If we want more evidence-based practice, we need more practice-based evidence.*

 


Chapter 5 - Archives of Headlines
Reproductive, Infant, and Child Health



Kids need flu shots too.
DENVER (Reuters, Nov. 12, 1998) - It pays to give healthy school-age children flu shots to control the spread of the disease and reduce the economic impact on society, according to research released Thursday. While the group is not ordinarily targeted for annual flu shots, vaccinating them would result in less time lost from school, reduction in the spread of influenza to other children, and savings to parents who would have to take time off from work to care for a sick child, said Mary Nettleman, division chair, general internal medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

U.S. doctors group recommends new shot for children. CHICAGO (Reuters, Nov.5, 1998) - The American Academy of Pediatrics Wednesday added another vaccine to the list of those it recommends be given to infants and children. The vaccine is designed to protect children from rotavirus, a common winter infectious disease that results in diarrhea and low-grade fever. The group said it was telling its members that the vaccine should be given to infants at 2, 4 and 6 months of age. In the United States alone, the academy said, the infection is responsible for 50,000 hospitalizations each year.

National Child Day (November 20) In 1993, the Government of Canada designated November 20 as National Child Day to commemorate two historic United Nations events: the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1959 and the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1989.  National Child Day celebrates children...just for being themselves. It provides us with the opportunity to remember that children need love and respect to grow to their full potential. It's a day to listen to children and marvel at their uniqueness and all they have to offer.  Visit the National Child Day Web Site at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/child-day!   There's something fun for everyone: teachers and child care workers, community organizers, families and young people too!!!
Discover on this web site:
- interactive activities for young people;
- suggested activities for schools, families and communities;
- tips for organizing and promoting your own event;
- a calendar of events across Canada;
- virtual postcards;
- numerous resources on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and healthy child development; and
- the online version of the Celebrate National Child Day 1998 Activity Guide.

Most Baltimore babies' syphilis preventable. ATLANTA (Reuters, Oct. 29,1998) - Better screening and treatment could have prevented nine-tenths of newborn babies' syphilis cases in Baltimore, the city with the highest rate of the sexually transmitted disease, federal health officials said Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had reached the conclusion after reviewing the medical records of 90 pregnant women with syphilis who delivered infants in Baltimore, which had the highest rate of syphilis of any U.S. city in 1996 and 1997. Of the 90 women, 62 delivered infants with congenital syphilis, including four babies who were stillborn. The other 28 women were treated for syphilis during their pregnancy and delivered infants who did not have the disease.

Executive Director's Statement on the Withdrawal of U.S. Funding from UNFPA
NEW YORK, 20 October 1998 – Following is a statement by Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA):

UNFPA deeply regrets today’s news that the United States will not include funding for UNFPA in appropriations for the coming financial year. The decision penalizes not only UNFPA but the millions of ordinary women and men on whose behalf we work. It will inevitably reduce our ability to implement vital programmes in the area of reproductive health and rights.

The U.S. decision will mean the unnecessary death and suffering of women who are deprived of the information and means to plan their families. It will deny many people in developing countries the right that Americans take for granted – the right to individual freedom in regard to the size and spacing of the family. It will weaken not only population programmes but programmes aimed at better health, equal access to health and education for women, and economic security.

The U.S. decision will hit especially hard the least-developed countries in Africa and elsewhere whose population programmes are most dependent on external assistance. It will contribute to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, which pose an ever-larger threat to health, life and prospects for development. It is a step backwards from United States’ leadership in the population field and United States support for internationally-agreed approaches to population problems.

The United States’ decision is misguided from the point of view of all those, including UNFPA, who seek to minimize abortion. At the very time when individual demand for family planning is rising all over the world, it will weaken family planning programmes and increase the use of abortion to avoid unwanted births.

UNFPA-supported programmes have succeeded in raising the use of family planning and reducing reliance on abortion. All UNFPA programmes are based on the principle that individuals have the right to make their own decisions in regard to the size and spacing of the family and to the means and information to do so. UNFPA reproductive health programmes do not promote abortion nor provide assistance for abortion services. Falling birth and population growth rates in developing countries demonstrate beyond question the practical validity of promoting reproductive health and rights as ends in themselves, as well as the means to achieve smaller families and slower population growth.

The decision to deny U.S. funding to UNFPA is also misguided from the point of view of all those who, like UNFPA, wish to promote reproductive health and rights in China. The new UNFPA programme in China, which is limited to 32 counties, was carefully designed to ensure respect for the human rights norms agreed by 180 nations at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, including the vital principle of individual decision on the size and spacing of the family. The new programme excludes all elements which might lead to lower standards, such as incentives and quotas for family planning and family size. It was approved early this year by the 36 nations that comprise UNFPA’s Executive Board, including the United States.

Note for Editors:
U.S. funding for UNFPA is $20 million in FY 1998. The total approved by the U.S. for UNFPA in FY 1998 was $25 million, which was reduced by $5 million the amount expected to be spent in China. Since 1984, no U.S. funds have been available for UNFPA expenditure in China. U.S. funding for UNFPA was suspended in 1986 when its total pledge was $46 million, and was restored by President Clinton in 1993.
UNFPA’s total resources in 1997 were $290 million.
In one year alone, the impact of the United States’ decision to withdraw funding from UNFPA will be to deprive 870,000 women of effective modern contraception. Over 520,000 will end up not using any method. Non-use and use of ineffective methods will result in:
1,200 maternal and 22,500 infant deaths;
15,000 life-threatening illnesses and injuries to mothers during pregnancy and childbirth.
500,000 unwanted pregnancies, resulting in: 
234,000 unwanted births; 200,000 abortions.


Anti-Smoking Programs Should Start in Elementary School Researchers Also Find Parents' Smoking as Important as Peer Pressure
Programs to keep children from starting to smoke should begin "at least as early as primary grades," not middle school, and they should target the influence of their parents' smoking as well as peer pressure, according to researchers who monitored smoking in a group of fifth-grade children for three years.
"The prevailing smoking prevention strategy, which concentrates resources on middle school prevention programs for adolescents, overlooks the needs of children who are at risk for habitual cigarette smoking," warns Christine Jackson, PhD, and colleagues at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Moreover, "simply delaying the age at initiation of cigarette smoking is unlikely to reduce the proportion of children who eventually become habitual smokers," Jackson and her colleagues write in the August issue of Health Education and Behavior. Instead, they say, efforts should try to modify the important risk factors, such as low behavioral self-control and parental monitoring.
The research team surveyed 401 students while they were in the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades to determine why some of them tried smoking but did not continue, others tried it and did continue, and still others never smoked during the three-year period. Most of the children were white (84 percent) and about half (51 percent) were girls.
Although many studies have shown that the influence of friends is the single strongest factor in predicting whether children will try smoking, Jackson's study suggests that interventions "need to focus as much on countering the influence of parent smoking as on countering the influence of peer smoking."
More than half (54 percent) of the children had tried smoking by the seventh grade, Dr. Jackson and her colleagues found. Almost one quarter (22 percent) had tried smoking early in the study, 16 percent tried smoking late in the study, and 16 percent currently smoked regularly. Compared with children who never smoked, those who currently smoked were more likely to be living in a single-parent household; have a parent who smoked; have best friends who smoked; believe their parents did not monitor their smoking and would not punish them for smoking; and believe cigarettes are easily available. These children were also more likely to be susceptible to peer pressure and have low grades in school and low behavioral self-control. 
"The results also indicate, however, that early initiators do not necessarily continue to smoke," the researchers caution. "(They) are at greater risk for continued smoking if exposure to parental and peer modeling occurs in combination with susceptibility to peer influence, low parental monitoring, easy access to cigarettes, and other risk attributes." 
The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 
Health Education & Behavior, a bimonthly peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), publishes research on critical health issues for professionals in the implementation and  administration of public health information programs. SOPHE is an  international, non-profit professional organization that promotes the health of all people through education. For additional information about SOPHE, contact Elaine Auld: (202) 408-9804.
For descriptions, rationale, methods, and the most recent findings from the US Youth Risk Behavior Surveys of CDC, go to:  http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/ov.htm.


As Enrollments Soar, Afterschool Programs Adapt
From The Boston Globe: September 24. The number of afterschool programs in Massachusetts has exploded, surging 44 percent to 726 programs over the past four years. Driving the increase is research showing that adolescents who go unsupervised after school are more apt to be involved in violent crime and other risky behavior such as drug use and sex.


Growing Number Of Schools Ban Peanut Butter As Allergy Threat
(New York Times, Sept. 23, 1998). Peanut butter is under attack at the schoolhouse door. Cheap, nutritious, popular and  traditional, it has nonetheless taken its place on the list of substances, like asbestos and lead, that send shivers down the spines of school administrators. Prodded by parents warning of lethal allergies, by the contentions of some researchers that peanut allergies are on the rise and, not least, by a fear of litigation, growing numbers of public and private schools across the country have banned peanut butter from their cafeterias. Others have declared peanut-free zones or set up committees to figure out what to do.


Condom Vending Machines a Hit in China
Reuters (09/09/98) According to the China Daily, the country's first condom vending machines in the southern town of Shenzhen have been so successful that machines will be placed in other cities. In the first month of operation, each of the 50 machines sold 2,000 to 3,000 condoms at 12 cents each. The paper reported that sales have been spurred by the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.  Prostitution is widespread in Shenzhen, and last week the China Daily reported that 21 people individuals in the town are HIV positive.


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U.S. FDA approves first 'morning after' pill.
WASHINGTON (Reuters, Sept. 3, 1998) - The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it had approved the first birth-control pills for use after sex has occurred. The Preven Emergency Contraceptive Kit, to be marketed by Gynetics Inc. of Belle Mead, N.J., will be available by prescription before the end of September, the FDA said. The kit uses higher doses of regular birth control pills to prevent or delay ovulation when taken within 72 hours of sex. According to the FDA they may also prevent fertilization of an egg or prevent implantation. ``It is estimated that nearly 50 percent of all abortions and unintended pregnancies in this country could be avoided if women had access to emergency contraception,'' said Anita Nelson, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California in Los Angeles.


WHO calls for action against child killer diseases

The World Health Organization's new Director General enlisted pediatricians in the fight against killer childhood diseases, saying on August 10, 1998 more attention must be paid to child health if the number of deaths was to fall in the next 20 years. "If we do not act now, the pattern in 2020 may be similar to that in 1990 - dominated by the persistence of infectious diseases, unsafe motherhood and lack of care," WHO director general Gro Brundtland told the International Conference of Pediatrics in Amsterdam. The former Norwegian prime minister called for a concerted effort to hammer home the message that health was a basic human right, as well as to convince political leaders that investing in health brought tangible returns, like lower social costs, a better educated population and a more productive workforce. Brundtland advocated breastfeeding as the most powerful prevention against infectious diseases and malnutrition.

Canada's Food Guide: Focus on Children Six to Twelve Years  (10 June 1998)
Health Canada has just released a new publication entitled Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating : Focus on Children Six to Twelve Years (Background for Educators and Communicators). The booklet helps educators and parents understand the things that influence children's attitudes and behaviours around eating; and advises on how to help children learn about healthy living and develop the decision-making skills they need to make healthy food choices.
The new publication is located at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hppb/nutrition/pdf/FocusChild.pdf

Steroid Use in Young Student Athletes  May 11, 1998
In the first survey of children and the use of steroids, researchers found 2.7% of all middle school students reported using anabolic steroids. Children as young as 10 are reporting using the drugs, and use was almost as prevalent among girls as it was among boys. In addition, a number of respondents were aware of the potential physiologic effects of anabolic steroids. Researchers speculated that because of the high prices of the drugs, parents and coaches might be buying the steroids for the students. This study will be useful to pediatricians, sport authorities, and teachers as steroid educational interventions for male and female middle school students are developed. The results of this study suggest that educational interventions should probably begin before adolescence.

What 9- to 13-year-old Students Believe About Steroids

  Steroid Users * Non-Users*
    Steroids make muscles bigger 47% 43%
    Steroids make muscles stronger 58% 31%
    Steroids improve athletic performance 31% 11%
    Steroids make you look better 23% 13%
    Know someone your age who is currently taking steroids 23% 9%
    Asked by someone to take steroids 38% 4%
    Steroids are bad for you 54% 91%
    Would take steroids in the future 35% 2%

* Percentage answering yes
Source: "Anabolic Steroid Use by Male and Female Middle School Students," Pediatrics, Vol. 101, No. 5 May 1998.


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