Latest stories: Family & Kids

House Call: Umbilical cord blood may be worth banking

Stem cells are amazing. They have the ability to become any other cell. Adults have a few of these cells, but newborns have many. These stem cells can be harvested from the blood in an infant’s umbilical cord, from the umbilical cord itself, and from the placenta. Stem cells have been the focus of a lot of research, and most of that research has been done on stem cells from umbilical cord blood. If you are pregnant, you may have heard about freezing your child’s umbilical cord blood after birth. Some parents choose to do this as a form of family health insurance. That’s because stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to treat 80 conditions (a big leap from 1998 when they were used for only one). This includes 10 kinds of cancer, mostly leukemias and lymphomas; 16 kinds of bone marrow failure syndrome; 8 blood disorders; 17 metabolic disorders; 19 types of immunodeficiency; and four other conditions. More therapeutic possibilities are on the horizon. Be aware, though, that treatment does not always work. Read more

Help your kids get serious about playing healthy

Swimming, lacrosse, hockey, track, rock climbing, karate and volleyball are only a few of the sports your child could participate in this year. Whether your child is involved in an organized team sport or individual sport, takes P.E. at school or enjoys active play with friends on the weekend, you probably know that staying physically active is an important part of good health, and a great habit to develop in childhood. While keeping your child active, encourage some other healthy habits to go along with exercise. Read more

Don’t enjoy the sun without the screen

Sunshine is one of the most enjoyable things about this time of year in Spokane. We had a beautiful, sunny day for Bloomsday. I have been out in my garden almost daily for the past month, and I can hardly wait for the outdoor pools to open. Although protecting yourself and your family from the skin damage the sun causes should be something to keep in mind all year long, you may be thinking about it more as the sunshine returns, making sure you have hats, umbrellas for days by the water and plenty of sunscreen. I go through my cupboard to pitch the expired containers of sunscreen and stock up on what we will need for the coming summer days. When I talk with patients about sun protection, they want to know which sunscreen to buy. Answering this question is easier if I first explain how the sun damages your skin. Read more