Category Archives: Injury Prevention
The NewPublicHealth National Prevention Strategy series is underway, including interviews with Cabinet Secretaries and their National Prevention Council designees, exploring the impact of jobs, transportation and more on health. “Stable Jobs = Healthier Lives” tells a visual story on the role of employment in the health of our communities.
- Since 1977, the life expectancy of male workers retiring at age 65 has risen 6 years in the top half of the income distribution, but only 1.3 years in the bottom half.
- 12.3 million Americans were unemployed as of October 2012.
- Laid-off workers are 54% more likely to have fair or poor health, and 83% more likely to develop a stress-releated health condition.
- There are nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries each year.
- The United States is one of the few developed nations without universal paid sick days.
View the full infographic below.
Survey: 34 Percent of Smokers Trying to Quit in 2013
About 34 percent of American smokers have selected quitting as one of their 2013 New Year’s resolutions, up from 18 percent last year, according to a new study conducted on behalf of Legacy. Health factors and the cost of cigarettes were both cited as reasons. It takes an average of six to nine attempts for people to successfully give up smoking, making this period especially important to support those giving it a try. “Many smokers may have begun their New Year’s quit attempt and have already relapsed and that’s okay,” said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy. “We need to encourage them to build a quit plan and then try to quit again.” Read more on tobacco.
ASCO Outlines Recommendations on Care for Cancer Survivors
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has released new recommendations on how to improve the quality of care cancer survivors, who are at risk for other health problems and issues stemming from treatment. About 13 million cancer survivors are in the country. The recommendations help health care providers, patients, researchers and policymakers prioritize the components of care. "Most patients still want to see their oncologists even after they have finished active treatment,” said Sandra Swain, MD, FACP, ASCO president. “Oncologists are well positioned to lead and develop a strategy for coordinating follow-up care with primary care providers." They were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read more on cancer.
IOM to Study Sports-related Concussions for Youth Athletes
The Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Science, has launched a new national study on sports-related concussions for youth athletes. The panel plans to submit its report this summer for publication in late 2013. U.S. emergency rooms report about 173,000 sports-related temporary brain injuries—including concussions—each year, according to a 2010 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Concussions have been linked to increase risk of mental illness, including depression, and can even lead to suicide. Read more on injury prevention.
Health Highlights of 2012
On this last day of the year, the news site HealthDay ticks off some significant health events of the last twelve months:
- The June Supreme Court ruling upholding most of the Affordable Care Act.
- The outbreak of deadly fungal meningitis linked to tainted steroid injections that began during the summer. As of December 17, the outbreak had infected 620 people and killed 39 people across 19 states. On Dec. 20, health officials from all fifty states met with U.S. Food and Drug Administration representatives to discuss proposed regulation to help prevent such events in the future.
- Autism incidence keeps rising. In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the prevalence of the disorder at one in every 88 children, up from one in 110 in 2010. Cases were also five times more common in boys than girls, the agency found. While changes in how autism is spotted and reported may have played a role in the new numbers, other factors behind the increase are unclear.
- This year saw two major milestones in HIV testing and treatment. In July, the FDA approved OraQuick, the first at-home HIV test, which enables people to privately assess their infection status within 20 minutes. The same month the FDA approved Truvada, the first HIV drug aimed at preventing transmission of the virus to uninfected people who are at high risk.
- Two new diet drugs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the first time in thirteen years. Belviq was approved in July for obese adults with high blood pressure, Osymia, approved for the patient group, got the FDA’s nod a month later.
Read NewPublicHealth News Roundups.
IOM Committee to Explore Sports-related Concussions
Youth sports concussions will be a focus of an Institute of Medicine Committee next year. The committee will conduct a study on youth, from elementary school through young adulthood, including military personnel and their dependents. The committee will also review concussion risk factors; screening and diagnosis; treatment and management; and long-term consequences. Read more on injury prevention.
Scheduling Cardiac Rehab Soon After a Heart Attack Improves Compliance
A new study in Circulation found that scheduling cardiac rehabilitation to begin sooner rather than later following a heart attack increased the chance that patients show up for the first and subsequent sessions. Cardiac rehab, which includes supervised exercise and nutrition counseling, has been linked to a reduction in second heart attacks in patients who complete the multi-week programs. In the new study, patients whose first rehab session was scheduled within ten days of hospital discharge were more likely to come to the first session than were patients whose appointments were scheduled for within 35 days of discharge, which is a standard time frame in the United States. Read more on heart health.
Young Adult Smoking Rates Fell in 2012
A recent survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse finds that youth smoking rates fell in 2012 among eighth, tenth and twelfth graders. This is the second year in a row that the survey found a significant annual decline in youth smoking, following several years during which progress on getting more young people to quit had stalled.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, strategies that led to the lower smoking levels include higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs that include mass media campaigns, strong smoke-free laws, and effective regulation of tobacco products and marketing.
Rural Residents Less Likely to Follow Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines
A new study from the University of Utah finds that people who live in rural communities are less likely to follow colorectal cancer screening recommendations than urban residents. The researchers say the geographic disparity is evident across all risk groups, including those who have a family history of the disease. The study was published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
The researchers looked at data from the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, a set of telephone surveys coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and state health departments. Factors that impact screening, according to the researchers include distance to screening facilities, fewer rural residents are covered by health insurance for colorectal screening (the researchers note that this is likely to be improved under the Affordable Care Act) and rural residents are less likely to receive a recommendation for screening from a health care provider because there are fewer primary care providers in rural areas, and those providers are under time constraints.
A new policy brief from the George Washington University school of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, DC finds that low wage workers are especially vulnerable to financial troubles that can result from on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
The researchers calculated that in 2010 1.6 million low wage earners suffered from non-fatal injuries, and 87,857 developed non-fatal occupational health problems such as asthma and found that workers compensation insurance either does not apply or fails to cover many expenses, which can bankrupt families with no financial cushion. According to the brief, insurers cover less than one-fourth of the costs of occupational injuries and illnesses. The rest falls on workers’ families, non-workers-compensation health insurers, and taxpayer-funded programs like Medicaid. The researchers say policy makers need to improve workplace safety and strengthen the safety net for low wage workers.
FDA Approves Drug to Treat Inhalational Anthrax
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a monoclonal antibody to treat inhalational anthrax, a form of the infectious disease caused by breathing in the spores of the bacterium Bacillus anthraces. “In addition to antibiotics, raxibacumab will be a useful treatment to have available should an anthrax bioterrorism event occur,” said Edward Cox, MD, MPH, director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Although antibiotics are approved to prevent and treat anthrax infection, raxibacumab is the first approved agent that acts by neutralizing the toxins produced by B. anthracis.” The safety of raxibacumab was evaluated in 326 healthy human volunteers. Common side effects included rash, extremity pain, itching and drowsiness. Read more on bacteria.
Men More Likely than Women to Die in Car Crashes
A new study in the online journal Injury Prevention finds that male pedestrians hit by cars are more than twice as likely to die as women hit by vehicles. The researchers studied U.S. travel and traffic data for 2008 and 2009 for people over the age of 5. According to researchers, more study is needed to determine why men die at higher rates than women in pedestrian crashes. Reasons may include drunken male walkers and men walking along highways and other roads that carry cars at high speeds. Read more on injury prevention.
Concerns about Hair May Keep African-American Women from Exercising
New research finds that about a third of African-American women say concern over hair care is the reason they don’t exercise or exercise less than they should, according to Amy J. McMichael, MD, the lead author of the study published online today in the Archives of Dermatology, a JAMA network publication. For the study, 103 African-American women ranging in age from 21 to 60 filled out a 40-question survey that asked about physical activity; hair care and maintenance; and hair and scalp concerns. While all of the respondents thought it was important to exercise, 40 percent reported avoiding exercise at times due to hair-related issues. Half said they had modified their hairstyle to accommodate exercise. The researchers say that many African American women with coarser hair use either heat straighteners or chemical products to straighten their hair, which is a time-consuming process that doesn’t allow them to simply wash their hair after exercise. According to the lead researcher, a professor of dermatology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, over-washing fragile hair can make it break off easily. Read more on physical activity.
Study: Murder is Contagious and Can Spread Like Other Epidemics
Murder can be contagious and spread through communities like other epidemics, according to new research in the journal Justice Quarterly. Poorer neighborhoods are most susceptible, while communities that are diverse and immigrant-rich are least vulnerable. The research demonstrates a need—and a path—to prevent violence by combating risk factors. "For homicide, if you start trying to revitalize a community, are you going to stop a homicide that would have been committed tomorrow? Probably not," said study co-author April Zeoli, a criminal justice researcher at Michigan State University. "But you are maybe going to prevent homicides that would have been committed a year from now." Read more on violence.
Video on CPR Makes Dying Cancer Patients Less Likely to Want Aggressive End-of-life Care
Watching a three-minute video on CPR makes dying cancer patients less likely to opt for aggressive end-of-life care, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study found that 48 percent wanted CPR after being told about the procedure, while only 20 percent wanted it after viewing a demonstration and seeing what’s actually done during CPR. Angelo Volandes, MD, the study's lead author from Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital, said as they were dying of a terminal condition, procedures such as CPR only prolonged the dying process. “It's one of the most important issues in American medicine today,” Volandes said. “People are getting medical interventions that, if they had more knowledge, they would simply not want." Read more on cancer.
Study: Distracted Walking may be as Dangerous as Distracted Driving
Distracted walking due to cell phone may be just as dangerous as distracted driving due to texting or talking on the phone. The devices divert the attention of pedestrians and increase the chance they will be hit by a car or otherwise injured. "Texters are not looking before they cross the street, they are not crossing with the light, they are walking more slowly and they are not looking at traffic,” said Beth Ebel, MD, lead researcher and director of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. They are putting themselves at risk; they are putting the car that hits them at risk." Ebel said the research demonstrates the need for pedestrians to exercise better judgment about when to use electronic devices. The new study appears in the journal Injury Prevention. Read more on injury prevention.
New Report Finds Underage Drinking in all States
More than a quarter of Americans who are legally too young to drink are doing so anyway, according to a new report issued today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report says there has been progress in reducing the extent of underage drinking in recent years, especially among youth ages 17 and younger, but that the rates of underage drinking “are still unacceptably high.” Over 25 percent of people ages 12-20 report drinking in the month before they were surveyed, and 8.7 percent of them purchased their own alcohol the last time they drank. “Underage drinking should not be a normal part of growing up. It’s a serious and persistent public health problem that puts our young people and our communities in danger,” says SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Even though drinking is often glamorized, the truth is that underage drinking can lead to poor academic performance, sexual assault, injury, and even death.” All 50 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws prohibiting the purchase and use of alcoholic beverages by anyone under age 21. Find resources to prevent and treat underage drinking here. Read more on addiction.
Helmets Can Save Lives on the Slopes
Wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding can prevent injuries and reduce injury severity, according to a review article of 16 published studies in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. About 600,000 skiing and snowboarding injuries occur each year, according to reporting by Johns Hopkins researchers who wrote the new report. Up to 20 percent of those are head injuries, and 22 percent of those head injuries are severe enough to cause loss of consciousness, concussion or more serious injuries. Read more on injury prevention.
Study: Low-Level Air Pollution Impacts Fetal Growth
Exposure to low levels of air pollution seems to have a small effect on fetal growth, according to a study in the Puget Sound area by the University of Washington Schools of Public Health and Medicine and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. The study looked at more than 367,000 births between 1997 and 2005 in the four-county Puget Sound region, including metropolitan areas Seattle and Tacoma, and estimated prenatal exposure to traffic-related air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide. The researchers found associations between increased levels of nitrogen dioxide exposures and an increased risk of small-for-gestational-age birth. Health problems for low birth weight babies can include decreased oxygen levels and low blood sugar, according to the researchers. Read more on maternal and infant health.
Concerned by reports that volunteers and New Jersey residents are frequently unaware of environmental dangers when cleaning up homes and communities, the New Jersey Department of Health released an advisory earlier this week with advice on staying safe while scrubbing and rehabbing. Mold and materials containing asbestos and lead-based paint are examples of potential hazards in storm-damaged buildings and the advisory urged those tackling the heavy jobs to wear protective equipment appropriate for the work they are doing such as waterproof boots, gloves, goggles, and face masks.
"Homeowners doing cleanup work and the volunteers assisting them are critical assets in New Jersey's recovery efforts, but making sure they protect themselves is equally important," said New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd.
NewPublicHeatlh recently spoke about Hurricane Sandy clean-up safety with Donna Leusner, director of communications for the New Jersey Department of Health; Tina Tan, MD, state epidemiologist and assistant commissioner for epidemiology, environmental and occupational health and Joe Eldridge, director of New Jersey’s Consumer, Environmental and Occupational Health Service.
NewPublicHealth: What kind of environmental concerns specifically are there for those cleaning up the community after the storm?
Dr. Tan: There are concerns about individuals coming into contact with contaminated materials, whether contaminated with chemicals or infectious agents—residuals from flood waters as well as the general debris that might be around. We encourage individuals to take the appropriate precautions to try to avoid any sort of injuries or potential illnesses that could result from contact with these contaminated materials.
NPH: Are people aware of the critical basic information for safe cleanup, such as getting a tetanus shot if they’re injured during the cleanup in such terrible conditions?
Substandard housing has been linked to a variety of health problems including higher blood lead levels in children and an increased asthma risk. Now a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy finds kids living in poor housing may also be at an increased risk for fire and scald burns. The research was published in the journal Pediatrics.
The researchers surveyed the homes of 246 low-income families in Baltimore with at least one young child, and found homes with more housing quality code violations were less likely to have a working smoke alarm and safe hot water temperatures. "The effect of substandard housing on children’s risk of diseases such as asthma is well-known, however little was known about how it affects injury risk,” says Andrea Gielen, ScD, ScM, the study’s lead author and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. “The results of this study clearly demonstrate that substandard housing is also related to home injury risks, Gielen adds. "Even more disturbing is the finding that virtually all of the children in our urban sample were living in substandard housing."
Injury is the leading cause of death for young people in the U.S., and is responsible for more than180, 000 deaths annually, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths from fires and burns are the third leading cause of fatal home injury. Smoke alarms and lower water temperatures reduce the risk of burns, says Gielen, but living in substandard housing appears to be a barrier to having these protective measures in place.
- Read a NewPublicHealth post on how low income families can get free smoke alarms
- Read a NewPublicHealth National Prevention Strategy series interview with Estelle Richman, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on the intersection of housing and health.
- Read a NewPublicHealth interview with Andrea Gielen on injury prevention.
Airport Secondhand Smoke Puts Travelers, Employees at Risk
Just as many Americans are about to board flights for Thanksgiving travel, a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding the public that secondhand smoke inside airports puts air travelers and employees at risk. The new study, which looked at air quality at five large U.S. airports, including Dulles International in Washington, D.C., found that the air pollution from secondhand smoke is five times higher outside smoking rooms and other designated smoking areas than in smoke-free airports. And pollution levels inside smoking rooms were 23 times higher than levels in smoke-free airports.
The study also found that five of the 29 largest airports in the United States allow smoking in designated areas that are accessible to the public, including restaurants and bars. "Prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas is the only effective way to fully eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Tim McAfee, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. Secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and is a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory problems, ear infections and asthma attacks in infants and children. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger acute cardiac events such as heart attack, according to the CDC. Read more on tobacco.
Family Seat Belt Use at Record High
Close to 90 percent of families traveling by car during Thanksgiving will buckle their seatbelts, according to a new survey from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to NHTSA's annual National Occupant Protection Use Survey, seat belt use has steadily increased since 1994. The record high of 86 percent in 2012 is a two percent increase over the previous year. Among the most dramatic increases in seat belt use were in the southern region of the United States, which rose to 85 percent in 2012—up from 80 percent in 2011. Seat belt use continues to be higher in states that have primary belt laws, which permit law enforcement officers to issue citations to motorists solely for not using a seat belt, rather than requiring additional traffic violations in order to stop a car.
Nationwide, 32 states and the District of Columbia have passed primary laws requiring seat belt use, and another 17 states have passed secondary laws. New Hampshire is the only state that has not enacted either a primary or secondary seat belt law, though the state's primary child passenger safety law applies to all drivers and passengers under the age of 18. Read more on injury prevention.
FDA Approves First Flu Vaccine Using Cell Culture Technology
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Flucelvax, the first seasonal flu vaccine licensed in the United States that is manufactured using cultured animal cells instead of fertilized chicken eggs. A key advantage of the cell-based method is that it takes about half the time to manufacture the cell-based vaccine than it does to grow the vaccine in eggs, which is especially important if a vaccine is needed quickly for a pandemic. In clinical trials, the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine were very similar to egg-based ones. Read more on vaccines.