Tag Archives: babies

DHEC in the News: Flu, National Children’s Dental Health Month, treatment for babies born to drug-addicted mothers

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

South Carolina sees first child die from flu this season

A child who has died in the Midlands from complications associated with the flu is the first pediatric fatality reported to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control this flu season.

Health information privacy laws shield hospitals and agencies from revealing patients’ county of residence and age.

“We extend our condolences to this family and all families in South Carolina who have suffered a loss during this flu season,” said Lillian Peake, DHEC director of public health.

Local church bumping elbows during ‘sign of peace’ instead of shaking hands, hugging during flu season

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The flu continues to sweep the nation and now it’s causing some churches across the country to take precautions. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is calling this flu season the worst it’s been in nearly a decade. As the numbers of flu related deaths continue to rise, churches across the country are altering their services to prevent passing the virus. One local church in Myrtle Beach is doing something unique. Surfside United Methodist Church encourages elbow bumping at the beginning of the service during the passing of the peace and at the end of service, all in an effort to prevent spreading germs.

S.C. dental health needs a brush-up

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month – and South Carolina needs to take notice.

Reports show some children are missing hours of school each year because of oral health problems, causing them to lose out on critical instruction time. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging parents to turn their little ones into scholars by helping them improve their oral health habits.

Born addicted: Greenville hospital pioneers new way to treat babies in withdrawal

A baby born to a drug-addicted mom can suffer tremors, sleeplessness, muscle stiffness and other symptoms of withdrawal.

She might wail uncontrollably, be unable to relax or refuse to eat.

She might even have seizures.

And the traditional medical response has been to allow these infants to go into full withdrawal before treating them, said Dr. Jennifer Hudson, medical director of newborn services at Greenville Memorial Hospital.

Folic Acid Awareness Week: This Vitamin Helps Guard Against Birth Defects

This week — January 7-13 — is Folic Acid Awareness Week. Did you know that taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can prevent up to 70 percent of some serious birth defects of the brain and spine?

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is necessary for proper cell growth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Public Health Service recommend that all women between the ages of 15 and 45 consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily to prevent two types of neural tube defects, spina bifida and anencephaly. These birth defects develop within the first few weeks of pregnancy, which is why it’s important to have enough folic acid in your body BEFORE becoming pregnant and to continue getting enough during early pregnancy.

Every woman needs folic acid daily, whether she’s planning to get pregnant or not. For one thing, almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.  Also, folic acid helps the body make healthy new cells. The body — the skin, hair, nails and other parts of the body — makes healthy new cells daily.
Women who could possibly become pregnant can consume 400 mcg of folic acid every day by:

  • taking a daily multi-vitamin containing folic acid, and
  • eating fortified foods like grains, pastas, or breakfast cereals.

For more information on folic acid, visit the CDC website or the National Birth Defects Prevention Network website.

FolicAcid Fact Sheet

DHEC in the News: flu, Surfside Beach’s proposed ban of plastic bags

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

SC Health Department encourages pregnant women to get flu shots

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging pregnant women to get their flu shots.

According to a recent panel survey conducted by Centers for Disease Control, many pregnant women are at risk of getting the flu this season.

Worst SC Flu Season in 8 Years’ May Be Underway

Lexington, SC (WLTX) – This may be the worst flu season in South Carolina in eight years, according to doctors with Lexington Medical Center.

The hospital said Tuesday that in the first week of this year, they’ve had 300 cases of the flu. That compares to 550 cases in December, and just 80 in the month of November.

The most recent flu activity report from DHEC, which was done at the end of last month, showed that the flu was ‘widespread’ in the state. That same survey found that Richland County had the highest number of cases in the Midlands over a one week period.

Plastic bags on route to being banned in Surfside Beach


Plastic bags may soon be banned from the Town of Surfside Beach, after the town council passed the first reading of the ordinance Tuesday night.

“I think banning plastic bags is a good thing,” Surfside Beach Mayor Bill Childs said. “I think this is a good thing that Mrs. Samples has brought forward, and I certainly hope that council does support this. It’s a step in the right direction.”

DHEC And Its Partners Work To Prevent Infant Mortality

By Adrianna Bradley

The first year of life for newborn babies are exciting and scary. As proud new moms and dads fawn over their bundle of joy that joy is tempered by the loss of sleep and a fear of losing their child to some illness, accident or other condition.

Infant deaths are a great concern for our country and the world. Its impact on families and society is devastating.

DHEC monitors infant deaths

DHEC annually collects data to monitor infant death rates across South Carolina.

“Infant mortality has always been a long-standing indicator of population health across the board,” said Kimberly Seals, director of DHEC’s Bureau of Maternal Child Health. “We measure infant mortality to have a broad perspective of population health overall.”

South Carolina’s infant death rates from 2006 to 2016 have dropped 16 percent. The positive trend in reducing infant deaths is due to the work of DHEC staff, our public health partners, parents, and doctors. Some of those partners are the S.C. Hospital Association, PASOs, and the March of Dimes South Carolina Chapter.

Campaigns and programs help curb deaths

DHEC also conducts education campaigns and support programs to address prenatal and post-natal care for infants. These campaigns, programs, and initiatives are vital in keeping S.C.’s babies from becoming a death statistic.

These efforts are critical and on any given day, things can go wrong and they can go wrong quickly. New and first-time mom, Angelica Smith, is familiar with how the routine can quickly turn into an emergency.

It happened March of 2016 when a DHEC newborn home visit nurse, Ann Gordon, went to visit the new mom and baby at their Cherokee County home. Ann was talking with the family when she noticed Angelica had a strange look on her face as she held baby Jacob.

“I looked at him and noticed that his face had started turning blue,” Angelica Smith said.

“I said, Angelica, let me see the baby! He was not breathing and he had no heartbeat,” Ann Gordon said. “I told Angelica to call 911 and started doing CPR on the baby.”

Thanks to this DHEC program and Ann’s actions, little Jacob’s life was saved.

Leading causes of death

Data shows the leading causes of death for newborns are the following:

  • Birth defects
  • Preterm birth and low birth weights
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Accidents

DHEC is working with its partners to continue its progress in keeping even more of the youngest and most vulnerable alive. DHEC is determined to give every child in South Carolina the best chance possible for a happy and productive life.

View the below video for a closer look at DHEC’s efforts to address infant mortality in our state.

Newborn Screening Awareness Month: Our Best Foot Forward

Newborn Staff Blog Photo 1

Newborn Screening and First Sound/Hearing Screening Program Staff
(Left to right): Tanya Spells, MS, MT(ASCP) Newborn Screening Program Manager, Tara Carroll, MCD, CCC/A First Sound Program Manager, Jyotsna Achanta, First Sound Program Data Manager, Dr. Eileen Walsh, Pediatric Medical Consultant, Janice Eichelberger, First Sound Program Coordinator, Dana Smith, R.N. Newborn Screening Follow Up Program Coordinator, Jennifer Schlub, RD, LD, Nutritionist IV                  

We celebrate Newborn Screening Awareness Month each September as more than just a casual observance. Screening babies for certain serious health conditions at birth is critical.

Identifying babies with potential health conditions at birth makes it possible to begin early intervention and/or treatment before harmful effects happen. Newborn Screening includes testing for inherited disorders, hearing loss and congenital heart defects.

Newborn screening in South Carolina

In South Carolina, we screen nearly 57,000 babies each year. So far in 2017, the newborn bloodspot screening program has identified 76 infants with inherited disorders and 28 cases of Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) have been reported by SC hospitals. Annually, 75-100 infants are identified with some form of hearing loss.  

The newborn screen originally began testing for just one disorder, Phenylketonuria (PKU). The South Carolina newborn screening test panel now includes 53 different disorders, such as Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell disease and trait, Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), Congenital Hypothyroidism, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, hearing loss, (CCHD), and multiple Inborn Errors of Metabolism. For a complete list and description please visit babysfirsttest.org/newborn-screening/states/south-carolina.

You may wonder how South Carolina came to screen for these disorders. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (ACHDNC) uses an evidence-based process to evaluate specific disorders for addition to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP).  Most US newborn screening programs follow the RUSP in determining the conditions for which infants are screened.

The programs that conduct the screenings

The Newborn Hearing Program, First Sound, assesses infants to detect hearing loss and every birthing hospital in the state checks infants for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) to ensure newborns’ hearts are healthy.

The Newborn Screening Blood Spot Program (NBS) screens infants for inherited disorders via a panel of laboratory tests. A few drops of blood are collected 24-48 hours after birth by pricking an infant’s heel. Once the sample is collected, it is sent to the DHEC Public Health Laboratory, Newborn Screening section for testing. The NBS laboratory receives approximately 1,200 specimens each week.  The NBS Blood Spot Program operates six days a week, Monday-Saturday, most weeks of the year.

Newborn Staff Blog Photo 2 (3)

Public Health Newborn Screening Laboratory Director, Supervisor, and Staff

The Newborn Screening Lab has a group of laboratory technologists that performs the screening tests. Testing is initiated the day the specimen is received and most testing is completed within two days. The laboratory mails a final laboratory report for normal and abnormal test results to the individual or facility who submitted the specimen and to the physician of record. Any abnormal result is repeated for verification before follow-up staff is notified.

The Newborn Screening Program staff work closely with the pediatric medical consultant, primary healthcare providers, medical specialists and health departments around the state. Providers are notified of abnormal results by follow-up staff to ensure infants are getting the care required for the specific disorder which they screen positive. These patients are followed until a diagnosis is made by either the primary care provider or specialist to whom they are referred.

New disorders under consideration for addition to our test panel are Pompe Disease, Mucopolysaccharidosis Type 1 (MPS 1) and X-linked Adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD).

For more information

Keep up with current newborn screening initiatives in our quarterly newsletter, Footnotes. For more information about newborn screening in South Carolina, contact us at newbornscreening@dhec.sc.gov.