Category Archives: Maternal & Child Health

Local Hospital Acknowledged by DHEC Newborn Screening Program for Becoming Champions of Satisfactory Dried Blood Spot Collection

Newborn screening is a state public health service intended to identify infants who may be at an increased risk of certain disorders. Many consider newborn screening the most successful public health program in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed newborn screening as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the last decade.*

The term “newborn screening” refers to the collective group of conditions screened at birth including dried blood spot, hearing, and Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD). Our focus for this post is on Newborn Screening dried blood spots.

Every infant born in South Carolina is screened for unexpected medical conditions by collecting a blood sample, or blood spot specimen, from the infant’s heel 24 to 48 hours after birth. Five blood spots are obtained from approximately 57,000 infants born in South Carolina every year. Once dried and packaged, those blood spots are sent to the South Carolina Public Health Laboratory, where they are assessed for proper testing criteria also known as a satisfactory specimen collection.

If the laboratory deems the collection as unsatisfactory, those specimens are rejected, and the lab is unable to test for more than 50 disorders that are identifiable during the newborn period. Many of these disorders are time-critical or life-threatening. A repeat specimen is then requested, and a pediatrician, hospital, or health department is tasked with recollecting the specimen. This process can lead to a critical time delay of identifying an infant with a time critical disorder, timely diagnosis and treatment. Getting it right the first time, every time is important for all babies born in South Carolina.

 

In June 2019, the Newborn Screening Program, along with partners from the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA), traveled to McLeod Health Clarendon in Manning, SC. This recent visit was to recognize the hospital staff for achieving 100% satisfactory blood spot specimens in 2018. When the nurse manager, Debi, received a call from DHEC to acknowledge her facility’s accomplishment, she was pleasantly surprised. She revealed that her staff began to champion their newborn screening blood spot collection after attending the DHEC “First Time, Every Time” dried blood spot collection training workshop.

The processes implemented after the training guided them along a journey for success. Here is what Debi had to say: “I could not be prouder of my diligent and conscientious Women’s Services team at McLeod Health Clarendon; they truly exemplify our mission of providing excellence in healthcare! We would also like to thank the SC DHEC newborn screening team for making such a positive impact in the health care of all South Carolina newborns!” -Debi Love-Ballard, R.N., Director of McLeod Health Clarendon’s Women and Infant Services.

DHEC Group Pic for Newborn Screening Awards

McLeod Health Clarendon was the only South Carolina hospital to accomplish the goal of 100% satisfactory bloodspot specimen collection in 2018.  Approximately 400 infants received their results in a timely manner without experiencing a repeat collection process.

Congratulations McLeod Health Clarendon. Their impact on the babies born in their community is a true representation of DHEC’s vision of Healthy People, Healthy Communities in South Carolina.

For more information about newborn screening, visit https://scdhec.gov/health-professionals/lab-certification-services/newbornscreening and https://www.babysfirsttest.org/.

* Koppaka, R Ten great public health achievements – United States, 2001–2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly. Rep. 2011;60(19):619–623

South Carolina Health at a Glance: Maternal and Infant Health

Our next installment of the 2018 Live Healthy State Health Assessment summaries covers maternal and infant health.  Because the document is 346 pages, we will summarize each section.  Check out our previous posts:  overview of the report, South Carolina demographics, leading causes of death and hospitalization, cross-cutting, and access to healthcare.

Infant Mortality

The five leading causes of infant death in South Carolina were:

  • Birth defects (85%)
  • Preterm birth and low birthweight (14.2%)
  • Unintentional injuries (9.7%)
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (6.7%)
  • Maternal complication of pregnancy (5.0%).

Targeted education and interventions focused on infant death prevention and contributing factors helps to reach audiences in greatest need.  Although the infant mortality rate decreased from 8.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 7.0 deaths in 2016, this rate is higher than the national infant mortality rate and the Healthy People 2020 targeted goal.

Infant Mortality_SC Health Assessment

Birth Defects

Babies affected by birth defects are at an increased risk for long-term physical, cognitive, and social challenges.  Families affected by birth defects often deal with complex medical conditions that require surgery and early intervention services within the first three years of life.  Approximately 8,074 birth defects were reported in South Carolina from 2009-2015.  Birth defect types include:  cardiovascular, central nervous system, chromosomal, orofacial, musculoskeletal, renal, genital, gastrointestinal, limb defects, and eye and ear defects.

Strategies to prevent birth defects include maintaining a healthy diet and consuming at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, regularly visiting a healthcare provider for chronic disease management and infection prevention, and avoiding exposure to drugs and alcohol.

Preterm Birth

Preterm birth is the live birth of a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy.  The earlier a baby is born, the greater the chances of having health problems in the short-term and long-term for the newborn.  These health problems can include respiratory distress, bleeding of the brain, anemia, or other health issues.

In 2016, preterm birth in South Carolina was higher than the United States.  The percent of preterm birth increased as the age of the mother increased.  Approximately 14.7% of non-Hispanic Black women experienced preterm births.

Preterm birth_SC Health assessment

Low Birthweight

Low birthweight is the birth of a baby weighing less than five pounds, eight ounces.  Although some low birthweight babies are healthy, others may require special care at birth due to respiratory distress, intestinal complications, bleeding of the brain, or other health problems.  Babies born at a low birthweight also have increased risk for developing chronic health conditions later in life.

Low Birthweight_SC Health Assessment

Teen Birth

The birth rate for teenagers aged 15 to 19 has continuously declined since 1991, reaching historic lows across the United States.  Success in the decline may be attributed to increased access to long-acting reversible contraception, delayed onset of sexual activity, and effective abstinence education.  Although the teen birth rate has declined significantly from 2007 to 2016, South Carolina’s teen birth rate is higher than national rate.

Teen birth_SC Health assessment

For more information about South Carolina maternal health statistics on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), intended pregnancy, prenatal care, breastfeeding, and pregnancy-related death, read the full Maternal and Infant Health chapter of the 2018 State Health Assessment.

 

Embrace All Aspects of Health During Women’s Health Week

How many times do we try to eat right, exercise, eliminate stress factors and get a good night’s sleep  with no success?  Well that stops this week!  May 12-18 is National Women’s Health Week.  Use this week to start a routine to keep your mind, body and spirit healthy.

CDC Women Exercise Class Photo

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), taking these steps can lead to better health:

 

By the Numbers

According to the 2018 South Carolina Health Assessment, here are some health findings about women in South Carolina.  Read the full assessment for more statistics.

  • The prevalence of South Carolina women delaying medical care due to cost was higher than South Carolina males.
  • Non-Hispanic Black women experienced a higher rate of new cases of late-stage breast cancer than non-Hispanic White women. South Carolina ranks 19th in the nation for new cases of breast cancer.  White women are diagnosed at a higher rate than Black women; however, Black women die at a higher rate (almost 50% higher).  In 2015, there was a total of 4,077 new cases of breast cancer, of these, 1,306 were diagnosed as late-stage.
  • In 2016, 75% of South Carolina women aged 50 to 74 years old received a mammogram within the last two years.
  • South Carolina ranks 19th in the nation for new cases of cervical cancer. Black women are diagnosed at a higher rate than White women and also die at a higher rate.  There were 216 new cases of invasive cervical cancer in 2015.
  • In 2016, approximately 90% of women aged 21 to 65 years old reported having a Pap smear within the past three years.
  • Every year, more than 195,000 women in South Carolina are victimized by sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner.

If you are not as healthy as you would like to be at your current age, it is never too late to start!  View the Healthy Living by Age page to gauge your health from ages 20s-90s.  Think you’ve got your health covered?  Find out your health score.

Don’t Forget to Thank A Nurse This Week: National Nurses Week is May 6-12

Officially recognized in 1993, National Nurses Week was founded to celebrate nurses and their contributions to society as well as encourage more people to join the nursing profession.

Whenever there is someone in need of care, you can count on a nurse to show compassion in tending to their needs.  Nurses are critical in safeguarding individual and public health.

“We celebrate our DHEC nurses for protecting our communities one individual at a time,” said Rebecca Morrison, APRN, MSN, FNP-BC, director, Public Health Nursing.  “Nurses Week is a time to celebrate their dedication and commitment to Public Health nursing.”

CDC Nurse Photo JPG

DHEC nurses provide care for clients in several programs, including:  immunizations, sexually transmitted disease (STD) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing, tuberculosis, family planning, children’s health and more.  They are also in local schools and childcare centers.  For a full list of services we provide statewide, visit:   https://www.scdhec.gov/health/health-public-health-clinics/services-we-provide.

The nursing profession was founded to protect, promote, and improve health for all ages.  Take time this week to thank a nurse for all they do.

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.