Category Archives: Child & Youth Health

Racial and ethnic disparities persist in teen pregnancy rates

Share

African-American and Latina girls are more than twice as likely as white girls to become pregnant before they leave adolescence, which continues to confound states.

SLN_Feb03_teenpregnancy

By Teresa Wiltz
Stateline

LaNita Harris of the Oklahoma City County Health Department explains two of the posters the department uses in its Teen Pregnancy Prevention program. Although teen pregnancy and birth rates have dropped the past two decades, states still face the reality that black and Latina teens are more than twice as likely as white teens to become pregnant. (AP)

It’s a problem once thought to be intractable, and yet pregnancy and birth rates for black and Latina teens have dropped precipitously in the past two decades—at a much faster clip than that of white teens.

Despite this, black and Latina girls are more than twice as likely as white girls to become pregnant before they leave adolescence.

This glass half-full, half-empty scenario is a dilemma that continues to confound states. The racial and ethnic disparities surrounding teen pregnancy are stubborn, often a cause and consequence of poverty and a complex array of societal factors.

Teen pregnancies are usually unplanned and come with a steep price tag, costing U.S. taxpayers up to $28 billion a year, according to the Office of Adolescent Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Some states like Mississippi have found innovative ways to tackle the problem by targeting specific populations, while others like Kansas are serving up bills that make it more difficult for teens to access sex education, which is a critical component of preventing pregnancy in adolescence, according to advocates such as the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Continue reading

Share

Health officials perplexed by vaccination skeptics – AP

Share

Boy gets shot vaccine injectionScientists have long assumed the problem is that some parents are simply misinformed, and providing them “corrective information” will clear things up. But some studies have shown that doesn’t seem to work. For example, in the last 15 years, a leading concern of many vaccine opponents is that shots trigger autism in children. One recent study found that some vaccine-opposed parents could be presented with medical evidence disproving that, and seemed persuaded. But they also said they still did not intend to vaccinate their kids.

via News from The Associated Press.

Share

Measles outbreak continues

Share

From January 1 to February 13, 2015, 141 people from 17 states and Washington DC were reported to have measles, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

State tallies: [AZ (7), CA (98), CO (1), DC (1), DE (1), IL (11), MI (1), MN (1), NE (2), NJ (1), NY (2), NV (4), OR (1), PA (1), SD (2) TX (1), UT (2), WA (4)]†. Most of these cases [113 cases (80%)] are part of a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California.

state-measles-cases

Share

Federal policy change may boost school-based health services

Share

school_nurse_clip_artBy Michael Ollove
Stateline

A recent federal policy reversal, long-sought by states and health care advocates, could enable schools to take a lead role in managing chronic childhood diseases and result in the hiring of many more school nurses.

The change, announced quietly and unexpectedly last month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), will allow public schools to receive Medicaid money for health services they provide to eligible students for the first time since 1997.

“Children don’t park their chronic diseases outside the school doors,” – Donna Mazyck, exe. dir. National Association of School Nurses.

Once several financing and bureaucratic hurdles are cleared, advocates believe the new policy will improve the coordination of care provided to children with conditions such as asthma, diabetes and mental illness. It will be especially important, they say, for low-income kids who are less likely to have comprehensive medical coverage.

The policy change had been sought for at least 10 years by states and advocacy groups working in the area of children’s health. CMS declined to comment, beyond the letter it sent to state Medicaid directors announcing the decision.

“It’s still so early, a month into the rule changes, but this represents a tremendous opportunity to address children’s health needs,” said Mary-Beth Malcarney, an assistant research professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health, whose work was used by the coalition of advocacy groups that pushed CMS for the change. Continue reading

Share

Too little, too late for many New Yorkers seeking hospice

Share

By Fred Mogul, WNYC

Sandra Lopez and her Chihuahua, Coco, were inseparable. He followed her everywhere, and kept Lopez’s mood up when she was in pain – which was often.

On Oct. 15, Lopez, died at age 49 of pancreatic and vaginal cancer that had slowly spread throughout her body over two years. She left behind a 15-year-old daughter and little Coco. But with hospice care, she spent her last weeks where she wanted to be — at home, with her pain under control.

Sandra was in and out of the hospital in 2014, but for the months she was home, a hospice nurse from Metropolitan Jewish Health System visited once a week to help manage the pain, backed up by a 24-hour, nurse-staffed phone line that Lopez called often.

“Some days the pain is so excruciating,” she told me in August from the couch in her Brooklyn apartment, “that the pain overrides the medication.”

But despite evidence that hospices can greatly relieve discomfort, extend life and save money, and despite a generous hospice benefit available through both Medicare and Medicaid, relatively few people in New York take advantage of it, compared to elsewhere in the country.

Continue reading

Share

More than half of U.S. infants sleep with unsafe bedding

Share

From the National Institutes of Health

NIH, CDC study shows unsafe infant bedding use still common, despite warnings

Alert IconNearly 55 percent of U.S. infants are placed to sleep with bedding that increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, despite recommendations against the practice, report researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other institutions.

Soft objects and loose bedding — such as thick blankets, quilts, and pillows — can obstruct an infant’s airway and pose a suffocation risk, according to the NIH’s Safe to Sleep campaign.

Soft bedding has also been shown to increase the risk of SIDS Infants should be placed to sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm sleep surface, such as in a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet. Soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters and loose bedding should be kept out of the baby’s sleep area.

Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation.”—Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D.

Based on responses from nearly 20,000 caregivers, the researchers reported that, although such potentially unsafe bedding use declined from 85.9 percent in 1993-1995, it still remained high, at 54.7 percent, in 2008-2010.

“Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation,” said the study’s first author, Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior scientist in the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health in Atlanta.  Continue reading

Share

Millions of Medicaid Kids missing regular checkups

Share

Illustration: Doctor listens to a young boy's chest with a stethoscopeBy Phil Galewitz
KHN

Millions of low-income children are failing to get the free preventive exams and screenings guaranteed by Medicaid and the Obama administration is not doing enough to fix the problem, according to a federal watchdog report.

The report, released Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG), says the administration has boosted rates of participation but needs to do more to ensure that children get the regular wellness exams, dental checkups and vision and hearing tests.

The report notes that 63 percent of children on Medicaid received at least one medical screening in 2013, up from 56 percent in 2006, but still far below the department’s 80 percent goal. Continue reading

Share

Free online site to help parents with children coping with ADD/ADHD

Share

In the U.S., one in five children struggles with a learning and/or attention issue. That’s 15 million kids ages 3–20, and many of their issues go undiagnosed.

The adults in their lives often have a hard time understanding their issues due to misconceptions and a lack of information and resources.

As a result, these children often face both academic and social challenges.

However, with the right strategies and support, they can succeed in the classroom—and outside of it, too.

This campaign stems from the idea that parents can sense when their children are struggling but may not know why. Or what to do.

By demonstrating the realities that children with learning and attention issues face daily, the campaign aims to increase the number of parents who are actively helping and seeking help for their kids.

Parents are encouraged to visit Understood.org, a comprehensive free online resource that empowers parents through personalized support, daily access to experts and specially designed tools to help the millions of children with learning and attention issues go from simply coping to truly thriving.

Share

Whoa! Before you give the kid the keys to the car . . .

Share


You’ve been protecting your kids their whole lives. So don’t just hand them the keys to a two-ton machine with no rules… Talk it out. Tell your teenagers they have to agree to 5 rules to drive:

  1. No cell phones,
  2. No extra passengers,
  3. No speeding,
  4. No alcohol, and
  5. Buckle-up.

Set the rules before they hit the road.

Learn more here.

Share

Medicaid ADHD treatment under scrutiny

Share

pills-spill-out-of-bottle

Amid national concerns that too many children are being medicated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), some state Medicaid programs are stepping up oversight of diagnoses and treatments.

By Christine Vestal
Stateline

ATLANTA – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, affects one in every seven school-aged children in the U.S., and between 2003 and 2011 the number of children diagnosed with the condition rose by more than 40 percent.

Doctors have considerable leeway in deciding the best course of treatment for a child with the condition, no matter who is paying the bill.

But children covered by Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for the poor, are at least 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder.

Children covered by Medicaid are at least 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder.

Georgia alone spends $28 million to $33 million annually on these treatments out of its $2.5 billion Medicaid budget, according to the Barton Child Law and Policy Center here at Emory University.

That is partly because of the toll poverty takes on kids and a lack of resources in poorer schools. But some states believe there are other factors at work.

Several have begun to investigate whether doctors and mental health providers who bill Medicaid for ADHD are rigorously using evidence-based guidelines when diagnosing and treating it.

ADD by state

In Georgia, state Medicaid officials are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve the accuracy of diagnoses and the efficacy of treatments for the ailment.

Missouri and Vermont have also sought the CDC’s help in analyzing Medicaid claims data to determine how best to improve care for what has become the most commonly diagnosed childhood behavioral disorder. Continue reading

Share

Low-cost, long-acting contraceptives cut teen pregnancy, abortion rates

Share

A diagram showing a hormonal IUD in the uterusBy Lisa Gillespie
KHN / OCTOBER 1ST, 2014

Teenage girls who are given access to long-acting contraceptives such as IUDs or hormonal implants at no cost are less likely to become pregnant, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine released Wednesday.

The findings come just two days after the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that health providers should consider IUDs and implants first when discussing contraception choices with teen girls.

Young women with access to these methods at no cost were almost five times less likely to get pregnant, five times less likely to give birth and four times less likely to have an abortion.

Although there are not as many teenage pregnancies as there once were — rates have been cut by more than half since 1991 — they still pose serious public health issues because of the costs associated with child birth and public assistance for young mothers.

These pregnancies can also stunt education and income opportunities for teenage moms.

Each year, 750,000 teenage girls become pregnant, and 80 percent of those pregnancies are unintended. Continue reading

Share

Enterovirus D-68 confirmed in two patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital

Share

From Seattle Children’s Hospital

Parents strongly encouraged to take precautions, seek medical attention for troubled breathing, wheezing in babies, children, teens

EV68-infographicSEATTLE – Sept. 19, 2014 – Seattle Children’s Hospital announced today that two children have tested positive for Enterovirus D-68 (EV-D68).

The children, whose names were not released, have preexisting health conditions that exacerbated their condition but were stable enough to be discharged from the hospital earlier this week.

The presence of EV-D68 in the two children was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Thursday.

Results for three other children who were tested for EV-D68 were negative. Two of those children have been discharged; one is deceased.

No children in Washington or the United States have died of EV-D68 related illness. Continue reading

Share

For autistic adults, coverage options are scarce

Share

Graphic showing an umbrella sheltering medicinesBy Michelle Andrews
KHN / September 19th

It’s getting easier for parents of young children with autism to get insurers to cover a pricey treatment called applied behavioral analysis.

Once kids turn 21, however, it’s a different ballgame entirely. Continue reading

Share

States Seek to Protect Student Athletes from Concussions, Heat Stroke

Share
SLN_Sept12_2_WGBT calculator

A Wet Bulb Globe Temperature calculator in use last week during a football practice of the Oconee County High School in Watkinsville, Georgia. The device, which measures temperature, humidity and radiant temperature is used to govern sports activities at all Georgia high schools. Photo © Stateline

By Michael Ollove
Stateline

Athens, Georgia—When Georgia public high schools were asked several years ago to devise a policy to govern sports activities during periods of high heat and humidity, one school’s proposal stood out: It pledged to scale back workouts when the heat index reached 140.

Those who understood the heat index, the combined effects of air temperature and humidity, weren’t sure whether to be appalled or amused. “If you hit a heat index of 140,” said Bud Cooper, a sports medicine researcher at the University of Georgia who examined all the proposed policies, “you’d basically be sitting in the Sahara Desert.”

The policy reflected an old-school, “no pain, no gain” philosophy, a view that athletes need to be pushed to their physical limits—or beyond them—if they and their teams are to realize their full potential.

In some places, state, school and sports officials are recognizing that the zeal of coaches, players, and parents for athletic accomplishment must be subordinated to safety. Increasingly, they are adopting measures to protect student athletes from serious, even catastrophic injuries or illnesses that can be the consequence of a blinkered focus on competitiveness. Continue reading

Share

Health law shows little effect in lowering children’s uninsured rate, study

Share

The uninsured rate for kids under age 18 hasn’t budged under the health law, according to a new study, even though they’re subject to the law’s requirement to have insurance just as their parents and older siblings are.

Many of those children are likely eligible for coverage under Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The Urban Institute’s health reform monitoring survey analyzed data on approximately 2,500 children, comparing the uninsured rate in June 2014 with the previous year, before the health insurance marketplaces opened and the individual mandate took effect.

It found that rates remained statistically unchanged at just over 7 percent for both time periods.

Part of the explanation is that even before the health law passed, the uninsured rate for children was already quite low, says Genevieve Kenney, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and the lead author of the study. Continue reading

Share