From the NY Times: California Tells Schools to Start Later, Giving Teenagers More Sleep

A new law pushed back start times at most public middle and high schools, citing research that says attendance and performance will improve if teenagers get more sleep.

Sleep experts also hailed the move. Dr. Sumit Bhargava, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford University and specialist in pediatric sleep medicine at Stanford Children’s Health, called the law a “triumph,” noting that adolescents’ brains are still developing and that chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of diseases later in life.

Although it might not seem like much, he said, “the effects of that one hour is something they will be feeling as 40-year-old adults,” adding that students would feel less anxious and less depressed and perform better academically. “When you give them the gift of increased sleep time, it is the biggest bang for buck that you can think about,” he said.

Burnout and care quality are connected

Stanford pediatrics instructor  Daniel Tawfik, MD and his research colleagues conducted a meta-analysis where they evaluated 123 studies on burnout and care quality.

The researchers found some reporting bias, but they also found a connection. As they write in an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, when providers are feeling burned out, the quality of care patients receive is likely to be reduced.

Tawfik cautions against presuming a cause: "The more intuitive way of thinking is that burnout leads to poor care," he said. "But it can go in the other direction."

Watching for eating disorders in transgender teens

More than half of transgender teenagers intentionally gain or lose weight to align their bodies with their gender identity, a Stanford study found.

The study, published recently in the Journal of Adolescent Health, began because caregivers at the pediatric and adolescent gender clinic at Stanford Children's Health saw worrisome patterns of weight manipulation among their patients.

"We had a sense when we met our patients that they were perhaps manipulating their weight to get the body image they wanted," said the study's senior author, Tandy Aye, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist who directs the clinic. "But no one had looked into it or asked 'How often does this happen?'"

Philip Pizzo recognized with the John Stearns Medal for Contributions to Clinical Practice

PHILIP PIZZO, the David and Susan Heckerman Professor and professor of microbiology and immunology, former Medical School dean and founding director of the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute, will receive the John Stearns Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Clinical Practice for his dedication to the diagnosis, management, prevention and treatment of childhood cancers and the infectious complications that occur in children whose immune systems are compromised by cancer and AIDS.

The John Stearns Medal recognizes lifetime achievement and is awarded by the New York Academy of Medicine.

Stanford doctors, medical students encouraging legislation to stop gun violence

STANFORD (KRON) — Pediatric surgeon Stephanie Chao is among the Stanford doctors and medical students who announced Monday that they are taking a stand against what they say is a firearms epidemic in America today.

“Because the ones who are often hurt are not the bad guys but rather family members and children,” Chao said. “So if people want to keep a gun in the home, they should learn how to keep it safely.”

Banners were unfurled at more than 40 locations across the country Monday as prominent physicians and medical students and other health care providers joined forces to create what’s being called “safe scrubs addressing the firearms epidemic.”

Full Circle: Forner Packard Children's Patient Ryan Lion returns as a resident

When Ryan Lion, MD, began his pediatrics residency at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford in July, he already knew some of the doctors and nurses he would be working with. Ten years before, they had saved his life.

In 2009, during the final semester of Lion’s senior year at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, California, he suddenly fell very ill.

“I had felt totally normal, and then in one specific moment everything changed,” Lion recalled. “I felt feverish, had chills. The next morning, I woke up with a rash on my arm and had weakness and pain in my joints. I could barely walk.”

Ryan’s local emergency department completed a series of blood tests that were sent to Packard Children’s for further evaluation.

NBC Today Show: How Teens Are Hiding Their Vaping Habits in Plain Sight - featuring  an interview with Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher

The CDC has activated its Emergency Operations Center to investigate illnesses linked to vaping that claimed the lives of seven people. NBC’s Vicky Nguyen takes a closer look at the vaping devices and why their many forms make them easy to mask the habit.

Stranger Donates Kidney to Save Young Packard Children’s Patient Thanks to the Power of Social Media

The rise of social media has made it possible for us to access information and connect with people around the world in seconds. For some, these connections can be extraordinarily powerful.

Recently, NBC’s Bay Area Proud told the story of a stranger who gave the ultimate gift of life to a two-year-old patient at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford after following his story on Facebook and learning he would need a kidney transplant to survive.

Delivery of Crucial Protein to Brain Could Help Treat Rare Genetic Disorders

Children with the neurological diseases known as lysosomal storage disorders seem normal at birth. But their bodies are missing key components of the machinery that helps cells "empty the trash." Over time, wastes build up in their cells, causing severe cognitive and neurological degeneration.

Stanford scientists have come up with a new strategy to help: "We can use the blood to treat the brain," said Stanford clinical genetics expert Natalia Gomez-Ospina, MD, PhD.

In a paper published in Nature Communications, Gomez-Ospina and her colleagues describe how they genetically engineered blood stem cells to perform a helper role in the brain. The paper, describing proof-of-concept experiments in mice, could lead to a new way to help a very vulnerable group of children.

Math Makes Room for More Patients

Patients who undergo a surgical procedure may move from a surgical prep area, to an operating room, to a post-anesthesia care unit and possibly an ICU bed, before settling into a regular hospital bed. Ideally, hospitals would schedule surgeries and other procedures in a way that serves as many patients as possible—i.e., keeps all of these beds full—without bottlenecks that lead to delays and long wait times. That’s where math is helping at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

In 2015, Packard Children’s hired David Scheinker, who has a PhD in mathematics and directs Systems Utilization Research For Stanford (SURF). He and his team use advanced mathematical approaches to improve internal operations – including optimizing surgical scheduling.

School Readiness Impaired in Preschoolers with ADHD Symptoms

Preschoolers with symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are much less likely than other children their age to be ready for school, new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine has found. 

The study, published online July 21 in Pediatrics, is among the first to comprehensively examine school readiness in young children with ADHD. Several previous studies have addressed academic difficulties in school-aged children with ADHD, but few studies have investigated whether these children start school behind their peers.

Pesticide Exposure Linked to Brain Activity Differences in Adolescents

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a group of California teenagers exposed to common agricultural pesticides before birth had distinctive reductions in certain types of brain activity.

The study, which is the first to link differences in adolescents' brain activity to their level of prenatal pesticide exposure, adds to a large body of research about the health effects of organophosphate pesticides. Organophosphates are a group of insecticides sprayed on many fruit and vegetable crops. Because of toxicity concerns, the federal Environmental Protection Agency banned indoor and residential uses of these pesticides in 2000, and in May, the California EPA prohibited all uses of one organophosphate compound, chlorpyrifos.

But many of these insecticides are still used in farming, and most people are exposed to them through their diets. People who live in farming communities also inhale the pesticides when they blow off nearby fields.