Monthly Archives: August 2013

De’Angelo Boyd to ‘Lead The Team’ at Vikings game

As the proud sponsor of the Mini Vikings Kids Club, at each home Vikings game, a Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota patient “Leads The Team.” This week, 17-year-old De’Angelo Boyd is leading the team onto the field before the Vikings face-off with the Tennessee Titans. This is the first in-stadium Vikings game for De’Angelo, his brother Dejion and cousins Marquis and Latoya.

De’Angelo is a high school junior and enjoys playing basketball and hanging out with his friends. In the midst of school and activities, De’Angelo comes to Children’s twice a month for treatment of sickle cell disease – a hereditary blood disorder that he was diagnosed with at 4 months old.

We welcome De’Angelo and his family to this week’s “Lead The Team” event.

Preparing for school when your child has a food allergy

Missy Berggren’s preparation for her daughter’s upcoming entry into kindergarten started long before school supplies hit the shelves at Target.

Her daughter, 5, has severe food allergies to eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish. Exposure can be deadly. So, Berggren, a parent advocate and board member of the Food Allergy Support Group of Minnesota, set out to safeguard her daughter beginning with researching school policies and practices before deciding on a school, and, then, partnering with the school administration and teacher.

“My goal is to empower my daughter to live as normal of a life as possible, with some extra planning to make sure she is safe and feels included. We always plan ahead to avoid a food allergy reaction but also need to be prepared if something happens,” Berggren said.

Berggren was most attracted to a school that does not use food in the curriculum and where there are wellness policies in place that limit or don’t allow treats on birthdays and holidays. Most schools in Minnesota still allow that, Berggren said. Her daughter will eat lunches packed at home at a peanut-free table, and will be reminded never to share food with other children.  

Berggren is working with the Kindergarten teacher to make sure classroom snacks are safe for her daughter. She also shared books from her personal library, such as the “Alexander the Elephant” series about food allergies, which the teacher plans to read to the class.

Her daughter recently spent four days at the school’s KinderKamp preparing for kindergarten. When Berggren dropped her off, she reviewed the allergy action plan and emergency medicines with the teacher. All the students washed their hands with soap and water when entering the classroom.

Before school begins in the fall, the family met with an allergist to review the child’s medical condition and to have the appropriate paperwork filled out for school. A special school meeting is planned with the principal, school nurse, teacher and other key staff to talk in detail about the child’s food allergies, how to spot and treat a reaction, and how to make sure she feels  physically and emotionally safe.

While food allergies are becoming more common — one in 13 kids has one, which equals about two kids per classroom – there is still the danger of being picked on or teased.

When other kids ask her about eating different food, she often says, matter-of-factly, that she has food allergies and needs her own food, Berggren said.

“In her mind, she’s a normal kid and she doesn’t want the emphasis to be on her food allergies and neither do I,” Berggren said. “I work really hard to make sure she feels included and that at this age, 5, she doesn’t feel treated differently.”

Here are some tips on how to navigate school with food allergies. Here are more age-specific tools to teach kids about food allergies. Here are suggestions on how to navigate the holidays with food allergies.

This post also appeared in the Star Tribune‘s kids’ health section.

Reminders to prevent flu at the Minnesota State Fair

With the Minnesota State Fair in full swing, we gathered information from the Minnesota Department Health to share reminders with fair-goers about preventing swine flu. Pigs are commonly infected with swine influenza (variant flu) viruses that are usually different from human influenza viruses. While rare, the flu can still spread from pigs to people and vice versa.

What you should know:

• Swine influenza viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with influenza viruses that normally circulate in swine and not people have occurred. When this happens, these viruses are called “variant viruses.” Variant viruses are very different from human seasonal influenza viruses. Examples include H3N2v and H1N2v.

• Most commonly, human infections with H3N2v and H1N2v occur in people with direct or indirect exposure to infected pigs.

• H3N2v and H1N2v are not transmissible by eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs.

How to prevent it:

• Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth in animal areas. Don’t take food or drink into animal areas. Never take toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into animal areas. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

• Persons at high risk for influenza complications should avoid swine exposure. Persons at high risk include: children younger than 5 years, people 65 years or older, pregnant women, and people with certain  chronic medical conditions (such asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions).

• Avoid close contact with pigs that look or act ill.

• Wash your hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Always wash hands thoroughly after contact with farm animals, pets, animal feces, and animal environments.

Recipe: Andrew Zimmern’s tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is chock full of fresh, in-season summer ingredients such as tomatoes, cucumbers and fragrant herbs. It’s not only healthy and packed with that bright citrusy flavor you crave this time of year, tabbouleh is a cinch to make. Be sure to let the composed salad rest for a couple hours before serving, allowing all of the flavors to meld together. Serve on its own, with grilled chicken and veggies, or try stuffing it in a pita with hummus and feta. — Andrew Zimmern

Photo by Madeleine Hill

Ingredient List

  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1  1/2 cups minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced mint
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 2/3 cup peeled, seeded and finely diced cucumber
  • 4 medium roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2/3 cup minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • Pepper


Serves: 4 to 6

Wash bulgur wheat in several changes of cold water, until water runs clear. Drain well.

Soak the bulgur wheat for one hour in cold water to cover.

After an hour, drain the wheat in a fine sieve and place in a large stainless steel bowl.

Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl, tossing well. Season with the salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Remove from fridge one hour before serving, and adjust seasonings as needed.

Patient determined to change the future for those with hydrocephalus

By Olivia Maccoux

Team Liv WALKS for hydrocephalus research.

I was born at 29 weeks and was diagnosed with a condition called hydrocephalus (abnormal amount of spinal fluid in/around brain). I’ve lived with and dealt with the condition for the past 17 years and will continue to for the rest of my life.

A life with hydrocephalus means NOTHING is certain. It is both physically and emotionally draining on me and everyone around me. This is a life threatening condition, and the sad part is the lack of research that is being done to help the over one million Americans who live with it. Treating hydrocephalus costs more than $1 billion annually, yet, the National Institute of Health invests approximately only $1 million a year on hydrocephalus research.

Over the last 50 years, there has been no significant improvement in hydrocephalus treatment and absolutely no progress toward prevention or a cure. The only treatment is brain surgery, where a surgeon implants a device called a shunt to drain the fluid. However, 50 percent of shunts fail within two years.

I’ve never had a shunt last for two years. I’ve actually had times where the shunt has only lasted a few hours, which resulted in my immediate return to the operating room for a new one. To date, I’ve endured more than 90 brain surgeries and have been in critical condition because of hydrocephalus.

The Hydrocephalus Association organizes WALKS every year to raise money for treatment and research. I’m determined to help change the future for everyone who struggles with hydrocephalus and its complications.

My WALK team, Team Liv, is also committed to helping this cause. We’re looking for anyone who would like to walk with us, donate, or both! Donations of any size are gratefully received and are tax-deductible. Your donation will help support critical research so that I and the one million other Americans living with the challenge of this condition can lead a better life. Learn more about donating.

Olivia is a patient and a Youth Advisory Council member. Read Olivia’s blog post earlier this year on juggling school during a hospitalization.

Five Question Friday: Angie Norvitch

Meet Angie Norvitch, who works in our marketing and communications department as an interactive designer.

Angie NorvitchWhat drew you to Children’s? I have always wanted to work in health care, but as a web designer, I didn’t really know how that would ever look in my career path. When a friend encouraged me to pursue the position here, I knew it’s where I was supposed to be.

What is a typical day like for you? Some days I get to spend lots of time at my desk thinking creatively and working on a multitude of fun projects. Other days I might be spending most of my time in meetings collaborating with others on projects. Really, no day is typical for me, but that’s fun for me, I enjoy the change from day to day.

What’s your favorite font? Proxima Nova. It’s just simple and pretty.

What has been your best day at Children’s? I’ve had quite a few days that have been favorites, like guest appearing on Star Studio, making smoothies with the Youth Advisory Council members, and the Andrew Zimmern visit. But the day that stands out most to me was when I accompanied a patient and his family to the Vikings draft party. He got VIP treatment and it was so fun to get to see him light up and his day absolutely made.

We know you’re a huge sports fan. Who’s your favorite athlete and why? It’s pretty well known I love baseball the most. My favorite current Twins players are Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer. Favorite former Twins player: Torii Hunter. All three of them are very respectable role models and talented ball players.  But, my absolute favorite athlete is Tim Tebow. His life story is just really inspiring and he just seems like a very genuine and humble guy.

Five Question Friday: Kathy Parrish

Meet Kathy Parrish, who works in our lactation support program.

Kathy Parrish

How long have you worked at Children’s? I have worked at Children’s 24 years this month. I have worked in the three neonatal units, the float team and ED and SSU. I have been in the lactation support program for two-and-a-half years. I never expected to be a lactation consultant. In December 2010, I had just finished my master’s in holistic health studies, and I knew that I wanted to work more closely with families without having the responsibility of caring for their babies. When the lactation consultant job was posted, I accepted the position (I was a certified lactation counselor at the time) with the stipulation that I pass the International Lactation Board in July, six months later. Lactation consulting is about so much more than breastfeeding. We also work with families on stress reduction, discuss normal growth and development, and the changes that occur in family dynamics when the new baby comes home. I also am the principle investigator on a research study call the GIRLS-Guided Imagery Reduces Stress and Improves Lactation Study. We are trying to find ways to increase milk supply and decrease stress. This study is for moms of babies born at less than 30 weeks. The control group logs their milk production and does a NICU Parent Stress Questionnaire. The research group also listens to a guided imagery relaxation recording three times a day while they pump. We are just analyzing the data now-so more info to come.

What is your role in Children’s lactation support program? What’s a typical day like for you? That’s a difficult question because we do so many things. I am a staff nurse and international board certified lactation consultant, I am board-certified in holistic nursing and I am half of the lactation support program. We try to see all moms who are breastfeeding or pumping for breastmilk. Our primary role is to educate and support those moms. We also do staff education, teach the breastfeeding portion of fundamentals of neonatal nursing, and orient the new neonatal nurses to lactation support. We do a lot of “by the way” consultations, which means that we can’t walk down a hall without being asked questions about breastfeeding or medications that a mom is taking.  On a typical day, I check the computer for new admissions or new lactation orders and then I hit the ground running. With close to 95 percent of the moms in the three neonatal areas initiating pumping or breastfeeding, there is always somebody to see. I spend anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more with families, depending on their needs, which translates to 8-14 dyads (mom and baby) per shift.

What drew you to Children’s? Fate. In 1989, as my family was preparing to move to Minnesota (my home, but I had married a Texan and lived there for 20 years), I came to the Twin Cities six months ahead of our move and interviewed at several hospitals. Children’s was the only hospital that would hold a job for me for six months. Fate.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would go to Tuscany. It’s one of the few things left on my bucket list. Why Tuscany? The blue skies, blue water, Italian food. I don’t really know what draws me, but I know that I will go there soon.

Joseph Wald, 8, to ‘lead the team’ at Vikings game tonight

Joseph Wald, 8, to lead the Minnesota Vikings onto the field

In this season’s first “Lead The Team” event with the Minnesota Vikings, 8-year-old Joseph Wald is fired up to attend his very first Vikings game tonight. His mom (Karin), dad (Dave) and brother (Aidan) watch a lot of sports at home; so, to be on the field with the players will be quite an experience for the Wald family.

Joseph was born with Morquio Syndrome, a type of rare, genetic enzyme storage disorder. Because its symptoms are not usually noticed until about 3, he wasn’t diagnosed until just before his fifth birthday. The disorder is so rare, that at the time of diagnosis, no treatment was available. In June 2012, Joseph was invited to participate in a treatment study based in Chicago so that he could receive infusions of the synthetic enzyme that his body doesn’t produce. After a year of flying hundreds of miles back and forth every week for an entire year, Joseph started working with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota this past June. He now receives his weekly infusions a lot closer to home.

Turning 9 this weekend, Joe enjoys riding his bike, playing street hockey with the neighborhood boys and LEGOs, and reading Percy Jackson books in his spare time. His favorite pastime is anything involving electronics (Wii, X-Box, iPad, PlayStation). He can also hold his own against most adults playing chess and backgammon.

We welcome Joseph and his family as our first participants in this year’s “Lead the Team” event.

Recipe: Andrew Zimmern’s Halibut Aji Yaki

Halibut is a nutrient-rich firm white fish that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B and magnesium. The lean protein has a delicate sweet flavor that lends itself to a variety of pairings that kids will love. This sweet-and-salty Japanese-style sauce is one of my favorite preparations, and makes for a quick weeknight meal. Skip a starchy side and serve it with veggies, such as sautéed spinach or broccoli. — Andrew Zimmern

Photo by Madeleine Hill

Ingredient List

  • Four 6-ounce pieces of halibut
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 1 pinch red chili flakes
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons dashi powder (see note)
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 3 tablespoons naturally fermented soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


Servings: 4
Total Time:  30 min

Season the fish with the peanut oil and sesame seeds.

Dissolve the dashi powder in 1/2 cup warm water. In a mixing bowl, combine the mirin, soy sauce, dashi mixture, red chili flakes and sugar.

Preheat a non-stick sauté pan over high heat. Brown the fish, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

Once the fish is browned, reserve to a plate.

Place the liquid mixture in a 3 or 4-quart sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add fish back to the pan.

Place a small lid on top of the fish pieces and cook for 4 minutes at a simmer. Flip the halibut and cook for 4 minutes more.

Remove the halibut, and reserve to a plate. Continue to reduce the sauce at a simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until thick and glazy.

Serve the halibut, pouring the glaze over the top, with sautéed veggies.

NOTE: Dashi powder is available at many health food stores and at Asian markets.