Sickle cell disease in newborns and children: What families should know and do

May 7, 2021 Adiantku 0

If you’ve learned that your newborn or young child has sickle cell disease, you — and other family members and friends — may have many questions.

These days, most cases of sickle cell disease in the US are diagnosed through newborn screening. It’s important to make the diagnosis early, so that babies can be started on penicillin (or another antibiotic) to prevent infection. Getting connected early to a pediatrician for primary care — and to specialists in blood disorders who can work closely with the child as they grow, and with their families — can help prevent complications of the disease.

The basics

Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen. In sickle cell disease, the hemoglobin can change the rounded shape of red blood cells into a C-shape that is crooked, like the tool called a sickle. When that happens, the cells get sticky and … Read the rest

COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens: What we do — and don’t — know

May 6, 2021 Adiantku 0

Vaccines have been heralded as a key measure to slow the COVID-19 pandemic and one day bring it to an end. Every day, millions of American adults are receiving one of the authorized vaccines proven highly effective at preventing severe illness that might otherwise lead to hospitalizations and deaths. In the US, most people over 65 have now been fully vaccinated, protecting the most vulnerable in our population.

As an infectious disease specialist, my responses to the questions below are based on what we know so far about infection and vaccines in children and teens. We’ll need to continue filling in gaps as research is done and our understanding evolves.

What do we know about how COVID-19 affects children and teens?

Most COVID-19 infections in children are mild or cause no obvious symptoms. However, a small percentage of infected children

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Happy trails: Take a hike, now

May 5, 2021 Adiantku 0

While the COVID-19 pandemic is not over by any means, more people are getting vaccinated, and restrictions are gradually lifting. After too much time spent inactive and indoors, what better way to move your body and enjoy nature than by taking a hike? In many ways, hiking is the ideal antidote to a global pandemic, as it can heal both body and soul.

Enjoy the benefits of a hike

  • Like power walking, hiking offers a moderate-intensity cardio workout, provided your route includes some hills or inclines. Trekking on uneven surfaces engages your core muscles and improves your balance.
  • Hiking also is a mood booster. Research shows that spending time in green spaces, like nature trails and wooded areas, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It doesn’t matter if you hike alone or with others.
  • The CDC still suggests people maintain social distancing during outdoor activities, including hiking, since it’s not
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COVID-19 vaccines and the LGBTQ+ community

May 3, 2021 Adiantku 0

I have a confession: in late 2020, when the first COVID-19 vaccines were approved by the FDA, I was hesitant to get one myself. Despite working in public health and believing strongly in vaccines to keep our community healthy, I was anxious about putting something in my body that seemed so new. I thought: “What if the vaccine is dangerous?” “What about long-term side effects?”

I am part of the LGBTQ+ community. Our history may help explain why I hesitated.

Are LGBTQ+ people more hesitant to get the vaccine?

In March a New York Times article reported that LGBTQ+ people are more hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. A research study from the Human Rights Campaign reported mixed findings: while LGBTQ+ people overall are more likely to get vaccinated, certain subgroups, such as LGBTQ+ people of color and bisexual women, are less likely to get vaccinated.

LGBTQ+ people have good … Read the rest

Dental appliances for sleep apnea: Do they work?

May 1, 2021 Adiantku 0

Keeping your partner — or yourself — up at night with loud snoring? This might be more than a nuisance. About 25% of men and nearly 10% of women have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious sleep disorder characterized by explosive snores, grunts, and gasps. Tissue at the back of the throat temporarily obstructs the airway, leading to breathing pauses (apneas) throughout the night. Not only does OSA leave people tired and groggy, but it also puts them at risk for a host of health problems, including high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease.

The most effective and best-studied treatment is positive airway pressure (PAP), a small bedside machine that blows air through a mask to prevent your airway from collapsing. But people with mild or moderate OSA sometimes find PAP challenging to use, and often wonder about alternatives. Dental devices (also known as oral appliances) are an option … Read the rest

Polycystic ovary syndrome and the skin

April 30, 2021 Adiantku 0

Often, the skin can be a window to what is occurring inside your body. For women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, this this may mean acne, hair loss, excessive facial or body hair growth, dark patches on the skin, or any combination of these issues.

What is PCOS?

Skin and hair issues can be the most readily perceptible features of PCOS, and thus sometimes the reason for seeking medical care. However, features of PCOS also include menstrual irregularities, polycystic ovaries (when the ovaries develop multiple small follicles and do not regularly release eggs), obesity, and insulin resistance (when cells do not respond well to insulin).

The cause of PCOS is not entirely understood, but scientific evidence points to hormonal imbalances, specifically excess testosterone (also known as hyperandrogenism) and insulin resistance. PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women. The hormonal imbalances in PCOS disrupt the process of … Read the rest

Terrified of needles? That can affect your health

April 28, 2021 Adiantku 0

No one likes getting stuck by a needle. Whether for a blood test, vaccination, or blood donation, needle sticks are something most people would prefer to avoid.

Yet, judging only by schedules for routine vaccinations and tests, the average healthy person can expect at least 165 needle sticks over a lifetime. Get hospitalized? That might add dozens or even hundreds more. And the number of needle sticks experienced by people with diabetes, HIV, and some other illnesses hovers in the “don’t ask” range.

For many, this may be more of an annoyance than a real problem. But if you have a strong fear of needles or aversion to the sight of blood, getting a vaccination or any other needle stick is a big deal. If this sounds like you, you may have trypanophobia.

What is trypanophobia?

Fittingly, the name combines the Greek term trypano — meaning puncturing or piercing — … Read the rest

Life expectancy: How can we address uneven declines?

April 27, 2021 Adiantku 0

Not long ago, during pre-pandemic 2019, the reported life expectancy at birth for non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic White, and Hispanic populations was approximately 75, 79, and 82 years, respectively. The higher life expectancy of Hispanic people compared to others in the United States may come as a surprise to some.

This phenomenon, known as the “Hispanic paradox,” was first noted in the 1980s, and its legitimacy has been debated since. A host of explanations have been proposed, including hypotheses about the “healthy immigrant” (people who migrate to the US are healthier than those who stay in their native countries) and “salmon bias” (less healthy US immigrants are more likely to return to their countries of origin). Other experts note that Hispanic communities have lower rates of smoking and greater levels of social cohesion, which certainly may contribute to their presumed higher life expectancy. In the end, this difference remains … Read the rest

Stress may be getting to your skin, but it’s not a one-way street

April 25, 2021 Adiantku 0

Are you stressed out? Your skin can show it. Studies show that both acute and chronic stress can exert negative effects on overall skin wellness, as well as exacerbate a number of skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, acne, and hair loss.

But it’s not just a one-way street. Research has also shown that skin and hair follicles contain complex mechanisms to produce their own stress-inducing signals, which can travel to the brain and perpetuate the stress response.

Stress and the two-way street between your brain and skin

You may already have experienced the connection between the brain and skin. Have you ever gotten so nervous that you started to flush or sweat? If so, you experienced an acute, temporary stress response. But science suggests that repeated exposure to psychological or environmental stressors can have lasting effects on your skin that go far beyond flushing — and could even negatively affect … Read the rest

Edibles and children: Poison center calls rise

April 24, 2021 Adiantku 0

If a 3-year-old finds a cookie on the table, chances are they are going to eat it.

Even if it is made with marijuana or THC, CBD, or other components of cannabis.

As more states have legalized the use of marijuana and an ever-widening range of derivative products, it’s not surprising that more children are being exposed — including by eating marijuana edibles. A research brief published in the journal Pediatrics found that between 2017 and 2019, there were 4,172 calls to regional poison control centers about exposures to cannabis in babies and children through age 9. About half of the calls were related to edibles.

The frequency of these calls, and the percentage related to edibles, went up over the two-year period. Not surprisingly, the exposures were about twice as common in states where marijuana use is legal as in those where it is not.

More calls

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