On the Pulse

Teens miss out on recommended vaccinations, study finds

Vaccine vials

Young people who come to their doctor’s office for care are often not offered shots that they should have, including those for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, human papillomavirus and meningococcal disease. “Missed Opportunities for Adolescent Vaccination, 2006-2011” was published June 27 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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Tips to Keep Kids and Teens Safe this Fourth of July

Fireworks safetyThe Fourth of July is a time for fun and celebration; however, families should follow precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable occasion. Not only do parents need to worry about firework safety, but families should also keep in mind alcohol and sun safety, too.

Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, recommends some basic safety tips to keep your kids out of the emergency department this year.

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Spinal fusion helps teen gymnast overcome scoliosis

In honor of National Scoliosis Awareness Month, Alexandra “Love” Wahl shares her experience with scoliosis and her path to finding her ‘new’ self.

“Two rods, 16 screws, one new me”

Love Wahl before scoliosis Alexandra “Love” Wahl was an exceptional gymnast. A fierce competitor all of her life, Love grew up in the gym and in 2012 at age 13, she qualified for the Washington state championships.

But one day while practicing her routine on the high bars, a coach told her she needed to “stay straight.” Love was confused – she felt she was as straight as she could possibly be. The coach called Love off the bars and had her bend forward so she could look at her spine. The coach slowly turned and motioned for Love’s mother, Wanda, to come down from the stands. Love’s spine was severely curved, forming a prominent “S” shape.

“From that moment our lives changed,” recalls Wanda. Read full post »


Doctor offers 8 tips to keep kids safe while biking

boybikingThe long, sunny days of summer are the perfect time to get the bikes out of the garage, but parents should hit the brakes and talk to children about bike safety first. Bike accidents are the second-leading cause of serious injury in school-age children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, 800 bicyclists were killed in the U.S. and an estimated 515,000 sustained bicycle-related injuries that required emergency department care. Roughly half of these cyclists were children and adolescents under the age of 20.

Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says most biking injuries occur because a child either isn’t wearing a helmet or is putting themself in a potentially dangerous situation. “Children may see themselves as invincible when they are on a bike, which is not the truth,” says Woodward. Read full post »


Research, philanthropy a welcome fit in current funding climate

Rolled money in a test tube

Headlines these days related to research funding are grim: “Seattle researchers fear federal cuts will costs lives and jobs” and “Show me the money: Is grant writing taking over science?” are two recent stories that ran in the Puget Sound Business Journal and The Guardian, respectively.

The federal government announced in May that the National Institutes of Health 2013 budget will drop by five percent, or $1.71 billion, to $29.15 billion, compared to 2012. The cuts are part of the effort to balance the budget and, based on what our researchers say, are part of the “new normal” moving forward.

But there’s a bright spot here at Seattle Children’s: Philanthropy for research is increasing, and it’s making a difference.

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Tips for parents of children enrolled in a research study

On the Pulse recently posted a story on bioethics and research from Ben Wilfond, MD. In that story, Wilfond defended a research study that had been criticized by federal officials over the informed-consent requirements. We thought it would be helpful to follow up with tips for parents who are interested in or have children enrolled in research studies. This is the first in what we hope will be a series on the topic, with both parents and researchers weighing in, to increase awareness about research at Seattle Children’s.

Katelyn and Jennifer MhyreAs biomedical researchers, my husband and I are both very invested in the research process. Our daughter, Katelyn, has a disease that is incurable, but we are optimistic that her participation in various research studies could have a positive impact on not only her life, but also on the lives of other children in the future. Nevertheless, we take each opportunity to participate in a study under thoughtful consideration before signing our consent.

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Seattle Children’s receives designation as first Level IV neonatal intensive care unit in Washington

NICU newbornThe Washington State Department of Health has designated the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Seattle Children’s Hospital as a Level IV regional NICU, which is the highest level of care available for critically ill newborns. Seattle Children’s is the first hospital in Washington state to receive this designation.

The new designation of Seattle Children’s NICU follows the recent revision of the state’s Perinatal and Neonatal Level of Care Guidelines by the Department of Health in February 2013. The revision is in line with the updated American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) standards for NICUs that were outlined in September 2012.

The guidelines define four levels of care: normal newborn nursery (level I), special care nursery for premature and mildly ill newborns (level II), neonatal intensive care for very premature and critically ill newborns that sometimes offer select surgical procedures (level III), and regional NICU with comprehensive services to treat all medical and surgical problems of newborns (level IV). Read full post »


Facebook not so cool anymore, teens say, but they’ll still use it

Facebook homepage

Teens have waning enthusiasm for Facebook, according to the latest “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy” report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “They dislike the increasing number of adults on the site, get annoyed when their Facebook friends share inane details, and are drained by the ‘drama’ that they described as happening frequently on the site,” the report’s authors said.

But these same teens still feel a need to stay on Facebook so that they don’t miss out on anything – a conclusion that is not a surprise to Megan Moreno, MD, who leads the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Moreno and her team’s recently-published Facebook influence study details why young people will still stick with the social networking site, despite it losing a bit of its appeal.

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Parent cultural attitudes, beliefs associated with child’s media viewing habits

Child watching television

Differences in parental beliefs and attitudes regarding the effects of media on early childhood development may help explain the increasing racial/ethnic disparities in child media viewing/habits, according to a new study by Wanjiku Njoroge, MD, of Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

The findings support national research that preschool-aged children spend considerable time with media, a situation that brings both risks and benefits for cognitive and behavioral outcomes depending on what is watched and how it is watched. A 2006 Kaiser Family Foundation media study, for example, highlighted that ethnically/racially diverse children—specifically African American, Hispanic and Asian children—watch more television than non-Hispanic white children. Read full post »


Big data moves towards action to improve scientific research, health

Delsa logo

The announcement last week that 70 medical, research and advocacy groups in 41 countries—including the National Institutes of Health—agreed to share genetic and clinical information made headlines across the country. But to many already working in the “big data” realm, the news is just a welcome addition to the momentum of global projects and alliances already in motion.

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