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This ubiquitous sleep aid may not be as safe as we thought
The New York Post reports that if your child struggles with sleep, melatonin may not be the answer. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, helps explain the best way to help your kids get a good night’s sleep, without the use of sleep aids.
Sleep apnea in children tied to changes in brain
Reuters reports that in children with a common condition that causes them to periodically stop breathing during sleep, areas of the brain involved with thinking and problem-solving appear to be smaller than in children who sleep normally, a new study finds. Researchers can't say the brain changes actually cause problems for children at home or school, but they do say the condition, known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), has been tied to behavior and cognitive problems. Boston Children’s Eliot Katz, MD, provides insight on the study findings.
Poor Sleep in Preschool Years Could Mean Behavior Troubles Later
Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, is interviewed by HealthDay News regarding a new study that found preschoolers who get too little sleep may be more likely to have trouble paying attention, controlling their emotions and processing information later in childhood.
Step inside a wired nursery: Lots of tech — and not much evidence it’s helpful
STAT takes a look at the high-tech gear that’s hitting the nursery market, where every wiggle, snore, and diaper change is tracked and the data is synced to your smartphone. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, warns parents, if a baby’s healthy, these devices can backfire as parents poring over the data may seek unnecessary medical attention.
Gene therapy: Deaf to hearing a whisper
BBC News reports that deaf mice have been able to hear a tiny whisper after being given a "landmark" gene therapy by US scientists. They say restoring near-normal hearing in the animals paves the way for similar treatments for people "in the near future". Studies, published in Nature Biotechnology, corrected errors that led to the sound-sensing hairs in the ear becoming defective. Boston Children’s Gwenaelle Geleoc, PhD and lead author of the study and Jeff Holt, PhD and senior investigator of the study are interviewed for the story. The research was also featured in Yahoo News, the Boston Business Journal, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, MedicalXpress, FierceBiotech and Science Daily.
2 children with rare disease who live 300 miles apart finally meet for special playdate
Boston Children’s Hospital patients are featured on the television program “Inside Edition.” The 3-year-olds share the same rare disease, spastic paraplegia, SPG47, and are the only two confirmed case in the United States. Boston Children’s Basil Darras, MD, who treats the girls, provides expert insight on the rare condition.
You Asked: What’s the best sleeping pill?
TIME reports that depending on your symptoms, experts say any pill is a short-term fix for those with sleep issues, and not a solution. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, warns parents they shouldn’t consider giving their kids any sleep aid unless they’ve been to a specialist or clinic and are using the pill under professional supervision.
Is the Sleep Aid Melatonin Safe for Children and Adults?
Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, tells The New York Times “Well” blog that parents really need to understand that there are potential risks when it comes to giving the sleep aid melatonin to children.
FDA approves Biogen’s spinal disease therapy
The Boston Globe reports that the FDA approved a Biogen Inc. drug, Spinraza, as the first treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, a rare disease that causes loss of muscle control in children and is the leading genetic cause of death for infants. “This is miraculous,” said Courtney Davidopoulos, whose 7-year-old son, Matthew, began taking Spinraza this month under an early access program at Boston Children’s Hospital. STAT also reports this story.
Toddler Best Friends Struggle with Same Deadly Disease as Parents Search for a Cure: “We’ll Never Give Up”
People reports on Boston Children’s Hospital patients Robbie and Molly, three-year-old girls who share the same rare disease diagnosis of SPG 47. The disease has only been diagnosed in eleven people worldwide and causes a decline in everyday cognitive and physical functions. Robbie and Molly’s families became friends via a Facebook support group and met for the first time last month at Boston Children’s.
Zika-caused birth defect may become clear only after birth
The Associated Press reports that researchers say a severe birth defect caused by Zika infection may not be apparent at birth but develop months afterward, providing further confirmation that the virus can cause unseen damage to developing babies. The findings come from a study of 13 Brazilian babies whose heads all appeared normal at birth but then grew much more slowly than normal. Boston Children's Ganesh Mochida, MD, provides insight on the findings.
Study says teens should start school later
TeenVogue.com reports on a recent Boston Children’s Hospital’s sleep study published in Pediatrics. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, explains that when you're not getting enough or the right kind of sleep, the consequences can be really serious. Sleep deprivation is linked with higher likelihood for depression, more car crashes and plummeting grades.
“Night Owls” May Face Special Challenges
The New York Times reports that parents often worry about whether their children are getting enough sleep and a new study underscores just how important being “in sync” can be. It identifies two factors that put teenagers at risk for academic, emotional and behavioral problems, regardless of how many hours of sleep a child is actually getting at night: greater daytime sleepiness, and the tendency to be a “night owl.” Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, and lead author on the study provides her insight on the topic.
Teen night owls struggle to learn and control emotions at school
NPR reports on a new study in Pediatrics that surveyed 2.017 students in Fairfax, VA on a variety of factors related to sleep. The researchers wanted to know more about the associations between the amount of sleep students get, how sleepy they are in the daytime and a brain function known as self-regulation — the ability to control emotions, cognitive functions and behavior. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, who led the study, is interviewed for the article. U.S. News & World Report and Medical Xpress also reports on the study.
Soccer player's severe concussion spotlights need for increased injury awareness
Wicked Local West Bridgewater tells the story of a high school soccer player who suffered a debilitating concussion on the field and struggled to return to her everyday life. Boston Children’s Lyle Micheli, MD, explains that a combination of factors, including shifts in participation in organized sports and increased awareness of head injuries, has influenced how concussions are diagnosed and treated.
Impaired recycling of mitochondria in autism?
MedicalXpress.com reports that Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a genetic disorder that causes autism in about half of those affected, could stem from a defect in a basic system cells use to recycle their mitochondria, report scientists at Boston Children's Hospital. The scientists believe their findings, published online October 18 by Cell Reports, open new treatment possibilities not just for TSC, but possibly for other forms of autism and some neurologic disorders. Boston Children’s Mustafa Sahin, MD, PhD, was the lead author on the study. The study was also reported on by The Daily Mail.
Boston City Council takes up debate over starting high schools later
Fox 25 reports that the Boston City Council is debating the merits of later start times for high school students. Doctors recommended starting high school later to allow adolescents to get more than nine hours of sleep per night. While some city councilors are on board with doctors, critics say changing the start time would negatively impact transportation, sports practices and after-school jobs. Some other school districts have already made the change, but the debate is just getting started in Boston. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, weighs in on the importance of later school start times.
How to get through cold and flu season without getting sick
Parents magazine provides a five-step plan for families to help them slide through the cold and flu season without a sore throat or sniffle. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, speaks to the importance of maintaining a consistent bedtime to keep the immune system healthy and ward off illness.
Zika Illnesses Are Mild at Worst in US Teens, Young Children
ABC News (via Associated Press) reports that a first look at U.S. teens and young children who were infected with Zika suggests the virus typically causes at worst only a mild illness. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause severe brain-related birth defects. But the report seems to confirm health officials' belief that infections after birth in children are similar to infections in adults— most people don't feel sick, and some develop only mild symptoms like fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Boston Children’s Ganeshwaran Mochida, MD, is interviewed for the article. U.S. News & World Report, The Boston Globe, and the Boston Herald also report the story.
Stop Sabotaging Your Kid’s Sleep
Parents magazine reports that if your nights are an endless cycle of wake-ups, you’re doing something wrong. The article offers tips and tricks for parents of infants, toddlers and preschool-age children to make sure they get the best night’s sleep possible. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, contributes her expertise to the story.
This woman may know a secret to saving the brain’s synapses
Science reports on the career of Boston Children's Beth Stevens, PhD. This in-depth feature explores how Stevens went from lab technician to star researcher and is working with her network of collaborators to show how immune cells sculpt connections in the brain.
Study links Zika virus to joint problems in babies
USA Today reports on a new study that links the Zika virus to a rare joint condition that can make it difficult or impossible for children to straighten their arms and legs. Children with the condition, called arthrogryposis, have limited movement in joints such as the elbows or knees. Zika is already known to cause a variety of birth defects, including blindness and microcephaly, in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and, in most cases, incomplete brain development. Boston Children’s Ganeshwaran Mochida, MD, contributes his expertise to the story.
Regrown Brain Cells Give Blind Mice A New View
Scientific American reports that researchers at Stanford University have coaxed brain cells involved in vision to regrow and make functional connections—helping to upend the conventional dogma that mammalian brain cells, once damaged, can never be restored. Boston Children’s Zhigang He, PhD, BM, a study co-author, contributes to the article.
Will Boston Public Schools adopt later high school start times?
Boston.com reports City Councilors will hold a hearing on later high school start times in the coming weeks. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, director of sleep medicine, who was involved in the American Academy of Pediatrics decision to recommend a high school start time of 8:30 am, was quoted in the article.
Young and restless: children who suffer from sleeping disorders
WHDH-TV channel 7reports more than a million children in the United States are dealing with sleep apnea, however many of these kids are being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, explains children with sleep apnea for the most part aren’t sleepy, instead, the symptoms for kids may present to doctors and educators like classic ADHD.
Mother’s Day Gifts
Huffington Post shares a touching blog written by Boston Children’s Hospital patient parent, Hillary Savoie, who reflects on past Mother’s Days after her daughter Esme was born with mutations in both PCDH19 and SCN8A — which are of unknown significance.
Lead Exposure Possible at Some Boston Public Schools
WBUR reports that two Boston Public School employees are on administrative leave as officials work to figure why some school water fountains were activated before water testing was finished. The mistake could have exposed children to lead at eight different schools, including Mather Elementary, Lee K-8, Curley K-8 and Another Course to College. Boston Children’s Maitreyi Mazumdar, MD, MPH, is interviewed for the story.
Can't Sleep? New Study Says Try Therapy, Not Pills
NBC News reports according to new guidelines by The American College of Physicians, people with insomnia should try counseling before they turn to pills, which often carry dangerous side-effects. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens MD, MPH, was interviewed by NBC News about the new sleep guidelines.
Can You Sleep Train Your Baby at 2 Months?
Tribeca Pediatrics is among the most ardent proponents of the sleep-training practice, also known as extinction, in which parents don’t intervene when a baby cries after bedtime. Some sleep experts say the method has gained broader acceptance among parents while others disagree with the method. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens MD, MPH, comments on the sleep-training practice debate in The Wall Street Journal.
Greenwich schools hear from teen sleep expert on start times
Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens MD, MPH, and lead author of an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement recommending that high school and middle school students not start classes before 8:30AM, told The Greenwich Times her opinion on start times has not changed in the past two years. She said teens are struggling physically and psychologically from a chronic lack of sleep, in large part because they cannot adjust to their schools’ early schedules. They are not adapting because their circadian rhythms naturally shift later during their teenage years.
Uncovering New Players in the Fight Against Alzheimer's
Scientific American reports research led by Boston Children’s Beth Stevens, PhD, found that a process in which microglia prune excess synapses in the brain during early life can turn on inappropriately later on, possibly triggering Alzheimer’s or other disorders marked by damage to connections between brain cells. The researchers showed that the synapse-eating process requires a protein in the complement system—a part of the immune response that helps “tag” unwanted cells and other debris for destruction.
Ask Well: The Best Way to Put Babies to Sleep
The New York Times “Well” blog shares a question from a reader asking if it is worse to train babies to be soothed by co-sleeping or with a bottle and a song? Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, weighs in on the best methods to use to encourage consistent sleep habits in babies.
The rogue immune cells that wreck the brain
MIT Technology Review reports that Boston Children’s Hospital’s Beth Stevens, PhD, never would have guessed she would be running a laboratory devoted to the study of microglia. Or that she would be arguing in the world’s top scientific journals that microglia might hold the key to understanding not just normal brain development but also what causes Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, autism, schizophrenia, and other intractable brain disorders.
Should Massachusetts high schools begin classes later in the morning?
The state Legislature is considering a bill to study the issue of pushing high school start times later statewide. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, is in favor of the later start times, telling The Boston Globe, it’s not healthy if you are asking teenagers to get up at 5:30 or 6am, that is their lowest point of alertness in their 24-hour cycle.
Aiming to get teens more sleep, high schools consider later start times
The Barrington Courier Review (Chicago) reports that Barrington School District 220 is considering a proposal to push back the start of the school day, in one scenario by more than two hours. Many other factors affect how much sleep kids get, such as after-school activities, jobs and staying up late with friends or playing videos, which parents can rein in. But according to Boston Children’s Judy Owens, MD, MPH, class starting time is the single change that affects all students.
Report indicates link between Zika virus, birth defect
The Boston Herald reports on a breakthrough paper that could provide an important link between the Zika virus and microcephaly. According the paper, the virus attacks developing brain cells – which could account for the connection between the virus and the birth defect. Boston Children’s Ganeshwaran Mochida, MD, weighs in on these new findings.
Some experts contend Brazil is exaggerating Zika crisis
The Associated Press (via ABC News) reports often drowned out by the dire warnings and fear surrounding Zika, some medical professionals are saying that Brazil and international health officials have prematurely declared a link between the virus and what appears to be a surge in birth defects. Boston Children's Hospital’s Ganeshwaran Mochida, MD, notes that it is possible that the baseline number in Brazil could include a lot of underreporting.
Should all babies be screened for autism?
Boston Children’s Hospital’s Carolyn Bridgemohan, MD, speaks to TIME about the renewed debate over when to start screening babies for autism. After reviewing the existing studies on autism screening, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) provided recommendations for the public in a statement in JAMA that there is not enough evidence to recommend all infants be screened for the developmental disorder.
Scientists Move Closer to Understanding Schizophrenia's Cause
The New York Times reports that scientists have taken a significant step toward understanding the cause of schizophrenia, in a landmark study that provides the first rigorously tested insight into the biology behind any common psychiatric disorder. More than two million Americans have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, which is characterized by delusional thinking and hallucinations. The drugs available to treat it blunt some of its symptoms but do not touch the underlying cause. Boston Children’s Beth Stevens, PhD, part of the research team who worked on study, is interviewed for the article. STAT, The Wall Street Journal and Scientific American also cover the study.
Microcephaly, Spotlighted by Zika Virus, Has Long Afflicted and Mystified
The New York Times reports on microcephaly and how, for parents, having a child with microcephaly can mean a life of uncertainty. The diagnosis usually comes halfway through pregnancy, if at all; the cause may never be determined. A link between Zika virus and microcephaly is only suspected in Brazil, while many other factors are well documented. Boston Children’s Ganeshwaran Mochida, MD, provides his expertise on the condition. The Washington Post, ABCNews.com, BBC’s The World, Slate.com, The Washington Post's To Your Health and HLN.com also report on this health crisis.
Big Idea: The Brain’s Best Kept Secret
Popular Science “Big Ideas of 2016” profiles Boston Children’s Hospital researcher Beth Stevens, PhD, for her work with microglia cells. Because of her discovery that certain cells sculpt brain circuitry, making it more efficient, the MacArthur Foundation awarded her a 2015 “genius grant.” She suspects microglia have other secret abilities—and she plans to uncover them, too.
Microglia control synapse number in multiple disease states
ALZ Forum reports Boston Children’s Hospital’s Beth Stevens, PhD, a pioneer in the field of microglia, presented new evidence to support the idea that these immune cells of the brain devour synapses in Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting. The topic generated buzz among attendees and appears to be gaining traction among neuroscientists, as evidenced by multiple groups now reporting similar data.
Florida ‘Miracle Baby’ Born Without Most of His Brain Beating Odds
ABC’s Nightline reports on Jaxon Buell of Orlando, FL who was born missing the majority of his brain. Doctors struggled to diagnose his condition until one year after he was born when neurologists at Boston Children’s Hospital came up with a proper diagnosis: Microhydranencephaly. Boston Children’s Heather Olson, MD, provides expertise on the condition.
Ask a MacArthur Genius: How does the brain remodel itself?
Boston Children’s Hospital’s 2015 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, Beth Stevens, PhD, whose lab is part of the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center is interviewed by The Washington Post. As the only woman in this year’s class of scientists, Stevens feels obligated not just to juggle work, family and science but to teach others what she’s learned. She wants to use her award to highlight her challenges along with her successes.
Area researchers win MacArthur ‘genius’ grants
The Boston Globe reports apart from the Nobel Prize or the presidential medal of honor, a MacArthur Fellowship—known to many as “the genius grant”—may be the most coveted career credential in the US. Beth Stevens, PhD, whose lab is part of the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, was chosen among 24 MacArthur grant recipients. Her research has brought new understanding to the role of microglial cells and suggests that some diseases, such as Huntington’s disease or schizophrenia, may be a result of their impaired functioning.
Children's Hospital scientist says MacArthur award validates brain research
Boston Children’s Hospital’s Beth Stevens, PhD, who was chosen among 24 2015 MacArthur grant recipients, shares her passion about neurology and her research on the interplay between the immune system and the formation of neural connections in the brain in an interview with The Boston Business Journal.
The surprising genealogy of your brain
The Atlantic reports people talk about an individual’s genome as if it was a single consistent entity—but it isn’t according to new research being done by Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The study, published Oct. 2 in Science. Boston Children’s Christopher Walsh, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Genetics and Genomics and the HMS Bullard Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology is the study’s co-senior author. genomeweb also report the story.
Deaf mice cured with gene therapy
Reuters reports in a laboratory at Boston Children's Hospital a cure for genetic deafness is taking shape. Lead researcher Jeff Holt, PhD, says that if all goes as planned, children of the future who lose their ability to hear due to genetic mutation will never go deaf. Holt and his fellow researchers are attacking the problem at its source. They are using engineered viruses to repair damaged genes that make up parts of the inner ear.
Speedy Adrenaline Reduces Cardiac Arrest Mortality in Young Kids
MedPage Today reports new research that kinds timely use of epinephrine was associated with increased survival among hospitalized children in nonshockable rhythm cardiac arrest. Boston Children’s Robert Tasker, MD, and Adrienne Randolph, MD, published and editorial along with the study explaining that that the study confirms the poor prognosis of children who suffer nonshockable in-hospital cardiac arrest, noting that less than a third of children survived to hospital discharge and fewer than 1 in 5 survived with favorable neurocognitive outcomes.
‘The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep’: Why This Bedtime Book Makes Children Konk Out
The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, is a self-published children’s book that practically guarantees to coax even the most bedtime-resistant child into dreamland by the time you turn the final page. Yahoo! Health dove into the science behind the book with Boston Children’s Umakanth Khatwa, MD, sleep laboratory director.
Bedtime story uses psychological tricks to get kids to sleep faster
Boston Children’s Hospital’s Umakanth Khatwa, MD, offered his critique of a new self,-published children's bedtime story currently topping Amazon's Best Sellers List. "The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep," employs psychological and positive reinforcement techniques that promise to make the process easier and help kids to drift off to sleep faster. Dr. Khatwa likened the book to "gentle hypnosis" in a CBS News report.
Recently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)—the expert panel that provides recommendations about preventive services—published a draft recommendation about screening for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in young children. The recommendation does not support early screening for ASD. Drs. Sarah Spence and Carolyn Bridgemohan, co-directors of Boston Children’s Hospital Autism Spectrum Center, offer some insights into the recommendation and the benefits of early screening. Read more on our Thriving blog.
Insight into seeing
New diet vastly improves the life of local boy with epilepsy
When does teasing become bullying?
Nap time isn't one-size-fits-all
Pain and itch neurons grown in a dish
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”