Author: Scott Howe

From Athens to Boston: Bladder exstrophy patient made “the best choice”

This past February, Giorgios Bampos was born in Athens, Greece, with a rare urological condition called bladder exstrophy. Deeply concerned for their son and committed to learning all they could about the condition and its treatment, his parents spoke with medical experts in their home country and extensively researched on the Internet.  They quickly determined that Boston Children’s Hospital was the best place for their son to get well.

“The day my son was born was a very difficult day. They told me he had a problem. I did not know what it was. I was very scared at first,” according to Theodos Bampos, the boy’s father.

Soon, Theodos came to understand the complex nature of his son’s problem. Bladder exstrophy is a congenital condition in which a baby is born with the bladder inside-out and exposed on the outside of the body. Affecting only about one in every 40,000 babies born, bladder exstrosphy is treated through surgery early in a baby’s life and then monitored with regular follow-up as the child grows.

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A step forward for flu vaccines

There’s some added protection coming your way this flu season. New vaccines will be available that guard against four strains of the flu – an improvement over previous vaccines that covered only three strains.

Thomas Sandora, MD, MPH, of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital, explains that, with the flu, “there’s influenza A and influenza B, and two strains of A and B circulate at any given time.” In years past, he says, “we had a trivalent vaccine that covered both strains of A but only one strain of B.” But this year, Sandora reports, “a new quadrivalent vaccine has been manufactured, a vaccine that covers two strains of A and two strains of B.”

This new and improved vaccine is the result of ongoing research and development efforts that continue year after year. “Flu experts look at what’s circulating in the northern and southern hemispheres at different times of year, and they use this information to make recommendations for vaccines,” he explains. In advance of each flu season, vaccines are created in accordance with these recommendations and then distributed to doctors, hospitals and clinics.

“The new vaccine already is being shipped and delivered,” Sandora says. Early in the season, supplies may be limited, he cautions, “but later in the season, we should have enough.”

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Bedwetting treatment starts with open communication

 “He was 8 years old and still wearing diapers. We knew he had a problem.” – Mother of a boy with a bedwetting issue

It really wasn’t difficult to talk about her wetting as she knew something was wrong. We concentrated on making her comfortable and assuring her all would be fine.” – Mother of a young girl with a wetting problem

Urinary incontinence, otherwise known as “enuresis” or “wetting,” is fairly common, often embarrassing and sometimes difficult to talk about it. Of children 6 to 7, about 20 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls 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 uses noninvasive methods to help children overcome incontinence and other urinary issues, such as urinary tract infections. Treatments can include biofeedback training, Reiki therapy, behavioral therapy and referral for acupuncture. The program’s director, Carlos Estrada, MD, believes that open communication is the essential first step in addressing a wetting issue.

“Kids have a hard time talking about their wetting problems for one obvious reason: It’s embarrassing,” he says. Over time, that embarrassment can build and build. In fact, Estrada explains, for some boys and girls, urinary incontinence “becomes a focal point for a family, and the negative attention results in kids turning inward.”

Watch this video to learn how Boston Children’s offers treatment for bedwetting:

Adding to the embarrassment are feelings of helplessness. Estrada says that wetting the bed at home or having an accident at school or on the playground can trigger these feelings and cause kids to postpone voiding. “Holding too long can lead to an overactive bladder and possibly more serious problems,” Estrada reports.

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Are parents’ prescriptions poisoning kids?

Every parent knows how hard it can be to keep their prescription drugs safely away from their children. But with the increase in adult prescription drugs in the home, that problem is getting harder to manage. Today, more and more young kids are accidentally taking their parents’ pills, and more and more teens are intentionally raiding the medicine cabinet. This has led to rising rates of poisonings in children, according to a study

published in the July 2013 issue of Pediatrics. (Adult Prescription Drug Use and Pediatric Medication Exposures and Poisonings)

Two of the study’s authors, Lindsey C. Burghardt, MD, and Florence T. Bourgeois, MD, MPH, became interested in the subject based on their real-life experiences as pediatric emergency medicine doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital. Burghardt reports that they noticed what seemed to be an increase in children and adolescents coming to the emergency room who had been poisoned by prescription medications. “When we began to research the problem of pediatric medication poisonings, we learned that adult prescriptions are also increasing.  We began to wonder if these things were related.”

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