Once in a month my husband and I pack Amos in his stroller and walk a few blocks to our closest health care center. We take the elevator to the fourth floor and enter Neuvola, the maternity and child care clinic, or ‘Place for Advice’ as translated freely from the Finnish word.
Neuvola is a Finnish public health care service available for all expectant mothers and children for free.
Maternal and child health is crucial, a cornerstone of development for all countries. Currently in the world approximately 830 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth and an estimated 5.9 million children die annually before they reach the age of 5.
The numbers for maternal and child mortality used to be staggering in Finland as well. Just 80 years ago, out of 1000 children a total of 95 died before reaching the age of 5. Now that number is less than 3, one of the lowest in the whole world. Similarly, the rate of maternal deaths used to be high, with 400 mothers dying per 100,000 births. Today, such deaths do basically not occur.
Who are we to thank for this?
The story of Neuvola dates back to the 1920s.
Mr. Arvo Ylppö, a Finnish pediatrician, was determined to decrease infant mortality in Finland. He got his motivation from Germany where he studied and observed, for instance, that the cause of death for prematurely born infants can be traced to treatable conditions instead of simple underdevelopment.
The ideas he then implemented in Finland are, in essence, preventive health care measures.
He supported efforts to educate health care professionals, along with midwives, to municipalities. The services provided by Neuvola were to be free of charge and voluntary. At its core were to be the provision of guidance for mothers and families, a complete vaccination programme as well as the detection of abnormalities in a child’s development as early as possible.
These remain the activities of Neuvola even today.
Neuvola started small, but today it reaches practically all expectant mothers and children in Finland from their birth to the beginning of primary education which is usually at the age of 7. It has been a tremendous success story. My mother used Neuvola services, now I do too. It is a privilege shared by many generations.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Finland is one of the best countries in the world for parents.
The number of grandparent caregivers continues to grow, and while these older adults may be experienced in caring for young children, many are unaware of more recent safety and other recommendations — including those related to appropriate child sleep position, crib safety, car seat and walker use, according to research presented Oct. 21 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.
According to the 2011 American Community Survey, an estimated 2.87 million grandparents are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren — a nearly 20 percent increase since the year 2000. In the study, “Grandparent Caregiver Knowledge of Anticipatory Guidance Topics,” researchers attended regularly scheduled Grandparent/Kinship Care support groups. Forty-nine participants completed a 15-question survey that addressed common pediatric safety and anticipatory guidance topics for children of all ages.
When asked, “What is the best position for a baby to sleep in?” 33 percent of respondents chose “on the stomach;” 23 percent, “on the side;” and 43.8 percent, “the back.” The AAP recommends that infants be placed to sleep on their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). When asked about correct car seat positioning, 24.5 percent responded that a 22 pound, 9 month-old child should be facing forward, and yet the AAP recommends that children remain in a rear-facing car seat until age 2….
- As Grandparent Caregivers Increase, Many Are Unaware Of Newer Safety Guidelines (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Study finds many grandparents out-of-date on child safety issues (clickondetroit.com)
- More grandparents fill caregiver role (eurekalert.org)
- 5 common car-seat mistakes (bankrate.com)
From the National Network of Libraries of Medicine-Greater Midwest Region (NN/LM-GMR) news item:
The Maternal and Child Health Library at Georgetown University released a new edition of a knowledge path about asthma in children and adolescents, its prevalence, and its impact on homes, schools, and communities. The knowledge path includes tools for improving asthma management and care and staying abreast of new developments in pediatric asthma research. The knowledge path can be used by health professionals, program administrators, policymakers, researchers, and community advocates to learn more about asthma, for program development, and to locate training resources and information to answer specific questions. Separate sections point to resources about environmental triggers, medications and monitoring, and asthma management in school. The knowledge path is available at http://www.mchlibrary.info/KnowledgePaths/kp_asthma.html. A resource brief for families accompanies the knowledge path and is available at http://www.mchlibrary.info/families/frb_asthma.html.
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