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Philadelphia's New Effort To Reduce Childhood Mortality

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Philadelphia Health Department hopes to reduce the number of child deaths, illnesses and injuries, in just three years, with a new campaign aimed at a small number of avoidable risks.

The effort should eventually lead to healthier adults, as well.

Health Commissioner Tom Farley says the campaign, called "Running Start Health," begins with common children's health problems, sleep-related deaths, delayed development, injuries, asthma, lead exposure, and obesity.

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"These are selected because they represent the major causes of disease or mortality in children or they represent early markers for major causes of disease and mortality in adults," he said. "They're also selected because they're measurable and they're things that we think we can change by the year 2020."

Farley says by eliminating just a dozen risk factors, such as unsafe sleeping or unhealthy diet, they city can lower the occurrence of the problems.

No new spending is needed, Farley notes, just a re-focusing, and buy-in from every agency in the city working with kids.

"It's really a very ambitious goal," he said. "The city can't do it alone. We need to have this be a broad-based community effort."

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