Category Archives: Disability

May 30 2012

Public Health News Roundup: May 30

Improvements in U.S. Women’s Life Span Slows

A new analysis of mortality data from the University of Washington School of Public Health has found that the life span for women in the United States is improving at a much slower rate than men’s. Researchers analyzed population data by gender, race and county from 1989 to 2009 and found that in 661 counties, primarily in the southeast, the life spans of women had stopped increasing or actually decreased. There are about 3,000 U.S. counties in total.

According to the review, men on average now live to 76.2 years while women live to 81.3 years. That was a gain of 4.6 years for men over the last 20 years, but a gain of only 2.7 years for women. Factors cited by the researchers for the reported changes include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and tobacco and alcohol use. Read about related county-level data from the County Health Rankings, which ranks the health of nearly every county in the nation and shows that much of what affects health occurs outside of the doctor’s office.

Disability Employment Contest Winners Announced

The Campaign for Disability Employment, a collaborative of disability and business organizations, has selected the winners in a contest that called for videos to showcase skills offered by people with disabilities, and common misconceptions about disability employment. Among the winners: a video about a disabled school cafeteria employee, Margaret, who helped a child who was choking. Watch the videos and vote for your favorites. The two top winners receive $250 each. Read more on disability.

Poison Centers Issue Warning on Single-Use Laundry Products

Poison centers throughout the nation are reporting an uptick in calls about young children swallowing single-use packets of laundry detergent. Some children have become very ill and required hospitalization. “The rapid onset of significant symptoms is pretty scary,” said Dr. Michael Beuhler, medical director of the Carolinas Poison Center. “Other laundry detergent [products] cause only mild stomach upset or even no symptoms at all. Although we aren't certain what in the product is making the children sick, we urge all parents and caregivers to make sure laundry detergent packs are not accessible to young kids.”

  • Read a fact sheet from the Association of Poison Control Centers on the growing concern, which includes a photo of the packaging.
  • Read a use guide on the single-use products, including several warnings, from a laundry product trade association.

Read more on product safety.

Mar 9 2012

ReelAbilities: Appreciating the Lives, Stories and Challenges of People With Disabilities


Missed the Reelabilities Film Festival in New York, Washington or Philadelphia? The festival, which features invited films showing the lives, loves, triumphs and challenges of individuals and artists with different disabilities, is on the road with festivals planned for Chicago in April and Richmond in May, along with other cities later this year.

The three-year old festival grew out of a meeting of agencies in New York City that serve people with disabilities to help “widen the definition of community and broaden the notion of inclusion,” says Anita Altman, founder of the festival, and Deputy Managing Director, Department of Government and External Affairs of UJA-Federation, an umbrella group in New York City for services to the Jewish and greater community. Altman is also founder of the organization’s Task Force on People with Disabilities. At that meeting, says Altman, the group realized it could be a change agent for society and chose film as the vehicle.

Altman says a key goal of the festival is a greater acceptance and understanding in society of people with disabilities, says Altman. A key element of the festival is that the goal goes far beyond simply screening films. Each showing includes a “talkback” about the film and its lessons learned. “It’s about helping to raise consciousness,” says Altman.

Read more

Feb 28 2012

Public Health News Roundup: February 28

Hearing Loss May Be a Risk Factor for Falls

Hearing loss may be a risk factor for falls, according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers, including Frank Lin, MD, PHD, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, looked at data from the National Health Examination Survey and found that for about 2,000 participants ages 40 to 69, those with a 25-decibel (mild) hearing loss were nearly three times more likely than those without hearing loss to have a history of falling. The researchers found that for every additional 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling rose by 1.4 fold.

And research published earlier this month by Dr. Lin found that although an estimated 26.7 million Americans age 50 and older have hearing loss, only about one in seven uses a hearing aid. Read more on the health of older adults.

Pediatrics Update: Sports Injury Prevention, HPV and Active Video Games

The current issue of Pediatrics looks at three important issues:

  • A revised policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends prevention of baseball and softball throwing injuries by instructing kids on proper throwing mechanics, training and conditioning, and encouraging kids to stop playing and seek treatment when signs of overuse injuries arise.
  • A second revised policy statement on HPV Vaccine Recommendations recommends use of the HPV vaccine in both males and females at 11 to 12 years of age.
  • Children who were given active video games were not more physically active than those given inactive games, according to a new study in Pediatrics. Providing explicit instructions to use the active games did seem to lead to increased physical activity, however.

Read more children's health news.

New Flu Virus Discovered in Guatemalan Bats

A new influenza A virus discovered in fruit bats in Guatemala doesn't appear to pose a current threat to humans, but should be studied as a potential source for human influenza, according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Catch up on this year's flu news.

HUD Releases Charges on Discrimination Against Home Buyers With Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it is charging Bank of America with discriminating against home buyers with disabilities. HUD alleges that Bank of America imposed unnecessary and burdensome requirements on borrowers who relied on disability income to qualify for their home loans and required some disabled borrowers to provide physician statements to qualify for home mortgage loans. Read more on disability.


Feb 20 2012

Recommended Reading: Travel Tips for Older or Disabled Travelers

NewPublicHealth writers are on the road a lot, so we appreciated a recent column in The New York Times, that offered helpful ideas for older flyers. Truth is, many of the tips—carts to speed you to your gate, ordering a wheel chair from an airline, small fees for early boarding and storage room—are available to anyone who flies, and may also be beneficial to disabled travelers.

Bonus Travel Tips:

  • Many more airports than listed in the article have golf carts to get you to the gate; stay to the side of the corridors and flag one down. You’ll need to show a ticket for a flight that day.
  • No mobility problems? For some extra physical activity, skip the tram or train and walk to the gate. At some airports, that can get you a walk of a quarter mile or more.

Jan 18 2012

Public Health News Roundup: January 18

New Studies Find Obesity Rate Holding Steady

Two new studies released yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that in 2009 and 2010, about one in three adults and one in six kids and teens were obese. The rates, reported by researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics represent no change from 2007 and 2008 figures and only a slight increase among specific demographics over rates from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Read more obesity news.

NIH to Fund Four Centers on Child and Teen Learning Disabilities

The National Institutes of Health is providing funding for four centers in different parts of the U.S. to conduct research on the causes and treatment of learning disabilities in children and adolescents. Read more on disability.

DOT Provides $40 Million in Funding to Help Improve Conditions at National Parks, Forests and Refuges

The Department of Transportation is allocating $40 million to help provide safe, convenient access for visitors to national parks, forests and wildlife refuges, and modernize aging transportation infrastructure. Projects range from redesigning and widening the Nauset Bicycle Trail at Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts to purchasing new buses to transport visitors between Sausalito and the Muir Woods National Monument in California. Read more on transportation and health.

Dec 30 2011

Public Health News Roundup: December 30

Build-A-Bear Announces Teddy Bear Recall

National retailer Build-A-Bear Workshop has announced a nationwide recall of “Colorful Hearts Teddy” stuffed toy bears sold between April and December 2011. The company says the bears were made using a substandard fabric that can cause the fabric around the bears’ eyes to tear, and for the eyes to fall out, posing a choking hazard. Nearly 300,000 bears were sold. Read more safety stories.

Federal Nursing Home Comparison Tool to Include Resident Data

Nursing Home Compare, a federal comparison tool to help potential residents and their families compare quality and amenities at nursing homes, will add resident reviews to the site in April 2012. Read more on the health of older adults.

GAO Report: Students with Disabilities Face Barriers Taking Postsecondary Exams

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that people with disabilities often face barriers getting the legally mandated accommodations they need when taking postsecondary exams such as GREs required for many graduate school programs and LSATs needed to apply to most law schools. Members of Congress have already sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an investigation. Get the latest news impacting the health of people with disabilities.

Los Angeles Vote Will Consider Requiring Condoms in Adult Films

A proposed ballot measure that would require actors in pornographic movies to wear condoms while filming in the city of Los Angeles has qualified for the June ballot, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The measure is intended to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS among people involved in the adult film industry. Read up on sexual health.

Dec 7 2011

Public Health News Roundup: December 7

Rise in Knee Replacements among U.S. Older Adults

A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that an increase in knee replacements among older adults is tied to a rise in average body mass index (BMI) rates. Read more on obesity.

Teens Follow Parents’ Example When It Comes to Driving Under the Influence

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that 16- and 17-year-olds living with parents who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol are far more likely to drive under the influence than adolescents whose parents do not. Read up on substance abuse news.

HRSA Report on Children with Special Health Needs Finds Significant Disparities

The Health Resources Services Administration has published the first-ever report to compare the health and well-being of children with special health care needs to those children without. The report finds that 14 to 19 percent of children in the U.S. have a special health care need. Key findings show that kids with special health needs are:

  • more likely than other children to have consistent insurance, but the insurance is less likely to meet their needs, and they are less likely to receive care that meets criteria for having a medical home;
  • less likely to be engaged in school, more likely to repeat a grade and miss more than two weeks of school due to illness;
  • more likely to be overweight or obese;
  • more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke at home.

Get more information on health disparities.

Sep 20 2011

Public Health News Roundup: September 20

U.S. and WHO Agreement to Help Prevent Global Public Health Risks

The United States and the World Health Organization have signed a memorandum of understanding to help developing nations strengthen their capabilities to support the International Health Regulations. The regulations are an international agreement that requires WHO member countries to prevent and respond to public health risks that have the potential to cross borders and threaten people around the world.

HHS Task Force Releases Recommendations on Health Text Messaging

A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services task force released recommendations yesterday on using text messaging to convey health information. The recommendations include development of HHS-sponsored health text message libraries, creating partnerships to develop and disseminate health text messages, and integration of health text messaging with other HHS health information technology priorities such as electronic health records, cloud computing and health games.

Read more

Aug 5 2011

Public Health News Roundup: August 5

Deal on Debt Ceiling Could Force Steep Cuts to Health Care Funding

An overview from Kaiser Health News explains the health spending cuts that could be triggered by the recent Congressional vote on the debt ceiling.

Eating Healthy Is Expensive

A new study by researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health and published in the journal Health Affairs found that increasing consumption of potassium, one of the nutrients recommended by the federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, ups food costs per year by close to $400. Increasing consumption of foods with added fat and sugar, according to the study, results in lowered food costs.

The Challenge of Post-Disaster Cleanup in an Eco-Friendly World

States cleaning up from floods and other disasters must be mindful of the environment, and restrictions that protect it, when cleaning up the mess, according to an article in the New York Times.

Labor Department Announces Project to Help Increase Employment of People with Disabilities

The Department of Labor has announced about $1.6 million in funding for an initiative called “Add Us In,” designed to increase employment of people with disabilities, according to a news release. The initiative focuses on increasing companies' ability to employ individuals with disabilities, particularly businesses owned and operated by African-Americans; Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders; Latinos; members of federally recognized tribes and Native Americans; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals; and women. Applications will be accepted until September 2.

Jul 27 2011

Recommended Reading: Assuring Health Equity for Minority Persons with Disabilities

In observance of the 21st anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Office of Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released a new report, Assuring Health Equity for Minority Persons with Disabilities.

The report makes five recommendations for improving the health of minorities with physical disabilities:

  • Raise awareness about minorities with disabilities
  • Recognize disability as a fundamental component of cultural competency
  • Require competency for all health care providers and professionals
  • Improve research and practice on disabilities in minority populations
  • Strengthen the health care workforce to ensure high quality care for people with disabilities