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Reaching the tipping point on global child health

VANCOUVER, BC Whether you live in Haiti or in Harlem, the impact of poverty is the same. Children suffer from poor nutrition, environmental degradation, violence and poor development in the U.S. just as they do in less developed nations, and the consequences can be equally profound, according to Dr. Danielle Laraque, MD, president of the Academic Pediatric Association (APA).

Dr. Laraque will draw parallels between her work in Haiti and her work in urban areas of the U.S. during an address entitled "Global Child Health -- Reaching the Tipping Point for All Children" at 1:30 p.m. PT Monday, May 3, at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The meeting is being held at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Dr. Laraque's speech is part of a special celebration recognizing the 50th anniversary of the APA. The keynote address of the APA plenary session will be given by Catherine DeAngelis, MD, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and a former president of the APA.

Dr. Laraque, who was born in Haiti, has practiced pediatric medicine for 25 years in Harlem and is chief of the division of general pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. In the 1990s, Harlem and other urban communities had extreme mortality rates that justified special consideration analogous to that given to natural-disaster areas, Dr. Laraque said. Significant health disparities still exist in many communities in the U.S., in specific regions such as the Deep South, and in minority communities and areas with a shortage of health professionals.

In her address, Dr. Laraque will highlight two children she has cared for in the past few months. The first, a 12-year-old girl, arrived with her mother at a medical tent in Haiti where Dr. Laraque was working. She was undernourished, jaundiced, and in obvious pain with a tense abdomen. She went into shock the next day and died the following day of typhoid an illness that could have been prevented by a clean water supply.

The second child was 19 months old and came to Dr. Laraque's New York hospital. She had facial bruising, multiple fractures and a tense abdomen the result of internal injuries from physical abuse. She also died.

"These children are from very different countries, with very different circumstances, but they both died preventable deaths," Dr. Laraque said. "The benefits of improved sanitation and clean running water have certainly been part of the public health story in the past century. We also know some of the interventions that would alleviate stress and prevent child abuse. We must address the issues surrounding poverty and disadvantage, wherever they are, to change the outcome for children, wherever they are."

Dr. Laraque will call on her colleagues to advocate for global child health. Dr. Laraque will also highlight the mission and goals of the APA, which comprises more than 1,800 members, including pediatricians, students and other health professionals. Formerly known as the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, it changed its name in 2007 to reflect its core mission as the home for academic "general" pediatrics. The APA plenary session will include a presentation of the APA Oral History Project, which features interviews with APA founders and past presidents.

Reporters wanting to interview any of the speakers should call the PAS Press Office at 778-331-7694. Reporters who wish to attend the session must first check in with the PAS Press Office at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre to receive press credentials.


Contact: Susan Martin
American Academy of Pediatrics

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