Renowned Pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton visits Children's Hospital

Matt Thuente was the first patient with neuroblastoma treated with use of MIBG at American Family Children’s Hospital.

MADISON - One of the greatest minds in pediatrics visited American Family Children’s Hospital recently to meet with hospital and civic leaders and offer his expertise to health professionals responsible for taking care of children. 
Dr. T. Berry Brazelton developed the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) that evaluates the physical and neurological responses of newborns, their emotional well-being and individual differences. He has also written 24 books on child development.
While in Madison, he lectured at a post-graduate certificate program for health care providers who want to learn more about recognizing mental illnesses in children.  
"I wanted to let them know how important their work was and what an opportunity it was to enter the family as a system," he says. "They have the opportunity to give those parents an understanding of the newborn as an individual and give them a chance to understand from the newborn how exciting parenting can be."
Brazelton also believes it’s important for parents to work together with health care providers and share ideas on how to raise their children.
"Parents never learn through the top-down approach, where they are told what to do," he says. "I think if you give parents a chance to say what they need (to raise their children), they come alive and feel they are in charge and in control."
Brazelton has testified before Congressional committees on behalf of the family medical leave bill, as well as legislation that extended the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to children under age three. He says raising children in the 21st century is far different than it was decades ago.
"Thirty percent of parents are singles trying to raise a child, and the stress has increased significantly," he says. "Women are at home wondering if they should be in the workforce and women in the workforce are wondering if they should be at home. We’ve split women in two and haven’t put them back together again.
"Both parents have to work and they have no time for family rituals. It’s very important to children that when their parents come home at the end of the day, the family sits around and eats meals together. This is so exciting for children, because they can unload and tell you what went on during the day.  It’s a very powerful time for families to get together.”
Brazelton says children also need their families when they are going through a stressful period such as hospitalization. He recalls the story of a child who was being treated for cancer at Children’s Hospital in Boston where Brazelton led a campaign for child and family-centered care in the '60s and '70s.   
"He was very apathetic, and no one could feed him or deal with him," he says. "His parents started petting his face, but he ignored them. All of a sudden, his two older brothers, six and eight, came off the elevator and he came alive.  He stood up at the side of his crib and began to talk. It became obvious that siblings were very important to this child who was very sick."

Date Published: 08/27/2010

News tag(s):  kidschildren

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