CHOC Walk Ambassador

Every year, a special child leads 15,000 CHOC supporters down Main Street, U.S.A. in the Disneyland® Resort in Anaheim California. This remarkable child reminds us of how important CHOC Children’s is to our community. It’s for the children that we walk and it’s for them that CHOC makes miracles and Disney® makes magic!

We are honored to introduce the 2010 CHOC Walk in the Park Ambassador, Alexys Alonzo! To read Alexys’ story, please visit

National Immunization Awareness Month

August, National Immunization Awareness Month, is the perfect time to remind family, friends, and co-workers, to get up to date with their vaccinations to protect themselves from serious, life-threatening infections.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the need for protection is underscored by current outbreaks of pertussis, also known as “whooping cough,” which has killed six infants in California this year, as well as recent outbreaks of Hib meningitis in Minnesota and measles in the San Diego area.

Check out these great sites for more information, including a must-see video with Dr. Jasjit Singh:

Study at CHOC May Improve Outcome for Preemies

Chad Lieber, Ph.D., director of the CHOC Bio-Optics Laboratory, and CHOC neonatologist John Cleary, M.D., are focusing on one of the greatest challenges facing preemies – nutrition. In studies over the next two years, sponsored by the Gerber Foundation, small optical sensors will be placed on nearly 200 CHOC NICU babies’ foreheads and bellies, to attempt to predict preemies’ tolerance for feeding and ultimately help improve the long-term outcome for these vulnerable babies. Dr. Lieber (pictured above) talks more about this unique study:

Q: What are these optical sensors and what will they measure?
A:  These are the same sensors that are rapidly becoming standard practice in measuring oxygenation in the brain.  They are about the size of a Band-Aid, and emit low levels of light on one end which travels through the tissue before being collected on the other end of the sensor.

Q: What makes this study so unique?
A: Since this technique uses light, it is done painlessly and instantaneously.  Two very important things for patients, their families, and caregivers.  But the technique itself, known as near-infrared spectroscopy or NIRS, has been used for many years to determine brain oxygenation in critical care children and adults.

We are simply moving the sensor from the forehead (where it measures the brain) to the abdomen (where it can measure the bowel).  What is truly unique about our study is that our primary goal is to provide reassurance that babies can tolerate food, and secondarily to provide early indication of intolerant digestive systems.

Q: How will this method benefit premature babies and their families?
At this point, we don’t know that it will, in fact, benefit anybody.  But some of our preliminary data leads us to believe that it could, and this is why the Gerber Foundation has invested in our study.

In brief, our approach may allow caregivers an accurate assessment of the maturity of babies’ bowels, so they can decide whether to give them food by mouth or via an intravenous (IV) needle, with the main goal of providing optimum nutrition without inducing any injury.

Q: Why is optimal nutrition for preemies so important?
A: Particularly in very small preterm babies, the bowel sometimes hasn’t matured enough to be up to the task of handling food.  So caregivers are faced with a double-edged sword: (A) give food too early and risk injuring an immature digestive system that may then require surgery to correct, or (B) try to avoid such injury by feeding through an IV and risk suboptimal nutrition that can permanently impair brain development.

These are not one-time choices, but decisions that are made on a continuous basis while the baby is in the unit. Choosing correctly each time is vital to ensuring that babies get the right nutrition to develop properly and without further complication.

CHOC Research Institute Makes a Mark


CHOC Research Institute Associate Ryan Roberts is working with a team of scientists to identify specific genetic markers for Sickle Cell Disease  and Thalassemia .

By carefully studying the genetic origins of pediatric disease, he is helping to pioneer new screenings and treatments for red cell abnormalities.

To learn more about The CHOC Research Institute, click here.

Our Research Institute is REALLY Cool

Watch as the Director of CHOC Research Institute Brent Dethlefs shows off some of the “cool” equipment we’ve got in our state-of-the-art research labs here at the hospital.

Scientists at the CHOC Research Institute use cryogenic freezers to store donated cord blood and bone marrow to be used for transplants in patients with oncology or hematology-related disease.

Want to know something else that’s pretty cool? Our seven cryogenic freezers are named after the seven dwarfs. That’s right—we rely on Sleepy, Happy, Dopey, Doc, Bashful, Sneezy and Grumpy to support these life-saving treatment options.

Watch the video and meet “Bashful.”

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