A recent study revealed that pediatric palliative care, when initiated early, can improve a child’s quality of life for many months. Pediatric palliative care services, which focus on symptom management for children with life-threatening and chronic conditions, are growing in children’s hospitals throughout the United States and Canada.
Akron Children’s Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center was one of the six hospitals to participate in this study. Of the six hospitals, Akron Children’s Hospital had the most patients with 163 children receiving palliative care, followed by Minneapolis Children’s Hospital with 102 patients.
According to the study, the majority of the patients (55%) were diagnosed with either genetic or congenital disorders or neuromuscular disorders. Half of the children with cancer were diagnosed with leukemia, while the other half was diagnosed with brain tumors. The less frequent diagnoses included gastrointestinal, respiratory, cardiovascular, metabolic, renal (kidney) and immunologic.
Overall, when compared with adult patients, children who received pediatric palliative care services had a greater diversity of medical conditions and a greater duration of survival. These statistics reinforce the need for pediatric palliative care teams in the coming years.
Read the full journal article at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/05/05/peds.2010-3225.