Archive for the ‘ Child Health ’ Category

Are Kids in YOUR State Thriving? Find Out!

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Group of kids

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released the 2015 edition of its KIDS COUNT Data Book, and the findings give us a good indication of how well our country is doing as a whole—and where we need to improve.

The report has been published annually since 1990, and sheds light on the lives of children all across the United States. (This year’s edition compares trends from 2008 with data from 2013.) Each is state given an overall rank based on four categories that are also individually evaluated: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

It was found that children are facing more economic and family/community hardships than before, but have made positive developments in health and education. Here are a few of the report’s key findings:

  • 22 percent (16.1 million) of kids are being raised below the poverty line
  • 5.2 million children still lack health insurance
  • Two thirds of eighth graders are proficient in math
  • Four out of five high school students are graduating on time
  • Teen births are on the decline (There were 26 births per 1,000 teens in 2013 vs. 60 births per 1,000 teens in 1990)

As for each individual state’s overall rankings, Minnesota came in at number one, while Mississippi came in at the bottom. See where your state stacked up here.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Income's Impact on Education
Income's Impact on Education
Income's Impact on Education

Image: Group of kids via Shutterstock

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Many Parents Are Still Confused About Antibiotics

Monday, July 20th, 2015

ReceivingPillThink you know whether or not your kid needs antibiotics? It turns out, many parents are still unsure of what antibiotics do and when their children should receive them, according to a recently released study.

In fact, the research, which appears in the journal of Pediatrics, found that American parents with Medicaid (government-run program) insurance are more likely to have misconceptions about antibiotics than parents with private commercial insurance.

Researchers examined about 700 parents with kids under the age of 6. The parents—roughly half had Medicaid and the other half had private insurance—were asked questions regarding their knowledge of antibiotics. Less than half of parents with Medicaid (44 percent) answered correctly when asked if antibiotics are needs for the common cold or flu, while almost 80 percent of parents with private insurance answered correctly.

Related: Why Too Many Antibiotics Aren’t Good for Kids

“While not confirmed, it is possible that the combination of health literacy and underlying socioeconomic factors could contribute to both the misconceptions and expectations for antibiotics,” notes Louise Vaz, M.D., assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases and medical director of the Outpatient Antibiotic Therapy Program at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

Experts concluded that the overarching issue is education. It’s clear that many individuals don’t realize that the majority of infections people contract are viral, and viruses don’t respond to antibiotic treatment. In order to combat these misconceptions, it’s especially important for patients to create a relationship with their doctor so that they receive consistent messages.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.

Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor

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California May Outlaw Personal and Religious Beliefs as Valid Vaccination Exemption

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Vaccine in vial

UPDATE: On June 30th, Gov. Jerry Brown signed this bill into law. California is now the largest state to require all schoolchildren to be vaccinated (unless they are exempt for medical reasons).

Although the California measles outbreak is no longer making daily headlines, the government has still been working diligently to prevent an outbreak like this from ever happening again.

Yesterday, the California House successfully approved a proposal—46 to 30—that would deem a family’s personal and religious beliefs as an illegal reason to exempt children from mandatory school vaccinations. If the Senate approves the proposal’s amendments it will advance to Gov. Jerry Brown in order to gain final approval.

If made into law, California would be the 33rd state to outlaw families from opting out of mandatory vaccines due to their belief system. The only exception to the law would happen when the State Department of Public Health deemed a medical exemption appropriate.

“California parents will be forced to give their children more than 40 doses of 10 federally recommended vaccines or homeschool unless they can find a doctor to write a medical exemption that doctors deny to 99.99 percent of children under federal guidelines,” said one oppositional group, Californians for Vaccine Choice.

Aside from traditional homeschooling, parents who decide against vaccination could also participate in multifamily homeschool programs or use public school’s independent study option.

“Children, pregnant women, seniors and people with cancer, organ transplants and other conditions are counting on us to make sure science prevails,” said California Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician who co-introduced the proposal.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.

The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

Image: Vaccine vial via Shutterstock

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Are Your Children Drinking Enough Water?

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Boy drinking waterWe all know that drinking water is essential (if a bit boring!). But according to new research by Harvard University, many children and adolescents in the United States aren’t hydrated enough—and many report not consuming plain old H2O at all.

The study, which appears in the American Journal of Public Health, analyzed data from more than 4,000 young individuals, between the ages of 6 and 19, who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Researchers found that more than half of the participants weren’t hydrated enough. Dehydration was found to be 76 percent more likely in boys than in girls. Additionally, non-Hispanic blacks were 34 percent more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be inadequately hydrated.

“If we can focus on helping children drink more water—a low-cost, no-calorie beverage—we can improve their hydration status, which may allow many children to feel better throughout the day and do better in school,” said Steven Gortmaker, the study’s senior author, in a news release.

For parents who are struggling to get their children to drink plain water, experts suggest cold water over room-temperature, and infusing the water with fruit or veggies to make it more appealing.

Related: Are You Making These Mistake With Summertime Drinks?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

Image: Young boy drinking water via Shutterstock

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Breastfeeding May Lower Your Child’s Risk of Cancer

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Breastfeeding babyWe’ve all heard of breastfeeding’s benefits. Numerous studies over the years have credited breastmilk with everything from improving baby’s immune system to increasing her brain development.

Now, researchers have found another important benefit: Breastfeeding may decrease a child’s risk for leukemia. Leukemia is the most common form of childhood cancer, and accounts for 30 percent of the 175,000 cases of childhood cancer worldwide annually.

The research, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, reviewed 18 previous studies that had focused on leukemia and infants who were breastfed. Collectively, the data came from more than 10,000 children diagnosed with leukemia as well as 17,500 children with no health issues.

It was found that babies who were breastfed for at least six months had a 19 percent lower risk for leukemia than babies who had been breastfed for less than six months, or not at all. The authors of the study equate the lower risk to the antibodies within a woman’s breast milk that boost infants’ immune systems.

These findings suggest that between 14 and 19 percent of childhood leukemia cases could potentially be prevented by a mother breastfeeding her baby for at least six months after birth.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

One Family's Experience with Childhood Cancer
One Family's Experience with Childhood Cancer
One Family's Experience with Childhood Cancer

Image: Breastfeeding baby via Shutterstock

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