Stories about: Susanna Huh

Our patients’ stories: treating Sean’s feeding difficulties

Dan’s son Sean was born prematurely, with a long list of medical concerns. Because Sean was so fragile at birth he was unable to feed himself during infancy, which led to feeding problems as a toddler. Here, Dan describes the hurdles he and his family faced during Sean’s younger years, and the important role Boston Children’s Hospital’s Growth and Nutrition Program played in helping Sean eat solid foods.

By Dan Francis

Sean as a baby, with his feeding tube

For the first five months of my wife Jean’s pregnancy, things were going smoothly. But at the 20-week mark a routine ultrasound showed that our soon-to-be born son Sean was small for his gestational age and there was a low amount of amniotic fluid surrounding him in the womb. Jean was told to stay home from work and get as much bed rest as possible. Five weeks later another routine check-up showed that the bed rest hadn’t been enough; her blood pressure was now elevated (called preeclampsia) and could potentially hurt the baby. That’s when everything got serious.

We spent the next three weeks in the hospital while doctors and nurses monitored Jean and the baby. Doctors determined that a complication with the placenta was restricting the baby’s nutrients and he was only receiving about half of what he needed. Based on the discovery it was decided that the baby’s only chance for survival would happen outside the womb. A C-section was scheduled, and though he came into the world early, we were delighted to meet Sean.

Because he was premature and very small, Sean was born with several health problems. His lungs, heart and digestive system were all in danger of developing serious complications, but despite it all, Sean held on. It was amazing. He could almost fit in the palm of my hand, and still he had a fight in him that’s stronger than you see in most adults.

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Children's in the news

Susanah Huh, MD, MPH

Children’s Susanna Huh, MD, MPH, speaks with ABC News about a new study she co-authored that published in Pediatrics that found infants raised on formula who are fed solid foods before they are 4 months old have a six times higher risk of becoming obese by age 3 than those starting later. The study found no association between the timing of solid-food introduction and obesity in breast-fed infants. Star Telegram, The Washington Post’s “The CheckUp” and The Los Angeles Times also reported on Huh’s findings.


Restaurant Nutrition Draws Focus of First Lady

The New York Times reports that a team of advisors for First Lady Michelle Obama has been holding private talks over the past year with the National Restaurant Association in a bid to get restaurants to adopt her goals of smaller portions and children’s meals that include healthy offerings like carrots, apple slices and milk instead of French fries and soda. Children’s David Ludwig, MD, PhD, speaks about the importance of being vigilant when forming partnerships with the food industry and whether the food industry can play a responsible role in the obesity epidemic.


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In the battle against childhood obesity, start young(er than you think)

Claire McCarthy, MD

We all know that prevention is the best way to deal with any public health problem. With obesity being an increasingly, um, huge problem in our society, we need to do everything we can to prevent it. And to do so we need to start in—infancy?

That’s the message in the study by Children’s Hospital Boston researchers in this week’s journal Pediatrics. As described yesterday in Tripp Underwood’s Thrive post, the study, led by Susanna Huh, MD, MPH, and Sheryl Rifas-Shiman, MPH, showed that when parents of formula-fed infants started solid foods before 4 months of age, the infants were six times more likely to be obese at age 3.

Why do we care? Three is very far from adulthood. There’s still plenty of time to lose the baby fat. Right?

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Starting solids too early may increase obesity risk

The study's authors, Susanna Huh and Sheryl Rifas-Shiman

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a new study online today that reinforces its previous recommendations that parents wait to introduce solid foods to their babies until they are at least 4 months old. The study was co-led by Susanna Huh, MD, MPH, of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, and Sheryl Rifas-Shiman, MPH, a research associate at Harvard Medical School/ Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.

Huh and Rifas-Shiman’s research followed 847 children from birth, and found that among formula-fed infants, those who were given solid food before 4 months were six times more likely to be obese by the time they turned 3 than those whose parents waited until 4 or 5 months to feed them solids. Interestingly, the timing of solid food introduction didn’t seem to be related to the risk of childhood obesity in children who were breastfed.

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