Developmental Milestones: Why They’re So Important In Your Child’s Life
By Alfred Romeo, RN, PhD
As a health care professional, few things are more rewarding than when a new health-promotion program emerges. This is true especially in cases where the program has the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of children. Please allow me to introduce you to one of those programs. In Utah, the Pregnancy Risk Line is partnering with the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign in an effort to help parents of young children learn about healthy development. The free tools and checklists on the website―http://health.utah.gov/utahactearly―help parents determine if their children have reached important milestones for growth and development.
The “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, Utah, Alaska, Missouri, and Washington are the only states that have launched the campaign, in an effort by the CDC to test various marketing methods and materials. The research, which will include surveys from the start and end of the grant-funded campaigns, will test to see if parents understand what to do when they have concerns about their children.
The partnership between the Utah Department of Health Pregnancy Risk Line and Utah’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign is just one example of how teratology (the study of birth defect-causing exposures) information specialists across North America are working to make sure you have the healthiest pregnancy and child possible. Your phone call with one of the specialists may be brief, but you should feel confident knowing that there are many years of work that have gone into providing the answers you will get on that call. So don’t hesitate to call your local service or the North American toll-free number provided by the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS).
As a nurse, I’ve worked in newborn intensive care units to treat infants with birth defects, taught college health classes to promote healthy pregnancies, worked with young adults with disabilities to help them be better self-advocates, and trained doctors to improve their screening processes for developmental delays, including autism. I currently work on three different projects: the Pregnancy Risk Line, the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign, and our Medical Home program. Similar to my OTIS colleagues in other states, I serve on boards and committees for OTIS, the Utah Parent Center, the Utah chapter of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS), and other organizations. We stay involved in a variety of organizations to learn new information, train other professionals, and help parents find resources. All of these duties, and the constant search for new funding, keep all of us busy, but we have someone standing by, during regular business hours, to answer your phone calls with the latest research-based information.
Speaking of research, OTIS is involved with several studies. These and other studies help us find the best answers to the never-ending list of questions about medications, diseases, and other things a mother may be exposed to during her pregnancy that could harm her or her baby. Currently, OTIS is conducting research on vaccines, including the human papillomavirus (HPV), meningitis, and influenza vaccines. Also, OTIS is conducting studies on medications used to treat asthma and autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease and arthritis. We realize that women are busy and may have concerns about volunteering for one more thing. The few minutes of your time on the phone with us will help us find even more ways to protect moms-to-be and develop new health-improving programs. So when you have questions, you can be confident that OTIS is working with you to make sure we have the right answers.
Alfred Romeo, RN, PhD, works at the Pregnancy Risk Line, a partnership between the Utah Department of Health and the University of Utah. Visit the website at www.pregnancyriskline.org. The Pregnancy Risk Line is an affiliate of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), a non-profit with affiliates across North America. Utah women with questions or concerns about pregnancy or breastfeeding exposures can call 1-800-822-2229. Outside Utah, please call OTIS at 1-866-626-6847.
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