Category Archives: Sexual Health
A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health finds that Hispanics and blacks are less likely to be prescribed antidepressants than whites, and Medicare and Medicaid patients are less likely to receive the drugs than those with private insurance.
The study, published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, also found that Medicare and Medicaid patients were significantly less likely to receive newer antidepressants, which may have fewer side effects than older drugs and are often less expensive. Read more mental health news.
Ten states have received grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide early childhood support and home visits to families. The grants will help states expand or establish their home visiting programs.
Initiatives of the program include guidance and assistance in early learning and development, prevention and identification of child maltreatment, improvement of maternal and child health outcomes, and family engagement. Read more on children's health.
The fourth annual "GYT: Get Yourself Tested" campaign kicks off National STD Awareness Month (April) with new initiatives on TV, online and on the ground at college campuses and in more than 5,000 health centers across the U.S. GYT is an ongoing national campaign launched in 2009 between MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation to address the high rates of STDs among people under 25. Read more on sexual health.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $201 million to support 731 new local homeless programs across the U.S. The funding will provide emergency shelters, transitional housing and permanent support for individuals and families. Read more on the connection between housing and health.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Eli Lilly and Company will generate a publicly available resource to profile the effects of thousands of approved and investigational medicines.
The NIH's newly established National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences collection of 3,800 approved and investigational medicines will be screened using Lilly’s advanced testing systems to assess their biological profiles. This could enable biomedical researchers to better predict treatment outcomes and improve drug development, according to an NIH release. Read more on prescription drugs.
Just 38 percent of sexually active young women were screened for chlamydia between 2006 and 2008, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends annual screening for all sexually active women aged 25 and under. Read more on sexual health.
The Food and Drug Administration has announced some key safety changes to the labeling for some widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. The changes include a revised schedule for monitoring liver enzymes in patients taking the drugs, and new information on rare cases of memory loss, confusion and hyperglycemia. Read more prescription drug news.
Soldiers in the Army National Guard with no history of alcohol abuse are at significant risk of developing alcohol-related problems during and after deployment, according to a new study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal. Researchers found that the soldiers at greatest risk of developing alcohol-related problems also experienced depression or PTSD during or after deployment. Read more on military health.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The total lifetime estimated financial costs associated with a single year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect) is approximately $124 billion, according to a report released published in Child Abuse and Neglect, The International Journal.
Child maltreatment has been shown to have many negative effects on survivors, including poorer health, social and emotional difficulties, and decreased economic productivity.
Pfizer Inc. has announced a voluntary recall of Lo/Ovral®-28 (norgestrel and ethinyl estradiol) and Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets (generic) birth control pills in the US because the placebo pills in packages may have been placed out-of-order in some packs. Pfizer says it believes only about 30 packs of birth control pills may have received an inexact count or inactive tablet. Pfizer advised women who have used Lo-Ovral or Norgestrel pills over the last several months to consult with their physician and begin using a non-hormonal barrier method immediately.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated immunization schedules for children ages 0 through 6, ages 7 through 18 and a catch up schedule for children with late or incomplete immunizations.
Three of the vaccine recommendations reflect major changes: human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal, and influenza:
- The AAP now recommends that all males aged 11 or 12 years of age receive the HPV vaccine in a three-dose series; the series can start as early as 9 years of age.
- The meningococcal vaccine can now be given to children as young as 9 months if they are residents or travelers to countries with epidemic disease or at increased risk of developing meningococcal disease. Routine immunization with the meningococcal vaccine should begin at 11 through 12 years with a booster dose administered at 16 years of age.
- For children aged 6 months through 8 years, the influenza vaccine should be administered in two doses for those who did not receive at least one dose of the vaccine in 2010-11. Children who received one dose last season require one dose for the 2011-12 influenza season.
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.
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.
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.
A review of fourteen studies in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine finds that the more physically active a child is, the better their grades are likely to be. Read more on education.
Just over 20 percent of girls surveyed in a recent study say getting the HPV vaccine means they no longer have to practice safe sex. The researchers, who published their findings in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine says physician practices should make sure to include an education component when they give the vaccine. Read up on sexual health news.
Concerned about developmental delays and physical health problems, a growing number of hospitals are refusing to allow cesarean deliveries before a baby reaches 39 weeks gestation, according to a joint report from Kaiser Health News and National Public Radio. Read the latest in maternal and infant health.
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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday rejected an application to make Plan B, an emergency contraceptive pill, available without a prescription for girls younger than 17. The drug is already approved for sale without a prescription for girls and women over the age of 17. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had planned to approve the availability for younger girls. HHS Secretaries are permitted to overrule an FDA decision, though this is the first time a Secretary has done so, according to the FDA. Read more on sexual health.
Women may be able to reduce their risk for breast cancer by avoiding unnecessary medical radiation, avoiding use of use of combination estrogen-progestin menopausal hormone therapy, limiting alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and avoiding tobacco use, according to a new report on environmental risk factors for breast cancer released yesterday by the Institute of Medicine.
According to the new report, evidence also indicates a possible link to increased risk for breast cancer from exposure to benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and ethylene oxide, which are chemicals found in some workplace settings and in gasoline fumes, vehicle exhaust, and tobacco smoke. But avoiding personal use of hair dyes and non-ionizing radiation emitted by mobile devices and other technologies probably do not impact a woman’s risk for breast cancer, and there is insufficient data on the link between some other chemicals and an increased risk for breast cancer including bisphenol A (BPA), pesticides, ingredients in cosmetics and dietary supplements. Get more news on developments in cancer research and prevention.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded 17 grants to universities in 13 states aimed at improving the safety of the U.S. food supply. USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the grants, which focus on areas including laboratory research and grower and consumer education. Read more on food safety.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.