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Children's Health

Dr. Nia Heard-Garris sits down with Cynthia Canty for an interview on Stateside.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Whenever there's a story of violence that takes over the news cycle, parents face a challenge: How much do you tell your child? How do you answer your child's questions? Do you wade right into what happened and why? Or do you divert them, and try to give them something different to think about?

For parents of color, these challenges come up with each act of police-related violence on black males, or violence aimed at police officers who are just doing their jobs, such as in Dallas or Baton Rouge.

Dr. Nia Heard-Garris is a pediatrician doing research on the impact racism, and these racially-charged news stories, can have on children.

Bridget Sova told us that some people listen to the recordings every day. For others, it takes a long time before they feel ready.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Bridget Sova​ is a music therapist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, and she does some pretty interesting and unconventional work. 

Sova records the heartbeats of young patients, and then sets them to music.

Whether it's the heartbeat of a tiny baby heading home after being successfully cared for in the ICU, or the heartbeat of a child nearing the end of a battle with cancer, the recordings Sova makes are treasured by parents and families. 

Michigan gets a "C" on premature birth report card

Nov 6, 2015
Premature babies can benefit from donated or purchased breast milk
Sarah Hopkins / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan got a "C" on the latest Premature Birth Report Card from the March of Dimes.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Michigan's 2014 premature birth rate was 9.8%.

Kara Hamilton-McGraw with March of Dimes Michigan said that's an improvement from the previous year.

"We're still not at the March of Dimes goal which is 8.1 percent by 2020, but we're lowering our rate every year. I find that very encouraging," Hamilton-McGraw said.

Children playing with toys
The Children's Healing Center

A new recreation center set to open in Grand Rapids will give children with weak immune systems and their families a safe, germ-free place to play.

The Children's Healing Center has been specially-designed for children facing cancer, auto-immune diseases, organ transplants or other conditions that put them at high risk for infection.

A big chunk of the center's budget will go toward keeping it as clean as possible.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new poll shows shifting views on the safety of childhood vaccines.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health asked parents how their views have changed during the past year.

Poll director Matt Davis says a third of parents say they believe vaccines are safer and more effective than they thought a year ago. A smaller percentage have more doubts.

Chris Goldberg / Flickr http://ow.ly/NtcRu

THIS STORY WAS UPDATED AT 2:06 pm on 6/15/15

Under legislation introduced in the Michigan House, health insurance policies would be required to cover wigs for children who lose their hair due to illness.

The wigs would be classified as prosthetics, and the law would require they be covered at the same rate as other prosthetics. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new poll shows parents are hesitant to talk to doctors about their children’s behavioral challenges.

Temper, anxiety and concentration can be major behavioral health issues for children. But a new Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health shows a large number of parents don’t talk about it with their pediatricians.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An anti-circumcision group says Michigan’s Medicaid program should stop funding for circumcision.

Michigan has one of the highest circumcision rates in the country.

Norm Cohen is the state director of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers. Members of the group picketed at the state capitol today.  Many in the group wore white pants, stained in the crotch with red paint. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report links a young child’s knowledge of fast food and snack food logos with their being overweight.

A research team asked three- to five-year-olds if they could identify various advertising logos.

It turns out the young children who could easily ID things like “golden arches,” "silly rabbits,” and “a king’s crown,” were more likely to have higher body mass indexes.

WKAR

There may soon be legislation on the governor’s desk that will make it against the law to sell e-cigarettes to minors in Michigan. The state House passed the bill today.   

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that simulate tobacco smoking. The devices produce vapor instead of smoke.

State Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, defends his legislation against critics who want e-cigarettes taxed like tobacco products, which this legislation doesn’t do.

University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

It turns out parents are just as likely as other motorists to talk on the phone, eat, text or engage in other risky distractions behind the wheel, even with their kids in the car.

University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital quizzed hundreds of parents with young children about their driving habits.

It turns out 90 percent admit to using their mobile phones, eating and feeding their kids while behind the wheel.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

At the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, 11-year-old Brianna Allgood is being tested by a machine called a spirometer. It measures her breathing.

Brianna has asthma. Sometimes she has difficulty breathing. Most of us would have a hard time imagining what that’s like.

“It feels like your chest starts tightening and you’re like and you can’t really breathe much air,” Brianna said. 

Vickie Elliot is Brianna’s grandmother. She says she finds herself checking in on Brianna – a lot – just to make sure she’s breathing okay.

“Having a child like that in the home is scary because anything could happen,” Elliot said.

Brianna is luckier than some kids with asthma. Her family can get her to the clinic. They now know how to treat the asthma.

Elliott says it’s made a difference.

user mconnors / morgueFile

Winter doesn't just mean freezing temperatures  – it's also a time when we are more likely to get sick. Which leads us to our next question: Do you vaccinate your kids?

It seems for more and more Michigan parents, the answer is no. 

When it comes to kids not getting vaccinated because their parents claim some personal or religious exemption, Michigan ranks number four in the nation. 

But resistance to vaccinations didn't just start with Jenny McCarthy or the study by British doctor Andrew Wakefield that alleged a link between vaccines and autism – a study that has since been discredited as being based on faulty science. 

It goes back long before that.

Gender and medical historian Jacqueline Antonovich has studied and written about the history of our relationship with vaccinations. 

Antonovich recently wrote in the blog nursingclio.org about this topic, and it was pretty personal for her, as someone who has had whooping cough.

CDC

Child deaths in car crashes have declined by 43% over the last ten years.

But the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says there's still work to do.

The CDC says one in three children 12 or younger that die in a car accident is still not properly restrained.

Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz is with the CDC.   She says parent education and car seat distribution help make sure more children are buckled up properly, and she supports Michigan's car seat laws.

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, 2013

Overall, 44% of parents say they'd allow their child to take part in medical research if the child had the disease being studied.

Yet only 5% say their child has participated in a medical study.  

That's according to a recent National Poll on Children's Health conducted by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

kakisky / Morgue File

Michigan is getting $14.4 million for a program that does home visits for pregnant women and new mothers. A key goal is to reduce infant mortality. 

The Michigan Department of Community Health will use the money for prevention-focused home visits in at-risk communities. 

Michigan's infant mortality rate is above the national average.  Fourteen out of every 1,000 African American babies in Michigan die before they reach their first birthday. That is three times more than white babies.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State health officials are celebrating the 50th anniversary of a screening program that has saved the lives of more than seven thousand newborns.

Starting with just one test in 1963, Michigan doctors now routinely test newborn infants for more than 50 potentially life threatening conditions.

Matthew Davis is the Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.    He says infant screening is one of the best success stories in public health.

Health insurance lags among state's teens

Aug 28, 2013

  Teenagers in Michigan eligible for no-cost government sponsored health insurance like Medicaid and MIchild aren't getting signed up. 

That means they're walking around uninsured. Many aren't getting regular preventative care and many are relying on the Emergency Room if something comes up. This pattern can have a huge detrimental impact on a families finances, and a teens health. 

user mconnors / morgueFile

Michigan now has the fourth highest rate in the nation of parents who do not have their children vaccinated for religious, medical and other reasons. Many simply don’t get all the immunization shots required.

Despite adamant statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control that vaccines have no link to autism, an anti-vaccination movement is growing online, from parent to parent, and through activist celebrities, such as actress Jenny McCarthy.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and physicians are mounting fresh efforts  to get more Michigan children fully vaccinated.

This vaccination push begins as the number of children falling ill with preventable diseases is on the rise.

We wanted to see how this story is being played out in the exam rooms of a busy pediatric practice, day-in and day out. Oakland County pediatrician Dr. Martin Levinson has been practicing medicine for 33 years. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Entrepreneurship is on the rise in West Michigan. We took a look at what this means for the Grand Rapids area and the rest of the state.

And, when you consider all of the possible "fixes" being discussed for struggling big cities like Detroit, there is an idea being offered up that has truly stood the test of time: attract more immigrants.

Also, we heard how a University of Michigan professor is using archeology to tell the story of undocumented immigrants crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S.

First on the show,  Michigan now has the fourth highest rate in the nation of parents who do not have their children vaccinated for religious, medical and other reasons. Many simply don’t get all the immunization shots required.

Despite adamant statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control that vaccines have no link to autism, an anti-vaccination movement is growing online, from parent to parent, and through activist celebrities, such as actress Jenny McCarthy.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and physicians are mounting fresh efforts  to get more Michigan children fully vaccinated.

This vaccination push begins as the number of children falling ill with preventable diseases is on the rise.

We wanted to see how this story is being played out in the exam rooms of a busy pediatric practice, day-in and day out. Oakland County pediatrician Dr. Martin Levinson has been practicing medicine for 33 years. He joined us today.

everydayfamily.com

Michigan has the fourth highest rate in the nation of parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated for religious, medical and other reasons. Many simply don’t get all the immunization shots required.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and a new effort is underway to get more Michigan children fully vaccinated.

The vaccination push begins as the number of children falling ill with preventable diseases is on the rise.

“As parents prepare to send their children back to school….it is important they make sure each child is up to date with their immunizations,” says Dr. Kenneth Elmassian, the president of the Michigan State Medical Society.

More than a hundred children in Washtenaw County have been treated for Whooping Cough this year. There were nearly 850 cases statewide last year. One 3 month old child died. 

Cases of other preventable diseases are also on the rise in Michigan. State health officials blame Michigan’s declining child vaccination rate. 

Courtesy of Children First

Michigan has the highest rate of child poverty in the Great Lakes region, according to a report released Monday morning.

As Michigan Radio’s Jake Neher reported, data from the 2013 Kids Count survey, a nationwide study that ranks states based on child well-being, shows that about 560,000 children in Michigan live in poverty.

That statistic has increased by 6% over the last several years.

In other areas, the state does show some signs of improvement.

Only 4% of kids in Michigan are uninsured. Nationwide, about 7% of children lack health insurance.

user herval / flickr

Our State of Opportunity project focuses on kids and what it will take to get them ahead. At the most basic level, that means ensuring children are healthy. But as Michigan Radio’s Jennifer Guerra reports, nationwide drug shortages could threaten even that most basic task.

We called every neonatal intensive care unit in Michigan, and all but one got back us. Each one has experienced or is experiencing a wide variety of drug shortages in the NICU.

Medical diagnostic equipment
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

  More than a dozen insurance companies want to be part of a health care exchange that provides coverage to Michiganders under the new federal health care law.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, McLaren, United Healthcare and ten other insurance companies have applied to be part of the new health care exchange.

Beginning in October, Michiganders will be able to use a federally run exchange to compare the health care plans.  It’s all part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," which takes effect in 2014.

textinganddrivingsafely.com

A new University of Michigan survey finds many parents are distracted behind the wheel.

The U-M researchers surveyed more than 600 parents to find out what distractions they face while driving with their children.

Drugsonline.com

University of Michigan researchers say more than forty percent of parents are making a serious mistake when they try to treat their toddlers for a cough or cold.

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be used in children under age of four. The drugs have not been proven effective for young children and may cause serious side effects.

But a new poll by U of M researchers says more than 40% of parents are using the medicine to treat their toddlers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A federal judge has ruled that Blue Cross must pay hundreds of Michigan families who were denied coverage for behavioral therapy for children with autism.

Blue Cross contends the therapy is experimental, but doctors disagree.

The ruling may cost Blue Cross about five million dollars.

Urping: It's just what babies do

Apr 1, 2013
kbohn216 / MorgueFile

Babies spit up -- a lot. It often happens when they eat too quickly  or too much. It's normal, but it sure can scare parents.

A University of Michigan study says doctors should be careful about using labels to describe babies with upset stomachs.

Dr. Beth Tarini, an assistant professor of pediatrics at U-M, says when doctors use terms like gastroesophageal reflux disease -- or GERD -- the only thing most parents hear is "disease."

"It can transform the way the parent views the child's health. It can take a parent who has a healthy child, and have that parent start to believe that that child is actually sick," Tarini says."Parents come into the office, understandably distressed that their baby is spitting up."

Tarini says sometimes physicians, in trying to help the parents, will reach for anything they can do to help, which can lead to the overuse of antacids, like Zantac.

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

A new survey shows your health may depend on where you live in Michigan.

The University of Wisconsin puts out an annual assessment of the health of the nation’s counties. The survey compares different factors, including access to clinical care and personal habits, like smoking.

As you may expect, counties surrounding Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids score high on the survey, but so do several counties in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

UM Study suggests insurance biggest factor in doctor selection

Feb 19, 2013
Courtesy: C. S. Mott Children's Hospital

A new University of Michigan study suggests recommendations by friends and family are more important than online reviews when selecting a doctor.

Dr. Matthew Davis is a pediatrician at the University of Michigan Mott Children’s  Hospital, and director of the National Poll on Children's Health.  He says location and whether a doctor will accept your insurance are the top two factors for parents.   He added, “the fact that it so far outranks, the type of practice that a Doctor provides, is a major commentary on the importance of how expensive health care is in the US and how it can really influence a family’s decision-making.”

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