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Saturday
Jun152013

Boy on Lung Transplant List Happy for Sarah Murnaghan

Courtesy Peterson Family(HOUSTON) -- Jordan Peterson is 10 years old, suffers from cystic fibrosis and is on the pediatric lung transplant waiting list -- just like Sarah Murnaghan, the Pennsylvania girl who received a lung transplant Wednesday after her family successfully sued to make her more likely to get lungs from an adult donor.

Medical and legal experts have criticized the judge for sidestepping Organ Transplantation and Procurement Network policy, but Jordan is just happy to see another cystic fibrosis kid get a lucky break.

"I'm very happy for her 'cause, you know, she needed 'em more than I did, and she was on a ventilator and she was dying, so I was definitely really happy for her," Jordan told ABC News from Houston, where his family relocated in September 2012 to be within a few hours of Texas Children's Hospital. They're originally from Fargo, N.D., but since Jordan's doctors are in Houston, they needed to be nearby in case donor lungs became available.

Although the nation has been focused on Sarah for the past few weeks, other patients awaiting organ transplants have been left to watch the story unfold and wonder what it means for them.

Dr. Sander Florman, who directs the Mount Sinai Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute, said his patients awaiting liver and kidney transplants have already asked whether legal action might be the best way to get the organs they need.

"I said, 'It wouldn't be fair for you to do this and be successful,'" Florman said. "Go promote organ donation. ... That's what all physicians should be telling people, what the judge should be telling people."

On the flip side, Dr. Alan Reinach, a pulmonologist who works at Holy Redeemer Health System outside Philadelphia, said patients have neither asked him nor his colleagues about how Sarah's case would affect them.

Sarah's family argued that the so-called Under 12 Rule, an organ transplant policy, had been unfairly pushing Sarah to the bottom of the adult lung transplant waiting list because it required adult lungs to be offered to adults before they could be offered to anyone younger than 12.

Her lawyers convinced federal Judge Michael Baylson on June 5 that the Under 12 Rule was discriminatory, prompting a temporary restraining order against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to prevent her from enforcing it for Sarah.

Baylson's ruling forced OPTN to create a second organ transplant database entry for Sarah with a fake birthday to trick the system into thinking she was 12 years old. On June 12, she got her transplant, which involved having the adult lungs resized to fit her 10-year-old body. It's the 11th lung transplant from a donor older than 18 to a child younger 12 since 1987.

Although Jordan's father, Dan Peterson, said he understood Sarah's situation was dire, it prompted him to ask Jordan's doctor questions about how the ruling would affect other people on the waiting list. Would it "reshuffle the deck?" he wondered. It's still not clear.

But Jordan had different questions.

"The press used the term 'end stage cystic fibrosis,'" Peterson said. "His biggest question was about that and when that was going to hit him."

But when she got lungs and was doing well after surgery, Jordan was relieved.

"He was thrilled," Peterson said. "His next words were 'OK, I'm next.'"

Jordan has been on the list since September 2012, and he's had three separate pediatric lung donor offers, but his surgeries didn't happen for different reasons. Once, the weather was so bad his doctors couldn't fly out of state to retrieve the organs. Another time, doctors spotted a contusion on the lungs at the last minute.

As Jordan woke up from the anesthesia after the "dry run" transplant attempts, he would groggily feel for scars on his chest to see whether he had new lungs, Peterson said. The first time Jordan realized there'd been no operation, his father watched as his face fell.

"But our philosophy has been that when that happens, we believe God gave us another day to be together, and we think of the donor family that doesn't have another day," he said. "When you put it in that perspective of what the donor family has gone through, it helps you get your perspective back where it should be."

This week, Jordan said he was feeling all right. He can't play sports like he did when he was younger because an infection damaged his lungs, but he was able to play in a pool on Thursday in the 95-degree Houston heat.

He said he's not afraid of surgery, and he's ready for new lungs "tonight, even right now."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb232013

Three-Year-Old Boy Who Can’t Eat Anything Is Running Out of Time, Parents Say

ABC News(ROCHESTER, Minn.) -- Michael Gonzalez is a 3-year-old Florida boy who apparently can’t eat any normal foods, and his parents say they are in a panic.

Michael drinks 20 to 30 bottles of prescription-only formula daily called Neocate Junior. He can’t eat apples or carrots or anything else that other kids his age eat, his mother, Jennifer Gonzalez, told ABC News affiliate KSTP.

But his predicament has gone from worrisome to alarming. Shortly after the formula maker, Nutricia, made changes to its packaging in August 2012, Michael suffered from severe vomiting and diarrhea, his parents say. Convinced that the company also changed the formula, his parents have hoarded containers full of older stock, but it’s only safe to drink through October.

“That’s not OK, to tell me that my son has an expiration date,” Jennifer Gonzalez said.

Specialists have been examining Michael at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where the boy’s parents took him two weeks ago to get help.

Michael has been diagnosed with Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome, his parents said. The syndrome is not uncommon and is usually associated with an intolerance for milk or soy in babies six months to a year old, said Dr. Wesley Burks, chair of the pediatrics department at the University of North Carolina. Parents realize there’s a problem when their child gets diarrhea or vomits after feeding, he told ABC News.

It’s very rare for a child with the syndrome to be unable to eat many other foods aside from milk or soy, he said.

“Usually if you can’t tolerate many foods, it’s related to your bowel itself,” said Burks, who has not treated Michael and did not comment on his case specifically. Most children grow out of the syndrome by age three to five, he added.

 

A child’s food allergies cost her parents on average $4,000, mainly due to lost income as parents switch jobs or work less, ABC News reported in December.

From birth, Michael wasn’t like other babies, his parents said. He threw up after every feeding and his parents worried he’d starve.

“Babies are supposed to be happy. He wasn’t. Every time you fed him, he got worse. He was mad,” the boy’s mother told KSTP.

Michael’s parents discovered Neocate Junior when he was 11 months old, and it helped, they said — until the company changed the packaging.

A spokeswoman for Nutricia cited a statement posted to the company’s website saying that the product formulation and ingredients for Neocate Junior Unflavored remained the same, though packaging graphics were redone in August. However, the company said it has received 14 similar complaints. Nutricia says it worked with the FDA to investigate the problem, and found that the formula recipe remained unchanged, said the spokeswoman, who asked not to be quoted by name.

The company released this statement about the case to ABC News:

“We understand this is a challenging time for the Gonzalez family. We are connecting the family and their physician with the right clinical experts so they can partner on finding alternative nutritional solutions. This is in keeping with our mission to help provide nutritional solutions to children with very sensitive and specialized conditions.”

While his parents wait for medical help, meanwhile, Michael continues to live in a world without regular food.

“He doesn’t know what real juice tastes like, or real milk,” said Jennifer Gonzalez.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec132012

Two-Inch Feather Emerges from Baby’s Neck

The Whittington family(HUTCHINSON, Kan.) -- No one knew what was bothering seven-month-old Mya Whittington. Her discomfort stumped her parents and doctors. She was finally hospitalized — and a two-inch feather eventually poked its way out of her neck, shocking everyone.

“We were just pretty much in disbelief,” Mya’s dad, Aaron Whittington, 26, told ABC News.

The mystery of Mya’s pain started on Saturday.

“I was at work and my wife noticed that the left side of her neck had started to swell, and she called me at work and asked if we should take her to the emergency room,” Whittington said.

The couple decided to wait, thinking that Mya just had a swollen gland. They changed their minds the next morning.

“Sunday morning, when we woke up, it had doubled in size and there was a pimple-looking thing on the end of it,” he said. “We’re looking at it and going, ‘There’s no way this is a swollen gland.’”

Mya was admitted to a hospital near the family’s home in Hutchinson, Kan. Doctors thought she had a staph infection of her lymph nodes. But when they tried to drain the bump, nothing came out. Hours later, Aaron Whittington and his wife Emma noticed what appeared to be a “half-inch string” protruding from Mya’s face.

“[The pediatrician] threw on gloves and she pulled out a two-inch feather and she’s like, ‘It’s a feather.’ And we’re like, ‘What do you mean it’s a feather?’ And she showed us,” Whittington said, still in disbelief.

“As far as how the feather got into the side of the neck, our doctor says we’ll probably never really know,” he said. “But her best guess is that she either inhaled it or tried swallowing it and it got lodged in the throat somewhere, and the body, just being crazy, just started to reject it and force it out the side of her neck.”

The parents now remember Mya crying and pulling at the area under her left ear over the past few weeks, but they thought she might be getting an ear infection or teething.

The little girl is now “almost 100 percent recovered,” according to Whittington. Doctors have checked her out and determined that she will not need surgery. They say her body will heal on its own.

The Whittingtons say they are grateful for Mya’s health and have been shocked that the story has gone global.

“We’ve been extremely, extremely surprised,” Aaron Whittington said. “We’ve gotten stories in Kenya, India, the U.K. It’s really crazy.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun162012

Study: Authoritative Parenting by Dads Teaches Perseverance in Kids

Jupiterimages/Polka Dot(NEW YORK) -- A new study says that children learn persistence from their fathers, and the acquired skill can lead to a reduced risk of criminal behavior and better performance at school, Health Day reports.

For the study, researchers from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah followed adolescents aged 11 to 14 from 325 two-parent families for several years. Researchers found that children of the fathers who exhibited authoritative parenting--about 52 percent--were much more likely to develop persistence, which resulted in lower levels of delinquency and better outcomes at school.

The researchers emphasized that authoritative parenting is not the same as authoritarian parenting, and involves three basic features: children feel warmth and love from their father, children are granted appropriate levels of autonomy and fathers stress accountability and the justification of rules.

Researchers also suggested that single parents can still teach their children about persistence, even though the study only included two-parent families, according to Health Day.

The findings were published June 15 in the Journal of Early Adolescence.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr232012

Boy Who Survived Heart Attack Dies During Baseball Practice

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- An Oregon middle school student died Friday after collapsing during baseball practice, just months after he suffered a heart attack during basketball practice and later underwent surgery to correct a heart defect.

According to ABC affiliate KATU-TV in Portland, witnesses said 12-year-old Isaac Arzate started coughing up blood during Friday evening’s practice and collapsed.

Back in January, doctors told Arzate’s family that his heart attack occurred as a result of a defect characterized by an artery not originating in the proper place in the heart, reported The Oregonian.

After surgery to repair the defect, doctors said the sixth grader would have to wait six to eight weeks before participating in sports again.

Officials said there will not be an autopsy since Arzate died of natural causes.

Dr. Paolo Rusconi, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, said without knowing more details, he can only speculate that Arzate suffered from a coronary artery defect.  Even after surgery, this type of anomaly can still carries risks.

“The coronary arteries are so small that when you do surgery on them, there is always the possibility that after surgery because there is scarring, there can be clots, or the heart muscle can become necrotic and lead to heart attacks,” he said.

Sudden death in children is very uncommon, Rusconi explained, and there are a number of conditions that can cause it.

“Among the cardiac causes of sudden death, particularly in athletes, is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition characterized by the thickening of the heart muscle,” he said.

An irregular heartbeat can also cause sudden death, since the heart may suddenly stop beating or may beat so fast that it can’t effectively pump blood, he added.

There are also congenital defects such as coronary artery defects and aortic stenosis that can lead to sudden death, Rusconi added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr062012

10-Year-Old Girl Gives Birth to Daughter

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MANAURE, Columbia) -- A 10-year-old Colombian girl gave birth to a healthy baby girl, making her one of the youngest mothers ever.

The unnamed girl from Manaure, a town in the Colombian Department of La Guajira, arrived at the hospital in tears and “enormous pain” from the contractions, according to Univision’s Primer Impacto. She reportedly delivered her daughter, who weighed 5 pounds, by cesarean section.

Experts say a C-section delivery for such a young mother is not unusual.

“The baby’s head needs to come through a bony outlet. But in a young girl, the pelvis may not be ready or big enough to deliver a baby,” said Dr. Kimberly Gecsi, an OB/GYN at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

Extremely young mothers also have a higher risk of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure known as preeclampsia, and their babies are at risk for fetal growth restriction, according to Dr. Frederick Gonzalez, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center.

“These girls are not ready to be pregnant. Their bodies are not mature,” said Gonzalez. “They may be able to get pregnant, but being able to have a baby is a whole other situation.”

The new mom is a member of the Wayuu people, an indigenous tribe in northern Colombia. The age of the father is unknown, but police can’t press charges because the tribe has its own jurisdiction, according to local reports.

“We’ve already seen several cases [of pregnancy] in girls of the Wayuu ethnicity,” Efraín Pacheco Casadiego, director of the hospital where the girl gave birth, told RCN La Radio noticias. “When in fact [the girls] should be playing with dolls, they are having to care for a baby. This is shocking.”

Pregnancy can occur as soon as a girl starts ovulating, which is happening at ever younger ages.

“The average age girls in the country start menstruating is about 12 and a half, but that age keeps dropping,” said Gecsi, adding that the age is even lower among Hispanic girls. "But only about 13 percent of Hispanic girls menstruate younger than 11. And for them to have a sexual experience would be very unusual.”

Because ovulation precedes menstruation, girls can get pregnant before ever having a period.

“Typically, menstruation is the last thing that happens in puberty,” said Gesci, adding that girls typically go through a growth spurt and develop breasts and pubic hair before menstruating. “If you notice those things, you could be about to menstruate and you could get pregnant.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec022011

School: HIV Student 'Health and Safety' Issue

Bananastock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- The Hershey, Pa., boarding school that denied an HIV-positive 13-year-old boy entry said Friday that the school's residential setting and the risk of sexual activity made the teen too much of a "threat."

The AIDS Law Project filed suit on behalf of the unidentified boy Wednesday in Philadelphia District Court, alleging that the Milton Hershey School violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which includes HIV in its scope.

"This young man is a motivated, intelligent kid who poses no health risk to other students, but is being denied an educational opportunity because of ignorance and fear about HIV and AIDS," said Ronda Goldfein, the boy's lawyer.

Connie McNamara, spokesperson for the Milton Hershey School, told ABC News the school carefully evaluated the situation and the needs of its 1,850 students which span from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.

"We had to balance his rights and interests with our obligation to provide for the health and safety of other students," she said. "And this meets a direct threat."

McNamara knows well that coughing, hugging, and public restrooms won't cause someone to get HIV.

She said the school was most worried the boy would have sex -- if not now, at some point in his future years at the school, where students in groups of 10-12 live together in on-campus housing.

"Our kids are no different than teenagers anywhere else," she said. "Despite encouraging abstinence, we cannot be 100 percent certain our kids are not engaging in sexual activity."

Even making sure the boy and students were educated on how HIV is transmitted wasn't enough for the school to grant the teen admission.

The idea that anyone could be denied entry based on a disability is astounding, said Arthur Caplan, the Director of the Pennsylvania Center For Bioethics.

"This notion that you can't put him in residential housing at a school because he is a vector of death is a throwback to 1987 when people were worried you couldn't mainstream children in any school," he said. "It sets back what we know to be true about the disease."

Caplan suggested the school use this as a teaching opportunity to educate students about HIV.

Even the school seemed a bit conflicted during the application process. McNamara provided ABC News with a court document the school planned to file before the lawsuit, asking a judge to weigh in and make sure they were within the bounds of the law.

"We looked at the law and our unique program and made the best decision we could," she said. "Our heart goes out to this young man."

The Milton Hershey School was founded in 1909 by the chocolate magnate whose name it bears. The school was originally intended to house white male orphans but now has a diverse student body hailing from all over the United States. Students must come from low income families in order to be considered for admission.

Caplan said the case reminds him of Ryan White, the teenager who became the face of the AIDs virus in the 1980s after being kicked out of school for fear it would spread through everyday contact.

"I think they'll lose the lawsuit," he said. " So they better get ready to figure out how they're going to accept him."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec012011

Babies Want Bad Guys Punished, Study Finds

Hemera/Thinkstock(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) -- Have you ever cheered when a bad guy gets what he deserves in a movie’s closing scene? Or watched a child tattle on a classmate who broke the rules?

Scientists believe the urge to punish bad guys and reward good ones may be hardwired into the human psyche, and a new study suggests that even infants prefer to see punishment for an unkind act.

To test this urge for retribution, researchers put on different puppet shows for 100 babies in three age groups: 5 months old, 8 months old and 19 months and older.

The babies watched puppets behave positively or negatively toward one another -- one elephant helped a duck open a box, while another elephant slammed the lid shut. Next, the children saw the “good” or “bad” puppets get rewarded or punished -- a toy moose either gave a toy to the elephants or took the toy away.

When the babies were prompted to choose their favorite puppets, the researchers reported that most of the 8-month-olds preferred the puppets that had punished the “bad” puppets, while the majority of the 5-month-olds preferred the moose that treated everyone kindly, even the “bad” elephants. The children 19 months and older acted similarly to the 8-month-olds, physically taking treats away from puppets who had mistreated others.

The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study author Kiley Hamlin, a psychologist from the University of British Columbia, said the results offered some clues about exactly when humans develop a sense of justice, a factor that evolutionary psychologists say is critical to the function of society.

“Somehow between age 5 and 8 months, the babies get this much more nuanced perception, the ability to interpret circumstances,” Hamlin said. “It’s hard to argue that parents are teaching their children to punish at 8 months. It’s a very complex idea. If they are learning it, they’re doing it on their own, suggesting that there is some kind of system for learning it.”

Rahil Briggs, a child psychologist and director of the Healthy Steps program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., said scientists knew very little about what happened in a baby’s brain in the earliest months of life. But she said that other complicated concepts started to become apparent to infants, such as a sense of self and the characteristics and motivations of others, at around 6 months old.

“There’s all sorts of things that we think start to emerge around that age that all point to the fact that babies become more aware of distinctions,” Briggs said. “I think as we continue to do this research that people are going to continue to be surprised and impressed by how sophisticated babies really are.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov282011

Bigger Brains in Certain Types of Autism, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DAVIS, Calif.) -- A new study adds to an increasing amount of evidence suggesting a link between brain size and autism.

Researchers at the Mind Institute at the University of California at Davis have found that children with a certain type of autism, called regressive autism, generally have larger brains than children without the disorder, and for kids with early onset autism.

A number of recent studies have found a link between brain size and autism, confirming suspicions long held by many autism experts that the disorder is linked to neurological growth and development. But the authors of this latest study, David G. Amaral and Christine Wu Nordahl, say their findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that the causes of autism may vary among children with different types of the disorder.

The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to study the brains of 180 children, ages 2 to 4, and analyzed the records of head circumference taken throughout the life of each child. Of those children, 61 had regressive autism, a form of  autism in which children seem to develop normally until about 18 to 24 months, when they begin to lose the language and social skills they’d already acquired. Of the study’s remaining children, 53 had early onset autism and 66 did not have autism at all.

The researchers found that boys with regressive autism had six percent more brain volume than their peers who didn’t have autism at all; the brains of boys with early onset autism were similar in size to the brains of non-autistic children.

Amaral said the findings shed light on the complexity of autism and its many subgroups, which he and his colleagues are trying to understand through a long-term study of autistic children. He said that only about 10 percent of the children in the current study had larger brains.

"There’s enormous heterogeneity in the disorder, and there’s a lot of kids with characteristics that overlap with kids who develop normally,” Amaral said. “This study confirms the idea that big brains are one scenario of autism, but it’s not the only scenario.”

Adding even more complexity to their findings, the researchers found that brain size differences seemed to be tied to gender. All the autistic girls in the study, even those with regressive autism, showed no difference in brain size than their non-autistic peers.

Autism is four times more likely to occur in boys than in girls, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but scientists know very little about the neurological underpinnings of this gender difference.

The study adds to a growing chorus of research suggesting that abnormal brain growth plays a crucial part of the development of autism.

“It’s important to remember that not all kids with autism have the same form of brain pathology,” Nordahl said. “We need to keep looking for these different subgroups of autism so we can better target our treatments for the disorder.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug092011

Influence Your Child's Palate Before Birth

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Want to instill in your child a love of vegetables? Start early. Very early.

New research by the Monell Chemical Senses Center finds mothers can influence a baby's palate and food memories before it is born. The study finds that what a woman eats during her pregnancy shapes the baby's food preferences later in life.

In the womb, the baby is surrounded and nourished on the amniotic fluid, which is filled with the flavors of what the mom has eaten.

"Things like vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, mint -- these are some of the flavors that have been shown to be transmitted to amniotic fluid or mother's milk," Julie Mennella, a researcher at Monell, told National Public Radio.

The babies are feasting on the flavored amniotic fluid, forming memories of these flavors even before birth. These memories result in preferences for these foods or odors for a lifetime.

For example, eating broccoli while pregnant means there's a better chance your baby will like broccoli more than another baby whose mother did not eat broccoli.

Very early exposure to flavors, before and after birth, and reinforcement of those flavors make it more likely that children will accept a wide variety of flavors.

Researchers say this helps explain why kids from countries with more adventurous menus enjoy more diverse foods than a child exposed to American peanut butter and jelly and chicken nuggets.

The lesson: If you want your children to eat a healthy diet or more adventurous diet, you should expose them to all the right, healthy flavors early on. Very early on.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Rado







ABC News Radio