Author: Maureen McCarthy

Celiac disease: 5 things parents need to know

celiac-disease
Dr. Dascha Weir, associate director, Boston Children’s Celiac Disease Program

It may be difficult for parents to hear that their child has a chronic illness. When the diagnosis is celiac disease (CD), an autoimmune disorder caused by an intolerance to gluten, there is good news. CD is treatable by changes in diet.

How it works: When food enters the stomach, it’s broken down into tiny digestible particles, which then travel through the small intestine. The small intestine is lined with villi — tiny finger-like projections that absorb nutrients from the food passing through.

In celiac disease, gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats, damages the intestine and causes the villi to break down, leaving a flattened lining that can no longer absorb nutrients as effectively.

Dr. Dascha C. Weir, associate director of the Celiac Disease Program in the Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, discusses the disease and offers tips to help families recognize and manage the condition.

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Inflammatory bowel disease: 6 tips for a new school year

IBD-Back-to-school
A new school year presents a lot of new opportunities like new teachers, new subjects and the possibility of new friends. But that newness also comes with a good degree of uncertainty, which can be frightening for a student with a chronic illness, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). That anxiety can be especially strong if the diagnosis is new, and the upcoming school year will be your child’s first with IBD.

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The tube, the team and the family that give life

Parenteral-Nutrition-Naema-BostonAs 2-year-old Naema Alshehhi turns the pages of her favorite book, her eyes glimmer with curiosity. Sitting with her father, Àbdulla and big sister, Dana, in their temporary Boston apartment, the inquisitive toddler points to a number of shapes and is fascinated by the rainbow of color.

During this quiet moment, you see the gentle outline of Naema’s central line through her tiny shirt. The lifesaving tube — surgically inserted into her chest — provides the nourishment needed to manage the rare intestinal disorder she was born with, called microvillus inclusion disease (MVID). The condition, which causes severe diarrhea and an inability to absorb nutrients, requires specialized parenteral nutrition (PN) and intravenous hydration support at home.

For the Alshehhi family, however, “home” is over 6,600 miles from Boston.

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Tackling bedwetting: ‘Don’t be afraid to talk about it’

Bedwetting, otherwise known as urinary incontinence or enuresis, is fairly common, often embarrassing and sometimes difficult to talk about. It is estimated that about 20 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls, ages 6 to 7 years old have some problem with daytime or nighttime wetting. Still, many kids are reluctant to talk about wetting with parents, friends and teachers. Parents themselves often have a hard time confronting the issue.

The Voiding Improvement Program (VIP) at Boston Children’s Hospital offers a comprehensive approach to bedwetting tailored to each child’s individual needs. “Our program is driven by highly skilled and compassionate nurses who understand both the physiologic and emotional issues surrounding urinary issues,” says Pamela Kelly, the program’s nurse director. Treatment may include biofeedback training, relaxation therapy such as guided therapy and behavioral therapy.

Kelly and VIP’s director, Dr. Carlos Estrada, offer five tips for managing your child’s wetting issues.

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