Children Who Survive Congenital Heart Defects Can Face New Problems As Adults

A few weeks ago, our family gathered for a meeting that we hope will save my sister's life. Our goal was to demonstrate to a hospital social worker that we could take care of her should she get a heart transplant.

My sister Sara is now 50. (NPR isn't using her last name to protect her medical privacy.) For her to get on the transplant list, her anatomy needed to be suitable and her antibody levels low despite prior surgeries. She had to show that she could withstand the grueling transplant process; that she could consistently take her anti-rejection medications; didn't abuse drugs or alcohol; and had a stable home life.

A heart transplant costs about $1.4 million, according to data from the actuarial firm Milliman. And there aren't enough hearts to go around.

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Missouri families relieved Congress renewed CHIP program for kids

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Congress has reauthorized funding for CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, for another six years.

Thousands of kids almost lost their coverage until Congress decided to extend the program, what health providers are calling a victory.

Casey Hicks has been a nurse practitioner at Jordan Valley Community Health Center in Springfield for about two years, and he works directly with children who are in the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

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Henry's story: How our son's disability could lead to a scientific breakthrough

It can be lonely having a child with special needs, a condition my family is still coming to terms with. It can be lonely when you walk down the street and see parents with their "normal" boys and girls skipping or scootering to school and knowing that your child's life, and yours, will never be like theirs.

It can be lonely when you go to play groups and catch a glimpse of another parent noticing that something isn't quite right about your child, that he isn't walking or talking or sitting up straight, but not knowing what, if anything, to say. Should we bring it up to break the ice? Do we need to explain what's going on every time we meet someone new? Do we need to go into the specifics that our 2-year-old son Henry was recently diagnosed with a genetic disorder that doctors have told us will require him to have life-long care on the level of caring for a baby?

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Sens. Hatch and Wyden: What the CHIP Deal Can Teach Us About Bipartisanship

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, better known as CHIP, gives vulnerable children and their families peace of mind that they will have access to quality healthcare coverage. Anchored by a deeply held belief that the health of our future is more important than the political division of the present, CHIP was created on a bipartisan basis. Thanks to this foundation, it has continued and improved over the years through some good, old-fashioned congressional consensus-building.

Last week, after an extensive debate that took far longer than either of us would have preferred, Congress passed the longest extension of CHIP since the program’s inception in 1997. This is a moment worth celebrating, and we believe there is a rare opportunity to do even more to secure children’s health for the future.

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A neurologist talks about kids and headaches

It’s not uncommon for a child to complain of a headache. But what should a parent do? When should you worry? What are features that are cause for concern and should prompt a call to the pediatrician, or even a trip to the emergency room? For kids with headaches, do they necessarily need to take medication, or are there other nondrug treatments that may be just as effective?

When to call your pediatrician

The cardinal rule for thinking about headaches is “first or worst.” In practical terms, if your child has never had a headache before, you need to evaluate carefully.

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Teen opioid crisis has high schools stocking up on Narcan to combat overdoses

President Donald Trump swore in Alex Azar, the newest Health and Human Services Secretary, on Monday, charging him with the task of combating the nation's opioid epidemic. Meanwhile, high schools aren't waiting.

Joseph Occhino, principal of Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, New Jersey, said he has seen lots of changes during his 34 years as an educator. But last year he witnessed something he never could have imagined. His school, which draws students from four affluent towns in northwest Bergen County, was approved to administer the lifesaving drug Narcan (the commercial name for naloxone hydrochloride) to any student who overdoses on an opioid on school grounds.

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Turn Off Messenger Kids, Health Experts Plead to Facebook

WASHINGTON — At the age of 6, a child is full of imagination and may not distinguish reality from fantasy. She is beginning to read and can’t grasp nuances in written communication. She also doesn’t understand privacy.

Citing those reasons and more, dozens of pediatric and mental health experts are calling on Facebook to kill a messaging service the company introduced last month for children as young as 6.

In a letter to the company, they said the service, Messenger Kids, which pushes the company’s user base well below its previous minimum age of 13, preys on a vulnerable group developmentally unprepared to be on the social network.

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Incremental progress in kids’ mental health system

CONCORD -- New Hampshire has made “important incremental improvements” in establishing a system of care for children with behavioral health needs, though significant gaps in services remain, according to an annual progress report issued by the state.

Building on years of work by advocates, state agencies, school districts and providers, the Legislature in 2016 directed the state departments of education and health and human services to develop a comprehensive that both helps children and reduces reliance on ineffective, expensive interventions. Goals include coordinating care for children across multiple service systems -- for example, those in the child protection or juvenile justice systems -- and ensuring that services are family-driven and community-based.

The most recent report, completed in December, outlines progress on multiple fronts. Schools are now able to be reimbursed by Medicaid for behavioral health services provided to all children covered by the program, not just those with individual education plans. The state is expanding a program called FAST Forward, which serves children with severe emotional disturbances and helps with peer support, respite care, transportation and other expenses. And for the first time, children will be included in the state’s forthcoming 10-year plan for mental health services.

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Hand-Me-Down Toys Could Be Harmful To Children: Study Finds Toxic Chemicals In Secondhand Plastic Toys

The prospect of hand-me-down toys may be financially appealing for some parents, but a new study cautions that secondhand plastic toys may contain toxic chemicals that could put children’s health at risk.

The research, carried out by Dr. Andrew Turner, an associate professor at the University of Plymouth, England, looked at around 200 used plastic toys sourced in the UK — such as cars, trains, building blocks, plastic figures, and puzzles — and found that more than 10 percent of them had traces of nine hazardous chemicals.

“Secondhand toys are an attractive option to families because they can be inherited directly from friends or relatives or obtained cheaply and readily from charity stores, flea markets, and the internet,” Dr. Turner said in a statement.

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Pennsylvania Parents Breathing Sighs Of Relief After CHIP Renewal

Parents of 180,000 children across Pennsylvania, including 14,000 kids in Allegheny County, are breathing sighs of relief now that funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Programhas been renewed for six years.

"I was probably on the verge of crying...crying out of happiness," said Jill Wilson, 40, of Verona, describing her reaction when she heard CHIP had been renewed. 

The mother of a 10-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, Wilson said she would have had to put both her kids on her employer's insurance, which would have cost about $300 a month in premiums. The plan has a higher deductible and co-pays. 

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