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Maternal and Child Health
Section Newsletter
Winter 2007

From Section Chair Barbara Levin

Greetings and a Happy New Year!  Here is a quick update on what is happening within the MCH Section.   Since early December, the Executive Committee and Section Councilors have been meeting via phone conferencing.   We have been working on three issues:  membership, the mid-year meeting, and Section-wide policy development.


The overall plan for Section development is to determine the present goals and objectives of the Section.  APHA has emphasized strategic planning and redirection, and the MCH Section needs to face these concerns, also.


Membership:  The membership of the Section has slipped over the past four years from almost 3,000 members to fewer than 1,800.  While APHA has experienced some loss, the percentage for MCH is greater, and some other sections have grown during this time.  The importance of membership can not be underrated.  Membership count determines not only our number of Governing Council members, but also the funds we receive as a Section from the Association.


Led by Chair-elect Joanne Fisher and Membership Chair Jessie Hood Richardson, the Steering Group has implemented several plans to increase membership.  Laura Kavanagh and Jane Pearson have also worked on a document about membership which has been e-mailed to all individuals who stopped by the booth in Boston.   Joanne is working on a new booth design for the Annual Meetings.


During a recent trip to Washington, I was able to meet with Fran Atkinson, director of component affairs for APHA, and ask for help developing some of these plans.  She assigned a student intern, Jessica Murray, to work with MCH on a marketing plan for membership.  Stay tuned - Jessica will be calling you soon.


Midyear Meeting: The midyear meeting, was held March 3-4 in Washington, D.C., and is usually a time when we come together to discuss the program for next year and review policies for action during the fall Governing Council session.  This year, we also reviewed Section activities and goals.  Alan Baker at APHA funded a half-day meeting with Dee Jeffers, who is dedicated to capacity building and strategic planning.  Using the work plan developed by the Intersectional Council, a meeting agenda will be published. 


Policy Development:  The MCH Section supports an active agenda of policy activities in order to promote effective actions that support the health of mothers and their children.  The Action Board has chosen to review all policies regarding child health in the next year.  We will work closely with this group to examine APHA child health policy:  what is useful, what needs to be removed, and what is still missing?  Developing policy statements which can move quickly to action plans is one of the goals of the capacity building meeting in March.  At present, the Breastfeeding Committee has a policy under review, which was discussed at the March meeting.


Section News: Holly Grason has agreed to represent MCH on the Action Board.  We all extend thanks to Ben Gitterman for his years of service on this committee.


Clare Feinson has remained newsletter editor.  She is working with the Section membership to develop a useful document which will help keep the membership informed of Section activities and developments.


Jane Pearson is working with Fran Atkinson on the development of the new e-Communities software at APHA.  We are looking for someone to be the communications chair, to work with Jane, Clare, myself, and Association staff  to smooth transition from our present e-mail list to the new e-Communities tool.  Please contact me at if you are interested in this important position.


In conclusion, let me just add how excited I am to start on my two year term as Section chair.  MCH has much to add to the work of APHA and to the breadth of public health.  Thank you for your support and attention.



Section Committee Reports

Improving Pregnancy Outcomes Committee


Greetings from the Improving Pregnancy Outcomes (IPO) Committee!  We are pleased to report that the IPO Committee had a very successful set of events at the APHA Annual Meeting in Boston.  Here are the highlights:


1.      Committee Meeting: We were happy to see some new faces at our business meeting, including both hospital and community--based health professionals interested in addressing birth outcomes.  The IPO Committee always welcomes new members-come join us!  We spent the bulk of the meeting discussing our position paper, Reducing Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities in Preterm Births: A Call to Action (see below), and inviting attendees to support its passage at the public hearings

2.      Podium and Poster Sessions:  From the many quality abstract submissions we received for our 2006 program, we organized two oral sessions and two poster sessions, all of which were very well attended.  More importantly, the presentations were excellent, prompting numerous questions and comments from the audience.  Many people expressed an interest in the IPO Committee, so we now have several new names added to our e-mail list.

3.      Position Paper #20062, Reducing Racial/Ethnic Disparities and Socioeconomic Disparities in Preterm Births: This position paper was endorsed by our Section at the MCH Mid-Year meeting in March and was revised and resubmitted to the Joint Policy Committee in June 2006.  Public hearings were held at the Annual Meeting, and we received support from all of the sections with representatives present, with some minor revisions being recommended by the Epidemiology and Statistics sections.  The position paper was one of 22 policies passed by the Governing Council at the Annual Meeting.  We are very excited to have a role in creating APHA policy!  We are grateful to the many authors and the MCH leadership and membership for their support and assistance in getting the position paper submitted and revised. The final version of the position paper is available online at

4.      A New Co-Chair:  Our MCH Fellow from the 2005 Annual Meeting, Janine Lewis, has continued to work with IPO leadership in reviewing abstracts and helping to write the IPO position paper mentioned above.  She has agreed to sign on as an official co-chair to the IPO Committee.  Congratulations, Janine!


The Improving Pregnancy Outcomes Committee is an active group within the Maternal and Child Health Section.   We welcome your participation and input.  If you would like to become a member, please e-mail one of us! 


With warmest regards from your co-chairs,


Judith Katzburg          Tyan Parker Dominguez     Janine Lewis      

Innovations In Maternity Health Services Committee

The Innovations in Maternity Care Committee continues to explore the growing crisis in the provision of maternity services in the United States.  The committee, a working coalition of certified nurse midwives, certified professional midwives, physicians, and other maternal and child health advocates, is focused on the problems of access to care experienced by pregnant women across the country due to provider shortages, difficulties with malpractice, and facilities which are closing obstetrical units because of financial problems.   The magnitude of the lack of care is yet to be calculated, and benign neglect seems to be the overwhelming policy. 


The Innovations Committee is beginning a year-long effort to describe the problems of access to maternity care, both in quantitative and qualitative terms.  Each state affiliate will be asked to assess access issues.   At present, there is no national plan for dealing with this essential problem, and the first step to developing one is to assemble data on the issue.  This process began in Boston at the 134th Annual Meeting of APHA. 


The committee also sponsored four sessions this year, which were all well attended.  They were:

·        Developing Local and National Policies to Assure Access to Comprehensive Maternity Care:   Joanne Myers-Ceiko, Holly Kennedy, Ken Johnson, Betty Anne Daviss, and Dr. Barbara Levin.

·        Options for Childbirth: A Fundamental Woman's Right:  Saraswathi Vedam,  Ken Johnson, Betty Anne Daviss, and Heather Davidson.

·        Interesting Technology in Four Areas of Public Health:  In a Technology Theater Session, Bruce Ackerman and Ellen Harris-Braun presented the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) Database, an innovative Web-based system used for prospective collection of perinatal data.

·        Women's Choices in Childbirth: Access to Care:

o       The Myth of the Maternal Request for Cesarean: Exploring Mothers Attitudes Toward Cesarean Birth:  Eugene DeClerk.

o       White Ribbon Alliance: Women and Infants Service Package (WISP): Planning for Emergencies:  Lisa Sommers.

o       The Case Against Elective Primary Cesarean Surgery:  Henci Goer.


Although the theme of the 2007 Annual Meeting Nov. 3-10 in Washington, D.C. is “Politics, Policy and Public Health,” the theme for our committee continues to be access to care.  In 2007 we face increasing problems in access to maternity care, and we are looking for papers on provider shortages,  increasing malpractice insurance costs,  and decreasing consumer insurance coverage with loss of consumer options. We are also looking for research descriptions of programs or legislation which encourage birth options for women and childbearing families, choices, as well as creative solutions, to address access to care, including midwives, out of hospital birth settings, doulas, and water birth.  At the same time, we are interested in research into standard obstetrical care, including inductions, elective cesarean sections, electro-fetal monitoring, and delivery positions.  How birth is portrayed in the media is also important.  It is essential to address the politics, policies, and ethics of these issues on the local, state or nation levels.  Recently, Section Chair Barb Levin met with Ruth Lubic and representatives of the American Association of Birth Centers and the American College of Nurse Midwives at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C. to discuss the development of legislation in this area of access.


Please consider joining the Committee in its efforts to support women and their families in accessing appropriate maternity care; the need to assure such access is fundamental to public health.  To join, contact Barbara Levin at

Association News

Ruth Lubic Receives Martha May Eliot Award


Long-time Section member Ruth Lubic, founder and chair of the Family Health and Birth Center (FHBC), in Washington, D.C., received the prestigious Martha May Eliot Award from the Association during the Annual Meeting in Boston in 2006. 


In her acceptance speech, Ruth spoke about the improvements the FHBC has made since it was established, shortly after she received a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 1993.  Ruth came to D.C. because the city has the worst outcomes in the country, a situation that had long been on her professional conscience.  Making midwife services accessible to the women served by the FHBC has made a substantial difference -- from 2003 to 2005, the rate for Cesarean sections decreased by 47.2 percent, preterm birth went down 36.6 percent, and low birthweight dropped by 52 percent in the population served by the birthing center.  


Ruth attributes these remarkable reductions to the relationships established with the women and families by the midwifery staff, which empowers the women to take charge of their own health, and research backs up this claim.  A report from the World Health Organization in February 2006 entitled What is the Evidence on Effectiveness of Empowerment to Improve Health? concludes that “...empowerment is a viable public health strategy.”   In addition, in a recent study by Healy, Malone, and Sullivan, reported in Obstetrics and Gynecology 107 (3) pp. 625-631, entitled Early Access to Prenatal Care: Implications for Racial Disparity in Perinatal Mortality, the authors conclude that “prenatal care...remains insufficient in its present form for minority women.  Therefore, increasing early access to current prenatal care systems in the effort to minimize racial and ethnic insufficient.” (emphasis added) 


Ruth also pointed out that the improvements implemented by FHBC are not possible to achieve in the 10-minute prenatal visit mandated by most managed care organizations.  “Certainly the mental health of expectant mothers cannot be addressed unless sufficient time to establish respectful, empowering relationships is allotted,” she said.  “Childbearing is not merely a physical event.  It is one with social, emotional, spiritual, and even political ramifications within families . . . and is treated as such by our nurse-midwives and pediatric nurse practitioners.”


She then went on to speak about the cost savings that have been realized due to the efforts of FHBC.  In 2005, the FHBC rate of cesarean sections was 13 percent, compared to 29 percent for D.C. as a whole.  If FHBC’s rate had also been 29 percent, an additional 24 births at FHBC would have been cesarean sections, at an estimated cost of $13,458 apiece, for a total of $322,992.  Instead, these events were normal births, at a cost of $1,600 each, for a total cost savings of $284,592. 


The savings from a reduction in preterm births was even greater.  In 2005, the rate of preterm birth among FHBC families was 7 percent, but in its most recent final data, the District as a whole had a rate of 14.2 percent.  The Institute of Medicine report, Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention (in press), estimates that the annual economic burden on our society of each preterm birth is about $51,600.  By cutting the D.C. preterm birth rate in half, FHBC saved D.C. an estimated $567,600.  Added to the estimated savings from cesarean section, FHBC saved the District an estimated total of $852,192.  This is the equivalent of 66 percent of the total operating budget for FHSC, including a liability insurance premium of $175,000.  Yet in 2005, because of the reimbursement rules in place, FHBC was paid only 55 percent of the true cost of each medical visit and almost lost its liability insurance.


Ruth’s advocacy extends beyond the borders of D.C. to 42 birth centers in 19 states, all of which serve medically under-served populations.  “Thank you again for honoring me,” she said.  “In doing so you honor my professional colleagues as well, and you also give me the opportunity to share our work in addressing a national disgrace, the disparities among and between American families.  We look forward to the support of APHA once again in our advocacy program.”


APHA Student Assembly Alumini Database


In addition to providing resources to students, including scholarships, conferences, job postings, potential employers, and fellowships/internships, the APHA Student Assembly (SA) Opportunities Committee has also revamped the Alumni Database, which allows the  SA to keep track of their past members and provides current and potential students information about possible careers in the public health field.


To use the Alumni Database, students can visit the SA Web site,, and click on the Opportunities Committee page.  Here students can look at jobs currently held by public health professionals in the field, to gain a better understanding of the wide variety of career paths available to them. Alumni range from recent graduates working in fellowships or entry-level positions to seasoned health professionals with well-established research agendas.


The SA Opportunities Committee co-chairs are working to increase participation of SA alumni in the Alumni Database. Anyone who at one time was a member of the Student Assembly (previously entitled Public Health Student Caucus) can visit the Web site, complete the form at and return it to With APHA-SA alumni support, the Alumni Database can become a wonderful resource for the next generation of public health students. We hope you will consider taking a few moments to add your information to the database. 


If you have any questions or want more information, please feel free to contact Jennifer Cremeens or Anna Pollack, the Opportunities Committee co-chairs, at


Single Mothers Profiled In New Book By Ruth Sidel


Unsung Heroines: Single Mothers and the American Dream, a new book by long-time Section member Ruth Sidel, was published in 2006 by the University of California Press.  It is a study of 50 women who did not choose single motherhood but became single mothers through separation, divorce, death, or becoming pregnant outside of marriage.  In-depth interviews with the mothers show that, despite the shocking lack of societal support, they are uncommonly hard working, courageous, and committed to the well-being of their children.


New Drinking And Reproductive Health Tool Kit For Women’s Health Providers 


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has assembled a multi-component tool kit for providers to guide women of reproductive age in safe alcohol use and to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.  This tool kit stresses the importance for women who are not pregnant to drink at non-risk levels, to use contraception if drinking, and to abstain from alcohol use when planning a pregnancy or when pregnant.  It answers questions patients and providers often raise about drinking during pregnancies without apparent harm, about reporting to authorities, and about drinking prior to knowledge of pregnancy.  The CD-ROM has a brief guide, downloadable handouts for patients and their families, additional screening and counseling tools for providers, patient contracts, and resources.  There is also a laminated pocket card illustrating standard drink equivalents and a simple alcohol use assessment tool.   This tool kit was developed through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.  It is available free and in quantity.  Please e-mail  It may also be downloaded from the ACOG Web site at



Partnering For Progress: State Policy Strategies To Eliminate Cervical Cancer


2006 was a banner year for cervical cancer prevention – awareness of the disease and its cause, the human papilloma virus (HPV), reached an all time high and significant technological innovations are available for prevention, including HPV testing and HPV vaccines.  Many advocacy groups and media outlets named HPV vaccines as the top health innovation of last year (CBS News Healthwatch, Dec. 20, 2006).  However, this disease continues to kill thousands of women in the United States and remains the second most common cancer among women worldwide.  We have the tools to prevent cervical cancer, but now we must ensure that all women and girls have access to these technologies, regardless of race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or other factors. 


In response to access issues in the U.S., Women In Government (WIG), a nonprofit, bipartisan organization working with female state legislators, recently issued the third edition of a study that documents progress, gaps, and opportunities in public policy related to cervical cancer.  The 2007 State of Cervical Cancer Prevention in America report grew out of the Challenge to Eliminate Cervical Cancer campaign, which advocates for state legislative efforts to make advanced and appropriate technologies available, especially to diverse populations.  WIG strongly promotes collaboration among stakeholders working on the issue. 


The report analyzes a variety of factors by state, including: incidence, mortality, Pap screening rates, screening of the uninsured, Medicaid coverage of HPV testing, rates of uninsured women, legislation mandating coverage of cervical cancer screening, cervical cancer task forces and commissions, and miscellaneous legislation, such as awareness programs.  Each factor was scored on a scale of zero to two points, for a total of 18 possible points.  States received grades of fair, good, very good or excellent.  Many states scored in the category of good or above, with one state, Minnesota, receiving the first-ever score of excellent.  The results of this study are positive, but there is still room for significant improvements, such as expanded use of new HPV vaccines and strategies to reach groups of women who are seldom or never screened. 


Key findings of this year’s report indicate that there are robust rates for Pap screening, widespread coverage for advanced technologies, including HPV testing, and significant legislation aimed at eliminating cervical cancer.  Perhaps the most important finding is that there is a continued decline in incidence and mortality on a state level.  While the momentum for cervical cancer prevention is extraordinary, disparities continue to exist at a national level in terms of incidence, mortality, and screening. 


WIG has proposed a series of recommended actions for policymakers to address cervical cancer disparities.  First, states should build coalitions among stakeholders to implement elimination strategies, including vaccines and screening for vulnerable populations.  In regard to FDA-approved HPV vaccines, WIG advocates school-entry requirements, widespread health coverage, and other measures to support the infrastructure needed for vaccine access.  Next, states should ensure reimbursement and public funding for Pap smears and HPV testing.  Furthermore, data quality and collection need ongoing support and improvement to evaluate programs and services.  Finally, states should continue to develop and fund cervical cancer and HPV public education and awareness programs.


Since the launch of the campaign in 2004, 45 states have introduced legislation.  These results required the efforts of stakeholders throughout the public health, private, and policy sectors.  In the future, WIG will continue to collaborate with legislators, agencies, advocates, physicians, and other partners to ensure continued progress.  2006 was a year of innovation and awareness – 2007 should focus on access, especially for underserved women and girls.


For more information about Women In Government, the 2007 State of Cervical Cancer Prevention in America report and the Challenge to Eliminate Cervical Cancer campaign, please visit:  


The Relationship Between Pre-Pregnancy Body Mass Index And Folic Acid Birth Defects


In the United States, over the past three decades, there has been a consistent trend toward women delaying childbearing until their late 30s and 40s, due to a combination of social, educational and economic factors.  Understanding how chronic conditions, such as obesity, affect childbearing outcomes is increasing in importance as the prevalence of overweight and obesity among pregnant women continues to rise.


According to the Florida Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) 2000 to 2001 survey data, 33.1 percent of new mothers in Florida were either overweight or obese prior to pregnancy. Compared to women with normal weight, these women had a significantly increased risk of having an infant with a neural tube defect (NTD), especially spina bifida, likely caused by folic acid deficiencies during pregnancy.  Cleft lip with or without cleft palate (CLP) is another malformation caused by a deficiency in folic acid.  It has been suggested that high BMI changes the folate availability, and 400 mg a day might not provide the same level of protection against NTD and CLP in overweight and obese women as compared normal weight women. Therefore, women who are overweight and obese may require a higher dose of folic acid than women of normal weight. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between pre-pregnancy weight and folic acid-related birth defects among women of advanced maternal age in Florida. 


This study concluded that overweight/obese women 35 years of age and over were not at higher risk of folic acid related birth defects compared to normal weight women in the same age group, after controlling for potential confounding factors.  There were only 12 cases of folic acid-related birth defects in five years (1999-2000) in women of advanced maternal age. This is less than the nationally reported rate of 1 case per 1,000.  The small number of birth defect cases within this study sample may be the reason why no relationship was found between obesity and folic acid related birth defects in older women.  A possible explanation for the difference in findings is that women of advanced maternal age may be getting enough folic acid regardless of their BMI.


Given the limitations of this study, further research needs to be done.  Case studies could be conducted on women who have infants with folic acid related birth defects. Examining each case individually would provide researchers insight about increased risk of delivering an infant with a birth defect.  Important aspects to consider are: medical history, knowledge of folic acid, physician recommendation to take a folic acid supplement, diet prior to and during pregnancy, folic acid intake prior to and during pregnancy, working and living conditions, education level, and alcohol and drug use during pregnancy.  For a full version of the study, including tables, figures, and references, contact the author, Julia Ackerman, at


Folic Acid Counseling Tutorial Available Online


Do you think you know everything about folic acid counseling?  You owe it to women to be sure!  Take the ABCs of Folic Acid Counseling, a new CE tutorial from the Spina Bifida Association,, developed with cooperation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Continuing education credits are being offered for nurses and health educators, based on one hour of instruction, free of charge. A 10 question pretest will help you to find out how much you know.  After taking this CE tutorial, you will be able to:


1.   Discuss the general importance of folic acid.

2.   Discuss the folic acid recommendation.

3.   Use the steps in folic acid counseling.

4.   Use one minute of folic acid counseling during an interaction with a woman.

5.   Identify women at risk for recurrence of spina bifida or another neural tube defect.

6.   Prepare evaluation plans for folic acid counseling.


Taking folic acid prior to pregnancy can reduce the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida by up to 70 percent.  You owe it to women and to yourself to know everything about folic acid!  CEU, CNE, and CHES credits are available.  To take the course, go to


Related Headlines


·        Food Fortification not Enough to Prop Up Female Folate Levels:  Despite fortification of the food supply with folic acid, serum folate levels have fallen en masse among women in recent years, researchers in Atlanta said. 

·        Spina Bifida Risk Linked to Choline Metabolism Gene Variants:  A genetic analysis of spina bifida children in College Station, Texas has revealed the influence of variant cholinemetabolism genes in the development of the disease in addition to perinatal consumption of cholinerich foods.

·        Cerebral Palsy Rates Decline in Very Low Birthweight Children:   Researchers in Liverpool, England reported that premature babies have a better chance of survival without severe neurological impairment than they did in the 1980s.


See more MCH Headlines from MedPage Today at the end of the newsletter.



National Survey Findings Available Online


The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) presents the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health. This resource is a no-cost, easy-to-use Web site that puts national, state, and regional survey findings right at your fingertips!  As part of the Data Resource Center, you will find:

·        interactive data search tools.

·        personalized technical help by e-mail or telephone.

·        information and examples to help you use data more effectively.


National Survey of Children’s Health:  At, you can search and compare findings on:

·        child health measures:  over 60 measures of health and well-being of children, youth, and families.

·        state profiles: check out your state profile, and compare results from the state profile pages for children of different ages, race, income, and health status.

·        Healthy People 2010: query the survey content and child health indicators related to Healthy People 2010.

·        survey sections:  query and compare results for questions asked in each section of the survey.


National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs: At, you can search and compare findings on:

·        prevalence and demographics:  child or household level data about children with and without special health care needs.

·        health and system performance measures: compare MCHB outcomes and key indicators for children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) of various ages, race, income, and health groups.

·        state profiles:  check out your state profile, and further explore state profile indicators by comparing results for different groups of CYSHCN.

·        survey sections: compare results from questions asked in each section of the CYSHCN interview part of the survey.


The Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health is a project of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI). Visit us at

What have you learned about child and adolescent health today?



Children’s Health Initiatives:  First Step To Universal Health Coverage In California

Nineteen counties in California have developed the Children’s Health Initiatives (CHI), to provide universal health coverage to children.  These initiatives build on coverage available through Medi-Cal and Healthy Families (California’s Medicaid and S-CHIP programs), by serving low-income kids who do not meet the immigration status or income criteria of these two programs.  The Urban Institute, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., and local partners are conducting evaluations of the CHI programs in three counties:  Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Los Angeles.  All three initiatives include an insurance product (“Healthy Kids”) targeting uninsured children, and an outreach campaign to find uninsured children and enroll them. These programs primarily serve low-income, non-citizen, Latino children, and offer comprehensive coverage of primary, specialty, and hospital services, including dental and vision coverage.  This article describes some of the most interesting findings about outreach, enrollment, utilization, and financing are emerging from the evaluation of these initiatives

The Santa Clara Healthy Kids program has enrolled more than 30,000 children since 2001, and the evaluation has found that, prior to enrolling Healthy Kids, enrollees had spent most of their lives uninsured.  Almost half had never had health insurance coverage of any kind, while 13 percent had only emergency coverage through Medi-Cal (  The evaluation also shows that new health insurance coverage led to significant improvement in children’s access to care, use of services, and health according to several measures. More results are available in a 2006 free on-line article in Health Services Research at:


The San Mateo evaluation has found increasing use of preventive and ambulatory medical care, dental care, and vision care from the first to the second year of enrollment in Healthy Kids.  The evaluation suggests that increased enrollment among higher income families in 2005 is likely due to a school-based approach, which may reduce the stigma of applying for a public program. These and other findings from the San Mateo evaluation report are available at


The Los Angeles Healthy Kids program currently enrolls over 40,000 children. Evaluation reports are available on the First Five LA Web site at  Evaluation findings in LA have been overwhelmingly positive, showing that access to care is particularly good for preventive and primary care services (UI brief at  In focus groups, parents reported that the application process is easy, trusted community-based outreach workers are very helpful and succeed in dispelling fears related to applying for coverage, and the benefit package is meeting children’s needs (UI brief at   


An ongoing issue for all of the CHI programs has been sustainability, since all initiatives have been funded in part by philanthropic donations.  In an article discussing policy issues in implementing the Santa Clara and San Mateo initiatives, Embry Howell and Dana Hughes wrote that “success depends on leadership from county agencies that have not traditionally worked closely together, as well as the development of a diverse public and private funding base. This effort to provide universal coverage for all children is important to national policymakers desiring similar goals.” (Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 3. Fall, 2006.)


Currently, California policymakers are debating legislative options to attain universal coverage, spurred on by the Governor’s proposal, which includes  expansion of public programs, an individual mandate to buy private coverage for those not reached by public subsidies, and guaranteed issue when shopping for coverage in the private market.  New legislation also will have to address how children covered by the Healthy Kids programs will be wrapped into a new or existing state and federal programs, and whether undocumented children and their parents will be included in the new coverage landscape.


Future Search Featured At MCH Federal/State Partnership Meeting


I come from a country that understands the need for hard work to overcome past destructiveness and to escape a threatened future. But, we have also learned that miracles happen with vision and spirit. The world needs that vision and spirit still, and all the more. We are all threatened by entrenched inequality and divisions. We all must prove ourselves equal to a better possibility.

--- Nelson Mandela, May 2005


In the timeless quest for such a “better possibility”, the 2006 MCH Federal/State Partnership Meeting, held in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 15-18, focused on the theme of Leadership, Vision, and a Legacy for the Future of Maternal and Child Health.  The MCH Bureau Planning Committee decided to incorporate Future Search, a uniquely innovative and interactive planning and leadership tool, into the 2006 Partnership Meeting as an exciting approach for creating such vision.  As an MCH medical director in three states over the past 30 years and a practitioner of Future Search since 1993, I had the honor of helping to design and lead the seven Future Search sessions for the MCH Partnership Meeting.


Future Search is a 2-1/2 day planning process, embodying a philosophy of leadership which recognizes that every person does the best they can with what they have, and that all come equipped with the capacity for extraordinary cooperation if given a chance to use their own experience and wisdom.  Future Search is based on four common sense principles:

·        In order to create plans that are both visionary and practical, “the whole system,” i.e., all those with authority, resources, experience, information, and need, must be in the room.

·        In order to create action plans based on genuine dialogue and commitment, participants must be given a chance to explore the whole before seeking to fix any part.

·        Common ground and desirable futures must be a priority, and problems and conflicts must be treated as information, not action items.

·        Individuals must manage their own work and take responsibility for acting on what they learn.


Future Search has proven especially useful in stressful situations in which deeply entrenched systems and policies are under pressure to change.  Because Future Search has people work with their own knowledge and experience, using structured dialogues as a key procedure, it is used all over the world to create umbrellas for social, economic, and educational change that endures, including: 

·        Vermont,  2000:  used to develop a recently enacted universal health coverage plan for the state.

·        New Mexico, 1997:  used to develop several successful grant proposals to support parenting education and child care. 

·        Seattle, 2000:   used to help the mayor develop a $7 million budget for human services.

·        Nevada, 1997:  used to establish the Nevada Public Health Foundation.

·        Montana:  used to increase youth participation in the governance of 4-H clubs.

·        Minneapolis:  used to reduce school absenteeism from asthma.

·        Nebraska:  used to enable a grassroots organization, Community Connections, to obtain a $1.2 million grant to expand before-school, after-school, and summer programs, and to reduce tobacco use.


The video and text of the MCH Partnership Meeting are now available on the MCH Bureau Web Site at , and a DVD will soon be available.  For more information about Future Search, contact Richard Aronson, MD, MPH, Maine MCH medical director, for further information, at, or (207)287-5345, or go to



To What Extent Does The Ongoing Political Crisis Imperil The Life Of Mothers And Newborns In Cote D’Ivoire?


Background:  Cote d’Ivoire is a developing country of sub-Saharan Africa where an armed conflict occurred, starting Sep. 19, 2002, generating displaced and refugee populations. The war was followed by a long-term political crisis, which resulted in the partition of the country and a disruption of development efforts and health services. This study aims to measure the extent to which the ongoing political crisis imperils the life of mothers and newborns in Côte d’Ivoire.


Methods:  We carried out a retrospective cohort study from April 2005 to September 2005.  The whole population of the country and their health environment was considered as exposed and thus included in this study. To verify that differential exposure to military crisis occurred between the control and cohort groups, to identify significant differences between the groups, and to determine whether cohort and control groups had significantly different health risks, statistical tests, including chi-square of Mantel Haenzel and p-value, were performed.


Results:  The public health consequences of the mass population displacement have resulted in an extremely high rate of unattended births.  A nationwide curfew in 2002 and 2003 accounted for at least 5 percent of childbirths at home.  In the besieged zone, from 25 percent to 45 percent of pregnancies resulted in stillbirths (p<0.001).  Records of newborn births with a low birthweight taken at that time showed an important difference between control and cohort groups (p<0.001) and the attributable risk increased significantly from 22 to 32 percent (2002 through 2003).  All these poor pregnancy outcomes can be attributed to the political crisis and might have been avoided if the crisis had not occurred.


Conclusion:  This study assessed the effects of the political crisis on maternal and newborn health in Côte d’Ivoire. It emerges from this study that the political crisis adversely affected pregnancy outcomes and newborn health. These study results have potential to raise awareness and to stimulate change for peace.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Acknowledgement:  Funding to support this research was made available by the Center for Epidemiology, Population and Development (CEPOD)  Correspondence to Dr Raymond G. DOGORE, MD, MPH, 25 BP 1009 Abidjan 25 –Côte d’Ivoire.




Brief Adolescent Health-Risk Assessment


1.  Have you ever been held back in school for attempting to take your own life by smoking at least half a pack of cigarettes a day while going twenty miles or more over the speed limit during penetrative sex on your skateboard without using a seatbelt, helmet, condom, or dental floss after injecting five or more high fat drinks in a row with a contaminated handgun?


_____YES     _____NO


The Editor would gladly credit the original author of this classic if she knew who it was.



MCH Headlines


·        The Year in Pediatrics:  Childhood obesity remained a focus of pediatrics during the year, along with concerns about safety, particularly the safety of psychiatric medications.

·        Childhood Vaccination Schedule Expanded for 2007:  In Atlanta, a more comprehensive vaccination schedule for children and adolescents has been issued by the CDC for 2007.

·        Hypertension During Pregnancy Linked to Later Heart Disease:  Researchers in Utrecht, the Netherlands, reported that, even if hypertension during pregnancy subsides after delivery, a risky postmenopausal second act may await.

·        Uterus Proposed as Transplant Candidate:  The next step in assisted reproduction may be a uterus transplant, according to researchers in New York.

·        New Mothers Benefit from a Course on Sleep:  For sleep-deprived new mothers, some planning and training may translate into nearly an extra hour of welcome shut eye, according to a small Toronto study.

·        Abortion Compound Shrinks Fibroids:  Low doses of Mifeprex (mifepristone), the compound at the heart of the abortion pill, shrink uterine fibroids and improve quality of life for women with the condition, according to researchers in Rochester, N.Y.

·        Car Safety Seats May Cause Breathing Problems for Infants:  When infants take lengthy naps in child safety seats, the babies may risk life-threatening oxygen desaturation, according to a small study in Auckland, New Zealand.

·        Sleep Upset Paired With Depression in Kids:  Poor sleep is a frequent companion of depression in children, according to researchers in Pittsburgh.

·        Kids Bring Out Fat-Filled Diets for Elders:  Children may be a bad influence on the diets of the adults around them, researchers reported in Iowa City.

·        Surgery Usually Succeeds in Pediatric Renovascular Hypertension:  Researchers in Ann Arbor reported that surgery for renovascular hypertension in children is nearly always successful in curing or improving the high blood pressure.

·        Higher IQ Children Grow into Vegetarians:  Smarter kids are more likely to adopt limited vegetarianism when they mature, according to a large British cohort study published in Southampton.

·        FDA Approves Head-Cooling Device to Treat Newborn Brain Disorder:  In Rockville, Md.; the FDA approved Olympic CoolCap, a device that cools the head to prevent damage caused by neonatal hypoxicischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a condition that affects 5,000 to 9,000 newborns each year.

·        ACOG Says All Pregnancies Should Be Evaluated for Down’s:  The maternal age of 35 should no longer be the primary benchmark for testing pregnancies for Down's syndrome, according to new recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in Washington, D.C.

·        Autism Spectrum Disorders Far More Prevalent Than Thought:  Autism spectrum disorders are much more common than previously thought, and could affect as many as one in 150 school-age children, CDC researchers in Atlanta reported. The prevalence was highest in New Jersey among 14 states surveyed.

·        Smaller Brain Structures in Autism Linked to Social Deficits:  Severe social deficits in males with autism has been traced by investigators in Madison, Wisc. to shrinkage of the amygdala, the component of the limbic system that governs nonverbal responses to threats.

·        Prenatal Pesticide Exposure Delays Mental Development:  Inner-city children exposed in utero to high levels of a now-banned pesticide had significantly greater delays in mental and psychomotor development than peers with low prenatal exposure, investigators reported from New York.

·        Parents of Disabled Child Defend Growth-Retarding Therapy:  In Seattle, parents of a severely cognitively and physically disabled girl have publicly defended their decision to retard her growth through the use of hormonal therapy and surgery, saying they were acting out of love and compassion.

·        Binge Drinking Common Among High Schoolers:  Binge drinking is common among high school students and is tied to other risky behaviors, according to a national survey by the CDC in Atlanta.

·        Youthful Drinking Jumpstarts Later Alcohol Abuse:  When the Marine Corps evaluated thousands of recruits in San Diego, it found that young men, ages 18 to 20, were significantly more likely to become risky drinkers if they started drinking as children or young teenagers.

·        For Meaning of Mammography, Radiologists Reign Over Computer:  According to researchers in Seattle, when it comes to mammogram interpretation, the eyes and judgment of radiologists still have it over computer chips.

·        New Questions on Mammography Screening for Young Women:  In Leeds, England, the question has once again arisen as to whether women ages 40 to 49 should have routine screening mammograms.

·        FDA Okays Gene Test to Predict Breast Cancer Recurrence:  In Rockville, MD, the FDA said it has approved the first microarray genetic analysis designed to aid in predicting the risk of Stage I or II breast cancer recurrence or metastasis.



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