Failure to Thrive

 A diagnosis of failure to thrive hurts – I have yet to meet a parent that doesn’t feel some sense of personal failure when this diagnosis is attached to their own child. As a medical student, you are taught to view failure to thrive as a generally nonorganic phenomenon – as in, not a condition which results from actual disease – more of a social issue – lack of appropriate nutritional intake, diluting formula to make it last longer, irregular meals and chaotic schedules, a problem with the parent-child relationship…

I still remember when my own child started to slip on her growth curve – I was expecting my third child in a matter of weeks and my daughter’s 18 month growth curve showed her slipping in weight, as well as height and head circumference. She was and is exceptionally bright, so development was on track, but her growth had stalled. My pediatrician and I discussed nutrition – specifically the protein and fat conten…

Da&# Mosquitos!

It’s Summer— and about to be humid and hot, an environment uniquely favorable to the exponential growth and survival of disease-transmitting mosquitos. West Nile Virus, one of the better known arboviruses, is an illness transmitted via a pesky insect to a human host. In comparison, a zoonotic virus is transmitted via an animal to a human- a well-known example of this type of disease is the Ebola virus.

In the vast majority of West Nile cases, upwards of 80%, people infected will be completely asymptomatic. Approximately 20% will develop a mild to moderate illness consisting of fever and body aches predominately, reminiscent of the seasonal flu. Less than 1% of infected persons will actually develop West Nile Encephalitis (WNE) – the much feared but quite rare neurologic progression associated with the virus. So, who in particular is at risk of developing WNE? The elderly mainly – likely because of reduced immune system function t…

Evil sugar – how much is too much?

How bad is sugar really? It is such the trend today, similar to gluten, to carefully avoid sugar in our diets. But in growing children, when the greatest concern is sustained positive growth, even in the picky years, I’ve always felt that some sugar is better than no protein. The zero calorie alternative sweeteners raise their own concerns, and even a product like stevia, which is derived from a plant may not be a perfect alternative to pure cane sugar, agave nectar or honey. Several studies have hypothesized that stevia may have mutagenic (or cancer-causing) effects. Furthermore, the FDA rejected stevia in the 1990s because of a study with stevia-fed mice that became infertile post-consumption. It is important to note that research on artificial sweeteners typically uses levels much greater than that which we would consume, and a lot of the negative data on stevia refers to the consumption of the unaltered, or crude, leaf. The highly purified form is …