Elaine Korry

A single question asked at an annual checkup — whether parents have trouble making ends meet — could help pediatricians identify children at risk for serious health problems associated with poverty and the chronic levels of stress that often accompany it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges members to ask if their patients' families are struggling financially and then commit to helping them get the resources they need to thrive. And some communities are trying to make that happen.

Addiction is a pediatric disease," says Dr. John Knight, founder and director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Boston Children's Hospital. "When adults entering addiction treatment are asked when they first began drinking or using drugs, the answer is almost always the same: They started when they were young — teenagers," said Knight.

Efforts to protect children in foster care from being inappropriately medicated with powerful antipsychotic drugs got a big boost forward on Tuesday, when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills into law designed to reform prescribing.

Overprescribing of psychiatric meds for foster youth is a persistent problem nationwide, with children given the drugs at double or triple the rate of those not in foster care.

By the time DeAngelo Cortijo was 14, he had been in more than a dozen foster homes. He had run away and lived on the streets for months, and he had been diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders, attachment disorder, intermittent explosive disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder. He had been in and out of mental hospitals and heavily medicated.

Cortijo, who was born in San Francisco, was taken from his mother after she attempted suicide when he was 3.