Category "Family & Child"


Will this be another summer of wildfire smoke and poor air quality in B.C.?

by admin

Shell Road in Richmond was hit by a wildfire on July 27, 2018.

Francis Georgian / PNG

All indications suggest British Columbians should prepare for another smoky summer this year, experts warned today.

B.C. Wildfire information shows the province has so far this year seen increased drought and higher-than-average temperatures, which are expected to continue. Experts are predicting a greater risk of wildfires and smoke in the province this summer, particularly in the southwest, which includes Metro Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver air quality engineer Francis Reis said more studies are making a strong link between climate change and the exacerbation of wildfire seasons.

“As we continue to see further warming, we can expect the patterns we are seeing now to continue or even get more extreme,” he said.

Residents are reminded to try to stay indoors when air quality bulletins are issued.

The summers of 2017 and 2018 were the worst on record for smoky skies in B.C., caused by wildfires. This led to warnings that people take caution when outside, especially those with asthma, lung conditions, the elderly and pregnant women.

The hot, dry spring has many worried that 2019 could also bring hazy skies that are bad for residents’ health.

More to come…

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Twitter: @loriculbert

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Bone-marrow transplant lets sun shine on Langley toddler for Father’s Day

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Kelsey Lock’s ideal Father’s Day involves eating ice cream in the park with his daughter — a simple plan, but one bordering on miraculous.

Lock’s daughter, Charlie, was born with erythropoietic protoporphyria or EPP, a disease sometimes described as an allergy to the sun. Since she was a baby, ultraviolet light, even in minuscule amounts, would cause the little girl’s skin to burn, blister and swell. More insidious, it would also begin to destroy her liver.

As a result, Charlie’s life was lived inside. The world beyond the tinted glass of her Langley home was largely unknown to the toddler, now 3.

“Any time we’d see a playground, it was rough,” recalled Lock. “To see other kids playing outside and know that Charlie could never do that was really hard.”

Late last year, Charlie’s liver began to fail. It is impossible to prevent all exposure to ultraviolet light. Unseen, porphyrins had been accumulating in the toddler’s liver, causing it to swell to three times its normal size.

People with EPP have a shortage of an enzyme that metabolizes porphyrins, which help with the production of hemoglobin. Without the enzyme, porphyrins accumulate in the blood, reacting with sunlight to cause burns. In a small percentage of people with EPP, including Charlie, they also accumulate in the liver.

To save his daughter’s life, Lock was asked to donate part of his liver. The family travelled to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto for the procedure. Working in a darkened operating room, a surgeon removed Charlie’s damaged liver and gave her a piece of her dad’s liver.

“I don’t think about it too much,” said Lock, “but every now and then, it hits me. I can say that I’ll always be there for her, and it’s literally true. I will.”


But Charlie’s journey — from the family apartment with tinted windows in Langley to a park in Toronto on Father’s Day — was only beginning.

Charlie Lock, 2, during her first severe reaction to the Sun.

Submitted photo – Bekah Lock /


Doctors told the family they were essentially rewriting the playbook with Charlie’s case. Porphyria is rare, and EPP rarer still. Charlie’s form, which destroys the liver, hasn’t been the subject of much research. But because the toddler still had porphyria, the cause of her liver failure hadn’t been addressed by the transplant. The cycle would begin again.

So Lock was tapped to donate his bone marrow. A perfect match would give Charlie’s body the ability to create the enzyme that breaks down porphyrins, essentially curing both her liver problems and sun allergy. But no one in Charlie’s family was a perfect match. Because the girl has two exceptionally rare genetic markers, there were no matches on the international bone marrow registry either.

Still, doctors believed there was a good chance Lock’s bone marrow could at least prevent the destruction of Charlie’s new liver.

“The idea is that the bone marrow reprograms your entire blood-making system, but how well that would work was unclear,” explained Charlie’s mom, Bekah Lock.

In February, Kelsey Lock watched as blood was drawn from his body and passed through a sophisticated machine that looked like a “crazy water clock” to filter the stem cells from the rest. A few days before the procedure, he’d been given a medication that caused his bone marrow cells to leach into his blood, which left him feeling strange.

“I could feel all my bones,” he said. “When I stood up fast, I’d feel pressure in my ribs.”

Lock’s bone marrow was given to Charlie, after her own bone marrow and immune system had been wiped out by two weeks of chemotherapy.

Almost four months after the procedure, the family remains hesitant to use the word “cure.”

Charlie Lock at age 1 with her mother Bekah.

Nick Procaylo /


The transplant was largely a success. Early results showed 100 per cent engraftment, which meant Charlie’s bone marrow cells had been replaced by her dad’s cells and they were functioning as they should. The number has dropped a little since then.

“I’d say cautiously optimistic,” said Bekah, when asked how the family is feeling about the future.

After eight months in Toronto, the family wants to come home. Charlie still has several small hurdles to clear related to the liver transplant. The doctors are also monitoring her bone marrow numbers. Her immune system remains severely compromised from the transplants. But the family has been told they could be back in B.C. by fall.

Charlie’s first foray into the world outside her window was a quiet affair.

A few days before, her parents brought her to the wall of windows fronting the hospital. As they looked over the city, the little girl seemed content and comfortable despite the light flooding the corridor.

In early April, Charlie received permission to leave the hospital for a few hours. Instead of bundling her into a vehicle with tinted windows, the family walked in the sunshine to their apartment at Ronald McDonald House.

“I kept the cover off the stroller,” said Bekah. “It was kind of anti-climatic in a way, but it was also very, very sweet.”

For Kelsey Lock, the time in Toronto has been an opportunity to spend unlimited hours with Charlie. On leave from his job as a framer, he said it feels like he’s being “forced to take a vacation.”

His Father’s Day will be about simple pleasures: An ice cream cone, a park and a little girl with the whole world before her.


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Moms-to-be ‘fearful’ as Chilliwack maternity ward to close for summer

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Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove has requested a meeting with Health Minister Adrian Dix to express his concerns about the temporary closure of Chilliwack Hospital’s maternity ward.

Francis Georgian / PNG

The mayor of Chilliwack is requesting a meeting with B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix to express concerns about a plan to close the maternity ward at Chilliwack Hospital for an indeterminate amount of time starting later this month.

The closure is caused by an “unexpected shortfall in obstetricians,” said Jennifer Wilson, medical director for Chilliwack Hospital. Due to a medical leave, the hospital is no longer able to ensure there is an on-call obstetrician available for emergency interventions and C-sections at all times.

Fraser Health is working on a plan to address the problem, but women who expected to give birth in Chilliwack after June 24 will have to go to Abbotsford Regional Hospital instead, said Wilson. “Our goal is to be up and running again as soon as possible.”

The doctor said the decision to close the maternity ward was not made lightly and she “respects” the concerns of women who are now faced with travelling outside their community to deliver. “We are really committed to making things as safe as possible for women.”


But Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove said it is “insane” that his community of 100,000 people will not have a maternity ward this summer. On average, there is between one to two births per day at Chilliwack Hospital.

“I understand that it’s difficult (for Fraser Health), but there should have been a plan in place,” he said.

The mayor said he is asking for a meeting with the provincial health minister to discuss the situation. He has also spoken to the mayor of Hope who is worried about the health of women who will have to travel more than an hour — possibly in rush-hour or long-weekend traffic — to reach the hospital in Abbotsford.

“It’s an hour on a good day. What happens if there’s an accident?” asked Popove.

The mayor said he hasn’t been told when Fraser Health plans to reopen the maternity ward. But he has been hearing from families in his community who are worried and anxious.

Former Chilliwack mayor and B.C. Liberal MLA John Les called the closure “a kick in the head” in response to a Chilliwack Progress news story about the closure.

“This is a bloody outrage,” he said in a Facebook post.

“If implemented, this two- to three-month suspension of deliveries will become permanent,” he speculated. “This has been Fraser Health’s dream all along: centralize everything in Abbotsford.”

Wilson said the hospital plans to maintain its maternity ward and is looking for long-term solutions to the staffing problem. It is also working to address transportation concerns from women who may have trouble reaching Abbotsford.

“We have reassurances from Abbotsford … (that) they have the capacity,” she said.

But registered midwife Libby Gregg said the closure is making women “fearful” about their deliveries.

“They are really suffering,” she said, explaining that some women will lose the doctor who has cared for them through their entire pregnancy because the doctor doesn’t have hospital privileges at the Abbotsford hospital.

“These women will be in an unfamiliar situation with people they don’t know,” she said.

Gregg said an increase in stress and anxiety in the late stages of pregnancy and during delivery can have negative impacts on mothers and babies, including a possible increase in inductions and C-sections.

“The implications are huge and far-reaching.”

Gregg said Chilliwack midwives are stepping up to offer their services to women who are scrambling to find a caregiver ahead of the closure, adding “we’re here to support as many families as we can.”


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Child hospitalized after falling two storeys from a Vancouver home

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A B.C. ambulance.

Jason Payne / PNG

A child was hospitalized Friday afternoon after falling two storeys from a Vancouver home.

It happened in the 1200-block of East 11th Avenue around 2:45 p.m., a B.C. Emergency Health Services spokesman said. Paramedics tool the child to hospital by ambulance.

The agency could not confirm whether the child fell from a window or balcony and would not release the child’s age or gender.

The block where they child fell, near Clark Drive, is lined with single-family homes, most two storeys.

Paramedics and physicians have urged parents to install inexpensive window guards to prevent such accidents, particularly during warm weather when windows are more likely to be left open.

Six children have been treated at B.C. Children’s Hospital this year after falling from balconies or windows, and 15 were treated in 2018.

Last month, a six-year-old boy fell 15 metres from his bedroom window in North Vancouver, landing on concrete. He survived and is expected to make a near-full recovery, with some damage to his vision.

The World Health Organization says falls are the 12th-leading cause of death among kids aged five to nine, and that 66 per cent of fatal falls happen from a significant height, like a deck or window.

A B.C. Trauma Registry report found that 146 children were hospitalized after falling from a balcony in the province between 2009 and 2015. Eighty-five per cent of them were between the ages of one and six.

Over 40 per cent of Vancouverites now live in apartment buildings and more than 16 per cent live in buildings with more than five storeys, according to a 2016 Statistics Canada report.

B.C. Emergency Health Services provides the following safety tips to prevent falls from windows:

• Don’t underestimate a child’s mobility; children begin climbing before they can walk.

• Move furniture and household items away from windows to discourage children from climbing to peer out.

• Be particularly mindful of toddlers, who may climb on anything to get higher.

• Remember that window screens will not prevent children from falling through. They keep bugs out – not children in.

• Install window guards on windows above the ground level. These act as a gate in front of the window.

• Alternatively, fasten your windows so that they cannot open more than 10 centimetres (four inches). Children can fit through spaces as small as 12 centimetres (five inches) wide.

• In either case, ensure there is a safe release option for your windows in case of a house fire.

• Don’t leave children unattended on balconies or decks. Move furniture or planters away from the edges to keep kids from climbing up and over.

• Talk to your children about the dangers of opening and playing near windows, particularly on upper floors of the home or in a high-rise dwelling.

• Consider installing safety glass in large windows and French doors so they won’t shatter if a child runs or falls into them.

With files from Zak Vescera

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B.C. Greens introduce bill to restrict conversion therapy

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B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver announces a bill to ban so-called conversion therapies that seek to change gay sexual orientations in minors.

Rob Shaw / Postmedia

VICTORIA — B.C.’s Green party has introduced a bill in the legislature to ban so-called conversion therapies that seek to change gay sexual orientations in minors.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver said the legislation, if passed, would ban any medical professional from using conversion therapy techniques on anyone under age 19.

For adults, it would forbid any counselling, behaviour modification techniques or prescription medication designed to change a person’s sexual identity or gender identity from being billed to the government for MSP or other reimbursement.

The legislation doesn’t seek an outright ban on conversion therapy for adults, with Weaver noting that it becomes a more complicated matter of consent and free choice among adults.

“This bill will bring an end to the abhorrent practice of so-called conversion therapy,” said Weaver.

Banning the practice among minors and restricting its use on adults will “protect the health and safety of LGBTQ rights,” said Weaver.

Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity using counselling, psychiatry, psychology, behaviour modification or medication. It’s widely discredited, though not explicitly illegal in Canada.

In B.C., the government doesn’t fund or permit the practice of conversion therapy, said NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert.

“This legislation would put our current practice into law,” he said.

Chandra-Herbert described it as a “symbol” of not just LGBTQ2S+ rights, but also basic human rights.

Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Ontario already have legislation that restricts the practice.

Alberta had a working group tasked with banning gay conversion therapy, but it was cancelled by the new United Conservative Government.

“The direction Alberta is going in is the wrong direction for Canadian society,” said Weaver. “It’s so regressive.”

Peter Gajdics, a Vancouver gay rights activist who was subject to conversion therapy from a licensed psychiatrist in Victoria almost 30 years ago, said he believes conversion therapy is still occurring in some B.C. offices under the guise of treatment for depression and other disorders.

Gajdics pointed to religious websites that also promote and advocate for such therapies.

Weaver said he hopes to gain the support of the governing NDP and Opposition Liberals to pass the legislation unanimously this fall.

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B.C. study finds no mental health benefits to eating human placenta

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New research debunks the supposed mental health benefits of eating your own placenta.

UBC and the B.C. Mental Health and Substance Use Services’ Research Institute says their study found no difference in the mental health of mothers who had eaten their placenta versus those who had not.

The data came from a 10-year genetic study involving 138 women with a history of mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. Lead investigator Jehannine Austin says the comparison took into account a mother’s psychiatric diagnosis, medication use, age and income.

A woman grinds dehydrated human placenta.


She says moms who had consumed their placenta did not have more energy, had no increase in their vitamin B12 levels, and required no less help breastfeeding than those who had not consumed their placentas. She adds that eating one’s placenta also did not appear to worsen mental health.

Nevertheless, Austin discourages the practice in light of Health Canada’s warning late last year that it could lead to bacterial or viral infections in mothers or their babies.

Austin’s study was published online Thursday in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.

Proponents of human placenta preparations believe it helps prevent postpartum depression, overcome anemia, increase energy levels and boost breast milk production.

In this file photo taken on November 3, 2018, Kim Kardashian-West arrives for the 2018 LACMA Art+Film Gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California.


Celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Alicia Silverstone and Hilary Duff are among the famous moms who have popularized the trend, in which the organ is sometimes dehydrated and put into capsules, but it has drawn increasing scrutiny in the medical community.

“People are taking them because they see celebrities in the news doing it and they talk about their experience with doing it and so other women think, ‘Oh that sounds like a good idea,”‘ said Austin, executive director of the research institute and a professor in medicine at UBC.

“But the point that we’re trying to really make, having analyzed our data, is that there’s no evidence from our study to suggest that this actually helps in any way.

“It doesn’t help with mood, it doesn’t help with energy, it doesn’t help with nutrition levels and it doesn’t help with breastfeeding.”

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Daphne Bramham: Decriminalization alone won’t end B.C.’s overdose crisis

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A man injects drugs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. Despite significant efforts to combat overdose deaths in British Columbia, the provincial coroner says illicit drug overdose deaths increased to 1,489, just over the 2017 death total.


The problem with the provincial health officer’s special report recommending decriminalization of all illicit drug users  is that Dr. Bonnie Henry chose to make that her only recommendation.

Three years after a public health emergency was declared because of an epidemic of deaths from illicit opioids, B.C. still has no comprehensive addictions strategy.

It has a stunning lack of treatment services, no universal access to services, no simple pathway to what few services there are, no provincial standards or regulation of privately operated treatment and recovery homes services.

Government ministries such as health, mental health and addictions services, social development and housing remain siloed and the root causes of addiction remain largely unaddressed.

While there has been substantial investment in harm-reduction measures including overdose prevention sites, free naloxone kits (to reverse an opioid overdose), low-barrier shelters and poverty reduction, the needs are greater.

Overdose deaths have only hit a plateau – not dropped. Every day, four people British Columbians die.

Yet, Henry is adamant that decriminalization is the most important next step.

“It’s about a focus and an intent,” she said. “Instead of police focusing on requirement of the Criminal Code, it builds off-ramps to connect with services. And, that in itself, ensures those systems are built.”

The majority of those who have died of overdoses were young men using alone at home. Without fear of being arrested and with the stigma of addiction being reduced, the expectation is that addicts or recreational users would be more likely to go to a supervised injection site, use with a friend (with a naloxone kit at the ready) or call for help if they overdose.

Henry calls decriminalization “a necessary next step to stop the death toll from rising and to make harm-reduction services more readily available.”

But it’s a question whether those recreational users would do that, because many addicts say that they use alone for a variety of reasons — not least of which is that they don’t want to share their drugs or they don’t want anyone to know what they do when they’re high.

The report recommended two options for British Columbia to work around the Criminal Code provisions.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth firmly and quickly said no to both. But he noted there are pilot projects in Vancouver, Abbotsford and Vernon where rather than charging for possession, police are linking users with services. An evaluation of those will be completed in the fall and, depending on the results, they may be expended to other communities.

Henry makes no secret of the fact that her ultimate goals for Canada are full legalization and regulation of all drugs to ensure that there is a safe supply. If that were to happen, Canada would be the first in the world to do that.

Portugal is mentioned frequently in the report and by Henry. Possession for personal use was decriminalized more than 20 years ago. But it was done only as part of a comprehensive, drug strategy.

Police still arrest anyone found with illicit drugs. They are taken to a police station where the drugs are weighed. If the amount is above the maximum limit set for personal use, they are charged and go through the criminal justice system.

If the amount is below the limit, tickets are issued and users told to appear at the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Use within 24 hours. There, they meet with a social worker or counsellor before going before a three-person tribunal, which recommends a plan for treatment.

People don’t have to comply. But if they are arrested again, the commission can impose community service, require that they seek treatment, impose fines and even confiscate people’s property to pay those fines.

That’s not the kind of decriminalization Henry is recommending. Instead, the onus here would be on police officers – not trained addictions specialists, psychologists or social workers — to connect users with services.

Part of the reason for the difference is that Portugal’s goal wasn’t legalization or keeping addicts alive until they chose to go treatment. Its focus was and is on getting addicts into treatment and recovery so they could resume their place in society.

Harm reduction is only a small part of the Portuguese plan. Its first supervised injection site has only recently opened. But there is free and easy access to methadone (which dampens heroin addicts’ craving for the drug) and free needles to stop the spread of infection.

These harm reduction measures are deemed to temporary bridges to abstinence for all but older, hardcore, long-term heroin users rather than long-term solutions. Of course, fentanyl and carfentanil have yet to be found in its illicit drug supply.

Its treatment services as extensive and include everything from outpatient treatment to three years’ residency in a therapeutic community during which time the users’ families are provided with income supplements.

Nothing in this decriminalization report moves British Columbia anywhere close to that kind of comprehensive system. And until we get there, it’s hard to imagine that this overdose crisis ending anytime soon.

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Twitter: @bramham_daphne

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Low doses of peanut a safe, effective way to fight allergies: study

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Five year old Saiya Dhaliwal would break into hives if she accidentally ingested peanuts but after participating in a study led by B.C. Children’s Hospital, she can now eat 10 peanut M&Ms without reacting.

Ravinder Dhaliwal

Most preschoolers who are allergic to peanuts can be safely and effectively desensitized by eating small amounts of peanut protein as directed by allergy specialists, a study led by University of B.C. and B.C. Children’s Hospital researchers shows.

In the study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 243 children (90 per cent) reached the desired, desensitization dosage in an average period of 22 weeks. The other 10 per cent dropped out for reasons such as repeated allergic reactions and child and parental anxiety. Participants lived in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

“According to our data, preschoolers with peanut allergies can be considered for oral immunotherapy,” said the lead author, Dr. Edmond Chan, who is the head of pediatric allergy and immunology at UBC and at B.C. Children’s Hospital. “However, it’s important to note that it should always be done under allergist supervision, and not attempted by parents on their own or with health care providers who aren’t allergists.”

He said older children with a history of severe, life-threatening reactions to peanuts and those anxious about the treatment are not good candidates for the desensitization approach.

While some experts have opined that allergic reaction effects can compound and get worse each time anaphylaxis occurs, Chan said the severity of food allergic reactions is difficult to predict. “The likelihood of outgrowing a food allergy depends on the type of food and other factors (and only) only about 20 per cent of children outgrow peanut allergy.” 

Oral immunotherapy is a new approach in which children consume small amounts of an allergy-causing food with the amount gradually increasing to a predetermined maximum or maintenance level that is held for a year or two. The goal is to desensitize them so that if they are accidentally exposed to the allergen, they won’t have a life-threatening reaction.

In the study, children with a median age of 23 months went to an allergy clinic every few weeks — a total of eight to 11 times — to be watched each time their peanut protein dose was increased. The top daily dose was 300 mg of peanut protein, the equivalent of one peanut or 1/4 to 1/3 of a teaspoon of peanut butter.

Children in the study ate their doses of peanuts in powder form (mixed into yogurt, for example) or in popular Israeli peanut snacks called Bamba.

Nearly 68 per cent of preschoolers experienced at least one allergic reaction during the buildup phase, but the reactions were largely mild.

Only four per cent of the children in the trial required epinephrine to counteract allergic responses, while 1.5 per cent experienced severe reactions requiring a trip to the hospital emergency department.


Dr. Edmond Chan, head of pediatric allergy and immunology at B.C. Children’s Hospital and the University of B.C.

Arlen Redekop /


Chan said the study, which had 18 co-authors, should help calm fears about such an approach.

“The goal of our group was to be as safe as possible since this was not a clinical trial and allergists were not always available if an allergic reaction occurred at home.

“So we erred on the side of caution and encouraged parents to give epinephrine if there was a possibility that anaphylaxis was occurring.”

Ravinder Dhaliwal entered her then four-year-old daughter, Saiya, in the study because, as a pediatric emergency nurse at Surrey Memorial Hospital, she has seen how serious peanut and other food allergies can be.

“I’ve seen a lot of anaphylaxis, never a death, thank God, but it’s my biggest fear. At work just recently, a child in anaphylaxis had to be put in the intensive care unit and was then transferred to B.C. Children’s Hospital,” she said.

While her daughter’s allergic reactions in the past were mild, there is no way to predict when a life-threatening response might happen. Her daughter, now five, had only one bout of vomiting after the peanut dose was increased.

Bamba snack ingredients

It’s about a year and a half since Saiya entered the study, and she can now eat the equivalent of 10 peanuts without a reaction.

“We will always have a certain level of anxiety about this,” Dhaliwal said. “We still carry an EpiPen and she is still considered allergic to peanuts but now it’s like having a protective shield around her,” she said.

Saiya is also allergic to tree nuts and is on the same immunotherapy protocol for those.

Chan believes the protocol is ready for wider use.

“Our data suggests peanut oral immunotherapy in preschoolers is ready for prime time. A strength of our study is that about 90 per cent of the allergists who participated practise in the community.

“To ensure patient safety, it should only be offered by allergists with adequate training and experience in performing oral food challenges and managing life-threatening anaphylaxis.”

Offering the treatment to children when they are young “will give parents valuable peace of mind and help improve children’s quality of life and reduce their anxiety as they grow up.”

The study says the rate of epinephrine use in the study was about 1/50th of what it is among allergic children who are accidentally exposed to peanuts.

The desensitization protocol is, therefore, a way to “seek a safety margin for accidental exposures.”

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Twitter: @MedicineMatters

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St. Paul’s trials new device for skin-to-skin care after C-sections

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Lisa Wong demonstrates the “Joeyband” with newborn son Bruce Nagai in the maternity ward at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

St. Paul’s Hospital has taken a cue from the kangaroo to keep moms and babies healthier and happier after a caesarean delivery.

The hospital has been testing out the Joeyband to promote skin-to-skin contact between babies and mothers who have just had a C-section, which requires incisions in the abdomen and uterus and an anesthetic. The stretchable nylon-spandex loop, made by Canadian firm S2S Innovations Inc., holds a newborn snuggly against its mother’s chest and abdomen after birth.

Studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact promotes breastfeeding and bonding, and helps reduce risk for postpartum depression.

Scott Harrison, director for the maternity centre at St. Paul’s, said the Joeyband takes its name from the babies of kangaroos, who spend months in their mothers’ pouches after birth. Human skin-to-skin contact following birth is often called “kangaroo care.”

The band is particularly useful in the operating room immediately following a C-section, Harrison said.

“It’s a very supportive band that holds the baby quite firmly to moms. Dads can use it, too, and other family members who might be involved,” he said.

“For mothers and babies, after a C-section, it’s been difficult in the past to get babies safely in skin-to-skin because mom’s got IV lines in, or is a little bit sleepy still, or has some discomfort.”

In this Jan. 9, 2013 photo provided by the Chicago Zoological Society, ten- and 11-month-old kangaroo joeys poke their heads out of their mothers’ pouches at the Brookfield Zoo’s Australia House exhibit in Brookfield, Ill. The joeys were born on Feb. 20 and March 13 of last year and have only recently emerged from the pouches to explore their new surroundings.

Jim Schulz /


Skin-to-skin contact also stimulates the creation of breast milk, and regulates the baby’s temperature and breathing, Harrison added.

The Joeyband is used in hospitals across North America but St. Paul’s is the first in Canada to try the band right in its operating rooms, the company confirmed. About 20 mothers have used it at St. Paul’s so far, Harrison said.

“All the feedback from them has been that it’s really comfortable and they’ve really enjoyed that experience,” he said.

“This product has enabled us to do something new for women in the immediate hours after a caesarean section.”

Harrison said using the band to support newborns frees up nurses to focus more on breastfeeding, monitoring the mother’s vital signs and other important duties.

He said the band is used until the mom has recovered from the surgert and is able to hold the baby independently, often after a couple weeks. Typically, a mom will go home within two or three days after a C-section. They will be given a band to take with them, funded by the St. Paul’s Foundation.

Puneet Bains used the Joeyband at St. Paul’s Hospital after her son Zayn was delivered by C-section in December, 2017.


Puneet Bains, an oncologist at Lions Gate Hospital, used the Joeyband at St. Paul’s after her second son, Zayn, was delivered by C-section there in December 2017.

“I’d been through the procedure before so I actually found it quite helpful,” she said. “It was painless and it was comfortable. You always worry about anything new — is it going to be comfortable, is it going to interfere with anything?”

Bains said she was quite immobile after the C-section but the band kept Zayn safe and secure against her chest.

“I wasn’t worried about him falling or slipping,” she said.

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Whooping cough case confirmed in Duncan

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A Vancouver Island Health Authority office in Victoria.

Times Colonist

A case of whooping cough has been reported in Duncan, making it the second confirmed case on southern Vancouver Island in recent days.

After a laboratory confirmed that a Duncan adult had a case of pertussis, a letter was sent out by Island Health on March 8, agency spokesperson Jennifer Parisi said Sunday.

The letter went to areas where there might have been exposure. People were asked to watch for early signs of whooping cough and to follow up with their health care provider if they have any symptoms.

In that case, “There are no high-risk contacts and no further follow up is required by public health or the communicable disease team so there is no concern there,” she said.

It is not out of the ordinary to have two cases of whooping cough in the region, Parisi said.

Island Health sent another letter out this past week, informing the Mount Douglas Secondary community that a case of whooping cough had been confirmed at the school.

The pertussis bacteria can be spread through coughing, sneezing, sharing drinks or cigarettes, and kissing.

Small babies can be especially vulnerable to pertussis, said Parisi, who recommends that vaccination records be checked to ensure everyone is up to date.

Cold-like symptoms appear and the illness can advance to a severe cough with a whooping sound. Gagging and vomiting are also possible. Island Health said symptoms can continue for several weeks.

Antibiotics are used to treat whooping cough.

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