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Provided below is a mix of national health and safety news, local safety events and milestones and product recalls. Use us as your resource to stay educated on what is happening nationally and in your local community.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 21, 2014) — Two Kentucky Children's Hospital critical care doctors are contributing a series of expert articles addressing best practices for transporting pediatric patients to an international trade publication.
Pediatric critical care specialists Dr. Scottie Day and Dr. Asha Shenoi recently published their first article titled, Pediatric Airways: Children are Not Small Adults, in AirRescue Magazine, a publication that contains relevant information for emergency air rescue and air ambulance professionals. In the first of three articles, Day and Shenoi identified the anatomical and physiological differences in child and adult airways, and advised colleagues on how to manage pediatric airways during air transport. Although pediatric emergencies are not as common as adult emergencies, many critical care providers aren't aware of age-specific considerations for administering emergency care to a child.
"A lot of people assume pediatric patients are small adults, and that's wrong," said Day, who serves as the director of pediatric critical care and director of the pediatric/neonatal transport team known as Kentucky Kids Crew at Kentucky Children's Hospital. Co-author Shenoi is an assistant professor of pediatric critical care at UK and a national leader in pediatric critical care education.
Day was approached by magazine editors after speaking on the topic at the 2013 Air Medical Transport Conference. The publication is dispersed to air rescue professionals as well as policy makers around the world and covers areas including medical care, air transport technologies and maintenance, and transport policies. Day and Shenoi are pediatric consultants to the magazine.
"It's great for not only our division, but for Kentucky Childrens Hospital," Day said. "We're shaping the context by which air medical professionals are trained to take care of critically ill children all over the world. It's fun and an honor to do — you know you are teaching skills to possibly save a child’s life.”
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 23, 2014) — University of Kentucky medical residents, fellows and faculty members packed into a classroom next to the medical center library on July 16 to practice fundamental newborn resuscitation maneuvers on baby mannequins.
The Helping Babies Breathe training didn't teach these pediatric professionals anything new — they were all familiar with the process of drying, suctioning and ventilating a newborn with breathing problems. The purpose of the session was to take doctors through a step-by-step curriculum so they could become effective teachers of life-saving newborn resuscitation skills.
With these afterhours training sessions, the number of health professionals trained through the Helping Babies Breathe program is growing exponentially at University of Kentucky. Residents on the UK Global Health Track are sharing the curriculum with fellow residents, faculty pediatricians and nurses who volunteer as health professionals in developing countries where medical resources are limited. The Helping Babies Breathe curriculum, an initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics, emphasizes a basic skill set that includes temperature support, breathing stimulation and assisted ventilation as needed during the critical "golden minute," the one-minute period immediately after birth.
After an initial group of residents received Helping Babies Breathe training at the University of Cincinnati in January, residents brought the curriculum back to UK. While medical professionals who complete the training do not receive an official certificate, they are listed as instructors on the Helping Babies Breathe website and encouraged to pass their training on to others in their profession. A group of residents and two faculty members received the peer-administered training at UK before traveling to Ecuador in May through UK Shoulder to Shoulder Global, a medical brigade that seeks opportunities to improve health of underserved communities around the world. There, the team used their training at a UK-supported health clinic to teach birthing attendants necessary measures to ensure babies are breathing at birth. A total of 36 residents, nurses and faculty members at UK have received the training to date.
Dr. Thomas Young, a professor of pediatrics at UK, helps coordinate international service trips for residents and faculty. A group of faculty and residents will hold training sessions in Ecuador next month and two medical residents are taking the curriculum to Zambia in January 2015. He said UK residents have joined a movement to spread a life-saving skill set across the world, and are enhancing their own medical expertise while doing it.
"This was a really exciting concept in getting our learners involved in teaching others," Young said. "The ultimate goal is to reach all those who deliver babies. There are a lot of parts in the world that don't have hospitals, and a lot of hospitals do not have skill set to do basic resuscitation."
Rachel Thomas, a third-year resident on the Global Health Track who conducted a training in Ecuador, said many of the birthing attendants were excited to learn new skills through the curriculum. She worked with a nurse who served as the only birthing attendant for an entire village. Even with her experience position, the nurse struggled to place a ventilation mask on the mannequin baby during the training.
"It was interesting to see she was the only nurse in the town, and she couldn’t do a simple task like that," Thomas said. "After working with her, she did well and she was so excited."
Joelle Paulozzi, the chief resident at UK, was also involved in the training of 24 birthing attendants in Ecuador. She said while most births go well, the residents are helping with the one case out of 10 when the baby experiences breathing complications. Paulozzi said spreading knowledge and watching trainees master important skills was a rewarding experience.
"Things like this build your confidence and make you feel better about what you do every day," she said.
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, 859-323-2394; firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 18, 2014) — An array of motorized eye candy will be on display for automotive lifestyle enthusiasts this weekend during the 10th anniversary of the Keeneland Concours d'Elegance, an annual fundraiser for Kentucky Children's Hospital.
Located at Keeneland race course, the event will showcase about 130 immortalized vintage models, flashy foreign racers, rare collector's cars and other legendary motorized vehicles, including trucks, mini cars and motorcycles. In addition to the Concours d'Elegance competition on July 19, the four-day event schedule includes a bourbon tour, a hangar bash, a silent auction and a Tour d'Elegance across the Bluegrass.
On July 19, automobiles will be judged for historical accuracy, presentation and cleanliness during the Concours d'Elegance. To celebrate its 10th year running, this year the Concours will feature the Winners' Circle Reunion, a display of winning vehicles from the past 10 years. Iconic makes like Maserati, Duesenberg, Stutz, Maxwell, Pierce-Arrow, Porsche, Lincoln, and Ferrari will be on exhibit. At a special exhibit, visitors can meet with Margaret Dunning, whose 1930 Packard 740 was the first car to win 100 points in the Classic Car Club of America.
"We have an exquisite collection of automobiles that span from the earliest years of the motorcar to future classics," Connie Jones, co-chairman of the event, said. "And every aspect of this event raises funds to help the patients at Kentucky Children's Hospital. It's our mission — and our passion — to help improve health care for Kentucky's children."
Since its debut in 2004, the event has raised $625,000 for Kentucky Children's Hospital. Judging begins and doors open to the public at 9 a.m. July 19. Admission for adults at the gate is $20 and free for children ages 12 and younger. For more information about the event, visit www.keenelandconcours.com.
Video Produced by UK Public Relations & Marketing. To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. If using a mobile device, click on the "thought bubble" in the same area.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 11, 2014) — Named one of TIME magazine's top-10 heroic animals in history, the therapy horse Magic visited the Kentucky Children's Hospital for the first time Thursday, July 10. In the video above, Jorge Garcia-Bengochea, executive director of Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, explains why Magic is such a special horse.
VIDEO CONTACT: Amy Jones-Timoney, 859-257-2940, email@example.com
This column first appeared in the June 29 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 2, 2014) -- The Fourth of July is a time for fireworks, festivals and fun - but the holiday also marks the most fatal day of the year for teen drivers. The National Safety Council identifies the 100-day period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the most deadly time of year for teen drivers. Nearly 1,000 fatalities occurred on the roadways during this time period in 2012, and more than half of those killed were teens.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for all teens, and Kentucky has one of the nation's highest rates of teen crashes. Teens constitute 6 percent of Kentucky drivers but are involved in more than 20 percent of traffic crashes and 18 percent of fatal crashes. Kentucky's Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) law helps make sure a new driver teen comes home safe and alive. But parents and guardians are the most important link making sure this happens.
1. There is no substitute for driving experience. Inexperience is a major crash risk for all teens, even responsible drivers. Long before a teen drives, they need adult role models who don't speed, wear seatbelts and anticipate moves of other cars. A new driver with a permit should spend at least 50 hours driving with an adult in the passenger's seat in a variety of conditions - on country roads and major highways, in clear and stormy weather, in rain and snow, in daytime and in darkness.
2. Wear your seat belt. More than half of teens killed in car crashes were not wearing theirs.
3. No teen passengers for new drivers. Teens who carry a single teen passenger are 44 percent more likely to be involved in a crash, and the risk increases exponentially for every extra passenger added. Passengers can be as distracting as electronics. Kentucky legally permits family passengers, but being a family member doesn’t reduce the risk.
4. Limit night driving. Crash risk increases after 9 p.m.
5. Ban distractions while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 18 percent of fatal crashes were caused by driver distraction in 2010. Prohibit cellphone use (for calling or texting) while a teen is driving.
6. No tired or hurried driving. Today, teens are busy with school, sports, jobs and social activities. Discourage driving when teens are rushed or running late. Offer them a ride.
6. Set teens up for success. If you give your teen driver an old clunker, be sure the tires, wipers, brakes and headlights are in good condition. It's not realistic to give teens a fast sports car and expect them not to use its speed. Less speedy cars are safer, especially on Kentucky's unforgiving rural roads.
Dr. Susan Pollack is the director of pediatric and adolescent injury prevention at the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center and a pediatrician at Kentucky Children's Hospital.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 1, 2014) – UK HealthCare has been recognized by America’s Essential Hospitals for a patient safety initiative that has resulted in a significant decrease in mortality at the hospital compared with the general population.
America's Essential Hospitals, a national organization representing hospitals committed to high-quality care for all people, including the vulnerable, awarded UK HealthCare a 2014 Gage Award honorable mention for improving quality. The association made the award June 26, at its annual conference, in San Antonio.
“UK HealthCare’s patient safety initiative stands out among the innovative approaches our hospitals take to avoid harm and improve the quality of care,” said America’s Essential Hospitals President and CEO Dr. Bruce Siegel.
The Gage Awards, named after association founder Larry Gage, honor and share successful and creative programs that improve patient care and meet community needs. The Gage Award for improving quality recognizes activities that improve the quality of care delivered, or reduce or eliminate harmful events to individual patients or groups of patients.
"UK HealthCare is continuously working to improve, driven by our high standards and our commitment to serve the people of the Commonwealth and beyond and the Gage Award represents national recognition of this work," said UK HealthCare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bernard Boulanger. "It is recognition of our team’s relentless, rigorous approach to improving patient care, in a manner that directly benefits our patients"
UK HealthCare received the award for the development of an internal process called SWARMING to help the hospital improve overall patient safety. A SWARM is initiated shortly after the occurrence of an adverse incident or undesirable event, and the people directly involved are empowered to "stop the line" when they observe a problem. Since instituting SWARMs in 2009, the hospital has experienced an overall reduction in the observed to expected mortality ratio from 1.5 to 0.7, as reported in December 2013.
"The SWARM process has been a remarkable and successful team effort throughout the UK HealthCare enterprise and everyone should be commended for their role in what has become one of our best tools in improving patient safety," said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs. "This award is another example of our commitment to excellence in patient care and patient safety and in keeping our promise to Kentuckians that they can get the very best care right here regardless of the complexity or care needed."
MEDIA CONTACT: Kristi Lopez, firstname.lastname@example.org, 859-806-0445
Lexington, June, 20, 2014 -- Keeneland Concours d’Elegance will host a Maserati Mingle
5:30 p.m.- 9.p.m., June 20, 2014, at the Court House Square, 120 and 150 N. Limestone, in Lexington.
Sponsored by Maserati of Cincinnati, event admission is free to the public and will feature a variety of exotic automobiles, including vintage models from Maserati, Ferrari, and Porsche. Food and beverages will be available on site and there will be a featured display of artwork from invited Concours artists.
“This will be a fun, memorable event with well over 50 classic cars on display at downtown Lexington’s Court House Square,” said Connie Jones, Concours co-chair. “It serves as a warm-up for the upcoming Keeneland Concours d’Elegance, July 17-20, and all proceeds will benefit Kentucky Children’s Hospital. This is the 10th anniversary Keeneland Concours d'Elegance and this year we have invited back previous winning cars for a Winners Circle Reunion, on Saturday, July 19.”
Supporting sponsors for the Maserati Mingle event include the UK Federal Credit Union, WEKU, and Harp Enterprises.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Keeneland Concours d’Elegance showcases the
finest in automobiles and the attractions of central Kentucky as each year more than 100 exquisite examples of automotive history gather on the lust grounds of the Keeneland Race Course. The event draws thousands for this one-of-a-kind experience unmatched in the collector car community. Activities include a Bourbon Tour, Hangar Bash and the Tour d’Elegance of scenic Kentucky back roads. Proceeds benefit Kentucky Children’s Hospital to help bring better healthcare to the children of Kentucky. For more information, visit www.keenelandconcours.com
PERRYVILLE, Ky. (June 17, 2014) -- Children from the Kentucky Children's Hospital High BMI Diagnostic Clinic were too busy swimming, shooting hoops, paddling and grilling out last week to miss playing video games.
But the group of obese and overweight patients didn't weigh in or count calories as part of their camp experience either. According to Dr. Aurelia Radulescu, the clinic's retreat to Camp Horsin’ Around in Perryville wasn't necessarily about weight - it was about healthy living.
"The idea was for the kids to have fun while learning to make healthy choices," said Radulescu, a pediatrician in the clinic.
About 25 children who receive treatment at the clinic traveled to the camp from June 11-13 for three consecutive days of fun physical activity and nutrition education. The free camp included swimming, a climbing wall, zumba classes, fishing, paddle boating, nature walks and more.
In addition to games and activities, the camp featured special presentations on eating well from UK dietetics students and a UK cooperative extension agent. Children learned how to create an "edible rainbow" on their plate and sampled foods that are both healthy and delicious. They also learned how to flavor their water with fresh fruit.
"For some of those kids, it was the first time they tried new foods like whole wheat bread, pita pockets, snap peas or chia pudding," Radulescu said. "And they realized that healthy food can be tasty."
Radulescu encouraged children to share healthy living tips with friends and members of their families. She hopes lessons learned at camp will become healthy habits at home.
The Kentucky Children's Hospital High BMI Diagnostic Clinic treats children ages 2 to 18 whose BMI, or body mass index, is above the 85th percentile for their age and gender. The camp was funded by a donation from the Calipari Foundation. Students from UK College of Medicine also volunteered their time as instructors for the camp.
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams; email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 13, 2014) -- Classical music streaming through the UK Chandler Hospital drew awe-inspired patients, visitors and hospital workers to a Yamaha piano in the Pavilion A lobby.
With his fingers sputtering across the black and white keys, the young performer soothed the hospital atmosphere with the melodies of Mozart and familiar tunes from the musical Phantom of the Opera. The 18-year-old has never had a piano lesson in his life. And, without sheet music as a guide, he relies on memorization to play complex pieces of composition.
Self-taught pianist Kennedy Wickers returned to Kentucky Children's Hospital May 29 to give a special reunion performance for the doctor who cared for him in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). When Kennedy was born 26 weeks premature in October of 1995, he was given a 50 percent chance of survival. He suffered from severe bleeding in his brain and other complications at birth, including a heart condition called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Because of the high-grade bleeding in his brain, UK pediatrician Dr. Nirmala Desai told Kennedy's family that he might never walk, talk or develop normally.
After a lunch hour performance in Pavilion A, mother Heather Wickers, grandmother Rachelle Chattin and now 6-foot-tall Kennedy, reunited with Desai. Heather Wickers, who wiped away tears after embracing Desai, recalled the moment the UK pediatrician entered her hospital room 18 years ago. She said Desai held her hand while she explained Kennedy's condition.
"(Dr. Desai) came in and told me he had the bleeds in his brain - a Grade 4 and Grade 3 - and I thought that meant he was going to be a vegetable," Wickers said. "And then she came up and grabbed my hand, and told me not to worry about it - that time was going to tell. I remember her calming me down."
After two months in the NICU, baby Kennedy went home to Frankfort with his family. A few weeks later, Kennedy endured another health scare when he was diagnosed with a life-threatening respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. He was sent back to the pediatric intensive care unit at UK for a second time. Heather Wickers remembers receiving a visit from a hospital chaplain during her second trip to UK. She said it was a miracle her son survived.
"There was a chapel lady who came in and prayed - and then in less than a week, he was going home," Wickers said. "I guess the prayer worked. I didn't know much about prayer, but I started liking it after that."
Moved to tears by Kennedy's soulful performance in Pavilion A, Desai said watching Kennedy play the piano was a gratifying experience that brought more meaning to her work in the NICU. While she couldn't have predicted that a baby born into the world with severe brain bleeding would develop a remarkable musical talent, she always hopes for the best outcome for her patients. She was also impressed with how tall Kennedy had grown - babies who have a complicated neonatal course often experience stunted growth.
"I am glad I didn't have a crystal ball, because I would have been wrong," Desai said of Kennedy. "It's sort of a validation of what you do. The way his music touched my heart gave me goose bumps."
Desai credits an involved family for providing a supportive home environment that gave Kennedy the best chances for cognitive and physical development. Kennedy's brain bleeds as a baby put him at high risk for cerebral palsy. Kennedy was diagnosed with the pediatric brain disorder colpocephaly at the age of 16, and although he struggles with academics, the condition hasn't interfered with his musical pursuits.
Heather Wickers said Kennedy's first exposure to classical music must have occurred in his first few hours of life - in an incubator at the neonatal intensive care unit at Kentucky Children's Hospital. At the time Kennedy was born, nurses played classical music in the NICU to help relax the babies.
From the time he could walk, Kennedy was dabbling in music and dancing to the rhythm of the dryer. He started playing with a small keyboard that he received as a gift when he was 10 years old. At age 15, Kennedy stunned his entire family by performing a song by pop band Coldplay during a home school talent show.
"I've always been drawn to it, and I can't help it," Kennedy said of music. "It's like food."
With no formal training, Kennedy has relied on the Internet and YouTube to teach himself how to play the keyboard. In addition to learning classical piano, Kennedy has taught himself to sing opera and popular musical numbers. An enthusiastic fan of the Mozart's temperate style and lesser known composers like Ysaÿe, Kennedy said he dreams of one day playing piano in a traveling orchestra. He also wants to learn how to play the violin. Kennedy graduated from his home school high school program on May 30.
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams; firstname.lastname@example.org
This column first appeared in the June 8 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 10, 2014) - Children who suffer from obesity carry a burden of premature death into adulthood. Obese children have more than double the risk of mortality in their 30s and 40s compared to children who begin life with a healthy body mass index (BMI).
In addition to being more likely to remain obese as adults, obese children are at a higher risk of developing a number of health conditions, including stroke, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. Today, 30 percent of American children are overweight, 20 percent are considered obese and 5 percent are considered morbidly obese. Kentucky has one of the nation's highest rates of obesity. Because childhood obesity is a complex problem linked to diet, genetics and metabolism, researchers are interested in understanding how pediatric obesity impacts body systems long-term - and what pediatricians can do to intervene.
Our research team at the University of Kentucky has recently begun using advanced MRI technology to examine the cardiovascular ramifications of pediatric obesity. Our initial findings have shown that obese children have significant signs of heart disease, which include a thickening (or hypertrophy) of the muscle in the heart, large deposits of fat around the heart and impaired muscle contraction. The muscle contraction is required to efficiently eject blood from the heart, and both the impaired contraction and heart thickening are strongly linked to mortality in adults. These findings therefore suggest the association between pediatric obesity and premature mortality in adulthood, and further underscore the importance of finding ways to reverse this epidemic.
In order to better understand these changes in the hearts of obese children, our team has studied mouse models that become obese after being fed a high-fat diet. Our advanced MRI technology enables us to examine images of the live mouse heart without harming the animal. This is particularly challenging since the mouse heart beats 600 times per minute and is approximately the size of Lincoln’s forehead on a penny. However, this technology has demonstrated changes in the heart that correlate with the disease we have detected in the hearts of obese children: abnormal thickening, large deposits of fat around the heart and impaired contraction. These similarities between the obese child’s heart and the obese mouse’s heart will hopefully help us use mouse models to better understand the development and treatments for heart disease in obese children.
Our research provides evidence that obesity is causing heart disease in young children, and it likely continues into adulthood. These changes might be related to the premature death that obese children suffer from decades later. Ultimately, our research will address whether certain therapies, like targeted diet and exercise interventions, are helpful in reversing cardiovascular disease in obese children. Further research will be required to better understand the precise causes of this heart disease, whether it can be corrected, and whether treating it can prevent early mortality.
Dr. Brandon Fornwalt is an assistant professor and researcher in the Departments of Pediatrics, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Physiology and Cardiology at the University of Kentucky.
Video Produced by UK Public Relations and Marketing. To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. If using a mobile device, click the "thought bubble" icon in the same area.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 29, 2014) — There are many families across campus, around the state and throughout the world that share deep University of Kentucky connections.
Point of Care Ultrasound Director and Assistant Emergency Medicine Program Director Dr. Matthew Dawson and his wife Dr. Kristin Dawson, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellow, are no exception. The couple met at the William T. Young Library and married while attending the UK College of Medicine.
But their connections run deeper still. Watch the “Big Blue Family” video above to discover how their ties to UK were strengthened when their infant daughter Avery battled a sudden illness at Kentucky Children's Hospital and why they both have renewed motivation to serve their fellow Kentuckians.
This video feature is part of a special new series produced by UKNow focusing on families who help make up the University of Kentucky community. There are many couples, brothers and sisters, mothers and sons and fathers and daughters who serve at UK in various fields. The idea is to show how UK is part of so many families’ lives and how so many families are focused on helping the university succeed each and everyday.
Since the "Big Blue Family" series is now a monthly feature on UKNow, we invite you to submit future ideas. If you know of a family who you think should be featured, please email us. Who knows? We might just choose your suggestion for our next feature!
VIDEO CONTACTS: Amy Jones, 859-257-1754, ext. 257, email@example.com OR Kody Kiser, 859-257-5282, firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 16, 2014) -- Facebook users can help Kentucky Children's Hospital win as much as $20,000 through a social media contest honoring brave young patients from Children's Miracle Network hospitals around the nation.
Through the Battle of the Brave contest presented by the Children's Miracle Network, Speedway and Dr. Pepper/Snapple, voters can log onto Facebook to read the stories of courageous children and cast a for their favorite children's hospital or child. The hospital receiving the most votes at the end of the month of May will receive a $20,000 award. In addition, Speedway will contribute $10,000 to the runner-up hospital and Dr. Pepper/Snapple will contribute $5,000 to the third-place hospital.
Harry Hilton, who represents Kentucky Children's Hospital at UK HealthCare in the contest, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called Kawaski Disease at only 9 weeks old. Kawasaki Disease causes blood vessels throughout the body to become inflamed and impacts many organ systems, potentially causing a heart attack. Harry received a quick diagnosis and life-saving treatments correcting the "bubble" on his heart at Kentucky Children's Hospital. Harry's case was especially challenging as he relapsed twice after his initial treatments.
Today, Harry's heart has fully recovered, although he'll receive follow-up care for years to come. Harry is a kind and compassionate child who loves music and superheroes. He was honored as the Children's Miracle Network Champion last fall.
To cast a vote for Harry on Facebook, click here. Voters can vote once per day. Voting ends May 31.
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2014) - Painful blisters and glowing red skin after a day outdoors are the short-term consequences of a child's overexposure to the sun. While sunburn heals with time, the long-term effects to the skin are irreversible. It's often years - even decades - later when the more dire consequences of sunburn can resurface in the form of malignant melanoma.
Because 80 percent of lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 20, efforts to prevent melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, must begin early in life. For a variety of reasons, melanoma incidence has increased steadily since the 1930s when only one out of 1,600 Americans were diagnosed with the disease.
Today, melanoma affects one in 60 Americans and is appearing more frequently in teenagers and young adults. In fact, melanoma is the most common cancer of young adults ages 25-29 and is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 25-30. Because it can spread quickly through the body to places such as the brain and the liver, melanoma accounts for three-quarters of total deaths caused by skin cancer. Ironically, as much as melanoma is a growing public health concern, it is also largely preventable. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight and tanning beds plays a major role in melanoma development.
Dr. John D'Orazio, a researcher at the Markey Cancer Center and a pediatric oncologist at Kentucky Children's Hospital, rarely sees skin cancer in children but says the pediatric years are a critical period for preventing melanoma later in life. Melanoma risk correlates especially with sunburns, and since the skin is more delicate in childhood, children are especially susceptible to sunburns. Having at least five sunburns increases the lifetime risk of melanoma, and blistering sunburns are particularly risky.
Know Your Child's Skin Type
According to D'Orazio, skin pigmentation and amount of exposure to UV rays are the predominant risk factors for developing melanoma. People who have dark pigmentation have high amounts of melanin pigment in their skin. Melanin acts like a natural sunblock and protects the skin very effectively against UV damage. Those who have fair skin and a lighter complexion are born with lower amounts of melanin in their skin and are much more vulnerable to UV penetrating deeply and altering skin cells. There is overwhelming evidence to show that skin cancers such as melanoma are caused by UV radiation that penetrates into the skin and causes mutations in skin cells.
Therefore, the more UV rays that penetrate into the skin without the protection of natural or artificial sunblocking agents, the higher the person's risk of developing melanoma. Children with fair complexions are most vulnerable to damaging effects of UV rays. It's important to notice whether a child is prone to sunburning or tanning. Knowing a child's skin profile will help parents determine level of protection that should be enforced during outdoor activities. Parents and caregivers must be vigilant about restricting sun and tanning bed exposure to ensure the long-term skin health of children and teens.
D'Orazio says to use common sense when it comes to sun safety and to avoid sunburns as much as possible. Avoiding or limiting outdoor activities during the time of day the sun is most intense, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., is a good strategy. If sunburn-susceptible children are outdoors during this time, seek a shady spot and wear UV-protected items, such as bathing suits, rash guards, sunglasses and hats to escape the sun. Apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 designed to block both UVB and UVA rays. Make sure all exposed areas of the body are coated, including the feet and the tops of ears. At a minimum, sunscreen should be applied every 90 minutes and immediately after sweating or swimming. Because their components break down over time, sunscreens should be replaced annually.
Get Teens Out of Tanning Beds
Despite having a strong link to melanoma, the use of tanning beds in adolescents and young adults continues to skyrocket. Sixty-seven percent of teens think they look better with a tan and 2.3 million American teens are estimated to visit tanning beds at least once a year. D'Orazio said research has shown a connection between frequent use of tanning beds and other addictive behaviors.
"The problem with the tanning bed is once you start, it’s hard to stop," D'Orazio said. "Many tanning bed patrons say they look and feel better with a tan… and there’s a good reason for this. When your skin tans, your body makes natural endorphins, which are morphine-like compounds."
One visit to the tanning bed under the age of 30 increases the chance of developing melanoma by 75 percent. In fact, the UV output of a tanning bed can be 10 times stronger than the sun. Currently there is no way to get a tan without the increased risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. In spite of those risks, in the greater Lexington area, tanning beds outnumber McDonald's restaurants and Starbucks combined.
Regulation of the tanning bed industry, including UV lamp output and restrictions on use by minors, is highly variable among states. Currently in Kentucky, there is no ban in place for indoor tanning by minors. Children under the age of 14 are allowed to use indoor tanning facilities if accompanied by a parent, and those ages 14-17 can come alone if they have signed parental consent. Sunless tanning products are healthier alternatives to tanning, but users should be aware such products don't provide much UV protection. Parents should strongly consider the risks when a teen expresses an interest in a tanning beds and other tanning products.
Fortunately, skin cancer in children is very rare, and D’Orazio has only seen a handful of children with melanoma. However, risk starts to rise in late adolescence and increases as people age. Death from this aggressive cancer is all too common in people in the prime of their lives. In his laboratory, D'Orazio is currently investigating ways to replicate the protective melanin mechanism for people who are especially vulnerable to sunburn and reverse the negative effects of UV exposure.
“By understanding what happens in the skin during sun tanning, we hope to develop new drugs to make tanning possible without the risk of cancer.”
For now, however, tanning remains a very risky business, especially for fair-skinned people who get sunburns. For these people, it is especially important to do regular skin surveys to get an early jump on problems. Early detection of melanoma can save lives. Since most melanomas develop in moles, guidelines focus on mole awareness. Be aware of the ABCDEs of moles to detect problematic or irregular patterns on the skin:
Skin surveys should start sometime in adolescence and be done at regular intervals, depending on melanoma risk. Since children and teens still associate beauty with tanning, a cultural change will be required for young people to fully embrace sun protection.
With the opening of pools, proms, graduations and warm-weather events, teens are focused on tanning in the spring and early summer seasons. Parents and pediatricians should look for “teachable moments” this time of year, such as discussions about tanning or sunscreen use, to share the dangers of sun exposure with children who are at high risk of sunburn.
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, firstname.lastname@example.org
This column first appeared in the May 4 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 6, 2014) -- With summer now in sight, children of all ages are flocking to playgrounds at school, at the park or in the backyard. The fun and freedom of the outdoors also comes with multiple dangers that can occur on playgrounds. Every year, UK HealthCare emergency department doctors see playground injuries in children caused by falls, entanglement and entrapment, and a lack of adult supervision. Safe Kids Fayette County and Kentucky Children's Hospital recommend the following measures and precautions to ensure a safe and active summer for all children.
Entanglement and entrapment in playground equipment are two dangers that are easily prevented by parents or caregivers. Still, strangulation caused by entanglement and entrapment accounts for 56 percent of playground deaths.
To prevent entanglement, consider the design and structure of the playground and make sure your child is wearing appropriate play clothes. Clothing with strings or loose pieces are not appropriate for any type of playground structure. Be aware of playground equipment that could cause entanglement, such as hanging ropes. Also be attentive to slates or any siding that is wide enough for a child to stick their hands, feet or head through to prevent entrapment within in the structure.
When a playground contains high surfaces and structures without proper railings, children are at risk of dangerous falls. According to Safe Kids, 80 percent of playground injuries are associated with falling, many of which impact the head or the brain. Check to make sure the playground your child is using is age appropriate. Also, with home playgrounds, protective surfaces are vital to preventing injuries from falling, so use pea gravel, sand or mulch as the floor of your play area. Sand, dirt and grass are not adequate protective surfaces.
With a few precautionary steps at the start of the outdoor season, parents can reduce the risk of playground injuries. First, inspect your play area, whether it is private or public, for debris, loose bolts or nails, or any other sharp objects that could harm a child. Supervision is essential to preventing injuries. Make sure an adult is observing the playground while children are present to hinder any bullying, pushing and shoving, or any actions that may result in injuries. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Parents must stay committed to ensuring the environment is safe throughout the play period.
Conversations with your Babysitter/Caregivers
It's important for parents relying on a summertime babysitter to have a conversation about their child’s safety at the playground. Inform the caregiver about what behaviors and activities are allowed and the importance of constant supervision. Taking these small measures can ensure your child’s well-being on playground when you're not present. We want our kids to be active and enjoy the wonders of exploring, and making sure your child’s playground environment is safe will guarantee fun through the summer.
For more safety tips for you children, visit http://ukhealthcare.uky.edu/safekids/.
Sherri Hannan is the director of Safe Kids Fayette County at Kentucky Children's Hospital.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 15, 2014) - The rough ride of cancer treatment hasn't thrown Drew Shryock out of the saddle. Hanging his ever-present cowboy hat on IV poles, the 6-year-old patient at the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic faces his treatment with the grit of John Wayne.
"We can either cowboy up, or sit and cry in the truck," Drew's mom Rebecca Shryock has said to him throughout treatment. The motto has carried Drew and his family through a battle with Leukemia that began two years ago.
Motivated by her son's resilience, Shryock founded the nonprofit 'Cowboy Up for a Cure' in 2013 to support families fighting childhood cancer. Funds raised are contributed to the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic where Drew receives treatment. In March, Cowboy Up for a Cure donated $50,000 to the clinic, which was matched by a donation through the University of Kentucky student-run DanceBlue event.
On April 17-18, Cowboy Up for a Cure will team up with the UK rodeo team, the Farmhouse fraternity and the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority for the inaugural Cowboy Up for a Cure Rodeo. Big Hat Rodeo Company will bring western-style entertainment from barrel racing to bull rides to rodeo clowns to the Alltech Arena in the Kentucky Horse Park from 7-9 p.m. each night. All proceeds from admission will be donated to Cowboy Up for a Cure.
Shryock, an alumnus of UK and the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, her sons Jackson, Drew and Colt, and husband Jeremy raise beef cattle on their Central Kentucky farm. After a trip showing cattle in July of 2012, Shryock noticed Drew was experiencing a strange cough. Shryock suspected a case of bronchitis, but test results revealed Drew had rapidly progressing form of Leukemia, which had led to a malignant mass forming near his heart.
An oncology team at Kentucky Children's Hospital led by Dr. Tom Badgett mapped out an aggressive three-year plan for treatment. Drew underwent an emergency surgery to remove malignant fluid around his heart right away. Drew's course so far has included a series of eight whole-brain radiation treatments, numerous chemotherapy infusions, spinal injections, transfusions, steroids, pain medications, occupational therapy, weekly visits to the clinic and more than 20 hospitalizations.
Shryock, a former nurse, said members of Drew's oncology team have become close as friends through the process. The level of care, compassion and professionalism she's experienced at Kentucky Children's Hospital prompted her decision to use Cowboy Up for a Cure's fundraising to establish new resources at the clinic.
"I feel so confident and comfortable with every single one of them there," Shryock said of the team at the pediatric cancer clinic. "They were the only people besides me and my husband that were able to give my son the gift of life - we owe them everything."
Dr. Badgett and the oncology team encountered a few unexpected complications through Drew's treatment, including a case of appendicitis and a hypotensive event. He said like many children fighting cancer, Drew has handled painful and fearful situations with grace and courage.
"Drew and his family are remarkable in that they just keep trucking, rolling right over the bumps in the road that many of us would call mountains," Dr. Badgett said. "Drew doesn’t let his illness or the treatments slow him down. He continues to be an active and engaging kid."
Today, Drew is attending his first year of kindergarten and playing in a tee-ball league. Now in the maintenance phase of his treatment plan, he still receives daily chemotherapy treatment but is scheduled to complete his treatment in October 2015. Shryock often refers to a quote from John Wayne: "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." She said this sentiment sums up how tough children like Drew show grace and strength through tragedy.
"We've gotten to see what it really means to 'cowboy up,'"Shryock said. "(Drew's) never once complained. He's never been the child to say 'I can't; I won't.' He's been the child to pull himself up from the bootstraps."
To purchase $10 advance tickets to the Cowboy Up for a Cure Rodeo or for more information, visit http://www.cowboyupforacure.org. Tickets are $12 at the door.
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