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Amelie Ramirez

I am director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. I have spent 30 years directing research on human and organizational communication to reduce chronic disease, cancer, and obesity health disparities affecting Latinos.


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Articles by Amelie Ramirez

Tell U.S. Gov’t: We Want Healthy Physical Activity Guidelines for Kids!


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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants your help to shape the next edition of its Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which haven't been updated since 2008. The guidelines recommend how everyone can improve their health with regular physical activity. Now, a new report from the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee shows how higher levels of physical activity among children and adolescents are associated with favorable health outcomes, including heart and muscle fitness, bone health, and weight status. Speak up on to shape the guidelines now! Copy this model public comment developed by our Salud America! research team, click the “submit” button, and paste the comment on health.gov's comments website by April 2, 2018: I support ...

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Tell USDA: We Want Healthier Dietary Guidelines!


Latina girl grocery cart healthy food carrots

The USDA wants your opinion to shape the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans! The guidelines aim to help people choose an overall healthy diet. They have specific nutritional targets and dietary limits for children (ages 2-18), adults (19-64), and older adults (65 and older). Now, for the first time, the guidelines will cover pregnant women and babies (birth to age 2). What do you think the guidelines should recommend? How does it impact Latinos? Speak up! Copy a model public comment developed by our Salud America! research team, click the "submit" button, and paste the comment in the USDA's comments submission website by March 30, 2018. Model Comment: General I urge the USDA and HHS to create the strongest possible Dietary Guidelines to ensure that all kids, parents, ...

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The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review



Abstract Many Latino children are at risk of not getting the proper care, services, and environment they need for healthy formative development. Traumatic early experiences, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and low participation in preschool programs impair Latino children’s social and emotional development, academic achievement, and overall health and wellbeing. But there’s reason for hope. Culturally-sensitive programs and policies can prevent or reduce the effects of traumatic childhood experiences, improve mental health, and boost school readiness. Early childhood development and education programs, breastfeeding and family support, and Latino family values support all have been shown to promote healthy early development. Read the News Release (PDF) Read the ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Future Needs


latino boy learning in early education setting

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Further research is needed to identify the barriers to healthy eating in Latino children and evaluate current and new strategies for improving access and adherence to a healthy diet. Studies should also aim to identify the determinants of ACEs in Latino families and evaluate interventions for preventing ACEs and/or mitigating their harmful effects. The use of administrative data, such as Medicaid claims and other service records, may be useful for these studies and may help to target prevention and early intervention for children with or at risk of ACEs. More research is needed to identify the barriers to and predictors of mental health service use among Latino youth and develop ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Policy Implications


latino kid fixing a toy

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Conclusions Latino children are at increased risk of poor outcomes in many areas of early childhood development. Factors such as socioeconomic status, parenting behaviors, family structure and environment, childhood experiences, and access to early education programs and health services can influence many aspects of child development. High-quality preschool programs, parent-directed support and education, and family-, school- and community-based programs have all been shown to improve developmental outcomes in Latino children. Preventing, identifying, and helping children and families overcome ACEs can impact a child’s social emotional development and chances of school success. ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Strategy—Support Moms


latina mom with baby food bottle

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » The Importance of Latina Mothers Although Latino children are generally well adjusted socially and emotionally, several factors may negatively influence their overall health and wellbeing development. These include poverty and/or large households, immigration status, the country of origin, maternal depression,1,146,147 as well as other factors like breastfeeding initiation and duration.148 Read the Salud America! research review about breastfeeding among Latina mothers.148,149 Approaches are emerging on how to address these issues. For example, mental health interventions can be made available to Latina mothers who are displaying negative thought patterns, including anxiety, ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Strategy—Family Values


latino toddler kids painting

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Social and Emotional Skill-Building Starts in Families Children begin to develop their social and emotional skills through initial interactions with family. Through strong and consistent relationships, they learn the importance of social bonding, connecting to others with empathy, and self-regulating emotions. Young children begin to learn about complex social interactions by receiving responsive caregiving from parents, which often leads to positive outcomes later in life. Latino Kids' Social and Emotional Health & Family Values One study (N = 7,750; 19% Latino) found that although Latino children may demonstrate cognitive gaps compared with white children after age 1, ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Strategy—Reduce Trauma


sad latino boy with mom and doctor

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » The Importance of Preventing, Mitigating Trauma Preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and/or mitigating their harmful effects is critical for improving prospects for early child development, and many programs and interventions have been implemented in this regard. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends early screening for developmental and behavioral problems starting at age 9 months through 3 years.38 The Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! initiative is a federal effort to promote healthy child development through care collaboration and a system-wide approach, and provides screening resources for families, educators, and various healthcare providers.39 Home ...

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