Multidisciplinary Perinatal Program Cares for Mothers and Babies

Approximately one in 33 babies in the U.S. is born with a birth defect. Among the most common are atrioventricular septal defects, spina bifida and intestinal atresia or stenosis.1 Many major defects are detected early during routine ultrasound imaging. “For women with a complex, high-risk pregnancy, a multidisciplinary team is usually needed to manage the needs of the mother and baby, throughout pregnancy, delivery and postpartum care,” explains Jaimey M. Pauli, M.D., a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Dr. Pauli and Thomas Chin, M.D., chief, pediatric cardiology, co-direct the Penn State Perinatal Program, an active outreach program for patients who are pregnant or have newborns with birth defects or abnormalities.

“Expectant parents are often overwhelmed when they learn about these serious fetal abnormalities. Aside from coping with the obvious emotional impact, they need help obtaining the complex care their baby requires to achieve the best possible outcomes. With our program, a team of specialists handles everything and provides highly coordinated care at a single center, which reduces stress and supports the parents,” adds Dr. Pauli.

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Near or Far, Penn State Children’s Heart Group Provides Full Continuum of Care

This image from a fetus with trisomy 21 shows the four chambers of the heart and abnormalities characteristically seen with a common atrioventricular (AV) canal defect.
A fetal echocardiogram provides details that can be obtained as early as 26 weeks’ gestation. This image from a fetus with trisomy 21 shows the four chambers of the heart and abnormalities characteristically seen with a common atrioventricular (AV) canal defect.

As one of the few tertiary care pediatric centers in Pennsylvania, Penn State Children’s Hospital features a Children’s Heart Group that has been an active presence in the community for decades. The Children’s Heart Group (CHG) provides fetal echocardiography, interventional cardiology, arrhythmia care, electrophysiology, cardiac intensive care and pulmonary hypertension services, as well as heart surgery to pediatric patients across the Commonwealth.

Thomas Chin, M.D., chief, pediatric cardiology, explains that CHG specialists perform complex surgery on neonates and children (as well as adults with congenital heart defects) and treat more typical conditions requiring pediatric cardiology consultation, such as heart murmurs, fainting and chest pain. They also help patients transition to adult cardiac care, as more than 90 percent of pediatric cardiology patients reach adulthood and require ongoing cardiology care. In fact, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has one of the longest-established programs in adult congenital heart disease in the U.S. Pediatric and adult cardiologists collaborate to care for patients with heart defects, as well as the cardiac concerns they develop as adults. Continue reading “Near or Far, Penn State Children’s Heart Group Provides Full Continuum of Care”

Thanks to Four Diamonds, the Pediatric Cancer Experimental Therapeutics Program Collaborates to Save Lives

Medical science has progressed significantly in the treatment of pediatric cancers; however, certain tumors remain resistant, leading to poor prognoses and survival rates.1 “With experimental therapeutics, we focus on those pediatric cancer patients for whom conventional treatment has failed,” says Valerie Brown, M.D., Ph.D., clinical director, experimental therapeutics, Penn State Children’s Hospital. “Our goal is to target these cancers more precisely to increase the cure rate and diminish the risk of patients developing short-term and long-term side effects.”

Since its inception in 2010, the Pediatric Cancer Experimental Therapeutics Program has benefited from funding provided through Four Diamonds. Funding to Four Diamonds comes through The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, affectionately known as THON™, Mini-THON® and other community organizations.
Continue reading “Thanks to Four Diamonds, the Pediatric Cancer Experimental Therapeutics Program Collaborates to Save Lives”

Nationally Recognized Pediatric Heart Surgery Program Offers Life-changing Treatments with Excellent Outcomes

Pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Penn State Children’s Hospital offers advanced treatments that result in stellar outcomes. This has led Children’s Hospital to be nationally ranked as a “Best Children’s Hospital” in Cardiology and Heart Surgery by U.S. News & World Report, repeatedly. In addition, both statewide and national reports provide compelling outcomes-based validity that Children’s Hospital provides outstanding care to children living with heart conditions.

Two specialized pediatric heart surgeons, John Myers, M.D., director, pediatric and congenital heart surgery, and Brian Clark, M.D., perform procedures related to all types of congenital heart disease, including the various complex forms of single ventricle heart disease. The collaborative, multidisciplinary team at Children’s Hospital is also armed with experienced clinicians who specialize exclusively in the management of congenital heart disease, and includes physicians with expertise in echocardiography, fetal ultrasound, electrophysiology and cardiac catheterization, as well as exercise physiology, hypertension, obesity and cardiovascular wellness.

In addition, the majority of congenital heart defects are now discovered in utero, and Children’s Hospital’s outstanding perinatal program and robust fetal echocardiography program, bring expert staff to many outreach centers throughout Pennsylvania. Continue reading “Nationally Recognized Pediatric Heart Surgery Program Offers Life-changing Treatments with Excellent Outcomes”

Customized Approach to Treating Pediatric Colorectal Conditions, Special Emphasis on Anorectal Malformations

Colorectal conditions in children can be debilitating and impact quality-of-life. Some conditions, like Hirschsprung’s disease, pediatric pelvic developmental abnormalities and anorectal malformations, are present at birth. Other conditions, such as inflammatory intestinal diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), rectal prolapse and debilitating constipation occur later in infancy and childhood. Many of these conditions require surgical treatments.

Fortunately, help is close by at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital with the Pediatric Colorectal Program directed by pediatric surgeon Dorothy V. Rocourt, M.D. Many children with pediatric colorectal conditions also suffer from constipation and poor bowel control; however, with proper bowel management, most can achieve continence. The program provides expertise in the treatment of these problems and related disorders, with a particular focus on bowel management in patients with anorectal malformations. Alissa Bergstresser, MSN, CPNP-PC, is the program manager for the Penn State Hershey Pediatric Colorectal Program, which also includes pediatric urologists, adolescent gynecologists, child psychologists, nutritionists and pediatric gastroenterologists who collaborate to develop a customized plan to meet each patient’s needs. Continue reading “Customized Approach to Treating Pediatric Colorectal Conditions, Special Emphasis on Anorectal Malformations

Despite the Best of Intentions, Healthy Eating Messages Could Have Harmful Consequences

Childhood obesity rates have almost tripled since the 1980s.1 Since the attitudes of parents, caregivers and physicians can have a lasting impact on children, it is vital that healthy eating messages are communicated in a supportive, non-shaming way. This encourages children to make beneficial food choices while maintaining a positive sense of self.2 “Positives are always better than negatives,” says Martha Levine, M.D., director, intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs, Penn State Hershey Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders division.

Fortunately, schools are becoming more involved with helping children make healthier choices; however, even with the best of intentions, sometimes those messages can have a negative impact. With annual weigh-ins and a “BMI report card,” results can be damaging, even shameful for children who cannot yet fully understand proper context or have the maturity yet to process it properly. The focus can turn to weight without a focus on health, and that can lead to dangerous eating behaviors. With the only dedicated eating disorder programs in the area, Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital hopes to counteract the potential negative effects of these well-intentioned health messages. Continue reading “Despite the Best of Intentions, Healthy Eating Messages Could Have Harmful Consequences”

Challenging Case Benefits from Treatment Approach, Best Practices and Access to a Clinical Trial in Pediatric Brain Tumors

When a child develops a severe medical condition such as a brain tumor, it is natural for parents to want “the best care.” Fortunately, Penn State Hershey Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery are nationally ranked repeatedly by U.S. News & World Report, and employ some of America’s Top Doctors®. According to Mark S. Dias, M.D., professor of neurosurgery and director, pediatric neurosurgery, “The outstanding outcomes at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital result from a multidisciplinary team that covers every aspect of patient care.” This team includes pediatric neurosurgeons, pediatric oncologists, pediatric general surgeons, a dedicated Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) with board-certified pediatric critical care medicine specialists, pediatric neuroradiologists and specially-trained support staff such as pediatric nurses, therapists, Child Life specialists and neuropathologists.

CT Scan
CT scans revealed an enormous left-sided tumor measuring approximately 8 cm by 9 cm that took up more than a quarter of Kaylahni Laboy’s brain at 6 months of age.

Continue reading “Challenging Case Benefits from Treatment Approach, Best Practices and Access to a Clinical Trial in Pediatric Brain Tumors”