Tag Archives: multiple sclerosis

Pediatric MS on the rise in the northwest, drawing research attention

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

As part of a collaboration between KOUW and Investigate West, Carol Smith examined the rise of pediatric multiple sclerosis in the Pacific Northwest, a region that already has one of the highest rates of MS in the world.

Hard numbers are difficult to come by because the diagnosis is so complicated, but Smith writes that “current estimates suggest that between 18,000 and 25,000 children nationally either have MS, or have experienced symptoms suggestive of MS – some as young as age 5.”

Doctors aren’t sure what’s driving the apparent increase. It’s likely partly from improved diagnostic techniques and increasing awareness among pediatricians that MS can occur early in life. But some also think that the growing onslaught of chemical exposures in the environment may be making immune systems more vulnerable to whatever triggers the illness.

And the pivotal role adolescence could have in the shaping of a lifetime’s susceptibility to MS makes studying young MS sufferers a particularly critical task — a task which Smith explores further in a follow-up piece.

KQED profiles those who live with disease, injury

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

This month’s edition of Health Dialogues, part of KQED’s California Report, focuses on living with disease. In the report, KQED reporters talk to folks living with chronic disease, the effects of traumatic injury and other conditions that can have lasting effects on a person’s quality of life.

wheelchair
“Healed?” By swingnut via Flickr.

To provide insight into the life and routine of someone coping with chronic disease, reporters profile a music programmer ‘coping’ with diabetes, an activist who stumbled upon a forgotten childhood diagnosis of hepatitis B and a cellist with multiple sclerosis. They also talk to a couple dealing with cancer and two sisters on opposite ends of an organ donation chain.

In addition to cancer and disease, KQED reporters also explore how the lasting effects of traumatic injury can shape your life. Pieces include a KPBS reporter talking about his own traumatic brain injury and the story of a surfing-based physical therapy program for veterans.

CJR: Be skeptical of miraculous study results

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In the Columbia Journalism Review, Katherine Bagley urges journalists to use caution when reporting the results of medical studies, citing reports on a recent study on the effectiveness of using stem cells to halt or even reverse multiple sclerosis as an example.

Done with caution and a critical eye, coverage of limited but promising research can provide a needed dose of optimism for people with MS and their families. Unfortunately, in this case, that journalistic prudence was almost totally missing.

Bagley said that, through over-the-top reporting and selective coverage of the small-scale control-free study had inspired false hope and misled readers.