Keys to Improving Early Childhood Health

CSG members gathered in Gaithersburg, Maryland, on Nov. 15-16, 2012, to learn about strategies for improving early childhood health. Issues discussed at the Health Policy Academy included prematurity prevention, flu vaccination and the development of biologics.

Dr. Mitchell Goldstein, a neonatologist at Loma Linda University Hospital in California, emphasized the importance of reducing premature births. He said the "old days" of believing babies were ready to be born at 34 or even 37 weeks of pregnancy are gone. Research clearly shows that brains and lungs are developing up to full term gestation of 40 weeks.

Later speakers addressed respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a very common virus that leads to mild, cold-like symptoms in adults and older healthy children. However, it can be more serious in young babies, especially to those who are born prematurely and have underdeveloped lungs. No vaccine is available to prevent RSV but there is a biologic available to young children during the virus season that is effective in reducing the impact of RSV.

Advances in seasonal flu prevention were also discussed, including a very successful program in Texas to vaccinate children in schools. Dr. Glezen presented data on the cost-effectiveness of a school-based program in Texas.

Prematurity by Numbers: Promising Prevention and Treatment Strategies, Mitchell Goldstein, MD, Associate Professor, Pediatrics, Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital

Moving the Needle: Public Policies to Improve Birth Outcomes, Pat Heinrich, RN, MSN

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Just another virus… or not?  Doris Makari, MD, Senior Director, Scientific Affairs, MedImmune

The Burden of Influenza & Importance of Vaccination, Chris Ambrose, MD, Vice President, Medical & Scientific Affairs, MedImmune

Direct and Indirect Protection of a School-Based Vaccine Program against Seasonal and Pandemic Influenza in Central Texas, 2008-2010, W. Paul Glezen, MD, Baylor College of Medicine

The Promise of Biotechnology: Looking Out to Public Policy Concerns, John A. Murphy, III, Director, State Affairs, Health Policy, Biotechnology Industry Organization

The Business and Promise of Biologics, Kristi Jones, VP Strategic Marketing MedImmune