Thursday, March 11, 2010
Chart predicts height and weight

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Obesity continues to be a problem. In fact, over the years, obesity has become more of a problem in children. There are different ways to explain to parents about their children being overweight. When you tell a parent that their child is overweight, we see several reactions. The most common is to just take the information in. There seems to be a sense that just because a child is overweight now, there will not be a problem later. Other parents become angry and take the information personally. They act like you are accusing them of making their child overweight. This reaction makes the diagnosis difficult to deal with. I have found that one way of addressing weight issues is by using growth charts. There are standard growth curves that we use. We find the child's age on the growth chart and plot their height and weight which allows us to do several things. The first is that we can compare the child's height and weight to other children his/her age. For example, if the child is average height and weight, then they are considered average. If height is above average, they are tall for their age. If the weight matches the height, then they are the right weight for their height. The second thing we can do is predict what to expect in the future. Usually, there is no predictive value to a single measurement. However, I frequently see children for whom I have 5, 6 or 7 years worth of measurements. When that happens, it is more accurate to predict the future height and weight. When we have several years of measurements, we can usually accurately predict the child's final height. I can also look at the weight and tell them that prediction. If I tell a parent their child is overweight, it might or might not make an impression. However, if I predict that their child will weigh 300 or 350 pounds when they are full grown, it usually makes a more distinct impression. Telling parents what they can expect in the future is sometimes a shock. It is important to pay attention to our children's weight. The question might not be how much they weigh now but rather how much they will weigh when they are grown. This is a good conversation for parents to have with their child's doctor before the weight gets to the point where it is clearly too much.

How to deal with a chronic cough

It wakes you up in the middle of the night. It disrupts your day. And, it leaves you gasping for air and grasping for answers. Why won't that nagging cough go away? If you have a chronic cough, you're not alone. Last year, coughing accounted for 30-million doctors' visits in the United States, and was the fourth leading reason for patients to go to their doctor. And, there are many Americans with "chronic coughs" lasting for years. "While some coughs are relatively benign, others could be the sign of something much worse, such as cancer," said Bayhealth Pulmonologist Hakim Azfar Ali, MBBS, MD, FCCP. "There are so many possible causes for a cough. It starts with cough receptors in your brain, and then there could be issues with your stomach, your lungs, your throat or even your heart. It could even stem from other medications such as ACE inhibitors," said Dr. Ali. Ali notes that upper airway problems in the nose, throat and sinuses cause up to 40 percent of coughs. Asthma is responsible for about 20 percent of coughs. Stomach acid reflux accounts for about 15 percent of cases. Then, there are the less common instances when chronic coughing is the symptom for a far more serious condition such as cancer. In some rare instances, an enlarged atrium in the heart may press against nerves which trigger the cough reflex. However, smoking is by far the largest, most controllable cause of coughing. "Smoking can cause bronchitis or emphysema, which triggers constant coughing," said Dr. Ali. Doctors can develop clues through an exam. If there are still no definitive answers, diagnostics such as X-Rays, CT-Scans, and bronchoscopies may provide additional clues to the doctor. After a diagnosis, treatment can be a slow process. "Treatment may take months or years. And, patients have to be compliant and not stop their medication just because they don't see results in the first few days," said Dr. Ali. Hakim Azfar Ali, MBBS, MD, FCCP, is a pulmonologist at Bayhealth Medical Center. To schedule an appointment, call 674-7155.

Dealing with Alzheimer's Disease Are you among those dealing with the impact of Alzheimer's Disease? Do you know someone who is? Join us at the Methodist Manor House at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30 for "Remembrances Past: How to deal with the impact of Alzheimer's Disease". Featured speakers include Kay Lynne Ege of Good News Consulting, a leading expert in the field of progressive care for Alzheimer's; Jamie Magee, Sussex County Alzheimer's Association chapter director; and Dr. Jervis Cooke, a Manor House resident who will share his personal insights based on his experiences as a caregiver for his wife. A question-and-answer session will immediately follow the speaking program. Alzheimer's and related dementia disorders is becoming a growing concern in the community as Sussex County's older adult population ages. We invite you to come and listen and ask questions. An open house will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. with light refreshments. The program begins at 7 p.m. This event is open to the public, however, reservations are required. To RSVP, call the Manor House at 628-5617 by March 26.

DSCC offers free drug card Delaware residents now have access to free discount prescription cards compliments of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. The Delaware Drug Card will provide savings of up to 75 percent on prescription drugs, and is accepted at more than 50,000 pharmacies across the country. The Delaware Drug Card was launched to help uninsured and underinsured residents afford their prescription medications. However, the program can also be used by people who have health insurance with no prescription benefits, which is common in many health savings accounts (HSA) and high deductible health plans. Additionally, people who have prescription coverage can use this program for non-formulary or non-covered drugs. The Delaware Drug Card has no restrictions to membership, no income or age limitations and residents are not required to fill out an application or provide personal information to obtain a free card. Delaware residents can download a free card and search drug pricing and participating pharmacies at

Reduce the risk of falling The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Sussex County will offer a free eight week course emphasizing practical strategies to reduce the risk of falling and increase activity levels. Classes will be held in the Fellowship Hall of Methodist Manor House, 1001 Middleford Road, Seaford, once a week for eight weeks from 10 a.m. to noon. The classes start Monday, March 29, and continue through Monday, May 17. The program is based on "Fear of Falling: A Matter of Balance" developed at Boston University. RSVP volunteers have been trained to teach the classes with the help of Methodist Manor House staff, including a physical therapist. Anyone who has fallen in the past or who is concerned about falls; anyone interested in improving balance, flexibility and strength; and anyone who has restricted activities because of falling concerns should attend. For more information or to register, call RSVP at 856-5815.

Nemours appoints new leaders Nemours Health and Prevention Services has recently undergone a re-structuring to ensure the success of its

community-based approach to child health promotion and is pleased to announce the following leadership appointments. Yvette Santiago, MS, has been appointed director of community and government affairs. Previously a senior manager with Nemours, Santiago joined the organization in 2004. She holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Wilmington University and a master's degree in administration and planning from Northeastern University in Boston. She resides with her family in Middletown. Kelli Oliver Thompson, JD, has been appointed director of policy, evaluation and research.Thompson has more than 15 years of experience in non-profit management and children's issues, including leadership with United Cerebral Palsy of Central Pennsylvania as director of childhood programs; Pennsylvania's Early Childhood Mental Health Project, and other health-related initiatives for children. Thompson, who joined Nemours in 2008, earned her bachelor's degree in family resources at West Virginia University and her law degree at Widener University. She resides with her family in Townsend. W. Douglas Tynan, PhD, has been appointed director for program development and implementation. Dr. Tynan joined Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in 2001 as a clinical psychologist and in 2007 was appointed chief psychologist with the Health and Prevention Services division. A graduate of Boston University, Dr. Tynan earned his master's degree in psychology at the University of Connecticut and his PhD at Binghamton University. He is a licensed psychologist in Delaware and Pennsylvania. Dr. Tynan is an associate professor of pediatrics, Jefferson Medical College and a senior fellow in the Thomas Jefferson University School of Population Health. He was appointed by former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson to the national Head Start Advisory Committee on Research and Evaluation. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. He resides with his family in Wilmington.

Hospice plans fundraiser Delaware Hospice's Beef and Brew fundraiser will be held on Friday, April 16, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Georgetown CHEER Center. Tickets are $30 per person through Monday, April 12, and $35 per person after April 12 or at the door. Beef and sides will be catered by the Georgia House and beer sponsored by Banks Wines & Spirits and the Starboard. The evening will include raffles, a silent auction and dancing with "The Funsters." Delaware Hospice invites you to participate through sponsorships or donations of auction items. Call Peggy Dolby, 856-7717, or Mary Morgan, 800-838-9800, for tickets or sponsorship information.

Registration open for Walk MS Registration is now open for this year's Walk MS season in Delaware. Organized by the Delaware Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the goal is to raise awareness and funds for the programs and services needed by more than 1,500 Delawareans with MS and their families. Each of the five events takes place on an accessible 5K route, and plenty of support is available as well as the opportunity for lots of fun with family and friends. Two events take place in Sussex County:
  • Walk MS: Twilight at Heritage Shores steps off at Providence At Heritage Shores, One Heritage Shores Circle in Bridgeville, on Friday, April 30, at 6 p.m.
  • Walk MS: Twilight at Baywood Greens steps off at the Baywood Greens Golf Course, 32267 Clubhouse Way in Long Neck, on Friday, May 21, at 6 p.m.
Day-of registration begins one hour before the event, but advanced registration is recommended. For more information or to register, call 302-655-5610 or visit

Cancer support group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a free general cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The monthly support group meets in the second floor conference room of the Cancer Care Center on the third Monday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Wellness Community is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. All facilitators of these groups are trained mental health professionals. Call 645-9150 for information or to register.

Man to Man support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital offers a Man to Man support group meeting on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Man to Man helps men cope with prostate cancer by receiving information and peer support. Man to Man is a forum for men and their support network to learn about diagnosis and treatment options through presentations, written materials and videos. Specialists share information such as side effects and how to cope with prostate cancer and its treatment. News and information about nutrition, general health, research and treatment, as well as messages from men living with prostate cancer and other Man to Man activities, are offered to assist in the recovery process. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact Larry Skala (337-3678) or Grafton Adams (628-8311).

Depression Support Group There is a free bimonthly Depression Support Group meeting in Laurel on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Any person who has signs and symptoms of depression and is under the care of a professional counselor/MD is welcome to attend. To register, call 302-465-6612.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. The program is facilitated by Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center professional staff - Terri A. Clifton, MS, NCC, Cancer Care coordinator; Mary Brown, RN, DSN, manager Cancer Care Center; and Wendy Polk, nutritionist - with assistance from Lois Wilkinson, DBCC special projects manager, who helps facilitate the program at Bayhealth. Together, they answer questions, help calm fears, and share information about resources that are available at Nanticoke, through DBCC, and other organizations within the local community. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Bereavement support group Compassionate Care Hospice, The Wellness Community-DE and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will collaborate to present a monthly bereavement group, The Next Step. The group focuses on issues of loss that continue beyond the early stages of grief. Mary Van House, bereavement coordinator, will facilitate the group at 10 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, at the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, second floor conference room. To register, call Lisa at 629-6611, ext. 2378.