Posted On: February 22, 2008

MA shows Black and Hispanic Children Lack Dental Care

There is a racial gap in health care and health insurance in the U.S. For instance, we can look at this specific case of black and Hispanic children in Massachusetts going without dental care.

From the article:

The report found that one in four children in the state start school with dental disease. Twenty-four percent of Hispanics and 23% of black children who are kindergarten age have untreated cavities, rates nearly twice that of whites, according to the report.

In addition, two-thirds of third grade children in low-income families have tooth decay, about two times the rate of tooth decay among children in families with higher incomes, the report found.

Dental problems are often thought of as frivolous or less than urgent. That view is erroneous. In addition to the severe pain that comes with many dental problems, they can also lead to infections and other serious and even life-threatening conditions. For instance, see the case of 12-year-old Diamante Driver from Prince George's County, Maryland who died from an infection of an abscessed tooth. This death could have been prevented with routine dental care.

Bookmark and Share

Posted On: February 8, 2008

Teen Fathers Lead to More Birth Problems

If a teenage boy has a child, the risk of birth problems is greater than for babies with adult fathers.

These results hold true independently of the age of the mother. From the article:

Compared to the reference group and after adjusting for confounding factors (such as race, education, smoking and alcohol drinking during pregnancy, adequacy of prenatal care and the sex of the baby), babies born to teenage fathers (aged less than 20) were more likely to be born early (a 15% increased risk), have low birth weight (13% increased risk), be small for gestational age (17% increased risk), have a low Apgar score (13% increased risk) or to die within the first four weeks after birth (22% increased risk) or to die in the period from four weeks to one year after birth (41% increased risk), although in all cases the absolute risk of death remained less than 0.5% . Fathers aged 40 or over did not have an increased risk of these adverse birth outcomes.

This does raise some follow-up questions, such as whether it is truly meaningful to talk about "teenage" fathers as a group when the term "teenage" applies to both thirteen-year-olds and nineteen-year-olds. The results may apply more to younger teenagers than older ones. Nevertheless, it is disturbing and another possible bad consequence of extremely young parenthood to add to the list.

Bookmark and Share

Posted On: February 8, 2008

Plastic in Baby Bottles Possibly Toxic

Plastic baby bottles contain a chemical called bisphenol A or BPA for short (scroll down for the section on BPA). It is possible--though there is no hard evidence of this--that, when a plastic bottle is heated, some BPA might leak into the contents of the bottle.

It is important to keep in mind that plastic bottles have been used for a long time without any documented adverse effects. However, for those wishing to be extra cautious on the issue of baby bottles, the Environmental Working Group has a guide on what materials to watch out for.

Bookmark and Share

Posted On: February 8, 2008

Cold Medicines, Children and Emergency Rooms

Around 7,000 children per year have to go to the emergency room because of cold medicines.

The study was done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Points to note:

-two thirds of the cases involved children taking the medicines without proper adult supervision or direction;

-one-quarter of the cases involved parents giving children the proper, recommended dosages;

-this study follows other stories that might raise concern about cold medicines and very young children, such as the FDA warning against such medicines for toddlers, a lawsuit filed by the mother of a boy who died after taking common cold medicines, and a voluntary recall by Tylenol, Dimetapp and others.

Bookmark and Share