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Child And Teen Health

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed a bill prohibiting federal funding for transgender medical treatment for young people and urged the Legislature to adopt a statewide ban when it returns next year. The first-term Republican is up for reelection next month and signed the bill Tuesday. It authorizes more than $108 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for health services at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center. Oklahoma's Republican-controlled Legislature passed several bills this year targeting transgender youth. They include measures that restrict transgender girls' participation in sports and require schoolchildren to use bathrooms that correspond with their assigned sex at birth.

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Three major medical associations are asking the U.S. attorney general to investigate and prosecute people who are threatening violence against children’s hospitals and physicians that provide gender-affirming health care. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Children’s Hospital Association wrote Monday to Attorney General Merrick Garland. Their demands come amid a spate of threats against doctors and institutions that provide medical care for transgender kids that can include hormones or surgery for older teens. Children’s hospitals nationwide have substantially increased security. Garland did not immediately respond publicly. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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The Biden administration has an ambitious goal for America: ending hunger in the U.S. by 2030. The administration's plan includes expanding monthly benefits that help low-income Americans buy food. It also seeks to promote healthy eating and physical activity so that fewer people are afflicted with diabetes, obesity, hypertension and other diet-related diseases. Expanding Medicaid and Medicare access to obesity counseling and nutrition are part of the strategy. President Joe Biden is hosting a conference this week on hunger, nutrition and health, the first by the White House since 1969.

A federally funded study has found a possible link between aluminum in some childhood vaccines and persistent asthma, but experts say the study has several shortcomings. The study spotlights a possible connection between aluminum and asthma, but it does not claim the ingredient causes the breathing condition. And its top author says there is no reason to change current vaccine recommendations. Officials say more study is needed to try to confirm the association. It was published Tuesday by the medical journal Academic Pediatrics.

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California will not expand education to make kindergarten mandatory after Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a law meant to address decreasing attendance during the pandemic. The bill Newsom vetoed Sunday aimed to close the gap in academic opportunity for low-income students and students of color. Proponents said kindergarten can help students develop their social skills ahead of first grade. But Newsom said it was among many unfunded proposals lawmakers sent to him and would cost California $268 million a year, money that was not included in the state budget. Newsom previously approved universal access to pre-kindergarten.

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A referendum on the Montana ballot in November raises the prospect of criminal charges for health care providers unless they take all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life of an infant born alive, including after an attempted abortion. Supporters say the proposed law is meant to prevent the killing of infants outside the womb after failed abortions. But opponents argue it could rob them of precious time with infants who are born with incurable medical issues if doctors are forced to try to treat them. The bill's sponsor said the proposal is not intended to require extreme measures to try to treat fatal defects because that is not medically reasonable.

Some Georgia residents say they’re having a hard time accessing and spending $350 payments the state is making to more than 3 million residents who benefit from Medicaid, subsidized child health insurance, food stamps or cash welfare assistance. Others have been able to access the money, with the state is saying more than 270,000 people claimed $95.5 million in the first three days of the program, including $30 million that has already been spent through more than 580,000 transactions. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp announced the plan to spend up to $1.2 billion in federal COVID-19 aid on the payments in August. The state started transmitting the money electronically to benefit recipients on Tuesday.

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Federal authorities have charged 48 people in what they're calling the largest pandemic-related fraud scheme yet uncovered. The defendants allegedly stole $250 million from a federal program that provides meals to low-income children.  But prosecutors say few meals were actually served, and the defendants used the money to buy luxury cars, property and jewelry. Documents made public Tuesday charge the defendants with counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and bribery. Prosecutors say the defendants created companies that claimed to be offering food to thousands of kids, then sought reimbursement. This year, the U.S. Justice Department has made prosecuting pandemic-related fraud a priority and has stepped up enforcement actions.

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A study of U.S. children with sickle cell disease found fewer than half get a needed screening for stroke, a common complication. The research also found about half or fewer get a treatment that can help with pain and anemia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Tuesday, and called for more screening and treatment. One type of sickle cell disease, called sickle cell anemia, is a leading cause of stroke in children. The research found that too few get a recommended ultrasound scan check blood flow and assess their risk for stroke.

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An influential health guidelines group says U.S. doctors should regularly screen adults for anxiety. It’s the first time the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended anxiety screening in primary care for adults without symptoms. The report released Tuesday is open for public comment until Oct. 17. The group usually affirms its draft guidance. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health complaints, affecting about 40% of U.S. women at some point in their lives and more than 1 in 4 men. The panel's guidance often determines insurance decisions.

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A judge has found key parts of Michigan’s newborn blood-testing program unconstitutional. Four parents challenged the program, raising concerns about how leftover samples are used long after screening for rare diseases has taken place. The lawsuit is not a class action. But the decision this week is likely to have an impact on how Michigan maintains millions of dried blood spots and makes them available for outside research. Parents are given a form at childbirth, seeking consent to use blood spots for research. But attorney Phil Ellison argues that the form is vague and leaves parents without enough information. Federal Judge Thomas Ludington ruled in favor of the parents on more than a dozen issues.

A new law in California will require companies that provide online services to protect children's privacy. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law on Thursday. It requires companies to not profile children or use children's personal information that could harm their physical or mental health or well-being. The bill requires tech companies to follow age-appropriate design code principles aimed at keeping children safe. Companies will eventually have to submit a “data protection impact assessment” before offering new online services attractive to children. Facebook parent company Meta said it had concerns about the bill but said it shares lawmakers' goal of keeping children safe online.

South Carolina Senators are eyeing a number of improvements to women's and children's health after sending a new abortion ban back to the House. The Senate on Thursday passed a bill revising the state's previous six-week ban, rejecting a total abortion ban that would not have made exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Now House lawmakers must weigh the proposal against the much more restrictive version they passed last week. Meanwhile, Republicans are seeking reforms to the foster care system in the wake of these abortion debates. Democrats want to see improvements to sex education. But some Republicans are wary that this talk will be backed up with action when they return for a regular session this January.

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