On the Pulse

Researchers pinpoint decision-making parts of brain that can affect addiction, ADHD

The brainWhen “Glee” star Cory Monteith died last month from an overdose of heroin and alcohol, his fans were baffled. Monteith, 31, seemed to have everything—a great job, fame and a loving girlfriend and co-star. He had just completed a stint in rehab in April, too. But the pull of addiction is strong and even the smartest people don’t make the best decisions when faced with temptation.

Now, a team led by Susan Ferguson, PhD, from Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and John Neumaier, MD, PhD, from the University of Washington, has used a new technique to identify and learn more about a key reward-based, decision-making part of the brain, the striatum.

The team’s findings have implications for addiction, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Perhaps one day, with the help of medications targeting this part of the brain, addicts like Monteith can better control their urges and avoid tragic endings.

Read full post »

Dangerous dares, stopping the next cinnamon challenge

SONY DSCNow that kids are headed back to school, more time with friends, an increased amount of peer pressure and less supervision all combine to make a dangerous mix. “I dare you” is how it usually begins – a few simple words, a group of kids and a smartphone to document the foolery. From the cinnamon challenge, attempting to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon in 60 seconds without drinking water, to the milk challenge, attempting to drink a gallon of milk in one hour without vomiting, a recent trend in the media has parents and doctors sounding the alarm.

However, more and more kids are attempting rather than avoiding the dangerous dares and challenges they see on the internet. Which begs the question, are we doing enough to end the trend? Or are we waiting for the next cinnamon challenge to hit the web?

Read full post »

Fat letters from schools spur childhood obesity debate

Childhood obesityReceiving report cards from schools is a standard practice that helps parents stay informed about their child’s academic performance. But now, schools in some states have been going one step further and are also letting parents know how their child’s weight measures up.

A new report released this week in Pediatrics has spurred debate around this issue as it states that Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings in schools and subsequently informing parents about their child’s weight category is a necessary step in the fight against the childhood obesity epidemic.

Twenty one states, not currently including Washington, have enacted policies or made recommendations about collecting height and weight data and assessing body composition in schools. In some states, like Massachusetts and Arkansas, a confidential letter that has been dubbed a “fat letter” is mailed to parents whose child has a high BMI, informing them of their child’s weight status and advising them to talk with a doctor.  

Read full post »

Doctor offers tips for a smooth transition from summer to school

BacktoSchoolPack away the flip-flops and beachwear. Bring on the mechanical pencils and 3-ring binders. School is almost back in session, and it’s time for kids to transition to a more structured, scholarly schedule.

Heading back to school can be a stressful time for parents and kids, but planning ahead and talking through issues can help. Mollie Grow, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, offers tips to ease the transition from summer to school.

Read full post »

Magnets pose an increasing risk to children

MagnetsAn 8-year-old girl comes to the emergency room with what her parents think is stomach flu, then is rushed into surgery after X-rays show she swallowed three tiny magnets. A toddler eats magnets that look like candy, then has part of her bowels removed after the magnets click together inside her.

They’re stories that make parents squirm – and they’re becoming all too familiar to Julie Brown, MD, co-director of pediatric emergency medicine research at Seattle Children’s. Brown treats children in Seattle Children’s Emergency Department and is seeing more and more cases where kids accidentally swallow magnets or insert them into their nose, ears or other orifices, with potentially life-threatening consequences.

In a study published Aug. 6 in Annals of Emergency Medicine, she and her colleagues found that this is a national trend: From 2002 to 2011, there was a significant increase in kids receiving emergency care after accidentally taking magnets into their bodies, indicating that magnet-related injuries are an increasing public health problem for children.

Read full post »

Dating violence a common experience for teens

Teen datingRecent research presented at the American Psychological Association’s meeting in Honolulu finds that about one in three American teens report being victims of dating violence. Almost one in three teens also acknowledge they’ve committed violence toward a date.

Researchers analyzed information collected in 2011 and 2012 from 1,058 youths, ages 14 to 20, in the Growing Up with Media study, a national online survey funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study defines teen dating violence as physical, sexual or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship.

“When we think about violence, we often think about someone being punched or beaten. Physical abuse is a devastating type of dating violence, but psychological and sexual violence also hurt keenly and can cause lasting damage,” said Jen Brown, a nurse with Seattle Children’s adolescent medicine team.

Read full post »

Craniofacial surgeon revolutionizes treatment for Apert syndrome, improves kids’ lives

The new technique was recently published in the journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, “Normalizing Facial Ratios in Apert Syndrome Patients with Lefort II Midface Distraction and Simultaneous Zygomatic Repositioning.”

Apert syndrome is a rare condition that occurs in one of 45,000 to 160,000 live births. For the children it affects, it’s very complex and is not only challenging to live with, but it’s also very difficult to treat.

That is, until now.

Before and after new surgeryThanks to Richard Hopper, MD, surgical director of the Craniofacial Center at Seattle Children’s Hospital, there is now a new treatment method that offers kids with Apert syndrome the opportunity to have a much better quality of life.

The new surgical approach not only treats symptoms more effectively, but also treats the “look” of the syndrome, offering children the chance to have a more normal face and head shape.

Read full post »

Care, cost for diabetes complication varies widely at children’s hospitals

Dictionary Series - Health: diabetes

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a complication of type 1 diabetes, is one of the most serious and potentially preventable conditions affecting children with diabetes today. A new national study led by Seattle Children’s found a wide variation in cost, length of stay and readmission rates for children with DKA.

“Delivery of care for diabetic ketoacidosis in the U.S. is not ideal,” said Joel Tieder, MD, MPH, of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “One out of five diabetic ketoacidosis admissions are potentially preventable. Hospitals and doctors and nurses who care for children with diabetes should take a look at our data to see if there’s room for improving healthcare delivery on their home turf.”

Read full post »

Seattle Children’s offers country’s first physical therapy fellowship in neonatology

Neonatal physical therapy fellowshipIn December 2012, Seattle Children’s became the first (and for now, the only) place in the nation that offers physical therapists an accredited fellowship in neonatology. For seasoned pediatric physical therapists who want to work with the tiniest, most fragile babies, the fellowship offers a unique opportunity for training.

In December, the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (the credentialing arm of the American Physical Therapy Association, or APTA) accredited the neonatology fellowship, which is a partnership between Children’s and Rocky Mountain University of the Health Professions (RMUoHP) in Provo, Utah.

The fellowship, which focuses on babies from birth to 12 months of age, combines six academic credits at RMUoHP with 1,000 hours of mentored clinical training at Children’s. Read full post »

Bioethics experts share personal perspectives on life-changing cases

BioethicsThis week medical experts from across the country will gather in Seattle to discuss “Cases That Keep Us Awake at Night,” the theme of the 2013 Pediatric Bioethics conference. It’s not uncommon for things to keep us awake at night—a disagreement with a friend or neighbor or anxiety over a big work assignment—but the issues that clinicians and bioethicists will tackle at this confab are quite different.

Most of us, for instance don’t often think about the following questions:
• Should an organ transplant be performed over a family’s objections?
• Should Child Protective Services intervene when a family fails to address the eating habits of a morbidly obese child?
• Should healthcare professionals withdraw medical interventions against the wishes of a family?

Doctors, nurses and others will also discuss the intersection of the personal and the professional, and how it affects their work. At last year’s conference, Douglas Opel, MD, MPH, of Seattle Children’s, spoke about being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and how it altered his role as a physician. Excerpts from that talk, which was published in its entirety in The Hastings Center Report late last year, are included below.

Read full post »