promptly, the situation is not without drama.

Sarah Chalke, a television star who appeared on “Roseanne” and “Scrubs,” is a guest star on tonight’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” with a storyline that mirrors what happened to her family.

Two years ago, Chalke’s son, Charlie, came down with Kawasaki disease, a rare condition with potentially serious effects. She has spoken publicly about the difficulty of getting Charlie diagnosed and the urgency of getting the appropriate treatment. There is a narrow window—a mere 10 days after the initial symptoms appear—for the intravenous treatment to be effective.

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Building Hope, Part 4: A closer look at the new Critical Care Unit

Porch

Life-threatening illness or injury can strike any child at any time. Seattle Children’s Hospital’s critical care medicine teams have the expertise and technology to treat the most fragile patients in the region, including those born prematurely, recovering from complex surgeries, or suffering from acute illness, chronic disease or injuries.

On April 21 the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) will move to the Building Hope expansion. With a new home comes more space and new features that will help patients and families feel more comfortable while they are at Children’s.

“There are so many great new features in the critical care unit at Building Hope,” says Cathie Rea, ICU director. “We know our staff, patients and their families will find the new space a wonderful atmosphere of healing.”

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Vilifying Food – How fad diets are affecting our children’s health

Young girl and cupcake

Fad diets have taken the U.S. by storm: Paleo, Mediterranean, the “Fast Diet” – even Gwyneth Paltrow has a new cookbook.  Just as quickly as one diet is “out,” another diet emerges to take its place. With so many options, celebrity endorsements and websites full of misinformation, how can parents know which diets are safe – especially for kids?

Celia Framson, MPH, RD, CD, and Mary Jones Verbovski, MS, RD, CD, clinical pediatric dietitians at Seattle Children’s Hospital encourage parents to keep kids in mind when evaluating a potential diet.

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Spring sports safety – 10 tips for staying in the game

Soccer girlsIt’s that time of year again. Spring has sprung, and with it comes the start of spring sports: baseball, tennis, lacrosse, soccer and track and field. Time for kids to dust off baseball gloves, clean off their cleats, dig out that tennis racket and get outside! But before they hit the pitch, field or track, the Orthopedics and Sports Medicine team at Seattle Children’s Hospital has a few tips to keep kids in the game and injury-free.

Unfortunately, injuries are inevitable, but there are preventive measures kids can take to reduce the risk of being permanently sidelined. Children’s doctors and athletic trainers remind kids to know their body and their limits.

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The Steubenville rape case – How to talk to your teen about sexual assault

Teen girl talking As coverage of the Steubenville rape case and trial continues, parents may worry about their own teens. Are they safe? How can they best protect themselves from sexual assault? It’s a topic  parents should be prepared to talk about with their teens – both girls and boys, says Jen Brown, a nurse with Seattle Children’s adolescent medicine team. In a 7-part series on Children’s Teenology 101 blog, Brown offers straightforward, practical reminders for teens and their parents, and suggests ways to start the conversation and to keep it going. She also addresses special situations and issues, such as developmentally delayed teens and sexual assault within relationships. Read full post »

Using the web to track spread of drug-resistant bacteria

CRE bacteria

Until Tom Frieden, MD and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, held a news conference earlier this month to talk about the increase of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, it was pretty likely that not many people had heard the term before.

CRE are deadly bacteria, even stronger than MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and are resistant to nearly all of the antibiotics that exist today. CRE can cause a variety of infections ranging from gastrointestinal illness to pneumonia to invasive infections of the bloodstream or other body organs.

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Talking to teens about weight: Teaching balance

NutritionBlog2PhotoBeing a teenager in today’s society is not easy. Faced with peer pressure and unrealistic expectations perpetuated through TV and magazines, teens are forced to deal with complex, uncomfortable situations daily, including a subject many would rather not discuss: weight.

“Looking at national data sources, like the CDC, that are sampling large portions of people in the U.S., we’re seeing more and more individuals in the obese or morbidly obese category,” says Yolanda N. Evans, MD, with the adolescent medicine division of Seattle Children’s Hospital.  “It’s a really important issue to talk about because more and more kids are being affected.”

However, Evans says the way we talk about the obesity epidemic could be making things worse – especially for teens.

The other side of our obsession with weight

Evans says the media’s focus on weight and people’s bodies has increased the risk for restrictive eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. Rather than focusing on healthy behaviors, our society too often promotes a “thin is better” mindset. Evans says it’s a problem that needs to be addressed and discussed, particularly with children and teens.

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How Seattle Children’s inspired one family to adopt children with special care needs

Mitchell with little sister Alaina

Mitchell with little sister Alaina

Seattle Children’s is considered a trusted resource for families needing special care. For the Wall family of Ephrata, Wash., their trust in Children’s, including the Craniofacial Center and Orthopedics and Sports Medicine teams, enabled them to become the family they are today. Mindy and Darryl Wall have six children – three biological and three adopted – four of whom have special needs. Here’s their story…

In 1993, the Wall’s second son, Mitchell, was born with a clubfoot and was later diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. At birth he began receiving care at  Children’s. Not only was he diagnosed with Asperger’s at Children’s, but he had two different clubfoot surgeries by the Orthopedics and Sports Medicine team, as well as his bracing and casting at the hospital. All of this seeded a long and trusted relationship between the hospital and the Walls. The care Mitchell received helped Mindy and Darryl become more comfortable raising children with special needs, and inspired them to adopt children who needed medical assistance, because they knew the hospital was there to help.

“We got to trust and know our way around Seattle Children’s,” said Mindy Wall. “With this knowledge and resource, we knew we could provide a loving home to other children with special needs.”

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Seattle Children’s to open country’s first dedicated teen and young adult cancer unit

Cancer Patient Room

Cancer Patient Room

On April 21, Seattle Children’s Hospital will be the first hospital in the country to open an inpatient cancer unit dedicated to teens and young adults. The 16-bed unit will occupy the top floor in the hospital’s new Building Hope facility, which will house inpatient cancer treatment, critical care treatment and a new Emergency Department.

Teen and young adult patients in the new unit will benefit from the support of their peers, as well as an enhanced package of psychosocial support programs that will improve their treatment experience.

The unit will also be the new home of Children’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program, which was one of the first five cancer programs for teens and young adults in the U.S. Children’s AYA program has been a model for the development of other programs across North America, and will now set the stage for opening a new space for this age group.

“It’s going to be a groundbreaking event in the U.S. to have a unit like this dedicated to teens and young adults,” said Rebecca Johnson, MD, oncologist at Seattle Children’s. “It presents an opportunity for us to continue with the development of new programs for this age group. Our unit will also provide an example to other institutions of how to deliver quality care for teens and young adults in a dedicated space.”

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Healthy eating tips for babies and toddlers

Toddler eating veggies

For parents of little ones, the task of reinforcing healthy habits around the dinner table can cause a bit of apprehension: What foods are best? How do I get my kids to eat their veggies? How much is too much? Parents can find it hard to know if they’re encouraging healthy eating habits in their young children.

Mollie Grow, MD, MPH, pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital – and the mother of two young girls – says that the old adage “you are what you eat” is pretty spot-on, even more so for young children whose growing minds and bodies depend on a number of different nutrients.

Nutritional recommendations have changed over time, but Grow says we now know the most we’ve ever known about nutrition.

“We’ve learned that fresh foods – especially fruits and vegetables – and variety in our diets provides the best nutrients our bodies need for optimal growth and performance,” she says. “All the different parts of our foods work together. For example, iron is needed for learning, calcium and vitamin D are needed for bone growth, vitamin B12 helps the blood grow and vitamin C helps the immune system and repairs soft tissues.”

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