Thursday, September 27, 2007
Many minor birth defects are genetic

By Anthony Policastro, M.D

There are many common minor birth defects that are inherited in a dominant fashion. That means that they are usually passed from the parent that has them to half of the children. Some of them are very common. One example of a common defect is something called Morton's foot. This is when the big toe appears to be shorter than the other toes. It is really the bone in the foot that is shorter. It just makes the big toe look shorter. It is seen very often. It is of little significance. However, it can cause arthritis in the toe from repeated jumping. Thus these individuals should not plan to be basketball players. Another inherited foot abnormality is called syndactyly. This is when the second and third toes of the feet are fused together. This is also of little significance. It could be a problem if the individual decides to be a professional ballerina. Otherwise, it does not matter. A third foot abnormality is called clinodactyly. This is when the end of one of the toes is bent inward. It usually occurs with the second toe or the fifth toe. Usually the parents have the same toe affected. A common birth defect of the ear is called the preauricular pit. These are small pits located at the top and front of the ear. They almost look like a piercing. Most of the times, they cause no problems. Occasionally, they can connect to a cyst. When that happens, the cyst can get infected. However, we do nothing but watch them. In the past some people tried to put a probe into them and see if they ended in a cyst. All that happened was that they might find a very long passageway that then got irritated from their probing. We do not do that any more. Another common condition goes by the name of polydactyly. This refers to having part of an extra finger present at birth. It is usually not a complete finger. It is usually only a piece of a finger. It is usually attached to the pinky of the hand. Polydactyly is interesting because it has incomplete penetrance. This is a medical term. It means that some of affected individuals will have it and some will not. It gives the appearance of skipping generations. Someone can be a carrier but not show the extra finger. Some of these individuals can have syndactyly of the fingers as well. Their fingers may be fused together. When I examine a newborn and find these, I tell the parents. The usual response is that they already know about it because one of the parents already has it. That makes it easy. However, sometimes, it is not that easy. I once examined a baby who had two fused toes. The mother asked me why. Her toes were extending out of the covers. My response was "well, you have fused toes". She said: "I know I have it, but why does she have it." She felt that this was due to something other than genetics. It is not. It is just a hereditary minor birth defect.

Heart Walk
Trinity Transport Inc. and Nemours Health & Prevention Services are proud to be partnering with the American Heart Association's Start! Campaign, a physical activity program to fight heart disease and stroke by getting people moving through workplace working programs. Participating in this program can significantly improve your health. We ask that you join us in the American Heart Association's Annual Sussex County Start! Heart Walk to show your commitment and support for this amazing cause. The 5K (3.1 miles) walk will raise money for research opportunities as well as education and awareness resources. The American Heart Association goal for this event is 1,000 walkers, so get a group together and register today. You can register online and find more information at or call 856-7386. Contact Nemours at 302-444-9173 with any questions and take charge of your health. The event will be Oct. 6, at Delaware Technical Community College, registration is at 9 a.m.

Basket Bingo
Nanticoke Health Services will hold a Longaberger Basket Bingo on Thursday, Sept. 27, starting at 7 p.m. at the Seaford Moose, located on Rt. 13A in Seaford. Proceeds from the event will benefit the American Heart Association Heart Walk 2007. The evening will consist of 20 games and will feature several baskets including the Horizon of Hope sets, Medium Market, American Craft Woodland basket and several regular line baskets as prizes. Advance tickets are $20 per person, $25 at the door. Advance ticket includes a chance to win the Large Hamper and the 10" American Work basket, or one of the several door prizes. Nearly 30 chances to win. Refreshments will be available. For ticket information contact the EAC at 629-6611, ext. 2404, or

Nanticoke announces winners
Nanticoke Health Services has announced the recipients of the 3rd annual Nanticoke Tributes for Healthcare Leadership, which honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the provision and improvement of healthcare in the communities of western Sussex County. The awards will be presented at a dinner and reception on Nov. 1 from 6-9 p.m. at Heritage Shores in Bridgeville. The Founders Award will be presented to J. Leland Fox, MD. who is being honored for the instrumental role he played in the founding of the hospital. As a practicing physician, he identified the need for a hospital to serve the people of western Sussex County. This award will be presented posthumously to his family. The Charles C. Allen, Jr. Philanthropy Award is being awarded to Charles C. Allen, III. Charles "Chick" Allen has been an important part of Nanticoke in a variety of roles. He has led capital campaigns, served on the Board of Trustees, and been a strong advocate for Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in the community. He has been generous with both his time, talent and resources for decades. The Nanticoke Tributes will also recognize the two new inductees into the Nanticoke Physicians Hall of Fame. This award recognizes and honors physicians who have served their communities with dedication and distinction.

This year, Daniel A. Alvarez, MD and William B. Cooper, MD will be presented with the Hall of Fame Award. These awards will be presented posthumously to their families. Tickets for the dinner are $100 and may be purchased by calling 302-629-6611, ext. 2404.

Learn pediatric first
Parents, teachers, coaches, and day care providers can increase their caregiving and safety skills with a course in pediatric first aid at Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus. Pediatric First Aid covers managing pediatric emergencies including convulsions, burns, insect bites, poisoning, drowning, fractures, and sprains. The two-session course is approved by the Office of Child Care Licensing. Participants must attend both sessions to receive a three-year course completion certificate. For information on course dates, times, and fees, and/or to register, call Corporate and Community Programs at 855-5988.

NMH to hold Auction
Every year the staff at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital participate in the American Heart Association's START! Heart Walk to raise money for the American Heart Association. The Nanticoke Heartwalk team will be holding a silent auction in the hospital's main lobby on Friday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition, a bake sale to benefit the AHA Heartwalk will be held during the auction. Donations from local businesses will be up for bid, including items such as a variety of gift certificates, tickets, and items from restaurants, florists, auto shops, jewelers, and even a pair of NASCAR Nextel Cup tickets for the June 1, 2008 race at Dover's Monster Mile. Community members are invited to attend the auction and support the AHA Heartwalk 2007. Winning bidders will be notified by phone, and all items must be paid for and picked up by 4 p.m. the day of the auction, or the next highest bidder will win the item. For a complete list of items up for auction, or if your business would like to donate an item or gift certificate, contact event organizer Nicole Truitt at 629-6611, ext. 2609. New contributions are arriving every day, but so far, we would like to thank the following businesses for their support: Rommel's Ace Hardware, Advance Auto Parts, Applebee's, Autozone, Bon Appetit, Broadcreek Medical Supply, The Dairy Bar, Dairy Queen, Delmarva Shorebirds, Designer's Edge, Dover International Speedway, Donn's Hair Alternative, Grotto's Pizza, Harley Davidson, Heritage Jewelers, The Look-in Glass Shoppe, Methodist Manor House Wellness Center, Mike's Clearance Center, Mountain Mudd Espresso, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Peninsula Home Health, Posey Palace, Riverview Food Court, Ruby Tuesday, Sal's Pizza, Seaford Bowling Lanes, and Superkicks.

Red Balloon Hoedown
The Wellness Community-Delaware is celebrating its growth in Sussex County with a hoedown. Kick up your heels to country music favorites with Brian K. Hall of the CAT Country morning DJ team. The Red Balloon Hoedown will be held Friday, Oct. 19, from 7-11 p.m. at the Baycenter in Dewey Beach. Event sponsors include Delmarva Broadcasting, Cape Gazette and the Tunnell Cancer Center. The event is an opportunity to pay tribute to people in Sussex County whose lives have been touched by cancer. This year, caregivers will also be honored. Tickets are $50 per person and include a tribute balloon that will be displayed at the event. "All of the programs at The Wellness Community are offered at no charge, so the Red Balloon Hoedown is an important fundraiser for us," said Suzanne Landon, Event chair. Landon, a breast cancer survivor, emphasized that there is a tremendous need in Sussex County for the cancer support services provided by The Wellness Community - Delaware. "Through on-site program participation and community outreach efforts, we have had an average of 600 contacts each month since relocating to our new facility on Rt. 24," said Landon. The Wellness Community-Delaware is seeking additional sponsors for the Red Balloon Hoedown. Sponsors play an intricate role in allowing The Wellness Community-Delaware to continue to provide vital support programs for people in Sussex County touched by cancer. For more information on sponsorships or to purchase tickets, contact Barbara Smith or Jo Wilkins by calling The Wellness Community at (302) 645-9150. Tickets may also be purchased online at All proceeds from the event will fund support programs for people with cancer and their families in Sussex County.

Stroke support group
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, cccupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 5121.