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Pet therapy for kids in the hospital at Swedish

Audrey Fuhrer

Audrey Fuhrer
Certified Child Life Specialist

During most hospital stays, a patient can expect to be visited and cared for by doctors, nurses, therapists and even social workers.  But did you know that at Swedish, we not only have a wonderful team of caregivers to provide the most optimal health care and we also have additional beneficial services like pet therapy?

Pet therapy is a wonderful service that Swedish provides to all pediatric patients and families who are not on isolation precautions.  A trained handler escorts a certified pet therapy dog room to room, visiting patients and their families at the bedside, taking the time to provide therapeutic services to all who would like it. 

Spending time with an animal has been proven to improve patient’s emotional status and ability to cope with their hospital stay.  Each pet therapy partner ...

Reducing fear for kids who need blood tests or shots

Kendra Hough

Kendra Hough
Pediatric Phlebotomist

Imagine the following scenario:  for several weeks, your daughter has been complaining of a tummy ache.  You find yourself sitting in her doctor’s office hoping to uncover what’s wrong.  Your daughter is nervous, but you’re doing your best to assure her that the doctor will come in soon, ask a few questions and make the pain go away. 
 
Just as the visit comes to a close, the doctor mentions that he’d like to “run some tests”.  Immediately, the looks on your daughter’s face changes, and you know she’s scared.   Tears well-up in her eyes as she whispers in your ear, “What tests, mommy?  What does he mean….Are they going to poke me?”  Whispers soon escalate into screams, “How big is the needle?  Does this mean I’m getting shots? NO!  No shots! Please mommy, no shots!”
 
Being a phlebotomist, this is a common scenario that I know all too well.  Since I came to work at the Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care clinic almost 2 years ago, I’ve made it my personal challenge to make a child’s phlebotomy experience as smooth and pleasant as possible.  The entire team here is committed to show children that doctor visits can be fun.  Even though part of the medical experience may include having blood drawn, it doesn’t have to be painful or scary. 
 
Some of the tools I use to make children feel less nervous include ...

Kids and lactose intolerance

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Do you wonder if your child might have “lactose intolerance”?    Have you ever thought of removing dairy from your child’s diet?  If the answer to either of these questions is yes, here are a few things to remember when it comes to lactose intolerance in kids:

  • Lactose is broken down by lactase.

While lactose is the carbohydrate (sugar) found in milk, lactase is the enzyme that digests the sugar. This enzyme is found in the lining of the small intestine, breaks down lactose into simpler molecules that are easier to absorb.  When there isn’t enough lactase, the sugar isn’t properly absorbed, which leads to the symptoms of “intolerance”, which include gas, bloating, pain and diarrhea.

  • True lactose intolerance is rare in young children.

Although children as young as infants can “transiently” have less lactase in their digestive tracts (most often, this happens for a week or two after an infection), lactase production remains ...

Gluten intolerance or low FODMAPs?

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Despite test results that show no evidence of their children having neither any detectable allergies to wheat nor any signs of celiac disease, many parents choose to have their children follow a gluten-free diet.  This is because of convincing stories of how gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains) seems to cause their kids to have belly aches, nausea, bloating and a variety of other symptoms.  

For years, this was hard to explain without a scientific explanation.   Gastroenterologists like me had a hard time supporting families who wanted to follow gluten free diets, without a good “medical reason”.  Then, in 2011, researchers from Australia conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, rechallenge trial in nearly 3 dozen patients (none of whom had celiac disease or wheat allergy), all of whom described worsening symptoms when unknowingly ingesting small amounts of gluten.  The results of this study described a condition termed, “Non-celiac gluten intolerance”.    It was after reading this landmark study that many physicians, including myself, began to validate parents’ concerns about gluten being the culprit behind their children’s gastrointestinal (GI) problems.

But then in 2013, just as word of non-celiac gluten intolerance was gaining popularity amongst physicians like me, the exact same group of researchers from Australia published a follow-up study on a similar set of about 3 dozen patients.  The findings of this 2nd study showed that instead...

Statin Benefits Secondary Progressive MS

Peiqing Qian

Peiqing Qian
Neurologist, Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center

No treatments can currently abate the advanced stage of the disease, known as secondary progressive MS, which gradually causes patients to become more disabled. Statins are postulated to have immunomodulatory effects that appear to be independent of their effect on cholesterol. A benefit has been suggested in early multiple sclerosis (MS) based on reduction of magnetic resonance imaging brain lesions.  However, following trials have had inconsistent results.

In this multicenter, double-blind study, investigators randomized 140 participants with secondary progressive (SP) MS to 80 mg of simvastatin or placebo daily for 2 years. Participants were 18 to 65 years old, had active progression over the preceding 2 years, and had difficulties ambulating but were not wheelchair bound.  Whole brain atrophy was 43% slower annually in simvastatin recipients than in placebo recipients. The simvastatin group also had small clinical improvements over placebo on the disability scale and a patient-reported MS impact scale at 24 months.
 
These findings show that simvastatin reduced ...

Does your child have a food allergy or food sensitivity?

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

“Every time my child eats, his belly hurts. I think he must have a food allergy. Can you help us?”

Countless times have I heard this from parents of children worried about foods being the cause of their child’s gastrointestinal (GI) complaints. Some families wonder whether their child should start a “gluten-free” or other type of dietary change. More often than not, families have already tried a few diets before meeting with me.

Parents considering these types of elimination diets need to be aware of a few key points:
The difference between “food allergy” and “food sensitivity”:

Importance of planning pregnancies with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

James D. Bowen, MD

A recent study addressed the outcomes of pregnancy in women with MS who were taking fingolimod (Gilenya). Of 66 pregnancies on the medication, 41 attempted to carry the pregnancy to term. 26 of the 41 had healthy newborns. There were, 9 miscarriages, 24 elective abortion, 4 ongoing pregnancies and 1 with an unknown outcome. Of the elective abortions, four were for fetal malformations. There were 5 cases with abnormal fetal development in the 66 pregnancies. Poor fetal outcomes were found in 14.6% of the pregnancies. This contrasts with a 3% rate of poor outcomes for most pregnancies.

This paper highlights the importance of care in planning pregnancies in MS. It is now known that women with MS have ...

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