Category Archives: Teen pregnancy

May 1 2013

Public Health News Roundup: May 1

FDA Approves Plan B One-Step for Women 15 and Older
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved over-the-counter use of the Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive for women age 15 years or older. The single dose pill previously required a prescription. “Research has shown that access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD “The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works, how to use it properly, and that it does not prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease.” Last month a federal judge in New York ordered the FDA to make Plan B available to all women and/or make Plan B One-Step available “without age or point of sale restrictions,” according to an FDA release. Read more on teen pregnancy.

Study: Amusement Rides Injure 4,000 U.S. Kids Annually
As the weather warms and families start to plan summer vacations, it’s important for parents to remember to use caution when selecting amusement park rides. More than 4,000 kids are injured on an amusement ride each year in the United States, according to researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Injuries sent about 93,000 children to emergency rooms between 1990 and 2010, with about 70 percent of those coming May through September. Researchers say the numbers demonstrate the need for standardized safety regulations. "Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has jurisdiction over mobile rides, regulation of fixed-site rides is currently left to state or local governments, leading to a fragmented system," said senior author Gary Smith, MD, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, in a release. "A coordinated national system would help us prevent amusement-ride-related injuries through better injury surveillance and more consistent enforcement of standards." The study includes safety tips for parents. Read more on safety.

Prevention App Wins HHS Challenge
The winner of the a recent mobile app challenge from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion is the myfamily app developed by Lyfechannel, a company that translates evidence-based health behavior and adherence studies into mobile applications. App users can find prevention information and tips for each member of their family; create personal health alerts; and keep track of medical check-ups and vaccinations. HHS research shows that patients who are better engaged in their own health care have better health outcomes and that electronic tools can help them be better health consumers. Read more on prevention.

Dec 28 2012

Public Health News Roundup: December 28

Most US Cancer Screening Rates Didn’t Meet Government Goals
Too few Americans are seeking preventive cancer screenings, according to a recent study in Frontiers in Cancer Epidemiology.

Researchers say that reasons for the decline include disagreements among medical professional societies abut which screenings to recommend, and how often, which can be confusing for consumers, and a high rate of uninsured people who would have to pay the full screening costs themselves.

For the study, researchers looked at cancer screening rates for colorectal, breast, cervical and prostate cancer among nearly 175,000 Americans who took part in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey between 1997 and 2010, and found that except for colorectal cancer, which exceeded the screening goal of Healthy People 2010, screening rates fell short of the U.S. goal for the other cancers. Among employed cancer survivors, screening rates met or exceeded goals except for screening rates for cervical cancer.

Read more on prevention 

Poor Reading Rates in Middle School Linked to Higher Rate of Pregnancies among High School Girls
Seventh grade girls who have trouble reading are more likely to get pregnant while they are in high school than average or above-average seventh grade readers, according to a new study in the journal Contraception. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania reviewed standardized test reading scores for 12,339 seventh grade girls from 92 different Philadelphia public schools and tracked the girls, and their scores, over the next six years.

During that period, 1,616 of the teenagers had a baby, including 201 who gave birth two or three times. Among girls who scored below average on their reading tests, 21 percent went on to have a baby as a teenager. That compared to 12 percent who had average scores and five percent of girls who scored above average on the standardized tests.

The researchers say that the link between reading and pregnancy may be that poor academic skills may shape how teens see their future opportunities and have an impact on the risks they take.

Read more on teen pregnancy 

Obesity Declining in Children Ages 2-4
Obesity may be declining among preschool-aged children living in low-income families according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers analyzed data on 27 million children in the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System which includes almost 50 percent of children eligible for federally funded maternal and child health and nutrition programs. The children ranged in age from 2 to 4, and came from thirty states and the District of Columbia. Data collected on children included height, weight and levels of obesity and extreme obesity. The researchers found that the prevalence of obesity increased from 13.05 percent in 1998 to 15.21 percent in 2003. The prevalence of extreme obesity increased from 1.75 percent in 1998 to 2.22 percent in 2003. However, the prevalence of obesity decreased slightly to 14.94 percent in 2010; and the prevalence of extreme obesity decreased to 2.07 percent in 2010.

Read more on obesity 

Dec 26 2012

United Way of Greater Milwaukee: Preventing Teen Pregnancy

United Way of Greater Milwaukee’s If Truth Be Told video on progress reducing teen pregnancies

A study released this fall in the American Journal of Public Health looks at a critical evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention program led by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee. The United Way catalyzed critical partnerships between schools, community organizations and the Milwaukee Health Department to focus on the goal of reducing teen pregnancies.

In 2008, United Way of Greater Milwaukee, together with its partners, made a public commitment to reduce teen births among 15- to 17-year-olds by 46 percent by 2015. In October 2011, the City of Milwaukee and United Way announced the fourth consecutive yearly drop in the teen birth rate, by 13.5 percent, to its lowest level in decades. The current trend indicates that the partners are on track to reach their goal of 30 births per 1,000 (a 46 percent drop) by 2015.

Initiatives to support these goals include:

  • Significant investments in programs through the Healthy Girls project that helps young people understand the consequences of teen pregnancy while also teaching them the skills needed to cope with social pressure to engage in sexual activity.
  • A collaboration with the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin residents to develop content for a youth-focused, website, Baby Can Wait, with medically accurate and age-appropriate content on preventing pregnancy and promoting healthy relationships.
  • United Way worked with Milwaukee Public Schools and other community leaders to revise human growth and development curriculum. Community members were given an opportunity to review the materials and make suggestions about content, and teachers received training in the new curriculum.

NewPublicHealth caught up with Nicole Angresano, Vice President at United Way of Greater Milwaukee, to get her take on the program’s successes and what other communities can learn from them.

NewPublicHealth: What is different about this effort to focus on teen pregnancy for your community?

Read more

Nov 26 2012

Public Health News Roundup: November 26

Study: Many Insurers Not Covering Tobacco Treatments Mandated by Affordable Care Act
Many health insurers are not providing coverage for tobacco cessation treatments mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a new study by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute and commissioned by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids with funding from Pfizer, Inc. Researchers found that many of the policies contained “confusing or conflicting language” that made it difficult for consumers to determine whether cessation treatments are covered by their insurance, according to a Tobacco-Free Kids release. They recommend that federal and state regulators clarify for insurers the requirements under the ACA. "Tobacco use is a leading risk factor for cancer, heart and lung disease and other serious chronic conditions,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Tobacco-Free Kids. “Covering effective tobacco cessation treatments is a smart way for insurers to avoid the cost of future illness, and it is the law." Read more on tobacco.

AAP: Pediatricians Should Prescribe Emergency Contraception in Advance
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that pediatricians provide advance prescriptions for emergency contraception for girls under 17, who are banned by federal law from getting the drug over the counter. This will enable them to get treatment more quickly. "It's just common sense that requiring a prescription is a barrier," said Bill Alpert, chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "If an august and respected medical group like AAP is suggesting providing emergency contraception to minors is OK, that is a big deal." See more on teen pregnancy.

CDC: Number of Kids with Diabetes to Jump Dramatically by 2050
The number of American kids with type 2 diabetes could climb nearly 50 percent by 2050, according to a new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Diabetes Care. Type 1 could increase by about 23 percent. Assuming the rates stay even, in 2050 there could be 203,000 U.S. children with type 1 and 30,000 with type 2. The numbers jump dramatically if the rate current rate increases, demonstrating the need for addressing the causes of diabetes today. "We need to think as a society that diabetes is a public health issue that must be addressed," said Robert Ratner, MD, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association. "In the last century, we've dealt with things like sanitation and clean water as public health issues. Well, the current epidemic of diabetes and the potential growth is a public health risk that we need to address. Even staying where we are is unsustainable." Read more on diabetes.

Apr 11 2012

Public Health News Roundup: April 11

Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups

The U.S. teen birth rate declined 9 percent from 2009 to 2010, reaching a historic low at 34.3 births per 1,000 women age 15 through 19. The rate dropped 44 percent from 1991 through 2010. Teen birth rates by age and race and Hispanic origin were lower in 2010 than ever reported in the United States, and fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since 1946. Read more on sexual health.

Online Tool Estimates Youth Exposure to Alcohol Ads on the Radio

A new online tool from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health determines the extent of exposure to radio alcohol advertisements among young people ages 12 to 20 in 75 different media markets. The free tool is the first service to provide parents, health departments and other key audiences with customizable information on youth exposure to radio alcohol advertising. Read more on alcohol and public health.

Non-cancerous Brain Tumors Linked to Frequent High-dosage Dental X-rays

A new study published in the journal Cancer suggests that risk of meningioma, a potentially debilitating type of non-cancerous brain tumor, was associated with receiving frequent dental X-rays before X-ray dosages were lowered.

Researchers from the Yale University School of Public Health analyzed data from 1,433 patients who were diagnosed with the tumor as well as a control group of 1,350 individuals with similar characteristics who did not have the tumor. The study found that over a lifetime, individuals who developed meningioma were more than twice as likely as those in the control group to report having received "bitewing exams" (which use X-ray film held in place by a tab between the teeth) on a yearly or more frequent basis.

Jan 20 2012

Public Health News Roundup: January 20

New CDC Report: More Than Half of Teenage Girls Who Had Unintended Pregnancies Had Not Used Contraception

Slightly more than half of U.S. teenage girls who had a child between 2004 and 2008, and reported that the pregnancy was unintended, did not use any form of birth control. A third of these respondents didn't think they could get pregnant at the time, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Although the number of teens who get pregnant in the U.S. has fallen in recent years, the U.S. teen birth rate is still the highest of any developed country, with more than 400,000 births in 2009, according to the CDC. Read more on teen pregnancy.

American Lung Association Releases Tenth Annual State of Tobacco Control Report Card

Most states did a poor job of combating tobacco-caused disease in 2011, according to the 2012 State of Tobacco Control report from the American Lung Association. No state passed a strong smokefree air law, and Nevada weakened its existing law. Washington virtually eliminated a tobacco prevention and quit-smoking program, which a recent study found saved the state $5 for every $1 spent from 2000 to 2009. And, for the first year since the Lung Association released the first report in 2003, no state raised its tobacco tax significantly.

The report noted some federal progress:

  • On January 1, 2011, the federal government began offering comprehensive quit-smoking benefits to its millions of employees and their families.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in June that the government will give states partial reimbursement for quit-smoking counseling services provided to Medicaid enrollees through state quit lines.

Read more on tobacco and public health laws.

HHS Funds to Help Low-income Households With Energy Costs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service is releasing more than $863 million to help low-income households with their heating and other home energy costs. Read up on health and housing.

Dec 30 2011

Top 10 NewPublicHealth Posts of 2011

It's been an exciting year for us at NewPublicHealth! We launched in March, and nine months, nine conferences and 568 posts later, we are ready to ring in the new year.

Here's a glimpse into the inaugural year of NewPublicHealth, and the top posts by popularity.

  1. Power of Health IT for Public Health: A NewPublicHealth Q&A With Farzad Mostashari. This piece was a conversation with the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), about the evolving public health informatics field.
  2. Dr. Douglas Jutte: My Patient's Most Pressing Health Concern Was a Broken Carburetor. Dr. Jutte provided a personal commentary on how unmet social needs—like access to nutritious food, transportation assistance and housing assistance—were sometimes the most critical in treating his patients. (Also check out a round-up of reader responses to this post.)
  3. Public Health and the Community Benefit: A NewPublicHealth Q&A With Abbey Cofsky. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that non-profit hospitals, starting in 2012, perform a community health needs assessment, and that the assessment serve as the foundation of an implementation plan to address identified needs. NewPublicHealth spoke with Abbey Cofsky, program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, about the public health opportunities this provision offers.
  4. The National Prevention Strategy: A NewPublicHealth Q&A With Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. Upon its launch, we spoke with the Surgeon General about the nation's plan for increasing the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.
  5. Teen Birthrates Down in U.S. But Still Lag Behind Other Developed Nations. This article looked at the April Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the latest stats on teen childbirth, such as, "Girls born to teen mothers are about 30% more likely to become teen mothers themselves."
  6. Health Literacy: Reducing the Burden of a Complex Healthcare System. During Health Literacy Month, NewPublicHealth caught up with Linda Harris of the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and Cindy Brach of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality about federal efforts to improve health literacy and to reduce the burden of a complex healthcare system.
  7. The County Health Rankings 2011: Mobilizing Action to Improve Health. NewPublicHealth's very first post announced the second annual County Health Rankings, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute that provides a standard way for counties to see where they are doing well and where they are not so they can make changes to improve health.
  8. What to Expect at the Health Data Initiative Forum: A Q&A With Todd Park. The Forum, presented by HHS and the Institute of Medicine, convened more than 500 people to showcase how health data can provide a rich seeding ground for new tools to support more informed decision-making by consumers, healthcare systems and community officials. NewPublicHealth spoke with Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer at HHS, to get his take on health innovation.
  9. HHS Leading Health Indicators: Health By Some New Numbers. NewPublicHealth was on the ground at the APHA Annual Meeting covering top news, including the announcement of the latest Leading Health Indicators from HHS, a set of the top national high-priority health issues and actions that can be taken to address them.
  10. Housing Policy is Health Policy: A NewPublicHealth Q&A With HUD's Raphael Bostic. Raphael Bostic of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spoke with NewPublicHealth about the role of housing in health, and new collaborations across sectors that recognize that providing healthier, more affordable housing can lead to significant health outcomes.

Runners up included Q&As with CDC Director Thomas Frieden and Virginia Comonwealth University researcher Steven Woolf; a post on public health mobile phone apps and a commentary on the popular movie Contagion.

These were just a handful of the conversations that captured our readers' interests this year. Keep reading in 2012 for the latest in public health and new ways to prevent disease and health crises where they begin—in our communities.

Thanks for reading and for your always insightful comments. Have a happy, healthy New Year and we'll see you in 2012!

Nov 28 2011

Pediatrics: Public Health Updates

Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reports on some key public health concerns for children and teens in the current issue, published online today.

Vaccinating Children Against Chickenpox Also Helps Protect Babies Not Yet Eligible for the Vaccine

Giving the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine to children 12 months of age and older has significantly increased protection for infants too young for the shot, according to a study in the December 2011 issue of Pediatrics. The researchers say that before varicella vaccination began for children 12 months of age and older in 1995, infants were four times more likely to die from a varicella infection compared to children ages 1 to 14 years. Researchers tracked cases in children under 1 year of age from 1995 to 2007 and found that the infections declined by 90 percent even though infants were not eligible for the vaccine. The researchers say that because exposure to the virus continues to occur, improving vaccination coverage in all age groups will further reduce the risk for infants. Get more vaccine news.

Preventing and Treating Flat Head Syndrome in Babies

The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that infants sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, has resulted in an increase of reports of babies with positional skull deformities (flat heads). The AAP has issued a revised clinical report to help pediatricians differentiate between infants with positional skull deformities and infants with a more serious condition that can lead to neurological damage or severe deformity. According to the report, most positional skull deformities can be corrected with physical therapy and noninvasive measures and special helmets—which can costs hundreds to thousands of dollars and are often not covered by insurance—are rarely necessary. The AAP says that if the condition appears to be worsening by 6 months, referrals should be made to pediatric neurosurgeons to decide if intervention is needed. Read more on maternal and infant health.

AAP Issues Booster Dose Recommendations for Meningococcal Vaccine

The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that in addition to teens receiving a meningococcal vaccine at age 11 or 12, a booster shot should also be given at age 16. Adolescents who get their first dose of meningococcal vaccine at or after 16 years of age do not need a booster dose. Additional booster recommendations are included in the policy statement for children who received the vaccine earlier due to certain health conditions and who are at increased risk of disease.

AAP Encourages Pediatricians to Talk to Adolescent Boys about Sexual Health and Health Care

A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages pediatricians to discuss age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health issues with adolescent male patients during routine office visits. The report also urges the physicians to deliver appropriate sexual and reproductive health care—including taking a sexual history, conducting an examination, administering vaccinations and providing age-appropriate guidance related to sex, relationships and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, HIV and unintended pregnancy. Read more on sexual health and teen pregnancy.

Healthcare for Young Adults in Prison

A policy statement just released by the American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that incarcerated youth are entitled to the same standards of medical and mental health care as their peers in the community. The policy statement stresses that clinicians caring for incarcerated youth should have training and expertise in pediatrics or adolescent medicine. According to the policy statement, youth in the juvenile justice system should receive:

  • A comprehensive history and physical exam
  • Dental screening
  • Mental health screening for psychiatric illness, substance abuse and neurological and developmental disorders
  • HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing
  • Pregnancy screening for all girls beyond the age of puberty

The policy statement also points out that that youth in prison have higher rates of substance abuse and mental health disorders and urges pediatricians to advocate for interventions that will be linked to continued care in the community following prison release.

Nov 18 2011

Public Health News Roundup: November 18

U.S. Teen Birth Rate Hits Record Low

The birth rate for U.S. teens age 15 to 19 years hit a record low in 2010, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, the birth rate for teenagers in this age group has declined for the last three years and 17 out of the past 19 years, falling to 34.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in 2010. That’s a 9 percent decline from 2009 and the lowest rate ever recorded in nearly seven decades of collecting data. And birth rates for younger and older teenagers and for all race/ethnic groups reached historic lows in 2010, according to the report. Read more on teen pregnancy.

Exponential Growth Rate Predicted for Americans 90 and Older

By 2050, the number of people 90 and older may reach 9 million, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, commissioned by the National Institute on Aging. In 1980, there were 720,000 people aged 90 and older in the United States. By 2010, there were 1.9 million people aged 90 and older. Read more on the health of older adults.

More Than 100,000 Physicians Will Get Electronic Health Records

More than 100,000 primary care providers have signed up to adopt certified electronic health records with help from Regional Extension Centers, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). ONC is supporting investment in electronic health record in hopes they will help improve quality of care and ultimately lower health care costs. Read more on health technology and public health informatics.

Sep 27 2011

Public Health News Roundup: September 27

New Report Finds More People Worldwide Overweight than Hungry

The World Disasters Report from the International Federation of the Red Cross finds the number of overweight people in the word—one billion—tops the 925 million who are undernourished.

Not Enough Sleep Increases Risky Behaviors in Teenagers

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that 70 percent of high school students get less than the recommended eight hours of sleep per night for this age group, based on responses to the 2007 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Students who reported insufficient sleep were more likely to engage in health-risk behavior than students who reported sufficient sleep, including low physical activity, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, physical fights and unsafe sexual behavior.

New Vaccine Recommendations

The current issue of Pediatrics includes articles that detail new recommendations for the polio, Tdap and Hepatitis B vaccines. This update brings the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations in line with those of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Some of the new recommendations include:

  • Hepatitis A vaccine for all household members and close contacts of an adopted child from a country with high rates of hepatitis A.
  • A single dose of Tdap for children 7 through 10 years of age who were under-immunized or who have an incomplete vaccine history.
  • Vaccinations for adults at risk of exposure and new guidelines for immunocompromised children.