Monthly Archives: August 2014

Promoting Breastfeeding in South Carolina

By Jamie Shuster

breastfeedingIt’s World Breastfeeding Week, which provides us with an opportunity to highlight the great work our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is doing to encourage more South Carolina women to breastfeed their babies.

Promoting breastfeeding is one of our priority focuses at DHEC Public Health. Increasing the number of women who choose to breastfeed is an effective, evidence-based strategy to fight childhood obesity. And we know that getting a good start is critical to helping moms successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding. Our WIC breastfeeding peer counseling program helps moms get off to a strong start by connecting new moms to education and support at the hospital before mom and baby are discharged. Continue reading

Tdap and pregnancy

By Stephen Hudson

btn-conditions-pregnant-300x250August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and this week concentrates on “A Healthy Start” for moms and babies.

One way to give your child a “Healthy Start” is for expecting mothers to get a Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis) booster shot, which protects mom and baby from pertussis known as “Whooping cough.” The CDC recommends mothers get their Tdap vaccination in the third trimester between 27 and 36 weeks of each pregnancy.

Pertussis is extremely dangerous for infants, yet is entirely preventable. Mom can also get some help in protecting her child from pertussis by “Cocooning” and ensuring each parent, grandparents, siblings, or anyone else around the baby is also up to date on their Tdap vaccine.

So this month, we encourage pregnant women and their families to talk with their healthcare providers about getting a Tdap booster vaccine, or visit

Cracking down on painkiller abuse

By Jamie Shuster


The CDC recently sounded the alarm on a growing epidemic in our country: the over-prescription of opioid painkillers. According to the CDC, American health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.

From a public health perspective, this is a serious concern as higher prescribing of pain killers is associated with more overdoses and deaths. Here in South Carolina, 102 prescriptions for painkillers are now written for every 100 residents, and more than 200 people die each year from accidental prescription drug overdose. All of these deaths are avoidable. Most are caused because people are able to shop for painkillers by contacting multiple pharmacies and physicians to receive separate prescriptions for the same drug.

To combat the problem, DHEC is working with health care providers and pharmacists across the state to increase the number of prescribers utilizing our enhanced prescription monitoring program known as SCRIPTS. Run by our Bureau of Drug Control, this voluntary, online database makes it easier for South Carolina doctors and pharmacists to identify and report potential prescription drug abuse.

How does it work? Continue reading