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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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In the past 20 years, more and more children and adolescents have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Many people don’t realize that kids as young as 10 can develop the disease, and even fewer know that when it is diagnosed at such an early age, it tends to be much more serious.

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Is America’s ongoing obesity epidemic merely a tale of changing social and cultural norms, or do our genes play a starring role as well? Or is the key contained in the nexus between the two? New research sheds light on the historically shifting role of a gene that raises one's risk of obesity.

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New research links the presence of smartphones and screens in kids' bedrooms to less sleep in fourth- and seventh-graders. And less sleep can be a risk factor for obesity, poorer school performance and other health problems. But kids getting less sleep is not a new trend.

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As the calendar winds to a close, it’s worth taking a quick look back at some of the research from the past year that enlarged our understanding of the ways in which early childhood exerts an enduring influence on lifelong health.

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On Wednesday, the White House hosted a summit on early education where President Obama touted a $1 billion public-private spending package to bolster high-quality preschool and Early Head Start programs. That may sound like an education story, but it's worth remembering it's a health story, too.

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There's been growing awareness in recent years that our social and physical environment influences obesity rates. Now researchers say they have further evidence to support the idea that secondhand smoke and roadway pollution add to BMI increases and obesity.

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A massive new cohort study was supposed to help researchers and policy makers better understand how environmental factors shape children's health into adulthood. But delays, leadership changes and soaring costs have put the study's future in jeopardy.

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A conference held last week in San Francisco marked the rising prominence of childhood adversity as a key concept in public health circles. The event also highlighted recent data that give a newly detailed look at how childhood adversity plays out across, race, class, and geographic boundaries.

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California mirrors the country's rising rate of C-section births — up by 50 percent in 10 years. That worries experts, who say the procedure carries added costs and risks. But data-driven efforts are underway in the state to turn the tide, with some notable early success.

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While Latino children may have reached majority status in California, they still face greater challenges in accessing care and healthy environments than their white peers. A new report finds especially large health disparities among kids from Spanish-speaking households.

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