Author: Erin Horan

Encouraging exercise in children with special needs

yoga-downs-syndrome-special-needs-exerciseThree years ago, Emily Jean Davidson, MD, MPH, decided to become a yoga instructor. Her niche was unorthodox: she wanted to teach inclusive yoga for children with Down syndrome and other medical and developmental issues.

Davidson, a pediatrician specializing in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in the Down Syndrome Program and the Complex Care Services at Boston Children’s Hospital, is passionate about promoting exercise in children of all abilities.

“A lot of parents of children with developmental disabilities struggle to find time and/or opportunities to engage their children in healthy physical activity,” says Davidson. “If you’re taking your kid to lots of appointments with specialists, sports and active play can fall by the wayside.”

Often, she adds, programs are designed exclusively for children with one particular condition, such as a ballet class for children with Down syndrome or a swimming program for kids with asthma, and that means others are excluded.

“The good news is there are lots of recreational programs out there,” says Davidson. “You just have to look into your local community’s offerings.” …Read More

American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Conference will feature more than 20 speakers from Boston Children’s Hospital


One of the year’s most anticipated pediatric conferences is right around the corner! From October 22 – 25, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) will host its 2016 National Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco, California, drawing more than 16,000 attendees eager to learn and share insights about the latest research in pediatric health care.

This year, clinicians and researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital will present on topics that vary from post-discharge appendicitis management to best practices in treating rare congenital heart disease. …Read More

10 things every pediatrician should know about eating disorders


If you feel unprepared to help a child or teen with an eating disorder, you’re not alone. A 2015 study of Family medicine, Internal medicine, Psychiatry (general,child, and adolescent) and Pediatrics residency programs revealed that less than 10% included specific training on eating disorders.

Too often, all eating disorders are lumped together as one disease with a simple prescription: eat more.

But there are lots of different types of eating disorders, as well as a whole spectrum of eating behaviors that are destructive but not clinically diagnosable.

“It’s not just ‘eat more’ or ‘eat better’. Eating disorders are about more than just food intake,” says Sara Forman, MD, director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Outpatient Eating Disorders Program. “Eating disorders are psychological illnesses with physical manifestations. You can’t just expect someone to change their behaviors without supportive medical and psychological care.”

As more research on the various forms and pathologies of eating disorders is documented, more effective treatments and support services are understood. …Read More

Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs) in children: It takes a village

A closeup look at a ventricular assist device for children

Children with end-stage heart failure now have more options than ever before. When they have no other medical or surgical options to treat their heart failure,  they may be evaluated for a ventricular assist device, or VAD, that can help support their hearts until heart transplant.

As recently as 15 years ago, these devices were a rarity in pediatric hospitals — and they surely weren’t portable for use outside of the hospital setting! But thanks to new technologies that make living life at home and at school possible for children with VADs, an entire new field of care management is emerging.  The newer VADs are mechanical heart pumps implanted inside the body that are electrically powered, either by batteries or being plugged into the wall. …Read More