Category Archives: Child & Youth Health

Enjoy the lake — but please don’t drink the water

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Enjoy the lake this summer but, please, don’t drink the water, say Snohomish health officials

swimmersFrom the Snohomish Health District:

Swimming or playing in water that is contaminated or high in bacteria or natural toxins can affect your health.

Swimming pools, spas, lakes, rivers, or oceans are all potential sources of water-related illness. Recreational water illnesses typically affect a person’s stomach and intestines, causing diarrhea and vomiting. Water quality can also affect your skin or respiratory system.

The recent outbreak of illness at Horseshoe Lake in Kitsap County was caused by norovirus found in the water at the swimming beach. Continue reading

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More students to eat for free at school

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school lunch tray usdaBy Jake Grovum
Stateline

Thousands more students could be eating school lunch completely free starting next fall, thanks to a four-year-old federal program that is finally expanding to all 50 states.

The expansion comes through the so-called Community Eligibility Provision, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 as part of a broader school nutrition measure.

It opened the door for districts with free or reduced-price lunches to offer the meals to every student at the school, at no cost to them — no application necessary and regardless of household income. Continue reading

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Do teething babies need medicine on their gums? No

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Baby drinks from bottleConsumer Update from the US Food and Drug Administration

There are more theories about teething and “treating” a baby’s sore gums than there are teeth in a child’s mouth.

One thing doctors and other health care professionals agree on is that teething is a normal part of childhood that can be treated without prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

Too often well-meaning parents, grandparents and caregivers want to soothe a teething baby by rubbing numbing medications on the tot’s gums, using potentially harmful drugs instead of safer, non-toxic alternatives.

That’s why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning parents that prescription drugs such as viscous lidocaine are not safe for treating teething in infants or young children, and that they have hurt some children who used those products. Continue reading

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Moms, kids eat more (low mercury) fish – FDA says

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Medieval woodcut of fish in a netFDA Consumer Update

If you’re pregnant, you’ve no doubt been given a list of foods to avoid—undercooked meat, soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, and alcohol, to name a few.

The good news is that there is a food you should have more of while pregnant and while breastfeeding: fish and shellfish.

The latest science shows that eating fish low in mercury during pregnancy and in early childhood can help with growth and neurodevelopment. It can also be good for your health. Continue reading

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Obamacare boosts hospital mental healthcare for young adults

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teen-in-shadow-lightBy Jay Hancock
JUNE 11TH, 2014, 5:00 AM

Expanded coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act substantially raised inpatient hospital visits related to mental health, finds a new study by researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities.

That looks like good news: Better access to care for a population with higher-than-average levels of mental illness that too often endangers them and people nearby.

But it might not be the best result, said Kosali Simon, an economist at Indiana University and one of the authors.

Greater hospital use by the newly insured might be caused by inadequate outpatient resources to treat mental-health patients earlier and less expensively, she said. Continue reading

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School nurses’ role expands with access to students’ online health records

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Although the school nurse is a familiar figure, school-based health care is unfamiliar territory to many medical professionals, operating in a largely separate health care universe from other community-based medical services.

Now, as both schools and health care systems seek to ensure that children coping with chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma get the comprehensive, coordinated care the students need, the schools and health systems are forming partnerships to better integrate their services. Continue reading

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Should mental illness mean you lose your kid?

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Mindi has never harmed her daughter and is capably raising a son, but authorities took her daughter under a concept sometimes called “predictive neglect.”

Mindi’s daughter was taken by authorities after Mindi had a mental health crisis. Mindi has never been able to get her daughter back, even though she’s now capably raising a son. (Steve Herbert for ProPublica)

This story was co-published with The Daily Beast.

In August 2009, Mindi, a 25-year-old struggling new parent, experienced what doctors later concluded was a psychotic episode. She had been staying in a cousin’s spare basement room in De Soto, Kansas, while trying get on her feet after an unexpected pregnancy and an abusive relationship. She’d been depressed since her daughter was born and was becoming increasingly distrustful of her relatives.

Isolated, broke and scared, one Saturday morning, she cracked. She woke to change her 5-month-old daughter’s diaper. When Mindi looked down, she believed the baby’s genitals had been torn.

Mindi’s mind raced for an explanation. The one she came to? That her baby had been raped the night before; that someone—she did not know who—had put sedatives in the air vents.

Mindi called her pediatrician’s office. A receptionist told her to take her daughter to a children’s hospital in nearby in Kansas City, Missouri. Doctors there found no evidence that the girl had been harmed or that any of what Mindi claimed had actually happened.

After Mindi started arguing, medical staff sent her for a psychological evaluation and notified local child welfare authorities, according to court records.

Continue reading

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Heads Up — Free concussion app from the CDC

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Heads up appThe US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a free app to help you learn how to spot and what to do if you think your child or teen has a concussion or other serious brain injury.

The “Heads Up” APP will also teach you about helmet safety and features information on selecting the right helmet for your child’s or teen’s activity, including information on what to look for and what to avoid.

To learn more go here.

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Measles cases reach 20-year high, most come from travel: CDC

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Measles Rash - Photo: CDC

Measles Rash – Photo: CDC

By Steven Ross Johnson
CDC

Cases of measles in the U.S. reached a 20-year high during the first five months of this year. The majority of cases, health officials say, have been associated with unvaccinated Americans who contracted the virus while traveling to other countries.

A total of 288 measles cases were reported across 18 states between Jan. 1 and May 23, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the largest number for the first five months of any year since 1994 and the most seen compared with year-end totals since 1996. Continue reading

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Families with preschoolers buying fewer high-calorie foods

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FoodBy Stephanie Stephens
Health Behavior News Service
May 27, 2014

Families with young children are purchasing fewer high calorie drinks and processed foods, which may be a factor in declining rates of childhood obesity, finds a new report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Continue reading

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When adults set an example, teens more likely to wear life jackets, UW study suggests

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life-jacket-float Children and teens are more likely to wear life jackets when out on the water when adults onboard are wearing them as well —  yet relatively few adult boaters in Washington state wear life jackets while boating, according to recently published studies by UW Medicine researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Harborview’s Injury Prevention & Research Center.

The findings, the researchers write, underscore the important role adults can have in encouraging the young to wear life jackets when out on the water.

Wearing a life jacket has been shown to reduce a boaters risk of drowning by half. Nevertheless, nationwide only about 15% of boaters wear a life jacket or personal floatation device (PDF), and, as the new studies show, Washington state boaters do little better.  Continue reading

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How will health reform affect the Children’s Health Insurance Program? – A Primer

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05_21_top_story_FACTBy Christine Vestal
Stateline Staff Writer

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was enacted in 1997 to extend health coverage to children in poor families with modest incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid.

The Affordable Care Act now offers many of those same families federal subsidies through the health insurance exchanges, calling into question whether the program should be continued over the long term.

CHIP helped lower the uninsured rate among low-income American children from 25 percent in 1997 to 13 percent in 2012, and the program has strong bipartisan support at the state and federal level.

Still, some states – particularly those that have opted to expand Medicaid to more low-income adults – may decide that families would be better served by enrolling everyone in the same insurance plan.

Following is a primer on CHIP and its evolving role under the ACA. Continue reading

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Uptake of dental coverage for kids less than hoped

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Child having teeth examined at dentistsBy Marissa Evans
KHN Staff Writer
MAY 19, 2014

No one wants to go to the dentist, but kids need to. A small cavity left to fester can grow into a big health problem. That’s why the government made pediatric dental care one of the health law’s “essential benefits.”

But new data suggest the law is failing to fully deliver on its promise: A lot of parents didn’t buy dental coverage during the recent online enrollment period.  That spells trouble, according to health experts.

Only three states – Kentucky, Nevada and Washington – require parents to buy a children’s dental plan.

Continue reading

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Covering foster care alumni

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Former foster youths regardless of income became eligible for Medicaid coverage Jan. 1. What are states doing to enroll them?

04_30_top_story_FACT

By Christine Vestal
Stateline Staff Writer
April 30, 2014

Although many former foster youths have incomes that qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage, the ACA requires states to enroll them in traditional Medicaid programs, which have broader benefits.

One of the Affordable Care Act’s successes is a provision that allows young people up to 26 years old to remain on their parents’ health insurance.

Under a similar, but less-known provision, young adults who have been recently released from foster care can also get Medicaid coverage, regardless of their incomes.

An estimated 180,000 foster care alumni became eligible on Jan. 1. Continue reading

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New study again finds higher rate of rare neurological birth defects in central Washington

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Washington MapA new study has again found a higher rate of a rare neurological birth defect, anencephaly, in Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties, Washington state health officials said Tuesday.

The study identified seven cases of the birth defect in these three counties in 2013, which translates into a rate of 8.7 per 10,000 births. That rate is similar to the rate seen in 2010-2012 and remains well above the national rate of 2.1 per 10,000 births, health officials said. Continue reading

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