Category Archives: Maternal & Child 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.

DHEC in the News: Measles, protecting children against contagious diseases, improving health for mothers and newborns

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

DHEC: Measles Confirmed in Georgetown County Resident

Columbia, SC (WLTX) The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) received a report of a confirmed case of measles in a resident who lives in Georgetown County on Friday, August 10, from a local healthcare provider.

DHEC has begun a contact investigation and is notifying people who may have been exposed in specific settings.

School starts soon in York Co. Is your child protected against contagious diseases?

ROCK HILL – Cases of hand, foot and mouth disease have been popping up in York County. But that’s just one of several contagious diseases parents should watch for as school starts Aug. 20.

Parents also should also be mindful of pink eye, respiratory infections and other illnesses that are easily transmitted in a school setting, said Dr. Arash Poursina, infectious disease specialist for Piedmont Medical Center.

“As school starts, we do usually see a spike in the number of upper respiratory infections,” he said.

General Interest

Opinion: South Carolina is focused on improving health for new mothers and newborns

A recent USA Today story called attention to the fact that the United States is falling behind other developed nations with an increase in maternal mortality.

For South Carolina’s hospitals, our top priority is to implement a “Zero Harm” culture at our facilities, focused on providing the highest quality care to the patients we serve. That’s why we are committed to working with stakeholders to improve maternal health in our state.

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.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

DentalHealthMonthFebruary is National Children’s Dental Health Month and DHEC’s Division of Oral Health, is reminding  parents their children can avoid cavities by practicing good oral health.

Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between your teeth daily, eating a healthy diet that limits sugary beverages and snacks, and seeing your dentist regularly for prevention and treatment of oral disease are the keys to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

This year’s slogan is “brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile.”

In support of a positive preventive message, DHEC’s Division of Oral Health and the South Carolina Dental Association, in collaboration with the Columbia Marionette Theatre, will provide free puppet shows to school-age children across the state during the month of February. Oral health-related events will also be taking place at EdVenture Children’s Museum as part of their annual Take Heart and Smile Month. To learn more, visit edventure.org.

Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Please go to the SC Dental Association website to find a dentist near you.