Empowering those in our community affected by Down syndrome

Written by Traci Brewer, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky (DSACK). UK HealthCare is proud to support DSACK and many other community organizations.

Today, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day. Why? Because it’s 3/21, and people with Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome. That means they have 47 chromosomes instead of the typical 46, so we like to say they have a little something extra.

A lot has changed over the years for people with Down syndrome and for those who help care for them. As recently as the 1980s, individuals with Down syndrome had an average life expectancy of 25. Today, thanks to better medical treatments and screening, people with Down syndrome can live well into their 60s.

Education has also changed dramatically. As recently as the 1980s, families were told to institutionalize their loved ones with Down syndrome because they would never be able to read, write, talk, or contribute anything of value to their family or society. Today, right here in Kentucky, people with Down syndrome are attending college, working in meaningful jobs, driving, dating, volunteering in their communities and living productive, meaningful lives.

Organizations such as the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky provide support for new families and empower self-advocates and their families by providing important information such as early math and literacy learning, financial planning, Individualized Education Plans consulting, career planning, and much more. One of our most exciting initiatives is We Work!, a multiphase program for students age 15 and older that teaches job skills, leadership skills, how to explore career opportunities and how to serve as peer mentors.

Recently someone said that DSACK has a great story to tell and many more chapters to be written. We still have more milestones to reach, more bridges to cross and many more chapters to write. You can learn more about us by visiting our website at www.dsack.org and by visiting our Facebook page, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky.


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6 tips to poison-proof your home

It’s not uncommon for kids to get their hands on potentially dangerous stuff around the house. From makeup and personal care products to pesticides and art supplies, many common household items represent a threat to children, especially if they’re ingested. In fact, nine out of 10 poisonings in children occur in the home.

This week is National Poison Prevention Week and the perfect time to learn how you can poison-proof your home and prevent accidental poisonings.

Poison-proof your home

  1. Store all household products and cleaning solutions out of children’s sight and reach. Young kids are often eye-level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  2. Store poisonous items out of reach or use safety locks on cabinets within reach. These items also include liquid packets for the laundry and dishwasher.
  3. Read product labels to find out what can be hazardous to kids. Dangerous household items include health and beauty products, plants, cleaning and gardening supplies, lead, alcohol, and carbon monoxide.
  4. Make sure that all medications, including vitamins and adult medicines, are stored out of reach and out of sight for children.
  5. Put the toll-free number Poison Help Number (800-222-1222) in your home and cellphones. You should also post it near your home phone or on your refrigerator for the babysitter.
  6. Check for lead-based paint. Remove any peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.

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Pneumonia in Bangladeshi children is pandemic, and their current healthcare model makes it difficult to treat. But KCH's Dr. Fuchs may have a solution.

UK pediatrician uses his expertise to save children in Bangladesh

In developing countries, pneumonia is the leading cause of disease-related death in children ages 5 and younger, accounting for more than 1 million deaths a year. Most of the world’s pediatric pneumonia cases are condensed to Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, including Bangladesh, where the disease is pandemic.

Bangladeshi children diagnosed with pneumonia also often suffer from malnutrition, an undertreated condition that increases the likelihood of death from pneumonia. In developing countries, more than half of all pediatric deaths in children younger than 5 are associated with a moderate to severe malnutrition diagnosis. If both conditions are not treated, children are susceptible to recurrent pneumonia and further health complications that can lead to death.

Now, after years of researching this problem, Dr. George Fuchs, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, is working to improve the care Bangladeshi children receive and to reduce the number of deaths related to pneumonia and malnutrition.

Through his research, Fuchs found barriers in the Bangladesh healthcare system that delayed care for children suffering from severe pneumonia and underlying nutritional deficiencies. A scarcity of hospital beds, limited pediatric resources and practical barriers  such as the burden of hospitalization on the family  prevent children from receiving sufficient treatment for both conditions. Fuchs and collaborators at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, with funding from UNICEF and UBS Optimus Foundation, proposed a solution to address these health system barriers and decrease child mortality in Bangladesh.

The Day-Care Approach

Fuchs, who has studied nutritional deficiencies and interventions in developing countries since the late 1980s, is conducting a multisite trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment method called the Day-Care Approach (DCA). This new pediatric care model responds to a lack of hospital beds and pediatric resources by diverting children with severe illness to outpatient, or day-care, clinics.

These day-care clinics provide safe and effective therapies for severe forms of pneumonia and malnutrition, as well as diarrhea and other common illnesses, during the daytime hours. Previous studies in controlled settings have shown the success of the DCA model in treating severe pneumonia and malnutrition. Compared with traditional hospital care, the DCA system model reduces healthcare costs by a third. Fuchs and his colleagues are now testing a scaled-up version of the DCA model in the Bangladesh healthcare system.

“I realized these children were not getting treatment, and these are really sick kids, so I said, ‘Let’s at least try something else with an outpatient approach,’” Fuchs said. “It has to be better than the alternative, which is no care.”

Since January 2015, Fuchs has collected and analyzed outcome data from patients treated in the DCA model and compared it to data from patients in the existing model of hospitalized care. In the existing healthcare system, community health workers identify children with pneumonia and refer them to local health clinics, where their symptoms are categorized as moderate or severe. Those children in the moderate category are sent home with 48-hour antibiotics.

However, children presenting to the local clinic with severe pneumonia and those who fail the 48 hours of antibiotics are sent to the hospital for supportive therapies, such as airway suction, fluids, nutrition, antibiotics and constant oversight.

In the DCA model, children receive the same initial treatment, with community health workers locating pneumonia cases and determining severity. What’s different is that children with severe pneumonia or those who fail antibiotics at home are sent directly to the day-care clinic, where they receive supportive therapies throughout the day. They then return to their homes in the evening and come back for care the following morning. Hospitalization occurs only if the treatment available through the day-care service fails.

According to Fuchs, an initial set of studies over 10 years indicates the DCA model is a viable and sustainable system with the potential to reduce the rates of pediatric mortality caused by pneumonia and malnutrition. The DCA model is also much less costly for both the health system and for families seeking treatment. While data collection is ongoing for the current trial, Fuchs is encouraged by the preliminary analysis.

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DCA model overcomes barriers to care

The DCA system also proved more feasible and desirable for Bangladeshi families. In the traditional Bangladeshi household, the mother cares for multiple children throughout the day while the father works outside the home. As the primary caregivers, mothers confront practical barriers to accessing treatment for one child. The DCA system delivers advanced care so a child doesn’t require a burdensome and costly hospital stay, which families avoid to the point of not seeking treatment.

“The underlying problem is there are not enough hospital beds,” Fuchs said. “Another obstacle is mothers are required to stay with children in the hospital, but they often leave against medical advice or won’t go in the first place because of other important family responsibilities at home.”

Fuchs said health workers in Bangladesh have embraced the DCA intervention as a beneficial treatment system for pediatric pneumonia. If it’s successful on a larger scale, the cost-effective DCA model holds the promise of reducing the occupancy of scarce pediatric beds in regional hospitals, which can be used for children with other illnesses. Fuchs and his collaborators are working with government officials and Bangladeshi health agencies to implement the system as a viable and sustainable replacement for the existing pediatric care system.


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UK Shriners

UK Pediatric Orthopaedics, UK Advanced Eye Care moving into new Shriners building

The new Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center ‒ Lexington building on the UK HealthCare campus, which broke ground in March 2015, will open this spring.

In addition to Shriners, the building will be home to UK Pediatric Orthopaedics and will provide leased space for UK Ophthalmology (now renamed UK Advanced Eye Care).

Current locations of UK Advanced Eye Care along with the UK HealthCare Optical (formerly known as University Optical) will close March 17. They will reopen in the Shriners Building on March 20.

Pediatric orthopaedics patients will be seen in the new Shriners facility beginning April 17, although there will be a period of transition during which patients may be seen at either the current clinic within the Kentucky Clinic building or in the new Shriners space. During this transition, which is expected to last four weeks, parents whose children have a pediatric orthopaedics appointment are encouraged to call 800-444-8314 (toll-free) in advance to confirm where they will be seen.

Inpatient care for pediatric orthopaedics patients will be provided at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Members of UK health plans, including the UK-HMO and PPO/EPO options, will see no change in their copay/out-of-pocket charge with this move.

The new Shriners, which will be an outpatient surgical and rehabilitation center, was built on land that Shriners leased from UK. It remains a separate entity that is not owned or managed by UK.

UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine providers serve as the pediatric orthopaedic specialists for Shriners, an arrangement that has been in place since the 1970s.

The proximity of Shriners to Kentucky Children’s Hospital will facilitate collaboration of Shriners’ pediatric orthopaedic expertise and UK HealthCare’s specialty and subspecialty care for children with complex conditions.

Patients and families with appointments in the new facility will park in the UK HealthCare Parking Garage located just across Conn Terrace from Shriners. The building can be accessed via a pedestrian bridge at Level C of the garage.


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Dr. Daniel Larrow visits with Maggie Hall, a child he started seeing through telemedicine appointments at the Highlands Center, at the Kentucky Clinic.

UK pediatrician provides specialized support for children with autism spectrum disorders

Amy Hall celebrated her son’s first haircut appointment and the moment her daughter permitted a hug. For parents of children with autism spectrum disorders, even small gestures and slight behavioral changes count as developmental breakthroughs.

Hall’s son, Jacob, who was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at age 2, once spiraled into emotional outbursts when anyone tried to touch his hair. Hall and behavioral therapists at the Highlands Center for Autism in Prestonsburg, Ky., rehearsed Jacob’s first visit to the barbershop. Every day for several weeks, Jacob practiced getting his hair washed in a bathtub at the school. He took a field trip to the barbershop and climbed into the barber’s chair. He even had the chance to inspect the barber’s combs and shears before the big day.

Maggie, Hall’s second child, was diagnosed with an autism disorder at 19 months. She went through a stage avoiding touch, even embraces from her parents. Early intervention and repetitive behavioral training helped Maggie overcome her fear and warm up to cuddling with her parents.

“I think of how difficult some of those months were for us, and how far they’ve come,” Hall said.

Hall credits much of her children’s progress to an intervention spearheaded by UK pediatrician Dr. Daniel Larrow. Through an innovative telemedicine clinic, Larrow and his team at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital give kids like Jacob and Maggie access to the specialized care they need, no matter where they live. Larrow meets with patients and their families via a live telemedicine consultation and offers advice and guidance for overcoming behavioral challenges.

“Having Dr. Larrow there was so convenient,” Hall said. “The kids are comfortable and they are in a familiar setting. He could very clearly see some of the behaviors and concerns that we were experiencing.”

Removing barriers to clinical expertise

After Jacob was diagnosed in 2011, Hall had applied for a scholarship at the Highlands Center, the only developmental learning program east of Louisville in the state based on Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). ABA is a scientifically proven method for teaching children basic and complex communication skills, social skills and other skills needed for an independent life.

After Jacob received the scholarship, Hall had relocated with the children to Floyd County, moving in with her in-laws, while her husband remained in Lexington to continue his work. Less than two years later, Maggie received a scholarship to enter the program. In addition to spending the weekdays apart from her husband, Hall had to drive her children three hours both ways to Cincinnati for appointments with a pediatric developmental-behavioral specialist.

It wasn’t until Larrow introduced the telemedicine clinic in partnership with the Highlands Center that things became easier, Hall said.

Larrow, who specializes in developmental-behavioral pediatrics, first observed the Hall children’s behavioral challenges through a computer monitor at the Kentucky Clinic. The telemedicine consultation provided the Hall family a comfortable introduction to Larrow and KCH family support specialist and patient navigator Melanie Tyner-Wilson, a mother of an adult child with an autism spectrum disorder.

The online meetings allow Larrow to gather information about a child’s history and developmental barriers and recommend further testing at the center, if needed, before examining the children in-person. He and Tyner-Wilson travel to Prestonsburg once a month to provide clinical consultations with established families whose children attend the Highlands Center, as well as other children and their families from Eastern Kentucky.

“The treatment for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders is mostly specialized instruction, the teaching of specific skills that should be present but that aren’t, or to replace bad behavior with more acceptable behavior,” Larrow said. “A lot of times the parents don’t know how to access it or find this specialized therapy, or how to get insurance to pay for it.”

Building a ‘greenhouse’

Larrow came to Kentucky Children’s Hospital in 2013 after working for an organization that operated three developmental schools for autistic children in rural Vermont. A proponent of early behavioral intervention, Larrow urges families he sees in clinic to integrate consistent behavioral learning into their children’s daily lives.Through many years working with children on the autism spectrum, Larrow adopted a practice philosophy emphasizing control and conditioning of the environment to promote positive behavioral development.

Larrow’s approach likens children on the autism spectrum to orchids as opposed to dandelions, or their normally developing counterparts. While most children are developmentally conditioned to adapt to their environment, children with an autism spectrum disorder, like fickle orchids, are not adaptable and need a special environment, or “greenhouse.” The orchid theory holds that children on the autism spectrum can flourish when their environment is best suited to their developmental and learning abilities. As orchids, these children must also be taught to function in the “dandelion world.”

“If you can figure out the right greenhouse for an orchid, they can thrive and potentially excel,” Larrow said. “If they are not in the right environment, they don’t do well.”

Tyner-Wilson said Larrow’s orchid metaphor transforms how parents think about their child’s disorder. Larrow encourages caregivers to immerse their children in nurturing learning environments with consistent practices, adjusting the child’s environment to find a formula that promotes positive development.

“When you hear him call their child an orchid, you can see a change in their faces as it’s a potential positive for them,” Tyner-Wilson said. “Your child has these needs and has challenging behaviors, and, yes, they need special support, but with the right greenhouse, the child can become an opportunity, not a problem.”

‘Happiness out of little things’

Ashley Ratliff, director of the Highlands Clinic, said the telemedicine arrangement with Larrow provides families with a level of clinical expertise that isn’t accessible in rural areas. Their availability eliminates the burden of travel for families already struggling to find resources and opportunities to foster behavioral development.

“They are providing a service in this area that prevents families from having to drive all the way to Lexington or farther away,” Ratliff said. “When you talk about long-distance transportation with a child with autism, it can be very difficult for parents to manage.”

Amy Hall can attest to the advantages of adjusting the environments to accommodate her children’s behavioral challenges. After making significant progress at the Highlands Center, the family returned to Lexington in 2015. Both children see Larrow at the Kentucky Clinic and receive routine behavioral therapy at separate programs in Lexington. Jacob recently completed his first season playing on a Miracle League baseball team and Maggie, who will begin kindergarten this fall, participates in the Chance to Dance program.

“We recognize our life is not typical, not normal, but we feel like in a lot of ways we get to celebrate more,” Hall said. “We get more happiness out of little things we would have taken for granted.”


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In recognition of her work at UK CTAC, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has appointed Ginny Sprang as a member of its steering committee.

UK leader in child trauma appointed to national steering committee

Ginny Sprang, PhD

Ginny Sprang, PhD, professor of psychiatry and a co-founder of the UK Center on Trauma and Children (CTAC), has fought child maltreatment for almost two decades. In recognition of the work she has done as executive director of CTAC, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has appointed Sprang to its steering committee for the next two years.

Sprang was invited to the NCTSN’s steering committee because of her dedication to improving clinical services for children experiencing trauma. She said the appointment will only help strengthen CTAC’s role as a national leader in the field.

“Raising the standard of care is very much in line with the goals of the center and the UK College of Medicine,” Sprang said.

Researching and improving care for 18 years

Beginning in 1999, a series of research and clinical projects were funded at UK to understand child maltreatment and improve the care these victims receive. Eight years later, the UK Board of Trustees voted to establish a center that would encourage scientists and clinicians to conduct clinical research and provide evidence-based services to children and families who have been exposed to a wide range of traumatic events. Since then, the CTAC has been a leader in studying and treating children who have experienced trauma.

The NCTSN, established by Congress in 2000, includes 79 centers of excellence that work to implement policy, improve clinical care and develop products. Ten years ago, CTAC was awarded membership in the network.

Bringing the latest innovations to the Commonwealth

Two living laboratories in UK CTAC enable clinicians and researchers to test and adopt clinical strategies for reducing the harm associated with violence exposure. The assessment lab includes families referred through the court system or child protective services. The federally funded treatment lab brings the latest innovations in child trauma treatment to Kentucky and provides a venue for investigating the harms associated with specific types of traumatic experiences.

Assessing the impact of traumatic events on children isn’t the only kind of research currently being conducted at CTAC. The center also runs a Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) Practice Lab, aimed at improving the work environment for care providers. STS is caused by frequent indirect exposure to traumatic material and can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in trauma providers. The STS Practice Lab is a place where CTAC can develop and test new tools and interventions to address STS.

“Raising the standard of care for traumatized children mandates that the child-serving workforce be protected as well,” Sprang said.


Next steps:

  • Find out how research being done at UK CTAC is helping combat child trauma and improve care.
  • Learn more about the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, which provides more than 30 advanced sub-specialty programs in children’s health.
DanceBlue has always been "For The Kids." "For The Kids" may seem like three simple words, but for the DanceBlue community, those words mean everything.

DanceBlue celebrates more than a decade of dancing ‘for the kids’

DanceBlue celebrated its 12th-annual 24-hour dance marathon this past weekend, raising nearly $1.8 million “for the kids.” The group’s slogan is just three simple words, but for the DanceBlue community, “for the kids” means everything.

DanceBlue is UK’s largest student-run philanthropy and has raised more than $11.5 million since 2006 in support of cancer patients, their families and cancer research.

Thanks to 12 years of DanceBlue’s fundraising, UK opened the new, state-of-the-art DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic earlier this month. In addition to fundraising, DanceBlue students also volunteer about 1,000 hours in the clinic each year, bringing smiles and laughter to patients and families.

“The students have a real commitment to our patients,” said Dr. Lars Wagner, chief of pediatric hematology and oncology. “They build relationships, then they work hard to raise funds to help support these very kids that they’re getting to know and care for.”

Rachel O’Farrell, a social worker in the DanceBlue Clinic, agreed and said the support patients and their families get from DanceBlue students is invaluable in their treatment journey.

“I think it’s huge to see what it means to patients and families to know that there’s a whole community standing behind them when they’re going through such a difficult experience,” O’Farrell said. “Many of our families feel very lonely, but when you know that there are 900 to 1,000 students dancing and standing for 24 hours to encourage and support your family  I think that holds a lot of meaning.”

Watch the video below to learn more about DanceBlue’s mission and how the group has helped improve cancer care for kids across the Commonwealth.


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This year's DanceBlue event raised nearly $2 million in support of pediatric cancer, with part of those funds going toward the new DanceBlue Clinic.

DanceBlue raises nearly $1.8 million for pediatric cancer patients

Nearly 1,000 UK students spent 24 hours on their feet this weekend, dancing as part of the UK DanceBlue Marathon. It was the culmination and celebration of a yearlong fundraising effort that raised almost $1.8 million for pediatric cancer patients and their families.

DanceBlue the largest student-run philanthropy organization at UK  celebrates its yearly fundraising efforts at the DanceBlue Marathon, an all-day, no-sitting, no-sleeping event that honors those affected by childhood cancer. This year’s celebration took place on Feb. 25 and 26 and included a family talent show featuring children from the clinic and an emotional memorial hour to remember those who lost their battle with cancer.

Since it began in 2006, DanceBlue has raised more than $11.5 million for the Golden Matrix Fund and the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic, which is named in honor of the group. DanceBlue’s fundraising efforts over the last several years helped support the renovation of the new DanceBlue Clinic, which opened in early February.

“For the last 365 days, students at the University of Kentucky have been on a mission to fight pediatric cancer,” said Richie Simpson, the overall chair of DanceBlue. “They have come together to be a part of something so much greater than any one individual, and for the last 24 hours they have literally taken a stand against cancer. They refused to accept the realities of cancer, and they showed the families in the DanceBlue Clinic they are not alone and will never be alone as they face some of the toughest circumstances life can throw at you. It has been an honor to stand alongside students at the university who are so committed to making a difference and changing the world.”


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The new $1.6 million DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital (KCH) Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic transports families to a beachside getaway.

DanceBlue celebrates opening of new pediatric cancer clinic

With a sailboat full of toys, murals of blue skies over the sea and a lighthouse illuminated with all colors of the rainbow, the new $1.6 million DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic transports families to a beachside getaway.

The expanded beach-themed clinic, supported by funds raised through the UK DanceBlue organization and dance marathon event, is designed to enhance resources, privacy and care for pediatric patients and families battling cancer. The student-run organization raised more than $1.3 million to upgrade the clinic, with additional support from donors inspired by the DanceBlue movement.

‘The transformational power of we’

On Monday, UK President Eli Capilouto, DanceBlue student-volunteers, KCH staff, and patients and their families celebrated the grand opening of the clinic during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Capilouto commended the efforts of DanceBlue students, donors and organizers who pledged to upgrade the facility for Kentucky’s youngest cancer patients.

“With the dedication of the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic we acknowledge the transformational power of ‘we’ and the enduring dedication of UK students to build a better world,” Capilouto said. “The new clinic better positions the faculty, staff and clinicians responsible for caring for the strongest among us  the kids for whom nearly 1,000 UK students will stand and dance in a couple weeks. Our students provide the constant reminder that, together, we will fight ‘For the Kids’ until the battle is won.”

Equipped with state-of-the-art technology

Relocated to Kentucky Children’s Hospital, the new clinic boasts more than 6,000 square feet, doubling the space of the former outpatient clinic located at the Kentucky Clinic. The waiting room features an interactive lighthouse, with a touchpad that allows children to choose the color of the light, as well as a 300-gallon fish aquarium. The clinic is furnished with spacious exam rooms, four private infusion rooms for chemotherapy and three semi-private infusion rooms designated for specific age groups.

The clinic’s beach theme complements the Ocean Pod, where DanceBlue patients stay during inpatient treatment. Consistent with the theme, DanceBlue volunteers and clinic staff can leave encouraging messages for patients in a wall compartment resembling a “message in a bottle.” The waiting room also includes three computer stations where patients can check-in for appointments. The new clinic houses a separate phlebotomy and port access station, as well as an exclusive pharmacy and child life coordinator.

“Our new DanceBlue Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic has been transformational for cancer care at Kentucky Children’s Hospital,” said Dr. Lars Wagner, chief of pediatric hematology and oncology. “Our patients and their families now have a warm and spacious clinic with private and semi-private infusion rooms. My staff and I are so grateful to DanceBlue.”

People make the place

Nine-year-old patient Ryan Cremeens has received cancer treatment at the DanceBlue Clinic since June 2016. The Cremeens family recently transitioned from the old clinic to the new facility. While they appreciate the new clinic features, Eric Cremeens, Ryan’s dad, believes it’s the people at the clinic the doctors, nurses and staff who make his son’s experience meaningful.

“It obviously takes a special person to do the jobs they do at the clinic,” Eric Cremeens said. “We are more than blessed to have Dr. Wagner during our visits. He has been a calming, steady voice throughout the entire treatment process. The nurses and staff are also incredible. By the second visit everyone knew Ryan’s name and recognized his face, and it has made the whole process much better.”

Wagner has not only impacted Eric Cremeens, but Ryan has also taken favor to him, referring to him as the “Wag-man.”

“Ryan feels comfortable going there and he loves Dr. Wagner,” Cremeens said. “Dr. Wagner is more than a top-notch physician  he’s just a great person.”

Ryan Cremeens also benefits from the DanceBlue student-volunteers who serve in the clinic during his visits. He enjoys seeing DanceBlue student-volunteer Bryan Adams, who also served as his Indian Summer Camp counselor.

“Every time I see Ryan and his family, it makes my day,” Adams said. “He is filled with so much joy and he makes everyone who is around him smile and laugh.”

The largest philanthropic event at UK

DanceBlue, the largest student-run philanthropy organization at the University of Kentucky, has made a profound impact on the children treated in the DanceBlue Clinic since its inception in 2006. The annual DanceBlue Marathon benefits the Golden Matrix Fund and, in turn, the DanceBlue Clinic. DanceBlue has raised more than $9.8 million for children and pledged more than $1 million to support the new clinic in 2013.

“It is truly special with all the new and exciting things happening at UK, for our students to be able to say they built a new facility too,” said Richie Simpson, the overall chair of DanceBlue. “It is a testament to the hard work of students throughout the past 12 years, and a commitment to continue fighting for the kids in our clinic.”

Ryan is expected to complete chemotherapy on March 30. The DanceBlue 2017 Marathon will take place the weekend of Feb. 25 and 26 from 8 p.m. Saturday through 8 p.m. Sunday in Memorial Coliseum. The marathon is open to the public from start to finish. For more information about DanceBlue, registration information or to support its efforts, visit danceblue.org.


Watch our video for a tour inside the new DanceBlue Clinic.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about the pediatric cancer care provided at the DanceBlue Clinic.
  • Interested in donating to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital? Visit Give to KCH to learn more about ways you can support our mission.
The rate of Americans with a life-threatening peanut allergy has greatly risen. But avoiding peanuts might not be the best idea when it comes to prevention.

Careful exposure to peanuts may prevent allergies, experts say

George J. Fuchs III, MD

The rate of Americans suffering from food allergies, including a life-threatening peanut allergy, has dramatically increased in the past few decades. But avoiding peanuts entirely might not be the best idea when it comes to prevention.

New evidence shows peanut exposure can be OK

Peanut allergies are the leading cause of death caused by food-induced asphyxia, although death from a peanut allergy is rare. Peanut allergies typically begin during early childhood and persist into adulthood. For years, pediatricians recommended parents proceed with caution when introducing potentially allergenic foods. They advised a strict elimination of peanut products from the at-risk child’s diet until 3 years of age. But now experts point to evidence that early and frequent exposure to peanuts can prevent a lifelong peanut allergy.

Kentucky Children’s Hospital pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. George Fuchs served on an expert panel convened by the National Institutes of Health to address the prevention and management of peanut allergies in children. In a reversal of former medical recommendations, the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease approved the guidelines advising the deliberate inclusion, instead of exclusion, of age-appropriate peanut products in the infant diet.

A panel of experts re-examines an old way of thinking

The panel, which released its guidelines in January, cited high-quality research indicating that children at risk for peanut allergy who consume peanut-containing products early in life are actually less, not more, likely to develop an allergy. In the landmark Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) allergy trial, fewer than 2 percent of children given peanut protein as part of their diet developed a peanut allergy at 60 months of age.

In contrast, 13 percent of children in a peanut-avoidance group developed a peanut allergy. The panel recommended children prone to peanut sensitivity, such as those already diagnosed with an egg allergy or eczema, begin to receive age-appropriate peanut-containing foods as early as four to six months of age. The recommendations advise those children without a predisposition to food allergies receive peanut products at the same time they transition to solid foods.

UK doctor presents key points on preventing peanut allergies

Fuchs, who serves as the chief of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at KCH, presented key points from the new guidelines to colleagues at the American Society of Nutrition Symposium in December. Fuchs said early introduction of peanut products enhances tolerance and reduces the risk of a peanut allergy. Avoidance of peanuts only increases the likelihood of a permanent peanut allergy.

“For the past few decades, pediatricians have been telling parents to eliminate peanut products from their baby’s diet, when avoidance may actually be the root of the allergy problem,” Fuchs said. “Our panel found introducing peanuts early on was the single-most effective step in preventing an allergy. There is a window of opportunity to teach the body’s immune system to accept that food.”

The authors anticipate the new guidelines will reduce the prevalence of peanut allergies in the U.S. Read the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease’s new recommendations for parents and caregivers here.


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