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Childrens Hospital Los Angeles

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The size of a toddler, the organ damage of a 90 year old and the mind of a teenager.

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What is air pollution doing to our kids? If you live in L.A. County, and especially if you’ve driven back to the Los Angeles basin from somewhere else, you’ve seen it. A steely brown haze hangs over us for much of the year. We live in the smoggiest region in the United States (according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District), but for those raising children here it may not be top of mind. In some parts of the county, moms claw their way onto waiting lists for the “right” preschool while they are still pregnant. Concerns about finding the right neighborhood, the right school, about keeping kids away from gangs and drugs or getting them to turn off the Xbox and do some homework tend to take center stage. The air we breathe gets plenty of media coverage, but we tend to consider it more of an inconvenience than an emergency.

Yet at every stage of children’s lives – from their time in the womb until they’re ready to leave the nest – the pollution in the air impacts their health. 2010 California Health Journalism Fellow Christina Elston reports.

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Valerie Ruelas is the Director of the Community Diabetes Initiatives of the University of Southern California and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles managing the program‚s research grants and projects. Ms. Ruelas has received a grant from the California Community Foundation and worked with the South Los Angeles community to establish a farmers market in Watts and developed a promotora program to assist in the Hubert Humphrey Health Center‚s diabetes program ˆ a sister clinic of the Roybal Health Center.

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Francine Kaufman became vice president of global affairs for Medtronic Diabetes in January 2009, after 30 years at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, where she was head of the Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, and 11 years as a professor of pediatrics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. At Childrens Hospital, where she continues a clinical practice, Dr. Kaufman also directed the Comprehensive Childhood Diabetes Center.

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As an intriguing community forum on health literacy gets underway at USC today, check out these great resources for learning about the subject provided by one of the forum’s organizers, Ellen Iverson, an assistant pediatrics at the USC Keck School of Medicine and deputy director of the Community, Health Outcomes, and Intervention Research Program at the Saban Research Institute at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

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Watts

In "LaVonna's World," people in South Los Angeles are able to buy healthy, fresh food at reasonable prices in grocery stores near their homes. They're able to see a specialist when they need to and get the health insurance they need. They don't suffer disproportionately from diseases like diabetes and asthma.

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Dr. Roberta G. Williams is a specialist in pediatric cardiology at the USC Keck School of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. Previously, she was the chair of pediatrics at the Keck school and vice president of pediatrics and academic affairs at Childrens Hospital. She earned her B.S. in zoology from Duke University and her medical degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She served as director of the echocardiography laboratory and medical director of the cardiothoracic intensive care service at Boston Children's Hospital.

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Dr. Laurene Mascola is chief of the Acute Communicable Disease Control (ACD) unit for the Los Angeles County Department of Health's Public Health Programs & Services, which performs disease surveillance and epidemic control activities for more than 60 diseases. Mascola oversees the County's programs for immunization, food and water safety epidemiology, vectorborne (insect) disease, hospital outbreaks and bloodborne diseases. Mascola has extensive experience in epidemiology and disease prevention, publishing more than 100 articles and abstracts in numerous medical and public health journals.

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Dr. Curren Warf is the medical director of the Youth Health staff and division head of Adolescent Medicine at BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, B.C. Previously, he was a pediatrician and specialist in adolescent medicine at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. He was chair of the Adolescent Health Committee of the Los Angeles area chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a member of both the Adolescent and Child Abuse Special Interest Sections of the AAP. Over 10 years, he developed expertise working with child and adolescent victims of child abuse and youth in very high-risk environments. Warf was medical director of the High Risk Youth Program for homeless and runaway youth in Hollywood and surrounding communities.

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