Retailer J.C. Penney features a Girls Plus clothing department tailored to overweight girls. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Building on earlier research a major new study has found that girls are starting puberty at even younger ages. The most significant changes were seen in Caucasian girls and in girls who are overweight or obese. Still, girls who were not overweight were also entering puberty younger, the study found.
Researchers at three sites around the country — including the San Francisco Bay Area — followed 1,239 ethnically diverse girls from 2004 to 2011. They looked at breast development, a key marker for the start of puberty.
Girls who mature earlier are at risk for lower self-esteem and higher rates of depression.
Earlier studies had shown that African-American girls had reached this milestone at younger ages. “Now it looks like it’s happening earlier for Caucasian girls,” said Dr. Louise Greenspan, a pediatric endocrinologist with Kaiser San Francisco and one of the authors of the study. “Particularly, the overweight Caucasian girls are developing earlier than they have in the past.”
Researchers looked at a number of factors, but the “obesity epidemic appears to be a prime driver in the decrease in age at onset of breast development,” the authors wrote. Continue reading
Where the kissing event happens, just not during the day. (rolfkleef/Flickr)
I’ve lived in the Bay Area for more than 20 years, but somehow missed this tradition at Stanford: Full Moon on the Quad.
As the New York Times reported Friday it’s “an event unique in American education: an orgy of interclass kissing reluctantly but officially sanctioned by the university.”
How you respond to this might depend on your age.
My initial reaction was “ewwww!” But a (younger) colleague asked, “Is it horrible to confess to you: I’d probably join in?!?!”
The event was held last week, on Oct. 22. With thousands of students milling around waiting, the Times described what happened next:
Finally, a male senior saunters over to a group of the youngest-looking women and asks: “Hey! You freshmen? Can I kiss you?” Continue reading
(J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)
Nearly a thousand farmworker women will gather Friday in Tulare, one of California’s poorest counties, for the annual Farmworker Women’s Conference. They’ll learn about education, social services and have an opportunity to discuss their lives and the health challenges they face.
Lali Moheno of Visalia started this San Joaquin Valley conference 11 years ago because she wanted to help other women farmworkers. Moheno’s mother spent decades picking cotton and grapes. She died without any medical insurance to treat her leg injuries and diabetes. Moheno sought to help educate other women and share tactics to improve their lives.
“You will be a better person, a better mom, a better voter, a better woman,” Moheno said, “if you learn to think on your own — if you learn take control of your life and not let other people control your life.” Continue reading
Juana Gomez (right) is a traditional Mixteca healer from Mexico. She lives with her daughter, Johanna Gomez (left), in Madera, Calif. and provides health care to many farm workers. (Sasha Khokha/KQED)
Editor’s Note: Some recent immigrants avoid visits to western doctors. Instead, they call on traditional healers who speak their language, use familiar medicinal plants, and share their cultures. As part of our ongoing series of first-person health profiles called “What’s Your Story?” we hear from Juana Gomez, a Mixteca traditional healer from Oaxaca, Mexico. Gomez now lives in Madera, in California’s Central Valley, where many of her patients are undocumented farm workers. Her daughter, Johanna Gomez, translates her story. Reporter: Sasha Khokha
By Juana Gomez
We have the purple basil and we have the green basil. The basil is a very, very sacred plant from my ancestors.
It’s very important to know the classification of each plant because even though they are plants and they are natural and they have healing powers, they work just as medicine and you have to be really careful with them.
My mom says that the most she sees here are males that work on the fields. She says that it is very common for them to come because it’s a combination of not being able to have a restroom close enough, it’s a combination of the heat, the long hours that they’re sitting, the vibration of the tractors. So, there are many, many factors.
Most of the people that come do have physical illness, but many times they are not sick with the physical illness. They are more sick of a spiritual need because of the sadness of leaving their people behind. Maybe they left their wife and their kids over in their native countries. Continue reading
Only about one in four low-income Californians say they have easily comprehensible information for health decision-making, and 71 percent say they would like more. That’s just one of the findings from a new statewide survey looking at “opportunities and challenges” in reaching this underserved population.
The report is the latest in a series from the Blue Shield of California Foundation and provides “important insights for those working to reshape the system in California and for the rest of the country,” foundation executive director Peter Long said at a briefing and panel discussion in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
When asked about their top source of health information, media sources (TV, internet, printed material) nudged out medical professionals, 39 percent to 38 percent. However, reliance on a medical provider for information goes up — by 22 percent — if the patient usually sees the same person.
From the report: Continue reading
Andrew Jolivette wants to start a family but because he is HIV-positive, he is having a hard time finding a place that will help him donate sperm to his friend. (Ryder Diaz/KQED)
Editor’s note: Andrew Jolivette was diagnosed with AIDS eleven years ago. Back then, he didn’t think he could ever have a family, since it was illegal for HIV-positive men to donate sperm. California reversed that law in 2007. Now, Jolivette hopes to start a family with a friend. As part of our ongoing series of first-person health profiles called “What’s Your Story?” Jolivette tells us how some medical facilities still can’t handle this kind of situation.
By Andrew Jolivette
You know, my mother passed away about a year ago and I think that that also, in all honesty, has had some impact on me saying: Well gosh, she was such a great mom and all these things she taught me, I want to be able to share that with someone, too.
Quite frankly, because [my viral load is] undetectable and there are measures they can take like sperm washing and the potential mother, can take anti-retrovirals beforehand to ensure that she nor the child will be infected, then why not? Continue reading
Three year old Antonio suffered hearing loss after eating lead-based paint chips as a toddler. (Lauren M. Whaley/CHCF Center for Health Reporting)
By Kelley Weiss, CHCF Center for Health Reporting
Children’s advocates are hoping for a big Christmas present this year – a billion dollars to remove toxic lead paint from homes. A Santa Clara Superior Court judge has until the end of the year to decide if paint companies should pay to get rid of lead paint still in thousands of older homes around the state.
While California’s lead poisoning cases have declined, especially over the last two decades, children’s advocates say the most vulnerable children are still at risk because they don’t have enough money to reach the finish line.
Two counties are trying to fix the problem with the resources they have.
Alameda County is one of the ten counties and cities involved in the lawsuit.
Two years ago Nathaniel Stone was living in an East Oakland apartment with one-year-old Antonio. Stone is Antonio’s legal guardian and is in the process of adopting him. The home they lived in had a lot of peeling paint.
One day when Stone was cooking in the kitchen from across the room he saw that Antonio seemed to be eating something. Stone checked it out and found Antonio with paint chips in his mouth. Continue reading
A man roots through the garbage at the 16th street BART stop in San Francisco. (Keith Menconi/KQED)
By Polly Stryker
You know how you feel when you’ve been camping and haven’t showered? After a couple days, your body feels sweaty and ripe; your hair feels greasy. As you start to head home, you begin craving a shower — the soap, the hot water, the clean towel. It’s likely the first thing you do when you get home.
But homeless people live a different reality every day. For them, cleaning up depends on making it to a public shower somewhere across town, with a long line, only open during certain hours. Keeping clean is a nearly impossible challenge.
San Franciscan Donice Sandoval started thinking deeply about this question one day two years ago when she was walking near the Design Center in San Francisco. She saw a homeless woman under the 101 overpass crying, terribly upset that she would never be clean. Sandoval had always felt moved and saddened when she saw people who were homeless. Seeing the woman gave her an idea. Since clean bathrooms and showers are so hard for homeless people to get to, why not bring showers to them?
And so Sandoval created a nonprofit Lava Mae, a play on the Spanish word for “wash me,” to help the homeless.
Sandoval recently described her mission to KQED’s Joshua Johnson. San Francisco’s 3,400 homeless people have access to just 16 shower stalls, at different places around the city. Just getting to them can be tough. Also, not all homeless shelters have showers. Surprisingly, some emergency family and winter shelters don’t have showers. Continue reading
Student leaves a vaccine clinic at a Los Angeles middle school after being immunized against whooping cough. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
By Nancy Shute, NPR
When the whooping cough vaccine was invented in the 1940s, doctors thought they had finally licked the illness, which is especially dangerous for babies. But then it came roaring back.
In 2010, a whooping cough outbreak in California sickened 9,120 people, more than in any year since 1947. Ten infants died; babies are too young to be vaccinated.
Public health officials suspected that the increased numbers of parents who refused to vaccinate their children played a role, but they couldn’t be sure.
Vaccine refusal was indeed a factor, researchers now say. They compared the location and number of whooping cough, or pertussis, cases in that outbreak with the personal belief exemptions filed by parents who chose not to vaccinate for reasons other than a child’s health. (Some children with compromised immune systems aren’t able to be vaccinated.)
Pertussis is very contagious, spreading quickly through a community. So the researchers had to map not only the location of outbreak clusters, but also when they appeared. Continue reading
By Elaine Korry
Thousands of Californians could lose food stamp benefits under a plan approved by congressional Republicans last week cutting the federal program by approximately $40 billion over ten years. California already has the lowest food stamp participation rate in the nation. Advocates for the poor are alarmed, and they say the GOP plan would hurt veterans and former foster youth, among others.
An estimated four million Californians receive food assistance through a state-administered program called CalFresh. The bill, which passed by a 217-210 margin, would protect benefits for the poorest households with children (who comprise about 80 percent of food stamp recipients in California), but restrict benefits for unemployed childless adults after three months.
GOP Rep. Tom McClintock, who represents a district stretching from Truckee to the Sequoia National Forest, says he voted on behalf of every California household that pays $720 a year in taxes to support CalFresh. “I think they’ve got a right to ask in return that those who are on the program make a good faith effort to get off it, and that’s what this bill does,” he said.
More than 360,000 out-of-work Californians could lose CalFresh benefits, unless they enroll in vocational courses or a county jobs program. “The bill restores a requirement that able-bodied adults work, or look for work, or at least be training for work in order to receive this assistance,” said McClintock. Continue reading