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USC’s Keck School of Medicine

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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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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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Rob McConnell is professor of preventive medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and deputy director of the Children's Environmental Health Center. He has researched the effects of air pollution on the development and exacerbation of asthma and is the principal investigator for the Children's Health Study, a large prospective cohort study to investigate these relationships. His work includes the study of associations between ozone and traffic emissions with the development of asthma.

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Nowhere was the massive COVID wave of winter 2021 more devastating than in America’s nursing homes, where 71,000 residents died in the surge. In this webinar, we’ll hear from the lead reporter in the USA Today series "Dying for Care," who will show how an original data analysis and an exhaustive reporting effort revealed a pattern of unnecessary deaths that compounded the pandemic’s brutal toll. Sign-up here!

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