children's health

After weeks of uncertainty, the directors of Florida programs meant to reduce infant mortality are breathing a sigh of relief.

Lawmakers Wednesday agreed to keep their funding the same as last year instead of slashing it by 30 percent, which is what Senate leaders wanted to do.

Hopes were dashed this week that the United States was finally making progress in the fight against childhood obesity.

Contrary to previous reports, the epidemic of fat has not abated. In fact, there's been a big jump in obesity among the nation's youngest children, according to the latest analysis of federal data, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Look up from this screen right now. Take a look around. On a bus. In a cafe. Even at a stoplight. Chances are, most of the other people in your line of sight are staring at their phones or other devices. And if they don't happen to have one out, it is certainly tucked away in a pocket or bag.

But are we truly addicted to technology? And what about our kids? It's a scary question, and a big one for scientists right now. Still, while the debate rages on, some doctors and technologists are focusing on solutions.

The current flu season is still getting worse, federal health officials said Friday. And it continues to take a toll on children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an additional 16 flu deaths among children, bringing the nationwide total this season for youngsters to 53.

When parts of the federal government ground to halt this past weekend, Linda Nablo, who oversees the Children's Health Insurance Program in Virginia, had two letters drafted and ready to go out to the families of 68,000 children insured through the program, depending on what happened.

One said the federal government had failed to extend CHIP after funding expired in September and the stopgap funding had run out. The program would be shutting down and families would lose their insurance.

A brief, partial shutdown of the federal government ended Monday, as the Senate and House approved legislation that would keep federal dollars flowing until Feb. 8, as well as fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program for the next six years.

A 6-year-old Florida boy died from rabies he contracted after being scratched by an infected bat.

Dr. Mahendra Patel, a pediatric cancer doctor, has begun giving away medications to some of his young patients, determined not to disrupt their treatments for serious illnesses like leukemia. He's worried Congress will fail to renew funding soon for a health program that pays for the care of millions of children across the country.

Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Florida is looking to make major changes to Children’s Medical Services, the state-run health care program for children with complex medical needs.

Dr. Howard Bennett creates elaborate Lego sculptures, juggles squishy balls during office visits and transforms exam gloves into water balloons, but it's his booger and fart jokes that crack up even his grumpiest pediatric patients.

"Kids of any age are curious about their bodies," the pediatrician writes in his latest book, The Fantastic Body: What Makes You Tick & How You Get Sick, "especially if what they're learning about is gross! That's why kids laugh hysterically if someone tells a booger joke or lets out a big, juicy fart in class."

Congress again failed to approve long-term funds for a popular program that provides health insurance for nearly 9 million low-income children, leaving each party blaming the other for Christmas-season gridlock and states scrambling to decide how to parcel out dwindling money.

With money for Florida's subsidized children's health-insurance program due to run out in a matter of weeks, the state has not warned the parents of roughly 200,000 children that they could soon lose coverage.

Editor's note: This story contains language that may be offensive.

In February 2009, Samantha Pierce became pregnant with twins. It was a time when things were going really well in her life.

She and her husband had recently gotten married. They had good jobs.

"I was a kick-ass community organizer," says Pierce, who is African-American and lives in Cleveland. She worked for a nonprofit that fought against predatory lending. The organization was growing, and Pierce had been promoted to management.

It's a beautiful morning in Pittsburgh, but Ariel Haughton is stressed out. She's worried her young children's health insurance coverage will soon lapse.

"So, we're like a low-middle-class family, right?" she says. "I'm studying. My husband's working, and our insurance right now is 12 percent of our income — just for my husband and I. And it's not very good insurance either."

The policy that covers the couple requires high fees to even see a doctor, and it has a high deductible for further treatment.

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