NPHW Day 1: Be Healthy From the Start

April 7-13, 2014 is National Public Health Week. Each day this week we will look at another aspect of public health, courtesy of the NPHW Daily Themes.

Be Healthy From the Start

Public health starts at home. From family nutrition and maternal health to safety precautions and disaster preparedness, the first step the community takes toward public health are in the comfort of their own home. Empower your community to take action at home through better meal planning, conducting safety upgrades and preparing for emergencies.

Did you know?

  • Breastfeeding is recommended for at least the first year of a child’s life, and exclusively for the first 6 months. Longer lifetime durations of breastfeeding are associated with decreased risks of maternal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition, longer durations of breastfeeding are associated with decreased risk of many common childhood infections and sudden infant death syndrome, as well as chronic conditions in offspring such as obesity, Type 1 diabetes, and leukemia. [1]
  • Prenatal care can help keep mothers and their babies healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. [2]
  • Globally, an estimated 43 million preschool children were overweight or obese in 2010, a 60 percent increase since 1990. And children’s early-life experiences, such as lack of breast feeding, too-little sleep and too-much television can increase the risk of obesity later in life. That’s why early child care providers have such a crucial role to play in turning around the obesity epidemic. [3]
  • Nearly one-third of all students in the United States do not graduate from high school on time. It’s a destructive cycle: Students who don’t graduate face lifelong health risks and high medical costs, and they are more likely to engage in risky health behaviors. They are less likely to be employed and insured, and they earn less — all of which continues the cycle of poverty and disparities. [4]

Start Here:

  • The most effective way to encourage breastfeeding among soon-to-be or new mothers is education. Encourage growing families in your community to attend educational seminars on breastfeeding that outline best practices and benefits.
  • Share resources such as informational videos and websites with new mothers on breastfeeding. For example: or
  • Work with local businesses to set up breastfeeding centers for their employees.
  • Start a support group for new mothers to share their experiences and create a sense of community. Public health professionals can help answer questions or provide resources for breastfeeding, prenatal health and other topics related to family health.
  • Child care providers are in a unique position to initiate healthy eating and exercise habits among young children and encourage similar behavior at home. Create an information-sharing group with local child care facilities and schools to distribute information on healthy eating for young children.
  • Create local events in your community for families that focus on healthy eating and nutrition. Invite families to share healthy recipes or talk about ways to make household favorites more nutritious.
  • School-based health centers provide excellent, accessible health care and information for students across the country.  The next step in helping local students is working to reduce dropout rates. Collaborate across  schools and their surrounding communities to bolster educational success. [5]
  • Work with local schools and community centers to develop after-school programs to help at-risk students with homework. Partner with a local university to identify volunteers to serve as tutors or mentors to students. Share tips and insights from national reports such as Building a Grad Nation:

[1] APHA Endorses the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,

[4] APHA Center for School, Health and Education,