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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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Everybody knows that smoking causes cancer, and that obesity causes heart disease, but even most doctors and scientists I speak to have no idea about the very large effect obesity has on cancer.

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A new report by Children Now shows that among California’s 2- and 3-year-olds, 37% have never been to the dentist and by kindergarten, 28% of kids have untreated decay. Dental woes caused California kids to miss an estimated 874,000 school days a year.

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Dateline NBC recently examined why families in poorer zip codes in places such as New York City are hit far harder by asthma than upper income children. A big part of the problem is public housing.

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The common thread of the bonus program that just ended was to make it easier for low-income families to get their children on public health insurance.

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The Los Angeles Times took an impressive deep dive into the problems plaguing California’s foster care system, detailing the extent to which perverse incentives and a lack of monitoring among private agencies overseeing foster homes has led to disturbing patterns of child abuse.

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Has your child has his tonsils removed or head scanned lately? Whether or not you said yes may have something to do with where you call home. That variation in care is raising some red flags.

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The Nurse Family Partnership, an early intervention program which features home-visits for at risk children, has a track record of better health outcomes and reducing problems among poorer moms and kids. But it isn't a cure-all for the problems darkening the prospects of these children.

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For the 47 million Americans dependent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the bad news keeps on coming. Cuts in November might be followed by billions more as Congress considers legislation.

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Less education lowers the chances that you have health insurance, which translates into less medical care and worse health outcomes. Many of the health risks for the illiterate are much more immediate than that, like not being able to read pill bottles or the accompanying instructions.

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According to 2012 figures, fast food restaurants spent $4.6 billion on advertising their goods, up 8% from 2009, and social media represents a growing slice of that marketing pie.

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