State addresses Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate for National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month

CONCORD — July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month and a number of N.H. Department of Health and Human Services programs are helping to prevent cleft lip and cleft palate in New
Hampshire babies.

Among the services these programs provide are: customized, free help quitting tobacco (1-800-QUIT-NOW); free texts on how to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby through Text4Baby; prenatal services through N.H. Medicaid,; and nutrition education and nutritious foods to help keep pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and preschool children healthy and strong through N.H. WIC services.

On average, there are 12,000 babies born in New Hampshire each year, 8.34% of whom are born with a cleft lip and 7.82% with a cleft palate. Orofacial clefts happen early during pregnancy. A baby can have a cleft lip, a cleft
palate, or both. Babies born with these birth defects have problems with feeding, hearing, and speech development; dental problems, including missing teeth; and frequent middle ear infections.

Correction of cleft defects requires surgery. Some factors that increase the chance of having a baby with an orofacial cleft are maternal smoking, having diabetes, and use of certain medications to treat epilepsy, such as topirimate and valproic acid.

"DHHS has a number of programs working toward reducing these birth defects by addressing these risk factors," said Marcella Bobinsky, Acting Director of Public Health at DHHS. "Because birth defects can develop before a woman
even knows she is pregnant, it is important that she takes care of her health from the start. Addressing health risk behaviors even before pregnancy is important, such as taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day and quitting smoking to reduce the risk of poor birth outcomes."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that:
· Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with an orofacial cleft than women who do not smoke.
· Women with diabetes diagnosed before pregnancy have an increased risk of having a child with a cleft lip with or without cleft palate,
compared with women who did not have diabetes.

· Women who used certain medicines to treat epilepsy, during the first trimester (the first three months) of pregnancy have an increased risk of
having a baby with cleft lip with or without cleft palate, compared with women who didn't take these medicines.

For information on the N.H. Birth Conditions Program visit Resources for women, infants, and children and the many programs of DHHS, such as the Diabetes Education Program, the Maternal and Child Health
Program, NH WIC, Text4Baby, and the Oral Health Program, can be found at DHHS currently offers free help quitting tobacco use through 1-800-QUIT-NOW (


Cutline: Health care agencies look at team approach

caremanagementgroupphoto0615Under the leadership of Dr. Keith Shute, Androscoggin Valley Hospital’s Medical Director, the facility’s Care Management team organized a unique meeting of all local care agencies. Representatives of Berlin City Home Health, Coos County Family Health Services’ Care Management Team, Northwoods Home Health and Hospice and Personal Touch met to discuss how all entities can provide the best care for ambulatory and homebound patients. This is the first time that all these agencies have met to discuss this common concern and goal. Such collaboration is quickly becoming a new reality. The group, with objectives of timely communication and reconciliation, as well as the setting of expectations and prompt first post-hospital visits, plans to meet regularly in the future.

Northern New Hampshire Corrections Facility contributes valuable creations to a great cause

BERLIN — Recreation Supervisor Keith Griffin and residents in the Hobby Craft Department of the Northern New Hampshire Corrections Facility came to the rescue for a local non-profit organization, Northern Human Services, by making several sets of puzzles and blocks for Family Centered Early Supports and Services free of charge.

Family Centered Early Supports and Services is a non-profit organization that tries to balance families' needs with the limited funds that are available to the organization. The Early Intervention Program provides developmental therapeutic services to infants and toddlers from birth to age 3 who have an established medical/genetic condition, developmental delay and/or who are at-risk of developing a substantial developmental delay.

Services are typically provided in the home by trained staff and therapists. Therapeutic tools are in great demand as the staff head out to the homes to work with the families in helping the young children reach their developmental milestones. For example, a set of specific puzzles and blocks that are used by many of the staff costs as much as $45 each. 

Family Centered Early Supports and Services had just a few of the puzzle sets on hand, so staff had to share and pass along, which can be time consuming as the staff are located all over Coos and Upper Grafton Counties. Their mission is to challenge individuals to develop their potential through personal growth and to promote meaningful learning opportunities. Their recent donation to Early Supports and Services is a major indication of the success of their mission.

Northern Human Services greatly appreciates their generous contribution to the Early Supports and Services program; it has saved the organization hundreds of dollars. NHS Family Centered Early Supports and Services staff thanked the people who created the puzzles and wished them all the best for the future.

NH rises to No. 2 in 'National Child Well-Being' ranking

CONCORD — New Hampshire rose from No. 4 to No. 2 in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual ranking of child well-being according to the newly released '2015 Kids Count' Data Book. Although New Hampshire's economic security improved, the state missed the top spot held by Minnesota in part due to a decrease in its overall ranking on child health. This marks the first time in over a decade that a New England state has not held the top ranking.

The report found that 1.7 million more children live in low-income working families than during the Great Recession. In 2013, one in four children, 18.7 million, lived in a low-income working family in the United States. In addition, the national trends highlight a stagnant economic recovery that sidestepped children of color.

"Although we are several years past the end of the recession, millions of families still have not benefited from the economic recovery," said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. "While we've seen an increase in employment in recent years, many of these jobsare low-wage and cannot support even basic family expenses. Far too many families are still struggling to provide for the day-to-day needs of their children, notably for the 16 million kids who are living in poverty. We can and must do better: we can make policy choices to lift more families into economic stability."

In many ways, New Hampshire fared better than national trends. The state saw improvements in economic indicators, retained its number one ranking in family and community indicators, and remained consistent in education.
Despite these achievements, New Hampshire continues to fall behind in measures of overall child health, including teen substance misuse.

Key New Hampshire Findings
Child poverty decreased from 16 percent with 42,000 to 10 percent with 27,000. Despite this recent decrease, there has been a slow, steady upward climb to 10 percent child poverty since 2000 when the child poverty rate was 6 percent.
The number of children living in high-poverty areas has doubled. In 2013, 2 percent or 6,000 children lived in areas with a 30 percent or higher rate of poverty. This rate is more than double the previous year, when 1 percent or 3,000 children lived in high-poverty areas. NH Kids Count reported in our 2015 Data Book that Coös County had the highest rate of child poverty in the state at 21.7 percent, while Hillsborough and Merrimack counties had the highest number of children living in poverty.
Fewer children live in households with a high housing cost burden. 11,000 fewer children lived in households with a high housing cost burden in 2013, further reducing the likelihood that families slipped in poverty.
New Hampshire tied for highest number of teens who abuse alcohol and drugs in the nation. While New Hampshire's rate of teens who misuse alcohol and drugs remained unchanged from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013 of 7 percent or 7,000 teens, other states continued to improve. New Hampshire is now ranked 44th and tied for the lowest ranking with Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, Vermont and Wyoming.
"While we are pleased to see improvements in economic stability measurements such as child poverty and secure employment for parents, we have not matched these gains with critical investments in the health and well-being of our children," said Ellen Fineberg, executive director of New Hampshire Kids Count. "The Granite State should not be last in the nation for any indicator of child well-being. When we make smart policy decisions that reflect both data and the needs of our children and families, our state can make a difference."

Additional information is available at and

American Cancer Society 'Making Strides Against Breast Cancer' kickoff scheduled for July 29

NORTH CONWAY — The American Cancer Society will host a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer kickoff rally and informational meeting at 5:30 – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29, at North Conway Community Center in the Village to share details about its upcoming community walk.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a powerful event to raise awareness and funds to end breast cancer. Since 1993, more than 11 million supporters have raised more than $685 million nationwide. Last year, 350 walkers in the Mount Washington Valley helped to raise more than $82,000. This kickoff will provide community members the opportunity to learn how to get involved in the North Conway walk slated for Oct. 18.

Funds raised through Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks enable the American Cancer Society to finish the fight against breast cancer by investing in groundbreaking research; providing free, comprehensive information and support to those touched by breast cancer; and helping people reduce their breast cancer risk or find it early when it's most treatable.

"Uniting with others in the Making Strides walk gives us power to make a real difference in the fight to end breast cancer," said Pamela Ritchie, Community Manager, "At the event we celebrate survivorship and pay a meaningful tribute to those affected by the disease. Thanks to participants, the American Cancer Society is there for those who are currently dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis, those who may face a diagnosis in the future, and those who may avoid a diagnosis altogether because of education and risk reduction."

For more details on the Oct. 18 walk event, the planning committee, being a sponsor, or signing up, call Leah Hartman, 2015 Volunteer Event Chair at (603) 370-8382 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Pamela Ritchie, Community Manager at (603) 763-4432 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information or to register for the walk please visit