Say what? An iPhone tool to diagnose ear infection?

shutterstock_195954584If you’re the parent of a child plagued with frequent ear infections, an iPhone otoscope that lets you peek into her ears to capture a video of her eardrum and share the images with her doctor may sound like just the gadget you need.

The CellScope, the iPhone otoscope mentioned above, and the Pacif-i, a Bluetooth pacifier that takes a baby’s temperature, were on display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month. The Las Vegas-based annual trade fair, a weeklong playdate for gadgetphiles, included a host of devices designed to make it easier for parents to track their kids’ health.

Do you need an iPhone otoscope? Will a sneak peek at your daughter’s eardrum translate into better or faster care for your toddler? Is your child’s pediatrician ready to view home video of your daughter’s eardrum? Probably not, at least for now.

There is some value in the devices, especially if your child has a chronic issue, according to Michael Docktor, MD, Boston Children’s Hospital’s clinical director of innovation and director of clinical mobile solutions. Docktor was on hand at CES to check out the hundreds of health and biotech gadgets on display at this year’s show. “For me, it was a chance to see where medicine and health care are headed,” Docktor wrote on BetaBoston.

But the gadget fest offers more of a sneak peek at the future of care, rather than a new way to diagnose and treat sick kids.

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One mother’s story: I went ahead with the measles vaccine despite my fears

shutterstock_222469981Before she had children, Marcie was terrified by vaccines, including the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. At the time, she worked in early intervention, coordinating services for parents of special-needs preschoolers. “Many of them believed their kids got sick or showed signs of a developmental delay after being vaccinated,” she recalls. “It made perfect sense, and I had no reason to doubt their beliefs.”

Her fears solidified after reading anti-vaccine books, and she vowed to avoid vaccinating her own children. After her first son was born, however, Marcie and her husband agreed to compromise on his vaccines. They looked for a pediatrician who understood her fears and would help them devise a modified approach to vaccination, including a staggered MMR vaccine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend children receive the MMR vaccine at age 12-15 months, and again at 4-6 years.

The MMR vaccine is typically given as a single shot. But Marcie, her husband and her pediatrician agreed to separate the MMR vaccine into three components and immunize the couple’s two sons against measles first, then mumps, then rubella. (This separated version of the MMR vaccine is no longer commercially available in the United States.)

Fast forward to adolescence. Marcie’s older son was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which meant he could no longer get a live vaccine. (A live vaccine contains a weakened virus that causes a harmless infection in the vaccinated person with very few, if any, symptoms. The person’s immune system fights the infection caused by these weakened viruses, and immunity develops which lasts throughout that person’s life.)

“If we hadn’t vaccinated our sons, we would be completely dependent on herd immunity. I’m so glad we vaccinated our boys,” she says.

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Violet’s journey: Into the operating room

Step into the operating room with Violet’s team of surgeons and see cutting edge medicine paired with a personal touch. The 3D models of Violet’s skull are essential to helping doctors restore her precious smile. Join us as Violet’s journey continues.

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How to Manage Family Life When Your Child Has Cancer

Valerie Graf + family
The author, Valerie, with husband Doron, daughter Ruby (at left) and son Evan.

This blog post originally appeared on Insight, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s blog.

When our daughter, Ruby, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at one and a half years old, my husband and I were immediately transformed from working parents with two young children, to parental caregivers for a child with cancer. Between hospital stays, medications and appointments, there was so much to keep track of. It can be overwhelming at times, but there are ways to manage life after your child is diagnosed with cancer.

Settle into to this new normal. It can be easy to stay in crisis mode when something like a cancer diagnosis interrupts your life, especially when it happens to your child. When you are able to move forward, even under extraordinarily tough circumstances, and accommodate time for your new obligations, it is easier to keep things consistent for you and your family.

Take advantage of technology. Ruby’s treatment consisted of three-week cycles of chemotherapy from January 2012 to February 2014.  Her specific medication regimen changed from week to week. My husband and I shared a family calendar on our phones to organize medications, appointments, and to-dos. We also made spreadsheets to track her medications, and referred to this daily to assure accuracy with each medication dose.

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