Looking for the flu shot? We have you covered

by Tom Ulrich on November 20, 2014

child sick with flu

The season is upon us again. No, not fall or football or holiday—I’m talking about flu season, and all the sneezing, aches and pains that come along with it.

Clearly, getting the flu shot is a good idea, especially for families with young children. “Influenza is a serious illness—up to 50,000 people die from the flu every year in the United States,” says Thomas Sandora, MD, MPH, an infection control expert and epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Getting a flu vaccine is still the best way we have to prevent infection with influenza. Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated every year.”

But one of the questions that at least my family asks every year is, where can we get the shot? After all, we have more options now than ever. The corner drugstore? Our doctor’s office? Our neighborhood’s health clinic? And which version of the flu vaccine is the right one for me or my child?

We’re not alone, and a tool offered by Boston Children’s Hospital’s HealthMap team can help. Called the HealthMap Vaccine Finder, it’s like a Google Maps for tracking down the flu vaccine. Visit it from your computer, smartphone or tablet, plug in your address and city or zip code, and it pulls up a map listing pharmacies, clinics, etc. in your area offering the vaccine. Full story »

Leave a comment

Ryan Seacrest, TV host, producer and radio personality, paid a special visit to Boston last week to celebrate the opening of the Seacrest Studio at Boston Children’s Hospital. Celebrity guests Usher, Shawn Mendes, and the Swon Brothers, along with members of the Ryan Seacrest Foundation were on hand to help mark the occasion and spend time with some special Boston Children’s patients.

The new studio, made possible by the Seacrest Foundation, is designed for both radio and television production and will allow patients to interview celebrity guests who visit the hospital, or play “deejay” for the day. And children too sick to leave their patient beds can watch interviews or play remote games through feeds direct to their rooms.

For Sandra Fenwick, the hospital’s CEO and President, the studio is much more than the sum of its digital parts. “It’s about making time to celebrate children, both our patients and their siblings, and allowing them to feel like kids again through laughter, music and play.”

Full story »

Leave a comment

children need parents to prevent antibiotic resistance Antibiotics are one of the most significant medical advances of the past century. Countless lives have been saved since the discovery of penicillin in the 1920s.  We assume that common skin or urine infections are easily treated with a simple course of antibiotics. But caring for infections isn’t always simple. In fact, antibiotic resistance has brought new challenges.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Though doctors hailed penicillin as a wonder drug, bacteria may be smarter than antibiotics. Bacteria quickly figure out how to overcome the antibiotics we develop, resulting in infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). These infections are difficult to treat and require specialized antibiotics. Unfortunately, new drugs for these difficult infections are not being developed fast enough.

We need to preserve the antibiotics we have now.  Antibiotic use leads to antibiotic resistance.  While antibiotics are critical to fighting infections, up to half are prescribed inappropriately, meaning that an antibiotic was not needed, the wrong drug and/or dose was chosen or the drug was continued for longer than necessary. Doctors need to “find the right drug for the right bug.” But doctors aren’t the only ones who can battle antibiotic resistance.

Full story »

Leave a comment

Catching up with a dragon-slayer

by Guest Blogger on November 17, 2014

Congenital heart defect patient  George HunterLast summer we introduced you to William St. George Hunter, aka George, a little boy from South Carolina born with a congenital heart defect. Named for the mythical slayer of dragons, George was one of the earliest children to have a Melody valve—a replacement heart valve that can be expanded as a child grows—implanted into his heart to replace his mitral valve (which helps manage the flow of blood out of the heart to the rest of the body). 

 We checked in with his mother Elisabeth to see how George, now almost three years old, is doing. Here’s what she told us.

When last y’all wrote about our little dragon slayer, he had just become the twelfth child to have his heart’s mitral valve replaced with a Melody valve by cardiac surgeon Sitaram M. Emani, MD.

Once home, George immediately started gaining weight—something he’d not been able to do in months—and in just a couple months had caught up to where he should be. (It made this mother’s heart happy for him to have “respectable thighs” when I put him in bubble suits.) Full story »

Leave a comment

Boston Children’s, Ryan Seacrest team up to make play a priority for kids

by Boston Children's Hospital staff on November 14, 2014

Boston Children’s Hospital is proud to announce today the opening of a brand new Ryan Seacrest studio at our Longwood location. The studio’s opening marks the end of one chapter in an extensive lobby renovation project to modernize the hospital in order to make our clinics more accessible than ever and, just as importantly, ensure that kids have places to just be kids. More than anything, it’s about making time to celebrate children, both our patients and their siblings, and allowing them to feel like kids again through laughter, music and play.

PEC A Before: the opening of the Ryan Seacrest studio was over two years in the making.


PEC B After: patients and their families can enter the studio directly from our recently renovated Patient Entertainment Center


Through the generosity of the Seacrest family, which shares our passion for making play a priority, the studio will bring the magic of Hollywood, music and television to families looking for a much-needed escape. In the state-of-the-art radio and television studio, children can interview hospital guests and play deejay for a day. Kids too sick to visit the studio in person can watch interviews or play remote games through direct feeds to their room.

PEC B Before: the view from inside the studio looking out into the Patient Entertainment Center.


Corner B After: the studio overlook the recently returned musical stairs and the hospital’s new 20-foot interactive media wall.


Leave a comment

When high school sophomore Justin Griffin was about four months old, he began having lapses in his breathing. He was having seizures that were discovered to be caused by a brain tumor. Boston Children’s Hospital neurosurgeon Joseph Madsen, MD, removed the tumor. All seemed to be well.

But in middle school, Justin’s seizures started up again. They were caused by a small lesion—a pocket of abnormal tissue—that had developed near the location of the original tumor. His neurologist prescribed a series of anti-epileptic medications.

“He would be on a medicine for a while and it would seem to be working, and then he would start having seizures again,” says his mother, Keren. “The neurologist said that usually after three or four medicines when you fail, that’s when they start talking about other options, and one of them would be surgery. I said, ‘I don’t want to open up his head again. Isn’t there anything else we can do?’” Full story »

Leave a comment

Laundry pods pose serious harm to young children, study finds

by Maureen McCarthy on November 12, 2014

washing machine and laundry detergent dangers for toddlersUnder lock and key: Tips to secure cleaning products 

A recent study conducted by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) cites nearly 10,000 U.S. children 5 and younger who were exposed to, or had harmful contact with single-load laundry packets during the ten-month period from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, 2014. The AAPCC report says children who have ingested the highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry packets have experienced excessive vomiting, wheezing, gasping, sleepiness and difficulties breathing.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a laundry pod’s soft and colorful exterior can easily be mistaken by a child as candy, toys, or a teething product, and once mixed with saliva, the packets dissolve quickly and release the highly concentrated toxic liquid.

Though a slight decrease (approximately 4 percent) compared to 2013 data, the number of injuries young children suffer due to exposure to household cleaning products continues to prompt concern.

Lois Lee, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Department Injury Prevention Program shares suggestions for preventing accidental poisoning. Full story »

Leave a comment

wounded warrior and child amputee show off one-armed pushupsAbout the blogger: Ten-year-old Jen Castro, from New Fairfield, Conn., was born a below-the-elbow amputee and has been a Boston Children’s Hospital patient for most of her life. She is an avid softball player.

Most kids dream of going to summer camp. But I’m not most kids. I was born a below-the-elbow amputee.

I don’t really like summer camp. It was never easy for me to be around other kids who don’t know me. I get stares, endless questions, and then whispers and comments: “Look at that girl, she’s missing her arm.”

I’d rather not attend.

Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Camp

So you can just imagine what I felt like when my mom told me about a camp that was open only to kids who were missing limbs. That all the instructors would be missing limbs too. For a moment, she had my attention when she told me it was a softball camp, because I love softball. But only for a moment! Full story »

Leave a comment