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The North Carolina Chapter of March of Dimes, in conjunction with the American Heart Association (AHA) celebrated Valentine’s Day with the introduction of legislation aimed at detecting critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) in infants through pulse oximetry screening. Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive screening test that helps identify newborns with heart defects and potentially save their lives. House Bill 105, introduced by Representative Jim Fulghum (Wake) and a companion Senate Bill to be introduced by Senator Andrew Brock (Davie) will add this simple test to the state newborn screening panel.

“Screening newborns for critical congenital heart disease is a great way to help with early detection. It can improve health outcomes for babies with significant health problems but who appear well in the newborn nursery. Adding it to newborn screening is the perfect way to make sure that all babies are screened, regardless of where they are born in the state,” said Dr. Alex Kemper, associate professor of Pediatrics at Duke University.


There are many complicated opinions from experts about why America’s children are becoming fatter, more diseased and emotionally unstable each year.

At the same time, bullying, teen suicides and child obesity continue to rise, and proposed solutions to these problems tend to be expensive and unlikely to be undertaken in these tough economic times, says Gordon Filepas, author of “Lean And Healthy To 100,” (www.adviceformychildren. com), a guide for achieving optimal health based on studying cultures where long lives are the norm.

“Even if implemented, most of these ‘solutions’ are not likely to solve the problem,” he says. “That’s because most Americans were never taught the simple, common-sense root of most obesity and disease. There’s no mystery or magic to it at all.”


Heart disease and stroke are among the most widespread and costly health problems in North Carolina today. Cardiovascular diseases, which include heart disease and stroke, account for 31 percent of all deaths in North Carolina. Just as staggering are the health care costs of cardiovascular disease in the state. Data provided by “The Burden of Cardiovascular Disease in North Carolina—July 2010 Update” show that total hospital charges for CVD in North Carolina currently exceed $4.6 billion annually. State health experts are suggesting four simple steps, the ABCS, that individuals can take to address the leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease and control rising health care costs.


Patients treated at local hospitals evaluated by center

The N.C. Center for Public Policy Research has released the first independent evaluation of a statewide initiative to purchase bed space and build capacity for mental health patients in crisis at local hospitals across North Carolina. The goal of the program is to increase the number of beds available for mental health patients, keeping them out of hospital emergency rooms and out of the state psychiatric hospitals.

North Carolina's ongoing reform of its mental health system is guided by a strategy of providing comprehensive services in local communities, reserving the state's three large psychiatric hospitals for patients needing long-term care. Achieving this, however, requires communities to have hospitals with psychiatric units capable of providing short-term inpatient care — care for people who are temporarily unstable, having a psychotic episode, are suicidal or pose a risk to others, or have relapsed in their substance abuse treatment.


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