Tennessee Celebrates Child Health Week

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 | 10:32am

NASHVILLE – Governor Bill Haslam has proclaimed October 1-7, 2017 Child Health Week in Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Health encourages all Tennesseans to put the health and well-being of children first during Child Health Week and every day of the year.

 “Each of us is a role model for our state’s children, and we all have a role to play to set good examples for safety and health,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Let’s strive to have children see us making healthy choices in being physically active, avoiding tobacco and nicotine, wearing seat belts and bike helmets, eating healthful foods and getting vaccinated. These actions can influence our children to make choices to help put them on the path for a healthy and prosperous life.”

TDH will kick off Child Health Week Oct. 1 with a Social Media Storm for Safe Sleep. The goal is to flood social media with images of infants in safe sleep positions following the ABCs of Safe Sleep:  Infants should sleep   Alone, on their Backs and in a Crib. TDH encourages everyone who uses social media to share photos Oct. 1 of babies in safe sleep positions using the hashtag #safesleepTN. Learn more at   http://tn.gov/health/topic/MCH-chw. 

Improving Infant Health 

Tennessee is making strides in improving child health in the area of breastfeeding, one of the most effective actions a mother can take to protect the health of her infant. TDH data show nearly 80 percent of Tennessee   infants born in 2016 were breastfed, a 19 percent increase since 2010. Tennessee’s rates for duration of breastfeeding are better than the national average:  among infants born in 2014, the most recent data available, 57   percent of Tennessee infants were being breastfed at six months of age, compared to just 55 percent for the nation as a whole. TDH provides numerous services to promote and support breastfeeding families including   the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline and our Breastfeeding Welcomed Here effort to recognize breastfeeding-friendly businesses. TDH also provides a designated breastfeeding expert in every county health   department.

Improving Health of Young Children 

Tennessee’s WIC program has also succeeded in reducing obesity among young children. Tennessee saw a significant decrease in obesity from 2010 – 2014 among children aged two to four enrolled in WIC. WIC promotes healthy eating and nutrition education for infants and children up to age five. Learn more at http://tn.gov/health/topic/wic.

These and other measures underscore the importance of Child Health Week. Over the last 30 years, Tennessee’s obesity rate has doubled for the full population of children aged 2-5 and tripled for children aged 6-11. Excessive caloric intake and lack of physical activity are among the biggest drivers of poor health and the top causes of death in Tennessee, and are key focus areas for the work of TDH. In addition to risks to physical health associated with overweight and obesity, studies show children with obesity are more likely to experience discrimination, bullying and depression.

Improving Health of School-aged Children 

TDH has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Education to boost children’s health and achievement at school through the new Active Students, Active Learners initiative. This new website provides tools, resources and evidence on the positive impacts of physical activity on academic performance. Learn more at www.tn.gov/education/section/active-academics.   

TDH is also working to protect children’s health and safety through the new Safe Stars initiative. Safe Stars recognizes youth sports leagues throughout Tennessee for providing the highest level of safety for their athletes. Learn more and apply for Safe Stars recognition at http://tn.gov/health/article/the-safe-stars-initiative.

“We recognize the work of partners and communities across the state in making Tennessee a great place for children,” said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald, MD. “We encourage every business, every policymaker and every resident to think of one thing they can do this week to improve the health of infants, children and adolescents as that impact will last a lifetime.”

The Governor’s Children’s Cabinet provides another resource for families with young children:  kidcentral tn. kidcentral tn offers a convenient source of reliable information about child health, education and development. Families may enter their zip code to find nearby state services, create a profile to help track their child’s developmental milestones and download an app for mobile devices.

TDH has information about Child Health Week 2017 events and resources for parents, schools and communities available online at http://tn.gov/health/topic/MCH-chw. Use #childhealthweek2017 to help promote activities in the community!

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.