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WSSN Stories

African Americans and Prematurity: The Increased Risks Many Moms Face

Dr. Michael Forbes

Dr. Michael Forbes

By Michael Forbes, MD, FAAP, Director of Clinical Research and Outcomes Analysis, Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron, Ohio

There are an alarming number of preterm births in the U.S., with more than a half million babies born prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation) each year. For reasons unknown, African Americans experience the highest rate of prematurity at 17.1 percent, which is dramatically higher than the national average of 12 percent. In fact, the risk of preterm birth for African-American women is approximately 1.5 times the rate seen in Caucasian women.

Because they were not able to fully develop in their mother’s womb, preemies have unique health needs, often requiring specialized medical attention. Preemies often have underdeveloped lungs and immature immune systems, putting them at increased risk of developing a serious infection from a common respiratory virus known as respiratory syncytial virus (or RSV). RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalizations for babies during the first year of life, and affects nearly all babies by age two.

Premature infants:

  • Are two times as likely to be admitted to the hospital for RSV-related symptoms compared with infants born at full term
  • May stay two times longer in the hospital than infants born at full term who are hospitalized for severe RSV disease

 Parents of all babies, particularly preemies, should be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of severe RSV disease:

  • Coughing or wheezing that does not stop
  • Fast or troubled breathing
  • Spread-out nostrils and/or a caved-in chest when trying to breathe
  • Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
  • Fever (especially if it is over 100.4°F in infants under 3 months of age)

Parents of babies who may be at high risk for severe RSV disease should talk to their doctor to learn all the ways to help protect their baby.

Visit www.rsvprotection.com for more information.

Getting Covered Means I Get to Focus on What Matters: My Kids

Shellie Braggs and her children

Shellie Braggs and her children

By Shellie Braggs

I work hard helping at-risk young adults in Dallas get the job training and life skills they need to make better lives for themselves and their families. I know how important that is because I’m a single mom trying to do the best by my children.

My kids are great, and I want only the best for them, but one thing I wasn’t always able to do was provide health insurance for them. I don’t get insurance through my employer because I’m a contractor, and I couldn’t afford the $500 monthly premiums for my children and myself.

Not having health insurance for the past seven years, my children were uninsured for about a year, has weighed heavily on my mind. I’ve had to make tough decisions. I managed to cobble together free or inexpensive health services through local clinics and my church, but it was never easy.

I felt helpless being unable to provide something as basic as health care to my family.

That’s why I was thrilled to find out that I could find affordable, quality health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. It was cheaper and easier than I had thought.

All I had to do was log onto HealthCare.gov and explore my options. I selected a Silver plan, in no more than 15 minutes! I qualified for reduced costs, so my premium is only $131 a month. And my children are covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Having insurance that covers preventive services is going to help me stay healthy and catch potential problems early, a great peace of mind I’m grateful to have. I’ve had two repeat mammograms that I had to pay for out of pocket, and I need to monitor myself for possible growths. My new insurance covers mammograms at no additional cost.

It’s a great relief. If you’re sick, you can’t take care of your kids.

So I’m very excited to finally be covered. As a single mom, I have an obligation to take care of myself and my kids and now I can focus on that.

My coverage went into effect on March 1. I urge all moms and dads to get the security that comes with a Health Insurance Marketplace plan. Get covered through the Marketplace at HealthCare.gov by March 31, the end of open enrollment for the current year. Don’t delay.

La Sierra Performing Arts: The Wizard of Oz

The cast of The Wizard of Oz took some photos with some of the audience. Ahmyiah, Wallace & Naimah were some of the lucky members.

The cast of The Wizard of Oz took some photos with some of the audience. Left to right children at the bottom, Ahmyiah, Wallace & Naimah were some of the happy crowd.

Last weekend, La Sierra HS performed the Royal Shakespeare Company version of  ‘The Wizard of Oz.” There is still time to see it if you missed it. March 19 -21 at 7pm and March 22 at 1pm. Proceeds benefit LSHS Drama Boosters. If you would like to get involved in theatre, the drama club is holding workshop training sessions for their lighting and costume crews. Bother of these exciting opportunities will be Thursday March 27th from 12:30 to 3:30pm. Stop by the drama room 801 to sign up.