The Best of 2018, Our Staff Picks From the Year in Pediatric Health Care

December 24, 2018
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The Pediatrics Nationwide team has the privilege of covering the depth and breadth of pediatric health care. Below, you can read the top three stories selected by each staff writer. The ones he or she thought were some of the most important and exciting stories of the year. We hope you enjoy this look back and catch up on any of the great stories you might have missed.

Abbie Roth, MWC

The special section on the impact of the opioid epidemic on children was a labor of love for all involved. The collection of stories in print and online examines neonatal abstinence syndrome, addiction treatment and prevention, basic research studies, pain management and the role of quality improvement to reduce opioid use. Read the introduction and link to all the stories: The Impact of Opioids on Children

Gene therapy – once thought to be more science fiction than science – has become a reality. Over the past 30 years, the journey to viable gene therapies has been fraught with challenges, but in 2017, the field experienced many breakthroughs. Among the success stories, adeno-associated virus (AAV) therapies are changing the future for children with neuromuscular disorders. Read Viruses That Treat: Gene Therapy Comes of Age

What we think we know about suicide is rapidly changing as researchers are doubling down on efforts to find patterns that can help prevention and treatment efforts. One of the surprising patterns uncovered by Jeff Bridge, PhD, and his team in the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research is that under the age of 13, suicides are roughly double for black children compared with white children. Read Age-Related Racial Disparities in Suicide Rates Among Youth Ages 5 to 17 Years

Jeb Phillips

One of academic medicine’s great strengths is the willingness to question assumptions – even if that means admitting error. The recent history of patent ductus arteriosus research is a perfect example of physicians being humbled in an effort to improve patient care. Read The PDA Conundrum

I have seen videos taken during this research, and they are stunning. A child will sleep for minute after minute through a wailing, piercing alarm; the same child will wake almost immediately at the sound of his mother’s voice. Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, and his colleagues at the Center for Injury Research and Policy have been pursuing this line of inquiry for years in an effort to save lives during a fire. Read Smoke Alarms Using Mother’s Voice Wake Children Better Than High-Pitch Tone Alarms

In a different way, this also shows the power of a mother’s voice. Nathalie Maitre, MD, PhD, neonatologist, developmental specialist and director of the NICU Follow-up Program, is using cutting-edge techniques to examine how the brain of a baby born preterm responds to different kinds of maternal sounds. Can those sounds in the first days of life affect neurodevelopment in years to come? Read Can We Prevent Future Language Delays in the NICU?

Kevin Mayhood

Like gene therapies, enzyme therapies are bearing good news. For children with debilitating and fatal CLN2 Batten disease, an enzyme treatment appears to be lifesaving and life altering. Emily de los Reyes, MD, a neurologist and director of the Nationwide Children’s Batten Disease Center of Excellence, says the treatment, if given before CLN2 causes damage, may even be a cure. Read Enzyme Treatment Slows Decline in Common Form of Batten Disease

Making central Ohio kids, even those who never set foot in the hospital, the healthiest in the country may sound impossible. But Kelly Kelleher, MD, director of the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice, discusses why and how Nationwide Children’s Hospital is aspiring to that Herculean goal — an “opportunity that’s too good to pass up,” he calls it. In addition to making readers think about the topic, he lays out pragmatic steps toward producing better health outcomes for children. Read Moving From Child Health Care to Child Health

In this feature, one quote stands out: “We’re constantly refining our understanding of what combinations of mutations lead to cancer. It can literally be a different equation for every patient,” says Dr. Elaine Mardis, PhD, co-director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s. This story lays out the foundational work, advances in technology and the ongoing effort to make available to every cancer patient a comprehensive genome analysis that can uncover his or her particular equation and, ultimately, help oncologists determine the best treatment. Read Generating the Genome: How Scientists Changed the Face of Cancer Research