Author: Lois Lee, MD, MPH

Paging Dr. Angry Bird: How mobile technology is improving pediatric emergency care

Lois Lee, MD, MPH
Lois Lee, MD, MPH

As a doctor in a busy pediatric Emergency Department, I’d like to personally thank the creators of Angry Birds. Not so much because I love to play it—though there is a certain satisfaction in knocking those pigs from their platforms—I’d like to thank them because the love my patient’s have for the game allows me to do my job better.

As an ED doctor I’m used seeing children who are in pain, or are very anxious about being at the hospital. When I see a child who’s in pain or scared, sometimes I ask the parents to let the child play their favorite mobile game, (almost all parents have one or two loaded on their phone or tablet.) More times than not, after a few minutes with a familiar game like Angry Birds, the child is far more relaxed, which makes it easier for me to quickly clean a wound or stitch a deep cut. It’s one of the tricks of the trade that I and several other pediatric emergency department staffers have picked up along the way.

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Pediatrics studies SIDS risk in African American families

Lois Lee, MD, MPH

The excitement of decorating a baby’s room is a wonderful rite of passage for every parent. It’s also a big business for manufacturers. If you look in any baby related catalog, the choices for furniture, bedding and toys seems unlimited. But even though having so many options for matching sheets, blankets, crib bumpers and stuffed animals for your baby’s crib may seem appealing, these items put infants at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)* as well as suffocation, strangulation and entrapment.

It is well known that there are significant disparities in some medical conditions between different races and ethnicities, and SIDS risks are no exception. In infants born to black mothers, the rate of SIDS is more than twice that of white, non-Hispanic infants.  In addition, black infants have much higher rates of death due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, often caused by unsafe bedding items.

To better understand the reasons why the use of soft bedding is more prominent in black families, researchers from Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C. recently conducted a study of infant bedding practices in black mothers. It’s hoped that by compiling this type of data, the medical community can better identify and educate at-risk families, resulting in safer infant sleep surfaces in the United States.

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Trampoline trauma

Did you watch the Today show this morning? If so you probably saw a segment on trampoline safety featuring Thriving safety expert, Lois Lee, MD, MPH. Here, Dr. Lee goes into more detail about how to keep your children safe should they use a backyard trampoline.

One of the activities my sister and I enjoyed as children was jumping on our neighbor’s trampoline.  The trampoline was your standard backyard kind–rectangular and black with only mesh on the sides. There was no such thing as netting around the trampolines back then. Most of the time we loved to jump on it and do somersaults, but there were other times when we would just lay on the warm black surface and watch the clouds drift by.

Lois Lee, MD, MPH
Lois Lee, MD, MPH

If my mother knew then what I know now, we’d have spent a lot less time on that trampoline.  Actually, knowing my mother, we wouldn’t have spent any time on it at all.

In response to NBC Today Show’s inquiry about any recent trampoline-related injuries at Children’s, I did a quick search of patients figuring there would be only a few from the scattered sunny days we have had this spring. Boy, was I surprised to find out that the emergency department at Children’s Hospital Boston has seen at least 20 children with trampoline related injuries in the last 8 weeks.  Most of the children had fractures of their arms or legs after falling while jumping on the trampoline in their own backyard.  Nationally, over 90% of the trampoline injuries seen in the emergency department occur on a home-based trampoline—not at a gymnastics facility.

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Why ban drop-side cribs?

Lois Lee, MD, MPH
Lois Lee, MD, MPH

The first time I took my friend Julie to a national baby supply/furniture chain store, her eyes glazed over as soon as we walked in. After a few minutes in the packed aisles, with boxes towering from floor to ceiling, stuffed with equipment and toys just for babies, she was ready to leave. “This is overwhelming. How can anyone possibly know what to buy?” she said.

But that confusion was precisely the reason I was invited on this particular shopping excursion. Being a pediatric emergency medicine doctor and mother to a 1-year-old at that time, I knew my way around a baby store. I knew exactly what we were (and weren’t) looking for.

Still, despite our clearly defined mission, like Julie I was slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of products available. With so many choices for all the things you need/want to buy, how does a new parent begin to choose? Even with my background, I felt a little taken aback by it all. After some searching we eventually found her the perfect crib and I was glad I came along to help; besides picking out a car seat, finding a safe crib is one of the most important pieces of equipment a new parent will buy. Making the right choice is crucial.

To keep cribs safer, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just released its new standards for safe cribs. According to their mandates, all cribs sold after June 28, 2011 must meet these new standards, which include:

  • Stopping the manufacture and sale of dangerous, traditional drop-side cribs
  • Strengthening mattress supports and crib slats
  • Requiring crib hardware to be more durable
  • Making safety testing more rigorous.
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