Posts Tagged ‘Children's Health’

Child Safety Tips: As mercury goes up, so do safety risks for kids!

June 2, 2010

By picpoke.com

Yes, it is really getting hot out there this week!!!  Coming from Florida to DC last year, I thought “OK, so it will not get nearly as hot up here, or at least not as early in the summer.”  Yes, I was wrong.  This thought brought me to thinking about some of the fun things to do in the summer, but also the dangers for our little ones during this time if we are not extra careful.  Lo and behold, I found this article today, courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and reprinted by the Kansas City Star:

Emergency-room professionals have their own name for the long, lovely, lazy days that kids look forward to in summer: trauma season. Because that’s when hospitals see a spike in drownings and heat-related accidents.

The article discusses several myths and related facts associated with those myths.  Here are a few samples from the article:

MYTH: Pool parties are safe as long as adults are around.

FACT: Many drownings happen when adults are close by. The problem is too much commotion. The key is to have a designated adult watching the water because that is where the danger is. The pool should be free of excess toys that can block the view of the water.

MYTH: Floaties keep little ones safe in the water.

FACT: Floaties are designed for fun, not safety. They give a false sense of security, can deflate and can slip off.

MYTH: The kids will be fine in the pool for the short time it takes to answer the phone or get a cold drink.

FACT: In a minute, a child can go under water. In two or three minutes, the child can lose consciousness. In four or five, the child could suffer irreversible brain damage or die. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional, injury-related death for children 1 to 14 years old, second only to car and transportation-related accidents.

The article states several other myths and facts, which include the hazards of leaving children unattended in cars and car seats, as well as sun exposure and dehydration.  We encourage you to read the article in its entirety.  Let’s all have a safe summer out there, please!!

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Asthma – How to Protect Your Child When the Steroid Inhaler Fails

March 21, 2010

According to an article published by WebMD, a new study by the National Institute of Health examined the effectiveness of step-up asthma treatment among children who continue to experience asthma attack on steroid inhalers.

Researchers concluded that the success of the step-up treatment varies depending on the population of children. The study focused on 182 children between the ages 6 and 17. All of the children enrolled in the study experienced asthma attacks despite regular steroid treatment. In this population, the following drugs were used: long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs), leukotriene-receptor antagonist (LTRA), and increased doses of inhaled steroids. According to the article:

The drugs with the best chance of success – 45% – are long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs)… . But safety concerns limit the use of these agents, the best known of which are Serevent and Foradil and the combination products Advair and Symbicort. About 30% of kids, the study found, do best either with a leukotriene-receptor antagonist (LTRA, brands include Accolate, Singulair, and Zyflo) or by doubling the dose of the child’s current inhaled steroid medication.

Although the study did not reveal a clear winner, researchers were able to identify the following correlations:

Hispanic and non-Hispanic white children were most likely to have the best response to LABA and least likely to have the best response to doubling inhaled steroid dosage. Black children were equally likely to have the best response to LABA or doubling inhaled steroids and less likely to have the best response to LTRA. Children who did not have eczema were most likely to have the best response to LABA.

Contributing author: Jon Stefanuca

D.C. EMS Faces Review in Tragic Death of 2 Year Old Girl

March 4, 2010

From a report in today’s Washington Post, we learn that in the District of Columbia last month, a two-year-old girl died after suffering from apparent breathing problems. While the unfortunate death of a toddler is tragic enough as it is, it turns out that the death may have been preventable. The family of the little girl called paramedics, who promptly came to the house to evaluate the girl. Unfortunately, the paramedics made the decision not to take the girl to a hospital:

Emergency responders went to the 800 block of Southern Avenue SE shortly before 5 a.m. on Feb. 10, department spokesman Pete Piringer said. Paramedics arrived minutes later, and the toddler was evaluated but not taken to a hospital, Piringer said.

About nine hours later, the family called the paramedics again because of the little girl’s ongoing breathing problems. Unfortunately, it was too late. Although the paramedics came out and took the child to Children’s National Medical Center, she tragically died the next day.

As a result of this incident, several emergency workers who initially responded to the family’s call for help have been placed on administrative leave while the D.C Fire and Emergency Medical Services conducts a review of the incident.

This is not the first time the department has faced criticism for such conduct. In December 2008, paramedics responded to the home of a man complaining of chest pains and decided not to take him to a hospital. The man died of a heart attack several hours later. In 2006, a New York Times reporter was mugged and beaten. Assuming that he was drunk, paramedics did not take him to a hospital; the man later died.

We look forward to learning the results of the EMS investigation and trust that if any deficiencies are found, the EMS will make the necessary changes in training and/or personnel so that such unfortunate events do not take place again.

CHIP Grants: North Carolina’s Perdue announces $9.3M grant for NC’s children’s health care

February 28, 2010

A positive initiative indeed – North Carolina’s Governor, Bev Perdue, recently announced North Carolina’s receipt of a $9.3 million grant to improve the quality of health care delivered to children.   In an article in Citizen-Times.com, it is reported that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services “was the lead applicant for this competitive grant and worked closely with a coalition of children’s health leaders in the state.”  According to the post, funding will be used to develop technology that tracks and measures quality of care for children.”

“This competitive grant is vital to ensuring that children in our state are healthy and ready to learn,” said Gov. Perdue. “This will help pediatric offices throughout the state make better use of technology so we can be sure that children, those with special needs in particular, are receiving the care they need.”

North Carolina is one of only ten lead states announced as part of the $100 million grant program under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA).

Talk about someone using federal tax dollars wisely!  It will be most interesting to see how this grant money is, in fact, utilized by states such as North Carolina.  We will try to keep you posted on the success of this project.

If we are reading this legislation correctly, it appears that applications for grant money remains open until (the currently posted ending date of) March 25, 2010.  Further information on the grant program and applications, eligibility and other key aspects of the program are available online at Grants.gov.

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS Policy Statement: Prevention of Choking Among Children

February 23, 2010

Hot Dogs…we love to eat them.  Many would argue eating hot dogs is an American Tradition.  Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is issuing a warning that hot dogs are a food choking hazard in small children.  Yesterday, February 22nd, the AAP published a Policy Statement regarding such choking hazards, through the AAP’s Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention.  The AAP has already made some broad-sweeping recommendations in regard to preventive measures and warnings.  Some of their recommendations are quoted below from their Policy Statement:

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) should increase efforts to ensure that toys that are sold in retail store bins, vending machines, or on the Internet have appropriate choking-hazard warnings; work with manufacturers to improve the effectiveness of recalls of products that pose a choking risk to children; and increase efforts to prevent the resale of these recalled products via online auction sites. Current gaps in choking-prevention standards for children’s toys should be reevaluated and addressed, as appropriate, via revisions to the standards established under the Child Safety Protection Act, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, or regulation by the CPSC.

The existing National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program of the CPSC should be modified to conduct surveillance  of choking on food among children. Food manufacturers should design new foods and redesign existing foods to avoid shapes, sizes, textures, and other characteristics that increase choking risk to children, to the extent possible. Pediatricians, dentists, and other infant and child health care providers should provide choking-prevention counseling to parents as an integral part of anticipatory guidance activities.

Many children lose their life every year from choking on food.  The Associated Press published an article yesterday citing the horrifying statistics:

Choking kills more than 100 U.S. children 14 years or younger each year and thousands more – 15,000 in 2001 – are treated in emergency rooms. Food, including candy and gum, is among the leading culprits, along with items like coins and balloons. Of the 141 choking deaths in kids in 2006, 61 were food-related.

The article also mentions the tragic death of 4 year old Eric Stavros Adler, who died from choking on a hot dog.

The AP article cites the following as some recommendations:

Doctors say high-risk foods, including hot dogs, raw carrots, grapes and apples – should be cut into pea-sized pieces for small children to reduce chances of choking. Some say other risky foods, including hard candies, popcorn, peanuts and marshmallows, shouldn’t be given to young children at all.

Something as simple as making lollipops flat like a silver dollar instead of round like a pingpong ball can make a big difference, said Bruce Silverglade, legal affairs director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which also has lobbied for more attention to choking prevention.

Please, please, please…make sure your children are ‘eating safely’.  Supervise your children when they are eating.  Our precious little ones are irreplaceable.  Don’t allow the shape and/or size of food to pose a life and death situation for you and your loved ones.

Announcement: Newborn Possibilities Program underway in AZ – stem cell research related to cerebral palsy

February 23, 2010

A posting yesterday in PRNewswire tells of a collaborative research effort called “Newborn Possibilities Program” in Tuscon, Arizona, for preservation of cord blood stem cells “so that if a child is diagnosed with the condition, he or she may be eligible to receive a new treatment being researched under approval from the FDA using the child’s own cord blood stem cells.”

This research initiative is being done as a collaborative effort by the Cord Blood Registry, the world’s largest stem cell bank; Save the Cord Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Tucson; Tucson Medical Center, the region’s leading birthing hospital; and Watching Over Mothers and Babies Foundation (WOMB), a local non-profit research foundation.

A statement by the CEO of the Cord Blood Registry, Tom Moore, best describes the goal of this new program:

This program is a way for us to provide a safety net to children at-risk for cerebral palsy and other forms of neonatal brain injury while helping to advance the science of regenerative medicine.  CBR and our collaborators in this unique program share a commitment to advance cord blood stem cell research, expand education about the value of cord blood banking, and improve outcomes for children with neurological disabilities.

In a statement by the founders of one of the program’s collaborating members, Save the Cord Foundation, Anne Sarabia and Charis Ober,  we are provided further insight into the present and future goals of the program:

We believe that cord blood will play a very important role in future medicine and will benefit so many children in our community at risk for cerebral palsy.   Our dream is that this program will inspire other medical institutions to follow and make preserving cord blood the standard of care for all newborns.

Dr. Hugh Miller, head of WOMB and a specialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, who will be the program’s director at Tuscon Medical Center, said in the interview:  

The Newborn Possibilities Program is laying the groundwork for potential new treatment options for cerebral palsy and neurological disorders by connecting patients who may be at risk for these conditions and who have access to their cord blood stem cells with FDA-approved research studies. We believe this program will be instrumental in accelerating the pace of research and potentially helping many children.

As those of you who follow our blog postings and/or the recent news concerning stem cell research relating to cerebral palsy are aware, the Food and Drug Administration recently approved  a human clinical trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of using a child’s own newborn blood stem cells to treat cerebral palsy.

Having been involved in handling cases of children with cerebral palsy for many years, I have seen the issues of preservation of tissue, blood and medical records (i.e. fetal monitor strips) go the full gamut.  For years, placental pathologists were begging medical institutions to preserve placentas for further research into perinatal  birth injuries (among other concerns).  There was a time when one institution, which shall remain nameless, had a suspected policy of discarding fetal monitor strips (gee – wonder why that was!) and so on and so on.  It is really heartening to see that this new collaborative program is putting the interests of science, children’s health and knowledge far ahead of any conjured concerns relating to fear of litigation.    Hopefully, this program, in conjunction with all the other research regarding cerebral palsy now going on, will get to the bottom of this horrible disorder and provide new meaningful care options for at least some of the victims of cerebral palsy.

First FDA-approved stem cell trial in pediatric cerebral palsy

February 12, 2010

This is very exciting news – First FDA-approved stem cell trial in pediatric cerebral palsy.

Medical College of Georgia researchers are conducting the first FDA-approved clinical trial to determine whether an infusion of stem cells from umbilical cord blood can improve the quality of life for children with cerebral palsy.

While no controlled clinical trials have been conducted to date, previous studies have shown marked improvement in children with cerebral palsy about three months after an initial infusion of cord blood.

“Evidence up to this point has been purely anecdotal,” Dr. Carroll said. “While a variety of cord blood stem cell therapies have been used successfully for more than 20 years, this study is breaking new ground in advancing therapies for brain injury — a condition for which there is currently no cure.”

Here’s the protocol for the study:

Children will begin the study with a neurological exam by MCG pediatric neurologists Elizabeth Sekul and Nicole Brockway. Then, half of the study participants will receive an infusion of their own cord blood while the other half receive a placebo. Three months later, the children will be evaluated without physicians knowing which group received the stem cell infusion. Afterward, children who didn’t get the cord blood initially will receive an infusion. Children will return three and six months later for evaluation.

While this is exciting news for those of us who represent families with children having special needs, including children with cerebral palsy, I cannot even imagine what great news this is for the parents of such children.  Granted, this is perhaps just a first step BUT what a first step.  Here’s hoping it all goes extremely well.  We’ll try to stay up with this story.  Good luck to ALL involved in the project!