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How does a heart defect start? Stanford scientists use stem cells to find out

For years, pediatric cardiologists have been trying to understand the origin of a puzzling congenital defect that creates a spongy texture in the heart muscle wall. Now, Stanford researchers have shown that they can use stem cell techniques to turn donated skin and blood cells from real patients into a useful tool for figuring out how the disease gets started.

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Extra chemo drugs don’t improve treatment of rare bone cancer

A large clinical trial, published today in The Lancet Oncology, should spare young people with a rare bone cancer from the side effects of too much chemotherapy. Current treatments for osteosarcoma, a malignant bone tumor that usually affects teenagers, are less effective than doctors would like, so in recent years they’ve sometimes added extra chemotherapy drugs to the standard regimen.

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Peeking inside the expanding Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

Ever since I started my job in 2008, I’ve been hearing about the huge expansion of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford that is slated to open in 2017. First it was an abstract idea, then a set of floor plans and renderings, then a fenced-off patch of dirt, then an enormous hole in the ground. Now the new building is a real, three-dimensional place, with floors, walls, windows, a roof.

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WIC policies should help kids drink less fruit juice, Stanford experts say

Every day of my 1980s childhood began with orange juice, which my mom served because it was considered a good way to get our daily vitamin C. Since then, nutritionists’ thinking has changed. Daily consumption of fruit juice has been linked with childhood obesity and dental cavities, and kids are thought to be better off getting their vitamins from whole fruits. Yet some health policies haven’t kept up.

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Bottle size may help explain extra weight gain in bottle-fed babies

Scientists who study childhood obesity often wonder how excess weight gain in kids can be prevented. Some experts suggest that prevention efforts should start in infancy, since formula-fed infants grow faster than those who are exclusively breast-fed. A study published this month in Pediatrics adds an interesting twist to the debate: The researchers found that babies fed with larger bottles between 2 and 6 months of age gained more weight.

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The mysterious story of a boy who survived a rare and deadly cancer

What would you do if your toddler had a very rare blood cancer and his treatments were failing? At what point would you decide that it was time to stop those treatments and make him as comfortable and happy as possible for whatever time he had left? That was the terrible decision faced by the parents of a young child with a form of leukemia so unusual and deadly that his doctors at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford didn’t know if anyone had ever survived it.

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Eating disorders in college athletes highlighted in NBC Bay Area story

Years ago, as a college varsity swimmer, I was surprised when one of my teammates told me she had struggled with an eating disorder. I knew this was a common problem in sports such as gymnastics and figure skating, where an athlete’s appearance is constantly judged, but had assumed – wrongly – that a sport where speed trumped glamour would confer protection against disordered eating.

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New Stanford research offers hope for faster autism diagnosis

What’s the first step in getting help for a child who may have autism? Discouragingly, the answer is often “A long wait.” But Stanford systems biologist Dennis Wall, PhD, wants to change that. His research team is using a big-data approach to devise simple questionnaires that enable parents and primary-care doctors to screen children for developmental disorders using a mobile device.

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New cystic fibrosis screening test developed at Stanford

Stanford researchers have invented a new technique to detect cystic fibrosis in infants. The test, described in a paper published today in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, is more comprehensive, faster and cheaper than current newborn screening methods.

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World-first treatment for rare heart defect saves baby born at Packard Children’s

Linda Luna was five months pregnant with her first child when she got the bad news: Ultrasound scans showed a deadly defect in her baby boy’s heart. He had a 90 percent chance of dying before or just after birth. But thanks to a groundbreaking treatment at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, two-month-old baby Liam, who just went home to San Jose last week, is beating those odds.

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Teens need healthy brain food, says Stanford expert

This week, U.S. News and World Report released their 2016 ranking of the best diets. For their story on healthy eating for teenagers, Neville Golden, MD, division chief of adolescent medicine at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, explained how diet can affect teens’ brains and moods.

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Stanford ingenuity + big data = new insight into the ADHD brain

Attention-focusing brain networks interact more weakly than usual in kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, new Stanford research shows. The research, published online this week in Biological Psychiatry, is part of an ongoing effort to figure out how the brain differs from normal in people with ADHD.

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Newly identified gene mutation explains why one family experiences unusual pain response to cold

If you’ve ever plunged your hand into a tub of ice water, you know about the overlap between cold and pain: That deep, biting ache makes you want to get your hand out of the water – fast. While the protective value of that sensation is obvious, scientists have always been a bit mystified by how pain-sensing nerves register cold temperatures. But now, Stanford research on a family with an extremely unusual gene mutation may help clarify what’s going on.

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Parents now help doctors decide what care is right for the sickest babies

Today, NPR’s Morning Edition featured an in-depth story on the evolution of decision-making in neonatal intensive care units – hospital nurseries for the sickest infants. Parents now have much more say in their babies’ care than in the past, and Stanford experts who were on the front lines of the change, including William Benitz, MD, chief of neonatology at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, explained how it happened.

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A family’s story changes the science of a rare tumor

When Danah Jewett’s 5-year-old son, Dylan, was dying from a brain tumor in 2008, she wanted to know if there was anything her family could do to help other children who might someday face the same terrible diagnosis. Yes, said Dylan’s doctor, Michelle Monje, MD, PhD: Would you be willing to donate his tumor for cancer research after his death?

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Forget perfection and just cook for your kids, says new book by Stanford author

“Our children are in trouble because we’ve outsourced the job of feeding them,” says Stanford child nutrition expert Maya Adam, MD. To tackle the problem, Adam is spreading a refreshing message: Forget celebrity-chef culture and food fads, and just cook for your kids. Her new book shares stories about how parents around the world find a healthy approach to feeding their children.

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Missing out on “normal”: Advice from an expert on how to help kids with serious illnesses

Children and teenagers with all kinds of chronic and serious conditions want normalcy in their lives, says pediatric psychologist Barbara Sourkes, PhD, who directs the palliative care program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Sourkes helps our patients and their families navigate the divide between living with a difficult diagnosis and simply being a kid. Here, she offers advice on how to help children who must “commute” back and forth between the medical world and their everyday lives.

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Rare gene variants help explain preemies’ lung disease, Stanford study shows

Because they’re born before their lungs are fully mature, premature babies are at risk for a serious lung disease. Over the last several decades, this disease, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, has evolved into both a great medical success story and a persistent mystery. But a new Stanford study, published this week, is helping clarify the mysterious part.

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Stanford doctors unraveling mysterious childhood psychiatric disease

A story in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal highlights Stanford’s leadership in treating a mystifying disease in which a child suddenly develops intense psychiatric problems, often after an infection. The disease, called pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome, can be terribly disabling, altering kids’ personalities, interfering with their school work and making it hard for families to function.

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Raw milk still a health hazard, says Stanford expert

In spite of looser regulations around the sale of unpasteurized milk, it’s still unsafe to drink. That’s the message from Yvonne Maldonado, MD, chief of pediatric infectious disease at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, who is quoted in a new story on Today.com about the relaxation of raw-milk regulations.

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Large donation launches new allergy research center at Stanford

Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker has announced that he is donating $24 million to establish an allergy research center at Stanford. Scientists at the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford University will study the underlying mechanisms of all types of allergies in children and adults and will aim to develop lasting allergy cures.

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Early Support Program for Autism, a collaboration between Stanford Children’s Health and Children’s Health Council, connects families to autism resources

Finding autism caregivers and treatments is a daunting challenge for families facing a new autism diagnosis. But now there’s help. The Early Support Program for Autism, a free service with no waiting list, gives parents someone to call for up-to-date information about doctors, therapists, treatment programs and other community resources.

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Study validates oxytocin levels in blood and suggests oxytocin may be a biomarker of anxiety

To conduct research on the connection between oxytocin and emotion, scientists want to assess the hormone’s levels in the brain. But sampling cerebrospinal fluid, the liquid bathing the brain, requires an invasive technique called a lumbar puncture. Measuring blood oxytocin is much easier, but some researchers have questioned whether blood oxytocin levels truly reflect what’s happening in the brain.

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Talking to kids about the Ebola virus

Heavy media coverage of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and isolated cases in the U.S. may leave parents wondering how to talk to their children about the disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with Drs. Yvonne Maldonado and Victor Carrion of Stanford Children’s Health, have information to assist parents in these conversations.

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Q & A about Enterovirus-D68 with infectious disease expert Yvonne Maldonado, MD and Keith Van Haren, MD, pediatric neurologist

Yvonne Maldonado, MD, service chief of pediatric infectious disease at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, answers questions about the respiratory symptoms caused by this virus. In addition, Keith Van Haren, MD, a pediatric neurologist who has been assisting closely with the California Department of Public Health’s investigation, comments on neurologic symptoms that might be associated with the virus.

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New study shows standardization makes hospital hand-offs safer

A study published online this week in Pediatrics offers encouraging results from a large-scale effort to tackle a persistent safety problem in hospitals. The study is the first scientific investigation of a multi-hospital project to improve patient hand-offs, the times when a patient’s care is being transferred from one person to another.

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Side effects of childhood vaccines are extremely rare, new study finds

As you may have heard about elsewhere, a new paper published today on the safety of childhood vaccines provides reassurance for parents and pediatricians that side effects from vaccination are rare and mostly transient. The paper, a meta-analysis appearing in Pediatrics, updates a 2011 Institute of Medicine report on childhood vaccine safety. It analyzed the results of 67 safety studies of vaccines used in the United States for children aged 6 and younger.

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New research shows how to keep diabetics safer during sleep

Life with type 1 diabetes requires an astonishing number of health-related decisions – about 180 per day. But patients’ vigilant monitoring of their daytime blood sugar, food intake, insulin and activity levels is perhaps less exhausting than the worries they face about getting a safe night’s sleep.

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News about Newborns, Delivered Each Morning

For parents dealing with a sick newborn, access to their baby’s condition needs to be clear and immediate. While conversations with the physician or nurse are a key source of information, Packard Children’s found another way to keep parents updated and in the loop.