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Sleeping Toddlers, No-Smoking Policies and Lower Blood Pressure, Dr. "Be My Sugar," Leigh Syndrome, Healthcare Heroes Award

Published on November 30, 2018 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 5 months 3 weeks ago


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It’s that time of year, again! Can you believe it? Before you get caught up in yards of wrapping paper, strings of lights, and mile-long “to-do” lists, take a moment to read this week’s roundup of research news from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. You’ll discover best-practices to get toddlers to sleep — and stay asleep — just in time for the holidays! Learn the identity of our sweeter-than-sugar doctor, the correlation of lower blood pressure and smoke-free policies, and the latest on Leigh Syndrome.

Crib-Sleeping for Toddlers

In a recent online article published on Sleep Medicine, Ariel Williamson, PhD, a psychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Jodi Mindell, PhD, of CHOP’s Sleep Center, suggest that toddlers who sleep in cribs get a better night’s rest than those who sleep in beds. The participants in their study were caregivers who observed close to 2,000 toddlers ranging in ages from 18 months to nearly 36 months. There were slightly more males (51.7 percent), and the children resided in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The results showed that across age groups and countries crib sleeping was connected with an earlier bedtime, falling asleep faster, fewer night awakenings, longer stretches of time asleep, and decreased bedtime resistance and sleep problems. Their conclusion: “Sleeping in a crib instead of a bed is associated with enhanced caregiver-reported sleep quantity and quality for toddlers in Western countries.” Learn more in the article summary.

Lower Blood Pressure Associated With Smoke-Free Policies

Smoke-free policies have been associated with lower systolic (top number) blood pressure readings among non-smokers, according to new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Stephanie Mayne, PhD, lead author of the study and researcher at PolicyLab and Clinical Futures at CHOP, linked data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study to governmental (state, county, local) smoke-free policies. “We found that non-smoking adults in the study who lived in areas with smoke-free laws in restaurants, bars, or workplaces had lower systolic blood pressure by the end of the follow-up period compared to those who lived in areas without smoke-free laws,” the study authors reported.

This study suggests that the reductions in systolic blood pressure in non-smokers due to smoke-free policies could have a meaningful effect on “population-level risk” associated with cardiovascular disease. For more information see the AHA press release.

CHOP Doc Receives ‘Be My Sugar’ Award for Medical Excellence

What — or should we say — who is sweeter than sugar? Answer: Lisa States, MD, pediatric radiologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with an expertise in nuclear medicine. Dr. States received the 2018 Congenital Hyperinsulinism International (CHI) Be My Sugar Award for Medical Excellence, in recognition of her life-saving work on the FDOPA PET/CT study — an integral component to finding an effective treatment for congenital hyperinsulinism (HI).

HI is a genetic disorder in which the insulin cells of the pancreas, called beta cells, secrete too much insulin. Excess insulin causes low blood sugar. Because our brains need a constant source of sugar, low blood sugar can be dangerous: causing seizures, brain damage, and even death.

“Having the opportunity to award Dr. States is a true honor,” said Julie Raskin, executive director of CHI. “Her role as a radiologist is so important, and as a parent of a child with HI, I am grateful for the contributions she has made to help those living with this condition.”

Learn more about the “Be My Sugar” Award and Dr. States’ contribution to treatment options for HI in the CHOP press release.

CHOP Researcher Discovers Genetic Mutation in a Pediatric Mitochondrial Disease

It’s been over 30 years since the Barnetts lost their young sons to a puzzling childhood disease that attacked the boys’ nervous systems and sapped their energy. Five-year-old Chuckie died in 1981, and his older brother, Michael, died from the same affliction two years later, at the age of 10. The disease, known as Leigh syndrome, is a complex disorder typically caused by dysfunctional mitochondria, the tiny batteries inside all cells that generate our energy.

Just this year, Marni Falk, MD, director of CHOP’s Mitochondrial Medicine, led a team of investigators that identified the inherited mutation in the Barnett family — finally solving the heart-wrenching mystery. They discovered a change in one nuclear gene that arose spontaneously generations ago among both parents’ Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors.

The research team published its findings in the October issue of Human Molecular Genetics. Mitochondrial Medicine is designated a Frontier Program by CHOP.

For more information on Leigh Syndrome and the Ashkenazi Jewish Founder Mutation see the CHOP press release.

Healthcare Heroes Award Honors Phillip B. Storm, MD

Phillip B. Storm, MD, chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at CHOP, received the inaugural Healthcare Hero award in the field of cancer for his transformative work in pediatric brain tumor research and care. The international awards program sponsored by TEVA Pharmaceuticals recognized Dr. Storm at the National Liberty Museum Nov. 19 as a researcher and practitioner for his pioneering work that has propelled forward cancer research and patient health and treatment. Dr. Storm partnered with patients, families, and foundations to launch an “open science” collaborative at CHOP called the Children’s Brain Tissue Consortium, a multi-institutional research program dedicated to the study and treatments of childhood brain tumors. Read more about the first annual Healthcare Heroes Awards on the National Liberty Museum website.


Catch up on our headlines from our Nov. 16 In the News:

  • Research Finds Physiological Monitors Unnecessary for Healthy Infants
  • CHOP Celebrates Grand Opening of Clinical Manufacturing Facility
  • The Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies Releases 2018 Annual Report
  • Penn and CHOP Collaborate on Nutritional Research Center 
  • Local Autism Advocate Gets National Recognition and Big Surprise 

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