8 common child health myths busted

by Meaghan O'Keeffe on October 6, 2014

Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, is a mother, writer and nurse. She worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade, in both the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Pre-op Clinic.  She is a regular contributor to Thriving.

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1From fever to flu to vaccines and enterovirus, there’s so much health information out there. It’s difficult to separate fact from fiction. Some commonly circulating health myths might confuse even the most well-intentioned parent. Sort out the truth from the myth, and you’re on your way to making the best, informed health care decisions for your child. Full story »

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By Mark Gorman, MD, Director of the Pediatric Neuro-Immunology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital

20141001_Gorman-7If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve likely heard that a very small number of the patients currently being tested for Enterovirus D68 (EVD68) at Boston Children’s Hospital and other hospitals around the country, have developed some additional neurological symptoms including muscle paralysis or weakness of the arms and/or legs.

These symptoms are particularly frightening to parents and caregivers because they are so similar to symptoms associated with polio. Please be assured, this is not polio, and may be completely unrelated to EVD68. At this point, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have not made a connection between the muscle paralysis and weakness and EVD68.

Boston Children’s confirmed yesterday that we have treated four patients with those neurological symptoms. The youngest is four years old; the oldest is 15. All four patients had a history of respiratory illness. We did not find any enteroviruses in their spinal fluid and we are waiting on additional tests results to come back from the lab.

In the meantime, two of the four children have already recovered enough to be discharged and one is on a regular neurology inpatient floor. Only one requires intermediate care unit-level care.

Here are a few important facts that you should be aware of:

  • While you may have heard that EVD68 is related to the virus that causes polio (which was eradicated using a vaccine developed at Boston Children’s), these paralysis symptoms are not due to the polio virus.
  • Enteroviruses in general can sometimes cause similar neurologic illness.
  • Enterovirus infections are common, especially at this time of the year.
  • The CDC and the hospital clinicians who are treating these cases have not confirmed a link between EVD68 and neurological paralysis.
  • The CDC is working with state and local public health officials to identify cases, collect information and perform laboratory studies that will help us figure out the root cause of these symptoms.

Remember: If your child is having difficulty breathing or has new weakness, you should contact your pediatrician immediately.

To better prepare families, Boston Children’s Hospital has created an educational sheet that outlines what EV-D68 is and what families should do to avoid exposure. The information can be found here on our website.

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Improving the health and daily lives of children with asthma

by Maureen McCarthy on September 30, 2014

DSCN0658Wheezing, shortness of breath, multiple medications, missed school days, and frequent hospital visits are the challenges nearly seven million U.S. children face when managing asthma.

Since 2005, Boston Children’s Hospital’s Community Asthma Initiative (CAI) has worked with over 1,000 families to help them better manage their child’s asthma. The goal is threefold: to increase a child’s quality of life; reduce Emergency Department (ED) visits and hospitalizations; and save money on asthma-related health care spending, which adds up to over $3.2 billion a year nationwide. Full story »

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Blue Sky Day: Reaching for the stars with Rett syndrome

by Guest Blogger on September 30, 2014

By Melinda Lancaster

UnknownEvery mountaintop is within reach if you just keep climbing. —Barry Finlay (award-winning author and mountain climber)

On October 11, families and researchers will join together at the steps of Gordon Hall, on the campus of Harvard Medical School, to bring awareness to the struggle of our children with Rett syndrome. As our Blue Sky Girls (and one boy) begin their symbolic climb up the stairs, we are reminded of the effort researchers, parents, caregivers and especially the children themselves make on a daily basis to go onward and upward toward a goal once thought unreachable. Full story »

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Trading my patient ID bracelet for an employee ID badge

by Guest Blogger on September 29, 2014

Honoring Craniofacial Acceptance Month and one young man’s quest to give back

By Torrence Chrisman

Torrence Chrisman, 24, is a history major at the University of Massachusetts Boston. At birth, Torrence was diagnosed with Apert syndrome, a rare genetic birth disorder involving abnormal growth of the skull and the face, fingers and toes. Read about his medical journey as a Boston Children’s patient and his quest to return to the hospital.

20140925_Torrence-26I came to Boston after being born in Chicago, where I was diagnosed with the amazing Apert syndrome. It was because of the doctors and surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital that I ended up in Massachusetts. One surgeon, Dr. Joe Upton, specialized in operating on the hands of Apert patients. He swung a home run every time he entered the operating room and worked miracles with microsurgery. Dr. John Mulliken, who specialized in the craniofacial aspects of my surgeries, always had a can-do attitude and completed the surgeries with confidence. Full story »

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The Nurse’s Throw-Up Guide

by Meaghan O'Keeffe on September 24, 2014

Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, is a mother, writer and nurse. She worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade, in both the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Pre-op Clinic.  She is a regular contributor to Thriving.

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1When it comes to common childhood illnesses, few wreak havoc on the entire household like the dreaded stomach bug (or viral gastroenteritis).

No parent likes it. Most siblings can’t take even the slightest thought of it. And often, the last person to get sick is the poor caretaker.

But there’s some hope. With these nurse-approved throw-up tips, you might get through this unscathed. Even if you don’t, it can be less disastrous than you might have initially imagined. Full story »

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Don’t Panic About Enterovirus D68

by Claire McCarthy on September 23, 2014

McCarthyClaire_201108_047With all the news about Enterovirus D68 sending hundreds of children to hospitals, it’s easy to panic when you hear about a case in your neighborhood—or, even worse, if your child starts coughing.

But please, don’t panic.

This virus has certainly caused trouble. Enteroviruses are incredibly common, causing 10-15 million illnesses a year—but usually, those illnesses are minor. This one, for reasons we don’t fully understand, is stronger, and is worse for kids than for adults.

I can hear you saying: so why shouldn’t I panic? Here’s why. Full story »

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Michael RichMichael Rich, MD, MPH, is Boston Children’s Hospital’s media expert and director of Boston Children’s Center on Media and Child Health. (Visit their newly redesigned website here.) Send him a media-related parenting question via cmch@childrens.harvard.edu and follow him on Twitter @CMCH_Boston.

Q: I am 14 years old, and currently debating my choice of friends. They all play first-person shooter (FPS) games, while I choose other kinds of games. They often tell me how great their games are but criticize mine. When they clamor for the new Call of Duty, I freak out over the new Sonic games. I am firmly against playing rated M (mature) or AO (Adults Only) games and so are my parents. Are my parents and I the odd ones out on this? Aren’t there negative effects associated with playing FPS games? And if so, what can I do? Full story »

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