As you know you are the primary provider for your family. We look forward to providing you with information
that will help us reduce the number of children at risk for diabetes, obesity, dental decay and dental caries.
We hope the following information will help you understand a little more about the current challenges our children
face today. We offer a few suggestions and links with information on what you may do to help Indian Health
Service to make a difference in the lives of our American Indian/Alaskan Native children.
As we partner with other government agencies we hope bring an awareness of the current health challenges our
Native communities face today and also offer some suggestions on what you can do to engage in our health priorities.
Our current Health Challenges are:
- Overweight and Obesity
- Dental Cavities
- Behavioral Health
With your help we hope to reduce the number of American Indian/Alaskan Native Families who are faced with these
challenges by encouraging and setting the following Health Priorities:
- Healthy Eating
- Physical Activity
- Oral Health Care
- Injury Prevention
- Mental Wellness/Self Esteem
- Environmental Health
- Healthy Eating is:
- Knowing what healthy foods are,
- Knowing how to read labels,
- Making healthy foods visible and accessible,
- Making sweet treats and sodas less accessible
A healthy diet has many benefits:
- Healthy eating in childhood and adolescence is essential for proper growth and development.
- Healthy eating can prevent health problems such as obesity, diabetes and dental cavities/caries.
- Healthy eating is good for the body.
Tips toward a healthy lifestyle:
Indian Health Service Head Start Program is currently working on completing our “Healthy ABC’s Kit,”
which will be sent to all Head Start and Early Head Start American Indian/Alaskan Native Grantees. The
Healthy ABC Kit will be distributed for use in the classroom and includes a small book for children, a
poster and teaching cards. Our ABC book helps children to learn and recognize their ABC’s using a dental
health, nutrition and mental wellness approach.
Healthy eating and physical activity habits are key to your child's well-being. Eating too much and
exercising too little can lead to overweight and related health problems that can follow children into
their adult years. You can take an active role in helping your child and your whole family by developing
healthy eating and physical activity habits that can last for a lifetime.
Promote and encourage physical activity by:
- Limiting children’s T.V. time to fewer than 2 hours per day
- Planning time with your child to ride bikes, run together, ride a scooter or play ball.
- Participating in organized sports programs, such as: soccer, swimming, baseball/softball.
Benefits for Baby: (from CDC),
- Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. A mother's milk has just the right
amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies
find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.
- As a result, breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should. They tend to gain less unnecessary
weight and to be leaner. This may result in being less overweight later in life.
- Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
- Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, especially babies who were born pre-maturely.
Oral Health Care
You can encourage healthy teeth and a great smile by:
- Drinking tap water
- Snack on fruits and vegetables.
- Chewing sugarless gum.
- Brushing your child’s teeth before they go to bed.
- Flossing your child’s teeth once a day.
- Visiting a dentist twice a year.
For more information on oral health care visit:
Methods to Prevent:
- Be sure your child rides in an age, weight, and height appropriate child safety seat or booster
seat, correctly installed in the back seat, on every trip.
- Children should ride in a safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in
belt-positioning booster until at least age 8. Once your child has outgrown the booster seat, be sure
that he or she always wears a seatbelt in any vehicle.
- Always supervise children closely around water. Never leave a child alone near a pool, water-filled
bucket, bath tub, or any standing water.
- If you have a pool at your home:
- Provide four-sided pool fencing.
- Provide doors or gates with locks.
- Remember that inflatable toys are not safety devices.
Fire and Burns:
- Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and near rooms where people sleep.
- Test smoke alarms monthly.
- Do not smoke in bed or leave candles burning unattended.
People of all ages:
- Prepare a fire escape plan and practice it with your family.
- Never leave food cooking unattended.
- Ensure that there is proper supervision of children during play time and before and after school.
- Direct children to playground equipment suitable to their age.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome:
- Place infants (under 1 year of age) on their back to sleep.
- Remove soft bedding (pillows, stuffed toys, quilts, bumper pads) from the crib.
- Make sure infants are always in a smoke free environment.
- Do not overdress the baby.
- Keep room temperature comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
- Do not have more than one baby in a crib. Infants do not share a bed with another child or adult.
- Never put a blanket over a baby’s face or head.
- If you do use a blanket, place baby with feet at bottom of the crib. Tuck a thin blanket around the crib mattress,
covering baby only as high as his/her chest. Consider using a sleep sack or a wearable blanket instead of a traditional blanket.
- Train all caregivers (including volunteers and substitutes) on safe sleep practices described above.
- Crib meets Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines.
Note: Make sure babies have awake and supervised tummy time to strengthen muscles needed to slide on their bellies and crawl.
Additional resources on Injury Prevention