Tag Archives: children

DHEC wants your child to have a healthy smile!

By Adrianna Bradley

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) wants parents to help their little ones brush up on oral health.

Although it’s preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. When left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain and infections that can lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that children who have poor oral health tend to miss more school days and receive lower grades than children who don’t.

Good dental habits start at home

DHEC encourages parents to support good habits at home, such as brushing teeth twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly, so children can have healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime. DHEC’s Division of Oral Health collaborates with the S.C. Dental Association and the Columbia Marionette Theatre to support a traveling puppet show called “Flora and Floppy go to the Dentist.” The purpose of this interactive show is to teach children what they need to do to have healthy smiles.  Some of the key messages in the puppet show are brushing and flossing, going to the dentist, drinking water with fluoride, getting dental sealants, and eating healthy foods.

“The Flora and Floppy puppet show has been able to reach over 35,000 children in schools and Head Start centers across the state with a positive oral health message since it began in 2007,” said Dr. Ray LaLa, director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC. “The ability to deliver key oral health messages in an entertaining way is an extremely effective way to reach young children and their families.”

Tooth decay a problem among children

Even though tooth decay has been on the decline for the past 30 years, it is still prevalent in children ages 6 to 19. South Carolina’s Oral Health Needs Assessment in 2012 showed a decline in untreated decay, but there is still work to be done, particularly in the more rural areas of the state. For example, over 40 percent of the students screened in 2012 showed they had some form of decay, either treated or untreated. Consistent preventive messages and public health interventions such as community water fluoridation can go a long way to improve the oral health status of children in South Carolina.

Steps to take to protect children’s dental health

Here are some useful tips for parents and caregivers to help protect their children from future dental issues.

  • Oral care begins with wiping out the mouths of infants with soft cloth even before the first tooth arrives.
  • Once teeth arrive, brush your child’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day. Children under age 3 should use a smear of toothpaste, and children over age 3 should use a pea-sized amount.
  • Children should be supervised when brushing their teeth until age 6-8.little-girl-brushing
  • Children should visit the dentist regularly beginning at age 1.
  • Talk to your pediatrician, family doctor, nurse or dentist about putting fluoride varnish on your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears in the mouth.
  • Limit sugary snacks and drinks.
  • Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants. Sealants protect teeth from decay.
  • Have your child drink tap water that contains fluoride. If you have well water, you can contact your water utility company and request a copy of the utility’s most recent “Consumer Confidence Report.” This report provides information on the level of fluoride in your drinking (tap) water.

A healthy mouth is an important part of overall health. To learn more about Children’s Dental Health Month, please visit http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month.

Santa’s Safety List: 12 Tips for Toys

Toys are an essential part of the holiday gift-giving and while many parents are still crossing off presents on their children’s Christmas lists, DHEC wants to make sure little ones stay safe this holiday season.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 252,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for toy-related injuries in 2015. Here are 12 tips to make sure your family stays safe this holiday.

Make sure to follow the age recommendations for toys and games.
Always pay close attention to the age recommendations on toys and choose one according to a child’s age, interest, and skill level.

Take notice of warning and safety labels.
Be aware of other safety labels such as “Flame retardant/flame resistant” or “Washable/Hygienic materials” on dolls and other stuffed toys.

Plastic wrappings can be deadly for small children – discard them immediately.
Discard the plastic wrappings from toys immediately; they become deadly playthings to small children.

When choosing toys, keep in mind that kids under one like to see, touch, hear and taste.
For children one and under, choose toys that are colorful, lightweight, have various textures and are made of non-toxic materials. Children, this age learn through sight, touch, sound and taste and often put things into their mouths to explore them.

Small parts like removable eyes are choking hazards.
Don’t give young children any toys with small parts such as removable eyes, noses, etc., they are choking hazards.

Stay away from toys with sharp points, edges, and wires that stab, cut or shock.
Inspect all toys for sharp points or edges made from such materials as metal or glass—these toys should not be given to children under eight years of age. This includes stuffed animals with wires that could stab, cut or shock if exposed.

Never hang toys with strings, cords, or ribbons of any kind in cribs or playpens.
Toys with strings, cords or ribbons of any kind should not be hung in cribs or playpens. Young children can become entangled which can cause injury or death.

Teach older children to keep toys with removable small parts or sharp points away from younger siblings.
Teach older children to keep their toys that may have removable small parts, sharp points or toys ran on electricity out of reach of younger siblings. Young children are very curious and may investigate toys that aren’t appropriate for them.

Worn or broken toys can cause injuries.
Keep toys and play equipment in good condition, discard any toys that are broken to prevent injuries.

Check toys regularly for safety and durability.
Toys get used and abused by children; regularly conduct a toy maintenance check for safety and durability.

Provide safe hazard-free play environments both indoors and outdoors.
Supervision is essential; provide safe hazard-free play environments both indoors and outdoors.

Toys can be a tripping hazard!
Teach children early to put toys away when they are finished playing with them. This will prevent accidental falls over them.

To learn more about preventing your child from other injuries you can visit our website at http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/ChildTeenHealth/EarlyChildhood/PreventInjuries/

Make Halloween SAFE and HEALTHY

halloween_socialKids love Halloween – dressing up, going to parties and, of course, eating yummy treats. But parents need to keep some guidelines in mind to make sure the day is full of treats, not tricks. Use these tips to make the festivities SAFE and HEALTHY.

Swords, knives and other costume accessories should be short, soft and flexible.

Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.

Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.

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Hand out some healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Exercise can be part of the fun. Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.

Avoid walking areas and stairs that aren’t well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause someone to fall.

Look both ways before crossing the street. Use crosswalks wherever possible.

Test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.

Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.

Yes, a little candy is OK, but limit the sweet treats beyond the holiday.

For more ideas on safe, healthy Halloween fun, check out these pages:

 

Help is available for those challenged by sickle cell disease

By Malerie Hartsell, MPH, CHES
Program Coordinator
Children with Special Health Care Needs

When a child inherits sickle cell disease it can cause emotional, financial and other strain on a family.

It also raises serious questions, such as “How will our child cope with a disease that can cause sudden extreme, pain-filled episodes?” or “How will our family handle the challenge of caring for a child with a chronic, untreatable illness?”

While families bear much of the load, there are services in place to help, including those available through the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Children with Special Health Care Needs program.

What kind of help does Children with Special Health Care Needs offer?

 Under the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, Division of Children’s Health and the DHEC Lab, the Newborn Screening Program includes tests for SCD, sickle C disease, sickle B thalassemia, and variant hemoglobinopathy disorders and traits, including sickle cell trait. Based off DHEC Lab Newborn Screening data, there are approximately 70 babies born with SCD annually and over 2,400 babies identified to have SCT.

After a diagnosis is confirmed, the Children with Special Health Care Needs Program assist South Carolinians by covering:

  • medical service expenses
  • physician visits
  • durable medical equipment
  • medical supplies
  • prescription drugs

Additionally, Care Coordinators in DHEC Regional offices provide information and/or referral, and support services.

Every summer, children with sickle cell disease spend a week at Camp Burnt Gin in Wedgefield, South Carolina, where they enjoy a fun camping experience while learning about blood disorders, treatment and ways to manage the disease.  The week at Camp Burnt Gin is a partnership between DHEC’s CSHCN program and Palmetto Health, which conducts educational activities during the week that foster disease management, positive self-esteem, confidence and independence, while giving campers a positive childhood experience.

Community based organizations at work

Through partnerships with four sickle cell community based organizations — the James R. Clark Memorial Sickle Cell Foundation, the Louvenia D. Barksdale Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, the Orangeburg Area Sickle Cell Foundation and the COBRA Human Services Agency Sickle Cell Program — more persons with sickle cell are able to obtain services and support.  These organizations work tirelessly to provide educations and counseling, testing for sickle cell trait, family support and education for hospital staff.

Throughout September, which is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, each community based organization will engage community members in different events to help promote and increase awareness about SCD.

If you have questions about testing for you or your family, you can visit one of the four sickle cell community based organizations.  For more general information about sickle cell, visit cdc.gov/sicklecell or http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca.

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Vaccines Can Protect You and Your Baby from Whooping Cough

By Teresa Foo, MD, MPH
Medical Consultant
Divisions of Immunization and Acute Disease Epidemiology

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a very contagious disease that can cause serious illness and death, especially in newborns and young infants who are not fully vaccinated. Whooping cough is often thought of as a disease of the past.  While we no longer see the number of cases we did in the United States before whooping cough vaccines were available, it is a growing health concern.

Whooping cough can be serious for anyone, but it is life-threatening in newborns and young babies.  Up to 20 babies die each year in the United States due to whooping cough.  About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get whooping cough need treatment in the hospital.  The younger the baby is when he gets whooping cough, the more likely he will need to be treated in a hospital. It is important to know that many babies with whooping cough don’t cough at all. Instead it can cause them to stop breathing and turn blue.

Whooping cough vaccines are the safest and most effective way to prevent this disease. The whooping cough vaccine for children (2 months through 6 years) is called DTaP.  The vaccine that provides protection for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both of these vaccines provide protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

There are three ways you can protect your baby from whooping cough.

First, pregnant women should get the Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, preferably between the 27th and 36th week.  This allows the mother to give her newborn the greatest number of protective antibodies and the best possible protection against whooping cough.

Second, make sure everyone who is around your baby is up to date with their whooping cough vaccines.  When a baby’s family members and caregivers get a whooping cough vaccine, they help protect their own health while forming a protective circle of immunity around the baby.  Many babies who get whooping cough catch it from siblings, parents or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Third, make sure your baby gets his or her vaccines on time.  Your baby will need several doses of DTaP vaccine for the best protection.  The first dose is recommended at age 2 months.  Your baby will need two more doses after that, given at 4 months and 6 months, to build up high levels of protection, and then booster shots at 15 through 18 months and at 4 through 6 years to maintain that protection.

Talk to your doctor about what vaccines you or your baby need.  For more information on protecting your baby from whooping cough, go to  www.cdc.gov/pertussis/pregnant/mom/index.html

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