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Bear Essentials Online - February 2012

Articles in this issue

February is American Heart Month

Children’s National is an international leader in pediatric cardiac care, with one of the highest success rates for cardiac surgery in the nation. Learn more about some of our services below.

The Children’s National Heart Institute includes cardiology, cardiac surgery, cardiac intensive care, and cardiac anesthesia. The Institute brings together a multidisciplinary team to provide specialized expertise and world-class care for children with cardiac defects.

Children’s Fetal Heart Program provides fetal echocardiography services and ongoing management for fetuses with congenital heart disease. 


The Children’s National Follow My Heart Program is an online personal health record for patients with congenital heart disease, co-developed by two Children’s National cardiologists. Watch a short video about the program here:

The Washington Adult Congenital Heart Program is a one-of-a-kind program in the region that provides support to adult patients with congenital heart defects.

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Clinical Trials at Children’s National

It’s easy to find a clinical trial at Children’s National Medical Center. Search the national database to see if one is right for your child.

Featured Trials:

Children's National Medical Center is conducting a research study to investigate the learning and behavioral patterns of children with congenital heart defects. If your child has a congenital heart defect, is between 4 and 21 years of age, and speaks English, he or she may be eligible. 

Study coordinator contact:
Jacqueline Sanz

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Children's National is conducting research to see if a home-based computer program can help children with epilepsy learn working memory skills. If your child has epilepsy and is between the ages of 8 and 15 years old, he or she may be eligible to participate in this study. Eligible participants will receive compensation for time and travel. 

Study coordinator contact:
Madison Berl

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) researchers are looking at sleep patterns and stress levels in infants as they transition into daycare to better understand SIDS.  Researchers are looking for Caucasian infants less than 3 months of age, who are staying home with a parent or going into a licensed daycare. 

Study coordinator contact:
Brandi Joyner

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What to Know for Flu Season

Learn what every parent should know about flu vaccinations.

What is Influenza (flu)?
There are many strains of influenza viruses that cause the flu. The flu can be relatively mild or may result in serious or even life-threatening complications. The virus attacks the respiratory system, including the nose, throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs. Symptoms include high fever, chills, dry cough, extreme tiredness, loss of appetite, muscle aches and occasionally, diarrhea and vomiting.

How is flu treated?
Children with the flu must drink plenty of liquids and get a lot of rest. Non-aspirin products like acetaminophen can be given to alleviate fevers or aches. Children should never be given aspirin for fever and other flu-like symptoms because there is a link between Reye syndrome and the use of aspirin.

Prevention is best
Children should wash their hands frequently and cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing. Check with your child’s doctor to see if the flu vaccine is available for your child.

Which children should get the flu vaccine?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the flu vaccine for all children over the age of 6 months and especially in children over 6 months with health problems such as asthma, sickle cell disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or other lung problems, and some types of heart or kidney disease. It’s also critical for children who have to take aspirin therapy and for children with immune deficiencies. Patients, caregivers, and siblings should be vaccinated.

Learn what to do if your child gets sick.

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Dining Out With Your Family

Keep these healthful tips in mind the next time your family goes out to eat.

When dining out with your family, remember two keys to eating healthy are to eat a variety of foods in moderation and to have a well-balanced meal. Beware of restaurant portion sizes for both adults and kids, which can be more than double recommended amounts. Search for healthier menu items that many restaurants have added in recent years.

Use the following tips as a guide to eating healthier while dining out.
  • Select two or three meal items from which your kids can pick. This allows you to point your children in the right direction, while giving them independence.
  • Order an appetizer or child-sized portion so that your kids aren’t tempted to overeat.
  • Don’t “super size” meals.
  • Order water or low-fat or skim milk instead of sodas or juices.
  • Include fruits and vegetables in the meal. If that’s not possible, make sure other meals that day contain these food groups.
  • Leave out the high-fat condiments such as sour cream, mayonnaise, regular salad dressing, tartar sauce, butter, and margarine.
  • Order grilled chicken instead of fried, or remove the crispy crust and skin.
  • Ask for dressing on the side.
  • At salad bars, choose mostly vegetables, lean meats, and beans, and avoid adding a lot of cheese, bacon bits, and croutons.
  • Add plenty of extra vegetables to sandwiches.
  • Limit eating out to two meals a week and aim for healthy choices and small portions.

Healthful dining tips provided by Nazrat Mirza, MD, Medical Director of Children’s Improving Diet, Energy and Activity for Life (IDEAL) Clinic.

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Recipes That Your Heart Will Love

Lettuce Wrap Tacos
Preparation time: 5 minutes


  • 1 cup canned no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained.
  • 1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
  • 1 small Italian plum (Roma) tomato, diced
  • 1/2 small avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 8 lettuce leaves *
  • 1/2 cup shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup salsa (lowest sodium available)

*For tortilla lovers, substitute the lettuce leaves with 6” whole wheat tortillas.


  • In a small bowl, stir together the beans, corn, tomato, avocado, cilantro, lemon juice, and chili powder.
  • Spoon 1/4 cup bean mixture into the center of each lettuce cup. Top with the Monterey Jack and salsa.
  • Fold the sides of the lettuce over the filling to make a taco.

Serves: 1 per lettuce wrap taco

Honey-Ginger Fruit Dip
Preparation time: 5 minutes


  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in its own juice, drained
  • 1 cup fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger root
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 3 apples, sliced


  • In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients, except the apples.
  • Serve with sliced apples for dipping.

Serves: 5

Cheesecake Dainties
Preparation time: 15 minutes


  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons crushed low-fat graham cracker
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 wonton wrappers
  • 2 ounces low-fat tub cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons honey


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly spray 8 cups of a 12-cup mini-muffin pan with cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker and cinnamon.
  • Place the wonton wrappers in a single layer on a flat surface. Lightly spray both sides of the wrappers with cooking spray. Sprinkle with the graham cracker mixture. Place a wrapper in each of the sprayed muffin cups. Press down gently in the middle of each wrapper so it molds to the shape of the cup and the tips point out attractively. Fill the remaining 4 muffin cups with water (to keep the pan from warping).
  • Bake for 6 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the baskets from the pan.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, orange juice concentrate, brown sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fluffy, scraping the bowl once halfway through. Spoon about 1 tablespoon mixture into each cooled basket.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the strawberries and honey. Arrange the strawberries on top of each basket.

Serves: 1 per cheesecake dainty

Source: (American Heart Association)

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Parent's Letter Project

The Parent’s Letter Project lets a parent whose child has been a patient at Children’s National reach out to families who are about to undergo similar treatment by writing a letter of advice and support.

“I know how scared, confused, tired, and full of questions you are… and that is just to name a few things you are experiencing.” Read a letter from Sarah’s mom.

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