November is Epilepsy Awareness Month

By Samiya Ahmad, MD
Pediatric Neurologist and Sleep Medicine Physician
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
Diplomate of the American Boards of Sleep Medicine, Neurology and Psychiatry with Special Qualification in Child Neurology
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, which brings an opportunity to educate others about epilepsy, its symptoms, and treatment options. Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological condition in the U.S. One in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in their lifetime. Epilepsy remains misunderstood and research initiatives are underfunded.

What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is also known as a seizure disorder. It is a neurological condition that effects the nervous system and is usually diagnosed once a person has two or more seizures.

 What is a seizure?
A seizure is a sudden onset of an illness, such as a convulsion, caused by disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain. Seizures can present in numerous ways, such as staring, shaking, stiffening, or flailing. Seizures can last a few seconds to a few minutes. In serious conditions, seizures may last for hours.

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November 14 is World Diabetes Day

Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH, FAAP
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Medical Director, ComP-CaN (Comprehensive Peds for Complex Needs)
Medical Director, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Blog
Baylor College of Medicine
Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease caused by a lack of insulin.  Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, is essential to life, and lowers blood sugar levels by allowing it to be taken up by our cells so we can use it for energy.  One analogy describes insulin as the “key” to opening the door to cells for sugar to come in.  An absence or deficiency of insulin leads to high blood sugar levels; conversely, an excess of insulin results in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels.  Importantly, in diabetes, even though blood sugar levels are high, the sugar cannot enter cells and cannot be used for energy because the “key,” insulin, is missing.  This is dangerous because sugar is the most important source of energy for our body.  There are two types of diabetes–type 1 and type 2.

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September is Sepsis Awareness Month

By Dr. David Newby
Emergency Medicine Physician

Sepsis takes the lives of over 18 children each day in the U.S. yet many Americans are unaware of this serious condition that can result in fatal complications.

Sepsis Alliance’s annual sepsis awareness survey reveals awareness of sepsis reached a new high with 65 percent of U.S. adults reporting they have heard the term sepsis, compared to 44 percent four years ago. Unfortunately, the survey results also show that sepsis symptoms are not well known, with only 12 percent of those surveyed knowing the symptoms of sepsis. And there is a lack of urgency in seeking medical attention, despite sepsis taking more than 270,000 lives a year in the U.S.

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Children’s cancer research lags behind on funding

By Isabel Torres
Co-Founder, Executive Director
Gabriella’s Smile Foundation
www.strongerthandipg.org

#MoreThan4 is a hashtag I frequently use and mostly during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September. I lost my daughter after seven and a half months of battling a terminal brain tumor, DIPG. Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma is what the doctors told my husband and me. “Don’t google it,” they said. I googled it. What I found would make any mother sick to her stomach. Dating back to 1962 when Neil Armstrong lost his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to DIPG, there have been no real advancements in the treatment for this tumor.

We were given the option of radiation to shrink the tumor and hopefully get our daughter to a “honeymoon stage,” where all would be almost normal, but only until the monster tumor would start growing again. She also took an oral chemotherapy drug that is commonly given to adults with glioblastoma. Again, this would give us a few more months with our daughter, but the doctor assured us that she would not likely survive through the end of the year. That was in 2015.

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Taking a closer look at type 1 and type 2 diabetes

By Dr. Ruchi Kaushik
General Pediatrics
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease caused by a lack of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, is essential to life, and helps in the metabolism of glucose, a simple sugar derived from the carbohydrates (“carbs”) in our diet. It lowers blood glucose (glucose = sugar) levels by helping glucose enter our muscle cells so we can then use it for energy. One analogy describes insulin as the “key” to opening the door to muscle cells for glucose to come in. An absence or deficiency of insulin leads to high blood sugar levels; conversely, an excess of insulin results in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels. Importantly, in diabetes, even though blood sugar levels are high, the glucose cannot enter muscle cells and cannot be used for energy because the “key,” insulin, is missing. This is dangerous because glucose is the only energy source for red blood cells and the brain.

Diabetes mellitus is of two types, type 1 and type 2. In type 1 diabetes, the cells of the pancreas are either absent or destroyed. These individuals have a lifetime dependence on injectable insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more complicated. The body’s cells have become resistant to insulin.  Essentially, the cells have changed their “locks.” Traditionally, type 2 diabetes has been a disease of adults; however, with increased rates of childhood obesity, as many as one-third of all new cases of diabetes in adolescents is of type 2.

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Gabriella’s smile lives on through family’s foundation

By Cecilio Torres, Jr.
Founder, Gabriella’s Smile Foundation

Gabriella’s name means “God is my strength” and that is what was exhibited from the moment she was born and was magnified when she was diagnosed with DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma), an incurable and inoperable brain tumor, which once diagnosed, only provides children with about nine months of life. She was five years old at her diagnosis.

We were unprepared when Gabriella was diagnosed on March 16, 2015, and verified on March 17 after an MRI confirmed ours and our doctor’s worst fear. We sat in a conference room at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio surrounded by our oncologist, a nurse and social worker who told us, “Your daughter will not survive beyond 2015. She has DIPG.” These four letters, this diagnosis, sent us into a whirlwind of emotional uncertainty, insecurity and fear of losing our beautiful little Gabriella.

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