Two cases of measles, the highly contagious virus, have been confirmed just outside of Boston, according Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Later reports traced the disease to a Framingham Trader Joe’s shopping market.
And while most people in the United States have received vaccines against the disease, or got it and recovered as children making them immune, health officials are advising anyone displaying any symptoms to call a doctor. (It’s not recommended you go to a health care facility, out of fear you may infect others who have not been vaccinated.)
Many adults associate measles with mild illness and relatively harmless red spots. Not quite, says Ronald Samuels, MD, MPH, associate medical director of Boston Children’s Primary Care Center. “Measles is different from chicken pox. A mild case of measles doesn’t exist.” That message takes on a new urgency in light of data released by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), which tallied 159 reported cases of measles from January 1-August 24 of this year. Full story »
The other day, I finally stole some time and vacuumed out my minivan. I was starting to live in fear of someone asking me for a ride.
Not only was there garbage, random hats, a broken umbrella and tracked-in leaves on the floor, there were bits of pretzels and popcorn and some unidentifiable foods stuck between the seat cushions of the middle and back seats. My kids weren’t complaining (which was good, since they were mostly responsible for the mess), but it was crossing the line from messy to unsanitary.
“When I first met Dr. Waters, I felt like he was an angel. I knew we were in the right place and in the right hands,” recalls Jonathan Mora. It was November 2009, and the West Haven, Conn. father, his wife and their 6-month-old daughter Michelle had endured a bumpy ride since her birth on May 30, 2009.
During her birth, a brachial plexus injury (also known as Erb’s palsy) robbed Michelle of motion in her right arm. Michelle, like approximately three out of every 1,000 babies born in the U.S., had suffered damage to nerves in her neck and arm. Babies with a brachial plexus injury are treated with physical therapy (PT), and by 6 months, the combination of PT and natural healing usually stimulates recovery.
However, 20 percent of babies don’t recover and nerve surgery is typically recommended. Michelle fell into that group.
After her diagnosis at birth, Michelle’s parents followed the prescribed PT program with a local therapist. The family’s pediatrician assessed her range of motion and muscle strength during her regular well baby visits. Michelle had not started to recover in the first few months after birth; she could not lift her shoulder nor bend her elbow and had weakness in her wrist and hand. Her pediatrician referred the family to Peter Waters, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon-in-Chief in the Orthopedic Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Jonathan and his wife, Vonetta, bundled their young daughter and trekked to Boston, hoping that Waters might be able to help. Full story »
It’s no secret that the longer a person is exposed to situations that are harmful to her health, the worse the outcomes could be—like living with a heavy smoker or growing up in a home with lead paint. And according to new research from Boston Children’s Hospital, bullying should be added to the list of experiences that take a greater toll on health the longer a child is exposed to it.
A new study in the journal Pediatrics shows that children who undergo bullying over a long course of time have worse mental and physical health—including showing more symptoms of depression and a lower sense of self-worth—compared with kids who are being bullied for the first time, were only bullied in the past or those who have never been bullied at all.
While much has been done to prove the negative consequences of bullying, this is the first study to look at its compounding effects over many years. Full story »
Q: My 12-year-old son wants a YouTube account so that he can post videos of himself talking about how to play certain games. He says he can earn money this way, as some of his friends do. He says he can be totally anonymous, so there are no risks. I told him I am willing to consider it, as long as I view the videos first, but he tells me he considers that an infringement on his privacy. What are your thoughts?
-Worried Mom in Berkeley, CA
A: Dear Worried,
Your impulse to be involved in your son’s digital life is right on—even if he doesn’t like it. This is just one of many experiences for which you will need to hang in there and parent him through during adolescence. Your son’s request for privacy arises from his natural developmental drive for autonomy, but he does not yet understand or define privacy the same way you do. And he is not yet able to monitor and protect it. It is your job to model and guide his developing responsibility and independence.
Twelve year olds are only just starting to be capable of formal, abstract thinking and are building their executive functions, like impulse control, future thinking, and understanding that actions have consequences. By staying closely involved at this point (which to him will feel like a violation of his privacy), you can help him build the skills he needs to manage his time online and earn his independence, online and IRL. Here are a few tips for how to navigate this situation: Full story »
For most first-time parents, the initial few weeks of caring for a new baby can be nerve-wracking. But, the first month of parenting for Kevin and Maureen Sturtevant was nothing short of terrifying.
Days after coming home from the hospital, their son Sam refused to eat and felt cold to the touch. Worried, the Sturtevants took Sam to their local hospital where he was quickly admitted. In the coming days, Sam was diagnosed as having an enterovirus that was affecting all his organs, especially his liver, which was beginning to fail.
Sam’s condition continued to worsen. It soon became clear he needed higher subspecialty liver care than what was available in his local hospital, so his care team arranged for the family to be transferred to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Center for Childhood Liver Disease.
Moments after they arrived in Boston, the Sturtevants met a whole team of people who would be taking over Sam’s care, including Center for Childhood Liver Disease Associate Director Scott Elisofon, MD. “We met everyone, from neonatologists to nephrologists. It was a lot to take in at first, but Dr. Elisofon acted as our point person, which made things less overwhelming,” Kevin says. “And even though we spoke mostly with him, we always knew there was an entire team of people supporting Sam and us. It made a difficult time a little easier.” Full story »
There have been times in my career as a doctor when I wished we had a Name Police.
There have been countless children I’ve met who had, well, unfortunate names. Often it was inadvertent—parents honestly didn’t realize that there might be a problem. Sometimes non-English speakers made up names that had an, um, different meaning in English (like a private body part), or would have seriously benefited from a well-placed vowel or two. Sometimes English-speaking families chose unique names—but then spelled them wrong (like Preshes instead of Precious).
Other times it was on purpose: people picked names of celebrities or objects or places (for confidentiality reasons I can’t give examples, but you can use your imagination) that might have seemed like a good idea at the time—but were clearly going to make life difficult for Junior.
By the time I met the families, there wasn’t anything I could do but cross my fingers and hope for the best. But I’d think: I wish I could call the Name Police about this one. I imagined them knocking at the family’s door, armed with name-change papers. Full story »
Did you know that on the whole, heart defects are the most common birth defects? It’s true, and in some cases ultrasound examinations can detect heart defects even before the baby is born, which can lead to earlier treatment for the child and extra support for the parents.
The moms in this video know all to well about the difficulties that arise from having a child born with heart defect, and the importance of starting treatment as soon as possible. (In some cases their baby’s heart defect was discovered during ultrasound, giving them time to work with their doctors and develop a treatment plan. Other times the baby’s heart problems came as a total shock.)
Regardless of their individual situation, these moms all agree that expecting parents need to ask questions about their baby’s heart during their 18 to 20 week ultrasound. Watch to find out why:
Do you have a Boston Children's Hospital story you'd like heard? By sharing your Children's story you can be a great source of inspiration and encouragement to families who are going through similar situations. And it’s a great way to find support by connecting with others. Share your story today »
All information provided on diagnosis and therapy reflects the care environment of Boston Children's Hospital and related physician practices. It is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified heath care provider based upon actual examination of a patient's condition and history. Therefore, it should not be construed as medical advice for any particular patient's condition, and may need to be altered in different care environments. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.