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Children's Health Matters

Children's Health Matters is a column that shares the latest reporting, research, commentary and ideas on pediatric health and child development; prevention models to reduce health disparities for ill children and children born into poverty; links between maternal and children’s health; and broader trends in children's health and well-being.

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A study published in JAMA Pediatrics this week found that black children with appendicitis are less likely to receive any pain meds for moderate pain — and less likely to receive opioid painkillers for severe pain — compared to their white peers. How can this be happening?

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Programs that offer public health coverage to kids are crucial to boosting the number of insured kids, but they're often not enough. Research suggests that parents' insurance status is a really strong predictor of whether their kids are covered. Policy wonks call it the "welcome mat effect."

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A study of Holocaust survivors is casting new light on our understanding of trauma’s effects on the body. The research suggests that extreme trauma can manifest itself in our genetic fingerprints — and that these changes can be passed on to the next generation.

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Are high schoolers who use e-cigarettes more likely to turn into smokers? New research published this week strongly suggests that's the case, but the study can't prove one causes the other. Meanwhile, laws preventing the sale of such devices to minors haven't done much to curb their spread.

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Earlier this year, an expert panel called for the closure of L.A. County's Welcome Centers for kids awaiting foster placements. But the real problems have more to do with a lack of foster homes and chronic underinvestment in programs that can keep kids from needing foster care in the first place.

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When it came to reaching low-income mothers suffering from maternal depression and other issues, the old ways of reaching out to moms weren't working. So the New Haven-based MOMS Partnership started taking the services to where moms are — including the local supermarket.

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There was a striking case of news convergence earlier this week: the annual KIDS COUNT report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation emphasized high rates of childhood poverty, and a new JAMA Pediatrics study issued alarming new results on the effect of poverty on young brains.

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It's been a very eventful few weeks when it comes to the conversation on vaccines. California enacted one of the nation's toughest vaccination laws, and a new national survey out this week suggests the past year's measles and pertussis outbreaks have changed many parents' attitudes towards vaccines.

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Three-and-a-half-year-old Dylan was tiny, feisty and freckled with tousled blond hair. His mom brought him to the pediatric clinic because he had tried to smother his 2-week-old sister. She didn’t know what to do with him, and frankly neither did we. It was 5 p.m. and the clinic was closing.

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Health care's "super-utilizers" are very much in the news these days, as policymakers seek ways to curb spending. But programs that deliver durable results that save money are scarce, in part because many 'frequent fliers' suffer from an incredibly complex web of issues, often tied to early trauma.

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