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Topic: Autism

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April 4, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Ignore Jenny McCarthy. Local measles cases prove importance of getting vaccinated

Were you in King, Whatcom or Pierce counties this past weekend? Did you go to the Kings of Leon concert? Or downtown Seattle?

I hope you’ve got your measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot. Because this press release from King County is a powerful reminder that not getting vaccinated could really endanger public health:

A person who was confirmed with measles traveled to several Western Washington public locations while contagious. Most people in our state are immune to measles, so the public risk is low except for people who are unvaccinated. The woman traveled to Seattle for a Kings of Leon concert at Key Arena on March 28, when she also was at the Best Western Loyal Inn and the Wasabi Bistro. The next day, she was at Beth’s Café, Aurora Suzuki, Starbucks at First and Pike, and the Pike Place Market.

The Washington State Health Department has posted the full details of the unidentified woman’s time in each location. State officials also report one confirmed measles case in San Juan County. Between March 21 and 22, a traveler going through SeaTac was also diagnosed with the disease, which is highly contagious.

This undated photo shows a child with a classic day-4 rash with measles. (Photo courtesy of CDC/NIP/ Barbara Rice)

This undated photo shows a child with a classic day-4 rash with measles. (Photo courtesy of CDC/NIP/ Barbara Rice)

The lesson? Protect your kids. Protect yourself. Get immunized. Read an Aug. 31, 2013 Seattle Times editorial, too, about the state’s embarrassing seventh place ranking among states where parents demanded vaccine exemptions for their kindergarten-aged kids.

In 2000, CBS News reports measles was close to being eradicated. Today, there are two measles outbreaks in New York City and Orange County. No surprise: many of the victims are unvaccinated children. I can’t stop thinking about those parents who refuse to protect their kids from deadly illnesses because they’ve been led to believe vaccines cause side effects such as autism. This  misguided belief places the rest of the community at risk.

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a Seattle Children’s Hospital pediatrician and author of the Seattle Mama Doc blog, has some answers to explain the madness.

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Comments | Topics: Autism, measles, public health

May 29, 2013 at 6:30 AM

CDC: One in 5 American kids has mental disorder

(Donna Grethen/Tribune Media Services)

(Donna Grethen/Tribune Media Services)

One in five U.S.  kids  currently has a mental disorder.  That is a lot of kids and the number has been rising for more than a  decade, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report,  “Mental Health Surveillance Among Children.”

Even scarier, only 21 percent of these children are getting treatment because of a shortage of pediatric sub-specialists and child and adolescent psychiatrists, reports The Washington Post. The Post article points to troubled children living in rural and urban areas as the most likely to be under served because of the shortage and because few new doctors are specializing in pediatric mental health.

It should go without saying that 20 percent of people ages 3-17 undoubtedly places some of them here, making this a local issue that would benefit from attention by local schools, county and state governments.

The CDC relied on federal studies, medical insurance claims, public health reports, telephone surveys and other research from 2005 to 2011 for its first comprehensive look at the mental health status of children.  One CDC-cited study found that from 1997 to 2010, mood disorders were among the main causes of hospital stays among children. The analysis of insurance claims found a 24 percent increase in children hospitalized for  mental health and/or substance abuse between 2007 to 2010. Psychotropic drug use by teens increased over the same period.

This is a major public health issue and its prevalence, early onset, and impact on the child, family, and community is costly. The CDC estimates annual costs of $247 billion spent on health care, on services such as special education and juvenile justice, and for decreased productivity. Families without medical insurance often turn to public schools and community health organizations for help, underscoring the challenges faced by those institutions. Broadening access to mental health services is a clear need but the Washington Post story points out the difficulty of doing that with so few doctors and mental health professionals available. resources.

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Comments | Topics: ADHD, Autism, centers for disease control and prevention