On the Pulse

Six Nutrition Myths Debunked

It’s back-to-school time and back to heavily scheduled days of after-school activities, homework, sports, music lessons, and more. With all there is to juggle in a day, it’s tempting to believe some of the myths about nutrition that may promise to make it easier and faster to feed our children well.

We checked in with Seattle Children’s nutrition team to find out the truth behind some of the more common nutrition myths.

Here’s what we learned: Read full post »

Mission: Nutrition Brings Healthier Food and Drink Options to Seattle Children’s

“Food is your medicine – hence let your medicine be your food”  – Hippocrates, circa 400 BC

Hospitals are places where healing and wellness are promoted, yet the food and drink that are served at them may not always be the healthiest options for patients, their families and staff.  Seattle Children’s is tackling this challenge head on.

Today, Children’s announced the launch of Mission: Nutrition – a new initiative aimed at improving the nutritional quality of the food and drinks served at all Children’s properties. Improving our nutritional offerings will happen in several phases over time. Here’s a look at phase one improvements, some of which are already underway:

  • Deep-fat fried foods are no longer offered in the hospital’s cafeteria. Instead, french fries, onion rings, fish fillets, egg rolls, empanadas and other traditionally deep-fat-fried foods are now baked.
  • Beginning this month, all sugar-sweetened beverages in cafeterias, vending machines and gift shops will be removed – one of the more sweeping changes of the initiative.
  • Wild salmon with tomato pesto, cod fillet and country baked steak have been added to the cafeteria’s rotating menu as healthy alternatives.

Read full post »

Prudence, Prevention and the Real-World Perils of Pertussis

It’s back-to-school time, so it’s back to wellness basics for our children.  One of the most effective ways we can keep our children healthy is to keep them up-to-date with immunizations. And one of the most important immunizations a child (and parents and grandparents) can get protects against pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

We’ve talked about this before, but it’s well worth discussing again. Read full post »

Cerebral Palsy Procedure Helps 4-Year-Old Take His First Steps

From the time Logan Ellingsworth was born in June 2007, it was clear he was a fighter. Born prematurely with a variety of health issues from exposure to methamphetamines while in utero, Logan had a difficult journey ahead.

Brenda and Randy Ellingsworth, Logan’s grandmother and grandfather who adopted him after he was born, remember the first time they saw him in the intensive care unit at the hospital.

“Out of all the babies in the room, I was surprised to see that one was actually raising his head up as if to see who was coming in,” said Brenda. “I asked the nurse, ‘Who’s this little curious one?’ She said, ‘That is your precious little grandson and he is going to be a fighter.’  I started to cry because at that moment, we knew he was going to have major obstacles to overcome.”

The First Step: Facing Cerebral Palsy

Among the host of medical issues Logan faced, he had periventricular leukomalacia, a white-matter brain injury, and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a disorder of the brain that affects muscle tone and the ability to coordinate body movements. It is caused by an injury to the brain, which can occur when a child is born prematurely.

Read full post »

New AAP Circumcision Policy: Task Force Member Shares Perspective

Dr. Douglas Diekema, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Task Force on Circumcision, talked with On the Pulse recently about the updated AAP policy released August 27. Dr. Diekema is the director of education in the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and was named to the task force to represent the AAP Committee on Bioethics.

"It's a  boy" sign and baby bottle on blue background

Q. What has changed since the last time the AAP looked at the circumcision policy, and what are the key points in the new policy?

A. The task force concluded that there are significant health benefits of newborn circumcision and that those benefits outweigh the risks of the procedure.  Because of the health benefits, the task force also recommends that Medicaid and other insurance cover the cost of circumcision.  Those points are the key changes from previous policy statements. Read full post »

Medical Mom Educates Others about Mitochondrial Diseases

Jennifer Mhyre is a medical researcher with a PhD in neuropharmacology. She has read more than her fair share of medical and scientific books throughout her career. But when daughter Katelyn was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease almost four years ago, Mhyre and her husband (who also has a PhD in neuropharmacology) reached for the textbook.

Ashley, Andrew, Katelyn & Jennifer Mhyre

“I knew what mitochondria were, but had never heard the term ‘mitochondrial disease,’” said Mhyre. “I went to my graduate school general pharmacology class book and looked it up.” Mhyre also went online and did more reading. She found that mitochondrial disease was only recently recognized as a disease class, and was just as common as childhood cancer. Read full post »

Parents of Kids with Chronic Pain Benefit from Psychological Therapies, Too

Parenting a child with a longstanding or life-threatening illness—including chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, asthma and traumatic brain injury—can have a negative impact on many aspects of a parent’s and family’s life.   Parents often have difficulty balancing care for their child with other responsibilities such as work, social life, finance and household tasks.

But there are very few programs in the world that address these issues for parents of children with chronic pain, based on a new Cochrane Review published August 15.

Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in healthcare and health policy, and are internationally recognized as the highest standard in evidence-based healthcare.  Tonya Palermo, PhD, of Seattle Children’s Research Institute is a co-author of “Psychological therapy for parents of children with a longstanding or life-threatening physical illness.”

Read full post »

Hot Cars and Kids – a Deadly Combination

What can happen when otherwise attentive parents get distracted

For most of us, especially those of us in the Pacific Northwest, when the sun comes out our moods improve with the increase in temperature. Unfortunately, what also increases is  the number of children who die from hyperthermia or overheating of the body, after being unintentionally left in a car.

On average, 38 children in the U.S. die in hot cars each year. The numbers typically begin to increase in May with 3 deaths per month. By July and August, this surges to 9 deaths per month.  Although the majority of deaths occur in warmer states such as Texas, it can happen anywhere. Just this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in the first week of August, eight children across the U.S. have died from heatstroke in hot vehicles. Read full post »

Youth Violence: What Can We Do?

As we mourn those lost in the recent string of shootings, we feel intense sadness, fear and confusion. We are shocked by what some human beings are capable of and afraid what other dangerous individuals may lurk in our communities. The media dramatizes these unthinkable crimes until they take on fictional proportions, making them seem foreign, distant and unreal.

Violence is an everyday reality

However, violence in the lives of our young people is a daily reality that does not always make the nightly national news.

  • According to 2009 data, an average of 16 people between the ages of 10 and 24 are murdered daily in the United States.
  • In a national survey of teenagers, six percent skipped school in the previous month because of fears of violence.
  • Just under 700,000 youths receive emergency medical care yearly for injuries from violent assaults.[i] Read full post »

New Study Links Violent Videos to Sleep Problems in Preschool Children

Parents who suggest and use healthy media options with their children can improve sleep outcomes, according to a new study from Michelle Garrison, PhD, and Dimitri Christakis, MD, at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.  “The Impact of a Healthy Media Use Intervention on Sleep in Preschool Children,” was published online today in Pediatrics.

Child watching televisionThe latest research also adds evidence that the relationship between media and sleep in preschool children is one of cause and effect.  Kids whose parents were encouraged to change the channel to age-appropriate and non-violent content had significantly lower odds of sleep problems in the study, and this effect persisted across the intervention year, but faded six months after the program ended. Read full post »