Tuesday December 11, 2018

Obesity Spikes up Asthma Risk in Children

"Addressing childhood obesity should be a priority to help improve the quality of life of children and help reduce paediatric asthma," Finkel noted

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Obesity increases asthma risk in children: Study. Pixabay
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Parents, please take note. Obese children are at an increased risk of asthma, a new study has found.

The findings suggest that the incidence of an asthma diagnosis among children with obesity was significantly higher than in those in a normal weight range and that 23 to 27 per cent of new asthma cases were directly attributable to obesity.

“Paediatric asthma is among the most prevalent childhood conditions and comes at a high cost to patients, families and the greater health system,” said co-author Terri Finkel from Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando.

“There are few preventable risk factors to reduce the incidence of asthma, but our data show that reducing the onset of childhood obesity could significantly lower the public health burden of asthma,” Finkel added.

For the study published in the journal Paediatrics, the research team analysed medical records of more than 500,000 children.

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The study provides new insight that could help us predict and manage diseases like asthma – which are a significant public health burden. IANS

The researchers reviewed de-identified data of patients aged two to 17 without a history of asthma, receiving care from six paediatric academic medical centres between 2009 and 2015.

Overweight or obese patients were matched with normal weight patients of the same age, gender, race, ethnicity, insurance type and location of care.

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The researchers found that obesity among children with asthma appears to increase disease severity. Being overweight was identified as a modest risk factor for asthma, and the association was diminished when the most stringent definition of asthma was used.

“Addressing childhood obesity should be a priority to help improve the quality of life of children and help reduce paediatric asthma,” Finkel noted. (IANS)

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Number Of Uninsured Children In The U.S. Rises to 3.9 Mn: Report

The report also expressed concern that strict immigration policies and enforcement were making many immigrant families leery of enrolling.

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Abigail Gabriel, 8, hugs her mother, Erin, as a Pennsylvania Department of Human Services official talks about the Children's Health Insurance Program, CHIP, during a news conference, Dec. 7, 2017, in Pittsburgh. Abigail had health care under Medicaid. VOA

The number of uninsured children in the United States has increased for the first time in nearly a decade, placing it at 3.9 million in 2017, according to a report Thursday from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.

Nationally, the number of uninsured children increased by an estimated 276,000 in 2017, from a historic low of 4.7 percent in 2016 to 5 percent last year. Experts say about 75 percent of the newly uninsured children are clustered in states that did not expand Medicaid such as Florida, Texas and Georgia.

Under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Florida and other states could take federal funding to help pay for health coverage for nearly 900,000 people, but the Republican-led Legislature in Florida voted against it. The vast majority of states have already expanded Medicaid and increased the number of residents eligible for its coverage.

Joan Alker, executive director for Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families, has written the report for the last eight years and said she’s never seen the rates of uninsured children go up in all 50 states, which happened last year.

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Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country.

Better economy, low unemployment

She said that what is perhaps most concerning is that the uninsured rate among children increased despite an improving economy and low unemployment rate that allowed more children to get private coverage through their parents.

The study blamed the increases on the Trump administration’s repeated attempts to prompt an overhaul of publicly funded health care. There were major efforts to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid, and the children’s CHIP insurance funding also ran out and hung in the balance for months before Congress extended it.

“There was a lot of confusion among families as to whether these public coverage sources were available,” Alker said.

At the same time, the Trump administration slashed funding for advertising and enrollment counselors to help sign people up for these health insurance programs. The country’s enrollment decline was not just in Medicaid and CHIP, but also in Obamacare, or the federal marketplace where parents can purchase private health insurance and often receive a subsidy to help pay for it.

The report noted that many of the children who do not have health insurance are eligible for coverage but just aren’t enrolled.

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Central American migrants begin their morning trek as part of a thousands-strong caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, as they face the Pico de Orizaba volcano upon departure from Cordoba, Mexico, Monday. VOA

‘More of a fluctuation’

Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said the figures were statistically insignificant.

He did agree that there were dips in Medicaid enrollment and through the Obamacare marketplace, but noted there’s no enrollment cutoff for Medicaid, meaning families can sign up their children year-round.

“It’s really more of a fluctuation. There’s no policy driver there,” he said, saying he didn’t think marketing cuts had any impact.

In Florida, the uninsured rate went from 288,000 in 2016 to 325,000 in 2017.

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Honduran migrant Genesis Belen Mejia Flores, 7, waves an American flag at U.S. border control helicopters flying overhead near the Benito Juarez Sports Center serving as a temporary shelter for Central American migrants, in Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country, and also has had the highest number of enrollees purchasing insurance through the Obamacare federal marketplace. However, Medicaid expansion in Florida is likely off the table for this upcoming legislative session. Incoming Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is against it. His opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, campaigned heavily on his support to expand Medicaid coverage for more residents.

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The report also expressed concern that strict immigration policies and enforcement were making many immigrant families leery of enrolling, even if their children were eligible for health coverage. “We think it’s really this national unwelcome mat regarding public coverage,” Alker said. (VOA)