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Are Digestive Diseases Hereditary?

Posted on 3/23/2017

Good nutrition is a cornerstone of a healthy childhood, but it isn’t always easy for kids to get the nutrients they need. Some children are affected by digestive disorders. There are many types of digestive disorders that affect humans and some of these are hereditary or have a tendency to run in families. When you watch this featured video, you’ll hear a pediatric gastroenterologist at Sunrise Children’s Hospital introduce some of the digestive diseases that may run in families.

Hirschsprung Disease
Pediatric specialists may diagnose Hirschsprung disease shortly after birth. Children with this inherited digestive disorder often fail to have a bowel movement during the first few days of life. Hirschsprung disease is characterized by the absence of nerve cells that trigger the muscular contractions that are necessary to move stool through the colon. Poor feeding, vomiting, diarrhea, malnutrition, delayed growth, and abdominal pain can result from Hirschsprung disease. This disease can lead to other serious complications, including intestinal perforation, inflammation, and obstruction.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD is a group of diseases that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. It includes ulcerative colitis (UC), which results in swelling of the rectum and, in some cases, swelling that extends farther up the colon. Crohn’s disease is characterized by the formation of ulcers that can develop anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Unlike UC, patients with Crohn’s disease may have “skip” areas, which are areas with normal tissue in between affected areas. Inflammatory bowel diseases tend to run in families. This means that a child may be at a higher risk of being diagnosed with an IBD if a close relative has it.

Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder. It is not exclusively a digestive disorder, but it can indeed affect the digestive system. The thick mucus that is characteristic of cystic fibrosis can block the transportation of enzymes from the pancreas to the small intestine. This can result in failure to thrive, severe constipation, intestinal blockage, and rectal prolapse.

The clinical dietitians at Sunrise Children’s Hospital work closely with families to help them meet their children’s unique nutritional needs. Our children’s hospital in Las Vegas is committed to helping kids feel better and live life well. If you need a referral to a pediatric specialist for your child’s digestive disorder, you can call our children’s hospital at (702) 233-5437.


Recognize the Signs of Congenital Heart Defects

Posted on 3/17/2017

Congenital heart defects are abnormalities in the heart structure that exist at the time of birth. Approximately eight out of 1,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects, which translates into approximately 35,000 babies per year in the U.S. In some newborns, these conditions are very minor and don’t cause any symptoms. In others, congenital heart defects are serious and could require NICU care. Although not all congenital heart defects will cause symptoms, newborns with heart conditions may display these signs.

Cyanosis
Cyanosis refers to a bluish hue that appears on the skin, lips, and fingernails in response to oxygen deprivation. A congenital heart defect may impact the heart’s ability to circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, which causes the cyanosis to occur. Any time your baby displays this symptom, seek emergency care, even if he or she hasn’t been diagnosed with a heart defect, as he or she could be suffering from a dangerous lack of oxygen.

Fatigue
Fatigue is easier to spot in older children, who suddenly become too tired to keep up with their friends or do their usual activities, than it is in newborns, but there are ways to detect excessive tiredness in babies. Pay attention to how your child behaves during feedings. Getting tired during feedings is an indicator of fatigue in a newborn. Some newborns may not gain weight because they are too fatigued to feed properly.

Rapid Breathing
Rapid breathing, which can be caused by congenital heart defects, is always a cause for concern in children. Your doctor may notice that your newborn is breathing rapidly in the hospital and recommend testing for heart defects. If your child begins breathing rapidly at home, seek emergency care.

Sunrise Children’s Hospital is equipped to provide cutting-edge care to young patients, from the smallest newborns in our NICU in Las Vegas to our older children who come to use for emergency care. You can learn more about our hospital by calling (702) 233-5437.


How Does Pregnancy Affect Your Heart?

Posted on 3/15/2017

One thing many mothers-to-be overlook when they are thinking about the way pregnancy changes their bodies is the impact it has on the heart. Pregnancy does affect your heart, whether your heart is healthy or you have a high-risk pregnancy due to existing heart disease. Your OBGYN will monitor your heart health throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Here is what you need to know.

Typical Pregnancy-Related Heart Changes
During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body will increase to support your developing baby. Within the first five to eight weeks of your pregnancy, the amount of blood will increase by between 40 and 50%. This increased amount of blood impacts your heart, which has to work harder to pump the additional blood. Generally, your heart rate could increase by about 10 to 15 beats per minute to accommodate the blood. For many women, blood pressure actually decreases by about 10 mmHg because the blood vessels dilate to allow the additional blood to flow through. The excess blood could create a minor heart murmur, but if it occurs, it is not typically dangerous.

Potential Complications
In some women, instead of decreasing because of the dilation of blood vessels, blood pressure actually increases during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a condition in which the blood pressure spikes after about 20 weeks of pregnancy, after it has previously been normal. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke and can also put the baby’s health at risk, so your doctor may recommend an early delivery. Some women also experience other heart complications that can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness.

Pregnancy with Pre-Existing Heart Conditions
If you have a pre-existing heart condition, your pregnancy may be designated as high-risk. The increased blood volume can strain your heart and increase your risk of heart failure, arrhythmias, and worsening of your existing condition. Your doctor will monitor your heart health closely throughout your pregnancy.

Sunrise Children’s Hospital in Las Vegas is committed to providing the best possible care to mothers-to-be and young patients through high-pregnancy care, children’s emergency care, and our NICU. Call us at (702) 233-5437 for a referral to a high-risk pregnancy specialist or for more information about our children’s hospital.


Preparing Your Child for Diagnostic Cardiovascular Exams

Posted on 3/13/2017

If your child needs diagnostic exams to diagnose a potential heart problem, it’s normal for both you and your little one to be a little nervous. Fortunately, the staff at Sunrise Children’s Hospital knows just how to make your child feel at ease no matter what procedure he or she is facing. These tips will help you prepare your child for a diagnostic cardiovascular exam.

Follow All Prep Orders Closely
Failing to follow the pediatrics specialist’s preparation instructions could lead to your child’s diagnostic exam being postponed, which is stressful for both you and your little one. Be sure to follow any instructions carefully, including withholding food and water on the morning of the test or adjusting your child’s medication schedule. If you don’t understand any part of the instructions, ask one of the medical team before the day of the test. Many diagnostic procedures don’t require special preparation, but verify with your doctor before the procedure to ensure that you haven’t missed any important instructions.

Know What to Expect
Get a complete explanation of what to expect on the day of the diagnostic test, from your check-in to the actual exam itself. Knowing what your child will experience, how long the test should take, and whether you can be present for the test will help you feel more comfortable. When you understand what is coming, you can also help your child prepare.

Stay Calm for Your Child
Your child will look to you to decide how anxious he or she should be, so show your child that you feel calm and confident. If your child asks questions, don’t try to hide information that may be upsetting, such as the need for a shot or the fact that you can’t go into the exam room with your child. Being honest and acting calm about the facts will make your child feel confident.

The pediatric cardiology team at Sunrise Children’s Hospital is skilled in performing complex procedures on young patients, using child-sized equipment for your little one’s comfort. Request a referral to a pediatrics specialist in Las Vegas by calling (702) 233-5437.


A Closer Look at Pectus Excavatum

Posted on 3/10/2017

Pectus excavatum is a common congenital defect of the chest cavity in which the breastbone is sunken in, creating a cone-like shape. It may be diagnosed after birth but can become severe during adolescence. Although treatment is not always required, some children require surgery to deal with severe symptoms. If your child has pectus excavatum, his or her pediatric specialist will monitor the condition and determine when treatment is needed.

Who is at risk of developing pectus excavatum?
The cause of pectus excavatum is not known, but boys are more likely to experience it than girls. Doctors suspect that it could be an inherited condition, as it often occurs in families. Because the exact trigger for the condition has not been identified, there are no clear factors that create an increased risk of having a child with pectus excavatum, other than having a family history of the condition.

What are the symptoms?
In some cases, the symptoms are very minor and can include a slight indentation in the chest that may be noticeable after birth. During adolescence, when a growth spurt happens, the indentation may become more dramatic. If the breastbone is significantly sunken in, it can squeeze the heart and lungs and cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pain, heart murmurs, and arrhythmias, as Sunrise Children’s Hospital pediatric surgeon Dr. Nicholas Fiore explains in this video.

How is it treated?
Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. For mild cases, no treatment may be needed or physical therapy may be used to alleviate mild symptoms. In more severe cases, surgery to repair concave chest cavity and situate the breastbone in a healthier position may be recommended. Surgery is usually recommended during adolescence, but some people wait until adulthood to undergo the procedure.

Our pediatric heart care program at Sunrise Children’s Hospital is one of the largest in the western U.S., and we are the only hospital in the region that is equipped to perform pediatric open heart surgery. For more information about pediatric heart care , our NICU, and pediatric care in Las Vegas, call (702) 233-5437.

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