Publications

Social Determinants of Health

Various circumstances such as income, housing quality, and parental mental health comprise the social determinants of health (SDH) and can significantly alter a child’s health and socioeconomic trajectories. This policy brief is written to review current social determinants of health screening tools and provide recommendations for implementing screening into clinical settings.


During the 85th Texas Legislature Session, Center member Dr. Claire Bocchini mentored a cohort of medical students with an expressed interest in child health policy and advocacy. In response to pending legislation, these students reviewed the literature, current policies, and made recommendations concerning issues important to children’s health. Under the guidance of the Center, the following policy briefs were produced:  

  • Perinatal depression (PPD)

Perinatal depression (PPD) is a serious depressive mood disorder that affects mothers during pregnancy and the year following childbirth. While there is no formal collection of PPD diagnoses across the U.S., it is estimated that 10-25% of women suffer from PPD. This policy brief is written to address the needs of mothers impacted by perinatal depression as their health impacts the well-being of their children.

  • Recess

Recess, a designated period within the school day for unstructured physical activity and play, has been significantly reduced for elementary students. Although the state of Texas has recommendations for physical activity, many schools have opted to reduce or suspend recess in exchange for additional instructional time. Reclaim Recess is written to address the cognitive, psychological and physical health benefits of recess and the consequences of state recess policies on children.

  • Vaccines

In the United States, diseases such as polio, smallpox, and diphtheria are almost unknown due to widespread immunizations. However, despite the historical success of vaccines and the overwhelming body of scientific evidence that supports them, myths and misinformation regarding immunizations persist. Vaccinate Texas is written to address the public health implications of vaccines and provide evidence-based recommendations to advance the vaccine climate in Texas.


Issue Briefs

In preparation for the upcoming 86th Texas Legislature Session, Center member will mentor a cohort of undergraduate, public health, and medical students with an expressed interest in child health policy and advocacy. These students will review the literature, current policies, and make recommendations concerning issues important to children’s health. Under the guidance of the Center, the following issues briefs were produced:


Development of an Evidence-Based Early Childhood Development Strategy

Core faculty members completed a systematic review and key informant interviews with local and national experts with a focus on the period from birth to 3 years of age, identifying evidence-based interventions to address early child brain development. The resultant white paper, entitled "Development of an Evidence-Based Early Childhood Development Strategy," was produced and disseminated to relevant stakeholders. Currently the framework and recommendations outlined in the white paper are being incorporated into the work of Early Matters, a coalition of Houston businesses, civic, education, philanthropic, and non-profit organizations whose objective is to support and improve early childhood education.