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AAP an essential force in protecting children from injury, gun violence, disease :

May 29, 2019

Prevention is at the heart of pediatrics. During the first half of 2019, the Academy has worked overtime to promote health and protect children from infectious diseases, injury and gun violence.

Protecting against global measles virus

Last month, the United States reached a regrettable milestone when the number of measles cases reached its highest total in 25 years. When the first cases were announced, the AAP responded with a multipronged approach to quash measles outbreaks and contain the spread of the virus.

We worked to strengthen parents’ confidence in the safety and lifesaving power of vaccines through traditional and social media. And because many parents struggle with fear due to anti-vaccine content on social media and other online sources, we reached out to Google, Facebook and Pinterest and urged them to elevate evidence-based information on immunizations. Shortly after, we began working with Pinterest, and Facebook announced it will change its algorithm to make sure its users see credible, science-based information.

In addition, we continue to urge state lawmakers to eliminate nonmedical exemptions to school vaccination requirements to make it harder for parents to opt out.

We are consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a comprehensive strategy to increase parents’ confidence in vaccines, address barriers to vaccination and improve access to vaccines in all communities.

Because diseases travel as easily as people and products, we’re working with the International Pediatric Association and our sister pediatric societies around the world to combat vaccine hesitancy and curb this global outbreak.

Preventing injury

We’ve also renewed our focus on injury prevention. Public health initiatives over the past 50 years have led to dramatic decreases in deaths from motor vehicle crashes, sudden infant death syndrome, drowning and other unintentional injuries. In the past few years, however, the rates of decline in these deaths have slowed.

We recently took steps to address drowning — the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4 and the third leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 5 to 19. Our new policy statement released in March ( lays out strategies to protect children at each stage of life. And we’re working with family advocates to develop a drowning prevention campaign that includes teaching children “water competency” and making their environments safer.

Calling for product recalls

After it was reported that 32 infant deaths were associated with the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play inclined sleeper, we called on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to begin an immediate product recall. Within four days, the product was off the market and off store shelves.

Keeping children safe from gun violence

We recently made unprecedented progress in our decades-long quest to protect children from gun violence and gun injuries. After 325 AAP members took to Capitol Hill in April to ask for $50 million a year funding for gun violence research, the House Appropriations Committee responded by including $50 million to study firearm injury and mortality prevention in its proposed health care and education funding bill.

A few weeks later, as part of our Gun Safety and Injury Prevention Initiative, we hosted a summit that brought together experts from around the country to protect children and youths against gun injuries and violence. It was a diverse group in terms of cultural, political and gun-owning backgrounds and included pediatricians, researchers, public health experts, faith-based organizations and business and community leaders.

Together, we brainstormed ideas for local and state policies that will form an action agenda.

Moving forward

Just halfway in, 2019 has been a year of great progress and promise. We’ve launched initiatives and forged new relationships to protect the health and safety of children in the U.S. and around the world. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the Academy and to children. I look forward to building on the progress we’ve made and to making the Academy an even more effective and essential force in creating a healthier future.

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