By Marnette Federis
During the physical activity component of CATCH Healthy Habits, kids play active games for 30 minutes. (Photo: Marnette Federis)
A novel after-school program in the San Diego area is bringing together older and younger generations and helping encourage healthy lifestyles.
The program, called Coordinated Approach To Child Health, or CATCH Healthy Habits, trains and places senior volunteers in after-school programs and youth clubs where they teach kids about health.
CATCH is run by San Diego OASIS, an older adult educational center that encourages productive living for adults 50 years of age or older.
Many volunteers are retired teachers and nurses who said they were looking to give back to the community and be active even though they are no longer in the workforce.
Lala Bence, 69, worked as a pre-school teacher for 25 years. “I love children, I retired [from teaching] for a year and I couldn’t do without it,” said Bence, who now works with CATCH in San Diego’s Logan Heights neighborhood. Continue reading
Editor’s note: this post was updated to clarify benefits available to children who receive Medi-Cal and benefits available in the new Health Insurance Exchange.
By Elaine Korry
Pediatrician Porshia Mack examines 3-year-old Sania Bettancourt at Richmond LifeLong community health clinic. (Photo:Elaine Korry)
More than a million California children who currently lack health insurance will qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. When the health care overhaul goes into effect in 2014, more children from poor families will qualify for Medi-Cal, and other children will get subsidies for private low-cost insurance through the new state Exchange, Covered California. But children’s advocates are concerned that some kids won’t get the best coverage.
The nation’s pediatricians devised a gold standard of care. The name is a mouthful — the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment Services, or EPSDT for short. It’s a standard to meet kids’ medical needs — and it’s the standard of care at the Richmond LifeLong Medical Care, a community clinic in San Francisco’s East Bay that serves low-income families.
On a recent visit, Dr. Porshia Mack, head of pediatrics at the clinic, treated 3-year-old Sania Bettancourt. Dr. Mack listened to Sania’s lungs, checked her heartbeat, and peered into her throat and ears. Mack told Sania’s mother that all seemed well except for one recurring problem. Sania’s mild anemia was back, so Mack prescribed a multi-vitamin. Continue reading
By Mina Kim
Maria Garibay worries her daughters won't be able to stay with their current doctors when they switch from Healthy Families to Medi-Cal next year.(Mina Kim: KQED)
Next January, the state will begin transferring hundreds of thousands of low-income kids from its popular Healthy Families insurance plan to Medi-Cal — which offers medical coverage to the state’s poorest residents.
Ending Healthy Families was one of Governor Jerry Brown’s budget-balancing priorities and now families are feeling the weight of that decision.
At Children’s Health Initiative in Napa, a nonprofit that helps get kids into affordable health plans, Maria Garibay has just gotten the news. Next year, her three girls will be moved from Healthy Families to Medi-Cal.
Speaking through an interpreter, Garibay says she’s worried her monthly premium will go up. That’s because last year Medi-Cal told her she’d need to start paying $1300 each month, per child, because of her income from a part-time restaurant job.
But then Garibay learned that she qualified for Healthy Families. The federally subsidized program is for families whose incomes are just above the federal poverty level. Under Healthy Families, Garibay pays a total premium of $14 a month. It’s a godsend for Garibay whose oldest daughter has a heart condition. Continue reading
Organic produce. (Siel Ju: Flickr)
As Amy Standen reported this morning for KQED, researchers at Stanford University have combed through hundreds of scientific papers, comparing organically-grown produce to conventional. In one important respect, they found very little difference.
The study, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, didn’t ask whether organic fruits and vegetables are better for the environment, or create a safer workplace for farm workers.
It didn’t ask whether organic foods taste better, or whether trace amounts of pesticides can affect human health over time.
Rather, said physician Dena Bravata, the study’s co-author, the question was:
“What is the evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in either their nutritional benefit or their safety?”
The answer? There isn’t much evidence of that at all. Bravata says when it comes to healthfulness, “there is, in general, not a robust evidence base for the difference between organic and conventional foods.”
Over at NPR, the Salt blog added this context:
Hispanic children have had a lower rate of autism than other children — although their cases tend to be more severe. Researchers had wondered — is there something protective about being Hispanic? Or is this a case of lack of access and lack of understanding of warning signs?
I think you can guess the answer. But proving it is generally better than guessing.
In one of the largest studies so far to compare development in Hispanic children and non-Hispanic children, researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute wrote that Hispanic children “displayed more similarities than differences compared to non-Hispanics.” In the case of autism, they found that rates of autism were actually roughly the same between Hispanic and non-Hispanic children.
The study’s lead author, Virginia Chaidez, Ph.D. said the research filled in a piece of “large puzzle” and added “autism is a spectrum and it’s very similar across the board. So we’re pretty confident in promoting outreach and trying to encourage the Hispanic community to learn the signs very early in life.” Continue reading
By Joanna Lin, California Watch
A girl wears kohl around her eyes. Similar products are known in other languages as tiro and surma. (Photo: New York City Health Department)
After a Massachusetts doctor found high levels of lead in an infant’s blood last year, hospital staff found no hazards in common sources of the toxic metal – paint at the family’s home, residue from workplace exposure, kitchenware and diet. Instead, they identified an unusual culprit: makeup.
For months, three to four times a week, the family had applied a Nigerian cosmetic and folk remedy called “tiro” to the boy’s eyelids. The amount of lead in the boy’s blood — 13 micrograms per deciliter — was more than double the level of concern set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A test revealed the cosmetic was 82.6 percent lead.
The findings, published earlier this month by the CDC, raise concerns about a product that certain immigrant populations often use but that health care providers rarely question as a source of lead exposure. The case is the first to the CDC’s knowledge of an infant being poisoned by a cosmetic like tiro, said Jay Dempsey, the agency’s health communications specialist.
Cosmetics are a little-known source of possible lead exposure
“We’re recommending (that) health care providers and workers should ask about eye medications and cosmetics when seeking a source of exposure to lead in children that have been diagnosed with elevated lead levels – particularly if they’re from an immigrant population,” Dempsey said. Continue reading
New report shows California ranks 41st in the nation
Together with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Oakland-based nonprofit Children Now released their 2012 report on children’s well-being. The report looks across four broad categories: economic well-being; education; health; and family and community. California children had one bright spot — health — where the state ranked in the middle, at 23rd. But in the other three categories, the state ranked near the bottom in each, earning a combined score of 41st in the country.
In an interview with KQED’s Joshua Johnson, Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, expressed deep concern. “Our kids are not faring well and it’s a real tragedy that we’re in the bottom 10 among the 50 states in just about every indicator other than health. Kids are really bearing the brunt of the economic downturn we’ve been in.”
No kidding. According to the report, more than one-third (36 percent) of California children live in families where no parent has a full-time, year-round job. More than one in five children in the state (22 percent) are living in poverty.
At the other end from these low numbers was the one seeming bright spot for California children: health. Overall, California ranked 23rd, but that comparatively higher ranking is in part due to the state’s lower percentage of low-birthweight babies — less than 7 percent, making California #11 among the 50 states. California’s First Five program targets both prenatal care, infant health and child development up to 5 years of age. “The health stats show that if you Continue reading
Kids line up for a free summer meal through a Chico Unified School District program. (Photo: Patrice Chamberlain)
To understand some of the powerful hunger issues in our state, go no further than the Silicon Valley YMCA.
The Y runs summer youth programs in Gilroy. Vice president of programming and community development Mary Hoshiko Haughey says last summer they had a boy in the middle school group who wasn’t eating his lunch.
“This was the first day of the program, and our staff asked ‘Why aren’t you eating?’ ‘What would you like?’” Haughey recalled. “And he said, ‘I can’t eat because I need to make sure my brother and sister are eating. Do they have food in their program too? Otherwise I have to save it for them.’ And finally we put him on the phone with them at another site and they said ‘yes, we’re eating,’ so he finally did too.”
Haughey paused. “It’s an example of the adult issues that our young children are taking on. He wasn’t going to eat unless he knew his siblings would.”
It’s also an example of the importance of the summer meal programs that are offered throughout the state. Some school-based programs directly continue the work of the School Lunch Program and Summer Food Service Program that serves free and reduced meals to low income students throughout the year. Others are sponsored by food banks or summer youth program sites.
The Silicon Valley Y is part of the California Summer Meal Coalition, which is working to increase awareness of the USDA summer nutrition programs offered through the California Department of Education.
By Lyssa Mudd Rome
Todd Whitehead has become a mentor figure in addition to helping kids have fun while exercising. (Photo: Coaching Corps)
On a recent afternoon at BAHIA, a bilingual after school program in Berkeley, a small group of elementary school kids ran around breathlessly. They were playing “wolves and bunnies,” a tag game that takes some of its rules from basketball. Their coach Todd Whitehead played along, occasionally giving directions and stretching his hand out for a high-five. “Todd makes basketball seem fun,” said nine-year-old Kaydie. But this is about more than having fun. It’s a way for these kids to get the exercise they need.
Whitehead is a post-doctoral scholar in public health at U.C. Berkeley who has been coaching at BAHIA for three years. “My main goal,” he says, “is for the kids to have fun, get healthy, and get exposed to activities that will keep them healthy as they grow up.”
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that children get at least an hour of physical activity a day. But for many kids, that isn’t happening. Budget cuts in California have meant there often isn’t enough money for schools to offer PE or include sports in their after school programs. On top of that, low-income neighborhoods frequently lack parks or other safe places to play. Organized sports activities are limited.