Archive for the ‘ Children’s Health ’ Category

Prenatal Genetic Testing

Hi all! My name is Katherine Brown and I am the summer intern here NHSA. I have an interest in the genetic field, specifically with the prenatal aspect and advocating for prenatal screening/testing, which all relate to what we promote and advocate here at NHSA.Katherine headshot2

Most of the projects being implemented at NHSA revolve around building educational skills to be healthy before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and in between pregnancies. These interventions are vital considering the U.S. statistics on infant mortality rates are nothing to brag about. In fact, according to Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers report, every year twice the numbers of babies die on their first day alive than all 27 European Union nation combined. And get this: 1 million more babies are born there compared to the U.S! This is why NHSA supports the Federal Healthy Start Initiative and developed Celebrate day 366…Every Baby Deserves a Chance, and why prenatal screenings/testing need to be promoted to increase the chance of celebrating Day 366!

Genomic medicine has grown tremendously within the last couples of years. Prenatal testing can detect your baby’s health and growth before it is even born. Prenatal testing also tests how the mother is during throughout pregnancy. It is a win-win situation for both! We now have tests, mentioned in the March of Dimes article posted below, that can tell early within your pregnancy (within the first trimester) if your child may have any genetic conditions like Down syndrome, heart defects, birth defects, or cystic fibrosis. It is extremely important to continue prenatal testing throughout the pregnancy to understand how you and the baby are growing. For example sometimes mothers will acquire gestational diabetes during second trimester and prenatal screening can detect that. During your third trimester most screenings will test for group B strep that a mother can acquire and then pass down to her baby. It is also important to know your own family history of disease or what your specific ethnicity may be more prone to, i.e. cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia, before planning to have a child. Make a list of all cancers, genetic disorders, mental illnesses, etc. shown to have affected your family tree and take it to a genetic counselor that will take time to talk with you and discuss options for conceiving the healthiest child possible.

The importance of having all of these factors detected before giving birth is that prevention or treatment can start immediately which means a longer and better quality of life for your child.

If you would like more information on genetic counseling or prenatal testing, please check out the links below.

  1. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/prenatal-tests.aspx

 

  1. http://www.genome.gov/Pages/Health/PatientsPublicInfo/GeneticTestingWhatItMeansForYourHealth.pdf

 

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/prenataltesting.html

 

 

 

 

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June is Men’s Health Month!

Every June Men’s Health Network (MHN), along with hundreds of partners across the country and the world, celebrates Men’s Health Month as a time to raise awareness of male health issues and encourage men and their families to seek preventive care.  The centerpiece of the month-long celebration is Men’s Health Week, which takes place during the week leading up to and including Father’s Day (June 11-17 of this year).  Men’s Health Week was created by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1994.

This awareness period is an excellent time to recognize the importance of men’s health – not only for each individual man, but also for the impact that men’s health has on families and our society as a whole.  Men in the United States die an average of five years earlier than women, die at higher rates for 9 of the top 10 causes of death, and tend to live sicker as well.  The impact is significant for women: the U.S. Administration on Aging has reported that “more than half of women now living in poverty were not poor before the death of their husbands.”

With the recognition of Father’s Day, we are particularly reminded of the impact that men have on the lives of their children.  Men who take care of their health with a good diet, regular exercise, and preventive screenings and doctor visits serve as role models for their kids’ health habits and are more likely to be around for all those important moments like graduations, birthdays and weddings.  Being a father can also have its own health benefits when men commit to better habits so that they can live life more fully with their children.

During June and throughout the year, faith communities, government agencies, employers and local organizations are holding events such as free health screenings and presentations about important men’s health topics.  Cookouts, races and guys’ nights out are also planned to encourage men to take better care of themselves.  For more information on Men’s Health Month, including ideas for what you can do, please check out the Men’s Health Month website at http://www.menshealthmonth.org/.

Men’s Health Network is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys and their families where they live, work, play and pray with health prevention messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient navigation.  MHN participates in the annual Head Start conference and works in partnership with the NHSA to promote the involvement and health of fathers. 

We Fight, So Babies Don’t Have To!

Today is World Prematurity Day and our opportunity to focus everyone’s attention on the serious problem of premature birth. Join the National Healthy Start Association and its members in honoring the million babies worldwide who died this year because they were born too soon, and the 12 million more who struggle to survive.

We encourage you to wear purple today in honor of the babies that are born too soon and too small. Also, visit the World Prematurity page on Facebook and “LIKE IT. ” You  can read stories from around the world and share your own. Help spread the word by updating your Facebook status with a message on premature birth. Together we can raise awareness of this serious problem and help more babies start healthy lives. We fight to reduce prematurity because babies shouldn’t have to.

Let’s make sure more babies blow out their 1st candle

Phyllis George, NHSA Senior Program Manager, answers the question, “Why do you feel it is important to raise awareness around infant mortality?”

I learned early in life how devastating the effects of infant mortality can have on families. My parents are from Sierra Leone in west Africa, and many aunts and cousins growing up never got a chance to celebrate the 1st birthdays of their children. Over the years, the number of maternal and infant deaths has decreased, but Sierra Leone still has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Who would have thought that years later I would be working to help bring awareness to the issue in a nation where a woman does not have to walk for miles to receive prenatal care? It amazes me the wealth of resources that are available to people in the United States; yet we only rank 31st  in infant mortality rates among industrialized countries.

I believe that the main factor that contributes to the alarming infant mortality rates in the U.S. is lack of education and awareness about the issue. Other factors such as race and socio-economic status play a part, but many people, even those with a background in public health, are not aware of how to improve their chances of a successful pregnancy. I have yet to experience the privilege of being a mother, but if I wasn’t in the field of maternal and child health, would I know this information and ensure that my unborn child had the best start in life possible? Would I, after having my child, understand how to make sure that life flourishes beyond year one? I honestly do not know.

Health providers, community workers, churches, hair salons, friends, family members…these are the people that those who are most at risk of experiencing an infant death come in contact with on a regular basis. We all need to help in this fight and increase infant mortality awareness. Other countries should use us as an example and follow our lead on ensuring that the families in their communities are healthy. September is when we can begin to open up dialogue on this topic to families who do not know or congressmen who are not aware of the deplorable infant mortality rates in their cities, but let’s continue to spread the message throughout the year. Be the voice for the countless babies who did not live to blow out their first candle.

Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding week in celebrated every year from August 1 to 7. This year, more than 170 countries are celebrating this great event with the theme Talk to me! Breastfeeding – a 3D Experience which emphasizes the importance of communication. When we look at the breastfeeding support, not only should we see it in the two dimensions of time (from pre-pregnancy to weaning) and place (the home, community, health care system, etc), but also in the third dimension of communication at various levels and between various sectors. That is what “3D” means.

Breastfeeding is regarded as a good way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need and protect them from illness. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.

Although breastfeeding has been increasing in popularity in many countries in the Americas, much remains to be done to optimize breastfeeding practices. In most countries of the Americas, fewer than half of babies begin breastfeeding within the first hour of life. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is low, ranging from 8% to 64% of babies in different countries of Latin America.

To promote the advantage of breastfeeding, all of us can use our most powerful tool — COMMUNICATION — to tell others why breastfeeding matters. By enhancing the perception and knowledge about breastfeeding and bringing the dialogue to life, we can make this year’s World Breastfeeding Week celebration a true 3D experience: an opportunity for outreach, an investment in a healthy future, and ultimately, a unifying lens through which to see the world.

For more information, please visit http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

National Movement for America’s Children

Citizens and organizations across the country are awakening a National Movement for America’s Children, a grassroots coalition that is collectively calling for a national strategy to help ensure that every child has an equal opportunity for healthy growth and development. We will deliver policies and actions – from government, business and media, to schools, faith-based organizations, communities and individuals across the country – that are focused on giving every child the best chance to succeed.

Until November 6th (exactly one year before the 2012 election) movement members and partners will be hosting town hall sessions and logging onto www.movementforchildren.org to contribute different answers to what we refer to as “The Big Question”: How can we ensure that every child has an equal opportunity for healthy growth and development?

The National Healthy Start Association is proud to be a founding partner as a National Movement for America’s Children grows across the country. We think the Movement is of great importance to the development of the United States. By raising the awareness that children’s health is the top priority for our nation, by asking Americans to stand up and join the call for a national strategy and help us decide what the policies and actions should be within that strategy, this Movement can help to ensure that every child in America is given an equal opportunity for healthy growth and development.

Every American can join in and contribute to the Movement. It begins with signing the National Children’s Pledge at www.movementforchildren.org and sharing and debating answers to The Big Question. Supporters can also organize your friends and neighbors in your community to sign the pledge, hold house parties to share the message and recruit others, call on your elected officials to support community-based approaches to healthy child development and many, many more activities. For specific ideas on how you can participate, advocate and/or donate to support the Movement, please visit www.movementforchildren.org or contact the National Healthy Start Association.