Posts Tagged ‘children’

Improving Arizona’s Birth Outcomes

March 13th, 2014

Arizona ranks in the middle of the pack in infant mortality.  We’re doing many things right to improve the health of our babies-  but we have a way to go. Last fall we participated in a learning collaborative sponsored by the National Governors Association.  About 160 folks met to begin the process developing a statewide plan.  They included physicians, public health, nutrition, behavioral health, city planners, business leaders and many more. 

After looking at the data on the health of Arizona’s women and children and reviewing some best practices from around the state, participants broke into groups to talk about the issues and to develop strategies to address these issues. These strategies will be the foundation for the statewide plan to improve birth outcomes.  

Our next step is to form workgroups to develop action plans for the different strategies identified. You can look at the presentations from the day and learn more about our efforts by going to the Healthy Babies web page. Many people have volunteered to be a part of these workgroups and have signed commitment forms.  It’s important to know that this is not an ADHS plan but Arizona’s plan.

2014 Punch-list for a Healthier You

January 16th, 2014


New Program Helps Women Improve Overall Health

May 13th, 2013

Minority populations often have poorer health outcomes than non-minority populations… but our new Power Me A2Z is doing something to change that.  Power Me A2Z empowers women to take steps to promote good health for their families and their future children. It offers women a free 90-day supply of vitamins with folic acid and tools to help women be healthy.  

All women need folic acid in their bodies before they get pregnant to help prevent birth defects.  Plus it acts as a beauty aid to make hair shine, nails grown, and skin glow.  Power Me A2Z is a perfect example of uniting our communities by empowering women to take charge of their health and advancing health equity for current and future generations. Visit the Power Me A2Z website to learn more about this exciting program.

New Research Reconfirms Vaccine Safety

April 8th, 2013

Fifteen years ago The Lancet published a case study that erroneously suggested that there could be a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  That letter has long since been discredited, and back in 2010 The Lancet retracted the article.  Anti-vaccine advocates have been pointing to that long-since discredited 1998 case study to argue that there is some kind of link between vaccines and autism… even though numerous articles published in the last several years have all concluded that there is no such link.  

The Journal of Pediatrics just released another new study that again demonstrates that there’s no association between vaccines and autism development in children.  This new study looked at the number of antigens from vaccines that children receive (antigens are the things in vaccines that help our immune systems make the antibodies needed to fight disease).  This look at antigens was important because different shots have different amounts of antigens in them, so looking at the number of antigens kids received is more thorough than just looking at the total number of shots they got. 

This new study concluded that…  “These results indicate that parental concerns that their children are receiving too many vaccines in the first 2 years of life or too many vaccines at a single doctor visit are not supported in terms of an increased risk of autism.” 


Autism & Folic Acid

March 26th, 2013

A new study published in February by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that taking folic acid may help reduce the number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The study followed more than 85,000 children nationwide born between 2002 and 2008 and followed up with them in 2012. According to the study, the number of children born with autism was 40% lower in mom’s who took folic acid during pregnancy. 

The results of the study are encouraging, but they’re not a solution.  However, the benefit of women taking folic acid before and during their pregnancies is well documented.  We know taking folic acid during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects. It can also reduce stress and anxiety, help keep skin clear, and even give women better hair and nails. 

We just launched a new program called Power Me A 2 Z where women between the ages of 18 and 45 can get a free 90 day supply of multivitamins containing folic acid. To order the free vitamins, visit the website and answer a short and simple quiz about your Health IQ. It’s not just beneficial for pregnant women, but for all women. Visit this site today to learn more about the health benefits of folic acid as a part of a healthy lifestyle. 

If your child was diagnosed with autism and you need help, you can contact our Office for Children with Special Health Care Needs or your local school.  You can find information about early intervention and school based services at the Arizona Department of Education website.

Promotoras Make Connections

March 11th, 2013

What’s a Promotora?  In simple terms, a Promotora is a community health worker who’s a trusted member of the community and serves as a link between people and services to promote the overall health of family, friends and neighbors. Creating effective linkages between vulnerable populations and the health care system can be challenging in Arizona. Like many other agencies in Arizona, we’ve called on Promotoras to bridge the gap between community members and health care service providers. 

We have a long history of working with Promotoras.  In 1994 our Health Start Program was established and began utilizing them to link women, children, and families to services to reduce low birth weights and the number of children affected by childhood diseases. There are now 45 Promotoras in the Health Start Program who reflect the ethnic culture of their communities and receive extensive training on pregnancy, child growth and development, and community resources. Eligible families receive home visits by Promotoras during their pregnancy and after the birth of their children up to two years of age. 

Our Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program uses Promotoras to help manage services for high blood pressure in Yuma and Maricopa Counties.  We partner with the U of A to train Promatoras on identification, treatment and management of high blood pressure and the risk factors related to cardiovascular disease. In Yuma County, more than 1,400 patients are currently enrolled in this hypertension management program. The Maricopa County Hypertension Project is now underway at Wesley Community Health Center and is demonstrating a 100% compliance rate that patients get follow up services if needed. Any behavioral health patients seen at Wesley are referred to the Hypertension Project if they meet the requirements.  

As we look to the future, Promotoras will probably have an increasingly essential role in outreach, reducing health care disparities and emergency room costs within the changing healthcare environment. We’ve partnered with the U of A to call upon nationally respected experts to create the best strategy for Arizona to move forward in building a sustainable Promotora program.  To learn more about this exciting program contact Sara Rumann at or David Heath at

Helping Kids Recover

February 26th, 2013

Our Vision at the Arizona Department of Health Services is, ”Health and Wellness for all Arizonans.”  Part of our mission includes helping individuals with substance abuse issues achieve and maintain self-reliance and independence.  To get there, some individuals simply need occasional outpatient services.  Some need wrap-around, community or home-based services.  Others require more intensive treatment in a residential setting.  Our goal is to provide the most effective kind of treatment to suit every individual’s unique needs. While no two paths to recovery will ever be identical, we do know this: young people recover better in settings as close to home as possible. 

Over the past two years, we’ve taken that knowledge to heart – and our actions have paid dividends. We’re matching more people with effective wrap-around services like in-home counseling, high-needs case management, home-care training, peer support, respite, family support and skills training.  In turn, we’ve reduced the need for care in licensed high-level Residential facilities by 75% in Maricopa County. However, outpatient treatment, home and community-based services can’t always provide the level of treatment people need.  Some individuals require more intensive treatment that only a licensed and regulated residential facility can provide.  

A series of reports in The Republic this week suggests that some juvenile residential treatment facilities in our state are substandard.  While no facility is perfect, our inspectors are well-trained and highly-motivated to ensure each of our licensed residential treatment facilities meets State standards. Those that fail to meet these standards must implement an immediate corrective action plan. 

We inspect residential treatment facilities at least once a year — more often when we receive complaints. When we inspect facilities, our teams make decisions based on evidence. We talk to the residents and the staff; we look at patient and personnel records (including video records); we observe facility practices and examine physical evidence. This helps us separate legitimate complaints and concerns from those that are baseless or intentionally fabricated.  We receive dozens of incident reports every day, which we carefully and promptly evaluate. It’s unusual that a report poses a health or safety problem. But when a situation that does is brought to our attention, we immediately send staff to the facility. 

Successful residential treatment facilities are pro-active, follow their policies and procedures without fail, are meticulous in reporting and documentation and seek ongoing education. They’re not afraid to admit a mistake. Our job is to ensure that facilities comply with our standards and maximize their effectiveness. That’s why our licensing teams also focus on ways to improve our licensed facilities and our Behavioral Health team focuses on the evidence-based treatment that’s best for the patient. Additionally, we’ve been overhauling many regulations to ensure our standards focus on the most important components of care. 

Our actions as an agency must be based in fact and rooted in the evidence demonstrated by a comprehensive review of the facility in question. You can view factual information about the more than 7,400 facilities we license by visiting


Chalk Up Another Empower Award

February 21st, 2013

This week the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs gave us the National Best Practice Award for our Empower Program.  As a refresher for those of you that aren’t familiar with Empower…  it’s a program we started in 2009 that focuses on increasing healthy eating and active living in our licensed child care facilities… reaching over 200,000 children throughout Arizona. It’s a voluntary program in which childcare licensees receive a discount on their 3-year licensing fee to become Empower centers by pledging to implement the 10 standards to Empower children to live healthier lives.  The Empower Program was submitted by Adrienne Udarbe to AMCHP’s Innovation Station, a searchable database of emerging, promising and best practices in maternal and child health.  Congrats to our Child Care Licensing and Maternal & Child Health programs for changing the landscape in AZ and across the country.

By the way…  our Baby Steps to Breastfeeding is also recognized as an emerging practice by the same group.  That one was won by our Nutrition and Physical Activity shop.  It’s an on-line class for hospitals to use as a refresher class, train newly hired staff, or become a Baby Steps designated hospital.


Hearing and Vision Screening

February 19th, 2013

According to the CDC about 15% of school age kids have some hearing loss.  Children who are hard of hearing will find it harder to learn vocabulary, grammar, word order, and other parts of verbal communication.  Newborn hearing loss occurs in about 1 in 5,000 births- which is why it’s so important that AZ kids get a newborn hearing screening test.  IN AZ each school is supposed to conduct hearing screening for their students.   Last school year 574,361 children had a hearing screen and 1,484 children were identified as having some hearing loss- many of who moved on to interventions like ear tubes or hearing assist devices.  

But to be successful in school you need to see clearly too.  Vision Screening isn’t a mandated service at schools, but according to Prevent Blindness America vision problems affect 25% of school-aged kids.  In the US millions of kids in elementary schools have vision problems that go undetected and untreated.  Not being able to see clearly will slow a child’s ability to learn.  Without early detection and treatment, children’s vision problems can lead to permanent vision loss, learning difficulties, and of course missed learning opportunities.

Snack Time

February 12th, 2013

We’re one step closer to winning the battle of childhood obesity.  The USDA just released the new “Smart Snacks in School” proposal to provide national standards geared towards increasing healthy food options in vending machines and snack bars. As required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the USDA is striving to help improve the health and well-being of our children by creating nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. 

The new proposed standards have been established using evidence-based research, existing standards currently implemented by schools, and healthy food and beverages already available in the marketplace.  The proposal identifies food allowances such as snacks with 200 calories or less, water, low-fat milk, plain or flavored fat-free milk, and 100% juice for middle and high schools.  The new proposed standards for healthier foods will impact all foods sold during the school day.  Kids will be able to purchase healthy meals, snacks, and beverages once the rules are final. The proposed rules will not apply to after-school hours, weekends, or off-campus fundraising events.