April 7, 2015


“I sat for a long time over that child’s body. He was cute as can be with his hair all over, almost like beach hair, and that look that he had always been a playful boy. But play was not in his future, at least not here anyway.”

They’re the words Texas Children’s Hospital Chaplain James Denham spoke before the annual blue ribbon tying ceremony on April 1, which kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month. Denham wrote about just one of the many children who he’s seen affected by child abuse and neglect. This little boy didn’t make it. He represents some 17 children who have died as a direct result of their abuse or neglect over the last year at Texas Children’s. Last year, 1,319 children were identified as being victims of neglect or abuse after being treated at Texas Children’s Hospital. 1,319 blue ribbons and 17 black ribbons were tied on the fence of the children’s playground just outside the Abercrombie Building in remembrance of these children. Blue pinwheels were also placed around the playground, a national symbol for child abuse prevention efforts.

“By tying those blue and black ribbons on a fence that hundreds pass by every day, we dignify each of those children’s lives,” Denham said. “We proclaim that their story matters. The ribbons do not honor a statistic, they honor a child.”

Employees gathered to hear about the dreadful statistics and thank those who work tirelessly to advocate for these children. According to The Texas Association for the Protection of Children, in our state, there is an average of more than two deaths from child abuse or neglect every single week. Each day, 182 children are confirmed victims and more than seven children are maltreated every hour. As the largest children’s hospital in the nation, Texas Children’s advocates for these children. The Child Abuse Prevention team (CAP) works to identify abuse and educates families and the community in an effort to prevent it from happening.

“We are very fortunate at Texas Children’s Hospital to have the CAP team to care for this very delicate patient population,” said Roxanne Vara, director of CAP. “It takes a very special skill set to be faced with the complexities that our CAP team is faced with serving these maltreated children.”

The ribbons will remain on the fence for the month and serve as a constant reminder of the disheartening reality.

By Shelly Lopez-Gray

First, let me say that there is no such thing as “eating for two.” I know this is a huge disappointment, as many people out there would love to use their pregnancy as an opportunity to eat every single thing that they ever thought tasted good (I know, I’ve been there). But let me fast forward through your pregnancy a bit – it’s unhealthy for you, it’s unhealthy for your baby, and the pregnancy weight is not going to magically fall off.


As you begin your pregnancy, I wanted to share some key things to remember:

  • You need about 300 extra calories a day during pregnancy to support your baby’s growth and development.
  • Most doctors suggest women gain a total of 1 to 4 pounds total during the first three months of their pregnancy.
  • Women who gain too much are more likely to have a large baby or a premature baby.

A premature baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. These mothers may also have health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure that can cause problems during pregnancy.

The total amount of weight gain during your pregnancy depends on your weight when you become pregnant. Talk to your physician or midwife for more information.

Tips to help you create better eating habits:

Watch how much juice you drink. Even all-natural and 100 percent juice is full of sugar and empty calories. If you find it impossible to cut out these sweet drinks, treat yourself to a small glass once a day. If you are gestational diabetic, you should cut these out from your diet.

  • Anything canned or frozen is full of salt. Even if it’s a “healthy meal,” it’s still full of salt.
  • Try snacking on something healthy every two hours or so.
  • If you can pick the food up in a drive-through, it’s probably unhealthy.

Here’s a list of fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and protein foods that are great for women to eat throughout their pregnancy.

Vegetable Group

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Cooked greens (such as kale, collards, turnip greens, and beet greens)
  • Winter squash
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauces
  • Red sweet peppers

These vegetables all have both vitamin A and potassium. When choosing canned vegetables, look for “low-sodium” or “no-salt-added” on the label. Vitamin A helps with postpartum tissue repair and helps to fight infection. Potassium helps to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in your body’s cells.

Fruit Group

  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew melon
  • Mangoes
  • Prunes
  • Bananas
  • Apricots
  • Oranges
  • Red or pink grapefruit
  • 100 percent prune juice or orange juice

These fruits all provide potassium, and many also provide vitamin A. When choosing canned fruit, look for those canned in 100 percent fruit juice or water instead of syrup.

Dairy Group

  • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt
  • Fat-free milk (skim milk)
  • Low-fat milk (1 percent milk)
  • Calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage)

These all provide the calcium and potassium you need. Make sure that your choices are fortified with vitamins A and D. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. It also may have an impact on birth weight. Some researchers believe that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect your baby’s bone development and immune function throughout your baby’s life.

Grain Group

  • Fortified ready-to-eat cereals
  • Fortified cooked cereals

When buying ready-to-eat and cooked cereals, choose those made from whole grains most often. Look for cereals that are fortified with iron and folic acid. Iron is essential for making hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases almost 50 percent, so you need more iron to make more hemoglobin.

Protein Foods Group

  • Beans and peas (such as pinto beans, soybeans, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas)
  • Nuts and seeds (such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter)
  • Lean beef, lamb and pork
  • Oysters, mussels, crab
  • Salmon, trout, herring, sardines, and Pollock

Some types of seafood can contain high levels of mercury. Too much mercury can damage your baby’s developing brain and nervous system. Shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish can contain high levels of mercury.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency say pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces (340 grams) of seafood a week. Similarly, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 8 to 12 ounces of seafood a week for pregnant women – or about two average meals.

Talk to your provider if you have any questions about safe foods during pregnancy.

March 31, 2015


4115stbaldricksbefore640Eighteen years ago, Adam Henderson lost his hair as a result of treatments while battling acute lymphocytic leukemia at Texas Children’s Hospital. As of a few days ago, Henderson is once again bald after participating in the St. Baldrick’s event in The Woodlands with his former pediatric oncologist, Dr. Timothy Porea. Both Porea, clinical director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, and Henderson shaved their heads to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research along with about 60 other participants.

“It is the first time Adam has been bald since he had been treated for his cancer 18 years ago,” said Porea who was a fellow at Texas Children’s Hospital when Henderson was undergoing treatment. “He’s just a great role model for our current patients and their families to show how far you can go when you’re through with these difficult treatments.”

“There were a lot of emotions about being bald again,” Henderson said. “This time, I’m doing it by choice and it’s a joyous occasion because I was able to promote a great cause. When I was sick, I was beat down, it was very difficult when I lost all of my hair.”

Porea has participated in the fundraising and head shaving for the last ten years. He had previously taken part in the events in Virginia. This year, after a move back to Houston, he was excited to call his former patient to join him. Porea and Henderson have kept in touch over the years and are even counselors together at Camp Periwinkle.

4115stbaldricksduring640“It’s more than just a profession to Tim,” Henderson said of his former physician. “It’s true to his character and speaks to where his heart is. He’s an inspiration.”

St. Baldrick’s annual challenge to “Brave the Shave” brings together survivors, patient families, physicians and supporters from across the community to raise funds for childhood cancer research. This year, the nationwide shaving events have raised more than $22 million so far. The foundation was started as a response to the lack in funding for childhood cancer research. According to the organization’s website, while 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year, all types of childhood cancers combined receive only 4 percent of the U.S. federal funding for research. The funds raised through St. Baldrick’s have helped fund 820 grants, at 329 institutions, in 22 countries. Several have been given to researchers at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. For Porea, who sees these patients every day, this research is vital to the discovery of better treatments and the possibility for a cure.

“Seeing Adam next to me for this event means we have succeeded, he’s here!” Porea said. “He’s able to do all of these things despite everything he went through as a child. It helps reinforce to me why we all do what we do here every day.”

For Henderson, his new bald look is a conversation starter. Most importantly, it brings attention to a disease he’s all too familiar with.

“At first, the conversation about being bald starts off as kind of a joke with people commenting on my ‘nice haircut’,” Henderson said. “But when I share my story and specifically talk about St. Baldrick’s, it’s impactful. People take it very seriously and there have been a lot of people that have walked away from these conversations with more knowledge and awareness.”

Asked how long he plans to continue shaving his head for childhood cancer research, Porea didn’t hesitate to answer.

“As long as I have hair.”


Texas Children’s Mobile Clinic Program hosted the Fourth Annual Texas Mobile Health Clinics Regional Coalition Meeting March 20 at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

Forty mobile clinic professionals – the largest turnout in the conference’s four-year history – attended the half-day event designed so that attendees could share information about a service that brings quality medical care to those who can’t easily access it.

“The time we have at this conference is invaluable,” said Texas Children’s Pediatrics President Kay Tittle. “It’s the one time a year we can get together, talk shop and gain knowledge about how we can improve what we do.”

In addition to sharing knowledge, five conference participants, including Texas Children’s Mobile Clinic Program, brought their mobile clinics to West Campus for all to see.

“Having this hands-on learning tool was wonderful,” Tittle said. “It was nice to see how other hospitals do things.”

The Texas Children’s Mobile Clinic Program is composed of two clinics: The Superkids Mobile Clinic and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. The mission of the program is to provide underserved children in the Houston area with comprehensive health care and preventive education.

During the school year, the Super Kids Mobile Clinic travels primarily to Houston Independent School District schools, community centers and churches in the Southwest Gulfton area. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile travels primarily to HISD schools, community centers and churches in the Southeast Hobby area.

The clinic provides free vaccinations to those who qualify for the Texas Vaccines for Children program and also provides free well child visits, sick visits and hearing or vision screenings for uninsured children in the Houston area. In addition, both mobile clinics have pharmacies that are stocked with common medications.

The providers can perform common laboratory tests. Lastly, providers and staff members educate all patients coming through the clinic about the different insurance options available to them.

In the summer, the clinics travel throughout the Houston area and sometimes even further to provide free vaccines to children before the school year starts.

March 24, 2015


Growing up can be tough, especially on girls, but there’s one way to make this journey through adolescence easier for moms and daughters – preparation.

“If you equip teens and preteens with the knowledge they need to navigate the changes and challenges that lie ahead, they’ll emerge stronger, healthier, more confident young women,” said Dr. Jennifer Dietrich, Texas Children’s chief of pediatric and adolescent gynecology.

Hosted by experts from Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Girls Elevated is an empowering, interactive one-day event that educates teens about their bodies and helps them cope with peer pressure and self-esteem issues that often occur during puberty.

Girls between the ages of 10 and 18, and their mothers or caregivers, are invited to attend separate, age-appropriate sessions to hear from physicians, law enforcement and other experts on topics girls want and need to know about, from physical development to personal safety to healthy relationships and more.

This year’s keynote speaker, Jamie Schanbaum, will deliver an inspirational talk about overcoming adversity, positive body image and self-esteem, after losing her legs and fingers to bacterial meningitis. Her mission is to prevent others from suffering from this vaccine preventable disease.

Since the event’s launch in 2014, 120 participants attended Girls Elevated. This year, organizers are expecting an even larger crowd of 240.

Girls Elevated will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 11, at the United Way Community Resource Center at 50 Waugh Drive, Houston, TX, 77007.

Click here to register online for Girls Elevated 2015! The deadline to register is Friday, April 10.