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Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Sarah Chalke had a gut feeling something was seriously wrong with her son Charlie. The 2-year-old was covered in red rashes and had a fever for days. At night he was restless, arching his back and crying. Chalke went from doctor to doctor, one wrong diagnosis after another. But it was only when she took matters into her own hands by researching her son’s symptoms and consulting a specialist that she found an answer: Kawasaki disease.
The little-known childhood inflammatory disease was the cause of Charlie’s redness on his body and his lips, which turned so bright he looked like he was wearing lipstick. His blood vessels were inflamed and his joints ached. By the time Chalke carried Charlie’s limp body to the emergency room, it was obvious that he was in danger.
“I’d never seen a baby that sick,” Chalke says. And she hopes it’s something no parent will ever have to experience.
Now the actress is at the helm of a Crowdrise fundraiser for a diagnostic test prototype for Kawasaki disease. Doctors at Stanford University and University of California San Diego are getting closer to developing a test that could be 95% accurate. But first, it requires the time and funding to refine it for mainstream use.
“It would be a really big deal if this diagnostic test was in doctors’ hands,” Chalke says. “It would mean that kids would not go misdiagnosed. It would take a lot of the guessing out of Kawasaki disease. It would have meant our son would be treated a lot sooner.”
Diagnosing the disease is tricky because it presents a collection of symptoms, Chalke explains, which often leads many doctors to believe that the sick child has a completely different ailment than Kawasaki disease. The guessing creates a lot of confusion and wasted time.
“The waiting time is excruciating from when you get the diagnosis to when you get the treatment, and then when you find out if the heart is OK,” Chalke says.
What’s worse is that the disease is like a “ticking clock,” as Chalke describes, and treatment must occur within a small window of about only 10 days. And as the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children, Kawasaki disease makes the urgency of an accurate diagnosis all the more important.
Fortunately, Charlie was diagnosed close enough to the crucial period of time that he got the help he needed, and is doing well today. Now 3 and a half years old, he is healthy and happy, says Chalke, and makes her laugh all the time. He also hasn’t suffered coronary aneurysms or heart attacks, like some children with Kawasaki disease do.
“I don’t really think there’s a day that it doesn’t strike me we’re so lucky he’s OK,” Chalke says.
Because of Chalke’s research and unyielding search for a proper diagnosis, Charlie survived. If you suspect your child has Kawasaki disease, Chalke says to be vigilant about getting a diagnosis. She was grateful for the Kawasaki Disease Foundation’s website, which confirmed her instincts that Charlie had the disease, and she let Charlie’s doctor know her concerns.
“If a parent is worried that their kid is really sick the first step is to bring it up to your doctor,” Chalke says. She also encourages taking pictures of your child to show to the doctor and writing all symptoms down. And if the first doctor isn’t receptive, try again, and seek out an infectious disease specialist if necessary.
“I have huge respect for doctors,” Chalke says. “We’ve had some incredible care for Charlie, but I really do feel like you do need to advocate for yourself and for your kids.”
With her campaign for a Kawasaki disease diagnostic test, Chalke is speaking out for all parents who are looking for much-needed answers.
Image via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
Test of Anthrax Vaccine in Children Gets Tentative OK
A presidential ethics panel has opened the door to testing an anthrax vaccine on children as young as infants, bringing an angry response from critics who say the children would be guinea pigs in a study that would never help them and might harm them. (via Reuters)
Most Parents Don’t Follow Doctor’s Orders
Two-thirds of parents say they don’t always follow the advice they get from their child’s doctor, according to a new poll. The findings showed that 56 percent of parents said they follow the advice they’re given most of the time, while 13 percent said they follow it only occasionally, according to the findings from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. (via NBC News)
Student Suspended for Pop-Tart Gun, Josh Welch, Files Appeal with Maryland School System
An attorney for an Anne Arundel County 7-year-old suspended from school for nibbling a pastry into the shape of a pistol has filed an appeal with the county school system to have the suspension overturned and the student’s record expunged, saying he will “go all the way to the Maryland Court of Appeals” if needed to pursue the case. (via Huffington Post)
New Guidelines for Athletes with Concussions
A major medical group is updating its guidelines for handling amateur or professional athletes suspected of having a concussion. The American Academy of Neurology says the athletes should be taken out of action immediately and kept out until they’ve been cleared by a health care provider with training about concussions. (via FOX News)
Organic Baby Food: It’s More Expensive, but it May Not Be More Nutritious
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Parents go organic for a variety of reasons, including environmental concerns and a desire to avoid pesticide residue. And in some cases, they just want a status symbol. According to the consumer market research firm Mintel, organic baby food made up about 10 percent of the $1.4 billion U.S. baby food and snacks market in 2011. But studies show that parents who are aiming to buy the best food for their infants may not need to spring for the expensive organics. (via The Washington Post)
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Thursday, January 24th, 2013
If your child is anything like mine, you probably dread vaccination day. When my then 3-year-old daughter wrapped her arms around me, and used every muscle in her little legs to push off of the examination table sending me flying backward into the hall, I have to admit, I deeply considered skipping the next round. But we pushed through them, and now at five, she’s replaced her fear of needles with a fear of large cotton swabs (a strep test — it’s a long story).
Although we’ve all witnessed a runaway kid or two at the pediatrician’s office, the truth behind this needle nightmare is that one in every 10 Americans has a fear needles, or trypanophobia. Digital health media company, Healthline, has called it an under-reported healthcare crisis. Fear of needles can cause a person to skip vaccinations, which puts everyone’s health at risk.
According to Healthline, needle phobia usually develops around age 4 or 5 with a traumatic immunization experience. And if you told your kid that it wasn’t going to hurt, you can bet his immunization experience was traumatic.
According to Healthline’s CEO West Shell, “The key to ending needle phobia is awareness, education, and action. Needle phobia must be addressed and it must be addressed on large public platforms. Fear of snakes or fear of public speaking doesn’t kill people, but fear of needles does.”
Healthline has recently launched a public health campaign to help put an end to needle phobia. Take the End Needle Phobia Pledge, and help prevent your children from developing needle phobia by telling them the truth: shots help to protect them and others from dangerous diseases, and they hurt – but only for a second.
You can also download the first ever app to help children overcome their fear of needles, Pablo the Pufferfish: Big Shots Game.
Our kids get about 30 shots before they turn 5. It’s time we take steps toward making it easier on all of us.
Image: Worried and Afraid Little Girl Receiving An Injection via Shutterstock
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GoodyBlog, Health & Safety
Thursday, July 26th, 2012
Why a Nightlight Could Cause Mild Depression
Constant exposure to light at night can cause depression, a new study on animals suggests. The findings suggest exposure to artificial light at night may have contributed to the rising rates of depression over the last 50 years. (via NBC News)
Parents, Docs May Clash on Quality of Kids’ Lives
About one in four parents of children with a serious and often fatal genetic condition say they feel judged by doctors when they want life-sustaining treatment for newborns, in a new study. (via Fox News)
Consumer Safety Panel Sues Magnetic Toy Maker
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is suing the maker of popular high-powered magnet “desk toys” to get them to stop selling their products. The magnets can pierce holes in the intestines, and some children have needed multiple surgeries and length hospitalizations. (via CNN)
To Boost Memory, Shut Your Eyes and Relax
New research suggests taking a brief break, relaxing, and closing your eyes for 10 minutes can help boost memory. The researchers ask participants to recall as many details as possible from two stories they were told. Those with some quick shuteye recalled more than those who were distracted with a new task. (via TIME)
Babies Born in Autumn May Live Longer
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In a recent study, researchers looked at data from more than 1,500 people who lived to be 100 or older. The majority of people who lived an extra-long life were born between September and November. (via Fox News)
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
Wherever you stand politically on the issue of healthcare reform, now’s a good time to get familiar with how it will affect you and your family. Several provisions of the bill, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, take effect tomorrow, Sept. 23, and some are specifically focused on children, including:
- Children under 19 can no longer be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.
- Children can stay on their parents’ healthcare plans until they are 26.
Also, insurance companies will need to provide some preventive care, including mamograms, free of charge. For a full timeline of when each piece of the bill goes into effect, click here.
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