Stories about: Ask the Expert

Three simple ways we can all help prevent gun violence

3 ways to prevent gun violence

We are coming up on the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, in which a young man opened fire on a classroom of first-graders, killing 20 of them and 6 adults — after having killed his mother at home. While nothing can eclipse this tragedy, since then there have been many more tragedies, such as the shooting in Las Vegas, the church shooting in Texas and the recent shooting in Northern California where, thanks to the quick actions of the staff of a local elementary school, the shooter’s attempts to enter the school were foiled. He shot through the windows instead, injuring a child.

In 2014, more than 33 thousand people in the United States died from firearms. For comparison, that’s the same as the amount who died from motor vehicle accidents. Just as we are tirelessly working to keep people from being killed in or by cars, we need to work tirelessly so that fewer people die from guns.

In the wake of Sandy Hook, it looked like we were might have legislation to help prevent gun violence. But quickly we got mired in politics — and a lot of very strong feelings. Clearly, for many people gun ownership is a precious right — and clearly, death from firearms is a complicated problem without easy fixes.

That’s why we need to look for simple ways that we can all work together so that fewer people die. Here are three suggestions.

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Code talker: A Q&A with genetic counselor Kira Dies

Kira Dies, a genetic counselor, won the Code Talker Award.

Your child has just been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. Your pediatrician has never heard of the condition and the internet doesn’t offer much information. Where do you turn?

Kira Dies, a genetic counselor in the Department of Neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital, helps parents with these hard questions every day. One of about only 4,000 genetic counselors in the country, Dies has been trained in handling both the scientific and emotional sides of genetic disorders.

Dies was also the recent winner of the Code Talker Award, presented by Genome Magazine and the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC). Two other genetics counselors from Boston Children’s were also nominated, Casie Genetti and Beth Sheidley.

Although Kira works in neurology, primarily with patients who are diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), the nomination that won her the Code Talker award was from Kasey Edwards, mom of Robbie, who was diagnosed with a rare type of hereditary spastic paraplegia, SPG 47. At the time Robbie was diagnosed, only one other child in the United States was known to have the same diagnosis.

We sat down with Kira to learn more about her role at Boston Children’s.

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Why you should only use antibiotics if truly necessary

Four ways that antibiotics can cause real problems

Let’s be honest: most parents feel better when their sick child is prescribed an antibiotic.

There’s just something so reassuring about having a prescription. It’s hard to feel like all you can do is wait and give your child TLC; it feels better to do something. Even when the doctor says that your child has a virus, and explains that antibiotics treat bacteria, not viruses, it’s common for parents to think: but what if there is even a little chance that there is a bacterial infection along with — or instead of — the virus? It can’t hurt to be safe, right?

But that’s the thing: it can hurt. Here are four ways that antibiotics can cause real problems.

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Dealing with a diagnosis of epilepsy: Common questions from parents

Illustration of brain with epilepsy

A diagnosis of epilepsy can seem overwhelming: You likely have a lot of questions about how seizures — and their treatment — will affect your child’s life and what that might mean for your family. That’s why education is crucial for helping ensure that you understand as much as possible about the condition. Events such as the Fifth Annual Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland are wonderful opportunities to learn from experts and from other families. Here, Dr. Arnold Sansevere of the Epilepsy Center at Boston Children’s Hospital answers five common questions from parents and kids.

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