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Child Life Specialists Help Patients and Families Cope During Uncertain Times

No matter the circumstances outside the walls of the hospital, Seattle Children’s is steadfast in helping every child live the most fulfilling life possible. Although COVID-19 has halted many things in life, health is not one. Compassion and expert care are two infallible aspects that make Seattle Children’s a place families can count on when they need care, and supporting that relentless mission are the incredible health care workers at Seattle Children’s who continue to provide the best, safest care possible for patients and families.

This year, child life specialists at Seattle Children’s have worked tirelessly to try and make the hospital feel like the same inviting and safe place it has always been. They are heroes without capes. Child life specialists help make sure a family’s experience at the hospital is a positive one. As members of the health care team, they work directly with patients and families to help explain a medical diagnosis, create coping plans, teach relaxation techniques, and more.

Walk into the Emergency Department and patients and families will see the bright, welcoming eyes of Riley Coyle. Underneath her mask and face shield, she radiates light. With her warm and inviting personality, she helps patients and families navigate through what can be a traumatic experience. No family hopes to find themselves in the emergency department, but when they do, Coyle is happy to be there with a reassuring hand.

“It’s a huge honor to support our patients and families and be a part of their journey,” Coyle said. “It’s really rewarding, and I try to do anything and everything I can to help them.” Read full post »

Vitamin D Levels During Pregnancy Linked with Child IQ, Study Shows Disparities Among Black Women

Vitamin D is a critical nutrient and has many important functions in the body. A mother’s vitamin D supply is passed to her baby in utero and helps regulate processes including brain development. A study published today in The Journal of Nutrition showed that mothers’ vitamin D levels during pregnancy were associated with their children’s IQ, suggesting that higher vitamin D levels in pregnancy may lead to greater childhood IQ scores. The study also identified significantly lower levels of vitamin D levels among Black pregnant women.

Melissa Melough, the lead author of the study and research scientist in the Center of Child Health, Behavior, and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, says vitamin D deficiency is common among the general population as well as pregnant women, but notes that Black women are at greater risk. Melough says she hopes the study will help health care providers address disparities among women of color and those who are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. Read full post »

Tips for Having a Fun and Safe Halloween During a Pandemic

There are not many areas of life COVID-19 hasn’t directly impacted. Like with so many other things in 2020, families have had to try to find silver linings during this difficult time. Major milestones like birthdays and graduations have, for the most part, been cancelled, gone remote or shifted to incorporate social distance and extra precautions.

As fall approaches, many parents may be wondering how COVID-19 will affect beloved traditions like trick-or-treating. According to Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s, families can still have fun, but may need to apply some extra creativity to Halloween this year.

“COVID has taken away a lot, especially for kids,” Grow said. “The things that anchor us, are still having a chance to celebrate things we have looked forward to. Trying to figure out different ways to honor our traditions as a family and community can lessen the pain of all the things we’re missing out on because of COVID.”

Dr. Matthew Kronman, an infectious disease expert at Seattle Children’s, said answering the question of whether Halloween and traditions like trick-or-treating are safe is complicated. Read full post »

A Family’s Strength Raises Money for Seattle Children’s

When Victoria Reece found out she was pregnant, she and her husband were elated. During their 20-week ultrasound, they found out they were having a boy and left the appointment over the moon with excitement, envisioning a bright future as a family of three with their baby boy in tow.

The next day, they received an unexpected call.

“That’s when the chaos began,” Reece said.

The couple went back for more ultrasounds and their baby was diagnosed with a bilateral cleft lip and palate.

“We were really scared,” Reece said. “I had so much anxiety about it.” Read full post »

Boeing Donates $2.5 Million to Help Fund Vital Programs at OBCC

Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) is more than a medical home for families. OBCC is often affectionately called a second home by the patients and families it serves, and the clinical staff are referred to as an extension of their family. OBCC is a clinic, but it’s also something much larger: it is hope.

The team at OBCC represents the communities they serve and advocates for the well-being of patients and families both inside the walls of the clinic and beyond.

Today, Boeing has committed to investing $2.5 million to help fund vital programs at OBCC and a new, second OBCC to better serve under-resourced, ethnically diverse communities. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s New Autism Center Will Help Advance Care for Families in the Region Thanks to Generous Gift

This past December, Nataly Cuzcueta was brought to tears by a word from her 4-year-old daughter, Kira.

With her little arms outstretched, Kira looked up to her mother and said “up.” It may seem like a simple request, but for Cuzcueta, it was a major milestone and cause for celebration. Immediately and happily, she obeyed. She lifted her daughter into her arms and excitedly twirled around the room, a smile beaming across her face.

“Today has been a day I’ll never forget,” she said.

Miles away at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, Dr. Mendy Minjarez, director of the Applied Behavior Analysis Early Intervention Program and interim executive director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center at Seattle Children’s, celebrated as well. Cuzcueta had captured the moment on her camera and had sent a note of gratitude to Minjarez and her care team.

“It was monumental for our whole team,” Minjarez said. “I remember getting the email and running down the hall excitedly to tell our team. It’s been a long time coming.”

Today, Cuzcueta says the team at Seattle Children’s Autism Center is like a second family. Her twin daughters have come a long way since they first started receiving treatment more than 2 years ago. Read full post »

Helping Families Navigate the Digital World

Digital devices like the iPad have only been around for about 10 years, but in that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life and research examining their impact on young children is limited.

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was featured on the TODAY Show to discuss the evolving digital age children are growing up in. Watch as three families learn more about how their children interact with devices like the iPad and hear about the challenges Christakis faces as technology continues to advance at a much faster rate than our understanding of the impact of digital devices on a child’s developing mind.

It may seem as though digital devices and touch screens like the iPad have been around for decades, but the reality is that these devices have only been around for about 10 years. In that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life, but research on their impact is limited. What concerns researchers like Dr. Dimitri Christakis is that we don’t yet understand the effects these devices may have on young children, and so that’s why they’ve taken center stage in many of his research studies.

Christakis isn’t advocating for taking screens away from children. He simply hopes he can help parents and caregivers better understand and navigate how devices like the iPad can fit into their lives in a healthy way.

“The point isn’t that we should take away all digital devices, but rather that we should come at it from a different perspective,” Christakis said. “We should ask, ‘How can we help children live healthy lives in a digital world that they’re immersed in from birth?” Read full post »

Aliyanna Overcomes the Odds, Celebrates Her Second Birthday with Her Care Team

From the first time Daisy Martinez heard the thumping of her baby’s heartbeat, she was in love. She always wanted to be a mother and hoped for a baby girl. She even had a name picked out: Aliyanna.

When doctors confirmed Martinez was having a baby girl, she was elated. Unfortunately, her joy was short-lived. During an ultrasound 25 weeks into her pregnancy, the ultrasound technician noticed something amiss. A large lump was growing on Aliyanna’s spine. Read full post »

Ciara and DeAndre Bring Holiday Cheer to Seattle Children’s

The joyful sound of caroling could be heard echoing through the halls of Seattle Children’s and Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) this week thanks to two very special visitors, Ciara alongside her and Russell’s new music artist DeAndre. They handed out toys and gift cards to patients and families at the hospital and delighted families with classic holiday songs.

“I’m so grateful we got to come and sing for you all today,” Ciara said. “We believe in you and we’re rooting for you,” she added.

In the inpatient playroom at the hospital, patients and families were overjoyed. They sang along, with some children singing at the top of their lungs with huge smiles on their faces, and others dancing happily to the cheerful tunes. Read full post »

Harper Models to Inspire the World: “You’re Beautiful in Your Own Skin”

From day one, Harper Foy has defied the odds. When she was born, she was given a 50% chance of survival. Today, the spunky toddler, who loves to dance, sing and pose for photos, is 4 years old and inspiring many.

“Harper is here for a reason,” her mother, Angie Foy, said. “She’s making a difference in the world.” Read full post »