Health care briefs: Positive metrics for youth; dental health in the spotlight


Department of Health touts improving metrics among New Mexico youth

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) said it has seen improved health outcomes in key areas for New Mexico’s youth, including reduced rates of obesity, pregnancy, smoking and others. Two recent reports from NMDOH highlight improved health status and outcomes throughout the state.

Teen pregnancy rates for young women and girls between 15 and 17 years old have declined to their lowest rate in decades, officials said. “Although there are still disparities among Hispanics and American Indians, the teen birth rate continues to decline across all races and ethnicities,” the NMDOH said.

Cigarette smoking among teenagers has declined to almost one in 10, the lowest rate ever recorded in New Mexico. Cigarette smoking has also declined in Hispanics, American Indians and African-Americans.

New Mexico’s childhood obesity rate continues to trend downward as most other U.S. states have experienced increases.

Other highlights include the percent of low- and moderate-income mothers and infants in the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program who initiate breastfeeding rose from 76.5 percent to 81.4 percent. New Mexico also ranked 10th best in the nation with a childhood immunization coverage level of 75.9 percent, a significant increase from 45.8 percent in 2009.

According to officials, the reports are designed to help “inform, educate and empower community, state and tribal partners and policymakers to use in the design and implementation of effective strategies to continue to improve health outcomes and decrease health disparities in New Mexico.”

More information is at

Children’s dental health takes the spotlight in February

February is “National Children’s Dental Health Month,” and the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is encouraging parents to help their children develop good oral health habits at an early age.

“Prevention is key to healthy teeth and gums,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “Parents, caregivers, teachers and school nurses can help protect their children’s smiles by practicing good oral health care from eating healthy foods, brushing for two minutes twice a day, flossing daily and seeing a dentist for regular checkups.”

Recognizing the importance of children’s oral health, Gov. Susana Martinez proclaimed February 2017 as “Children’s Oral Health Month” in New Mexico.

Officials say the department’s Office of Oral Health contracts with dental health care providers throughout the state to provide treatment to low-income and uninsured New Mexicans. The services include dental sealants, fluoride varnish and treating dental diseases.

To reduce your child’s risk of tooth decay, the Department of Health recommends:

• Helping your children develop good brushing and flossing habits.

• Eating healthy foods.

• Limiting consumption of sugary foods and drinks.

• Limiting between-meal snacks.

• Scheduling regular dental visits.

More information is available at


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