Is a chubby baby a healthy baby?

 College of Nursing  Comments Off on Is a chubby baby a healthy baby?
Jun 152012

Childhood obesity is increasing in the United States and this trend can begin early in life. A study by New York University School of Medicine indicates that stressed new moms are more likely than non-stressed mothers to add cereal to their baby’s bottle prior to the recommended age of 4-6 months. Stress can be related to issues like money, depression, or single-parenting.

Over-stressed mothers may seek ways to help babies sleep longer. Dr. Elizabeth Jesse, a certified nurse-midwife at ECU, notes that it is not unusual to hear mothers say that they add cereal to bottles due to the challenge of feeding around the clock.

Another reason mothers may add cereal to bottles is to increase the time between feedings to reduce formula cost. The cost savings may be dangerous for a new baby’s digestive system. Infant digestive systems are not ready for cereal prior to 4-6 months. The risk of allergies and digestive problems increases when babies are exposed to cereal and solid food before their bodies are mature enough to process the food.

Maternal depression and stress have a significant impact on how babies are fed. Dr. Jesse’s work also suggests that women who are at risk for depression during their pregnancy are almost half as likely to begin breastfeeding when they leave the hospital as women with minimal or no depressive symptoms.

Health-care providers urge new parents to follow feeding recommendations for the baby’s health, but a round, chubby baby is still the stereotypical image of a healthy baby and this image is deceiving. Overweight babies often become overweight children and, then, they become overweight adults.

Obesity begins early in life and new moms need support to make good decisions for their babies. Health-care providers can give new moms material about the recommended feeding stages. New moms should discuss feelings of sadness and despair with their doctors and nurses at their post-delivery follow-up appointment. If you feel down or blue before your appointment, call your health-care provider right away.

Preventing obesity begins during the first months of life. Remember, give your baby only breast milk or formula for the first 4-6 months of life.

–ECU College of Nursing


Closing the Gap in Oral Health

 School of Dental Medicine  Comments Off on Closing the Gap in Oral Health
Jun 122012

The good news is that, overall, Americans have fewer cavities now than they did 20 years ago.  The troubling reality is that how many fewer cavities Americans have depends on several factors.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics released a report on May 31 that highlighted the oral health disparities evident throughout the country.  This report, based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2005-2008, shows that 25% of children ages 5-19 living below the poverty level had untreated cavities compared to only 12% of their counterparts living at 200% or higher of the poverty level.  Adults ages 20-64 living below the poverty level had a much higher rate of untreated cavities (42%) than did adults in the same age range living at 200% or higher above the poverty level (17%).

According to this data, income is a major factor when looking at someone’s oral health.  People living at 200% or higher above the poverty level are more likely to have the money to visit the dentist regularly for preventive care as well as restorative care – having cavities filled, teeth extracted or getting dentures, for example.  People living below the poverty line often have a hard time making ends meet and putting food on the table.  Visiting the dentist and oral care are often seen as luxuries they cannot afford.

Other causes of these disparities include access to dentists and oral health education.  Dentists opening an office need to be located where the patients are in order to generate the income needed to support their practice.  If there are no patients there is no income to pay employees, pay office space rent, buy equipment or pay the electric bill.  Because of this, dentists are less inclined to open new offices in rural, low population areas.  A rural county with few residents will be less likely to have an available dentist than a bustling city with many potential patients.

Education is an important factor in oral health.  People who have been to the dentist have often been taught about oral health and the need for brushing and flossing twice a day, visiting the dentist every six months and limiting the intake of sugary foods.  Someone who has never been to the dentist may not have been taught these basic steps for caring for their teeth.

In light of these findings, the question becomes, “What can be done to close the gap?”

East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine (SoDM) is dedicated to closing that gap in North Carolina.  The vision of the SoDM, whose inaugural class began in the fall of 2011, is to improve the health and quality of life of all North Carolinians by creating leaders with a passion for service and by leading the nation in community-based, service learning oral health education.  One part of the solution to closing the gap is the opening of ten Community Service Learning Centers (CSLC) in rural, underserved areas across North Carolina.  Fourth-year dental students and residents will work side by side with faculty dentists to offer comprehensive oral care for the communities in which they are located.  Services offered at the CSLCs range from x-rays and cleanings to filling cavities, extractions and a full range of general dental care.

The first of the CSLCs to open is the center in Ahoskie, NC, located next to the Roanoke-Chowan Community Health Center.    The two facilities will serve as a “medical home” for their patients.  As a “medical home” they will provide comprehensive medical and dental care for their patients in a central location.  The Public Health Department will also be working with the partners to provide publicly funded transportation for those patients in need.

The ribbon cutting for the Ahoskie CSLC will be on June 28, 2012.


Michael L. Scholtz, DMD
Director, Community Dental Practices

Health sciences librarians guide the way to trusted health resources

 Laupus Library  Comments Off on Health sciences librarians guide the way to trusted health resources
Jun 082012

When’s the last time a librarian helped you find an allergist in your area? Or a dietician?

Today, NC health sciences librarians can help you locate more than just books. If you’ve got a health concern, chances are one can point you in the right direction. Sound odd? It’s not, thanks to an online web portal of NC health resources called NC Health Info.

Dedicated staff at the ECU Laupus Library have joined with UNC Chapel Hill and Health Sciences librarians across the state to help you quickly and easily find quality health care providers in your local area.

A service funded by the UNC Health Sciences Library, is an online guide to websites of quality medical information and local health services throughout North Carolina. By using the “Go Local” feature, users can find more than 6,500 health facilities, providers and programs in all 100 of North Carolinas counties.

Whether you’re interested in finding a childbirth educator in Alamance County or a weight management program here in Pitt County, this free service can help you. North Carolina librarians, including those here at Laupus, volunteer their time and expertise to vet, select and maintain the portal, assuring users find the very best information. In addition, Laupus librarians assist in updating information and resources on the “Conditions” page, which lists some of NC’s top health concerns.

So next time you’re in need of care, let a librarian help. Go to

-Dr. Dorothy A. Spencer
Director of Laupus Library

Summer Program for Future Doctors: A True Success Story!

 Brody School of Medicine  Comments Off on Summer Program for Future Doctors: A True Success Story!
Jun 052012

Since 1978, over 600 college juniors and seniors have participated in the Brody School of Medicine (BSOM) Summer Program for Future Doctors (SPFD), an 8-week summer program for students to discover what it’s like to attend medical school and determine whether medicine is a good career choice. Many of the participants are minority, disadvantaged and nontraditional students and as a testament to SPFD’s impact, the majority of program participants go on to careers in medicine or other health-related professions. (See other news coverage of SPFD at

Less well-known is the economic impact this program has had on our state. SPFD boasts an impressive track record in placing primary care physicians in North Carolina, a core tenet of the BSOM mission. Of the 224 students who have completed the SPFD program and subsequently attended medical school at BSOM, 62 percent remain in our state for medical practice.

And, of those, 54 percent now work in counties where economic conditions are generally challenging and the need for physicians is great. Locating physicians in counties that are economically distressed benefits everyone in those communities; a 2007 study reported that the economic impact of a single family medicine physician in North Carolina was approximately $964,271 per year!

For students, professors and all North Carolinians, SPFD is quite a success!

–David W. Musick, PhD
Associate Dean, Office of Medical Education & Student Development

New Name, New Focus

 College of Allied Health Sciences  Comments Off on New Name, New Focus
Jun 012012

The name of East Carolina University’s Department of Rehabilitation Studies within the College of Allied Health Sciences has changed to the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies.

Why the name change?  According to Dean Stephen Thomas, the new name “better reflects the direction of the department.” 

Addiction impacts all Americans because we all pay the cost —healthcare costs, criminal activity, traffic accidents, loss of jobs.  In North Carolina alone, more than 700,000 people age 12 or older report being addicted to alcohol, other drugs, or both (NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services).

The department recognizes this growing problem and the need for substance abuse counselors.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the growth rate for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is expected to grow by 27 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.  The reason for this expected growth is more people are seeking treatment for their addictions, and drug offenders are increasingly sentenced to treatment rather than jail time.

ECU is one of the few schools in the nation to offer a master’s degree in substance abuse and clinical counseling (SACC), and the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies is ready to meet the demand for more counselors.  Since its inception in 1989, the SACC degree program has attracted a majority of matriculating students in the department.  Graduates are eligible for the Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS) and Licensed Professional (LPC) credentials.

–Dr. Shari M. Sias, Director
Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling Program