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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
The health of children from disadvantaged backgrounds will improve if pediatricians and other physicians inquire about a family's economic status as well as provide information about anti-poverty programs, suggests an illuminating perspective recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Perri Klass M.D., from New York University, reports nearly seven million children in the U.S. live in deep or extreme poverty. She defines deep poverty as a family income that is less than half of the federal poverty threshold. She defines extreme poverty as families with incomes of less than $2 per day per family member.
To backup, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently reported one in five U.S. children live in poverty. When household incomes that are classified as poor, near poor, or low-income are counted, the AAP reports the number of American children living in poverty rises to 43 percent, or more than 31.5 million boys and girls.
Dr. Klass adds current research evidence suggests that living in poverty by itselfstunts the growth, development, and learning potential for children. She writes (and we quote): 'children grow and learn when they are healthy — or to put it another way, health is expressed in children partly by growth, development, and learning' (end of quote).
She continues (and we quote): 'Poverty stunts that growth and development. The damage it does to children's health is reflected by many indicators, from birth weight to language acquisition to risks for both chronic illness and accidental injury' (end of quote).
Dr. Klass urges pediatricians to adopt some recommendations recently suggested by AAP, which encourage physicians to screen for poverty by asking family members a simple question: 'Do you have difficulty making ends meet at the end of the month?'
Dr. Klass suggests pediatricians also refer disadvantaged families to existing safety-net programs, such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. She also urges physicians to help families take advantage of Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. She writes these programs (and we quote): 'have been judged to lift more children out of the shadow of poverty than any other U.S. government initiatives...' (end of quote).
Dr. Klass reminds her peers that while access to medical care is an asset (and we quote), � 'to lift children out of poverty, mitigate its damage, and turn things around their parents need opportunity, and not to put too fine a point on it, money. Children stop being poor when their parents stop being poor' (end of quote).
Meanwhile, some background information about child health from the Nemours Foundation is available within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's children's health health topic page.
The Nemours Foundation also provides a primer about talking to a doctor about your children's health within the 'related issues' section of MedlinePlus.gov's children's health health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov's children's health health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to relevant clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available within the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about child health as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's children's health health topic page, please type 'children's health' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'children's health (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has health topic pages devoted to child development and health disparities.
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