Category Archives: Community Health

DHEC Helps S.C. Parents Brush Up on Good Oral Health Habits for Kids

Division of Oral Health Receives Over $500,000 in Federal Funding ​

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and DHEC is helping parents brush up on the importance of their child’s oral hygiene and the positive habits that lead to healthy smiles. As part of this effort, DHEC’s Division of Oral Health received $570,000 in federal funding from the CDC to support the oral health of South Carolina’s youngest children.​

“We’re trying to expand the recognition of oral health as an essential part of total health and well-being from the earliest age,” said Dr. Ray Lala, director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC. “We want receiving a toothbrush at a DHEC regional office or from a pediatrician to be a common experience. Prevention is key, and we can all be messengers.”

The Perinatal and Infant Oral Health Quality Improvement Expansion Grant funding helps expand the public’s access to preventive oral health information through their local health departments and medical and dental settings.

In addition to the Division of Oral Health’s ongoing efforts to expand federal funding opportunities, the division is also proud to recognize its leader, Dr. Lala. 

_MG_8774 Lala Sept 2013.jpgDr. Lala has spent his professional career in Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Maryland. He is an alumnus of the University of New Orleans and the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry. Upon completion of dental school, he entered private practice and maintains an active dental license from the State of Louisiana.​

After 15 years of private dental practice, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, assigned to the Indian Health Service in 1993. He was selected for a federal detail as the South Carolina State Oral Health Coordinator in 2000. Upon completion of this detail in 2004, Dr. Lala was reassigned to the Health Resources and Services Administration in Rockville, Md. Upon retirement from the Indian Health Service and the Public Health Service in 2014, Dr. Lala assumed his current position as Director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC.

Dr. Lala’s and his team’s commitment to increasing access to preventive oral health information in South Carolina aligns with our agency’s core value of Embracing Service and strategy of Education and Engagement.

For more information about you can help prevent tooth decay, click here to read our recent news release.

World Breastfeeding Week 2018: Mother’s love, Mother’s Milk

World Breastfeeding Week offers a perfect time to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding.

The annual observance, coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), is August 1-7, 2018. This year’s theme, “Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life,” focuses on educating everyone on how breastfeeding is the foundation of lifelong health for babies and mothers. In a world filled with health disparities, it is critical that all babies have a strong foundation for a healthy life. According to WABA, breastfeeding prevents hunger and malnutrition in all its forms and ensures food security for babies, even in times of crises.

“Breastfeeding is one of the best gifts a mother can give her child,” said Ellen Babb, DHEC’s Breastfeeding Coordinator. “No formula can equal the unique combination of easily digestible nutrients and immune factors found in human milk. In addition to numerous physical benefits for mother and baby, breastfeeding promotes a special, lasting bond between them.”

Tackling the myths

Unfortunately, there are many myths about breastfeeding that have made many mothers indecisive on whether to breastfeed their babies or not. Take a look at a few of them below.

Myth: I won’t be able to make enough milk.

Moms almost always make enough milk to feed their babies. Your baby is likely getting more than you think at each feeding. A newborn’s stomach is only the size of an almond. If you eat in a healthy way, drink water, and nurse often, your milk supply should be plentiful. If you have any concerns about your milk supply or your child’s weight, check in with your baby’s doctor or nurse.

Myth: Breastfeeding hurts.

The truth is that breastfeeding is not supposed to be a painful experience. In fact, pain is usually a red flag that something is wrong. While a baby’s latch can be strong, it’s not actually biting, not even when the baby is cutting teeth. As with any new skill, there is an adjustment period. WIC provides breastfeeding peer counselors, lactation consultants, and educational materials to help you get a good start and proper latch – a key to preventing pain. There’s a number of organizations in South Carolina (such as hospitals, lactation centers, and the WIC Program) that offers assistance with breastfeeding through lactation counselors, lactation consultants, peer counselors, and educational materials to help you get a good start and proper latch – a key to preventing pain.

Myth: If I breastfeed, the baby will want only me, or be spoiled.

Just because you breastfeed does not mean that your baby will only want you or be spoiled. While there is a joyful closeness and bonding that occurs during breastfeeding there are also many things others can do, especially dad. He can do things such as playing with the baby, holding baby skin to skin, changing diapers, and more. When dad holds baby skin-to-skin, he can also develop a special bond with the baby. For those worried about spoiling their babies, research shows that breastfed children grow up to be confident and self-sufficient when parents work to meet their other emotional needs.

Challenges of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can be challenging, especially in the early days but you are not alone. Lactation consultants can help you find ways to make breastfeeding work for you and your baby. Some women face challenges while breastfeeding, while others do not. Additionally, some women may have certain problems with one baby that they may not have with others. Click here to learn more tackling breastfeeding challenges.

Human milk is the best milk

It is important for moms to know that any amount of breastmilk you give to your baby will be of great benefit because every ounce counts! Human breast milk has been the normal, natural milk to nourish babies since the very beginning of our existence. Breastfeeding promotes a joyful closeness with your baby and a special lifelong bond. It’s a gift only you can give your baby!

For more general information about breastfeeding, click here. For information about how WIC can help with breastfeeding, please click here.

DHEC in the News: Safe sleep, WIC mobile unit, Great Falls whitewater site

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

DHEC provides tips on preventing SIDS and safer infant sleep

COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) – The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is warning parents about sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, and providing tips that can make a difference. In South Carolina, six infants die each month from unsafe sleep, DHEC said in a media release. Babies are at risk of sleep-related deaths until they are a year old.

Here are some tips for safer sleep, per DHEC:

  1. ALONE– Babies should sleep alone in their own safe sleep space such as a crib or bassinet with a firm, flat mattress. For the first year of life, baby should have a separate safe sleep space in the parent’s room.
  2. BACK– Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back, both for naps and at night. Placing babies on their backs to sleep is one of the most important ways to prevent SIDS.
  3. CRIB– Make sure that the crib or bassinet you’re using is safety approved by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and that the crib is bare. Remove all pillows, blankets soft toys, or bumpers.

SC DHEC debuts new mobile unit to help Upstate women & children

ANDERSON (AP/FOX Carolina) – A new mobile unit from SC DHEC is helping women make sure their children are getting the nutrients they need.

The van is for the department’s WIC program. WIC stands for woman, infant and children. It gives moms access to the proper nutrients for their children. Women have to qualify to become part of the program. To find out if you qualify, click here.

Duke Energy designs whitewater recreation site in Great Falls

GREAT FALLS, SC (WBTV) – Duke Energy is in the preliminary design phase of a recreational whitewater project. A spokesperson with Duke Energy says they have never done a project like this before.

According to Duke Energy and the Great Falls Hometown Association, the energy giant will construct two whitewater channels along the Catawba River near Fishing Creek Dam. The project will also include three kayaking and canoeing put-ins along a stretch of the Catawba River between the Fishing Creek Dam and just south of the Great Falls Dam.

Spring rabies vaccination clinics: The perfect opportunity to protect your pets

Veterinarians across South Carolina are joining forces with DHEC this spring to help owners protect themselves, families, communities, and pets against rabies.

As required by state law, all pet owners must vaccinate their dogs, cats, and ferrets.

“Participating veterinarians will vaccinate dogs, cats, and ferrets during the spring clinics,” said David Vaughan, director of DHEC’s Division of Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement. “Rabies vaccination fees may vary by clinic site.”

Local veterinarians offer vaccines year-round, but the spring clinics help raise awareness about rabies while providing convenience to pet owners. The support from local veterinarians during the spring clinics provides a valuable public service to our citizens.

While not required by state law, DHEC strongly recommends that owners vaccinate all horses, any livestock that has frequent contact with humans, any livestock that is particularly valuable, or animals used for raw milk or raw milk product production.

Hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year due to exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Although the cost varies, post-exposure treatment typically exceeds $8,000 per person.

“Rabies is a threat to pets, livestock, wild animals, and humans. Pet owners must stay vigilant and keep their pets’ vaccinations up-to-date,” said Vaughan. Keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family, and your pets from this fatal disease.

In 2017, there were 63 positive cases of rabies confirmed in animals across the state, including 29 raccoons, 13 skunks, 6 foxes, 6 cats, 4 bats, 2 coyotes, 1 dog, 1 goat, and 1 groundhog. In total, 26 of South Carolina’s 46 counties had a laboratory-confirmed positive rabies case last year. Positive rabies cases have been reported in every county in our state since the statewide program began.

Spring clinic dates, times, and locations can be found on DHEC’s website at www.scdhec.gov/Rabies/Clinics.

Help us in the fight to end the spread of rabies in South Carolina! #RabiesClinics

Mother and baby benefit greatly from breastfeeding

By Ellen B. Babb, PhD, MPH, RD, LD, CLC
WIC State Breastfeeding Coordinator
DHEC Division of WIC Services

Just how beneficial is breastfeeding for mothers and babies? Let us count the ways.

  • Human milk provides the ideal balance of nutrients for an infant’s growth and development.
  • Human milk is easy to digest and protects babies from diarrhea and other stomach issues.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS, as well as infectious and chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
  • Breastfeeding saves money.
  • Breastfeeding provides a unique bonding experience for mother and baby.

Considering all those benefits — and there are more — is it any wonder that pediatricians and other health officials encourage mothers to breastfeed?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.

World Breastfeeding Week

We cannot overstate the value of breastfeeding, which is why August 1 – 7 is set aside as World Breastfeeding Week. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages all expectant and new mothers to know the facts about the important health benefits of breastfeeding.

In South Carolina, 73 percent of babies have been breastfed for some period of time, 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at six months, and 14 percent are breastfeeding in some capacity at 12 months. Among all WIC mothers in South Carolina, 24 percent of children under age 1 are being breastfed.

WIC Supports Breastfeeding Moms and Babies

Many times moms and babies need assistance to get the most out of breastfeeding. That’s where DHEC’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program comes in; we have supportive breastfeeding staff, which includes breastfeeding peer counselors, certified lactation counselors and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, ready to help.

WIC provides resources and services such as:

  • Breastfeeding education materials
  • Enhanced breastfeeding food packages
  • Breastfeeding support groups (Circle of Friends)
  • “How to Breastfeed” classes
  • Breast pumps and supplies

One of the best ways to get a good start breastfeeding after giving birth is to have your baby at a Baby-Friendly Hospital, where mothers are given optimum support to initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies safely. To view a listing of South Carolina hospitals that have received this designation, please click here.

The success rate among mothers who want to breastfeed can be greatly improved through active support from their families, friends, communities, clinicians, health care leaders and employers.

For more general information about breastfeeding, click here. For information about how WIC can help with breastfeeding, please click here.