Friday, December 14th, 2012
By Amy Julia Becker
Even though I’m the mother of three small children, I’ve never been a huge fan of child safety regulations. I often roll my eyes at warnings on labels. I think back to my own childhood, when Fisher-Price Little People were shaped like cylinders instead of marshmallows, and we still managed to survive. I think back to my helmetless bike riding days. I often tell my kids that I believe in germs and dirt, by which I mean I bypass antibacterial hand wash, and I allow them to play with other kids who have the sniffles (though I avoid stomach bugs like the plague). I also allow them to take calculated risks that sometimes result in skinned knees and sometimes result in greater strength, balance, and flexibility.
So I read the recent Safe Kids Report on the effect of sequestration (aka the fiscal cliff) on children’s health and safety with some degree of skepticism. And yet, despite my own laissez faire parenting, this report convinced me that our current budget impasse could lead to arbitrary and senseless cuts to government programs because these programs are necessary, appropriate, and largely cost-effective for ensuring the health and safety of children across our nation.
According to the report, “Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 19,” and “programs with a direct programmatic relationship to child safety would be cut by $4,586,863,600 in the remaining months of FY 2013.” The report goes on to explain the effect of sequestration upon three government agencies, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (Injury Center), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Each of these agencies (among dozens of others with some responsibility for kids’ health and safety) will receive sweeping eleven percent cuts if Congress is unable to avoid the fiscal cliff.
The report includes a helpful infographic that relates some of the potential safety risks to children. These risks include a reduction in the oversight of imported and domestic toys and baby gear that, statistically speaking, could mean “4.2 million more dangerous products for kids left on market shelves.” Highway deaths for kids under 19 have decreased by a dramatic 29% in the past decade, due at least in part to the NHTSA’s efforts to support car safety.
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Thursday, October 4th, 2012
The number of children born in the U.S. declined in 2011 for the 4th year in a row, though last year’s drop was only 1 percent over 2010′s birth rate, a government research organization is reporting. From The Associated Press:
The decline in 2011 was just 1 percent — not as sharp a fall-off as the 2 to 3 percent drop seen in other recent years.
“It may be that the effect of the recession is slowly coming to an end,” said Carl Haub, a senior demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.
Most striking in the new report were steep declines in Hispanic birth rates and a new low in teen births. Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the flagging economy, experts say, and teen birth rates have been falling for 20 years.
Falling births is a relatively new phenomenon in this country. Births had been on the rise since the late 1990s and hit an all-time high of more than 4.3 million in 2007.
But fewer than 4 million births were counted last year — the lowest number since 1998.
Image: Mother and baby, via Shutterstock.
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Friday, September 23rd, 2011
A new program from the US Department of Health and Human Services will provide $224 million to help at-risk families voluntarily receive home visits from nurses and social workers to improve maternal and child health, child development, school readiness, economic self-sufficiency, and child abuse prevention, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced yesterday.
The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program will work with families to evaluate their circumstances, help parents gain the skills they need to succeed in promoting healthy development in their children, and connect families to the kinds of help that can make a real difference in a child’s health, development, and ability to learn, an HHS press release said:
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Research has shown that home visiting programs can improve outcomes for children and families, including improving maternal and child health, reducing child maltreatment, increasing parental employment, and improving the rate at which children reach developmental milestones. “These investments will go a long way toward keeping our kids healthy and building robust early childhood systems across the country,” said Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration.