Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

If you were to ask a group of parents today if they agree with the idea of spanking their kids, you would probably get a mixed response. The issue of spanking remains widely debated, despite growing evidence that shows physical discipline can pose serious risks to kids.

Seth Werkheiser / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When I was a kid, one of the highlights of the school year was when a classmate would bring in cupcakes to celebrate their birthday.

That has changed with my own daughter. Her elementary school only allows healthy birthday treats or an appropriate alternative, like pencils or stickers.

baby feet
Gabi Menashe / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The rate of babies born prematurely in the U.S. worsened for the first time in eight years, according to the latest March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card released this week.

Baby yawning
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Parents should share a room with their babies for at least the first six months of their lives, according to updated guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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It's officially fall. The leaves are changing colors. Cooler temperatures on the way. And if you're like me, you're about to crank up the thermostat.

But for many low-income families, the heating season presents a "heat or eat" dilemma. They are forced to choose between buying food and paying for utilities.

mom and son in front of house
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

It isn’t easy to kick a drug or alcohol addiction. In 2013, there were an estimated 21.6 million people with substance abuse disorders. Only 18% of them got any kind of treatment.

If you’re a mother or a pregnant woman, getting clean can be even tougher. But there are an increasing number of programs that are trying to break down some of the barriers these women face. I drove to Richmond, Michigan to visit one program that's trying to make it easier for those women to get the help they need. 

asthma inhaler
Christian Guthier / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

About 24 million people in the U.S. suffer from asthma. And more than 6 million of them are children.

The percentage of U.S. kids with asthma doubled in the 1980s and 1990s. And it continued to increase steadily until the trend changed in 2013, according to NPR.

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Child hunger is a problem that is widespread across the country. About 1 in 5 kids in the U.S. live in "food insecure" households, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

School is back in session.

That means millions of kids nationwide – about 500,000 in Michigan – who rely on free and reduced-priced school meals are once again receiving them.

Those meals make a huge difference for the millions of families that struggle with hunger at home.

But here's some good news.

A Health Blog / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

As many as one in five kids in the U.S. shows signs of a mental health disorder like anxiety, depression, or ADHD. And nearly 80% of those who need mental health services won't get them, according to NPR.

Left untreated, these disorders can lead to failure in school, behavioral problems, and in the most extreme cases, suicide.