Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children’s Health: May 2016

Posted May 19, 2016 by Josh Grant

Doctor With Smiling Baby Girl
Healthcare professionals, organizations and others are developing innovative programs to improve children's health. 
Across the United States, organizations and government agencies are creating new approaches to improve children’s health. Because we support innovation for helping children lead healthier lives, we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting initiatives we’ve seen in the last few weeks. 

Read on to learn how some groups are addressing critical health needs:

Startup Helps Moms Monitor Breastmilk Supply
MomSense has developed a device that helps mothers learn how much breastmilk their children eat. The tool connects to smartphones and tablets and looks like a pair of headphones, but it has a third piece that sits near the baby’s ear to monitor feeding. Animations are also played to show moms how much milk their babies consume during each session. 

MomSense’s tool provides support for mothers who are concerned about breastmilk supply. The goal is to show moms how much milk they’re producing so they don’t use formula supplementation when it’s not necessary. This type of reassurance and information could give new mothers confidence to continue exclusive breastfeeding. 

Using Sports as Therapy
Doc Wayne, a non-profit organization, provides trauma therapy to young children by helping them get active. Sports are combined with evidenced-based behavioral and emotional therapies so participating children can improve their mental health. 

Currently, there are two programs offered by Doc Wayne. The Therapeutic Sports Program is seasonal and includes different activities, including basketball and flag football, for children in group homes and alternative schools in Massachusetts. The second is Chalk Talk, which teaches children different athletic skills and connects them to real-world situations as an alternative to traditional group therapy.   

Improving Transit to Reduce Infant Mortality
Columbus, Ohio, is revitalizing its transportation system to connect women in low-income areas with health services. The new CMAX bus line is routed through Linden, a Columbus neighborhood with an infant mortality rate close to 24 per 1,000 live births. The new buses’ travel times are expected to be 20 percent shorter than their predecessors’, and they provide access to two major hospitals in nearby areas. 

The city wants to continue improving its transportation systems to address maternal and infant health concerns. There’s talk of connecting public transportation with ride-sharing services so women can get from their bus stops to their doctors’ offices. Columbus’ efforts show that external factors like infrastructure can have profound influences on health outcomes and need to be addressed to enact real change. 

Peer Mentoring for Children with Learning Differences
Eye to Eye, a mentorship organization for children with learning differences, is helping students gain confidence and improve academic performance. The program pairs college and middle school who have similar healthcare needs. For instance, a student from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with ADD is mentoring a local middle schooler with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

In the next school year, Eye to Eye wants to expand into even more schools to provide children with learning disabilities roles models. To date, the program reports that 80 percent of mentees have increased their self-esteem and 84 percent have improved their academic performance. 

What children’s health innovation stories have you read lately? Share them with us @NICHQ on Twitter!


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