Swedish News Blog

Worrying about your child's growth

Shirley Vacanti, RN, BSN

Shirley Vacanti, RN, BSN
Clinical RN, Pediatric Endocrinology; Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care

The above letters reflect many of our children’s feelings when they are first seen by Dr. Kletter. They and their families arrive to the Pediatric Endocrinology clinic with hope that something can be done.

Children are usually followed by their pediatrician or primary care provider. The following questions are guidelines for parents who are worried about their child’s growth. While any “yes” to the questions may not indicate a problem, it warrants a discussion with your child’s healthcare provider.

  • Is my child the shortest or tallest in the class?
  • Is my child unable to keep up with children of the same age in play?
  • Is my child growing less than 2 inches or more than 3 inches a year?
  • Is my child showing signs of early sexual development (before age 7 in girls and before age 9 in boys)?
  • Has my 13 year old girl or 15 year old boy failed to show signs of sexual development?

An experienced pediatric endocrinologist will evaluate the following possible causes of short stature and growth failure:

Ketogenic diet as a treatment for seizures

Jenny Schoenfeld, ARNP

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has proven to be effective in the treatment of seizures. In fact, the ketogenic diet is one of the oldest and most effective treatments available for patients with seizures regardless of age, from infancy through adulthood. The ketogenic diet must only be started under direct medical supervision.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the ketogenic diet:

What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a special high-fat diet that often includes heavy cream, butter and vegetable oils to provide the necessary fat. The diet eliminates carbohydrate rich foods such as bread, rice, cereals, pasta, cookies, and cakes.

How effective is the diet at controlling or eliminating seizures?
Studies that have followed children on the diet for long periods reveal that at least 2/3 of all children on the diet have a significant reduction in seizures by over half. 1/3 of children on the diet will have a greater than 90% reduction in seizures, with half of these children ....

Child’s Belly Discomfort Caused By Allergies

Jonah Essers, MD

Jonah Essers, MD
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

This is one of the most common questions that I get asked in the office. Allergic diseases are certainly becoming more and more prevalent in the developed world. General pediatricians and specialists are on ‘high-alert’ for this when evaluating a child that may be sick. Within the realm of intestinal diseases, however, a true allergy is actually not very common. To understand this, we must first understand what ‘allergy’ means.

An allergy is a biologic response from our body’s immune system. When our body senses a foreign invader, our army of immune cells attacks it. It does this by releasing chemicals into the blood stream and/or in to the organs where the threat may lie. Those chemicals are meant to destroy the invader, but often hurt our healthy organs as well. For example, airborn pollen may land in your eye, the immune system senses that pollen, releases those chemicals, and as a consequence we get itchy, puffy, watery eyes. The same thing can happen in the bowel if we ingest food that we are allergic to.

Intestinal manifestations of food allergies

One of the more common sites of an allergic response to food is in the esophagus—the food pipe. When the esophagus gets inflamed, it can manifest in a few different ways: heartburn symptoms, chest pain, chronic dry cough, upper abdominal pain, frequent regurgitation, or food that is stuck the chest. The name of this is Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Food allergies lower in the bowels can cause diarrhea, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, weight loss, anemia, and fatigue.

There are usually other red flags

One of the most important things to remember is ....

The 'pigeon toed' problem

Kathleen Moen, MD

Kathleen Moen, MD
Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon

Have you noticed that your child walks with his or her feet rotated inward instead of pointing straight ahead? This could be described as intoeing and is sometimes referred to as being “pigeon toed.”

As a parent, you may raise concerns with your child’s physician about how your child is walking or running, or perhaps a concern was raised by the child’s grandparents who may have known a child years ago who was treated with a brace or special shoes for a similar issue. Intoeing gait is a common reason for referral of your child to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.

Intoeing stems from one of, or a combination of, three areas: the foot, the lower leg and the hip. Which area is contributing determines the likelihood that it will resolve over time and determines up until what age one may expect improvement.

The most frequent case of intoeing in infants and young toddlers arises ...

When a belly ache or stomach pain might mean appendicitis

Robert L. Weinsheimer, MD

Robert L. Weinsheimer, MD
Pediatric General Surgeon

As a pediatric surgeon, I am often asked when to “worry” about abdominal pain. Children often report aches or pains near the belly button (umbilicus), and the question arises around when this might mean something significant such as appendicitis.

Appendicitis is a common occurrence affecting about 7% of people over their lifetime, and it begins with vague abdominal pain of the central abdomen. Once the appendix becomes obstructed and begins to suffer from lack of circulation (ischemia), the body can detect more accurately the exact source of the pain. After this localization occurs, children older than 6 or so can identify that the pain is most severe in the right lower part of the abdomen. The localization usually occurs within 24 hours of feeling unwell. The pain is typically worse with movement of the appendix during activities such as walking, coughing, and change in position. I often ask children to jump up and down (on their bed is something kids are excited to do!) and watch their face to see if they wince. Typically with appendicitis, a child will either refuse to jump or may try it once but will not continue due to the pain.

Distraction is also frequently used in children that seem to be particularly “focused” on their pain. In gently feeling the abdomen of a child with early appendicitis that is distracted, the abdomen is soft until palpating the area of the appendix. This right lower part of the abdomen is...

Increasing Your Child’s Comfort with Nitrous Oxide

Deborah Worthington, RN, CPN

Deborah Worthington, RN, CPN
Registered Nurse, Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care

You may be familiar with “laughing gas” as something you find at the dentist’s office but did you know it can also be used when your child is a patient at Swedish? Laughing gas is a mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen, but you might hear your pediatric nurses just call it “nitrous.” In pediatrics, we use it to help a patient relax and feel more comfortable during certain procedures such as IV placement or urinary catheterization.

Once your doctor or nurse has determined that your child is a good candidate for nitrous (without any contraindications such as conditions where air may be trapped in the body, pregnancy, or impaired level of consciousness), your nurses and certified child life specialist (CCLS) will explain the process: Your child will choose a flavor for the inside of their mask used to administer the gas. They will be on a stretcher or bed and have a saturation probe attached to a finger to monitor their oxygenation. One nurse will administer oxygen, then the nitrous, gradually increasing the amount until your child is suitably relaxed for the procedure, while remaining responsive to directions. Another clinician will perform the procedure, e.g., place the IV. A doctor is also available.

As a parent ...

Introducing solids to your infant

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

As your baby grows, you’ve probably started wondering when and how to start feeding your infant solid foods. Here are some general tips to consider:

Is there a safe age to start feeding solid foods to my infant?

Yes, most infants this is between four and six months of age.

Why is there a ‘safe’ age to start feeding solids?

There are a few reasons why this age is safest. The first reason is because prior to four months of age, an infant is not developmentally ready to safely eat from a spoon.

To be able to swallow solids safely, an infant needs good head control; to be able to sit well with support; and to have lost the “extrusion reflex” (the reflex which enables newborns to tightly latch and suck from a nipple, but makes them shove a spoon out of their mouth).

The second reason an infant should be fed solids between four and six months is something many families are not aware of: it is also a strategy to prevent common food allergies. This is one of the strongest reasons I passionately advocate for infants to be exposed to as many foods as possible during this crucial three-month window.

Starting solids and preventing food allergies:

In the past, healthcare providers have advised parents to avoid potential allergens such as peanuts, eggs, and milk. New evidence is now showing that this practice might have played a role in the increased incidence of childhood food allergies in the U.S

Why might this occur? The ...

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