Dr. Megan Moreno (top) and Dr. Annika Hofstetter (bottom)

Dr. Megan Moreno (top) and Dr. Annika Hofstetter (bottom)

Seattle Children’s has the honor of having over 100 doctors and researchers slated to present at the 2015 Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Annual Meeting. This is the largest international meeting focused on children’s health research and clinical implications.

On the Pulse is highlighting two Seattle Children’s researchers who will be presenting their exciting new research: Dr. Megan Moreno and Dr. Annika Hofstetter.

Using media to understand mechanisms of behavior change

Dr. Megan Moreno of Seattle Children’s Center for Child Health and Behavioral Development is leading the way in adolescent social media (SM) use research. In her PAS presentation she will highlight key adolescent health issues pertaining to the SM landscape.

Over 90 percent of adolescents use SM, where they may display risky behaviors and describe their health attitudes, intentions and behaviors in ways that can be measured, Moreno said.

“Our vision is to provide education to adolescents and their families about safe Internet use,” she said. “We also focus on providing accessible intervention strategies.”

Moreno’s Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT) has conducted studies of college students’ SM use as it pertains to substance use.  Of the 300 student Facebook profiles that were studied, researchers found that:

  • 73 percent displayed references to alcohol use
  • 18 percent displayed references to drug use
  • 24 percent displayed references to risky sexual behavior

Moreno’s hope is that parents and friends will be on the lookout for these red flags and risky behaviors and then offer early intervention and support.

“Adolescent health issues need to be prevented and addressed outside of the clinical setting,” said Moreno. “Adolescents are present and engaged on social media, so parents need to meet them where they are.”

Moreno’s team provides tips for parents to help them stay up to date with the latest social media research and navigate the tricky waters that our current internet-based culture provides.

Lower rate of immunization for adolescents with chronic medical conditions

Dr. Annika Hofstetter a researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute Center for Clinical and Translational Research is working to better understand immunization rates in adolescents with chronic medical conditions (CMC) like asthma and diabetes.

Results from her study conducted at Columbia University found pockets of under-immunized patients and many missed opportunities for vaccination.

“This is concerning since many of these patients are at increased risk of vaccine-preventable infections and associated complications,” said Hofstetter. “Strategies to improve vaccine uptake and reduce missed opportunities in this high-risk population are definitely needed.”.

For example, fewer adolescent boys with CMCs initiated HPV vaccination compared to their healthy peers (75% vs. 80%).

“This is worrisome since timely HPV vaccination is recommended for all adolescents, irrespective of underlying conditions,” said Hofstetter. “Promotion of early HPV vaccination consistent with federal guidelines is crucial,” said Hofstetter.

The annual PAS meeting takes place this year April 25-28 in San Diego, Calif. For more information on PAS, please visit: http://www.pas-meeting.org.