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News Opinion Readers Respond

It's the simple things that often are most effective in improving health outcomes

I was pleased to read Andrea Walker's recent article on infant mortality in Maryland ("State infant mortality rate reaches record low," Aug. 29).

In health care, major technological innovations frequently receive public attention and praise, yet often it is the seemingly "simple" solutions that are responsible for large improvements in mortality rates and longevity — advances such as improved sanitation and vaccines.

Not unexpectedly, these "simple" solutions apply to children as well. For this reason, I was happy, yet not surprised, to see that public outreach measures positively impacted Maryland's infant mortality rate.

As a pediatric resident, I try to use every clinic visit to educate families about childhood safety —encouraging parents to place their infants "back to sleep," counseling for smoking cessation and recommending ways to keep children safe from chemicals and firearms in the home.

Yet I have often wondered how many of these recommendations are put into action. It seems likely that families would find it difficult to retain all of this information given the time constraints of a typical office visit and the large amount of anticipatory guidance that needs to be conveyed during this time.

Furthermore, all caretakers cannot always be present for a child's appointments, so safety information given to one parent may not be relayed to other caretakers at home. For reasons like these, it seems crucial to provide this type of teaching through other venues, such as barber shop waiting rooms. Hopefully, programs similar to B'More for Healthy Babies will continue to develop and spread throughout the country.

Sara Fridinger, Philadelphia, Pa.

The writer is a pediatric resident in Philadelphia.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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