Children's health

Advocates push state to use more federal dollars for school-based health clinics

Ohio child advocacy groups and doctors are pushing for more state funding to add additional school-based health clinics in the state (Source: “Child advocacy groups, doctors want to see more state funding for school-based health clinics,” News 5 Cleveland, Oct. 20).

The Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio and other child advocacy groups are asking the state to allocate $25 million from the American Rescue Plan Act for the next two years to help set up clinics for additional districts in the state.

Ohio received about $5 billion from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. So far, about $3 billion has yet to be allocated. According to the Treasury Department, funds must be incurred by Dec. 31, 2024.


Children of color more likely to die from flu, study finds

People who are Black, Hispanic or American Indian/Alaska Native are more likely than white people to be hospitalized with a case of the flu in the United States, according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions (Source: “The flu proves more deadly for children of color than for White youths, study says,” Washington Post, Oct. 11).

Young children in these groups, along with Asian and Pacific Islander children, are also more likely to die of flu than white children.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, took a close look at 113,352 flu hospitalizations between 2009 and 2019 from across the country. Researchers found clear disparities in those hospitalizations as well as among those who were ultimately admitted to the intensive care unit or who died.

Overall, Black people had the highest rates of hospitalization and ICU admission, followed by American Indians or Alaska Natives and Hispanic people, although the trends varied within age groups. Except in the youngest children, Asian and Pacific Islander people had hospitalization rates similar to or slightly lower than non-Hispanic white people. Across racial and ethnic groups, researchers found few differences in hospitalization, ICU admission and death from flu among adults 75 and older.


Study: 1 in 20 Ohio children has elevated lead levels in blood, more than twice national rate

Ohio children have elevated levels of lead in their blood at more than two times the national rate, according to a study released Monday (Source: “Ohio kids’ show elevated lead blood levels at more than twice the national rate, study finds,” Ohio Capital Journal, Sept. 28).

The research, from JAMA Pediatrics, found about 5.2% of Ohio children have elevated levels of lead in their system.

Nationally, the rate is about 1.9%. Ohio ranked second nationally in terms of states with the highest rates of children with elevated blood levels.

Lead is a neurotoxin linked to developmental, mental, and physical impairment, and young children are especially vulnerable. There’s no safe level of exposure for children, though their blood is considered elevated when it contains 5 micrograms per deciliter.

Ohio is one of six states with kids’ proportions of elevated blood levels more than twice the national average, along with Nebraska (6%), Pennsylvania (5%), Missouri (4.5%), Michigan (4.5%) and Wisconsin (4.3%).


New HPIO policy brief outlines ways for Ohio policymakers to take action to address addiction

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released a new policy brief, “Taking Action to Strengthen Ohio’s Addiction Response.”

The publication is the final brief in the HPIO Addiction Evidence Project and includes:

  • An update on where Ohio stands on addiction-related trends
  • A summary of Ohio’s addiction policy strengths, gaps, challenges and opportunities
  • A prioritized set of nine policy recommendations

Over the past 20 years, Ohioans have pulled together to address the complex challenges of addiction in unprecedented ways. Now, with pending opioid settlements on the horizon, there is an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of Ohio’s efforts to date and plan for what should happen next.

The brief identifies the following as the most important addiction policy priorities to address:

  • Immediate: Save lives by ending fentanyl overdoses
  • Next 2 years: Reform the criminal justice system to support recovery and employment
  • Long term: Continue to strengthen Ohio’s prevention-treatment-recovery continuum

Ohio study finds Black children twice as likely to die by suicide

Black children ages 5 to 12 are twice as likely to die by suicide as their white counterparts, a new study from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus shows (Source: “Black children are twice as likely to die by suicide, Nationwide Children's study finds,” Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 9).

Research on suicide by Black youths is extremely limited and this study sought to identify the circumstances that arise when young Black people take their own lives.

"[W]e wanted to look specifically within Black youth only to get a clear understanding of what is happening within this population,” said Dr. Arielle Sheftall, principal investigator in the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research and the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s.

Black girls, the study found, were more likely to experience a crisis with a boyfriend or girlfriend prior to death and died by suicide within 24 hours of an argument. Black boys were more likely to have experienced a recent legal problem and when compared with Black girls were less likely to have received prior mental health treatment, the study found.

Younger children who died by suicide, especially those 5 to 11 years of age, were more likely than older children to have experienced family and school problems. If Black children ages 5 to 11 were diagnosed with a mental health concern, it was more likely to be attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), according to Nationwide Children's.

“When implementing suicide prevention with Black youth, you have to start from ground zero," Sheftall said. "You have to figure out what the risk factors are for Black youth and then evaluate which prevention programs are beneficial or if adaptation of the prevention programs are needed."


Study: Families with child with special needs lose an average $18k a year in lost wages

New research has found that families with a child with special needs lost an average of $18,000 a year in household income (Source: “Leaving Work to Care for Special Needs Child Takes Big Financial Toll,” Health Day News, Aug. 30).

Households that lost income while providing care for a child were more likely to live in poverty, be enrolled in a government assistance program and more likely to spend over $5,000 a year in out-of-pocket expenses for their child's health care, according to the study published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The study found that households of children with intellectual disability, cerebral palsy or brain injury had the highest levels of lost wages, and that lost wages were high in families with children under 5 and in Hispanic families.


HPIO analysis identifies 12 strategies to prevent childhood trauma in Ohio

A new policy brief, “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): A strategic approach to prevent ACEs in Ohio,” identifies 12 cost-beneficial strategies that state leaders can use to prevent adverse childhood experiences.

Earlier analysis from HPIO’s Ohio ACEs Impact project found that more than one-third of Ohio adults (36%) reported exposure to two or more ACEs. And first-of-its-kind analysis by HPIO estimated that more than $10 billion in annual healthcare and related spending could be avoided in Ohio if exposure to ACEs was eliminated.

“ACEs are not inevitable and Ohioans are resilient,” the new report states. “Exposure to ACEs does not have to determine future hardship. There are strategies that state policymakers and others can deploy to prevent ACEs and safeguard the well-being of Ohio children and families who have experienced adversity and trauma.” 

The report also highlights steps Ohio’s public and private leaders can take to ensure that communities across the state are equipped to support children and families that are most at risk for experiencing adversity and trauma – including Ohioans of color and Ohioans with low incomes, disabilities and/or who live in urban and Appalachian areas.


States not ready to meet mental health needs of students this fall, report finds

A report released this week from advocacy group Mental Health America found that a majority of states are not ready to address youth mental health as schools prepare to reopen for in-person learning in the fall (Source: “Analysis: Most states not ready to tackle youth mental health ahead of fall,” The Hill, July 20). 

The analysis reports that just 14 states have fully expanded Medicaid to cover mental health services in schools, and only a handful have legislation requiring mental health education. The lack of access and education make states unprepared to deal with mental health issues among children, which were exacerbated by the pandemic, the report said. 

Children of color are more likely to receive school-based mental health services than white children, so limited resources can also lead to disparities in who is getting care. And although Black and Latino children are less likely than white children to get mental health treatment for depression, they made up the largest increases in the proportion of youth experiencing suicidal ideation between 2019 and 2020, the report said.

Advocates say the coronavirus pandemic worsened an already existing mental health crisis devastating young people. The percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds who reported a past-year major depressive episode doubled over the past 10 years, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 


HPIO report summarizes maternal, infant health outcomes from Columbus housing project

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio recently completed a final report summarizing the outcome and process evaluation results of CelebrateOne's Healthy Beginnings at Home (HBAH) housing stabilization pilot program, which is designed to improve maternal and infant health outcomes for families with low incomes in the Columbus area. A nine-page executive summary and a longer final report are available. 

The report includes five key findings and 16 recommendations and policy changes to strengthen HBAH replication and improve housing and health outcomes for pregnant women and their families. Insights from the evaluation can be valuable for other programs in Ohio that aim to improve maternal and infant health through housing interventions. 

This report builds upon the following work: 


Children could face long-term education and health challenges following pandemic, experts warn

After more than a year of isolation, widespread financial insecurity and the loss of an unprecedented amount of classroom time, experts say many of the youngest Americans have fallen behind socially, academically and emotionally in ways that could harm their physical and mental health for years or even decades (Source: “Damage to Children’s Education — And Their Health — Could Last a Lifetime,” Kaiser Health News, July 1).

“This could affect a whole generation for the rest of their lives,” said Dr. Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician and director of the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University. “All kids will be affected. Some will get through this and be fine. They will learn from it and grow. But lots of kids are going to be in big trouble.”

Many kids will go back to school this fall without having mastered the previous year’s curriculum. Some kids have disappeared from school altogether, and educators worry that more students will drop out. Between school closures and reduced instructional time, the average U.S. child has lost the equivalent of five to nine months of learning during the pandemic, according to a report from McKinsey & Co. that was released in December.

Educational losses have been even greater for some minorities. Black and Hispanic students — whose parents are more likely to have lost jobs and whose schools were less likely to reopen for in-person instruction — missed six to 12 months of learning, according to the McKinsey report.