pregnant, woman, happy child

January 7-13, 2018 is Folic Acid Awareness Week. The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (nbdpn.org) promotes this week to increase awareness of the importance of consuming enough folic acid, particularly for pregnant women.

Folic acid is a B-vitamin that is necessary for proper cell growth. If taken before and during early pregnancy from a multi-vitamin or fortified foods, folic acid can prevent from 50% up to 70% of some forms of serious birth defects of the brain and spine.

Experts recommend that women who may become pregnant should take 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid daily, by:

  • taking a daily multi-vitamin or folic acid supplement
  • eating fortified foods like grains, pastas, or breakfast cereals
  • including a variety of foods as part of a healthy diet

The easiest way to be sure to get the recommended daily amount of folic acid is to take a multi-vitamin every day.

More info at: cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/index.html

WHA has more info at our Pre-Pregnancy Checklist

happy girlfriends

Many young women are missing the opportunity to be screened for cervical cancer. As January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, WHA would like to remind you of the importance of cervical cancer prevention and early detection. Cervical cancer, which forms in the tissues of the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina), is almost always caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, which is spread through sexual contact.

Pap Test
Women with early cervical cancers and pre-cancers usually have no symptoms. After the Pap test was introduced in the 1950s, the death rate for cervical cancer patients was greatly reduced because cervical cancer started being detected early, when it is most curable. When cervical cancer is diagnosed early, when it has not spread, the 5-year survival rate is 91%.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that most women ages 21 to 65 get a Pap test once every three years. Women ages 30 to 65 may wait five years between Pap tests if they are tested for HPV at the same time. The HPV test isn’t advised for women under age 30.

HPV Vaccine
HPV is the cause of most cases of cervical cancer, which is why getting this vaccination is so important for young women. The American Cancer Society recommends that the vaccine be given to girls at age 11 to 12. That’s because a woman should get the HPV vaccine before she has any type of sexual contact with another person.

To protect yourself from HPV and cervical cancer:
● Have regular Pap tests
● Get the HPV vaccine
● Use condoms and limit your number of sexual partners
● Don’t smoke
● Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
● Maintain your proper body weight

Depression is Treatable

depression, in dark place

Depression is more than just feeling sad. It’s a serious condition that needs a good recovery plan and a good dose of understanding. With early detection, and a treatment plan that may include medication, therapy and lifestyle choices, many people can start feeling better.

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • loss of interest in most normal activities
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • tiredness and lower energy level
  • anxiety, apathy, restlessness

Managing depression often requires treatment with counseling and possibly medication. If you think you are suffering from depression, it’s always a good idea to discuss with your primary care physician (PCP). You can also self-refer to see a mental health specialist. When self-referring, consider keeping your PCP in the loop so that your medical and mental health services align with your individual needs.

Medication treatment and Follow-up Care:

There are many antidepressant medications available. Screening and evaluation by your PCP or a behavioral health professional is essential prior to prescribing an antidepressant. Taking antidepressant medications as prescribed is a key to successful treatment.

If antidepressants are prescribed, keep these points in mind:

  • Most antidepressants take 4 to 6 weeks before they have an effect, and for their side effects to ease up.
  • When beginning a new medication or changing dosing, it’s important to be followed by your doctor for any unwanted behavior changes the medications may cause.
  • It’s important to continue the medication(s) and keep follow-up visits with your physician. People sometimes want to stop the medication due to feeling side effects, or due to lack of improvement in the short term. These issues should be discussed with your physician so that alternate treatment options can be discussed.

More information on depression from the National Institute of Mental Health.  For info from Western Health Advantage, go to mywha.org/bh.

child playing with toys

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign is a nationwide child injury prevention program dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury. Each year SAFE KIDS observes December as National Safe Toys and Gifts Month.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind this holiday season and year round:

  • Child-age toys: Choose toys appropriate for your child’s age, interests and skill level.
  • Toys with small parts: For children younger than three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking. Use the cardboard core of a toilet paper roll to test for size – if a toy can pass through, it is too small for young children and may cause them to choke if swallowed.
  • Toys with sharp edges: Avoid toys with sharp points or edges. Also avoid toys that produce loud noises, and projectiles (such as darts).
  • Strings, straps or cords: Toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches can pose a risk for strangulation for young children.
  • Electrical toys: Avoid electrical toys with heating elements for children under age 8.
  • Check labels: Check for safety labels that say whether or not a toy is toxic.
  • Scooters and other riding toys: Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and they should be sized to fit.
  • Balloons: Choking causes one third of all toy-related deaths – most often from balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard broken balloons immediately.

Perhaps the most important thing a parent can do is to supervise play.

For additional information about safe toys, visit the National Safe Kids Campaign website.

Click here for more toy safety tips.

santa parade
Western Health Advantage is excited to support the 35th annual Santa Parade, being held Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 10 a.m. in the Downtown District near Capitol Park in Sacramento. The parade route goes around Capitol Park.

The parade is a hometown tradition for spectators and participants alike and we delight in sharing it with the community. We invite you to take part in this fantastic event that supports Sacramento area nonprofits and school performing arts programs.

The Santa Parade has a spirit of its own, embodied by the many wonderful parade entrants – from tuneful marching bands to high-stepping horses, fire trucks to vintage vehicles, skillful twirlers to dazzling floats. The crowd of spectators greets the passing parade with enthusiastic approval. Their smiles and cheers are the perfect expression of the holidays – and a big part of the Santa Parade spirit.

The Santa Parade was established in 1983 to create a signature holiday tradition in the heart of the city for all of Sacramento. It was an immediate success, drawing many thousands of visitors to downtown Sacramento each year.

For more info go to sacholidays.com.


little girl getting vaccinated

It’s not too late to vaccinate – Get your flu vaccine today!

Getting the flu vaccine is simple – and it’s free.*  It’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu and millions of people have been safely receiving flu vaccines for decades.

After November when you see signs that advertise: “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” you might think, “Isn’t it too late for that?” As long as flu viruses are spreading, it’s not too late to get a vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Here are some facts to share with your family:

  • The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months and older.
  • The flu season typically peaks between December and February but significant activity can occur as late as May.
  • The flu causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths.
  • How well the vaccine works can vary but the safety of and benefits from vaccination are well documented.
  • Young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with certain medical conditions are at higher risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death; therefore, they should be vaccinated. To learn more about high risk conditions, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm.
  • Flu Shot Save Children’s Lives, Study Shows (CBS News Story)
  • Sacramento County Free Flu Clinics


Note: For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC recommends only injectable flu shots because there is concern the nasal flu vaccine (FluMist) may not be as effective. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about which vaccine is best for you and your family.


* Coverage for WHA services depends on eligibility at the time of the service.

group running marathon

On Thanksgiving morning Western Health Advantage members and their families will be joining WHA staff and employees as we make up a team participating in the largest Thanksgiving Day run in the country. This event typically has about 30,000 participants! Sponsored by WHA, all proceeds from the Western Health Advantage Run to Feed the Hungry benefit Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

The race/walk starts on J Street just west of the entrance to the Sacramento State campus and runs through the beautiful tree lined streets of East Sacramento. WHA proudly sponsors what has become a family tradition for thousands of area families and their out-of-town guests, as well as a favorite race among elite runners in California.

To find more event information, please visit www.runtofeedthehungry.com.

What: Western Health Advantage Run to Feed the Hungry

When: Thursday, November 23, 2017

Time: 8:15 a.m. – 10K Race; 9:00 a.m. – 5K Race and Walk

Where: California State University, Sacramento main entrance (6000 J Street)

Beneficiary: Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services
Much more than just food, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) offers 14 diverse services, all focusing on education and moving families to self-sufficiency and financial independence. This is made possible through the help of over 6,200 volunteers who contribute more than 65,000 hours every year. SFBFS is unique in that the organization is not based on a traditional food bank model. SFBFS directly serves families in our community and offers a hand up in the form of education, not a hand out, to each individual who seeks assistance. SFBFS is supported through private donors, some grants and special events such as Run to Feed the Hungry. SFBFS provides food, clothing, education and hope to 150,000 men, women and children each month thanks to your support.

%d bloggers like this: