In California, 63,000 children and teenagers are in foster care in private homes or group homes run by the state.
A quarter of them were prescribed potent psychotropic drugs.
That sobering statistic was unearthed in a Bay Area News Group investigation last year, which analyzed a decade of state statistics. The drugs include Lithium and Depakote as well as anti-psychotics such as Haldol, Risperdal and Abilify. Continue reading
By Rob Stein, NPR
Could using a dishwashing machine increase the chances your child will develop allergies? That’s what some provocative new research suggests — but don’t rip out your machine just yet.
The study involved 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) and found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family’s dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, and somewhat less likely to develop allergic asthma and hay fever.
“I think it is very interesting that with a very common lifestyle factor like dishwashing, we could see effects on allergy development,” says Dr. Bill Hesselmar of Sweden’s University of Gothenburg, who led the study. Continue reading
By Olivia Allen-Price and Lisa Aliferis
Under California law, all kindergarteners must be vaccinated against a range of communicable diseases before they can start school. But California also permits parents to opt-out of vaccines on behalf of their children. The opt-out rate doubled over a seven year period ending last school year. But now, for the first time since 1998, the opt-out rate has declined, from 3.15 percent statewide to 2.5 percent.
A new state law appears to be the driver. Under AB 2109, parents who wish to opt out of vaccines must file a personal belief exemption or PBE, a signed statement that vaccines are against their personal belief.
This school year, for the first time, parents must first meet with a health provider who explains the risks and benefits of both vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases. Until the current school year, parents simply had to sign the statement without any consultation.
State senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) sponsored the bill and is pretty happy about the decline. He believes that requiring the meeting with a health care provider clears up confusion some parents have about vaccines. Continue reading
By Olivia Allen-Price and Lisa Aliferis
When parents sign a personal belief exemption (PBE) in California, it allows them to legally send their child to school without being vaccinated.
Find the percentage of kindergarteners who are unvaccinated at your child’s school below. We’ve included data from the last eight school years. This tool includes reports from every kindergarten in the state, public or private, with 10 or more students.
Sarah Boone, a behavior analyst with the social services agency EMQ FamiliesFirst, evaluates Ernesto Santiago, 6, of San Jose for autism therapy services. (Barbara Feder Ostrov/Kaiser Health News)
By Barbara Feder Ostrov, Kaiser Health News
California’s Medi-Cal program has grown to cover nearly half of the state’s children, causing policymakers and child advocates to question the ability of the taxpayer-funded program to adequately serve so many poor kids.
In the past two years alone, the program has added nearly 1 million young people up to age 20, including those newly eligible for Medi-Cal coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The increase brings the total number of young people on Medi-Cal to 5.2 million, more than ever before.
Medi-Cal is California’s version of Medicaid and the largest program of its kind in the nation.
Many pediatricians and specialists already refuse to accept new Medi-Cal patients, at least in part because the program offers among the lowest payment rates in the country. New rate cuts took effect this January. Health care advocates say adding more children to the mix will only worsen the likelihood of timely treatment. Continue reading
The author’s wife, Pippa, and their daughter, Caitlin, who was born at home, in 1982. (Courtesy: Nick Allen)
By Stephen Talbot
My wife, Pippa, gave birth like a giraffe, standing up.
I was astonished. This wasn’t quite the nativity scene I’d imagined. Then again, I should not have been too shocked. Pippa grew up in South Africa, she’s very keen on giraffes, and she likes doing things unconventionally.
I should also mention that this was happening at home, in our bedroom, in the middle of the night, and that no one else was around. Except for our two-year-old son asleep in another room.
Not to worry. Women have been giving birth in their homes, in their own fashion, for centuries, right? Well, actually, not so much these days, at least not in this country. A mere 1.36 percent of births in the United States in 2012 took place outside a hospital. Continue reading
By Liza Gross
Every parent must balance the thrill of watching a child excel at a favorite sport with the fear that competition brings the risk of serious injury. That fear gripped my sister last year, when my nephew, then 10-years-old, played back-to-back soccer games against two rough teams.
Strict rest seemed to provide no additional benefit and even had some unintended consequences.
After a solid blow sent him tumbling to the ground in the first game, he took several hard hits in the second, including a nasty elbow to the back of the head as he tried to get up. Feeling dizzy, he raised his hand to leave the game, a first for him. He sat out the remainder of the game and felt lousy the rest the day.
Thankfully, my nephew quickly recovered without more serious symptoms. But each year over 173,000 children 19 and under suffer sports-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions.
Treating a concussion calls for resting body and mind until acute symptoms such as headache, dizziness and concentration troubles fade, and then allowing a gradual return to normal activities. Some children must avoid all activity — including computer time and even reading. Continue reading
By Sara Hossaini
A first-of-its kind report released Wednesday suggests Californians are facing a hidden public health crisis that stems from childhood trauma.
“People sometimes assume this is a low-income issue. This is everybody’s burden.”
Researchers from the San Francisco-based Center for Youth Wellness and Public Health Institute in Oakland aim to shed light on how early adverse experiences, such as abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction — including divorce and parental incarceration — might impact a child’s health for a lifetime.
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is a pediatrician and founder of the Center for Youth Wellness. She says the study looked at data from more than 27,000 surveys conducted by the California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System over four years between 2008 and 2013. Continue reading
Just over half of all children in California are Latino — that’s more than 4.7 million kids under age 18. In a major new analysis, researchers found a diverse picture of their health and well-being, not just when compared against white children, but also within the Latino population itself.
More than 94 percent of California’s Latino children were born in the U.S., and most of them were born in California.
Fewer Latino children overall achieve a minimum standard of basic health care or family and community environment when compared against white children, and children in households where Spanish is spoken at home have even lower rates. Continue reading
(Jeff J. Mitchell: Getty Images)
Statewide, there has been a dramatic increase in parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. The rate of parents opting out by filing what’s called a “personal belief exemption,” or PBE, doubled over seven years.
Parents check a school’s test scores in advance. Why not vaccine rates?
Earlier this month, State of Health published a chart where people could look up any elementary school in California and see the PBE rate at their children’s schools.
Hours after we published, Cosmo Garvin of Sacramento sent me a tweet. “Really nice work,” the tweet said. “But just found out PBE rate at my kid’s school is 32 percent. Should I freak out?”
Thirty-two percent. That means one in three kids is not vaccinated.
Assessing Risk to Your Own Child Continue reading