Children's Health

Photo of Dr. Cynthia Toth and Dr. Francesco LaRocca
Francesco LaRocca / Duke University

A team of engineers and physicians at Duke University has developed a new device that can capture high-quality images of retinas. It can produce high-resolution images of photoreceptor cells, or rods and cones.

Previous technology required the patient to sit still and concentrate for a few minutes, something children can't do very well. This lightweight handheld device fixes that problem.

An image of an adult holding a child
Pexels / Creative Commons

 Note: This segment originally aired on Wednesday, April 27, 2016.

More than 179,000 children in North Carolina have had a parent incarcerated, according to a new report. As a result, these children are more likely to face emotional trauma and financial instability.

The report recommends improving a child's relationship with the incarcerated parent and the community as a way to lessen these burdens.

Image of Ken Dodge, professor of public policy at Duke
Duke University

Note: This is a rebroadcast from last year.

There is a common metaphor in the scientific community that uses flowers to describe children’s sensitivity to their environments. A child like a dandelion will turn out fine despite the circumstances she is raised in, while a child like an orchid will flounder without a nourishing environment, but blossom with care and support. 

Tulane Publications via Flickr/Creative Commons

A baby born in Orange County can expect to live to be nearly 82 years old. That's according to health data analysis by the independent children's advocacy group NC Child.

But Research and Data Director Laila Bell says children in poorer counties aren't likely to live as long. A newborn in Rockingham County is unlikely to reach the age of 76.

UNC-Chapel Hill

In 1972, Frances Campbell was a mother of two, simply looking for a part-time job in Chapel Hill, when she stumbled upon what would be a groundbreaking study on early childhood education.

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill asked her to examine the benefits of early education on children from poor families. They called it the Abecedarian Project.

(Read a 1974 booklet that describes the project here.)

Ken Dodge's research has been following the same group of children for more than 20 years.
Ken Dodge


There is a common metaphor in the scientific community that uses flowers to describe children’s sensitivity to their environments.

A child like a dandelion will turn out fine despite the circumstances she is raised in, while a child like an orchid will flounder without a nourishing environment, but blossom with care and support.

A picture of a screaming child.
Mindaugas Danys / Creative Commons

Holly Hill Hospital is hosting the grand opening of a new children's campus today. The hospital says it's working to meet a growing need for inpatient psychiatric beds that has left many in the community waiting in emergency rooms for behavioral health treatment.

North Carolina's chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness supports the creation of the facility. But the group's president, Mike Mayer, says the state has a long way to go.

Tormod Sandtorv / Flickr/Creative Commons

Researchers at Duke University suggest getting rid of homes for orphaned children will not lead to better child well-being.

The study followed children in low- to middle-income children from Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, and Tanzania. It looked at many factors in the children's lives including emotional trauma, growth, memory and the health of both the child and caregiver.

Kathryn Whetten is professor of public policy at Duke and directs the school's Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research. 

Nathan Winter / Flickr Creative Commons


When children are living in poverty, it can have long-term consequences for their health, education and their own economic status. 

But in many cases, their families don’t have access to social services, or know where to get help. 

Eliana Perrin, MD, MPH, and professor of Pediatrics at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. sitting in a movie theater / UNC Healthcare and school of medicine


Movies like Toy Story 3, Wall-E, and Up, may seem like harmless entertainment. But a new study shows these films may promote unhealthy behavior, especially eating habits, to young people. 

Mike, via Flickr


Obesity is a significant problem for many in the United States. But for some high school football players, weight gain means success.


During the government shutdown, North Carolina became the first state to cut funding for the social welfare programs WIC and TANF. And while Governor Pat McCrory pushed to reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the status of many social services still hung in the balance. Host Frank Stasio talks with, Christina Gibson-Davis, a professor of public policy and sociology at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, about the cuts to social services.

A supermarket in Durham is going to offer healthy snacks in the check out line.
Tijmen Stam via Creative Commons

Shoppers at a local grocery in Durham will have the option of checking out at an aisle filled with healthy snack choices. So instead of lollipops and candy bars, last minute purchases at Los Primos Market might include apples, raisins or yogurt. Erica Samoff coordinates Partnership for a Healthy Durham, a community coalition that's collaborating with the East Durham Children's Initiative.

Duke University Hospital
Duke Medecine


Parents of teenagers with mental illnesses struggle to find appropriate care. When those adolescents also have developmental disabilities, they often end up in a cycle of psychiatric treatment that keeps them in residential facilities far from their homes.

Host Frank Stasio talks with News and Observer reporter Mandy Locke about a story of one family facing these challenges and the state’s resources for treatment.

A new report has insights into children's dental health in the state.
Dave Buchwald, creative commons

A North Carolina Institute of Medicine task force released a new study on children's dental care in the state.

Berkeley Yorkery, a project manager with the Institute, says compared to other states, North Carolina has made strides in children's dental participation.

Duke researchers say bullying can lead to anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide up to 20 years later.
John Steven Fernandez via Flickr /

A study from Duke University says adults who were bullied as children are much more likely to have anxiety or depression. 

North Carolina could be doing a better job of preventing tooth decay in children. A new Pew Center report gives the state an "F" for taking care of kids teeth. Doctor Bill Maas is a public health dentist and a policy advisor for the Pew Children's Dental Campaign. He says painting a clear plastic sealant coating on the permanent molars of second graders is an efficient way to prevent cavities.

A connection between childhood obesity and daily salt intake has been discovered.

Researchers in Australia tracked more than 4-thousand children and found that kids who consume the most salt are more likely to drink sugary beverages. That puts them at risk of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Dr. Joseph Skelton is director of the Brenner FIT program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He believes most excess salt is coming from fast food, and snack foods:

Children's advocates say poverty continues to be a problem when it comes to kids' health. The non-profit Action for Children North Carolina is out with its annual Child Health Report Card. The state scored a D in child poverty, with more than 25% of children under 18 living in poverty. Action for Children's Laila Bell says that affects the health statistics.

Duke University doctors say clinical trials on how drugs affect children are few and far between. Gurnal Scott reports.

Doctors looked at research conducted from 2005 to 2010 -- about 60-thousand trials. They found that adult medical trials far outnumber ones on kids under 18.

"By about 10 to one," says one of the study's writers, Alex Kemper, a pediatrics professor at Duke. "For those of us who provide care to children, we know that clinical trials are the best way to know how to treat conditions.

Walking Classroom
Walking Classroom

A Chapel Hill non-profit has been recognized nationally for developing a program that targets childhood obesity while helping students learn.  The program is called “The Walking Classroom.”

Leoneda Inge:  The Walking Classroom Institute is about one year old and was started by former 5th grade teacher Laura Fenn.

Laura Fenn:  What I did is one day, when I was home after school, I went out for a walk and I was listening to a podcast while I was walking and I thought to myself, my students can do this.

Senator Kay
Office of Senator Kay Hagan

Senator Kay Hagan toured UNC Children's Hospital yesterday as part of a push for her bill that would streamline approval of treatments for serious and rare diseases.

Hagan says the Food and Drug Administration needs to find faster ways to get treatments to patients suffering from rare diseases.

Two Pint-sized former patients cut the ribbon on a new unit in the Newborn Critical Care Center at The North Carolina Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill today. A crowd of parents, children and staff were present for the opening of 'Pod G.' It adds 10 beds and brings the center's capacity to 58 beds. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Chapel Hill admits premature and ill babies from other hospitals in the state which are not equipped to deal with them. Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Alan Stiles says the addition will take pressure off the unit.

WakeMed celebrated Mother's Day by kicking off a campaign to promote breast feeding. The hospital no longer gives out formula or pacifiers to new mothers. WakeMed Women and Children's Services Director Elizabeth Rice says breast feeding is healthier for both infants and mothers. But she says the hospital isn't taking away anyone's right to choose how they feed their baby.

Kids Don't Use Asthma Medications Correctly

Mar 29, 2011
Asthma Inhaler
Dottie Mae, Flickr Creative Commons

Ninety percent of kids using inhalers to control their asthma are NOT using them correctly - according to a new study from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Study leader Betsy Sleath says kids who use inhalers have to use the proper technique in order to deliver a useful dose of the drug directly to the lungs. She says without proper use, the inhalers don't work as well as they could: