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Antibiotic Resistance: Too Much of a Good Thing

ThinkstockPhotos-103583538Antibiotics improve our lives in innumerable ways, but there is growing concern that their overuse is increasingly exposing the public to drug-resistant bacteria. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.

“In many ways, antibiotics are victims of their own success,” said Dr. Scott Weissman, an infectious disease specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “When antibiotics first came into being in the 1940’s, they were hailed as miraculous, and they were, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing.”

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is observing its annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. During this time, the CDC, along with other healthcare organizations and partners, is highlighting the importance of appropriate antibiotic use. Weissman, a nationally-known expert who is in Washington D.C. participating in some of the events for Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, took time to answer some questions about what antibiotic resistance is, and what we can do about it.

What are the current recommendations for giving antibiotics to children?

First off, there is no single solution or strategy that is right for every situation. Antibiotics should be given only when they are necessary, but I think we can all agree that the standard practice of many providers has been far less disciplined. This has led many to view receiving a prescription for antibiotics as the expectation of a doctor’s visit, rather than the exception.

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Flu Vaccine Matters for Children and Parents Alike

Flu Season AheadEach year in the United States alone, 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to complications from the flu. In 2014, influenza claimed the lives of more than 140 children; half of whom were healthy and had not been vaccinated.

“It’s important for everyone – especially children – to get a flu shot every year,” said Dr. Matthew Kronman, an infectious disease expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a member of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Below, Kronman answers some common questions related to the flu and flu shots.

Why is the flu dangerous? What happens to make it deadly?

Influenza by its very nature can cause infection and inflammation in the lungs, making it very difficult for some people to breathe. Add to this that people with influenza can be at risk of having a secondary bacterial infection on top of their influenza, and that sometimes the immune response to an influenza infection is overly robust to the point of causing damage itself, and it becomes clear how influenza can cause serious and even life-threatening infections. Fortunately, we have a vaccine annually that can help protect us from this severe infection!

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Is it Growing Pains or Something More?

Many kids can relate to the unpleasant experience of growing pains – they come on at night and can cause sharp, shooting, as well as dull and nagging pain. But what people may not know is what causes them, why do they affect some children and not others, and most importantly, when should parents be concerned that they could be something much more serious?

Dr. Suzanne Marie Yandow, chief of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, answers these common questions below.

What causes growing pains?

The direct cause of growing pains is unknown, but they typically present in children 3 to 5 years of age and may persist much later in some cases in kids ages 8 to 12. Some studies have shown that more than one out of three children displays symptoms at some point in their lives, and the symptoms most often arise during periods of rapid growth.

What are the common symptoms?

Growing pains often come on in the evening and at night, and the pain is usually in the muscles rather than the joints. This pain usually presents bilaterally, meaning the pain will occur in both legs, rather than just one or the other. Frequently they are present in the front of the legs or shin area.

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Summer Heat Wave: Four Things Parents Should Always Keep in Mind

Water Safety 6 to 11Many regions across the U.S. are experiencing the hottest summer on record, and this presents real health concerns for families. Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, provides the following advice for parents and caregivers about how to beat the heat as well as keep their kids safe this summer:

1. Keep kids out of hot cars

Leaving a child alone in a car can have deadly consequences, even on just a warm day.

“It doesn’t take very long, a child’s body can heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s body,” said Woodward. “When you combine this with the fact that the temperature in your car can rise nearly 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, dangerous and potentially lethal heatstroke can develop quickly.”

According to KidsandCars.org, 38 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside motor vehicles.

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One Family’s Journey Across the Country to Treat Daughter’s Epilepsy

Marvin family Newport RI Aug 2005

The Marvin family

Imagine living every day of your life waiting for your child to have their next seizure. This is often the reality for parents of children with intractable epilepsy – a chronic form of epilepsy that can’t be controlled by medications alone. Every moment is plagued by uncertainty, and the world quickly becomes a place filled with barriers where hope and opportunity used to be.

This scenario is something with which James Marvin and his wife Joana are all too familiar. When their daughter, Charlotte, was diagnosed with epilepsy after having her first seizure at just 14 months old, this became their family’s world.

“We called it ‘the antagonist,’” said Marvin. “Charlotte would usually have a seizure every couple of days, but any time she was stressed, tired or sick, the antagonist would come out. It was so difficult to live our lives just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and there was no end in sight.”

That was, until five years later when they traveled 3,000 miles from their home in Virginia, to seek treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital that held the promise of ending Charlotte’s seizures, hopefully for good.

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Coins, Blow Darts and Button Batteries: The Diary of an Otolaryngologist

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Dr. Sie’s collection of items removed in surgery

They say that life is all about the little things, and for the Otolaryngology care team at Seattle Children’s Hospital, this statement holds true more often than not. Each year more than 150 children find their way to the Seattle Children’s Otolaryngology clinic to have some kind of household object, or “foreign body,” removed from their ear, nose or throat.

These objects, while sometimes but not always small, and ranging from coins to button batteries, have become part of a unique collection that hangs in Dr. Kathleen Sie’s office. It’s a collection that she hopes will raise awareness for parents and caregivers about the prevalence of many dangerous household items that often hide in plain sight.

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Seattle Children’s Opens New Onsite Bicycle Service Center for Staff, Encourages Alternative Transportation

Featureblog1It’s no secret that traffic congestion is a problem in Seattle. If it feels like it has gotten worse lately, it’s not just you. A new study released last week by the Puget Sound Regional Council found that delays on regional freeways have gone up by more than 52% since 2010.

Seattle already has the fourth worst traffic in the nation, and with more and more new residents moving into the Puget Sound, leaders in the community and employers alike are working to find innovative commuting solutions.

Seattle Children’s Hospital has long been on the forefront of this movement, having provided bonuses to incentivize staff to leave their cars at home while commuting, as well as more recently serving as the first business sponsoring Seattle’s bike share system, Pronto Cycle Share. In addition to these ongoing initiatives, on March 19, Seattle Children’s will host the grand opening of Seattle Children’s Staff Bicycle Service Center, an on-site bike shop for employees with free maintenance and discounted cycling gear open three days per week, year-round.

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Video Game Addiction: How Much Is Too Much

Last month, TIME reporteCommon_Signs_of_Video_Game_Addictiond on the death of a 32-year-old Taiwanese man who suffered heart failure after an apparent three-day video game binge. Over the past several years similar stories have come to light, and as the scientific research into the effects of video games on the brain continues to increase, many parents may be wondering just how concerned they should be about video game addiction.

Though the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) does not definitively classify compulsive gaming as a disorder, according to Dr. Cora Breuner, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, this doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t worry.

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Overloaded on Hidden Sugar

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When it comes to the holiday season, sugar is everywhere, particularly in desserts and holiday candy. But did you know that sugar is also added to many everyday foods, including soups and yogurt?

“Many people are unaware of just how pervasive added sugar is in our foods,” said Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “It isn’t just cookies and soda, it’s being added to many foods that most people wouldn’t consider as sweets.”

The result: the average American adult is consuming three times more sugar than is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) – 76.7 grams per day versus the recommended 25 grams per day, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“The problem with sugar is that it presents a variety of risks to our health,” said Grow. “Some are more obvious, in the sense that more sugar means more calories which can contribute to weight gain. Weight gain leads to obesity, and can bring along many health problems like diabetes. But an excess amount of sugar also affects our long term health by altering our metabolism and causing inflammation.”

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Later Start Times for Secondary Schools and Changing the Culture of Sleep

Later Start Times for Secondary Schools

New data suggests that adolescents in the U.S. are chronically sleep-deprived. Doctors recommend the average teenager get between 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep on school nights, but a recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 87 percent of high school students were sleeping far less.

That’s a real concern for parents and caregivers, as sleep deprived teenagers run an increased risk of physical and mental health problems, car accidents, as well as declining academic performance. But with homework and school start times as early as 7:30 a.m. in some parts of the country, is it even possible for teens to get the sleep they need?

“No, it’s not possible,” said Dr. Cora Collette  Breuner, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and co-author of a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement that recommends all middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later.

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