Category Archives: Children

Health disparities begin early for preemies

Emily Willingham

About Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham (@ejwillingham) is AHCJ's core topic leader on the social determinants of health. She is a science journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Forbes, among others, and co-author of "The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to Your Child's First Four Years."

In the United States, health disparities related to race and ethnicity start early. A study published March 25 in JAMA Pediatrics has found very-low-birth weight and very-preterm infants are segregated by race and ethnicity in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Black babies tend to be treated in NICUs that offer lower-quality care. Infants of Asian and Hispanic ethnicity receive care at NICUs known for best-quality care, and white infants fall in between these extremes.

The authors, from several U.S. universities and hospitals, say that the segregation in the NICU reflects broader social patterns in the United States. Indeed, NICU quality varies by geography and well as by populations treated in them. Continue reading

Tip sheet helps journalists cover vaccine hesitancy responsibly

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Tara Haelle, AHCJ core topic leader on medical studies, contributed to this post.

Journalists have a tricky role when covering a public health issue like vaccine hesitancy and opposition. We have a responsibility to report medical facts, but we also want to tell stories of these facts playing out in real life – and we must avoid appearing as advocates or taking a “stance” on whether parents should vaccinate their children or not.

The medical evidence is clear – vaccines are safe and effective – but a small minority of people refuse, or remain unable, to accept medical evidence. Since that small minority can have a substantial impact on public health more broadly, journalists have to capture the micro and the macro while balancing storytelling with facts. Continue reading

Researchers see potential for teledentistry to address disparities in care

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Matt Madd via Flickr

Telehealth technologies are on the rise, connecting patients and providers, and expanding access to crucial health services that can be scarce and sometimes difficult to reach. Thanks to digital innovations, high-risk infants and stroke patients are receiving specialty care remotely. People coping with anxiety and depression are benefiting from therapist-supported internet cognitive behavioral therapy.

In the field of oral health, teledentistry is proving increasingly useful too, according to the December issue of Health Affairs that explored the transformative potential of telehealth technologies. Continue reading

CDC study suggests many kids using excess toothpaste

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Josh Mazgelis via Flickr

The good news is that nearly 80 percent of American kids are brushing their teeth by the age of 1, according to federal data.

The bad news is that nearly 40 percent of them may be using too much toothpaste, new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests.  Continue reading

Don’t neglect the human stories — and human pain — behind clinical trials

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Most often, reporting on medical studies means recounting numbers, demographic details, findings and statistical probability values that are so abstract that it’s easy to forget they all refer to actual people enrolled in the study. With epidemiological studies, the researchers themselves often never meet the people they report on, especially if it’s a retrospective study that primarily relies on electronic medical records.

But clinical trials are a different story. Continue reading

Maine’s Medicaid expansion won’t help those who need dental care

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Backers of Maine’s Medicaid expansion, approved by voters in 2017, have been locked in a court battle with outgoing Republican governor Paul LePage, an outspoken opponent of the step.

At the same time, Gov.-elect Janet Mills, a Democrat, has offered assurances that she will put the expansion into place “on day one” if it hasn’t been implemented by the time she assumes office in January, Joe Lawlor of the  Portland Press Herald reports.  Continue reading