Author Archives: ChildrensMN

Break for breakfast: Tips for a healthy start

With the school under way, your child may be in a hurry to get ready in the morning – and that includes trying to fit in time to eat breakfast and pack a lunch.

Since diet plays a huge role in childhood obesity, it’s important to make sure a child is eating right even when you’re not there to supervise or cook. Four out of five kids from 12 to 19 years old have “poor diets” – high in salt and sugar-sweetened beverages and low in fruits, vegetables, fiber and lean protein.

In Minnesota, nearly one out of four kids has weight problems. Among Minnesota adolescents ages 10 to 17, about 11.1 percent are obese.

Subscribe to Mighty“Beginning your day with a healthy breakfast is a good way to wake up your body and brain,” said Julie Boman, MD, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

How do you make sure your child gets a healthy start? Boman weighs in with these four tips:

  1. Stock the cupboards and refrigerator with healthy choices. They can include whole grain cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt and eggs.
  2. Make it convenient. If you buy strawberries, wash and slice them up so they’re ready for your child to grab and go.
  3. Whenever possible, encourage your child to sit down and have breakfast.
  4. If your child is older, plan the menu for the week together.

Physical punishment of children not a long-term, healthy solution

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

Alice Swenson, MD, is a child abuse pediatrician at the Midwest Children’s Resource Center, a clinic which is dedicated to the medical evaluation of suspected child abuse and neglect.

Alice Swenson, MD

Alice Swenson, MD

There has been much conversation in the media regarding corporal punishment and physical abuse of children. We at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota have an obligation to protect the health and safety of all children in our community and to respond to questions about discipline and abuse. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirmed its statement on discipline in 2012. The statement concludes that the purpose of discipline is to “teach or instruct” a child to prepare him or her to “achieve competence, self-control, self-direction, and caring for others.”

And while physical punishment of a child may be immediately effective in stopping an unwanted behavior, it is less useful in the long term. Spanking or hitting a child “models aggressive behavior as a solution to conflict and has been associated with increased aggression” in children. In addition, parents who resort to physical discipline are more likely to escalate the severity of the punishment in order to continue to achieve the desired effect, resulting in serious injury and abuse. We share the position of the AAP, that physical punishment of a child is not the optimal approach to discipline.

Additional resources and information:

Participate in #FighttheFluMN photo challenge

flu_prevention_kohls_600x600_4Flu season is just around the corner here in Minnesota and across the country. The Kohl’s Cares and Children’s Flu Prevention Project wants to know how you and your family plan to fight the flu this year. You’re invited to participate in the Flu Prevention Photo Challenge to show us how.

photoHere’s how to participate:

1. Snap a photo of you and/or your family fighting the flu.

Examples include:

  • Getting a flu vaccine
  • Washing your hands
  • Covering your cough
  • Showing off your “I got vaccinated” sticker

2. Post your photo on Twitter or Instagram using #FighttheFluMN (not case sensitive).

The contest runs until Wednesday (Sept. 17). Submit as many photos as you’d like. At the end of the day Wednesday, we’ll choose, at random, five people who each will receive a $50 Kohl’s gift card. Good luck and happy snapping!

Contest rules: Only photos posted by persons 18 years of age or older are eligible.

Social media disclaimer: We welcome and encourage open discussion on Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota’s (Children’s) social media sites  including but not limited to our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube pages and online story-sharing forums  and look forward to any comments, stories and experiences you want to share. Other than the entries Children’s posts ourselves, the opinions and/or views expressed on these sites represent the thoughts of individual bloggers and online communities, and not those necessarily of Children’s or any of our directors, officers, employees, research staff, medical staff or members of our board of directors. All links to other websites found linked from Children’s social media sites are provided as a service to readers, but such linkage does not constitute endorsement of those sites by Children’s, and as such we are not responsible for the content of external websites.

While Children’s makes reasonable efforts to monitor and/or moderate content posted on our social media sites, we do not moderate all comments and cannot always respond in a timely manner to online requests for information. Children’s reserves the sole right to review, edit and/or delete any comments it deems are inappropriate. Comments including, but not limited to, the following may be deleted or edited by Children’s:

  • Abusive or hurtful comments about a blogger or another participant
  • Off-topic and redundant comments (this includes promotion of events, groups, pages, Web sites, organizations and programs not related to or affiliated with Children’s)
  • Comments that use foul language or “hate speech” (e.g., racial, ethnic or gender bashing language)
  • Personal attacks or defamatory statements or comments about a participant, instead of just criticizing his/her posting, opinion or comments
  • Comments that violate the privacy of our patients and their families

Please remember that information posted on any of our social media sites shouldn’t be considered medical advice and shouldn’t replace a consultation with a health care professional.

Please be aware that once you post something online, there’s the potential for thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of people to read your words, even years from now. We therefore suggest that you exercise caution when posting medical information on any of our social media sites and that you not disclose personal identifiable information like your location, medical record number, financial information, etc.

By submitting content to any of Children’s social media sites, you understand and acknowledge that this information is available to the public, and that Children’s may use this information for internal and external promotional purposes and fundraising purposes. Please note that other participants may use your posted information beyond the control of Children’s. If you do not wish to have the information you have made available via this site used, published, copied and/or reprinted, please do not post on this page.

Elk River teen siblings share cancer stories

Siblings Aaron (left) and Abby Dwyer of Elk River were diagnosed with cancer four years apart.

Siblings Aaron (left) and Abby Dwyer of Elk River were diagnosed with cancer four years apart.

Abby Dwyer, who was featured at this year’s Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic, is a wonderful young adult who faced cancer head-on after being diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome positive ALL leukemia almost five years ago.

Abby has been off treatment for two years and is doing well after undergoing a double knee replacement when she was 14 because chemotherapy treatments destroyed her knees.

Abby, a sophomore at Elk River High School, where she plays the saxophone in the band, enjoys participating in pep rallies. She has one brother, Aaron, who later was diagnosed with cancer, and one sister, Allison. Her parents are Tim and Terri Dwyer.

“The staff at Children’s – Minneapolis have been amazing with her treatment,” Terri said. “It is because of Dr. Joanna Perkins, her primary doctor; Dr. Bruce Bostrom and many others that we have our Abby here today with us. Abby’s treatment was very intense for 20 months. We are so grateful for the support and care that the nurses in the hospital and in clinic have given to Abby.”

Abby’s favorite nurse at Children’s was Erin Ryan, RN, because she showed so much compassion to Abby during her difficult treatment. Abby is quick to note that there were many nurses that impacted her care and made her many nights in the hospital more bearable and fun.

Abby loves the outdoors, especially mountains, and to attend camps, which she has done three times this summer.

Spend time with Abby and you’ll see that she is a kind and independent person who loves to be around children. She’s always looking out for others and offering of herself with her servant’s heart. She loves to hang out with friends, play games and watch TV. Abby has an infectious laugh and positive attitude that follow her.

Abby wants to be a nurse or a child life specialist in the future as a way to give back to her community for all of the things that were given to her.

Subscribe to MightyAfter watching sister battle cancer, Aaron Dwyer faces fight of his own

Aaron Dwyer, who saw his sister, Abby, battle cancer, was diagnosed with stage 3 T-cell lymphoma on Dec. 13, 2013, four years after his sister’s cancer diagnosis.

Aaron has 1½ years of treatment remaining. In spite of it being a tough road, he has handled it well by trying to stay positive and keep his faith.

“The Children’s staff has been amazing to Aaron. They welcomed him in and have taken incredible care of him during his treatment,” his mother, Terri Dwyer, said. Aaron’s primary doctor, Joanna Perkins, MD, was there for Abby’s treatment, too. “Aaron has had a couple tough points in his treatment, but the staff stepped in and truly gave Aaron the support and encouragement he needed. We could not have made it through it all without the caring team at Children’s.”

The Elk River High School senior plays the trumpet in the band and two jazz bands.

When pressed, Aaron admitted that two nurses are his favorite. John is his favorite nurse at clinic because the two share many of the same interests, and Leah is his favorite nurse in the hospital because she always makes him laugh and they joke around, which makes his stays a bit more bearable.

Aaron wants to go into the banking as a career. He’s already had a taste of it at his job as a bank teller, and he enjoys it.

Outside of work and school, Aaron is busy. He likes to spend his free time cooking new and delicious recipes. He also enjoys hanging out with friends and playing games, riding four-wheelers, running and spending time at home. But that’s not all. He also enjoys playing piano, listening to country music, hunting, target practice, camping with his family and hiking.

Like his sisters, Abby and Allison, Aaron is a kind and giving person who always has a smile on his face. He’s a hard worker with a great attitude about life and a great sense of humor.

Cancer survivor, bone marrow recipient aspires to be doctor

Maddie Travers, a seventh-grader, lives in Scandia, Minn.

Maddie Travers, a seventh-grader, lives in Scandia, Minn.

Look up the words “tough,” “fighter” and “loved,” and wherever they intersect, there is sure to be a picture of Maddie Travers.

Maddie was diagnosed with ALL leukemia on Dec. 7, 2011. As her mother, Nikki, noted, “It was the worst day of our lives.”

Since that day, Maddie has battled to get to where she is now. She had two CNS relapses. At that point, her only option was a bone marrow transplant. But she had an infection and was admitted to the intensive care unit for 14 days over Christmas, with five of those days on life support. She had her transplant in April this year.

...

Maddie received a bone marrow transplant in April.

She did well at first but then came down with a series of infections. After 96 days in the hospital, Maddie was released to go home on IV antibiotics.

”We can’t wait to get back to all the wonderful people at Children’s. We miss them so much,” Nikki said. “Maddie is seen by Dr. Bruce Bostrom. He has been so wonderful to us throughout all of this. He texts me so I can ask him questions. Dr. Bostrom and Maddie’s favorite nurse, Liz, would come over to the hospital to see her even when she was on life support. Dr. Bostrom would text me when Maddie was really sick and let me know that he knew what was going on and that he was there if I needed him. That really meant so much to both of us.”

Today, Maddie and the Travers family are looking ahead. Maddie, a seventh-grader, lives in Scandia and will be home schooled as she continues to recover from her bone marrow transplant.

Maddie wants to be a doctor when she grows up due to her firsthand experience in hospitals and “never give up” attitude.

Fight the flu, we challenge you

flu_prevention_kohls_600x600_4photo 1Flu season is just around the corner here in Minnesota and across the country. The Kohl’s Cares and Children’s Flu Prevention Project wants to know how you and your family plan to fight the flu this year. Participating Kohl’s stores (Roseville, Owatonna, Mankato, Blaine, Maplewood and St. Cloud) will be holding two clinics from 4-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13.

You are invited to participate in the Flu Prevention Photo Challenge to show us how.

Here’s how to participate:

1. Snap a photo of you and/or your family fighting the flu.

Examples include:

  • Getting a flu vaccine
  • Washing your hands
  • photo 2Covering your cough
  • Showing off your “I got vaccinated” sticker

2. Post your photo on Twitter or Instagram using #FighttheFluMN (not case sensitive)

The contest will run from Sept. 12-17. During that time, we encourage you to submit as many photos as you like. At the end of the day on Sept. 17, we will choose, at random, five people who each will receive a $50 Kohl’s gift card. Good luck and happy snapping!

Contest rules: Only photos posted by persons 18 years of age or older are eligible.

Social media disclaimer: We welcome and encourage open discussion on Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota’s (Children’s) social media sites  including but not limited to our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube pages and online story-sharing forums  and look forward to any comments, stories and experiences you want to share. Other than the entries Children’s posts ourselves, the opinions and/or views expressed on these sites represent the thoughts of individual bloggers and online communities, and not those necessarily of Children’s or any of our directors, officers, employees, research staff, medical staff or members of our board of directors. All links to other websites found linked from Children’s social media sites are provided as a service to readers, but such linkage does not constitute endorsement of those sites by Children’s, and as such we are not responsible for the content of external websites.

While Children’s makes reasonable efforts to monitor and/or moderate content posted on our social media sites, we do not moderate all comments and cannot always respond in a timely manner to online requests for information. Children’s reserves the sole right to review, edit and/or delete any comments it deems are inappropriate. Comments including, but not limited to, the following may be deleted or edited by Children’s:

  • Abusive or hurtful comments about a blogger or another participant
  • Off-topic and redundant comments (this includes promotion of events, groups, pages, Web sites, organizations and programs not related to or affiliated with Children’s)
  • Comments that use foul language or “hate speech” (e.g., racial, ethnic or gender bashing language)
  • Personal attacks or defamatory statements or comments about a participant, instead of just criticizing his/her posting, opinion or comments
  • Comments that violate the privacy of our patients and their families

Please remember that information posted on any of our social media sites shouldn’t be considered medical advice and shouldn’t replace a consultation with a health care professional.

Please be aware that once you post something online, there’s the potential for thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of people to read your words, even years from now. We therefore suggest that you exercise caution when posting medical information on any of our social media sites and that you not disclose personal identifiable information like your location, medical record number, financial information, etc.

By submitting content to any of Children’s social media sites, you understand and acknowledge that this information is available to the public, and that Children’s may use this information for internal and external promotional purposes and fundraising purposes. Please note that other participants may use your posted information beyond the control of Children’s. If you do not wish to have the information you have made available via this site used, published, copied and/or reprinted, please do not post on this page.

Boy battles brain tumor, congenital heart disease

Dylan Jones was born with tetralogy of Fallot, a problem with the heart’s structure that changes the normal flow of blood through the heart.

Dylan Jones was born with tetralogy of Fallot, a problem with the heart’s structure that changes the normal flow of blood through the heart.

To say the Jones family has had their share of devastation would be an understatement.

Dylan Jones was born with tetralogy of Fallot, a problem with the heart’s structure that changes the normal flow of blood through the heart. Eight years later, he was diagnosed with cancer.

In December 2013, Dylan became unresponsive at school in Illinois. He regained consciousness within a minute and was talking by the time school staff called his mother, Elizabeth Jones. He seemed OK, but everyone agreed that he needed to be seen by a doctor, so his mom drove him to a nearby emergency room.

Calm quickly turned into fear.

“It wasn’t until we got to the emergency room and they did a CT scan that it was all a shock to us,” Elizabeth said.

Dylan had a medulloblastoma, a fast-growing, high-grade brain tumor. He underwent surgery to remove the tumor, leaving him wheelchair bound and legally blind. After surgery, he was taken by air transport to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota to continue care close to extended family.

He underwent six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. In April, he started another round of chemo that’s scheduled to end this month.

Subscribe to MightyDylan’s case is unique, and he requires a lot of attention when he’s hospitalized, Elizabeth said. But the nurses don’t mind. He’s such a charmer that they “fight” over him, she said.

“I can’t ask for better doctors. I can’t ask for better staff,” Elizabeth said.

Since starting chemotherapy, the hospital has become like a second home. The past four months have felt like the longest of Elizabeth’s life, she said.

Between his brain tumor and congenital heart disease, Dylan has suffered a lot in his short life.

“If I could take his place, I would. We fight, though. He’s a fighter,” Elizabeth said. “For all he has been through, he still continues to put a smile on his face, no matter what.”

The facts about enterovirus D68

Suspected cases of enterovirus D68 infections recently have popped up, with 12 states (Minnesota and Wisconsin are not included to date) contacting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help confirming test samples.

Enteroviruses can be spread by close contact with an infected person who may cough or sneeze on you and by touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Enteroviruses can be spread by close contact with an infected person who may cough or sneeze on you and by touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

It is not a mystery virus – we see it every late summer/early fall. What is different is that this particular strain, EV-D68, seems to be causing more intense asthma symptoms, wheezing and respiratory difficulty for a large number of kids at the same time.

Now is as good a time as ever to learn about EV-D68 and enteroviruses in general.

CDC background on enteroviruses

  • Enteroviruses are common viruses – there are more than 100 types.
  • Most enterovirus infections in the U.S. occur seasonally during the summer and fall, peaking in September.
  • It’s estimated that 10 million to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the U.S. each year.
  • Most people infected with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some infections can be serious.
  • Infants, children and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become sick. Infants and people with weakened immune systems are at risk of the virus worsening into heart or brain infections.

How is enterovirus spread?

“Enteroviruses can be spread by close contact with an infected person who may cough or sneeze on you and by touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth,” said Patsy Stinchfield, pediatric nurse practitioner and Children’s director of infectious disease prevention and control.

Enterovirus D68

Enterovirus D68 is one of many enteroviruses. EV-D68 infections are thought to occur less commonly than infections with other enteroviruses. It first was identified in California in 1962. Compared with other enteroviruses, EV-D68 has been rarely reported in the U.S. in the past 40 years. There have been no known deaths due to the 2014 virus.

Subscribe to MightyWhat are EV-D68 symptoms?

EV-D68 usually can cause mild to severe respiratory illness; however, the full spectrum of EV-D68 illness is not well-defined. Most people who get infected are infants, children and teens. Most start with common cold symptoms of runny nose and cough. Some, but not all, may also have fever.  For more severe cases, difficulty breathing, wheezing or problems catching your breath may occur.

How should I care for my child if I suspect enterovirus D68?

There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections. Many infections will be mild and self-limited, requiring only treatment of the symptoms such as increasing fluids and rest or fever-reducing medicine.

Some people with severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 may need to be hospitalized and receive supportive therapy such as oxygen and nebulizations. There are no anti-viral medications or vaccines currently available for EV-D68 treatment or prevention.

What do I do if my child has these symptoms?

If your child has these symptoms, Stinchfield says: 

  1. If symptoms are mild, such as common cold, parents should do what they normally do with a sick child – increase his or her fluids, rest, keep home from school, give fever- and pain-reducing medicines.
  2. If symptoms are moderate, such as cold symptoms worsening or not getting better within a week, or new wheezing begins, take your child to your clinic.
  3. If at any time your child is having difficulty breathing or you are seeing blue lips or they are gasping for air, take him or her to the closest emergency room. 

How do I prevent enterovirus?

There are no vaccines for preventing EV-D68 infections.

Ways to help reduce the risk of getting infected with EV-D68:

  • Superb hand hygiene is important. Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Stay home if you’re ill.

How do I know if my child has enterovirus D68 or another respiratory illness?

Fall and winter seasons see many different viruses circulating in the community. Some of them that look similar with cough and runny nose include:

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Most otherwise healthy people recover from RSV infection in one to two weeks. However, infection can be severe in some people, such as infants, young children and older adults. RSV is the most-common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age in the U.S. RSV is more often being recognized as an important cause of respiratory illness in older adults.

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year – Children’s is hosting vaccination clinics at Kohl’s stores around the Twin Cities metro area.

Plymouth girl faces cancer with grace, determination

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

At first blush, Justice Jackson comes off as being shy and reserved. With more investigation, you quickly realize that it’s just her polite and respectful nature and it masks an accomplished young woman who recently fought cancer head-on.

Justice, 17, was diagnosed with a form of ovarian cancer in January. She underwent three sessions of chemotherapy, each session lasting about five days, under the care of her primary doctor, Kris Ann Schultz, MD. She currently has no additional chemo sessions planned.

Her mother, Regina Lester, talked about her daughter in loving terms.

“She really is quite amazing. She handled the whole thing a lot better than I did,” Regina said. “While I was emotional and scared, I never once saw Justice cry, never. She just put her head down and worked her way through all the scans, needles and chemo. At the same time, she continued to help around home and work. She just did it, and I am so proud of her.”

Her accomplishments aren’t limited to her role as a patient. She also is a top student and athlete and was able to maintain relative normalcy throughout her treatments. She attends Armstrong High School in Plymouth, where she participates in swimming.

There’s mutual admiration and love between this mother-daughter duo. That love extends to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and the care they received there.

“We love Children’s and everything that they have done for us,” Regina said. “They took such good care of all of us. They explained everything and had a plan to get Justice through it. We are so thankful that Children’s came into our lives.”

Subscribe to MightyIn addition to Dr. Schultz, Justice noted one of her nurses, Tammy, as someone who was a positive influence on her.

“Tammy was great,” Justice said. “She took the time to play puzzles with me, encourage me and just be there when I had questions. I really appreciated that.”

It’s hard to say exactly what life has in store for Justice. No doubt, there are big things ahead for this outstanding young woman who her mother calls “incredibly strong, both physically and emotionally.” We hope the world is ready because Justice definitely is going to make it a better place.

Getting ready for school… 5 years in advance

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

Eighty percent of brain growth occurs by age 3. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

Gigi Chawla, MD

Gigi Chawla, MD

By Gigi Chawla, MD

As summer winds down and kids start filling desks and lining hallways at school, it’s a good time to talk about child development. And while this year is the first year that all children will have access to all-day kindergarten, I’m also reminded that not all children arrive to school ready to learn. In fact, getting a healthy start begins long before kids step onto a school bus. As a mom and pediatrician, I know that healthy development and school readiness occur well before children are reading and writing. They occur in those early years, as children are beginning to experience all of their firsts – first smile, first word, first step.

As advocates for children, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota recognizes that health and wellness play a critical role in being ready to learn and that we have a part to play in helping children get a strong start – not only in school but in all areas of life.

We have embarked on an even more deliberate focus on early childhood development, and know that it’s the earliest years in life when the most difference can be made. Consider:

  • Eighty percent of brain growth occurs by age 3.
  • In early childhood, physical, cognitive, emotional and social development occurs at a rate that far exceeds any other stage of human life. This has a significant impact on long-term health and wellness.
  • Toxic stress – including poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate housing, exposure to violence and the absence of attentive caregivers – can be devastating to an infant’s developing brain, thus setting children far behind before they’ve had a chance to start.

Subscribe to MightyGiven the obstacles to healthy child development, we at Children’s decided we needed to venture beyond our walls to address these issues and work with others engaged in protecting the health and well-being of children. We’ve engaged in an effort to build greater awareness about the importance of a child’s development in the earliest years and are working towards identifying collaborative methods to reach more children at this critical time in life.

Every day, I have the privilege to care for children when they are sick and to support ways to make them healthy. And that includes engaging in and elevating the discussion around the value of investments in programs that give kids the start in life that they deserve; please join us.

Read more about the importance of early childhood development and our investment in our children. Read our paper, “Foundation for Life: The Significance of Birth to Three,” to learn more about our efforts.

Gigi Chawla, MD, is senior medical director of primary care for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.