Is a Gluten-Free Diet Right for My Child?

gluten-childrenBy Anil Kesavan, MD

Food and its impact on health is a common topic of conversation among people. There are television shows, books and countless websites dedicated to the subject. In recent years, one of the most common culprits of concern when it comes to food is gluten.

As a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rush, I often hear questions about gluten. Many of my patients’ parents ask me how a gluten-free diet can affect their child’s health or help improve different symptoms. The answers to their questions are not always simple.

What is gluten?

Let’s start with the basics. Gluten has been an integral part of the human diet for thousands of years. There is currently no scientific evidence that states gluten is intrinsically harmful to healthy children.

Here are some things you should know about gluten: Continue reading

Rush and the ‘Transformative’ SPARK Autism Study

aarts-spark-heerwagenBy Katy Heerwagen

At the Autism Assessment, Research, Treatment and Services (AARTS) Center, we see a wide range of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. As a lifespan center, we may see a 12-month-old for an evaluation and hours later provide therapy for a man in his 40s. In a given day, I can deliver play-based interventions to a nonverbal 2-year-old boy in the morning and provide career-focused counseling to a 27-year-old woman exploring technology jobs in the afternoon. We encounter individuals who have been able to develop a comprehensive program of services and those who continuously struggle to access often-costly resources.

In each of my experiences, I return to the same thought: How can a single disorder look so vastly different for every individual I see?

‘So much we do not know’

This question is at the center of a new research initiative led by members of various departments here at Rush. The SPARK study — Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge — is, at its core, an ambitious, first-of-its-kind autism genetics study aiming to involve 50,000 individuals with autism and their family members. The goal is simple: to advance our understanding of the genetic components of autism and speed up autism research. In adopting this mission, we acknowledge that there is still so much we do not know, and that we need the investment of tens of thousands of individuals to answer the many questions that remain.

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‘Lung Cancer Screening Really Does Save Lives’

linda-dowlingBy Linda Dowling, RN

In my role as lung cancer screening coordinator at Rush, I have the pleasure of working on a program that has the ability to save lives by identifying lung cancer that otherwise would go undetected.

In doing so, I hope to spare my patients and their families the sadness and grief one experiences when diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. I know and understand lung cancer on a very personal level.

To understand my relationship with this disease, one has to learn a bit more about me. Here is my story.

I always wanted to be a nurse. When I graduated from high school, my family encouraged me to focus my career on business. I held positions in advertising and marketing. Looking back, I was always restless and never quite satisfied with my work.

‘Love, laughter, tears’

Fast forward many years to helping my mother, a widowed lifelong smoker, who recently downsized to a senior apartment. Tired and blaming the move for her unsteady gait, in the back of my mind, I wondered if she might have a brain tumor because of lung cancer. My worst fears came true when a few weeks later she was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer that already spread to her brain.

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How Surgery Helped Heal Athlete’s Hip Impingement

shane-nhoBy Shane Nho, MD

In our orthopedic surgery practice at Rush, we see a lot of very active adults who try to keep a very balanced, healthy lifestyle, as well as people who like to work out on occasion. And then there are other people who have more of a commitment to working out and athletics. Matt Aaronson is one of those guys.

Matt got into marathon running, biking, swimming and competing in triathlons. But while he was training for the Boston Marathon, Matt began to experience hip pain. The location of Matt’s pain — in the hip and groin area — can make activities such as running and swimming very painful. It can even be painful in your daily life, for instance when you’re sitting for long periods, putting on your clothes or shoes, or climbing stairs.

Conservative therapies for the pain, such as anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and activity modification, had not worked for Matt. He was at the point where surgery was his best option.

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Endurance Athlete Back in Action After Hip Surgery

matt-aaronsonBy Matt Aaronson

I had never been physically active prior to 2010. In fact, at one point I weighed more than 200 pounds. But with three kids at home, I needed to make some serious changes in my lifestyle and get healthy for myself and my family. 

So I started to run for fitness. I was fortunate and began losing a lot of weight. And as I lost weight, I became a faster runner. I signed up for some races and noticed that I was commonly in the top 10 or even in the top three. I got into triathlons to try something different and realized my results were excellent. I even qualified for the World Championships in 2011, in my first half Ironman.

I ran my first marathon in 2013 in under three hours, during which I qualified for the Boston Marathon. However, while I was training for the Boston Marathon my hip started really bothering me. I thought I would be fine if I just ran a little bit less. Initially for my training I was up to 60 miles a week. But once I injured my hip, I went back down to less than 30 miles a week, even in the mid-20s per week. But the pain still got worse and worse.

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Clinical Trials Provide Hope, Opportunity

krista-margaret

Crista Brawley (left) with Margaret Cooper

By Crista Brawley

People don’t always realize that clinical research trials are very interactive, and there’s a lot of individual patient care that goes on with clinical research as well. You need someone that’s willing to share with you all the details of how their body is responding to help us understand the up and downsides of what they’re going through. It’s a very personal experience.

When Margaret Cooper came to Rush for a second opinion on her metastatic breast cancer, the team let her know there were many options to manage her cancer, including ones in clinical research. We asked if she would be willing to learn about some of these studies we had to offer.

Margaret was excited about being in a clinical trial, and that enthusiasm is great for us as a team. Margaret wanted to closely follow the protocol, listen and learn about her care.

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Margaret’s Story: Second Opinion, ‘Second Chance’

margaret-cooperBy Margaret Cooper

In 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my left breast and in some of the lymph nodes on the left side. I had a successful surgery and treatment with chemotherapy followed by reconstructive surgery. They removed 12 lymph nodes, and I had radiation. Everything was going well.

As I approached the five-year mark that would have given me a clean bill of health, I started not feeling well. I had a lot of pain in my upper back, and I felt a lump under my right arm. But my dad was dying at the time, and I was at the hospital a lot. I thought it was just fatigue.

When I went to the doctor, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in my bones. It was very, very aggressive. I went to the same hospital near my home where I’d received my first round of treatment. The doctor there told me that there was nothing they could do. That it was hopeless, and I only had a short time left to live.

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