Milestones at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

Research, surgical and clinical highlights, 1991-2010

1991 At its June 10 opening, Packard Children's is one of the only children's hospitals in the country to incorporate labor and delivery and newborn nurseries, setting it up to become a national leader in neonatology research and care. The neonatology team, for example, developed a new diagnostic instrument for rapid bedside screening of hemolysis in jaundiced newborns, in 1994.

1993 The first clinical trial testing methods for preventing eating disorders in adolescents is completed.

Mid 1990s Stanford/Packard research sheds light on how the immune system responds to varicella, the virus responsible for chickenpox. The same research group also helps test the now-standard pediatric varicella vaccine, which has dramatically reduced childhood cases of chickenpox.

1996 Discovery of a mutated gene that causes a childhood form of inherited epilepsy, followed by the development of a genetic model of the disease in mice two years later.

1997 Completion of a multicenter trial showing that standard chemotherapy for most children with early-stage non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can be safely reduced.

1999 First experimental trial demonstrating that limiting children's television watching prevents excess weight gain.

1999 Identification of the disease responsible for Rett's syndrome, a common cause of mental retardation in girls.

2002 Packard Children's surgeon Mohan Reddy performs open-heart surgery on the youngest and smallest infant ever to undergo such an operation, successfully repairing a congenital heart defect in Serena Brown, who was born prematurely at 25 weeks' gestation. Serena weighed as much as two cans of soda at the time of the operation, and her heart was the size of the tip of Reddy's thumb.

2003 Stanford/Packard researchers develop a new immune-suppressing drug regimen for children who have received solid organ transplants, which allows kids to avoid steroid drugs and their significant side effects.

2005 Research at Stanford and Packard shows that kids with bedroom TVs have lower standardized test scores.

2007 A Packard team successfully separates a pair of twins born conjoined at the abdomen and sharing a liver. One twin then undergoes surgery to repair her congenital heart defect.

2007 Severe post-traumatic stress disorder is shown to cause lasting damage to children's brains, including smaller size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory.

2008 The first-ever scarless splenectomy in a child is performed at Packard Children's when an 8-year-old boy has his spleen removed through an incision in his belly button to treat a genetic disease. The operation demonstrates how Packard Children's surgeons seek to advance minimally invasive approaches to cut post-surgical pain, infection risk and scarring.

2008 A new prenatal test is developed for Down Syndrome that carries lower risks to the pregnancy than amniocentesis.

2009 A 3-year-old boy treated at Packard Children's becomes the youngest child ever to have a complete bone, his humerus, replaced with a custom-fit implant that will grow with him. The orthopedic surgery, a treatment for a bone tumor, saves his arm from amputation.

2010 Packard Children's research shows that family therapy is twice as effective as individual psychotherapy for treatment of adolescent anorexia nervosa.

2010 A multidisciplinary team uses a novel combination of prenatal care, medications and a liver transplant to cure an infant of an often-fatal metabolic disease, an approach that amounts to "gene therapy with a scalpel."

Source: Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

— Palo Alto Online staff

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