02-19-2017  3:30 pm      •     

WithinReach is trying to get the word out to African American families about the various services they offer and to encourage breast feeding. WithinReach, formerly Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Washington, provides health information and referral services to the people of Washington.
They have four toll-free phone lines: Family Health Hotline, Family Food Hotline, Take Charge Hotline (birth control) and the Healthy Kids Now Hotline (health insurance). The Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children is a program available to pregnant women and post-partum women, infants and children under age of five.
"The goal for WIC is to give children a healthy start," Sasseen said. "People participating in WIC are more likely to be immunized and more likely to get into prenatal care early. We educate and encourage people to use preventative health care and help them find and get it."
WIC families receive monthly food vouchers that are to be spent on healthy foods such as milk, cereal, cheese, eggs and dried beans at their neighborhood grocery store. WIC also provides prenatal, postnatal and breastfeeding support for moms as well as growth monitoring and dental referrals, immunization update information and much more. WIC is meant to support the child and any primary caregiver may enroll the child and bring them to their appointments. Your family may be eligible even if you are working, a single parent or receiving food stamps.
"There are lots of benefits to WIC participation for women and children," said Kristin Sasseen, Heath Services Administrator with the Washington State Department of Health WIC program. "Lower rates of low birth weight, premature births, improved immunization rates, access to prenatal care, lower SIDS rates and the more African American families we get in to WIC the more we can get rid of some of the health disparities in those areas."
Since African American women have a higher rate of prematurely and lower birth weights, a special grant from the regional WIC office added $75,000 to their outreach program to specifically target African Americans. Sasseen said to contact WIC as soon as you know you're pregnant so they can begin their services — not just after the baby's born. Recent studies have shown low birth weights were reduced by 40 percent among WIC participants.
"Children who aren't breast fed have a higher rate of infections, higher rates of infant mortality, more allergies and asthma, are more likely to die of SIDS, more likely to have diabetes later in life, childhood obesity and women who don't breast feed have higher risk for getting breast and cervical cancer," Sasseen said. "A lot of these things that are higher in non-breast fed infants or women who don't breast feed are the exact same things that are high in the African American population."
African American women have the lowest breast feeding rate in the nation. Sasseen said some of that may be due to the fact the community as a whole doesn't support breastfeeding. If the whole community and families knew about the recent research on breastfeeding and the many positive benefits from it that it would dispel the myth that formula is just as good as breast milk when it's not, she added.
"A woman needs a whole community supporting her to breast feed," Sasseen said.
Sasseen said they provide breast pumps for women who need to go back to work. If you are on Medicaid you're automatically eligible for WIC, and some people are still eligible for WIC even if you get a raise at your job, so Sasseen encourages everyone to check the income guidelines even if you think you're not eligible.
"There are consequences when you don't breastfeed," Sasseen said. "There are long and short term health consequences for both you and your child. Anything that would reduce the rate of diabetes would really be something worth doing."
There are 230 WIC sites around the state, so anywhere someone lives there is a WIC clinic close to their home. WIC also has a nutrition and health education program that offers information on healthy eating, budgeting to provide your family with healthy foods and how to give your child a health diet and snacks.
"There aren't very many things you can do for a short period of time that would have a lifelong health consequence but with breastfeeding, you do it for six months to a year, and your impacting your child's health for their whole life and your health for your whole life," Sasseen said.
All it takes to apply is a phone call, and then come in for a 45-minute appointment where they will take your weight and height measurements, take a blood test to make sure you're not anemic and get your health history. WIC employees will tell you right then and there if you are eligible for benefits and if so, you walk out of the office with a check for healthy foods in your hand, no waiting in the mail for them.
For more information on the WIC program and WithinReach, call (800) 322-2588 or visit www.withinreachwa.org. To determine if your family is eligible for services, visit www.parenthelp123.org.

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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