Issues

Child Nutrition

Chair: Open Volunteer Position

Healthy children learn better and are more productive – both in and out of the classroom. Setting strong nutritional standards in our schools is essential to combating the concerning obesity rates among American children.

Providing our youth with healthy food options and nutrition education is key to their long-term health and success, which is why we support policies that build healthy eating habits and ensure a brighter and healthier future for our children.

Climate & Environmental Health

Chair: Vi Nguyen, MD
Co-Chair: Amanda Millstein, MD

Young children often are hardest hit by the consequences of poor environmental public health systems. For their size, they breathe more air and eat more food than adults, making them particularly vulnerable to environmental public health hazards. And even low levels of toxic exposures can affect children’s physical and mental development.

Further, children of color and children living in poverty bear an even higher burden of environmental hazards. And yet, there are no laws or protections dedicated to children in the environments where they may face harmful exposures. This can be at home, school, childcare facilities, playgrounds, parks -anywhere children live, learn and play.

Education & School Safety

Chair: Open Volunteer Position

Safe schools promote the protection of students from violence, exposure to weapons and threats, theft, bullying, and the sale or use of illegal substances on school grounds. School safety is linked to improved student and school outcomes.

In particular, emotional and physical safety in school is related to academic performance. At the same time, students who are victims of physical or emotional harassment or who are involved in the sale or use of illegal substances on school grounds are at risk for poor attendance, course failure and dropout.

Immigrant Child Health & Safety

Chair: Raul Gutierrez, MD

Immigrant children and families face many challenges in the current environment including threats posed by the separation of children and families at the U.S. border, the uncertain fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, potential changes to public charge rules, among others.

Emerging literature shows that protective immigration policies can have a positive effect on health care status and access. Conversely, current threats facing immigrant families are harming access to health care and contributing to poorer health outcomes. Pediatricians and the broader healthcare community have an important role to play in advocating on behalf of immigrant families.

Mental & Behavioral Health

Chair: Diane Dooley, MD

Approximately one out of every five children in America have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Mental health problems in young people are associated with outcomes such as suicide, substance use, inability to live independently, justice involvement, school dropout, economic hardship, and physical health problems.

Promoting mental health care and early intervention will likely reduce overall health care costs. It is imperative that we improve efforts around early recognition of mental health needs among children and adolescents and foster greater awareness of early warning signs.

Tobacco, E-Cigarette & Cannabis Products

Chair: Open Volunteer Position

In the United States, e-cigarette use among youth has exploded into what the Surgeon General and the Food & Drug Administration have called “epidemic” levels. Alarmingly, e-cigarette marketing uses many of the same strategies effectively used by the tobacco industry to reach kids.

The tobacco industry’s flavored products that taste like fruit, mint and candy have long been known to be appealing to kids, and now e-cigarettes are available in these flavors. Tobacco and e-cigarette companies are also using social media marketing to advertise e-cigarettes in ways that appeal to kids.

Child Immunizations

Chair: Open Volunteer Position

Vaccines save lives. Measles vaccines alone are estimated to have prevented over 21 million deaths between 2000 and 2017. Vaccines will help protect children against diseases that can cause serious harm or death, especially in people with developing immune systems like infants.

Each state has legislative requirements for vaccination for children and adolescents entering public schools. State legislation also governs exemptions for medical, religious, or philosophical grounds.

Early Development

Chair: Pradeep Gidwani, MD
Co-Chair: Renee Wachtel, MD

The goal of early childhood advocacy is to improve the lives of children and families by influencing legislators’ and policymakers’ opinions and activities. To carry out their responsibilities, public officials require and welcome the advice that well-informed professionals such as pediatricians can provide.

Promoting the value of children’s contribution as citizens develops strong communities and demonstrates the importance of childhood including how children learn and develop, to inform programs and systems of assessment that benefit children.

Health Access & Coverage

Chair: Stuart Cohen, MD

Children’s access to health care is important to children themselves, to their families, as well as to society at large. Health care can influence children’s physical and emotional health, growth, and development and their capacity to reach their full potential as adults.

All children are at increased risk of developing preventable conditions if appropriate care is not provided when they are sick or injured. When children fail to receive necessary health care, their lives and the lives of their families can be affected for many years. Health care can influence children’s physical and emotional health, growth, and development and their capacity to reach their full potential as adults.

Juvenile Justice

Chair: Open Volunteer Position

Children and adolescents who become involved with the justice system often do so with complex medical, mental health, developmental, social, and legal needs. Most have been exposed to childhood trauma or adversity, which both contribute to their involvement with the justice system and negatively impact their health and well-being.

Whether youth are held in confinement or in their home communities, pediatricians play a critical role in promoting the health and well-being of justice-involved youth (Credit: American Academy of Pediatrics).

Telehealth & Rural Access to Care

Chair: Open Volunteer Position

Rural children experience worse health and health care outcomes than their urban peers. Barriers to accessing quality health care exacerbate their health outcomes and pose significant challenges to achieving optimal health status.

Access and health disparity issues vary across rural communities, states, and regions, and many rural areas have few health care providers, especially pediatric specialists. Gaps in health care accessibility and quality in rural communities are matched by lack of preventive care and health disparities facing rural children.

Violence & Injury Prevention

Chair: Phyllis Agran, MD

Injury is the leading cause of death for persons 1-44 years of age in the United States. Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for children beyond the first year of age in the United States and in California.

Among California children less than one year of age, suffocation is the leading cause of death, followed homicide. Drowning is the leading cause of death 1-4 years of age followed by homicide. Suicide is the leading cause of injury death among children 10-14 and 15-17 years of age.

Injury science clearly reveals that injuries are preventable. Our mission is to reduce childhood injury by promoting evidence-based best practices for prevention.

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