Posts Tagged ‘ heart disease ’

Children With Broken Hearts

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

After reading the latest findings on sudden cardiac death, we asked our advisor Darshak Sanghavi, M.D., chief of the division of pediatric cardiology and associate professor of pediatrics at University of Massachusetts Medical School, to put this frightening problem into perspective and help parents understand the prevention steps they can take. Here’s what he had to say:

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics pointed out that several thousand young people die each year of unexplained sudden cardiac death. These cases are deeply tragic, and though rare, the sudden loss of a previously healthy child often leads to a great deal of concern among all parents.

It turns out that children’s heart problems are very different than those in adults. Typically, adult problems result from long-standing damage to arteries, buildup of cholesterol, and other long-term problems that can lead to sudden blockages. Doctors refer to these as “myocardial infarctions,” more commonly known as heart attacks.

In children, the problem is very different. Children who die suddenly have hidden birth defects of the heart structure or electrical system. For example, the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes is a genetic disorder caused by faulty proteins called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which by some estimates affects roughly one in 500 people. Like weeds that overrun an unkempt yard, the heart muscle fibers proliferate rapidly and in a disorganized manner, often leading to a tripling or quadrupling in heart size during adolescence (see a picture here). People with HCM usually have no signs that this is happening until they’re exercising one day and the electrical system in the heart suddenly fails. The heart takes on the appearance of a bag of worms struggling to get free (a problem called ventricular fibrillation), and cardiac arrest occurs.

Other hidden problems, which can’t be detected by conventional check-ups in a doctor’s office with a stethoscope, include coronary artery defects (for example, a twisted or abnormal blood vessel) and electrical defects (one is called long QT syndrome).

So what is a parent to do?  To begin, it’s important not to worry too much. Again, sudden cardiac death in children is still extremely rare. But it’s useful to know how to advocate for your child and others who may have these kinds of hidden heart problems. Here is my advice:

  1. Schools and athletic facilities should have ready access to a device called an automated external defibrillator (AED). In the rare case of sudden cardiac arrest, seconds count. That’s why having AEDs in public places in proven to save lives and many locales now mandate having them in airports, health clubs, and some schools.
  2. Talk to your pediatrician if your child has any risk factors for sudden cardiac death, such as fainting or unusually extreme fatigue with exercise and unexplained fainting or seizures. You should also mention it if anyone in your family experiences sudden fainting or seizures, has heart conditions including an enlarged heart, or suffered sudden death before age 50, such as from SIDS, a car crash, or drowning.
  3. Some areas offer more specialized screening for young athletes, including a test of heart rhythm (called an EKG) or even an ultrasound picture of the heart (called an echocardiogram). Such tests are considered controversial; they are not recommended by U.S. public health authorities (even though most professional and many collegiate teams require them) and they’re generally not covered by insurance. However, some groups such as the Nick of Time Foundation are collecting more and more information suggesting these screening tests are a good idea if you can get them, and I happen to agree. For more on the controversy, see here and here.
  4. Last fall, the federal government recommended that all newborns should have a simple screening test called pulse oximetry to ensure they don’t have critical heart defects, before they leave the hospital.  However, many states have been slow to adopt the testing. If you’re pregnant or have a newborn, be sure to ask your doctor about this.
Image: Heart and ecg from red ribbon via zphoto/
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Parents Daily News Roundup

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Should Parents Be Allowed to Decline Vaccines? Vermont Debates
Vermont is among 20 states that currently allow some form of “philosophical exemption” — essentially a right of refusal for parents who want to enroll their children in school or child care without immunizations.

Wisconsin’s Planned Parenthood Suspends Non-Surgical Abortions
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has suspended non-surgical abortions in response to a new state law that makes it harder for women to have the procedure, a move that followed anti-abortion measures in several Republican-controlled states.

Aging Moms Prefer Daughter to Hubby, Study Finds
A study published this week in the journal of Scientific Reports, suggests that as women age, they shift their focus of intimacy from their husbands to adult daughters — even as their husbands continue to retain their wives as their closest confidantes.

Women with Heart Trouble More Likely to Have Baby Girls
Pregnant women with heart disease are more likely to give birth to girls than boys, according to a new study from Iran.

Obesity Rates Down for Infants, Toddlers
After a three-decade tripling in childhood obesity rates, the trend has leveled off and, for the first time, appears to be on a substantial decline – at least among Massachusetts infants and preschoolers, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Giuliana Rancic Is Expecting a Baby
Giuliana Rancic, 37, whose road to motherhood has been made difficult by infertility struggles, one miscarriage and a diagnosis of breast cancer, announced in person Monday on the Today show that she is expecting.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Some Schools Planning to Drop ‘Pink Slime’ Meat
The lunch lady won’t be serving up “pink slime” anymore at several school districts around the country.

Huggies Diaper Ad Backfires Among Dads
Many fathers say depiction of clueless parenting is offensive.

Having Small Babies May Raise Heart Risk in Moms
Women who give birth to small, full-term babies may have an increased risk for heart disease decades later, new research shows.

Houston Mother Must Pass DNA Test to Be Reunited with Son
A Houston mother was headed to court Thursday hoping to be reunited with her son eight years after she reported her baby boy was kidnapped.

Popular Easter Egg Hunt Scrapped Due To Behavior Of Parents
Parents’ bad behavior has prompted city officials to cancel an Easter egg hunt.

Mom Elissa Simonson Gives Birth On Sidewalk Outside Minn. Hospital
Elissa Simonson didn’t quite make it to a hospital for the birth of her third child. But, she was very close.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Report: USDA School Lunch Meat Contains “Pink Slime”
McDonald’s and other fast food chains may have gotten rid of “pink slime” from its burgers, but the gooey sounding chemical treatment that removes bacteria from meat is popping up elsewhere: Kids’ school lunches.

Polish Woman Saves Babies with 75 Days in Labor
A Polish woman lay nearly upside down in labor for 75 days to save the lives of her two premature babies after the first of three foetuses growing inside her was born prematurely and died.

Heart Screens for Kids Not Ready for Prime Time
Routinely giving children electrocardiograms could detect some cases of potentially fatal heart problems, but it would also cause many false-alarms along the way, a new study suggests.

Toddler’s Tantrum Gets Family Booted from JetBlue Flight
The subject of “appropriate behavior” for children on airline flights is back in the news again. This time it comes after a Rhode Island family was kicked off a JetBlue flight in the Turks and Caicos when the family’s 2-year-old toddler threw a temper tantrum before takeoff, NBC 10 of Providence reports.

Tea Parties with Dad May Result in Better Grades
Fathers who sip pretend tea, play school alongside stuffed animals or act out storybooks with their toddlers are doing more than establishing their “fun Dad” image. They may be giving kids an academic boost that lasts at least through elementary school, a new study of low-income families suggests.

Teen Sex Ed: Instead of Promoting Promiscuity, It Delays First Sex
On Thursday, the Guttmacher Institute, which conducts reproductive health research, came out with a study that suggests censoring sex ed won’t actually lead to teens safeguarding their virginity until they slip on a wedding ring. But sex ed classes, even the really G-rated ones, get teens to wait longer before they start having sex.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Chemo During Pregnancy Doesn't Seem to Harm Baby
A new study finds that the babies of women who had chemotherapy while pregnant aren’t at higher risk for a variety of medical disorders, a sign that the treatment should be safe for the fetus in most instances.

Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say
The widening achievement gap between affluent and low-income students has received less attention than the divide between white and black students, which has narrowed significantly.

Like Father Like Son? Y Chromosome Linked to Heart Disease
A new study suggests that heart disease risk may be passed from father to son.

Video of Chinese Toddler Sobbing in Snow Sparks Outrage Over Parenting
A video of a toddler crying while running in the snow nearly naked has sparked a firestorm in China, but the boy’s father says the exercise was meant to strengthen his son.

Amid Protesters’ Disruptions, City Board Votes to Close 18 Schools and Truncate 5
A NYC board voted on Thursday night to close 18 schools and eliminate the middle school grades at five others, citing poor performance.

‘Tuba Raids’ Plague Schools in California
The popularity of banda music, in which the tuba plays a dominant role, is seen by some as the cause of a recent rash of thefts.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Home Births in U.S. Rise to Highest Level on Record, Study Shows
Home births rose 29 percent from 2004 to 2009, to almost three quarters of a percent of all U.S. live deliveries, the highest level since 1989, according to health authorities.

Obama Wades Into Issue of Raising Dropout Age
President Obama’s call for every state to require students to stay in school until they turn 18 is Washington’s first direct involvement in an issue that many states have found tough to address.

Kids’ Health Predicts Parents’ Future Heart Disease
Parents of children suffering from high cholesterol or blood pressure have been found to have a higher incidence of heart disease and diabetes later on, a U.S. study said.

Baby Born Deformed After Misdiagnosed Ectopic Pregnancy
Thinking Seraphine was an ectopic pregnancy, doctors gave her mom methotrexate to abort.

How the Recession Has Affected Your Kids in an Unexpected Way
Kids live out their parents’ financial stresses, according to a new study. That is, your money problems today could hurt them tomorrow.

Dad Raps About Wife’s Labor Contractions: Can Humor Ease the Pain of Delivery?
Rap improv during labor? Maybe this dad knows that laughter can help relieve stress and ease pain.

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