Category Archives: Violence
Study: IVF Does Not Affect Risk of Breast, Gynecological Cancers
In vitro fertilization (IVF) does not increase a woman’s risk of breast and gynecological cancers, according to a new study in the journal Fertility & Sterility. Researchers looked at the medical records of 67,608 women who underwent IVF between 1994 and 2011 and 19,795 women who sought treatment, did not receive it. They found no increase in the chance of being diagnosed with breast or endometrial cancer and only a slight increase in ovarian cancer depending on the times treated, which might have been the result of chance. Previous studies had linked IVF to increased risk of breast cancer and borderline ovarian tumors. Read more on cancer.
Studies Link Excessive Television as Kids, Violence as Adults
Reducing the amount of violent television programming a child watches may also reduce their aggression levels, according to two new studies in the journal Pediatrics. A New Zealand study found higher rates of criminal convictions in people who had watched more television as children, while a U.S. study found kids who watched “pro-social” programming were better behaved than their peers who watched regular programming. "It's not just the bad behaviors that they get from TV. They can get good behaviors, too," said the U.S. study's lead author, Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute. The link between television and violence has been difficult for researchers to study because of the presence of so many other factors, but the findings do support previous research showing a link between watching too much television early in life and antisocial problems, according to study co-author Bob Hancox, MD, an associate professor in the department of preventive and social medicine at the University of Otago in Dunedin. Read more on violence.
NIH: Diabetes Control Much Improved in Past Two Decades
People are increasingly meeting the recommended goals for the top markers of diabetes control, according to a new study in the journal Diabetes Care. The "ABC's" of diabetes control include A1C (which assesses blood sugar levels), blood pressure and cholesterol. About 19 percent of people with diabetes met all three of the goals in 2010, up from only 2 percent in 1988. The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted and funded the study. Still, the researchers say continued improvement is needed, especially for younger people and certain minority groups. Read more on diabetes.
An article in the New York Times reports that health departments in some states are increasing their efforts on gun safety and suicide prevention in part because of a startling finding by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health: far more Americans die from guns they aim at themselves than in mass shootings.
By the numbers:
- Nearly 20,000 of the 30,000 deaths from guns in the United States in 2010 were suicides.
- Wyoming, Montana and Alaska are the states with the three highest suicide rates; they’re also on the list of top gun owning states.
- The national suicide rate has climbed by 12 percent since 2003.
- Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for teenagers.
- Suicide attempts using a gun are fatal 85 percent of the time; suicide attempts with pills are successful 2 percent of the time.
State health departments in Missouri, North Carolina and Wyoming, the state with the highest suicide rate, are giving out gunlocks. In New Hampshire some gun shops post flyers with warning signs for suicide and a recommendation to keep guns from people who are at risk of harming themselves. Some gun owners in Maryland are considering a similar outreach project.
>>Read the article.
>>Bonus Link: Read a NewPublicHealth post about the Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, launched last year.
A new study funded by Public Health Law Research, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at Temple University, addresses the consequences of weak penalties for domestic violence offenders in the U.S.
Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, accounts for an estimated 1,200 deaths and two million injuries among women each year. The new study, authored by Frank Sloan, PhD, professor of health policy and management at Duke University, and published in the journal Risk and Uncertainty, reviewed data from the North Carolina administrative courts and found that there are often repeat offenses for men arrested for domestic violence and that penalties don’t seem to significantly reduce repeat arrests or convictions.
Sloan points to low prosecution rates and minimal fines as reasons behind many repeat offenses. The study did find, however, that defendants who hired a private lawyer are less likely to be arrested or convicted during the follow-up period because the added costs may be a deterrent.
Survey: Majority of Americans Support Stronger Gun Policies
The majority of Americans support all but four of 31 gun policies asked about in a recent survey by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The policies are designed to reduce gun violence and include measures such as universal background checks (supported by 89 percent), banning the sale of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons (69 percent) and banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines (68 percent). “This research indicates high support among Americans, including gun owners in many cases, for a wide range of policies aimed at reducing gun violence,” said study author Colleen Barry, PhD, MPP, an associate professor at the university. “These data indicate broad consensus among the American public in support of a comprehensive approach to reducing the staggering toll of gun violence in the United States.” Read more on violence.
CDC: Pregnant Women Should Receive Pertussis Vaccine Booster
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends pregnant women should get a booster tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine to help protect their newborn children from whooping cough. The vaccine schedule for children has them receiving their first pertussis vaccine at two months of age and they are not fully protected until six months. Vaccinating pregnant women will protect them whooping cough and also allow them to pass on immune cells to their children, according to Reuters. "It turns out that immunity wanes pretty quickly," said H. Cody Meissner, MD, a pediatrician from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. "Without boosting with each pregnancy, a mother's immunity will wane and she will have much less immunity to pass on to the baby." Read more on maternal and infant health.
Study: Eating Your Main Meal Earlier May Improve Weight Loss
Eating an earlier lunch may improve your chances to lose weight, according to a new study in the International Journal of Obesity. The study found people in a weight-loss program who consumed lunch after 3 p.m. lost about 25 percent less weight than those who ate earlier. Researchers were careful to note that the study was performed in Spain—where lunch is often the day’s main meal—so are unsure how the results would apply to countries such as the United States. Still, the findings back up the traditional advice to eat your larger meal earlier in the day. "This is the first large-scale, long-term study to show that it is an important factor in weight-loss success for overweight and obese individuals," senior researcher Frank Scheer, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Read more on obesity.
Home Visits, Doctor’s Office Visits ‘Insufficient’ in Preventing Child Abuse
Evidence of the ability of home visits and doctor’s office visits to prevent child abuse is “insufficient” to recommend expanding the programs across the country, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland analyzed 10 studies of child abuse prevention programs around the world. "There have been a few studies done... (but) there's inconsistency in the results across these trials," said David Grossman, from Group Health Research institute in Seattle, a member of the USPSTF panel, according to Reuters. "I wish we could be more definitive on this." Approximately 675,000 children were the victims of abuse or neglect in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Elizabeth Letourneau, who studies child sexual abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and was not a part of the study, said there is more need for evidence-backed programs to combat child abuse. Read more on violence.
Study: Evidence of CTE in Living Patients
It may be possible to identify signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in living patients, according to a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles. CTE is a neurodegenerative disease linked to dementia, memory loss and depression, and could previously only be diagnosed through an autopsy. Dozens of former football players at various levels have been diagnosed with CTE—caused by repeated head trauma—including former National Football League linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year. "I've been saying that identifying CTE in a living person is the holy grail for this disease and for us to be able make advances in treatment," said Julian Bailes, MD, co-director of NorthShore Neurological Institute in Evanston, Ill. and one of the study's co-authors. "It's not definitive, and there's a lot we still need to discover to help these people, but it's very compelling. It's a new discovery." Read more on mental health.
Study: Improved System of Care Would Cut Readmission Rates
Approximately 20 percent of people discharged from a hospital are readmitted shortly thereafter, according to two new studies. "Readmission rates are a measure that shows that the system for care is not integrated well enough. It's not necessarily an indicator that the hospital is poor quality or the primary-care physician is poor quality—it's the whole system,” said Anne-Marie Audet, MD, vice president of health system quality and efficiency for the Commonwealth Fund in New York City, according to HealthDay. "The only way we can achieve better health, better health outcomes and better cost is to bring everyone together. But it's quite a complex issue." The studies appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Study leader Anita Vashi, MD, an emergency room physician and distinguished scholar at the Yale University School of Medicine, said it is important for patients to realize the risks they face immediately after being discharged and to follow their physician’s care instructions. Read more on access to health care.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommends Physicians Ask All Women about Intimate Partner Violence
Physicians should screen all women of childbearing age for signs of domestic violence and refer them for treatment if necessary, according to a new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of women and more than 25 percent of men have been victims of domestic violence. In addition to the risks of injury and death, people who experience domestic violence may also develop sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease, unintended pregnancies, chronic pain, neurological disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and suicidal behavior. Domestic violence in women is also linked to preterm birth and low-birth weight babies. The panel found that women who were screened for domestic violence were far more likely to discuss the issue with their doctor than women who were not screened. Read more on violence.
AAP: Playgrounds Need Yearly Safety and Quality Check
A new study of close to 500 Chicago playgrounds published in Pediatrics finds that the quality and safety of playgrounds can vary by neighborhood. Researchers looked at the playgrounds between 2009 and 2011 and assessed four categories: age-appropriate design, ground surfacing, equipment maintenance and physical environment. While most of the playgrounds met the criteria for age-appropriate design and physical environment, failing grades were often given for problems with ground surfacing, such as not enough wood chips to cushion falls, or equipment maintenance problems. The authors also found that neighborhoods with a higher percentage of low-income individuals had both fewer overall sites and more failing-grade playgrounds. The researchers reported failing grades to local authorities, which led to more passing grades at the end of the study. The researchers say strengthening community partnerships and training appropriate staff for yearly playground checks can result in a safer urban play environment for children. Read more on pediatrics.
Tenth Annual Traffic Law Report Card Finds Fewer Laws and More Deaths
The tenth annual report card on traffic safety by the group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety finds that several states have repealed traffic safety laws and others have not moved to enact new ones. Last year only 10 state highway safety laws were enacted, while 16 laws were passed in 2011 and 22 were passed in 2010. According to the group, preliminary National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data show the largest jump in traffic fatalities since 1975, a 7.1 percent increase in crash deaths during the first nine months of 2012 compared to the first nine months of 2011. The report card also found that:
- 18 states still need a primary enforcement seat belt law;
- 31 states still need an all-rider motorcycle helmet law;
- 19 states still need an booster seat law;
- No state meets all the criteria of Advocates’ recommended Graduated Driver’s License program;
- 40 states and Washington, D.C. are missing one or more critical impaired driving laws and;
- 15 states still need an all-driver text messaging restriction.
Read more on injury prevention.
CNN: President Will Call for Wider Gun Control
CNN is reporting that when President Obama releases his list of gun control proposals later today, they will include a ban on assault weapons, restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines, stronger background checks for people purchasing guns and increased funding for U.S. mental health services and school safety efforts. Read more on violence.
DOT Proposes Minimum Sound Rules for Hybrid, Electric Cars
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing minimum sound standards for electric and hybrid cars to help make pedestrians and bicyclists more aware of the cars when the vehicles are approaching.
According to DOT, electric and hybrid vehicles do not rely on traditional gas or diesel-powered engines at low speeds, making them much quieter and more difficult to hear when they approach people walking or biking. DOT estimates that the proposals could result in 2,800 fewer pedestrian and cyclist injuries over the life of each model year of hybrid cars, trucks and vans and low speed vehicles, compared to vehicles without sound.
New sounds for the cars created by car manufacturers would need to be detectable under a wide range of street noises and other ambient background sounds when the vehicle is traveling under 18 miles per hour. A sixty day comment period on the new proposals begins today. Read more on safety.
New NIH-Supported Alzheimer's Studies to Focus on Prevention and Innovative Treatments
With a goal of effectively treating and preventing new cases of Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced funding for four major studies: drug and exercise interventions for people in the early stages of the disease, a new drug to reduce agitation in people with the disease, and a new approach to faster testing of drugs in clinical trials. Read more on aging.
Shortly after the shooting of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Ct., a large group of Hollywood stars released a video asking viewers to “demand a plan” on action to be taken to prevent future mass shootings. Since then several videos have popped up on YouTube that show almost all of the actors in the video wielding weapons in films and television shows.
Another video also demands a plan on gun violence, with a compelling set of spokespeople. This one stars and was developed with minority teens in California and produced by the California Endowment, a private health foundation. At last check, the teens’ video had gotten close to 750,000 hits on YouTube.
NewPublicHealth spoke with Barbara Raymond, director of youth opportunity at the California Endowment about how the video came to be and what the next steps are for taking action on gun violence.
NewPublicHealth: How did this video come to be?
Barbara Raymond: The Endowment looks at health very broadly, including things that happen in our schools and happen in our neighborhoods. We started work a couple of years ago in 14 communities across California, and through the process we’ve worked with over 20,000 residents and they came back so strongly saying safety and my own health prevention are our number one issues. And they drilled down further to issues including school safety and school climate and the epidemic of suspensions and extreme school discipline policies.
We have been able to engage a whole set of young people and they have really identified these issues as well. It’s especially the young people saying that working on these issues is urgent, including violence in the community and on the streets of our neighborhoods, fixing issues in our schools and what the kids call the school-to-prison pipeline. These issues have just come up so strongly so when the Newtown tragedy happened, young people wanted to say something and react to that.
As staff, we talked about how the tragedy would open up a whole public conversation around mental health and school safety practices and staff members suggested we reach out to the kids with the video idea.
NPH: How were the kids involved in the development of the video?
Tuesday, January 8, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. EST, the Harvard School of Public Health, in collaboration with Reuters, will present an hour long live webcast on gun violence, in response to the too many recent gun massacres.
The webcast is part of the school’s ongoing “Forum” series, whose aim is to provide a platform to discuss policy choices and scientific controversies by leveraging participants' collective knowledge. Tomorrow’s forum on gun violence will look at the legal, political, and public health factors that could influence efforts to prevent gun massacres.
Participants include Laurence Tribe, professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School; Felton Earls, MD, professor of child psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; David King, senior lecturer in public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and chair of Harvard’s Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress; and David Hemenway, PhD, Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.
In advance of tomorrow’s Forum, NewPublicHealth spoke with Dr. Hemenway about ongoing research efforts aimed at preventing gun violence and gun massacres. Dr. Hemenway is the author of Private Guns, Public Health, which demonstrates how a public-health approach—historically applied to reducing the rates of injury and death from infectious disease, car accidents, and tobacco consumption—can also be applied to preventing gun violence. Dr. Hemenway’s book was supported by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.
NewPublicHealth: What is the overall goal of the Forum?
Dr. Hemenway: The Forum series focuses on how public health can help impact many major issues in the U.S. We are able to gather experts at Harvard who are working on these issues to provide information about what we know and to share ideas on approaches to help address these problems.
NPH: On tomorrow’s panel, you’ll be discussing the issue from a public health approach. What are some of the concepts you’ll be sharing?
Mental health has become a more prominent topic since the recent shooting in Newtown, Conn., that claimed 26 lives, 20 of them children. The Alliance for Health Reform, a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C., that provides information to journalists and Congressional staff on health reform issues, released some key numbers on mental health issues recently that can be useful in moving the discussion forward:
- An estimated 45.9 million adults in the United States age 18 or older had any mental illness in 2010 (one out of five people in this age group).
- In 2010, an estimated 31.3 million adults received any kind of mental health service during the past year.
- Among adults with severe mental illness, 60.8 percent received mental health services during the past year.
- An estimated 11.1 million adults reported an unmet need for mental health care in the past year. Of those, 5.2 million had not received any mental health care at all in the past year.
- People who are out of work are four times as likely as those with jobs to report symptoms consistent with severe mental illness.
- The cost of care is the reason most often given by people who recognize that they need mental health treatment but don’t get it.
According to research by the Alliance, mental illnesses range from occasionally troubling to life-consuming. To cope with temporary problems, such as depression following illness or a traumatic event, many people need only a short-term intervention. But others experience more debilitating and long-lasting conditions that interfere with routine activities such as work, school and family, and can require lifelong treatment.
Effective, well-documented treatments for mental illness and substance abuse have been developed and widely disseminated, including psychotherapy, psychosocial treatment and prescription medications. But a significant number of Americans do not have adequate access to mental health treatment or do not take advantage of available help.