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Bear Essentials Online - February 2010

Food Allergies and Your Child

What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is a response by the immune system when it mistakenly recognizes a certain food as dangerous. The immune system in someone with food allergy produces immunoglobulin E, an antibody, to fight the food allergen. As a result, when the person is exposed to that food, Immunoglobulin E binds to it and causes the release of a number of chemicals, including histamine. This leads to an allergic reaction.

What is food intolerance?
While food allergies are mediated by the immune system, food intolerance is not. Food intolerance usually occurs as a result of the body's inability to digest a certain food. You may have heard of or know someone with lactose intolerance, for example. This is actually not a food allergy, but a food intolerance. Food intolerance is rarely life-threatening.

What are the most common food allergies? There are eight food allergens that are responsible for 90 percent of food allergies. These include:
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
Hemant Sharma, MD, is a pediatric allergist immunologist at Children's National Medical Center. Dr. Sharma is the director of the Allergy Specialty Clinic in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, which sees a wide variety of allergic disorders.

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Jeroy's Stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

PICU patient, Jeroy Acosta
Five-year old Jeroy Acosta started feeling poorly in September, catching a bug from his younger brother, Jarel. Jarel quickly felt better, but Jeroy eventually had a fever of 104 degrees. To complicate matters, Jeroy has asthma which increased his chances in becoming infected with the H1N1 (swine) flu.

Jeroy was transported via ambulance to Children's National Medical Center's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Doctors and nurses examined Jeroy and determined that his lungs were bleeding as a result of the virus, and his breathing was very labored. His respiratory failure was so severe that the care team in the PICU was worried about Jeroy's chances for survival.

Jeroy spent 18 days at Children's National. Since his breathing problems were so severe, he was immediately placed on a ventilator (breathing machine). While the vast majority of H1N1 infections are not severe, a few are and those infections can be very damaging to the lungs. "He needed to go on a breathing machine so we could help make sure the oxygen got into his lungs," said David Stockwell, MD, medical director of the PICU. "In a case like this, it's standard."

Today, thanks to the care provided by the medical team in the PICU, Jeroy is back to his active self.

The Division of Critical Care Medicine at Children's National is a national leader in the care of critically ill and injured infants and children. The division's results in outcomes and clinical safety are among the best in the country, according to quantitative quality measures.

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Children's National Celebrates Burn Awareness Week

Did you know that fires and burns are the third leading cause of accidental injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14? And, the kitchen is one of the most common places for burn accidents to happen.

Burn Awareness Week is February 7-13 and Children's National Medical Center wants to keep kids safe and burn free with these tips.
  • Create a safe zone for toddlers when cooking. Put your child in a playpen or high chair, so children won't wander into the cooking area.
  • Never hold a baby when cooking or carrying hot items, and never microwave a baby bottle.
  • Cook with pots and pans on back burners to keep them out of toddlers' reach.
  • Place hot liquids and foods in the center of the table.
Learn more about additional burn safety resources.

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Children's staff help move patients to new rooms on the 6th floor.New Facilities at Children's National

Children's National continues to grow and expand to provide the best world-class care to patients. On Tuesday, January 12, Gastroenterology moved patients into the new 12-bed inpatient unit on the 6th floor in the East Inpatient Tower. Pulmonary and Medical Care patients will be moved into a 50-bed inpatient unit on the 7th floor in February.

These moves mark the completion of moves to the East Inpatient Tower, which was opened in phases beginning November 2007. Features of the new facility include:
  • Private rooms with private bathrooms.
  • New furniture and room designs with input from families and staff.
  • Flat-screen televisions and internet access for patients and families in every room.
  • Fewer large nurses' stations and more work areas in between individual rooms to provide the best care.
  • Special amenities like laundry facilities on most floors and additional sleeping space in quiet waiting areas for parents or guardians.
Visit to learn more about our new facilities.

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Coping with Traumatic Events

Hearing about traumatic events like the Haiti earthquake can be traumatic for children. Visit our Haiti Disaster Resource Center for additional information on how to talk to your child about the Haiti earthquake.

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American Heart Month at Children's National

Children's National Heart Institute - logo
Children's National recognizes the Children's National Heart Institute as it celebrates American Heart month this February. The Children's National Heart Institute includes Cardiology, Cardiac Surgery, Cardiac Intensive Care, and Cardiac Anesthesia.

Congenital heart disease is among the most common birth defects in the United States. Children's National Heart Institute is an international leader in pediatric cardiac care, with one of the highest success rates for cardiac surgery in the nation. In addition to serving the metro DC region, families travel to Children's National from across the country and from around the world. The Institute is one of only a few programs in the country with a dedicated specialized team of pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists and intensivists providing peri-operative care in concert with pediatric cardiologists and cardiac surgeons.

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Mangos are rich in vitamins and minerals that help prevent heart disease.Recipe of the Month - Poultry and Mango Stir Fry

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or turkey breast tenderloins, all visible fat removed
  • 1 cup mango or peach chunks
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 2 tablespoons Asian-style cooking sauce for chicken, vegetables, and meat, or sweet-and-sour sauce
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.
  • If using canned fruit, drain it and pat it dry. Set aside.
  • Spray a large skillet with vegetable oil. Place over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken to hot skillet. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until tender and no longer pink in center.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in sauce. Gently stir in mangoes or peaches.
  • Return to heat; heat through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon almonds.
Serves: 4;  ¾ cup per serving

Source: American Heart Association

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