Author: Tom Ulrich

Is that fever a problem? Ask Thermia

shutterstock_124303936Your child has a fever. Do you call her caregiver? Treat it with acetaminophen? Wait and see?

Thermia, an online fever calculator developed by the HealthMap team at Boston Children’s Hospital, can provide puzzled parents some guidance.

HealthMap co-founder John Brownstein, PhD, explains how Thermia works and details possible next steps.

Read about Thermia on Boston Children’s Vector blog.

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Kayla, Joel and Robbie’s story: Taking life with hemophilia one day at a time

joel hemophiliaHemophilia has always been part of Kayla Klein’s life. Her father, David, had the condition. Her son, 6-month-old Robbie (that’s him above), has it too.

For years, though, Kayla has also surrounded herself with the right people—people who know hemophilia and who have helped her and her husband Joel create a life where the condition isn’t something that happened to them. Rather, it’s part of their family’s normal. And they’re determined to make sure that it will never keep little Robbie—or them—down.

A life embedded in hemophilia

David died when Kayla was just shy of two. But it wasn’t from his hemophilia. Rather, like so many others in the 1980s and 90s, he died because the blood products he took to keep the disease under control were contaminated with HIV.

Hemophilia remained a lurking presence in her life growing up, but started coming to the foreground when she and Joel married. Because Kayla carries the hemophilia mutation in her genes, they knew there was a 50/50 chance that if they had a son he would have the condition himself.

When the couple started asking questions about hemophilia and family planning, a colleague of Kayla’s introduced them to Lori Dobson, a genetic counselor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Ultimately, after working with Dobson to understand their options, Kayla and Joel decided to just go for it.

“We realized that we could do lots of things and not have a baby with hemophilia, but could still have a baby with something else,” Kayla recalls. “We decided to just go ahead and see what happened.”

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Looking for the flu shot? We have you covered

child-sick-with-fluThe season is upon us again. No, not fall or football or holiday—I’m talking about flu season, and all the sneezing, aches and pains that come along with it.

Clearly, getting the flu shot is a good idea, especially for families with young children. “Influenza is a serious illness—up to 50,000 people die from the flu every year in the United States,” says Thomas Sandora, MD, MPH, an infection control expert and epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Getting a flu vaccine is still the best way we have to prevent infection with influenza. Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated every year.”

But one of the questions that at least my family asks every year is, where can we get the shot? After all, we have more options now than ever. The corner drugstore? Our doctor’s office? Our neighborhood’s health clinic? And which version of the flu vaccine is the right one for me or my child?

We’re not alone, and a tool offered by Boston Children’s Hospital’s HealthMap team can help. Called the HealthMap Vaccine Finder, it’s like a Google Maps for tracking down the flu vaccine. Visit it from your computer, smartphone or tablet, plug in your address and city or zip code, and it pulls up a map listing pharmacies, clinics, etc. in your area offering the vaccine.

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Traveling 2,700 miles to save Jesus’s arm

20140203_Jesus-10When you talk to Jesus Barradas, he is like any other 16-year-old boy, into music, soccer, video games and television.

But when the Veracruz, Mexico native raises his left arm, you can see that something isn’t right. The forearm is much larger than his right. His left hand is swollen, the fingers curled into a near-permanent claw shape, and he holds it gingerly, almost cradling it protectively.

Jesus was born with a vascular malformation in his arm called FAVA (fibroadipose vascular anomaly), which keeps blood from draining properly out of the tissues of his forearm. It’s both physically and emotionally painful, and throughout his childhood, it became the source of endless taunting and ridicule.

For years, every doctor who saw Jesus said the only thing they could do was amputate his arm. But Jesus’s parents refused to believe this outcome was inevitable. They kept searching, talking to more doctors, seeking more opinions. Their search finally led them to Boston Children’s Vascular Anomalies Center (VAC), where surgeon Joseph Upton, MD, gave them the best option they’d had in years: hope. 

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