Tag Archives: neurologic disease

From the desk of Doc Smo: H1N1 legacy in children (Article)


We live in the era of big data.  Computers have allowed the collection and analysis of huge amounts of data that until recently, was unimaginable.  The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta constantly collects data on every disease imaginable.  In an article in the September 2012 edition of the journal Pediatrics, the researchers at the CDC focused on deaths in children from influenza A during the 2009 pandemic.


In the United States, there were 336 pediatric deaths directly linked to the H1N1 germ.  68% of the deaths occurred in children with some kind of underlying medical condition.  In other words, the majority of children killed by the H1N1 germ had something wrong with them before they contracted the flu.  An astounding 64% had some type of neurologic condition such as cerebral palsy or an intellectual disability.  I would have suspected that having asthma would have been the big risk factor not cerebral palsy or developmental disabilities.  In our practice, all the children who were admitted to the hospital with severe H1N1 disease during the 2009 pandemic had underlying lung disease not neurologic  problems.


So here is the take home message for everyone.  Every child should get a flu shot, especially children with cerebral palsy and those with intellectual impairments: hopefully before December.  Vaccine supply seems to be plentiful this year so take the time to get your child vaccinated.  Without “us” to spread the flu germ around, flu just won’t be able to take hold. Last year, 2011, was the mildest flu season that I can remember in my 30 years of practice.  I don’t think that was due to good fortune but rather was a direct effect of so many parents making it a priority to vaccinate their children.  Flu epidemics don’t have to happen every winter as long as we stay one step ahead by vaccinating.


Your comments are welcome on www.docsmo.com.  Thanks for joining us today.  Until next time.


Smo Notes:

Pediatrics Volume 130, Number 3, September 2012



The Quest for Cures (Article)

In today’s world, we sit on top of the shoulders of all who preceded us. Without Dr. Pasteur, our children would suffer far more food-borne disease, as well as fear that the bite of a dog would be a fatal event. Without Dr. Koch, diphtheria would kill many of our youngest children.  Without Drs. Salk and Sabin, polio would wreak devastation as it did in our Grandmother’s time.  Well, you get the idea:  we are not the creators of the modern world, simply the fortunate beneficiaries of the truly inspired genius of those who lived before us.


I was reminded of this fact on my recent vacation to Portugal.  My wife and I were fortunate to go to Lisbon for some sightseeing. On our first day, as we were touring the port at Belem from which the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their journeys into the unknown, our guide did an “Oh by the way, there is the …” while we drove past something called the “Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.”   The Centre for the Unknown, how cool is that?  Wouldn’t you love to work there?  They don’t sell anything, make anything, or have any of the constraints the rest of the world works under.  They go to work everyday to discover the unknown, They go to work to break new boundaries and unlock new secret findings in the fields of neuroscience and oncology. I was immediately taken by the idea.


Knowing that these and other bright, young, energetic minds are hard at work in the neurosciences and cancer research reminded me to have hope that some of our children’s great plagues, such as cancer and autism, may soon be unraveled.  I truly hope that in 20 years, some of these obscure scientists’ names will become known by everyone for their great contributions to humankind.  We are constantly reminded in our media about destructive, evil forces all over the world.  It was great to encounter on my vacation what I consider to be true goodness in a place called the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown!