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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

Latino Childhood Development Research: Strategy—Early Care

early care preschool program with diverse kids

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » The Benefits of ECE Programs for Kids Children who participate in high-quality early care and education (ECE) programs experience a range of immediate and long-term cognitive and health benefits, with the greatest impact seen in low-income populations.98 Although extensive literature is available on the long-term effects of Head Start and other early childhood development programs on black and white children, the effects of these programs on Latino populations have mostly been ignored.125 Additionally, nearly 40 years ago, it was recognized that cultural differences exist among the different Spanish-speaking people and that different subgroups should be analyzed separately. ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Early Care and Education

latino toddler boy shapes in preschool

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Latino Kids Start Developmentally Behind their Peers Although Latino children may be of similar weight at birth and equally able to thrive in the first 2 years of life compared with white children,96 their ability to reason and remember tasks (cognitive processing skills), verbally communicate, and identify letters, numbers, and shapes (preliteracy skills) lessens significantly by age 24 months, and these disparities appear even more prevalent in Mexican-American children than in other Latino subgroups.1 In general, a 15- to 25-percentage point gap exists for Latino children relative to their white peers.97 Children who start behind in kindergarten often stay behind. See more in ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Healthy Lifestyles

Latina mom eating healthy food with child

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Latino Kids Have Limited Access to Healthy Foods Pediatric obesity is an important public health issue. Targeted efforts to curb child obesity rates are necessary, especially among Latino children, as this sub-group is more likely to become overweight before entering elementary school than children of other ethnic groups.11 Obesity in Latino children increases health risk factors and can also impact school performance.11,54 A main contributor of overweight and obesity in Latino children may be their limited access to healthy food. See the full Salud America! research review on Latino children and healthy food access.10 Some recent study results appear mixed on this ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Childhood Trauma

sad latino kids in a truck

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Growing up feeling safe, secure, and loved is essential for the healthy development of all children.14 Nationally, over 46% of U.S. youth—34 million children under age 18—have had at least one ACE, and more than 20% have had at least two.15 By age 6, 70% of children in a sample of families investigated for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have ACEs that may have negative effects on many aspects of their developmental.8,9,16,17 ACEs may include parental domestic violence, substance use disorder, mental illness, criminal justice involvement, child abuse and/or neglect, poverty/homelessness, and parental death, among others.18 Multiple studies have shown that ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Introduction & Methods

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Introduction Childhood development is a dynamic, interactive process that is not predetermined by genetics, but is hindered by lack of proper care, services, and support. Proper childhood development is critical because 90 percent of brain development occurs by age 5. Latino childhood development is particularly important because Latinos make up 26 percent of US children younger than 5. The Latino population is one of the fastest-growing U.S. demographics, yet 12 million Latinos live below the poverty level.1–3 As such, many Latino children are at risk of not receiving the care and services they need during their formative years, which may have negative effects on their early ...

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Building Support for Latino Families: A Research Review

Abstract Many Latino families suffer a big lack of access to support for economic and educational success, and quality healthcare. This makes it harder for Latino kids to achieve academically, socially, and physically. Fortunately, there is reason for hope. Research shows that providing whole-family programs and policies that benefit parents and children can create supportive environments for Latinos. Leaders also can promote availability of and access to early care and education programs. They can enhance access to healthcare and services, and programs and policies to reduce time in poverty. They can turn schools into resource hubs to support Latino children and parents. Read the News Release (PDF) Read the Issue Brief (PDF) Explore "Family Support" success stories and ...

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Family Support Research: Disconnected Latino Parents

fam support working - active parents

This is part of our Building Support for Latino Families: A Research Review » Kids Do Better with Parents Active in Their Education Whether we are discussing infant care, preschool, grade school, or high school in the United States, students whose parents are actively engaged in their education fare better academically, socially, and economically.62–67 Active parent participation and interest in a child’s education promotes internalization of specific social and academic goals, and makes education a priority for the student and for the family. In fact, parental engagement has been used to explain some of the heterogeneity in educational outcomes for children from low-income Latino communities, such that greater parental involvement results in better academic and behavioral ...

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Family Support Research: Latino Medical Homes

family support future - medical homes

This is part of our Building Support for Latino Families: A Research Review » The Benefits of Medical Homes What can be done to make medical offices more accessible and comfortable for low-income Latino individuals? Recent research has introduced the concept of patient-centered “medical homes” as a model of high-quality primary care that can eliminate disparities.8 Defined by key structural practice features, the medical home provides “enhanced access for routine primary care, improved delivery of preventive services, high-quality chronic disease management, and reduced emergency department and hospital utilization.”120 While still in the early stages of broad application and assessment, the theory behind the medical home model is appealing for application in ...

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Family Support Research: Promotores de Salud

fam support working - promotores promotora

This is part of our Building Support for Latino Families: A Research Review » Language as a Predictor of Use of Health Services Cultural beliefs regarding mental illness are not the only barriers to use of health services. Language is an important predictor of use of mental health services, and the effectiveness of treatment for Latino individuals.19 In the particularly sensitive fields of psychology and psychiatry, a lack of bilingual and bicultural providers severely affects service uptake and outcomes. The problem of language in mental health care has two sides: first, use of interpreters or non-fluent providers can result in literal misunderstandings and loss of nuanced understanding of emotions and reactions; second, lack of genuine understanding of the patient’s ...

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