December 2, 2019

Sun Smarts: Protect Your Kids’ Eyes from Winter Rays

Many of us think of summer as primetime for ultraviolet light, the skin-burning, eye-damaging form of electromagnetic radiation the sun emits. But especially in places like sunny Southern California, UV rays don’t stop in their tracks just because the season changes, caution Shagun Bhatia, MD, MSCR, and Kim Duong, OD, MS, MPH, FAAO, ophthalmologists within Rady Children’s Specialists of San Diego’s Division of Ophthalmology.

“The sun can be very damaging to the eyes, but it’s actually quite common to see kids wearing sunglasses and hats less frequently or not at all during the winter,” comments Dr. Bhatia. “Particularly in our area, where people stay active and visit the beach all year long, or are taking day trips to the mountains to play in the snow, we encourage our patient families to maintain the precautions they use in the summer.”  Read More...

Ophthalmology, Safety
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November 22, 2019

Intuitive Eating: Eat to Live or Live to Eat?

by Monica Wing, RD, CNSC, CLEC

Everyone gets caught up in daily routines and multitasking, making it difficult to stop and listen to what our body really wants and needs. Fueling the body with food is a necessity and is important for many crucial physiological and chemical processes, but eating should also be a pleasurable experience. Finding the right balance can be difficult, but some self-managed approaches can help.  Read More...

Nutrition, Staff Stories
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November 18, 2019

Why Should We Care About Antibiotic Resistance? A Q&A with George Liu, MD, PhD

In (fairly) recent history, it’s safe to say that one of the most revolutionary additions to the world of health care has been antibiotics. Designed to attack bacterial infections, antibiotics have made countless ailments that were once serious — or even fatal — simple and quick to overcome. However, with ease and efficacy has also come overuse, which, combined with bacteria’s natural ability to evolve, has led to an alarming problem: many types of bacteria are starting to outsmart antibiotics. What exactly does that mean for us as a society, and for the future of health care?

We asked George Liu, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and a lauded antibiotic-resistant bacteria researcher, to weigh in on this complex and quickly growing threat to public health.  Read More...

Infectious Diseases
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November 12, 2019

Getting to Know: Kim McNamara, RN, BSN, CDE — Diabetes Nurse Educator

With proper care, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are generally manageable conditions. Even so, treatment options are vast and care plans can be complex — a lot to navigate for anyone, especially a child. In Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego’s Division of Endocrinology/Diabetes, diabetes nurse educators like Kim McNamara, RN, BSN, CDE, (pictured on the far right with two of her teammates, Christy Byer-Mendoza, MSN, RN, CDE, and Ariane McClellan, RN, CDE) work with patients and their families to help make their unique diabetes experience as simple and stress-free as possible. Need to learn more about getting an insulin pump? Kim has you covered. Not sure how to handle your medication routine when going away from home for the first time? Connect with Kim. In recognition of all the important work Kim and diabetes nurse educators accomplish, and of American Diabetes Month, learn more about who Kim is — both as a professional and a human — in her own words.

What does a day in the life look like for you at work?  Read More...

Endocrinology/Diabetes, Staff Stories
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October 24, 2019

Actions You Can Take to Help Support Your Baby’s Safe Sleep

Sudden infant death syndrome is the the number-one cause of death in babies between a month and a year old, according to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

“In many, many instances, SIDS occurs because of internal causes that are impossible for anyone to control — for example, a genetic reason,” explains Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego physician Daniel Hershey, MD.  However, there are also a number of external causes that parents and caregivers can change in order to help reduce a baby’s risk.  These include the following:  Read More...

Center for Healthier Communities, Infant Health, Safety, Sleep
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October 9, 2019

How Routine Depression Screenings Can Help Protect Kids

At Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, we believe in managing care for the whole child, which includes both their physical and mental health. While you can often see when children are suffering from an injury or illness, the signs of a serious mental health condition are often more difficult to pinpoint — especially in kids and teens who may be “expected” to go through emotional changes as part of growing up, or who may not be open to discussing their feelings with caregivers.

However, mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are not things that one can simply grow out of, and mental health is a very real and significant issue for adolescents. For example  Read More...

Behavioral Health
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September 16, 2019

Retraining the Brain Against Chronic Pain

Though certainly not fun, the pain from cuts, bruises and other run-of-the-mill childhood injuries is typically short-lived. But a 2016 study released in the peer-reviewed journal Children[1] reports that for at least 20 percent of kids and adolescents worldwide, pain is a nearly ever-present part of day-to-day life.

When a child experiences chronic pain, their nervous system is distributing pain signals where they aren’t needed — either an initial injury or illness has already healed, or there is no clear biological source. This misfiring causes discomfort that can continue for weeks, months or years. “Chronic pain in kids can affect one area of the body, such as the head or a hand, or be far more widespread. For many children, their chronic pain becomes completely debilitating,” says Anke Reineke, PhD, director of the Children’s Specialized Hospital Chronic Pain Management Program at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. “Often, kids have trouble regularly attending school or participating in activities, and some can’t sleep or even tolerate light skin contact because their pain is so severe.”  Read More...

Chronic Pain and Pain Management, New at Rady Children's
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September 9, 2019

The Newborn Screening Program: Supporting a Healthier Start to Life

For babies born in California, one of the most important health assessments of their lives happens within two days of birth. Through the Newborn Screening Program, a division of the California Department of Public Health’s Genetic Disease Screening Program, infants are evaluated for more than 80 genetic disorders in order to support early health care intervention and to reduce or prevent adverse effects on a baby’s long-term health. Since starting in 1966 to screen for one disorder, the GDSP has continuously evolved the program to incorporate conditions that are newly discovered or increasingly affect the population — for instance, in 2020, the assessment will start evaluating for spinal muscular atrophy. Although hospitals, birth centers, private midwives and county registrars must help ensure this mandatory test is carried out for all California infants, seven State-designated Area Service Centers are responsible for overseeing the screening process from sample collection through reporting. For San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Imperial Counties, the ASC is right here at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

“Our seven-person team; which includes nurse coordinators, a community liaison, a program specialist, a business coordinator and an administrative assistant; acts as a dynamic conduit between the GDSP and health care facilities, as well as a trusted resource for health care and birth professionals,” explains Keri LeBlanc, NNP, MSN, director of the ASC at Rady Children’s. “For newborn screenings conducted in our service area, we oversee everything from accuracy of form completion to identifying collection errors to reporting positive results to the providers, as the need arises. We also coordinate follow-up testing or specialist referrals if a baby’s results indicate either are necessary. It’s a huge responsibility that we’re proud to manage. Newborn screening can truly save babies’ lives.”  Read More...

Infant Health
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September 5, 2019

Getting to Know: Jenny Kim, MD — Director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center

Around the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, Jenny Kim, MD, is a familiar face to patients and families, staff, and up-and-coming health care professionals alike. As director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center and a clinical professor of pediatrics at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, she is a go-to expert for all things hematology; a forward-thinking researcher; a trusted mentor; and an ally to young patients managing hematologic conditions such as sickle cell disease, histiocytic diseases and thalassemia. With September being National Sickle Cell Month, we chatted with Dr. Kim to explore what she loves most about her career path and what led her to it, how sickle cell research is broadening for pediatric patients, her mission to support future generations of health care experts … and her never-ending devotion to America’s Favorite Pastime.

What led you to your career path, both as a pediatrician and as a hematology/oncology specialist?  Read More...

Hematology/Oncology, Staff Stories
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August 29, 2019

All About Kids’ Eye Health

Our eyes play a major role in how we experience the world around us, making their health … well, pretty darn important. For kids, starting eye exams at an early age can help pinpoint vision problems or eye conditions before they cause more significant issues, and support overall well-being. So, when should a child receive their first check-up? Henry O’Halloran, MD, an ophthalmologist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, answers this — and many more FAQs — in a Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month infographic. For more information on eye care for your kiddos, visit https://www.rchsd.org/programs-services/ophthalmology/.

  Read More...

Ophthalmology
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August 26, 2019

Local Conversation, Global Influence: How Rady Children’s Experts Are Helping to Innovate the Future of Care for a Rare Orthopedic Disease

Most health care professionals are accustomed to sharing their expertise with one patient at a time. But recently, two such professionals — V. Salil Upasani, MD, co-director of the International Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Hip Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and an associate clinical professor at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and Chrissy Paik, BS, MPAP, PA-C, a physician assistant specializing in hip conditions within the Rady Children’s Division of Orthopedics & Scoliosis — had the opportunity to break from the norm and address a crowd of more than 250 in partnership with the Perthes Kids Foundation. The Southern California-based nonprofit advances education, advocacy and engagement efforts surrounding Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, “a condition that affects the blood flow to the hip joint in an otherwise healthy child, usually around 5 to 8 years of age,” explains Dr. Upasani.

The decreased blood flow leads to progressive weakening of the joint. In turn, this causes symptoms including pain, limping or limited mobility. Although most kids can eventually recover and avoid future issues with treatment[1], Dr. Upasani notes there is still a long way to go until the medical community fully understands the disease and optimal therapies. “While the disease was described more than 100 years ago, we still know very little about what actually causes it. Because the condition is quite rare, pediatric orthopedic surgeons have formed an international group to combine our cases and study our patients’ outcomes after surgical and nonsurgical treatments.”  Read More...

Orthopedics, Research and Innovation, Staff Stories
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August 20, 2019

Healthy and Fun Recipes for Back-to-School Season

Even if it feels like yesterday that your kids were celebrating their summertime freedom, back-to-school season is here. Along with checking shopping lists, stocking up on books and supplies, and preparing to get reacquainted with early wakeup calls, you may be pondering how to support your child’s brain power through school lunches and snacks that are as tasty as they are nutritionally balanced.

Healthy meals that account for key nutrients (think calcium, iron, zinc and certain vitamins) and foods including veggies and fruit have been linked to higher grades and a lower likelihood for students to be late to or absent from school. In addition, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that breakfast is particularly foundational for student cognition, well-thought afternoon options can also help alertness, attention to detail and problem-solving skills run on all cylinders throughout the school day. In a recent article examining how nutrition and test performance go hand-in-hand, Sean Patrick Corcoran of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development told The Atlantic, “Students who eat regular, healthy meals are less likely to be tired, are more attentive in class, and retain more information.”  Read More...

Nutrition
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August 5, 2019

Champions for Change

Champions for Change

Noah Jaffe and Grace Lockwood have a lot in common. Both are about to be high school juniors. Both are skilled swimmers — multi-time champions, in fact. And both are awesome examples of athletes with cerebral palsy changing the future of the sports they love.

Swim was a part of the teens’ lives before CP ever came into the picture, and has continued to be a source of pride, power and passion since. “I’ve been swimming competitively for seven years,” Noah, 16, says. “I don’t really think my perspective of it has changed [since finding out I have CP].” Incidentally, swim played a role in Noah connecting with his care team and being diagnosed at the Southern Family Center for Cerebral Palsy at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.  Read More...

Cerebral Palsy
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July 25, 2019

Explore the Rady Children’s Hospital Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center with Director Jennifer Graves, MD, PhD, MAS

Although the Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego Division of Neurology has cared for children living with multiple sclerosis for years, we recently took a significant step in increasing patient access to comprehensive, leading-edge care for this complex autoimmune condition: opening the all-new Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center. Under the expert purview of Director Jennifer Graves, MD, PhD, MAS, the center will serve as a hub for compassionate, individualized care for patients and support for the entire patient family, as well as a key connector to some of the most forward-thinking research happening in the world of pediatric MS. Learn more about what inspired the clinic, its offerings and the future of pediatric MS care from Dr. Graves herself in the Q&A below.

What is MS, and what are some of its common symptoms? Do symptoms vary from person to person?   Read More...

Neurology, New at Rady Children's
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July 8, 2019

Getting to Know: Peter Chiraseveenprapund, MD — Pediatric Rheumatologist

Peter Chiraseveenprapund, MD, (you can call him “Dr. Chira”) is a man on a mission. He’s a pediatric rheumatologist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, and cares for kids with conditions including juvenile arthritis, lupus and scleroderma. He’s an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at University of California San Diego School of Medicine. And he’s working to create a world of health care in which shifting kids with chronic conditions from pediatric care to adult care is seamless and stress-free. In recognition of Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, and of all Dr. Chira does for the field of rheumatology, take a few minutes to learn more about this forward-thinking physician.

What inspired you to be a pediatrician, and specifically, a pediatric rheumatologist?   Read More...

Research and Innovation, Rheumatology, Staff Stories
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July 8, 2019

Celebrating 10 Years of Fresh Start Surgical Gifts at Rady Children’s

Over more than two decades, San Diego-based nonprofit Fresh Start Surgical Gifts has been enacting positive change throughout the local community, across the nation and even around the world. How? By offering underserved youth with physical differences — due to congenital conditions, trauma or health conditions — reconstructive surgeries and applicable health services, such as dental care, free of charge.

And, for the past 10 years, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego has been a proud part of these transformative efforts through the Fresh Start Clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital, which has expanded Fresh Start’s ability to offer patients high-quality care they would not otherwise be able to access or afford. The organization hosts many of its six annual Surgery Weekends at the Hospital, during which patients receive care from leading pediatric medical experts. All Fresh Start Clinic operations are run on a volunteer basis, so everyone patient families encounter, from patient service representatives to nurses to surgeons, are donating their time and talents to give back and make a difference.  Read More...

Giving Back, Plastic Surgery, Staff Stories
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June 12, 2019

Summer Safety Roundup

Between no school, longer days and gorgeous weather, there are lots of reasons to love summer. But, even though the season tends to inspire a carefree attitude, there are important safety guidelines to keep in mind while enjoying fun in the sun. “With warmer temperatures and more time spent outdoors, summertime involves a number of safety hazards for children,” says Lorrie Lynn, injury prevention manager at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego’s Center for Healthier Communities. “Fortunately, a few simple things can help families significantly reduce kids’ risk.” Read on for some top tips on creating a safer summer for the whole family.

Smart Swimming   Read More...

Center for Healthier Communities, Safety
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June 3, 2019

What Is Your Child’s Headache Telling You?

We all get headaches. Some of us deal with intense, persistent and all-too-frequent pain; some soldier through the occasional stress- or dehydration-induced discomfort. Of course, this applies to kids as well. While no parent wants to see their child in pain, the good news is, most headaches are acute and not a cause for concern. “Headaches in children and adolescents are common, and can interfere with school, play and sleep. Though headaches do occasionally indicate a serious medical problem, the vast majority are easily recognized as tension headaches, migraines or other primary headache types,” explains Michael Zimbric, M.D., a neurologist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and an associate clinical professor at University of California San Diego School of Medicine. “They can usually be treated effectively with good health habits (sleep, meals, hydration, exercise and stress management) and/or medications.”

Just in time for National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, Dr. Zimbric filled us in on what different kinds of headaches can mean for kids, some typical points of distinction between a headache and a true migraine, and when it might be time to see a physician. Keep in mind that each individual is different, and if you feel your child needs to see a medical professional for their headaches — even ones that seem “normal” — don’t hesitate to set up an appointment for them.  Read More...

Neurology
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May 6, 2019

The Wellness Team at Juvenile Hall: How Classes in Nutrition and More Aim to Shape Healthier Futures for Detained Youth

Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego’s Center for Healthier Communities (CHC) is home to nearly 20 initiatives that focus on building and maintaining healthy lifestyles from an early age. Through accessible, resource-rich programs that draw upon in-depth child and community health research, the CHC and its partners work to enact positive change all over San Diego, with an emphasis on supporting wellness and development in underserved areas.

One of the CHC’s key pillars is Youth Development, within which a number of programs support career preparation, academic achievement, upward mobility and general well-being for local teens. Alongside familiar offerings such as FACES for the Future and the ever-popular Summer and Weekend Medical Academies is a lesser known, but equally important, program: The Wellness Team at Juvenile Hall.  Read More...

Center for Healthier Communities, Staff Stories
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May 3, 2019

Playing it Safe: Sports Injury Prevention Tips for Kids

Tackle. Dunk. Kick. Flip. Dive. The human body accomplishes some pretty incredible feats when at play — and most of the time, it does so unscathed. But injury can strike even the most talented athletes when they take the field or hit the court, and youth athletes are no exception. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sports injuries are the top reason kids 12 to 17 visit the emergency room, and 40 percent of all sports injuries occur in kids 5 to 14.

Eric Edmonds, M.D., director of orthopedic research and co-director of 360 Sports Medicine at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, says that while any sport presents risk for injury, some are inherently more dangerous. “If you take the standard school sports, football is going to have the highest injury rate, followed by the other contact sports. The incidence of injury goes down based on the prevalence of contact.” Common issues include injuries from “cutting,” or rapidly changing direction while running, with ACL tears leading the pack; shoulder injuries; sprains; and fractures, especially to the hands and wrists. Dr. Edmonds adds that more extreme sports tend to lead to more extreme injuries. “With the popularity of X Games types of activities, between motocross and skateboarding and higher-risk activities like Parkour, we are seeing an overall higher incidence of really significant injuries.”  Read More...

Safety, Sports Medicine
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April 15, 2019

Straightforward Answers to Common Vaccine Questions

From a child’s first days, immunizations are a major — and complex — part of their health care. As such, questions including “Why does my child need all of these vaccines?” and “Are these safe?” to “Am I doing enough to protect my child?” and “Am I timing all of this right?” can cause worry, stress or confusion for many parents.

Vaccines are indeed very important, and a point of emphasis in most medical settings. However, they shouldn’t be a source of strife for families. To help address some of the most common vaccine questions, Mark Sawyer, M.D., attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and professor for the Department of Pediatrics at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, provides some straightforward information in a new Kite Insights Q&A.  Read More...

Vaccines
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April 9, 2019

What’s Now and Next in Autism Spectrum Disorder Research?

Between 2000 and 2014, the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States more than doubled, from approximately one in 150 to approximately one in 59[1]. While it’s difficult to say whether this is due to a true increase in incidence, to heightened awareness and more frequent assessments, or a combination thereof, one thing is for sure: ASD affects millions of kids and families, and research is critical to advancing the way we understand, diagnose and treat this complex condition. Through our own Autism Discovery Institute (ADI) and myriad partnerships, Rady Children’s and a talented team of research investigators play a key role in this important innovation.

One such investigator is Lauren Brookman-Frazee, Ph.D., ADI research director, professor for the Department of Psychiatry at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and associate director of the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center (CASRC). The CASRC brings together researchers from institutions including Rady Children’s, UC San Diego, San Diego State University (SDSU), University of San Diego and University of Southern California, who work with community partners to conduct research in public service sectors. With her finger on the pulse of what is now and next in ASD research, Brookman-Frazee provided us with a rundown of ADI research collaborations, recent exploratory wins and what the future may hold for ASD care.  Read More...

Behavioral Health, Research and Innovation
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April 5, 2019

Dog Bite Prevention 101

For those of us who own or interact with dogs, it’s a safe bet almost all would say our furry friends are well, friendly. But, it’s important to remember that all dogs, no matter how snuggly, playful and lovable, have the potential to bite. “Every breed, all shapes and sizes, both sexes, ANY dog,” says Kay Moore, R.N., B.S.N., C.P.E.N., a clinical nurse in Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego’s Emergency Department (ED) and a certified professional dog trainer.

Given both of her professions, as well as her findings from a dog bite research project she is currently leading, Moore is well-versed in the prevalence of bites. “San Diego County Animal Services investigates more than 6,000 dog bites or attacks a year,” she says. “Our ED at Rady Children’s treated 338 dog bites in 2017, and 329 in 2018. In addition, we treat over 150 dog bites in our urgent cares each year.” Most of the time, these aren’t coming from strays on the street or an unfamiliar neighborhood dog. “In 75 to 80 percent of [the cases we see at Rady Children’s], the dog is either the child’s family pet, extended family’s pet or a close friend’s pet that the child knows well. For this reason, dog bites are particularly emotionally stressful for the whole family because the dog is loved and considered a family member.” Moore adds that although “bites that are more severe [and] that often require surgery … are more highly correlated with pit bulls, German shepherds, rottweilers, etc.” that doesn’t mean that these breeds should be stigmatized. “These are the bites that are highly publicized for their dramatic effect. Actually, because they are the most commonly owned breeds, we see lots of labrador and golden retriever bites.”  Read More...

Safety
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March 29, 2019

Achoo! All About Seasonal Allergies

Spring has sprung, and with it, so have seasonal allergies — with an early arrival at that. Between higher-than-average rainfall and ultra-active blooms of plants and wildflowers, this season is already kicking sniffles, itchy eyes and scratchy throats into high gear for many kids, says Akilah Jefferson, M.D., M.Sc., an allergist within Rady Children’s Specialists of San Diego’s Allergy & Immunology Program.

We’re also still on the tail end of cold and flu season, and sometimes, it can be tough to tell the difference between a virus or sinus infection and a bout of allergies. So, how can you know what’s ailing your kids? With allergies, an itchy, runny nose and sneezing are the most common symptoms, and generally come with clear nasal discharge, states Dr. Jefferson. Watery or irritated eyes are also fairly typical, whereas fevers are rare. Conversely, fevers occur frequently with the flu or a sinus infection, and sometimes with more severe colds. Sinus infections also involve “sinus pressure and pain, lots of really discolored mucus, and feeling a lot more tired,” Dr. Jefferson says. Sore throat? Could be allergies, but cold or flu is the more likely culprit.  Read More...

Allergy/Immunology
March 28, 2019

Rady Children’s Honored for Commitment to Reducing Opioid Prescriptions

We are proud to announce that Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and our Prescription Drug Abuse (Opioid) Task Force have received the Quality Improvement and Innovation Group Challenge Coin Award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services!

This award recognizes our dedication to decreasing overall Hospital opioid use while maintaining effective pain control, in turn supporting our commitment to consistently enhance and innovate patient care. Over a two-year period, an institution-wide quality improvement initiative reduced the number of ambulatory, or outpatient, pediatric opioid prescriptions by more than one-third and ambulatory doses prescribed by more than 50 percent.  Read More...

Awards and Recognitions, Safety
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March 26, 2019

Getting to Know: George Liu, M.D., Ph.D. — Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases

George Liu, M.D., Ph.D., is one of the most recent additions to the Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego family. After growing up in Africa, earning his medical education in both San Diego and the United Kingdom, and honing his clinical and research expertise in Los Angeles, the newly minted chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases brings globally reaching experience and vision to his role. To welcome Dr. Liu back to San Diego, we sat down for a “Getting to Know” interview spanning his fascinating research into antibiotic-resistant bacteria, where he sees the future of infectious disease care going, and the fruit-filled soccer games of his childhood (you’ll see).

What does your role as division chief entail?   Read More...

Infectious Diseases, Research and Innovation, Staff Stories
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March 18, 2019

Heroes “fur” Real

There are few things cuter or more joy-inducing than dogs. Their ability to connect with humans — uncanny. Their cuddling prowess — unparalleled. And their positive effects on health — pretty darn undeniable. Scientific studies have shown that simply petting a pup increases one’s output of the feel-good hormones serotonin, oxytocin and prolactin, in turn reducing anxiety and loneliness and amplifying comfort and mental stimulation. Spending time with furry friends can also help lower blood pressure, mitigate pain and, in some instances, even dial down the need for medication.

At Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, our philanthropically funded PetSmart Paws for Hope program applies these findings to improving patients’ lives through one-on-one visits tailored to their unique needs, both emotional and medical. Through about 15,000 encounters each year, more than 30 dogs and their human counterparts work tirelessly to bring smiles, laughter and a greater sense of well-being to our patients and their loved ones. And, fun fact: Many of these doggedly devoted (see what we did there?) volunteers also happen to be Rady Children’s employees and their pets. Meet a few  — both two- and four-legged — now!  Read More...

Canine Therapy, Giving Back, Staff Stories
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March 11, 2019

Dream On: Quality Sleep at Every Stage of Childhood

Who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep? A solid snooze is physically and mentally restorative, and an essential part of living your healthiest life. For kids, who are on a constant developmental trajectory from the day they’re born, sleep is all the more important. However, many parents wonder how much is enough, how to help kids fall and stay asleep, and when it might be time to seek help from a sleep pro.

With National Sleep Awareness Week upon us, Rakesh Bhattacharjee, M.D., director of the Center for Healthy Sleep at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and an associate professor of pediatrics at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, offers expert insights on this tricky topic via the infographic below.  Read More...

Child Development, Sleep
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March 7, 2019

Nutrition Fact vs. Fiction

Navigating nutrition is tough enough when keeping your own well-being in mind. But as parents, you know considering foods that support your child’s health, growth and development takes grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking to a whole other level. This is further compounded by the fact that there is tons of confusing, ever-changing information out there on what actually is healthy.

For National Nutrition Month, we asked a couple members of the team at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego’s Nutrition Clinic to address some of the nutrition topics they hear most about — and help separate fact from fiction.  Read More...

Nutrition
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March 1, 2019

Getting to Know: Rady Children’s Child Life Team

“Radiology,” “chemotherapy” and “dialysis” are big terms for little patients to understand, and even bigger medical experiences to go through. So, when anxiety strikes before a procedure or things get overwhelming during a hospital stay, a very special kind of health care professional is there to help calm fears, make sense of it all, and even inspire fun and laughter — child life experts.

At Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, our Child Life Services team comprises 15 certified child life specialists (C.C.L.S.) and two child life assistants. Fun fact: Child Life Services is one of the programs at the Hospital that is funded entirely through donations, a sure sign of its value and effectiveness. Members of the team are available to patients, parents and siblings seven days a week in inpatient and outpatient areas. Just some of the areas they can visit are outlined below — their reach throughout the Hospital is broad!  Read More...

Child Life, Staff Stories
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February 20, 2019

From Fear to Empowerment: Why I Joined the New Cardiac Family Advisory Council

by Melissa Cohen, Cardiac Family Advisory Council Member

The numbness of my epidural hadn’t yet worn off when my beautiful newborn daughter turned blue. My husband and I only got to hold Makayla (“Mak,” as we call her) for two hours before she moved from our loving, warm arms to a tiny plastic isolette, and we wouldn’t be able to hold her again for three days. She was diagnosed the day after she was born with a congenital heart defect (CHD) called Tetralogy of Fallot, and was rushed to the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.  Read More...

Family Advisory Council
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February 11, 2019

Protecting Youth Athletes from Dental Injuries

When you think of sports injuries in kids, things like concussions, sprains and broken bones likely come to mind. But with one in three youth athletes affected, injuries to the teeth and mouth are also high on the list, explains Parvathi Pokala, D.D.S., a pediatric dentist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. With Children’s Dental Health Month upon us and springtime sports season fast approaching, learn more about how you can help your champions’ favorite activities play nice with their smiles.

Play Ball (Carefully)  Read More...

Dental Health, Safety, Sports Medicine
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February 8, 2019

Bad Romance: Raising Awareness of Abuse in Teen Relationships

While most romantic relationships forged in teenage years don’t last forever, they can typically be looked back on for fond memories, lessons learned … or at least a good-natured eye roll. But the American Psychological Association (APA) reports that for more than 10 percent of high school students, young love includes physical, verbal or emotional abuse, potentially endangering teens and inflicting trauma, shame or psychological distress that can last even into adulthood.

“Research consistently shows that traumatic experiences during adolescence can have direct and profound associations with both psychological and physical health issues,” says Benjamin Maxwell, M.D., medical director of inpatient psychiatry at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and assistant professor for the Department of Psychiatry within University of California School of Medicine. “Implications may include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and suicidal ideation, as well as an increased likelihood to develop an eating disorder, engage in risky behaviors or have abusive relationships in the future.”  Read More...

Behavioral Health, Safety
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February 6, 2019

Keeping Kids’ Blood Pressure and Cholesterol in Check

It’s likely you’ve talked with your doctor about your heart health and where your blood pressure and cholesterol stand. But have you talked with your child’s pediatrician about theirs? “We usually think of hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol as problems that affect adults, but we tend to forget that these problems can start early in life,” explains Jessica Haley, M.D., pediatric cardiologist and director of the Division of Cardiology’s Home Monitoring Program at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at University of California School of Medicine. “Hypertension is found in approximately 3.5 percent of kids and teens; abnormal cholesterol levels are found in approximately 20 percent. Both of these issues are more common among kids who are overweight or obese.”

High blood pressure or cholesterol levels in youth are typically the result of underlying health issues, such as kidney disease; environmental factors, such as unhealthy diet or weight and insufficient exercise; or genetics. “Some kids have an increased risk of developing these problems simply because it runs in their family,” Dr. Haley says. Since these potentially harmful conditions can stem from so many — or even multiple — areas of health, Dr. Haley emphasizes the importance of partnering with your child’s pediatrician to monitor from a young age. Early intervention is critical to providing proper treatment, in turn reducing the likelihood of conditions worsening and of progression to cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack, kidney disease or heart failure in adulthood. “Studies have found that kids that have high blood pressure are more likely to continue to have it as adults. We are now finding that kids with hypertension or abnormal cholesterol are developing subtle changes in their bodies, including thickening of the heart muscle and of the arteries, which contributes to the early development of cardiovascular disease,” continues Dr. Haley.  Read More...

Cardiology
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February 1, 2019

Getting to Know: Justin Ryan, Ph.D. – Director of the 3D Innovations Lab

Justin Ryan, Ph.D., is an artist — a very specialized, highly technical, life-improving artist. After all, as director of the new 3D Innovations (3DI) Lab at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, he and his team craft 3D models of hearts, brains, bones and more to streamline surgical plans and improve outcomes for even the Hospital’s most complex cases. Find out more about his fascinating role, his unique professional background and his peaceful spirit animal in our latest edition of “Getting to Know.”

Describe a typical workday.  Read More...

Research and Innovation, Staff Stories
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January 30, 2019

Changing Policies, Changing Lives

Each year, the Cochlear Implant Program team from the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Departments (latter team pictured) at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego witnesses dozens of profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing children experience the sounds of the world around them for the first time. Being outfitted with a cochlear implant, a surgically placed electronic device, can be transformative for a child’s development and future. But it’s not a one-and-done event — because recipients haven’t always been able to have the same speech-teaching interactions that hearing children do, life with a new cochlear implant can involve significant, specialized speech therapy requiring weekly visits. Accordingly, one of the key questions when evaluating a child as a cochlear implant candidate is whether or not they’ll be able to attend these visits, explains Shari Garrett, M.S., C.C.C.-S.L.P., C.H.T.P., manager of the Speech-Language Pathology Department.

With many of the Hospital’s cochlear implant families living in out-of-town areas such as Calexico, El Centro and Riverside County, Garrett says that can be tough. Until recently, speech pathologists saw families so dedicated to their child’s care that they’d spend hours each week driving back and forth to appointments, only to arrive (understandably) exhausted and less engaged than they would be with a shorter commute. She and her team knew something needed to change — they needed to bring speech therapy to families’ homes through telemedicine, a burgeoning form of health care that connects patients and providers from anywhere using audio and video technology. Think of it like a patient privacy-friendly version of Skype.  Read More...

Child Development, Hearing/Speech, Research and Innovation
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January 21, 2019

Drugs and Alcohol: Know the Facts

By the time they reach their junior year of high school, about 52 percent of kids in California have had an alcoholic drink at least once, while 43.5 percent, 40 percent, 22 percent and 6 percent have gotten high at least once using cold or cough medicine, marijuana, prescription pain medicine, and cocaine or amphetamines, respectively[1]. Nationally, 16.5 percent of high school seniors say they binge drink, and 24 percent of youth in eighth through 12th grades use marijuana[2].

A number of factors can make it more likely for teens to use or abuse drugs and alcohol — ranging from psychiatric illness, a history of trauma or neglect, and hanging out with drug-using peers to genetics, availability and coming from a low socioeconomic background. However, unrealistic expectations and lack of accurate information are often strong contributors, says Kara Bagot, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and an assistant professor within University of California San Diego School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. She continues to explain that a large part of misinformation stems from using search engines, or even social media, to research substances. “They are frequently directed to other sites, forums or chats that have inaccurate or misleading information on drugs. Studies have found that incorrect information increases the risk of adolescents trying substances they may not otherwise have tried.”  Read More...

Behavioral Health, Safety
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December 21, 2018

Getting to Know: Karen Miller, B.S.N., R.N., C.E.N. – Neuro-Oncology Case Manager at the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders

Karen Miller, B.S.N., R.N., C.E.N., (pictured in the birthday hat with some of her neuro-oncology teammates), has been a nursing pro for the past 12 years, and has been overseeing all aspects of brain tumor cases at Rady Children’s Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders since June 2018. We chatted with the San Diego newcomer to learn more about her role as neuro-oncology case manager, her penchant for a certain red-haired crooner and what local staple she’s obsessed with snacking on.

As a nurse case manager, what’s your day-to-day like?  Read More...

Hematology/Oncology, Staff Stories
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December 18, 2018

Rady Children’s ECMO Expertise Goes Global

George Sutherland, M.B.A., R.R.T.-N.P.S. (pictured middle right), is going places. And while he certainly excels in his role as Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego’s extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) coordinator, we mean this literally. That’s because in Nov. 2018, Sutherland led a group of Rady Children’s ECMO experts on a volunteer trip to China, where they helped train 25 practitioners at Chengdu Women’s and Children’s Central Hospital on this life-saving technology and establish a neonatal ECMO program. Sutherland’s fellow volunteers included Denise Suttner, M.D. (pictured middle left); Jose Honold, M.D.; Carlos Ramos, M.D.; Erika Fernandez, M.D. and ECMO Primes Lutchi Abraham, B.S.N., R.N., C.C.R.N.; Elana Sterling, B.S.N., R.N., C.C.R.N.; Arjumand Gutierrez, B.S.N., R.N., C.C.R.N.; and Patricia Belmares, B.S.N., R.N., C.C.R.N.

ECMO is a complex form of cardiac bypass technology that uses mechanical devices to support heart and/or lung function in severe heart or lung failure that is unresponsive to conventional care. ECMO removes deoxygenated blood from the body; oxygenates, ventilates and warms the blood through an artificial lung; and returns the blood to the patient via a cannula, or medical tube. Rady Children’s is equipped with seven ECMO pumps and has a staff ECMO prime, who can put patients on ECMO and oversee their care once a surgeon places their access catheters, in-house 24/7. Rady Children’s is the only hospital in San Diego County that offers this service to pediatric patients, and has managed the care of more than 700 children since beginning its ECMO program in 1987.  Read More...

Cardiology, Giving Back, Staff Stories
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December 12, 2018

A Continuum of Care: Kelly’s Story

If you take a walk by our inpatient pharmacy on the weekend, it’s likely you’ll catch Kelly Chan, a 23-year-old Doctor of Pharmacy candidate at UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, hard at work as an intern. For Kelly, vying for this role was an easy decision — after all, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego was the first home she ever knew.

When she was pregnant, Kelly’s mother underwent a procedure that screens for fetal abnormalities through a small sample of amniotic fluid. The analysis revealed that something was seriously wrong with Kelly’s development. Further studies revealed that Kelly would be born with a right-sided diaphragmatic hernia. This rare birth defect results in a large hole in the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the abdomen and chest, and supports breathing function. Through the hole, Kelly’s liver and bowel had moved into her chest, preventing her right lung from developing. Kelly’s mom would need to deliver by cesarean section, and Kelly would require a critical intervention right after birth.  Read More...

NICU, Staff Stories
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December 12, 2018

Food for Thought: Understanding and Managing Food Allergies in Kids

Food allergies are becoming increasingly common, particularly in children. We sat down with Stephanie Leonard, M.D., director of the Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego Food Allergy Center and an associate clinical professor for the Division of Allergy-Immunology-Rheumatology within University of California San Diego School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, to discuss prevalence, what’s new in research and how we can all work together to better protect kids managing allergies.

Food Allergies 101  Read More...

Allergy/Immunology, Research and Innovation
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December 4, 2018

Simple Tips for Raising a Compassionate Kid

As parents, you strive to instill good values in your kids — mind your manners, be a good sport, sharing is caring. Among the most prized of these warm and fuzzy human traits is having compassion for others, but it can be tough to gauge when children are ready to grasp and grow this emotionally complex concept. We asked three experts from Rady Children’s Developmental Services team — Maggie Kershaw, M.S., M.S.W., a behavior specialist at Children’s Care Connection (C3); Brian Fritz, B.C.B.A., a behavior specialist at the Autism Discovery Institute; and Lorri Bauer, M.S., a behavior specialist at C3 and KidSTART Center — to provide some guidance on kicking off the conversation and continuing to nurture compassionate kids through all stages of childhood.

An Early Start  Read More...

Behavioral Health, Child Development
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November 30, 2018

What’s New in Flu? A Q&A with Dr. John Bradley

Ah, winter — a time for holiday cheer, sweater weather (well — for San Diego, at least sometimes) and … the flu. Most of us have experienced this nasty virus at least once, and last season’s strain made headlines for infecting even those who were vaccinated, and for its effects on children. To help parents prep for this year and guard their kiddos as much as possible, we connected with John Bradley, M.D., director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and a professor and chief for the Division of Infectious Diseases within the Department of Pediatrics at University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

Q: What do we know about this year’s flu?  Read More...

Flu Information, Vaccines
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November 21, 2018

The Bedtime Cart: Creating Sweeter Dreams for Rady Children’s Patients

It’s a Wednesday night. The lights in the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego are low, and a lull has fallen over halls that were full of hustle and bustle just a few hours ago. But in the midst of the evening quiet, there’s still activity afoot. From patient rooms drift gently whispered tales of Harry Potter and Thomas the Tank Engine, and the soothing aroma of freshly brewed chamomile tea fills the air. That’s because on Wednesday nights, The Bedtime Cart — and its devoted volunteers — make the rounds to bring a little extra comfort to the center’s patients and their families.

The Bedtime Cart has been delivering sweeter dreams since 2015, when Margaret Fitzgerald, B.S.N., R.N., C.P.O.N. (pictured on the right), a 16-year Rady Children’s employee and hematology/oncology nurse-turned nurse manager-turned interim director of the Peckham Center, got it rolling. “I started because I really wanted patients and families to have what they needed to get a good night’s sleep,” she says. “You should have the same routine you have at home. So I thought, ‘well, I’ll start a cart that goes around with volunteers.’” Stocked with goods such as cozy socks, soft flannel pillowcases, herbal teas, books for kids of all ages and even miniature bottles of a custom-blended lavender aromatherapy lotion, the cart was an instant hit with patients and loved ones, so much so that Margaret has helped replicate it in two additional units.  Read More...

Giving Back, Hematology/Oncology
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November 5, 2018

Beating Up Bullying

In recent years, bullying has become increasingly recognized as a widespread and common issue for young people. And it’s not just happening during those classically challenging middle school years. About 20 percent of high school students are bullied[1], while 90 percent of elementary school children say they’ve been bullied at least once by their peers[2]. While bullying can happen to any child, “often, kids are bullied because of differences in race or religion, or because of disabilities or special needs. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex youth are also at a higher risk for being targeted,” says Brent Crandal, Ph.D., child and family psychologist at The Chadwick Center for Children & Families at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

After the initial sting of bullying has worn off, its effects can be lasting and profound. “Bullying can be a source of intense strain, worry, sadness and isolation,” Crandal explains. “Sometimes, bullying carries on for weeks, months and even years, and can often be traumatizing.” For example, bullying has been linked to serious mental health implications ranging from agoraphobia, anxiety and panic disorders, depression, and antisocial personality disorder to suicidal ideation, plans and attempts[3].  Read More...

Behavioral Health
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