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Doctors must be aware of effects of racism on kids’ health, pediatrician’s group says

As the struggle against racism continues to simmer across the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics took a hard look at racial gaps in health care for children during its recent annual meeting.

“We know racism is a social determinant of health, and it’s a public health issue, so we spent a great deal of time focusing on that,” Dr. Elizabeth Murray, a pediatrician with the University of Rochester Medical Center, said during a recent HD Live! interview.

Pediatricians need to become more aware of how racism affects both the physical and mental health of children, said Murray, a spokesperson for the academy.

“We need to talk about racism and learn how to be anti-racist, and that we all have work to do,” Murray said. “We also need to identify the traumas that are experienced by children and people of color as happening on a regular basis throughout this nation, whether it be the overt violent acts we see on TV or sometimes the more subtle messages of having a person of color perhaps always be the bad guy on TV shows.”

Access to care for low-income and minority kids is a central concern in the upcoming elections, Murray added.

“We need to continue the Medicaid funding and the Child Health Insurance Program [CHIP],” Murray said. “Preventive care far and wide saves money on the back end. If we don’t have access to routine preventive care, we are going to have a sicker population.

“Children are about 25% of the population, but we know they are also 100% of the future, so we need to make sure we’re taking care of them now,” Murray continued.

The AAP meeting, held Oct. 2-5 and attended in virtual space by more than 14,000 people, also touched on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected children’s health.

“We at the AAP would very much like to ensure that any COVID vaccine be tested and studied on children as well, because they’re part of the population who will certainly at some point need to be vaccinated,” Murray said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned during a speech at the meeting that approval of a COVID vaccine will not suddenly end the pandemic.

“His point was really to stress that a vaccine is not magic,” Murray said. “It’s not going to be the thing that finally makes it all of a sudden go away. We still will have lots of work to do because of the potential months to years it will take to then roll out a vaccine, once we have proven one to be safe.”

In the meantime, people will have to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, engage in good hand hygiene, and follow all the other infection prevention measures that have been touted by public health officials, Murray said.

Pediatricians have been doing their part to ensure patient safety during the pandemic. Kids can get their shots at drive-through vaccination clinics in

Parents less aware of their kids vaping than smoking, study says

Parents and guardians are less likely to know or suspect when their children vape or use other tobacco products than they are when they smoke cigarettes, the study, published in Pediatrics, said.

About 70% of the parents and guardians of children who smoke reported being aware or suspecting it. For kids who use e-cigarettes, the percentage is about 40%, the study said.

“When parents think about tobacco, many will picture smoking a cigarette but other tobacco and nicotine products may not come to mind,” said Dr. Benjamin Chaffee, a senior author of the study and associate professor at University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry.

“E-cigarettes, in particular, may look like a tech device and don’t produce a lasting odor.”

Other types of tobacco products more likely to go unnoticed are non-cigarette combustible products or smokeless tobacco. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, according to the CDC.

“Any tobacco or nicotine use by children is concerning,” Chaffee told CNN. “Any product that delivers nicotine has a high risk of addiction. Nicotine exposure is particularly concerning for adolescents, whose brains are still developing.”

Vaping is an epidemic

Two years ago, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared vaping among young people an “epidemic.”
In 2020, 3.02 million high school students and 550,000 middle school students reported being current users of e-cigarettes, according to data from the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey analyzed by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration.
So you want to quit vaping? Read this to do it for good
During the coronavirus pandemic, the correlation between smoking and vaping and higher risk of severe Covid-19 cases has also been investigated.
In August, lawmakers asked the FDA to clear the market of all e-cigarettes for the duration of the crisis, citing concerns about vapers as young as 13.

Parents and awareness

The UCSF study used nationally representative data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, and tracked more than 23,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17.

Parents and guardians were more likely to know or suspect their child uses tobacco or nicotine products if the child was older, male, White and lived with a tobacco user, according to the study.

The study also found that parents with lower levels of education were more likely to know or suspect their child uses tobacco or nicotine products. Mothers were identified as being more aware than fathers.

The study was conducted before the 2019 outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries, which Chaffee said may have raised awareness about the dangers of vaping for young users.

The role of household rules

Another focus of the study, along with parental awareness, was the role of household rules in connection with tobacco use.

Children living in homes with stricter rules around tobacco use for kids and adults, as well as visitors, guests and workers, were 20% to 26% less likely to start using tobacco, the study reported.

US e-cigarette sales rose by nearly 300%, says a new CDC report

“Parents are role models for their kids,” Chaffee said. “The first thing parents can do is not use tobacco products