Monthly Archives: July 2012

INFOGRAPHIC: The Weight of Childhood Obesity

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we’re seeing a growing number of overweight and obese children. To address this new reality, we’re closely examining how we treat kids with weight problems. In a report we released today, we explore how Minnesota kids are faring in the battle against obesity. The earlier we tackle this problem, the better. 


Using technology to keep kids safe

This is a post by Dr. Rod Tarrago, a pediatric intensive care physician at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.  He is also the Chief Medical Information Officer and is proud to admit he’s a computer geek.  He’s been helping improve the care at Children’s through the use of technology and spends most of his time helping other clinicians improve their understanding of the computer system. He’s the proud father of two young boys and future computer geeks. 

Dr. Rod Tarrago

We’ve been using computers to help take care of kids at Children’s for several years. We order medicines, track kids’ vital signs, and look at X-rays on computers. Now, we’re starting to use more advanced technology to make sure we keep kids as safe as possible. Many of the children we treat have complex cases and require various medicines. That can be very confusing and potentially dangerous for those taking care of the patient. Can you imagine trying to keep perfect track of a patient who has more than 30 medicines, especially when doses and times are changing?

Recently, we’ve started using familiar technology – medication scanners – in our Minneapolis Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). The scanners are similar to those used in other industries where a scanner checks a bar code to make sure it’s the right product. In our case, patients and families may have seen our nurses and respiratory therapists “scanning” the kids’ medicines prior to giving them.  Just as we previously were checking our patients’ ID bands to make sure the right medicine was being given to the right child, we’re now using the computers to make sure that it’s the right medicine at the right time with the right dose via the right route to the right patient. Children’s is the first pediatric hospital in the nation to use this technology.

Our nurses, respiratory therapists and information technology departments worked hard to make sure that the rooms were set up correctly and that the scanners worked for all medicines. They even changed the labels to make sure wrinkles were less likely to interfere with the scanning. They also came up with some creative solutions to lower the volume so that the beeping of the scanners wouldn’t wake up the kids at night.

In the busy Minneapolis PICU, nurses scan more than 2000 medications every week, and this has helped us detect several instances in which medications might have been given early or late.

At Children’s our No. 1 priority is to keep our patients safe and help them get better.  By using our new scanner technology to more safely deliver medicine to the kids, we are staying at the forefront of medicine. Over the next few months, we’ll extend this important technology to other units at Children’s.


‘The Talk’

This is a post by Amy Moeller. Amy is a therapist who has worked with children and adolescents for 25 years. She works in the Adolescent Health Department at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and treats teenagers experiencing depression, anxiety, social struggles and chemical dependency. In addition, Amy co-founded The Family Enhancement Center in south Minneapolis 17 years ago. She works at the center part time with children and families who have been affected by physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Amy is married and the mother of three children. 

So you may no longer be the most influential force in your teenager’s life. Guess what: Your child still needs you and (secretly) wants your help and guidance.

This includes guidance about the topic some of us dread: Sex. When planning a conversation with your teen about sex, don’t save up for “The Talk” of olden days. The conversation about sex and sexuality isn’t a one-time event.

Believe it or not, teens want parental involvement. They want rules and boundaries that help them feel safe, and they want their sexual information to come from you – the parent. They can get the basic facts and figures from sex education in school. What they can’t get from their friends or school are values. Values come from the parent.

Before you have the first of many conversations, consider the following:

Keep an open mind. Don’t judge. Be open to your son or daughter’s ideas and thoughts, even if they’re different from your own. Accepting and acknowledging your teen’s feelings will get you far. Respect your teen. You don’t have to agree with him or her every time, but try to listen and treat him or her fairly. Be open and honest and, in return, you won’t get shut out. Teenagers have a keen sense of when adults aren’t being honest and genuine.

Consider the door closers. I give parents “door openers” and “door closers.” If your daughter comes home and tells you that her friend is pregnant, do you say, “You can’t hang out with her anymore. That’s terrible. See what happens when you have sex”? I’m sure you can imagine how far that response will get you. Open-ended, non-judgmental questions will get you further. Do you want to talk about it? How are you feeling about your friend’s pregnancy?  

Be proactive. Don’t wait for questions. Messages in popular culture provide great conversation starters. Watch what your teens are watching, listen to their music and read what they read. This gives you an opportunity to ask them what they think about the lyrics or the messages. Then you can share your ideas, opinions and values. I personally find the car to be my favorite place to bring up these subjects. When my son and I are alone in the car – let’s face it — he can’t escape me. I end up learning as much from him as he does from me.

Help your teen understand that sex isn’t just intercourse. Discuss other types of sex including oral sex. Many teens believe oral sex isn’t actually sex.

Talk about healthy relationships and love. Teens want to know about more than the mechanics. Find out what they think a healthy relationship looks like. Share your vision of a healthy relationship.

Have no fear. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” You can search for answers together.

If you’re still having trouble approaching your teen about sex, find a trusted adult to help you. And remember that while your teen may act like she doesn’t want you to have “The Talk” with her, she really does.

Have you faced any challenges when talking to your child about topics like sex and sexuality?


Remembering Noah: His Story

This is a guest post by Jenna and Scott Rogers, parents of Noah Rogers. Noah died from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in 2010. To remember Noah and to raise money for SIDS research, Jenna and Scott are hosting the second annual Noah’s Memorial Classic on Monday, July 9. Proceeds from the event will benefit Children’s, the CJ Foundation for SIDS and Faith’s Lodge. To learn more about this event, visit

Editor’s note: This post has been modified from Noah’s Story, which originally appeared at

Noah Rogers

November 4, 2009, was the happiest day of our lives. Our beautiful son and first-born Noah Joseph Rogers was born at 9:39 a.m., weighing in at a healthy 8 pounds, 3 ounces.

He had personality from the start. Once he started smiling at 6 weeks old, he never stopped. He brought so much joy to everyone’s lives. He LOVED people. He was a true gift to his mommy and daddy, family and friends. His laughter was contagious, and he learned great tricks like “SO BIG” that he loved sharing with everyone. He said “da-da” like crazy but wanted no part in saying “ma-ma.” He was learning to walk. He was the absolute light of our lives.

Sadly, we never knew that the greatest love of our life would be taken away from us when he was 11 months old. On October 7, 2010, I was leaving work and on my way to pick up Noah from daycare when I received the call that changed my life forever. It was the police. An officer said Noah had been taken to Maple Grove Hospital and that we needed to get there immediately. While taking a nap at daycare, Noah was found unresponsive. I prayed and prayed the entire drive to the hospital. Please save my perfect boy! He’s only 11 months, and I can’t live without him, so he HAS to be OK.

As soon as I walked through the emergency room doors and saw him, I knew he was gone. There were so many doctors working on him, so many machines, so many tubes. My baby boy was lying lifeless on the table, slightly blue and cold to the touch.

Scott and my family arrived shortly after that. A doctor told us that the medical team had spent an hour trying to revive Noah. My own flesh and blood that I carried for nine months and played with for 11 months was gone. We were in a complete state of shock as we spent the next few hours with Noah. We got to hold him, and the medical staff gave me a lock of his hair and his final footprints.

We later found out from the medical examiner that Noah had no medical problems or injuries of any kind. He didn’t suffocate on his blanket. It wasn’t because of his environment. He just died. The medical examiner determined his respiratory tract shut down immediately with no signs of struggle. He breathed out – and never took another breath. Noah died from SIDS, according to the medical examiner.

As a parent, you do everything in your power to make sure your children are safe. We were the best parents we could be to Noah, and we find comfort in that. We gave him everything we could. We made sure he was safe and happy.

We’ll never have all the answers. But, we live on and dedicate our lives to Noah’s memory. He was the greatest, most amazing little boy in the world. We love him more than we even knew our hearts could love.

We continue to honor Noah’s memory in many ways. The annual golf tournament to raise money for SIDS research is just one of them. If you’d like to support this cause, please click here.

For more information about SIDS, please visit the Minnesota SID Center website.

Fireworks safety: Avoid the ER on the Fourth of July

This is a post by Dr. Robert Sicoli, co-medical director of our emergency department. Dr. Sicoli is a fellowship trained Pediatric Emergency Medicine physician with over 20 years of experience. This post originally appeared on GoodyBlog

(Credit: iStock photo by rozbyshaka)

While lighting off a few bottle rockets or running around the backyard with a lit sparkler may seem like relatively harmless ways for kids to celebrate our nation’s independence, thousands of people each year are injured by fireworks, many of them landing in an emergency room.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 8,600 injuries involving fireworks in 2010. Forty percent of those injuries involved children younger than 15. While the safest bet is taking your family to a public fireworks display, many states allow the use of various types of fireworks for private use. If you live in a state that allows fireworks for private use, following these safety tips while using fireworks will help keep you and your family safe this Fourth of July.


Before use:

  • Make sure the fireworks you buy are ready to use. Avoid kits that require assembly or crafting your own at home.
  • Don’t buy fireworks with brown labels or wrapped in brown paper. Those are usually made for public displays and not intended to be used privately.
  • Always follow the directions on the label carefully.
  • Always light fireworks outside and away from combustibles, like dry leaves and grass.
  • Choose the proper area for the fireworks you’re using (i.e. don’t use bottles rockets in a wooded area or near a busy street).

During use:

  • Don’t let kids under 10 use any type of fireworks, even sparklers. Sparklers burn at a temperature of up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, never lash multiple fireworks together, never point them toward another person and make sure to wear eye protection.
  • Keep a hose or bucket of water nearby.

After use:

  • Never try to re-light a “dud.” Wait at least ten minutes and then douse it with water.
  • Soak all fireworks in water before throwing them away.
  •  Store extra or unused fireworks in a cool dry place.

While following these tips will help, sometime injuries happen. The most common areas of the body that are injured tend to be the hands, fingers, eyes, head and face, mostly with burns. If your child gets inured, considering the following:

  • If your child is burned by a firework and the burn is relatively mild (red or irritated skin), rinse it with cool water and apply an antibiotic ointment to the affected area.
  • If the burn is more severe (blistering, peeling and/or very painful) call your doctor or seek medical attention immediately.
  • If smoke or other particles get into the eyes, make sure your child doesn’t rub them; it will only make the irritation worse. Try cleaning their eyes out with cool water, but if your child complains of continued visual problems or is still in pain after flushing their eyes with water, seek medical attention.
  • Smoke inhalation is also another factor to consider when using fireworks. If your child has inhaled smoke, remove them from the smoky area and let them rest in a cool, ventilated area. If they continue to cough, their coughing is severe or they have difficult or labored breathing, consider calling 911 or bringing them to the emergency department.

The Fourth of July is a great time for families to have fun together. Here’s to a safe and happy Fourth!

For additional injury prevention tips, please visit our Making Safe Simple website.